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


The money bail system, under which a criminal defendant may be required to post a cash bond to secure his or her release from jail before trial, has come under increasing scrutiny in the past few years. Critics claim that jurisdictions were using automatic bail requirements to raise municipal funds while keeping poor and indigent defendants incarcerated before any determination of guilt.

But several jurisdictions are proactively addressing the problems, one of them being New York City. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced the borough will no longer require money bail for most misdemeanor or violation cases. Here's what the change could mean.

With few exceptions, every state set the blood-alcohol bar for drunk driving at .08 percent. And most state alcohol consumption laws are similar, as well. But states are, pardon the pun, all over the map when it comes to marijuana enforcement, ranging from therapeutic CBD oil use only in severe medical cases to legalized recreational use. So it's only natural that state laws regarding marijuana-involved drugged driving offenses would vary as well.

California, which just legalized it starting this year, also announced it would eschew a standard THC limit on high driving. So how do cops know when a driver is too high?

California legalized it. And that's all well and good for budding weed entrepreneurs in the Golden State, but what about the half-million people arrested on marijuana-related offenses over the past decade? Many, if not all of those arrestees have criminal charges on their record, and some may still be incarcerated for doing something that is now legal.

The good news is that legalization has also paved for way for Californians convicted of marijuana crimes to have their criminal records cleared or the charges or sentences reduced. Here's how:

As we've noted before, state marijuana laws often conflict with federal marijuana laws, meaning that state efforts to legalize and decriminalize weed have remained subject to federal law enforcement's acquiescence to the will of state voters and lawmakers. During the Obama presidency, the Justice Department refrained from prosecuting federal drug offenses in states that had legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

But those halcyon days for pot patrons may be over. In a memo sent to U.S. attorneys today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded several Obama-era directives, noting that federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana. So what does this mean for growers, sellers, and buyers in weed-legal jurisdictions?

Swatting, the asinine behavior of gamers reporting crimes at the addresses of other gamers, can have serious consequences. Take the case of Andrew Finch, first the victim of an elaborate swatting prank in which a murder and hostage situation were called into his Wichita, Kansas home, then the victim of a police officer's bullet.

Police are putting the blame for Finch's death squarely on the alleged prankster, Tyler Barriss, a 25-year-old Los Angeles man who was arrested in connection with the killing. But who's ultimately responsible?

California once prohibited any licensed liquor manufacturer or seller from offering any gift or free goods in connection with the sale of any alcoholic beverage, as a way to prevent bars, brewers, and distillers from enticing over consumption of their product. That extended to giving patrons a free ride home if they were too tipsy to get behind the wheel.

But no longer. A new law allows alcohol manufacturers and licensed sellers to offer free or discounted rides to drinkers via ride-sharing services, cabs, or other ride providers to make sure they get home safely. Designated drivers, rejoice!

2017: The Year in Cybercrime

As more and more of our social life and day-to-day business exists online, the more criminals will try to take advantage of the internet and access to our personal information. But identity theft is far from the only cybercrime, and the past year demonstrated that.

Here are the major cybercrime stories from 2017:

If you've watched any cop show or cop movie, you can probably recite the warning from memory:

You have the right to remain silent;
If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law;
You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning;
If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.

That admonition comes from a famous criminal law case, Miranda v. Arizona, and must be given to any person prior to custodial interrogation. But there are three major exceptions to what's become known as the Miranda rule or Miranda rights.

A Reuters investigation into Taser use in just one Ohio jail turned up more than a dozen stun-gun videos that have families of the victims, state legislators, and even United Nations torture experts calling for criminal inquiries into the incidents. Officers at the Franklin County Jail were found to have used Tasers on 80 inmates over the course of two years, 60 percent of whom were classified by the jail as intoxicated or mentally ill.

The revelations have many questioning the limits of Taser and stun-gun use for law enforcement personnel, and whether officers accused of exceeding those limits face any punishment whatsoever.

Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, you're not even driving, so why would your driver's license be affected by a pedestrian ticket? But an investigation by the Florida Times-Union and ProPublica discovered that thousands of people have had their licenses suspended for not being able to pay fines tied to pedestrian tickets.

And the violations involved are not just jaywalking -- the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was allegedly enforcing over two dozen obscure pedestrian statutes, more often than not against black citizens.