FindLaw Blotter - The Findlaw Crime and Criminals Blog

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


Prior Bad Acts: Who Can Testify in Bill Cosby's Criminal Trial?

Bill Cosby is the elder statesman of American comedy whose life has turned into a bad drama, now including a criminal case. Next month, Cosby will return to criminal court in Pennsylvania for pretrial proceedings on three charges of felony indecent assault of Barbara Constand and faces ten years in prison if convicted.

Despite the dozens of accusations of abuse that have surfaced from women all over the country, this is Cosby's first criminal prosecution. The case was filed just two days before the 12-year statute of limitations on such claims in Pennsylvania expired, according to USA Today. It raises many interesting legal questions, all complex. Today, let's consider prior bad acts and whether Cosby's other accusers can testify against him.

Top 5 Reckless Driving Issues

The dangers of driving are many and you must pay close attention when you're on the road. Not only do you risk serious injury or even death when you're distracted, but there is also the possibility of being stopped by the cops and being charged with a traffic infraction or crime.

Aggressive driving and road rage are not crimes in and of themselves. But they do lead to reckless driving, which is an offense. Let's look at the top issues surrounding reckless driving.

Arresting Officer in Freddie Gray Case Found Not Guilty

Baltimore policeman Edward Nero, implicated in the death of Freddie Gray last year, was found not guilty of all criminal charges. Nero was tried before a judge and is the second officer of six charged to stand trial for Gray's death.

But Nero is the first to resolve his case, according to Slate. A trial last year for Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury and the case will be tried again. Perhaps informed by Porter's experience, Nero opted for a bench trial, meaning this case was argued before a judge only and not a jury. It was a good choice for him, considering he was found not guilty.

Oklahoma Bill Punishing Doctors for Abortions Vetoed

Last week, Oklahoma's governor vetoed a bill that would have made it a felony, punishable by three years in prison, for doctors to provide abortions. Republican Governor Mary Fallin said the bill would not survive constitutional challenges, Reuters reports, and abortion rights groups had already promised to fight it hard.

The Oklahoma bill would have revoked medical licenses for doctors who performed abortions, but did make allowances for the procedure under certain medical circumstances to save a mother's life. The governor, who is considered staunchly anti-abortion, complained in a statement that the bill was too vague and ambiguous.

Repo Gone Wrong Ends in Manslaughter Charges

Would you die to save your car from a repo agent? That is what happened this week when a woman in Pleasant Grove, Utah crashed her vehicle during a high speed chase — she was trying to get away from a man who came to her door to repossess the vehicle.

Now Ashleigh Best, 35, is dead, and Kenneth Drew, 49, is in jail on manslaughter charges. He denies driving Best to her death, reports the Daily Mail. Let’s consider this tragic accident and the legal limits on repossession.

It's welcome news to many criminal defendants that they can have their record expunged. While expungement might not be perfect -- most law enforcement agencies will still be able to see your arrest history and any convictions -- it means potential employers will have a harder time seeing your mistakes.

But which mistakes are eligible for expungement, and which will remain on your permanent record?

How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you're accused of a crime, you need a good criminal defense lawyer. But good doesn't come in one style, and what you need will depend on you and the specifics of your case. There are all kinds of counselors with different effective approaches to defense.

People pick attorneys based on reputation, experience, word-of-mouth, price, advertising, the feeling they get when meeting counsel, and more. Here are some general principles to consider so you know what to look for when exchanging with defense counsel and deciding about representation.

Your Significant Privacy Interest in Your Phone Doesn't End at Border

Your phone now contains more information than ever before, more even than your home, and the courts recognize this. You do have a significant privacy interest in your phone and you can challenge a search of your tech just as you would a search of your car.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court acknowledged the significant role of technology in our lives in Riley v. California. A recent case out of the Eastern District of Virginia, US v. Kolsuz, illustrates this, saying specifically that search of a smartphone at a border requires reasonable suspicion, according to legal analyst Orin Kerr. Let's consider what it means for you.

Now that the FBI has been caught bugging two California courthouses, many people are wondering about the limits of police surveillance. Recording conversations falls under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures."

So what's considered unreasonable? It's been a long time since the Constitution was written, and society and technology have changed quite a bit since then. Here are some of the limits of police search and seizure today:

Making Matters Worse: An Illustrative DUI

Some news stories read like a small-time crime primer, an illustration of how not to handle legal problems. This case arising out of Orange, California is one of those, a suspected DUI involving a driver on a suspended license who failed to appear in court on a prior reckless driving charge.

Stephanie Marie De Rosas, 32, was arrested on suspicion of DUI last week, reports KTLA5, after she was involved in a three-car crash with one fatality. While DUI is relatively common, De Rosas's checkered past, and most importantly her failure to face facts and resolve the prior matter, means more trouble for her.