FindLaw Blotter - The Findlaw Crime and Criminals Blog

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


Following last night's announcement that a grand jury in Ferguson decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, many may have questions about how grand juries operate.

Grand juries are generally called on to decide whether there is probable cause to bring criminal charges against an individual, typically in cases which may result in serious, felony charges. Although all states have laws allowing for grand juries, not all states make use of grand juries.

Besides Missouri, what other states use criminal grand juries?

A child who was carrying a fake gun died from his wounds on Sunday after being shot by an Ohio police officer on a playground.

Tamir Rice, 12, was identified by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner as the victim of this fatal shooting, which occurred outside of Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday. According to The Associated Press, officers were responding to a 911 call that a boy was pointing a pistol that was "probably fake" and scaring others.

Were the officers within the law when Rice was shot and killed?

On November 24, 2014, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri delivered its long-awaited decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager.

The grand jury was presented with five different options for what to charge, ranging from first-degree murder to manslaughter. CNN reports that after months of evidence presentation and two days of deliberation, the grand jury returned "no true bill," meaning it didn't find any probable cause for any of the five charges.

What does this mean for Darren Wilson and Michael Brown's family?

Two Ohio men sentenced to death for a 1975 murder have been exonerated after 39 years in prison.

Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman were set free after the prosecution's key witness recanted his testimony during a hearing last week, reports The Plain Dealer. Following the hearing, the prosecution dropped its objections to a new trial for the men, and later dropped the charges against Jackson and Bridgeman, clearing them of any wrongdoing in the case.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Jackson and Bridgeman's nearly four decades behind bars are the longest sentences ever served by any person who was later exonerated. How did these men manage to clear their names so many years after the fact?

A California couple has been charged for an alleged conspiracy to make and distribute pot on the recent incarnation of a black-market website, Silk Road 2.0.

David Schell, 54, and Teri Schell, 59, of Durham, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday for conspiracy to make and distribute marijuana on the illicit Internet hub. According to Sacramento's KXTV, the couple were charged with 11 criminal counts relating to their alleged scheme to sell pot and pot products online.

So how do these pot growers fit into Silk Road 2.0?

A Virginia man has been sentenced to 43 years in prison for killing the mother of his two children over the prospect of paying child support.

Brandon W. Thomas, 28, stood before Judge Harold W. Burgess on Wednesday for sentencing on first-degree murder and felony firearm convictions. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Thomas represented to the court that the investigation and prosecution's case were "biased, unprofessional, and negligent" and asked that the judge grant him a new trial.

Why did Thomas receive 43 years in this child support murder case?

What Makes a DUI a Felony?

Anytime you're cited for driving under the influence, you face potentially stiff criminal penalties as well as restrictions on your ability to drive.

A DUI offense is generally a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and potentially imprisonment in county jail for up to one year -- but typically less. However, under some circumstances, a DUI may be charged as a felony, punishable in some cases by lengthy prison sentences.

What can potentially make a DUI a felony?

Americans have the right to a jury trial when accused of serious offenses under the Sixth Amendment, but can you choose to waive those rights?

A jury of your peers can be between six and a dozen persons with no guarantee of legal background, while a trial by judge places your fate in the hands of one legally accomplished individual.

So when do you get the choice not to have a jury trial, and why would you choose to forgo one?

A Florida man was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison after answering a teenage boy's Craigslist ad seeking "adult companionship" and engaging in sexual activity with the teen.

50-year-old Brian Keith Dunn of Coral Springs pleaded guilty to coercing or enticing a minor into engaging in sexual activity, reports the Sun Sentinel. Dunn admitted to communicating with the 14-year-old by text and email, but maintained he never actually met the boy face-to-face.

Police told a different story, however.

In addition to being a time-honored institution, marriage has been a hard-won civil right in America. So can inmates in jail or prison take part in the legal sanctity of marriage?

Good news for jail birds and love birds: In most cases, it is possible for prisoners to legally marry their spouses -- even if they're serving life sentences.

So before you start asking the prison commissary if it carries wedding invitations, check out these legal facts about marriage behind bars: