FindLaw Blotter - The Findlaw Crime and Criminals Blog

FindLaw Blotter - Crime Blog - Crime News - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Ever since the advent of private property, we've had laws to keep uninvited people off that property. Trespassing statutes are some of the oldest, and most vigilantly defended, laws on the books, and they can also have their quirks. Do you have to know you're on someone else's land? Is it trespassing if there are no posted signs? Can you trespass in a store?

And if you've been charged with criminal trespassing, do you need a lawyer to defend the charge?

Feds Punish NY Corruption: Sheldon Silver Sentenced to 12 Years

Sheldon Silver, former New York Assembly Speaker, knows the legal system very well. But this week he became intimately familiar with an aspect of the law that was previously only an abstraction to him -- federal criminal sentencing statutes.

Silver, who was just one of many local politicians caught up in an anti-corruption sweep by the local US Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, was hit hard. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption and, reports The New York Times, the judge seemed particularly perturbed by Silver's determination to do wrong.

While a criminal case can go from crime to verdict in 30 minutes on television, in real life they often take months or years to resolve and have various stages from arrest to trial. For some states, that stage is a grand jury indictment.

So how do grand juries work, what does it mean when they return an indictment, and what happens after a grand jury indictment?

Top 5 Felony Questions

The criminal justice system generally breaks offenses into categories based on the seriousness of the crime -- drinking in public is a misdemeanor, while arson is a felony. But sometimes those distinctions are based not on the crime itself, but aggravating factors within the same crime.

So how are misdemeanors and felonies different? And how do courts distinguish between the two?

New Mexico Mom Convicted for Facebook Post Sparking Panic

If you are active on social media maybe you've developed a habit of just posting whatever pops into your head, or revealing the latest rumor you read. Don't do that. You could end up in front of a judge, charged, convicted, and with a criminal record, like a mother in New Mexico.

Jeanette Garza Alvarez posted on Facebook a few weeks back, according to Good Housekeeping. The problem with her post is that it was based on a rumor her 8th grade son told her that there would be a shootout at school, sparking a panic among parents and school administrators. The appropriate response would have been to call police and the school and let them know about the rumors, not change her status on social media.

Misdemeanors Are an Obstacle to Employment in Many States

A misdemeanor on your criminal record is not a bar to most types of employment, or it should not be, and many states have laws that govern how or if employers can consider these. Despite that, a new study reveals that in many states across the country a minor offense presents a major obstacle to licensing and certification for certain jobs.

Although 40 states have laws governing the consideration of criminal records in employment, the problem is reportedly widespread. According to the study by the National Employment Law Project, reported in The Wall Street Journal, the majority of state licensing boards do consider criminal records to deny people licenses to work in healthcare and education.

Ohio Police Unravel Family Massacre, Slowly

Last week eight members of one family, the Rhodens, were executed in Ohio, in four different homes on the same night. Local authorities still haven't found the killer or killers, and all of Pike County, the rural Ohio region where the slayings took place, is reportedly on edge.

There is reason to believe that the murders may have had to do with illegal marijuana growing operations allegedly discovered on the properties where the Rhodens were murdered. There are also stories in the media about the Rhoden family teenage boys being fighters. But despite massive law enforcement efforts, the investigation is moving slowly, writes ABC News, and little is known for sure.

Is It Illegal to Tell Someone to Commit Suicide?

There's a case in Massachusetts juvenile criminal court that's creepier than most horror movies. It's the bizarre story of a suicidal teenager and his girlfriend who texted encouragement while he killed himself.

She is 17-year-old Michelle Carter, and she faces involuntary manslaughter charges for her electronic missives, telling Conrad Roy III, "The time is right and you're ready." The case is alarming for what it may say about communication today but also, reports Vice, because of the legal issues it raises.

New Focus on Rape Kits and Sexual Assault Victim Rights

This month the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill to standardize the rights of sexual assault victims and improve prosecution of sex crimes. That federal legislation, introduced by New Hampshire's Senator Jeanne Shaheen, shone a light on rape kit reform throughout the country.

This week, Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill to ensure the timely testing of sexual assault evidence in Georgia, for example. Shaheen's federal bill focused on this type of evidence, and the grueling legal process for sexual assault victims trying to keep track of their rape kits in the criminal justice system. A key feature of The Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act that Shaheen introduced is a provision giving victims comprehensive information about their legal options, particularly with respect to rape kits, or forensic evidence collected after an assault.

Sure, you can physically hand your ID or driver's license to your friend. And your friend may hold it in her hands momentarily, while pointing and laughing at the goofy look you're sporting in the picture. That friend can even pass it to another friend, while pointing and laughing and saying, "Look!" All of that is perfectly legal.

It's normally what happens after you give a friend your ID that matters.