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Category Archives: Criminal Defense

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3 Mind Blowing Benefits Of Hiring The Right Criminal Attorney

Every country has laws. These laws are tailored to suit the needs of that particular country. Even within the country, the laws are customized to each locality. The laws are there to protect the citizens of the country and make sure that everyone is treated equally. For those people who have been accused of breaking the law, they need to have proper counsel to see them through their court proceedings. That is where lawyers come in. There are numerous lawyers depending on which genre of law they have studied. The type of lawyer that you hire should depend on the issue that you have, among other factors. For example, if you have real estate issues, you can get a property lawyer. According to wikipedia.org, you can also hire a criminal lawyer to represent you or your company in the event you are charged with a criminal activity. Choosing the right criminal lawyer for your case can make all the difference in the world for your case. This is because these criminal attorneys provide you with all the benefits that you can think of. Some of the benefits of hiring a qualified lawyer from Nashville’s Criminal Defense Attorneys include:

  • Protection

In order to build a strong case against you, the people prosecuting you need to have a lot of foolproof evidence to prove that you did the crime. The collection of this evidence usually takes place, in part, during interrogation at the police station. The police are usually trained with skills on how to get information out of people. They can convince you that you are doing it to save yourself but you are incriminating yourself. These statements can be used in court. However, in the presence of a criminal attorney, the police won’t pressure you as much. Furthermore, the lawyer will tell you which questions are safe to answer.

  • Comfort

Sometimes, during the court proceedings and investigations, you may begin to feel hopeless and downcast. This is because you may start feeling as though you might lose the case. During this time, you need comfort from somebody who understands what you are going through. The criminal defense lawyer that you have hired will do just that. They will be able to comfort you and give you counsel based on facts and experience. Furthermore, they can foresee certain outcomes and prepare you in advance.

  • Strategy

In order to solve any problem, you need a plan of action on how to attack it. Without a plan or strategy, you won’t be able to sort out the problem effectively. The same thing applies to any criminal proceedings that you might be undergoing. You need a plan. Considering you don’t have full knowledge of the law, you may not be the best person to do that. However, the criminal attorney can sort this out. Based on the experience and interaction with numerous judges, your lawyer will be able to come up with the best strategies to help you win your case.

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Drunk Driving Laws In the US – DWI Basics Explained

Cruising down the roadway after getting wasted might look like a cool idea in the movies but the US legal system sure doesn’t think so. Drunk driving is a serious offense, one that is punishable under the US constitution. Here are some of the basic laws concerning drunk driving cases and the precautionary measures you can take up to avoid such as ordeal. Also, if you know someone who is convicted for driving while under the influence of alcohol you can check up on their jail term and other details on Inmates101, a website that keeps track of all prison inmates across the state;

What Qualifies as “Drunk”?

Now, each state has its own rules to define how drunk a person must be to be qualified as “being drunk”. However, the Congress has appealed for a standard yardstick to measure how inebriated the person is. States that want to tap on a major chunk of federal funding comply with the set standard that presumes that 0.08% of alcohol in the bloodstream is “drunk enough” to drive. There are states where the permissible alcohol content in the blood has been lowered to 0.04% for commercial drivers and even less for people under the age of 21.

Stopping a Drunk Driver

The police often set up random checkpoints on the highway or other frequented routes and stop every vehicle or any car at random for a drunk driving test.  A prior complaint by any other driver or any evidence of inebriated behavior adds on to the suspicion and may result in you having to pull over. According to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “turning with a wide radius, straddling the painted lines on the roadway, weaving, appearing to be drunk, striking or almost striking another vehicle, swerving, driving on the wrong side of the road and, braking erratically”, all fall under suspicious behaviour.  

Field Sobriety

The field sobriety test usually involves the police officer asking the drunk driver to perform some tasks to check its brain-to-limb coordination. Some of the tests to check the cognitive abilities of a person would be to ask him to walk on a straight line or recite the alphabets backward. The police can even conduct a chemical test using a Breathalyzer to measure the drivers BAC or Blood-Alcohol concentration levels. Normally, the driver cannot refuse to give in a sample of his blood or urine to conduct chemical examinations. Failure to cooperate with the authorities may result in penalties or suspension of the license.  

DUI/DWI Laws

The Driving Under Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are two offenses registered by law which govern the drunk driving cases. All states have DUI laws which are further divided into two sections- the zero tolerance laws and the per se laws. The zero tolerance laws are for underage drivers. The legal age for drinking in the states is 21, people under the age of 21 if found behind the steering wheel with the lowest trace of alcohol in their bloodstream (even 0.01%) are liable for questioning and a penalty. The per se intoxication laws pertain to all adult drivers who have a BAC of 0.08% or more.

Evidence Involved

The police can convict the driver even without medical proof in case of a “per se intoxication” if there is other evidence to prove his intoxicated state. Most criminal penalties include paying a fee, jail time, probation or community service. People who have a history of DUI violations and reckless road behavior are more likely to get convicted. And if rash driving leads to loss of property or life, then the sentence is even more severe.

The Investigation and Conviction

Once there is enough evidence to convict a driver for rash road behavior, then the police are free to check up on his track record and conduct a detailed investigation to dig up more details. And getting convicted under the DUI laws have an immediate impact on your driving privileges. Your license will be canceled, your vehicle confiscated, and, in some cases, you might even have to serve jail time. If you have a clean track record, chances are the laws might not be as harsh upon you. A regular offender will have to pay the fee and get an ignition interlock system installed in their car at their own expense which could be used to monitor his activities on road.  

What Can You Do?

If you are convicted of drunk driving, the best way out would be to just cooperate with the officers. You can demand a lawyer and legal representation in court, but the district attorney offices are usually unwilling to negotiate for plea bargains especially if it’s a serious violation. You can contact a DUI lawyer to get actionable legal advice.

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Playing Safe with Plea Bargaining

21st century is the age of plea bargain in the United States of America. Gone were those days when people would subject themselves to a trial after being charged with a crime. This reality was acknowledged by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy last 2012.

Nowadays, very few cases go to trial as the majority of felony convictions are now the result of plea bargains. The Bureau of Justice Statistics in US claimed that only about two-thirds of felony defendants were convicted, while approximately more than 95% of these convictions transpired through a guilty plea.

In a plea bargaining, defendants, for whom there are clear evidences of guilt; accept responsibility for their actions as an exchange of getting leniency. At the end of the day,  a time-consuming and costly trial is avoided and everybody is playing safe.

Scope

Plea-bargaining, in layman’s term, is the agreement of a lesser penalty in return for a guilty plea, in which a prosecutor will offer bargains to defendants such as dropping some charges, replacing the original charge with a less serious one or seeking a lower sentence.

Legally speaking, plea bargaining is constitutional. It requires defendants to renounce the right to a jury trial, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to confront witnesses. Thus, defendants’ guilty pleas must be voluntary, and may only plead guilty if they know the consequences of doing so.

There are three types of plea bargaining. First is Charge Bargaining that is used when a defendant pleads guilty to a less serious crime than the one originally imposed. Second is Count Bargaining that is used when the defendant pleads guilty to a fewer number of the charges. Last is Sentence Bargaining that is used when the defendant pleads guilty knowing what sentence will be given.

Furthermore, it is legally binding. Legally binding indicates that an agreement has been consciously made, and certain actions are now either required or prohibited. Hence, it is a contract between the prosecutor assigned to the case and the defendant named in the case, who must abide by the terms of the agreement.

As plea-bargain considered as a legally binding contract, a defendant breaking a plea bargain is affiliated to a breach of contract, leading the prosecutor to be no longer being bound by his or her responsibility in the plea deal.

If, say, the prosecutor is the one who reneges on a plea agreement, the defendant can seek relief from the judge. The judge might let the defendant withdraw the guilty pleas or may force the prosecutor to follow the plea bargain. Hence, both parties should make sure that the plea bargain is recorded, in case a party would claim that a plea bargain was never been discussed.

Prosecutors’ Perspective

There are specific reasons why a plea bargain is offered by the prosecutor to the defendant. To start with, defendants can avoid the time and cost of defending themselves at trial, the risk of harsher punishment, and the publicity a trial could involve.

What’s more, the prosecution saves the time and expense of a lengthy trial. Guilty pleas can be arranged in minutes, while criminal trials would take days, weeks, or sometimes months. With this, the court system is saved from the burden of conducting a trial on every crime charged.

Legal Process

After the processes of getting criminal charges and initial hearing, an offender can then be offered with plea bargaining. In short, plea deals are done shortly after a defendant is arrested and before the prosecutor files criminal charges. An offender may only plead guilty if he or she actually committed the crime and admits to doing so in open court before the judge.

When an offender admits to a crime, he/she agrees of being guilty and may be “sentenced” by the judge presiding over the court, who is the only person authorized to impose a sentence. The next step is to prepare for a sentencing hearing, only if when there is no trial anymore as the defendant pleads guilty.

Upon taking into place, most plea bargains must be approved by a judge in a court of law. It can’t be approved by a judge, unless both sides of the process agree on the terms of the bargain. The judge will ask both sides if they approve of the terms. If one side does not agree of the terms, then the two parties have to go back to settling the agreement.

Plea bargaining is an entirely private process. In most cases, no one besides the defendant, his or her criminal lawyer, the defense counsel, the prosecutor and sometimes the judge are present in the conference room. Also, everything about the plea bargain is not made known to the public until the bargain has been agreed upon by all sides involved.

Legal Characteristics

Generally, legal characteristics increase the likelihood of accepting a plea, since there is more uncertainty in outcomes for both chronic and more serious offenders. More generally, those who are taken into custody are more likely to accept a plea and are less likely to have their charges dropped.

Other legal characteristics that can increase the chance of accepting a plea include the defendant’s prior record; the use of a public or private defender, such as the Legal Aed Criminal Lawyer in Fresno, California; the detention status of the offender; the seriousness of the current offense and prior record; the seriousness of the crime committed; and the strength of the evidence.

Takeaway

One of the good things about plea deals is that either side can propose a plea. If the defendant’s lawyer feel there is an appropriate sentence for the crime and wish to avoid a trial, they can negotiate with the prosecution to find a punishment that they both agree as just.

Defendants worry about how the punishment for their crime can affect their lives in the long run. Although the defendant will plead guilty to a crime if they accept a plea negotiated by their lawyer, it could be a lesser charge that won’t have such a negative impact on their life.

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8 months ago Criminal Defense , Laws

5 Things to Remember If You’re up Against False Accusations in Court

People can make you crazy. If they make accusations that are clearly (or unclearly) false, your reaction matters a lot. Psychology Today notes, “If you are not believed, if you cannot fight back with the true story, if now you are distrusted and under scrutiny, the sense of helplessness is overwhelming.”

What to do if you’re up against false accusations?

Get a grip

  • False allegations are upsetting. No one appreciates being called a “liar” when there’s so much at stake. Still, you can’t let it get to you.

You should sit and breathe deeply. Lose your cool, and you will miss what is going on. If you expect to argue against the false accusations, you must listen. If you are going to turn these accusations around, you don’t want to complicate the situation with emotional outbursts. Anger and dramatics only stretch you emotionally and exhaust your energy.

Plan your comeback

  • Representation by McPhie Law would urge you to organize your thinking and support. The “false” accusations could be mistakes, miscommunications, or misunderstandings. Reasonable people can work out such things.

So, it is in your interest to plan a response with notes, records, receipts, journal entries, phone reports, bank accounts, and so on. If you have the evidence, you can organize an alternative defense against the accusations. In some cases, this means calling on witnesses to the event or to your version of the issue.

Get a lawyer

  • Some courts don’t admit attorneys. But, if you are called to other civil courts, you should have representation. In Civil Court, false accusations can have big consequences, so you want the legal advice to represent your interests. With the potential for criminal charges or financial damages, you need representation

Court procedures usually have a mandatory settlement negotiation. False accusations or not, you may want to reach a settlement to save yourself expenses and emotional costs.

Keep it to yourself

  • In a criminal case, the police will advise you of your right to avoid self-incrimination. The wording of criminal charges may upset you, but there will be time to make your case.

You shouldn’t answer questions until your attorney is present. The lawyer will meet with you in private about what you did or didn’t do. And, you will leave it to the attorney to frame your response. Likewise, you want to reject any plea deal that lacks your lawyer’s input.

Turn the case around

  • Some false accusations amount to a case deserving financial damages. You could sue for damages to your reputation and earnings potential. Slander and libel justify a lawsuit on your part.

The false accusations can amount to an abuse of the legal process and/or malicious prosecution. When the false accusations are deliberate and malicious, you have the right to recovery. Such events are rarely a matter of a mistake, misunderstanding, or miscommunication.

Up against false accusations?

Psychologist Dr. Phil says, “Accept that there is no way you can erase what has happened. Even though the accusations may be unfair and untrue, the situation is real. You need to get out of denial about that in order to deal with it in the here and now.” If you can get a hold of this advice you can proceed with the five things you need to remember when you’re the victim of false accusations.

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What Is a Criminal Defense Attorney and When Do You Need One?

At some point throughout the course of your life, you’ve likely heard the term “criminal defense attorney.” However, just because you’ve heard the term doesn’t mean that you understand it. After all, there are so many different types of attorneys out there that it can be difficult to keep track of their varying responsibilities.

So, what is a criminal defense attorney? What does a defense attorney do? When do you need one?

You can find the answers to all these questions and more by reading below!  

What is a Defense Attorney?

A defense attorney is a specific type of attorney who defends criminally charged individuals in a court of law. Defendants charged with a crime either hire a defense attorney themselves or have an attorney appointed to them by the court system.

While some defense attorneys are generalists who will take on any type of court case, many defense attorneys have specializations. For example, a defense attorney might specialize in defending those charged with homicide.

Defense Lawyer Responsibilities

Defense lawyers have a number of responsibilities to which they must attend. These responsibilities take place both in and out of court. They are as follows:

Speak With Client About His or Her Case

Whether a defense lawyer is a public defender or works independently, their first responsibility is to discuss their client’s case. Generally, this discussion happens in-person through an interview process.

The attorney will ask the client relevant questions about the case. This helps them get important information and use that information to form a defense. During this process, it’s vital that the client answers questions as truthfully as possible. If a defense attorney receives inaccurate or misleading information, he or she will struggle to create a thorough defense.

Investigate the Case

When it comes to researching the case, interviewing the client is only the tip of the iceberg. Defense lawyers must perform an extensive investigation. This involves speaking to police officers, witnesses, and experts.

In addition to this, the defense lawyer will also review the case drawn up by the prosecution. The prosecution is legally required to submit its case to the defense before the trial begins. This procedure allows the defense an opportunity to build a case against the accusations.

Examine Evidence

After gathering witness and police statements, the defense attorney will turn to the evidence involved in the case. He or she will examine this evidence thoroughly, trying to figure out how it will affect the trial and the perceptions of jurors.

In some cases, he or she will have this evidence tested by an independent entity to figure out whether it can help or hurt the defendant’s case.

Select the Jury

Next, the jury selection process will begin. Defense attorneys have a large role in this process, interviewing prospective jurors to determine whether they have any biases against the defendant.

This process is important to the outcome of the trial. By working to pick and choose desired jurors, a defense attorney can increase his or her client’s chances of a successful trial outcome. Due to its importance, seasoned lawyers will often hire juror selection specialists to help them with this task.

Engage in the Plea Bargaining Process

In some circumstances, prosecutors will grant defendants a lenient sentence in exchange for their cooperation or admission of guilt. For example, let’s say a defendant has vital information about a wanted individual. He or she might be able to provide that information in exchange for a reduced sentence.

This process is plea bargaining, and it is a negotiation between the prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys. A talented defense attorney will often be able to strike up a deal for his or her client. This deal often results in less prison time, smaller fines, and similarly reduced sentences.

Act as the Client’s Representative in Court

Once the defendant’s trial begins, his or her defense lawyer will act as his or her representation. This includes arguing on his or her behalf and acting as his or her legal voice in the courtroom.

While in court, defense lawyers will hear testimonies, speak to jurors, and cross-examine witnesses and experts. This is all done in an effort to sway the jury’s opinion toward the side of the client.

Handle Sentencing

In the event that the defendant receives a guilty verdict, the defense attorney will act as the representative at the sentencing hearing. This is the hearing in which the judge administers a punishment.

Defense lawyers speak to the judge, doing everything in their power to limit the severity of the sentence handed down. While a good criminal attorney won’t always get a sentence reduced, he or she provides the best chance of doing so.  If you lose your case you can always hire a civil appeals attorney.

When Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Generally, it’s recommended that you hire a criminal defense attorney whenever charged with a crime. In some cases, you’ll also want to use the services of a defense lawyer when you’re questioned by police.

All types of crimes, both misdemeanors and felonies, can result in harsh punishments. These punishments include lofty fines and lengthy prison sentences, meaning that you should avoid them at all costs.

An experienced defense attorney knows the ins and outs of arguing in a court case, giving you your best chance of a successful outcome. Whether you’re charged with drug possession, sexual assault, or manslaughter, a defense attorney can help you.

Find a Suitable Defense Attorney Now

Are you facing criminal charges? Looking for a suitable defense attorney to represent you in a court of law? If so, our website can help you.

Halt is a legal directory designed to connect individuals with the appropriate lawyers. Regardless of the charge that’s levied against you, our directory will help you to find an attorney suitable for your case.

Protect yourself and search for an attorney now!

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Charged with Domestic Assault? 5 Key Points to Remember

You were recently charged with domestic assault or another charge related to domestic violence. Chances are that your mind is filled with questions – especially when it comes to how your case will play out in court. Before you become overwhelmed by an endless maze of “What If?” questions, here are several key points that you must remember:

The Purpose of the Domestic Violence Hearing

The domestic violence hearing is typically the first stage of the judicial response to this type of charge. The judge assigned to your case will primarily focus on two key factors: the evidence and the victim. Is there enough evidence presented that will support a protective order that favors the victim? The answer to that question will help the judge to determine if the alleged assailant should be allowed to have any contact with the victim and (if applicable) their children.

Understand Your State’s Definition of Domestic Violence

How is “domestic violence” defined in your state? A common mistake is to assume that domestic violence only applies to physical violence. However, the definition of domestic violence according to your state may paint a different picture – one that could drastically change the way you view your chances.

For example, in Arizona, the scope of domestic violence covers much more than just physical and sexual violence. It also covers emotional abuse, neglect and economic control. You do not even need to be physically near the alleged victim. Such acts as harassing phone calls, recording them without consent, threatening conversations, or even criminal trespassing can fit within this category as well.

The Victim May Not Be Able to Dismiss the Case

Another common misperception is that all you must do is get the victim to drop the charges to make everything “go away.” First-time offenders may avoid seeking legal representation, because they believe that the victim can have a change of heart and “pull the plug” on the entire case. Once again, this goes back to how your state handles domestic violence cases.

An average of 1,200 people become victims of physical abuse by an intimate partner in the U.S. every hour, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Therefore, it is not surprising that most states take the prosecution of these cases seriously – with or without the continued support of the victim. In most cases, the district attorney is the only one with the authority of drop a domestic assault case. Even if the victim refuses to testify, the State is still able to aggressively prosecute a case.

Mandatory Counseling is Just One of the Potential Results

It is true that mandatory counseling is a typical result of most domestic assault cases even when the assailant is not sentenced to serve any jail time. However, depending on the nature of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history, it can still be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. It could also lead to restraining/protection orders, custody losses, civil lawsuits, and more. To say that a single charge of domestic assault can change a person’s life forever, therefore, is a major understatement.

Take Your Legal Representation Seriously

It is never wise to face a courtroom battle or any major criminal charge without retaining legal representation. A significant number of people fall into the trap of believing that they have an “open-shut” case that will end in their favor – which is why they feel as if they are saving a lot of money by not retaining a criminal defense attorney to handle their case. As referenced above, by going into the legal proceedings associated with this type of charge without an expert attorney at your side, money is not the only thing you risk losing.

Liz S. Coyle is the Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. She also serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department. She is responsible for internal and external communications for the firm.
Liz S. Coyle

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Top 5 Things You Need To Know About DWI in Texas

It’s that time of year again.  Everyone is going to parties eating and imbibing.  This time of year the police are out in full force.  Cops are waiting just to pull you over and you don’t want to get caught after drinking.  A DWI is an awful experience and when it happens around the holidays it only compounds the matter.  

You don’t want to be the one to spend Thanksgiving in jail.  Picture it. You enjoy an amazing meal with your friends and family but you had a bit too much alcohol to drink.  You come to a DWI checkpoint or perhaps one of your tail lights were out and you got pulled over. You don’t want to get caught in this situation but if you do here are some things you need to know in the state of Texas or before you call a Houston DWI lawyer.

Factors

Every case is different and when it comes to DWI’s in Texas there are several factors that can have an effect on your case and here are some of the things that a judge considers when sentencing you.  Things such as your age. For instance, if you are under or over 21. What kind of license you possess. Have you had a DWI before? How high was your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)?  Were there any drugs involved? Did you cause or were you involved in an accident? Were there injuries or severe damage to anybody’s car? What is your race and what are the judge’s beliefs and tendencies?  Is your lawyer any good?

Penalties

Using the factors above will determine what kind of penalties you’ll receive.  Some penalties are mandated and some are discretionary pending other factors.  If you are over 21 these are the fines you may receive.

First DWI

3-180 days in jail
Fines up to $2,000
Suspended license up to 2 years
Surcharge annually to keep your license of up to $2,000 lasting 3 years

Second DWI

Jail time of 1 month to 1 year
Up to $4,000 in fines
Suspended license for up to 2 years
Up to 3 years annual surcharge of up to $2,000 to keep your license

Third DWI

2 to 10 years in jail
Up to $10,000 in fines
Suspended license for up to 2 years
Annual surcharge up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license
If you are under 21 you are really in trouble.  Texas has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage DWI offenders.  

For your first DWI offense if you are under 21 you’ll face a suspended license for 1 year.   You’ll face fines up to $500 and have to attend an alcohol education program. You may also have to perform community service.  Finally, you may be told you have to put an ignition interlock device on your car. You basically have to blow into a built-in breathalyzer that won’t allow you to start your car if it detects any alcohol.  It will also require you to blow in it from time to time while you are driving too.

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First Time Behind Bars? 7 Common Questions About Bail Bonds

If you’ve been arrested, getting out of jail is usually the first thing on your mind. But, before your release, there are some important things that you should know.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about how a bail bond works!

1. How Much Will it Cost to Bail Out of Jail With a Bondsman?

The amount that you will have to pay varies depending on the nature of your crime and the amount of bail that’s been assigned to you.

In some instances, a bail bondsman may ask that you pay a small service charge, plus any legally mandated charges that are required by law for your release. Other than these nominal charges, which usually amount to less than $100 dollars, you must pay a set percentage of the total amount of bail that’s been assigned to you.

Most bail bondsmen typically require that you pay 10-15% of your total bail amount. So, if your bail has been set at $10,000 dollars, you could potentially pay just $1,000 instead of the full $10K.

2. What Does It Mean to Enter Into a Bail Bond Agreement?

When you enter into a bail bond agreement, you are making a promise that you will adhere to any legal requirements asked of you which pertain to your case. This includes reporting to the appropriate officials, attending the required court dates, paying any fees assigned by the courts, and so on.

In most cases, you are also agreeing that you will follow the law while awaiting a decision in your case and that you will not incur any additional charges prior to the courts reaching a determination in your case.

If you do not follow the agreement completely, the bondsman has the right to collect the remaining bail money that you were not required to pay at the time of your release.

Furthermore, the bondsman may be held liable for the remaining bail amount if you do not do what is legally required of you by the courts.

3. What is Required at the Time of Signing a Bail Bond Agreement?

To bail out of jail with a bondsman, you only need to meet a few simple requirements.

These requirements typically include the following:

  • A money order for the amount due by the holding facility (this is generally $50 or less)
  • A state-issued or approved form of identification
  • 10-15% of the total bail amount assigned to you or a form of collateral equal to the amount required
  • Providing key information to the bail bondsman, such as your name, address, phone number and your employer, and possibly providing proof of your employment/income
  • Your signature, the signature of any applicable guarantor of funds/terms of release, and possibly the signature of a third-party witness, agreeing to the terms defined in the bail bond agreement
  • You might also be required to sign an agreement with the county or state issuing your arrest

Although these can vary somewhat, depending on your state and the bail bond company that you use, they are usually similar across the board.

4. What Are My Responsibilities Once I Am Released?

Once you have been released from jail, you must comply with your agreement or you risk the possibility of rearrest.

Usually, your responsibilities will include the following:

  • Appearing, on time, to any court dates that are set in your case
  • Reporting to any requested court officials or law enforcement departments as required in your case
  • Reporting regularly to the bail bond company while waiting for the court to make a decision in your case (as required)
  • Meeting any requirements  that are set by the courts/law in your case
  • Refraining from breaking the law or any subsequent behavior which results in further legal action against you during the period prior to the court’s decision
  • Providing the bail bond company and the courts of any changes in your address, employment, phone number, or your general whereabouts.
  • Maintaining the terms of your agreement with the bail bond company

There may be additional responsibilities, depending on your case, that are asked of you. For example, you may not be able to leave the state or contact the defendant in your case, or you may need to adhere to other conditions, such as mandatory drug tests.

5. What Happens if I Miss My Court Date?

If you miss your court date without obtaining permission, then you may be rearrested or have to pay the remaining balance of your bail to the bondsman.

It is essential that you show up to every court date that is assigned to you unless you make prior arrangements to reschedule your case with the courts.

6. How Quickly Can I Bond Out of Jail?

By law, some misdemeanor charges require a mandatory waiting period before the defendant is allowed to bail out of jail. These might include domestic violence charges as well as instances when you are detained under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol.

In felony cases, and potentially other cases as determined by law, you will have to wait until there is an arraignment, or hearing, and a judge sets the amount of your bail. However, these will usually occur within days of your arrest.

Once bail has been determined and you have undergone any mandatory waiting period, you can usually contact a bail bond company, such as Alamo City Bail Bonds, who will assist you in bonding out of jail. Most of the time, when all other conditions have been met, you can bond out of jail on the day that you contact the bail bond company.

You may need to exercise patience, however. Many times, it can take several hours for the bondsman to arrive, and for them to call you for release. You may also need to take time signing documentation and making financial arrangements.

7. Will I Owe Additional Payments to the Bondsman After I am Released?

In most cases, the answer is no. However, if you do not comply with the terms of your release, you will potentially have to pay the remaining amount of your bail.

The remaining bail amount might be several thousand dollars. And, in some cases, it might even total several hundreds thousands of dollars. So, you want to be sure that you follow your agreement with both the courts and the bondsman in your case.

Get the Legal Help You Need

After you take care of your bail bond, you will be released, but it doesn’t end there.

If you are facing criminal charges, you will need an attorney to represent you in court. If you can prove indigence, the courts are required to provide you with an attorney. However, the court’s requirements to qualify as indigent usually only pertain to a small population of offenders.

A lawyer can help you navigate the court system and will try to make sure that you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

Do you need legal help?

Check out our site to find an experienced criminal defender who will fight for you!

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The Bloody Truth: Understanding First Degree Murder

You’ll hear on the news and see on television police procedurals that people charged with various types of homicide. First degree murder is the most serious of the various types of homicide, and often leads to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

The different classifications of homicide confuse people. What makes first degree murder worse than second degree or manslaughter? These terms are not interchangeable.

The specific conditions for murder most foul differ by state. First degree murder has specific requirements that prosecutors must meet. Without meeting those requirements, prosecutors must consider a lesser charge.

We’re going to go over all the differences and information in this article, so keep reading.

The Various Types of Homicide

Homicide is a crime where one person dies through the unlawful action of another. Homicides come in three different types. Each must meet specific requirements.

Murder

Murder requires the act be the willful action of another person. The goal of the act is to end the life of the victim. This is generally separated into first and second degree murder. There are also some states that break it down into a third degree.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter is a lesser charge where another person causes the death, but the act was not to kill. For example, a person charged with manslaughter may give another person a drug that causes them to overdose. The act resulted in a death, but it was not the intent.

States that have third degree murder charges are actually manslaughter charges.

Justifiable Homicide

It’s considered justifiable homicide when a person kills someone in self-defense. This is not a criminal act and no charges are filed.

Example: a mugger attempts to harm another person. He is instead killed by the victim. This is a justifiable homicide. The victim protected himself from harm.

What Is First Degree Murder?

For most cases of first degree murder, prosecutors must meet three criteria: intent, deliberation, and premeditation.

Intent

The goal of the act must be to end the life of the other person. It doesn’t have to be for a specific victim, but that the person who committed the crime wanted this person to die. It could be someone they know, the wrong person, or a random person.

If a gunman fires into a crowd and kills a random person or was looking to kill a friend and got the wrong person, it’s still considered first degree murder.

Intent also applies to anyone who “lies in wait” to kill someone. They are waiting, and intending, to kill the victim.

Deliberation and Premeditation

The second and third criteria go together. They show the person who committed the murder had the conscious intent to kill before the event. It can be an elaborate plan that shows the person spent days, weeks or months planning the event.

If a wife wants her husband killed, then she’ll spend weeks or months finding a person to kill him, raising the money or researching how to do it herself, for example.

It can also be a quick thought with enough time for the person to consider the act wrong and not do it. Even if a person pauses for only a few minutes to consider his actions and kills the person anyway, then it’s still first degree murder.

Let’s say a person is in an argument and in the heat of it pulls out a gun. If he takes a second to reconsider the action, but shoots and kills the other person anyway, then it’s first degree murder. He knew that what he was doing would kill the person and did it anyway.

Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder

There is a distinct, but very important, difference between first and second degree murder. The intent must still be there, but not the plan. These are often considered crimes of passion. The person who committed the crime did not plan before committing the crime.

For example: a husband finds his wife in bed with another man, then in a fit of rage kills him. He could be charged with second degree murder. His intent was to kill the man, but there was no planning.

Special Situations of First Degree Murder

The requirements for first degree murder can vary from state to state. Many states consider special situations that can also be first degree murder.

For example, some states need first degree murder to have malice. Malice means the person committed the crime on purpose with evil disposition or with indifference to human life.

There are some states that allow for first degree murder without the traditional requirements. These are often special circumstances. These include the child death caused by unreasonable force, death due to a pattern of domestic abuse, or death of a police officer.

Many states allow the felony murder rule. It’s considered a felony if the death occurred along with another crime such as theft, rape, etc.

Punishment for First Degree Murder

What is first degree murder? It’s the most serious offense in the law books. As such, it carries significant punishment dependent on the state and how good your lawyer is.

It is eligible for the death penalty and can lead to an execution in some states. The law guarantees a person convicted with the death penalty an appeal.

It is also eligible for life in prison and life in prison without the possibility of parole. States also set requirements on the severity of the crime to receive such harsh punishments. The death penalty may only be eligible if the crime was particularly violent or depraved.

Second degree murder can have a punishment of 20-25 years. This also depends on state law and the circumstances of the crime.

Murder Is a Serious Offense

Television shows can glamorize murder and make it seem almost mundane. It’s not: it’s the most serious crime.

Punishment is severe and law enforcement investigates it to the fullest extent. If you want to learn more about first degree murder and other laws, then visit this website.

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10 Examples of Police Misconduct to Refer to for Your Case

Police misconduct is any action done by a police officer that is illegal, inappropriate, or against police policies. This is a broad concept that can range from using excessive force, performing illegal searches, selective law enforcement, racial profiling, and even sexual assault.

Because many of these actions and concepts are broad and non-specific, it can be hard to delve into exactly what problems these cases involve.

We’re going to go over 10 examples of police misconduct cases so you can see exactly what police misconduct is, and how it plays out in court.

1. Philando Castile Case

The Philando Castile case is one of the most famous police brutality cases to come up since Rodney King’s assault in 1992. So what happened?

Philando Castile was driving in a car with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s daughter. He was then pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez. Mr. Castile immediately reported to the officer that he had a legal gun in his possession.

The events that happened next are the example of police misconduct: Yanez tells Castile not to reach for his gun. Castile replies that he is not going to reach for his gun and that he is going to reach for his ID. His girlfriend, and police body footage, corroborate this story.

However, Yanez does not listen and fires 7 shots into the car, killing Castile. This is considered excessive use of force, especially considering that there was an unarmed person and child in the car when Yanez fired 7 shots at close range.

Yanez was charged with manslaughter and acquitted. However, he was removed from his position as a police officer and Castile’s girlfriend received over 800,000 dollars in settlements from the city.

2. Lying to Investigators

When police officers make an arrest, they’re required to tell the investigators that often take over the case all of the details and information they can. Lying to investigators about anything involving the arrest or the case is an example of police misconduct. This can be considered an obstruction of justice as well as going against police rules and regulations.

After the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, there was a huge Department of Justice probe into the racial profiling and misconduct performed by the Ferguson Police Department.

One thing they found in this report is that officers consistently lied to investigators about arrests, events, and interactions. One example given was that an officer lied about an altercation over the police loudspeaker.

This is a serious police misconduct offense, but the officer was only suspended for 12 hours (which, in fact, is another example of police misconduct, since that punishment doesn’t follow police regulations).

3. Ferguson Racial Profiling

That same report showed multiple examples of racial profiling within the FPD as well. Racial profiling occurs when officers and law enforcement officials use race or skin color as the basis for suspecting a crime.

This occurred a lot in Ferguson and is a prime example of police misconduct. The report showed that officers would target men of color, hold them, and then search whether there was a warrant out for their arrest (which is another example of police misconduct).

4. Planted Evidence

Officers planting evidence in order to make an arrest is a gross misuse of power and an example of police misconduct. A current case involving the premise of planting evidence involves Officer Richard Pinheiro of the Baltimore Police Department.

This case showed via body cam footage that Officer Pinheiro planted fake drug evidence in order to arrest a man on drug charges, which led to this man being held in jail for multiple months (all because of fake evidence).

This might be a problem within the Baltimore Police Department, seeing as another example of planted evidence was unearthed also because of body cam footage at a 2016 traffic stop.

5. Walter Scott Case

The Walter Scott case involves both the issue of planted evidence and police brutality. Attorneys involved in this case had to be both experts on police brutality, civil rights issues, and planted evidence in order to get a conviction.

If you want to learn more about or find lawyers that specialize in police brutality, check out these attorneys.

And get a conviction they did: the officer involved was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the case. But what happened?

A cell phone video captured the events: Officer Michael Slager pulled over Walter Scott for an allegedly broken taillight. Scott and Slager apparently fought, and Scott fled the scene as Slager fired multiple shots at him (he was unarmed).

Slager is also seen to be placing his taser next to the body of Walter Scott, essentially planting evidence to make it seem like Scott was armed and using a weapon against him.

It was eventually ruled that Slager used excessive force and that Scott’s shooting death should be considered second-degree murder.

6. Sexual Assault and Rape

Some officers use their power to assault and rape alleged suspects. One example detailed how two New York City police officers arrested a young teenage woman for possession of marijuana. They loaded her into their unmarked police van and forced her to perform oral sex on them; they eventually raped her.

They threatened to charge her with crimes if she didn’t follow their orders. They’ve since been charged with multiple crimes including official police misconduct, sexual assault, kidnapping, and coercion.

7. Witness Tampering

Witness tampering is a type of police misconduct where police officers attempt to change or alter witness testimony by bribes, threats, or other coercive measures. An example case of this occurred recently in Maui, Hawai’i.

Now former police officer Anthony Maldonado pulled over a vehicle in a routine traffic stop. During this stop, Maldonado noticed a large amount of cash in the car, so he stole it.

This in itself is an act of police misconduct referred to as theft under the law. That’s not where the misconduct ends, though. Once the man realized his money was stolen, he reported it to the police department.

Maldonado and four others tried to bribe the man to drop the charges and withdraw the complaint. This is considered witness tampering and is a serious example of police misconduct.

Maldonado is no longer on the force, and he faces years in prison for these actions.

8. Drunk Police Officer

Drinking or using drugs on duty is a huge violation of police rules and regulations, which makes it an example of police misconduct. A recent example: a former Georgia police officer was fired after his supervisor discovered him drunk while filing paperwork.

While this might seem relatively innocuous, image what could happen if a police officer was drunk on duty and got into their police vehicle. Or made an arrest while high. Or shot someone in a drunken rage. Or even made a huge error in paperwork that allowed a murderer to walk free.

Even the smallest example of police misconduct is a serious problem.

9. Rachelle Jackson

Rachelle Jackson of Chicago witnessed a horrific car accident involving Chicago police officers. She bravely ran to the car and pulled one of the officers out fearing that the vehicle was going to explode.

When other officers arrived, Jackson was immediately detained and was questioned about stealing the officer’s weapon and disarming a peace officer. She then went to jail for 10 months awaiting trial after she was threatened and essentially forced to sign a statement that officers made for her.

The case was dismissed by a judge and Jackson turned around and sued the officers involved and the city for a false arrest, coercive questioning, and malicious prosecution (all examples of police misconduct).

10. Eric Garner

The Eric Garner case is another example of police brutality as a form of police misconduct. He was allegedly selling illegal cigarettes on the street of Staten Island. He wasn’t threatening or being violent towards the officers.

The officers attempted to make an arrest and wrestled Garner to the ground. They then put him in a chokehold (an illegal maneuver for police officers to perform) when Garner said repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe.

“I can’t breathe” has become one of the rallying cries of the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement that focuses on the unfair and biased police brutality that mostly black men (but also any person of color) face.

Officers continued to press his head into the ground and kept him in a chokehold. He suffered neck injuries and died because of those compressions.

This case was considered to show police officers using illegal maneuvers and using excessive force. However, neither of the officers involved were charged with a crime.

The officer who put Garner in a chokehold was stripped of both his badge and his gun. His supervisor was also charged with failure to supervise and also stripped of her badge and gun.

10 Examples of Police Misconduct Cases: Wrapping Up

Police misconduct is a scary thought: police offers are supposed to be the people we trust to keep us safe. But, as these examples of police misconduct show, when police break the law or go against regulations, they can harm people’s lives forever.

If you need a lawyer to help with a potential police misconduct case, contact us. We can help find the best lawyer for your case.

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