Getting Ready For Court

Did The Officer Have Probable Cause?

Posted by on 7:08 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Did The Officer Have Probable Cause?

Your constitutional rights protect you from being arrested unless certain conditions are met. These conditions are referred to as “probable cause.” If you are detained without probable cause, you may use this as a reason to sue the police department. How The Officer Can Prove Probable Cause The officer can use any of his or her senses to detect the commission of a crime. This is important because an officer can even arrest someone if he or she smells an illegal substance on you. The officer can also use scientific instruments, such as a breathalyzer, to obtain the probable cause necessary to arrest you. A common situation in which probable cause is used is when a motorist is driving while intoxicated. The act of swerving can serve as evidence that the individual is under the influence. Then, asking the motorist to walk in a straight line can further give the officer probable cause to detain the motorist. A police officer does not have the right to detain you unless he or she has probable cause. This is when the officer has reason to believe you have committed a crime or have violated a traffic law. Probable cause requires the officer prove it is more likely than not that you would have committed a crime. This can come from an object that you are in possession of, a statement that you have uttered, an action the officer witnessed or even information from an informant. If the officer relies on an informant, he or she must prove that the informant is reliable. Also, if there is a witness that informs the officer that you committed the crime, this can also be used as an excuse for probable cause. Your Conversation With the Officer Even though the officer is not allowed to search you without probable cause, he or she does have the right to talk to you. Also, you have the right to remain silent. The officer may try to have a conversation to encourage you to make a statement that could be misconstrued to provide the officer with probable cause. You will need to find out exactly what justification the officer used to arrest you if you would like to begin poking holes in his or her justification. A criminal defense attorney will gather the facts of the case and will use them to determine whether the officer was justified in arresting you....

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Exoneration By Disputing Prosecution Evidence

Posted by on 7:16 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Exoneration By Disputing Prosecution Evidence

If you have been charged with a serious crime, you should be aware of what it would take for a jury to believe you are innocent. Since the burden is on the prosecutor to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, much of your defense could be to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. Making the Most of Exculpatory Evidence Before your trial begins, there will be a discovery process in which the prosecution will turn over their evidence to your attorney to either allow for a fair defense or encourage you to plead guilty. This will include the names of their witnesses, police reports, and test results. They are also obliged to turn over any exculpatory (facts that could be helpful to your defense) or impeachment (facts that discredit prosecution witnesses) evidence that they find during the course of police investigation. Since prosecutors have time and effort invested in proving your guilt, they can possess a prejudicial blindness to exculpatory evidence, and it may take a determined and skillful defense lawyer to be alert to the possibility of it. You can help your attorney by writing down detailed descriptions of events soon after they occurred and also anything that comes to mind later as you are privy to discovery, and relaying these to him or her. In one case, a defense attorney had to track down a metro card that provided an alibi for his client. In another case, an alert attorney found that initial photos and DNA evidence existed that showed a small child was the victim of a dog attack and not murdered as claimed. The child’s mother and stepfather, who were unfairly convicted, were eventually exonerated.  Disputing Scientific Evidence DNA evidence has an great impact on many criminal cases, and in many old cases, people have exonerated because it. However, there remain many types of forensic evidence that are open to interpretation and dispute, but unfortunately many people who end up on juries do not realize this. Some examples include bite marks, hair evidence, and voice recordings. You may recall the controversy in the Casey Anthony murder case over whether there was a smell of human decomposition in her car and if this could be scientifically proven. New scientific evidence should only be admissible at trial only if the relevant scientific community of experts accepts it as reliable. Part of your defense may rely on questioning the veracity of the procedures and results with an expert on your side. If the evidence is very questionable, the judge may not allow it to be presented at trial since it could become a basis for a later appeal. Getting Effective Legal Representation So to have a good rebuttal defense, you will want to find an experienced and skillful attorney to sift through the discovery evidence carefully to look for holes in the prosecutor’s case, and for evidence that could bolster your account of what happened. If there is to be scientific evidence offered, its reliability can be questioned by experts that your defense finds.   For more information, contact Scott L. Kramer Law Office or a similar...

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2 Reasons To Utilize A Drug Charge Lawyer

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Getting charged with possession of narcotics or illegal medication can be a very frightening experience and can carry some very stiff penalties so it is very important that you contact an attorney that specializes in drug charges. Listed below are just two of the ways that a drug charge lawyer can help you out.   Check For Improper Law Enforcement Procedures One of the biggest ways in which a drug charge lawyer will help you is by making sure that any police officers and other officials involved in your arrest followed the proper procedures. This is very important as a lawyer can often have the charges against you dismissed or reduced if he or she can prove that the proper procedures were not followed when the narcotics were discovered. For example, if law enforcement officers illegally searched you, your vehicle, or your home without a search warrant or probable cause then your lawyer can use this to fight the charges against you. Another thing that your lawyer will look for is whether or not you were improperly questioned before he or she arrived. For example, police officers are very well-trained in interrogation techniques that can help them draw information out of suspects, even when those suspects do not suspect that they are being questioned. In that situation, a lawyer can insist that since you were questioned without him or her present that anything that you said is not admissible in court and may even be able to have the case dismissed. Negotiate Lesser Sentences A drug charge lawyer can also help you out even if your case cannot really be won. In that situation, the lawyer can attempt to get your sentence lowered through the use of plea deals. A plea deal will often require that you plead guilty to a lesser offense in order to receive a lesser penalty. These plea deals can mean the difference between potentially going to prison or simply being required to perform community service. In many cases, the prosecutor will be very likely to accept the plea deal as it means that he or she can wrap the case up very quickly and move on to the next case as soon as possible. This is often a good deal for the prosecutor as he or she will often have a massive amount of cases awaiting his or her attention. In addition, if the drug charge is a first offense, then your lawyer can often use that to negotiate for a lesser sentence. In that situation, a lawyer may be able to eliminate any jail time and instead have you sentenced to drug rehabilitation. Speak to an attorney immediately if you have been arrested and charged for drug possession. A lawyer can help negotiate lesser sentences and check for any improper searches or questioning on the part of law enforcement...

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Is It Legal To Join A Private Militia? This Is What You Should Know Before You Join One

Posted by on 7:13 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is It Legal To Join A Private Militia? This Is What You Should Know Before You Join One

Self-styled militia groups are in the news again, thanks to the armed protesters who overtook over a wildlife refuge center belonging to the government in Oregon. Prominent members of other civilian militia groups have been journeying there to offer their support. Membership in an armed militia is often fraught with legal difficulties — which is why it’s smart to understand what is legal and what isn’t before you join one. Why do militias exist today? There is a clause in the U.S. Constitution that allows citizens to form a militia, with the idea that private citizens should be called upon in time of national need. There are militia groups that are sanctioned by the government, including state National Guard units. In addition, every able-bodied male from age 17 to age 45 is considered part of an unorganized reserve militia. Privately formed militia groups, however, exist outside the direct control and recognition of the government. Many of them have formed around anti-government movements and believe that they have the right (or even the duty) of “insurrection” against the government, if necessary, to uphold the law. What are the dangers of associating with a private militia? The Supreme Court has rejected the idea that private citizens have a right to act by armed force against the government so long as the government is still allowing free elections and trials by jury. Many militia groups are considered dangerously extremist in their views and there have been several violent conflicts over the years between government forces and private armed militia groups in places like Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Some states, like Wyoming, specifically forbid the formation of private militias. In that case, joining one would be automatically against the law. However, militias are legal in many states, which means that you can join one in those states without fear of arrest. You want to exercise caution, however, because you can still run afoul of the law by participating in armed exercises or displays in public areas through firearm regulations, riot statutes, and disturbing the peace laws. What are some signs of trouble? There are no doubt some private militias that exist solely for the purpose of offering a sense of community to its members and paramilitary training for those who want to be prepared in the event of an emergency. If you are thinking of joining a militia, however, be on the watch for signs that the group is an extremist one. Extremist militias may: espouse rhetoric that warns of government conspiracies to disarm all civilians express racial hatred or hatred toward specific minority groups that are perceived as being secretly in charge stockpile weaponry in the belief that a future conflict with the national or state government is inevitable search for a “victim” of the government to rally around (like those in Oregon) support beliefs that private citizens can refuse to pay their taxes or defy court orders that they believe aren’t lawful If you have any questions about the legality of a militia or its actions, consult with an attorney like Thomas A Corletta before you get involved. That will help you avoid any unfortunate legal consequences...

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What To Do If Your Child Gets Arrested

Posted by on 7:37 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What To Do If Your Child Gets Arrested

When your child gets arrested you may have no idea as to what will happen. If your child is a minor, things generally are handled differently than if your child has reached their majority.  Do Not Let Them Speak to the Police Alone If your child is under the age of 18, they can’t be questioned without a representative present. That means that you can sit in on any questioning. You also have the right to tell your child to be quiet. However, you should also have a criminal defense attorney in the room with you. Your child has the right to have a lawyer represent them while they are being questioned, just as anyone does. The lawyer can help prevent your child from being inappropriately questioned.  Seek Alternatives If your child has been arrested and charged, you should see if there are any alternatives or diversions that your child can participate in, especially if it is their first offense and it was a non-violent offense.  For example, if your child was arrested and charged with shoplifting, they may be able to go through a sentencing alternative. That could include a program that they do at home and then submit proof that they finished it. That proof could be a test that needed to be submitted to an outside agency. Once the courts have proof that your child has successfully passed the program, they may arrange for your child’s record to be completely expunged after a certain amount of time, if the child stays out of trouble.  Formal Proceedings If it gets to the point that your child has to appear in court, that’s called formal proceedings. Your child will start out in the juvenile court system. When they see the judge, the judge may decide that they can stay in the juvenile court, or they may send your child to the adult court system. That will generally happen if your child is near their age of majority, if their crime was particularly violent, or if they have a long history of criminal activities.  You do everything that you can for your child. If something happens and they get arrested, then you need to do everything that you can to protect them. That means that you need to find a lawyer who specializes in juvenile cases. They will know all the options open to you and they will help your child get the help they need.  To learn more, contact a law firm like Cross, LaCross, & Murphy...

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3 Ways You Can Potentially Mitigate Your DUI Charges And Consequences

Posted by on 4:31 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Ways You Can Potentially Mitigate Your DUI Charges And Consequences

If you have recently been arrested on the suspicion of drinking and driving, you may be facing severe criminal DUI charges. The one thing that you need to realize is that you do not have to agree to the charges that the police have filed against you. There are steps that can be taken to possibly mitigate the charges and consequences. Here are three directions that you could potentially take: 1. Demonstrate to the Court That Your Actions Were Just a Fluke. As a general rule, the court tends to be a bit more easy-going on those who have never committed a crime before as opposed to serial offenders. You will need to prove to the court that drinking and driving is out of character for you, you understand the risks associated with such an activity, and that you are not likely to do it again. If you have a competent attorney at your side, you may be able to get your charges reduced. 2. Ask the Court for Recovery Assistance. The court doesn’t always throw out severe punishment for crimes. This is true for first-time and repeat offenders. In fact, when the court believes it can offer assistance to offenders, it may be possible to go into rehabilitation. With DUI charges, there are rehabilitation courses known as DUI diversion programs. These types of programs are designed to help individuals with their addiction and demonstrate the consequences of drunk driving. To help your case, simply ask for this assistance. Don’t wait for it to be offered to you. Inform the judge that you’ve learned lessons from this incident and that you are willing and ready to take the necessary steps to keep it from happening again. 3. Consider Plea Bargaining. Another option that you have is to plea bargain. This will require that you plead guilty, but you will be pleading to a charge of less severity than the initial charge that was brought against you. Due to this, you will be sentenced, even if it just to house arrest or the aforementioned DUI diversion program, but it will not be as severe of one as you originally would have received. Your attorney can help you determine whether pleading is a good choice for your personal situation or not, as it may not be ideal for you. When all else fails, talk to your DUI defense attorney to discuss your position. The above three routes are not the only methods that can be used to protect your rights and freedom. A lawyer (like Kayle Jackson) will be able to examine the exact facts of your arrest and case to assist you in taking the best path for your criminal...

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Can You Withdraw A Guilty Plea?

Posted by on 5:45 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Can You Withdraw A Guilty Plea?

Plea deals aren’t uncommon in criminal cases — neither is regret once one has been accepted. Some people are unhappy with the sentence they are offered and some people just start to think that they might have had a better outcome at trial. However, withdrawing a guilty plea isn’t that easy to do. Here are some things you should know if you’re thinking of trying. Has the court already accepted the plea? If you change your mind about the plea deal prior to the time the court formally accepts it, you may be allowed to retract your plea a lot more easily than you will after the judge sentences you. Unfortunately, the reason that many people want to retract their plea is that they’re unhappy with the sentence that the judge imposes. Prosecutors can make recommendations about your sentence to the judge in order to get you to agree to a plea deal, but the judge is not always bound to those recommendations. If not, the judge can impose a tougher sentence. Just ask Jared Fogle — the advertising icon who was sentenced to 3 years longer than he expected according to the plea he’d made with prosecutors. Once you’ve made a plea and it has been accepted by the court, you’ll have a much harder time withdrawing it. You usually have to convince the court that you have a very good reason — other than just being unhappy with the results — for doing so. What reasons will the court consider? Usually, the question the court is going to consider is whether or not you should be allowed to withdraw the plea in the interest of fairness and will take several factors into account: Did you have plenty of time to consider the plea? Did you speak to an attorney before you accepted the plea? Were you fully apprised of how the plea would affect your constitutional rights? Were you capable of understanding what you were being told and offered? Were there language difficulties involved? Were you mentally ill at the time the plea was made? Were you on drugs or alcohol at the time you made the plea? Is there evidence that you were misinformed about the judge’s ability to impose a stiffer sentence (if that is one of the issues)? Is there evidence of your actual innocence (such as DNA)? How do you begin the process of withdrawing your plea? Typically, the request to withdraw a guilty plea starts with a motion to vacate your earlier plea. If your request to vacate the plea is based on the ineffective or inept advice of your attorney, you’ll need a new attorney to file the motion for you. To find out more, speak with someone like Malcolm Stewart Douglas...

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Is There Forensic Evidence Against You? Don’t Assume That Your Case Is Lost

Posted by on 4:59 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is There Forensic Evidence Against You? Don’t Assume That Your Case Is Lost

One of the scariest things you can probably hear if you’re facing criminal charges is a detective saying that they have physical evidence that you were at a crime scene — especially if you weren’t. Juries these days love forensic evidence, in part because of the CSI effect. Popular television has many people convinced that forensic evidence is easy and foolproof, when it is not. If you’re facing forensic evidence in your criminal trial, don’t assume that you’re as good as convicted. There are many ways to show the jury that forensic evidence isn’t as solid as they might believe. Is this really forensic evidence or junk science? Some types of forensic evidence have a long history of use in the courtrooms — despite the fact that there may be little to no basis to actually consider the evidence scientific in nature. In some cases, there may be a possibility that the science is valid, but the results rely so heavily on the skill and interpretation of the forensic examiner that it can be hard to tell when you are getting credible results and when you aren’t. For example, studies going back more than five years indicate that bite-mark analysis has questionable forensic value. Teeth don’t make neat impressions in every surface, the way that they do when a defendant is asked to bite down on dental putty to provide dental impressions for comparison. Movement and pressure can alter the appearance of bite marks quite a bit. Unless you have exceptionally unique dental impressions, bite-mark evidence can often be successfully challenged based on studies that show its unreliability. At least a dozen people who were charged or convicted of crimes based on bite-mark evidence have been exonerated in the last ten years. Hair analysis is another questionable forensic tool. It is sometimes useful for mitochondrial DNA extraction. However, much of the time, hair analysis is done by microscopic comparison between hair found at the crime scene and hair collected from the suspect. A recent study of expert testimony given by examiners trained by the FBI indicates that at least 90% of their cases contained analysis errors. Reports like these illustrate how your attorney can often challenge physical evidence that many people erroneously believe is ironclad. Are the lab and the analyst really qualified? Your attorney will also be able to delve into other issues that can lead to doubts about the quality of any forensic expert testimony: What is the analyst’s background? How long has he or she been working as an expert? Does he or she work exclusively for the prosecution? What is the lab’s background and reputation? Does it have a history of flawed reports? What are the quality controls in the lab? What was the chain of custody for the evidence? Who handled it and when? Is every transition between individuals and rooms documented? Was the evidence ever accidentally exposed to contaminants? Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the idea that there is forensic evidence against you. Forensic evidence is often only as good as the jury is willing to believe it is, and your attorney can often find ways to make them question its validity. For more information about criminal defense, contact a law office, such as Walsh Fewkes Sterba....

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Is It Possible For A DUI Misdemeanor To Be Upgraded To A Felony DUI?

Posted by on 9:27 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is It Possible For A DUI Misdemeanor To Be Upgraded To A Felony DUI?

The lowest level of crime, which includes driving under the influence (DUI), is known as a misdemeanor. As a general rule, if you are facing a first-time charge, then this is the type of charge. However, there are some instances when you are charged with a felony DUI instead of a misdemeanor DUI. Although a felony is more serious in nature, which will warrant more severe punishment, both types of charges carry stiff penalties. DUI laws vary from one state to the next, but there are three basic ways that your misdemeanor DUI could be upgraded to a felony DUI: 1. When the DUI Results in Serious or Fatal Injuries to Another. Serious or fatal bodily harm has a lot to do with whether or not you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI. For example, in California, a misdemeanor can be elevated to a felony drunk driving charge if the prosecutor has evidence that the drunk driver killed another individual. In Florida, you can be charged with a third-degree felony if bodily harm is caused in a DUI accident. 2. When the DUI Occurred with an Invalid License. In order to be behind the wheel of a vehicle and legally drive it, you must possess a valid driver’s license. It cannot be restricted, suspended or revoked. If it is, and you’re caught driving drunk, you’re looking at an easy way of receiving an upgraded DUI charge. For example, in Oregon, you can be charged with a Class B felony if you are caught driving with a previously-revoked license and the revocation was a result of the assault, criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter or murder of another person. In other words, driving drunk could have been a misdemeanor, but when you decided to do it with an invalid license, you put yourself at risk of being charged with a felony if caught. 3. When the DUI Occurred After Prior DUI Convictions. In North Carolina, if you have had at least three DUI convictions in the past seven years, then your drunk driving charge immediately becomes a felony. This mandates a jail term of a minimum of one year, and the court requires that you enter and complete a substance abuse program during your time in jail or as a requirement of your parole. Depending on the laws in your state, there may be other instances when your misdemeanor DUI can be elevated to a felony DUI. If you have been charged with felony DUI, it is crucial that you take the charges seriously and consult with a DUI attorney as soon as possible. You do have the right to an attorney and your attorney can help you determine your legal options and how to...

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