FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Recently in Law Enforcement Category

Getting sentenced to probation, or getting paroled, can be quite the relief for individuals convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, for some probationers and parolees, their assigned probation officer, or parole officer, can often make life miserable.

While probation officers are supposed to stick to just the court ordered monitoring, horror stories of corruption abound. Whether it's a probationer being coerced into sex, or a parolee being bribed to avoid a false report of a parole violation, the formerly incarcerated often don't know who to turn to for help, or what proof they need to show.

Every year, people in federal and state parks end up in cuffs because they didn't realize that park rangers, or park police, are real law enforcement officers. Park rangers, park police, and even game wardens and other officials, not only have the authority to arrest you themselves, but they can also refer your matter to local law enforcement as well.

However, it is important to note a distinction between official officers and security guards. Particularly during the peak times of camping season, or at private camp grounds, some parks may hire private security guards to help out. Security guards should be easily distinguishable from real officers, and, like the ones found on college campuses, may still have more authority than one might expect. Security guards are often authorized to detain a person until real officers arrive.

Nearly every local news station is always ready, willing, and able to help law enforcement locate a "person of interest" for a criminal investigation. After all, crime reporting, particularly unsolved mysteries, makes for good television and even better ratings. But what is a "person of interest" anyway?

The phrase is intentionally vague, but the common understanding is that it refers to a suspected criminal, especially when it is used in the context of a criminal investigation. Sometimes, the phrase can refer to a witness to a crime that has gone missing and needs to be located, but even then, individuals tend to associate the phrase with suspected criminals.

Going off to college can often be an overwhelming and scary experience for many young adults. For most freshman, it will be their first time living on their own, and often, college students spend a vast majority of their time on campus.

College students are likely to see, and maybe even have encounters with, campus police. After all, the institutions have a duty to keep their students safe, and providing actual police officers or, minimally, security guards is usually necessary to do so. Fortunately, when campus police encounters happen, it is good to know that, for the most part, a student's constitutional rights remain intact.

Below, you'll find the top three frequently asked legal questions college students have when it comes to dealing with campus police.

The police have a duty to investigate crime. However, individual are not legally required to participate in police questioning. A person can simply say "no", though police may be able to continue questioning until an affirmative request for a lawyer is made. A person not only has the right to remain silent, but can also request the presence of their lawyer during any questioning, even if they are not under arrest or a suspect.

Generally, the only questions and information a person must answer involve identifying themselves to law enforcement, or providing documents during a traffic stop. Beyond that, the Fifth Amendment provides the basis for a person to refuse to answer any further questions. However, when it comes to testifying in court, the Fifth Amendment has some limits. Additionally, individuals should be careful not to confuse questions with commands or orders, which must usually be followed.

It is no shock that minors will land in jail for using, possessing or selling drugs, or for stealing. After all, these are criminal offenses that are not unique to minors. However, when a minor is arrested for possessing or drinking alcohol, it's a little bit different, because adults cannot be arrested just for possessing or drinking alcohol. This distinction is what is known as a "status offense."

There are many crimes that only apply to juveniles because the crime requires that the offender be a minor. And while many of these criminal offenses may not seem severe, or may have light consequences, oftentimes children will suffer severe consequences just from being placed into the juvenile justice system.

Below are three non-violent juvenile offenses that can surprisingly result in kids being taken to juvenile jail.

Faith healing involves individuals praying to God to fix their actual medical ailments. Sometimes this prayer is led, or administered, by a faith healer. Surprisingly, there are whole religious sects that actually believe faith healing is possible. While this sort of thing seems alright for television, in the real world, it's actually dangerous. People, and often children, die or face serious medical complications as a result of following the advice of faith healers.

Faith healing is minimally a violation of civil laws and government regulations. When it comes to children, there's even more likelihood of criminality. However, depending on the harm caused, it could also lead to injuries, death, and serious criminal charges. Not only can a practitioner face legal consequences, but parents can as well. The most common issue is that faith healers and believers will refuse necessary medical care, not just for themselves, but for their children and even adult dependents.

In New York's Suffolk County, Thomas Demint has agreed to settle his wrongful arrest case against the local police department. The civil lawsuit, which made headlines back in late 2015, was resolved for only $50,000.

In May 2014, the 19-year-old Demint was standing a safe distance away from officers that were arresting two other individuals. Demint began video recording the incident, which was happening in public in plain view. After some time, police demanded Demint stop recording, then police arrested Demint for allegedly interfering with their other arrests, and an officer confiscated Demint's phone. When prosecutors determined Demint did nothing illegal, the charges were dropped. Demint, justifiably angry over the whole encounter, filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming he was falsely arrested.

Unfortunately, when faced with the real life question of what you’re going to do when they come for you, you could end up facing additional charges for resisting arrest if you aren’t as cooperative and docile as a baby calf on tranquilizers.

When being arrested, individuals need to be cautious about what they do, as even minor aggressions and accidents can result in resisting arrest charges. 

Nanakuli, Oahu beachgoers called police after a man appeared to be getting too close to a monk seal lying on the shore. The man, Jamie Kalani Rice, claims he was praying and chanting next to the seal. Honolulu Police Officer Ming Wang responded to the scene, and while the words exchanged between the two are unintelligible, video of the incident shows Rice walking away from the seal and retrieving his belongings as Wang follows and proceeds to pepper spray Rice and beat him to the ground with a baton.

Rice sued Wang and the HPD, and received a $30,000 settlement last week.