FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

August 2016 Archives

Maybe you enjoyed a Phillies or Eagles game, and enjoyed it a bit too much. Or maybe you reveled in the all-too-brief Dumpster Pool Party Craze of ‘16, but reveled a little too hard. Or maybe, just maybe, you didn’t have too much to drink at all, and still got pulled over, arrested, and charged with DUI.

Just as Philly residents are unique, Philadelphia’s drunk driving laws can be a little different from the rest of the country’s. Here’s a look at DUI laws in Philadelphia.

Heroin on its own is deadly enough. But strains of heroin laced with the powerful pain killing drug fentanyl have been hitting the streets of Indianapolis, and have been linked to a spike in fatal overdoses. In some cases, law enforcement has said that dealers are selling straight fentanyl marketed as heroin.

So where is the new drug coming from, and how is law enforcement trying to stop its deadly spread?

Welcome to FindLaw’s DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Any car accident can be a frightening experience. And if you’ve been drinking and get into an accident, you might not just be fearing for your safety but for your freedom as well. And that fear can make you do some foolish things, like fleeing the scene of a DUI accident.

But what if no one was hurt? What if there wasn’t a whole lot of damage to the other car, or you didn’t hit another car at all? Here’s what you need to know about the legal requirements and the possible penalties for a DUI hit and run.

If you charge someone with a crime, you want to guarantee that they'll show up for trial and possible punishment. And the idea behind bail is that if a criminal defendant has a large amount of money on the line, he or she is more likely to appear. The accused (or a bail bondsman) puts up a percentage of the bail amount, and they get that money back when they appear for trial; skip town and you're on the hook for the full amount.

Which is all fine, in theory. But what if you can't afford the bail, or even the bail bondsman's percentage? Then you languish in jail until trial -- incarcerated even though you might be innocent. Critics of this system gained a new and perhaps unexpected ally last week: The U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ filed a brief in a Georgia case, claiming that bail schedules that imprison poor people for not being able to afford bail are unconstitutional, and bad public policy to boot.

Welcome to FindLaw’s DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

A drunk driving accident can be terrifying. And if no one was injured, you’re right to breathe a sigh of relief. But just because you didn’t kill anyone doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook. Killing a mailbox instead can still be costly, and may even land you in jail.

Here’s what you need to know about a DUI with property damage.

You don't have to have burglarized a home to be charged with a crime relating to the burglary. Even if you were never there and don't know the thief, you can get arrested for buying or receiving stolen goods. And of course if you are charged with the actual theft, you could be in even bigger trouble.

But a charge of theft, larceny, or receipt of stolen goods doesn't necessarily mean you're guilty. Here are the best defenses to a stolen property charge:

If you haven’t seen them in movies, you’ve probably seen DUI checkpoints in anti-drunk driving ads. And that’s if you haven’t actually seen the flashing red and blues up ahead on the road and asked yourself if you might’ve had one too many before getting behind the wheel. DUI checkpoints are everywhere, and if you’ve never encountered one, it’s probably only a matter of time until you do.

But are they even legal? Can’t you just turn around if you see one? And what can they actually test you for? Here’s what happens at a DUI checkpoint:

The United States Department of Justice announced this week that it will phase out its use of private prisons for federal convicts. A DOJ memo noted that private prisons offered fewer rehabilitative programs and resources, were less safe, and cost just as much as Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities.

The move away from private prisons could be a huge landmark in federal criminal justice, and could influence state use of private prisons as well.

5 Ways to Make a DUI Worse

You thought that getting charged with drunk driving was bad, but trust us, it can get even worse. Aggravating factors like an extremely high blood alcohol content, multiple convictions, or, god forbid, an injury-causing crash can turn a bad dream into a nightmare.

You should never drink and drive. And here are five things you should always avoid doing to make a DUI even worse.

It could have all been a misunderstanding. Or you were only defending yourself. Heck, you may not have even hit anyone else and you're still charged with assault. The charge can vary from state to state, and the circumstances that can lead to an assault charge are always unique. You can try explaining all of those circumstances to the police or a judge on your own, or you can enlist the help of a good criminal defense lawyer.

Here's why you might want to go with a lawyer:

Your first DUI was bad. And your second wasn’t any better. And now you’re facing a third DUI conviction and things are not looking good.

You know you’re in for some increased penalties based on your prior DUI history, but could that include some serious jail time? Here’s a look.

You may have heard the phrase 'for-profit prisons' in reference to private prison companies contracting with state and local governments to detain convicts. You may have also heard that this arrangement can lead to some perverse incentives on the part of private companies, whose profits are tied to the number of people in prison.

What you may not have heard about is for-profit probation, whereby private companies monitor offenders, charge them for the privilege, and can even petition that they be sent to jail if they can't pay. This system can also lead to a perverse set of incentives, which is why the American Bar Association is asking that it be abolished.

Imagine a Venn diagram with overlapping circles of hacking, sexual harassment, and extortion -- that's 'sextortion,' a crime whereby a person threatens to distribute someone's private and sensitive information if they don't provide images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money. And while this may seem like a rare crime that only targets certain individuals, the FBI has indicated that sextortion incidents have been on the rise.

So how does sextortion work, exactly, and how can you protect yourself?

What Is DUI Manslaughter?

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

When drunk driving ends in a fatal car accident, a simple DUI can become something far more serious. Even unintentional killings can be charged as crimes, normally as what is known as involuntary manslaughter.

So what is manslaughter, and how can a DUI turn into one?

Are Cops Drug Tested?

Many of us face drug tests when we apply for a job, even though it might not always be legal. Some states are drug testing welfare recipients with little to show for it but the bill. And athletes are drug tested seemingly around the clock, and can even be suspended for taking legal substances.

But what about police officers? Surely, the men and women we trust to make snap judgments in life-and-death scenarios are tested regularly for any drug or substance that might affect those decisions, right? The answer might actually surprise you.

Welcome to FindLaw’s DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Every DUI is unique, which means not all DUIs cost the same. State DUI laws and the particular circumstances of your case will determine your exact cost, but recent studies have shown that a first time DUI in California can cost almost $16,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the factors that will determine how much a DUI can cost, and how to avoid them.

Welcome to FindLaw’s DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Just as teenagers are bound to drink, they’re bound to drink and drive. And they’re also bound to get pulled over and charged with a DUI. We all know that driving drunk is illegal, but are the rules different for minors under 18 years old? What about the possible punishments?

Here’s what could happen if you get a DUI when you’re under 18.