FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Recently in Legal Mischief Category

Everyone’s heard the age old-saying: if you do the crime, you do the time. But what about if you don’t do the crime, can you still do time? And what exactly would that time be for? The fact is that simply planning to commit a crime can very well be a crime, but there’s got to be a bit more than just an idea, or fully fleshed out plan in some scenarios, before merely planning a crime will be a crime.

Depending on the criminal laws in each state, federal law, and, most importantly, whether a prosecutor can prove the intent to actually commit the crime, planning a crime may not be an offense at all. Generally, if it is charged, it will either be an attempt charge, or as part of a conspiracy charge.

While a far cry from a bat signal, the makers of a crime reduction app, called Citizen, are facing criticism for re-releasing their controversial smartphone app. The app promises to help create safer neighborhoods and cities, and keep people safe from crime, by notifying its users about crime happening in as close to real time as possible.

Currently, the app only works for New York City, but is expected to roll out to additional cities. It works by monitoring and analyzing publicly available data to display recent and current crime incidents on a map, so users can avoid those areas.

When it comes to pranks, the law does not joke around. While many pranks can be chalked up to kids being kids, when practical jokes cause damage to property, or worse, injuries, then police tend to get involved. However, property damage and injuries aren’t the only things that push pranks over the line of what’s legally permissible. In fact, most pranks minimally cause the prankster to be exposed to civil liability for damages, on top of the criminal liability.

All too often, pranks go horribly wrong, or cause unintended consequences. While police didn’t get involved in the notorious Lambo fake-poop prank, the fake pooper was literally shocked by the prank victim’s reaction (note to pranksters: beware of taser toting targets). While these pranksters certainly gained notoriety as a result of their video, prank videos, which abound all over the internet, are frequently used by law enforcement as evidence to support pressing charges.

Below, you’ll find 5 pranks that can actually get you arrested and charged with a crime.

Even though the customer will always be right, shoplifters, fraudsters and other retail criminals will usually be prosecuted, if caught. Shoppers have been trying to game the system ever since there was a system to game. However, many of these shoppers may be committing retail fraud without realizing that they are committing the serious criminal offense of fraud, which carries serious penalties.

One of the most common shopping frauds occurs when a person wears an item of clothing, then returns it. This practice, called 'wardrobing,' can be fraudulent depending on a store's policies. In extreme cases, individuals will re-buy an item they have worn in order to return the worn item with the new receipt. While stores struggle to detect these fraudsters, a former Mrs. America was arrested for doing that to Macy's last year.

Last week, an attorney for the IRS, who also is a professor at Georgetown University, was arrested for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to sell methamphetamine. According to reports, the attorney had allegedly been involved with individuals in Long Island and Arizona, and has been distributing large quantities of methamphetamine since 2012.

The attorney is alleged to have used FedEx to deliver the drugs, which was how he got discovered. After police discovered the drugs in the FedEx package, the intended recipient of the FedEx'ed drugs, likely in exchange for a deal, assisted the police in gathering more evidence of the conspiracy. As part of their role, the IRS attorney was filmed smoking meth while on a video call, and also was caught sending two more packages of meth via FedEx.

Homemade Drug Laws

The first thing that pops into most people's minds when they think about homemade drugs is Walter White, or some less glamorous meth lab in someone's kitchen. And it's true that quite a few folks are cooking up illegal drugs at home using completely legal ingredients they bought online or in stores.

But is it possible you could be making a homemade drug and not even know it?

Seven members of a non-profit organization in Tampa, Florida, with a mission of feeding the homeless were arrested last week for feeding the homeless, again. The organization, Food Not Bombs, has gotten in trouble regularly for this exact problem, like many other individuals and small groups that seek to make an immediate impact by feeding the homeless. In Tampa, in order to legally serve or share food in a public park, a group must obtain a special permit to do so. Technically, the group's members were arrested for not obtaining that special permit.

In Orlando, half a decade ago, the same group faced this exact same issue of a local ordinance requiring a permit to feed the homeless in a public park. The court reasoned that because the restriction imposed by the city was reasonable in time, place, and manner, that there was no constitutional violation.

Three Miami police officers are probably wishing they had a better sense of humor after their poor attempts got them fired. Because of their bad jokes, the Miami police department is recovering from an embarrassing incident where the three young officers made offensive, racist statements in a text message group chat with other officers.

Although it is sadly not uncommon to hear about racism within the ranks of law enforcement, the context of this incident is both alarming and shocking. The officers involved were jokingly discussing using two predominantly African-American neighborhoods for shooting/target practice. While the officers insisted that they were joking, the department found the "jokes" in such poor taste that the officers were fired after an internal affairs investigation.

Despite the rigorous regulations designed to protect against fraud in the medical and drug treatment industry, greedy individuals will always find ways to perpetrate scams. In Palm Beach, Florida, operators of sober homes, also known as halfway homes, as well as drug treatment centers, have been swept up in a recent sting operation designed to target a dangerous unregulated nexus between the two types of facilities. Sober homes have operated largely unregulated in Florida, and as a result, have been ripe for criminals looking to take advantage of the system.

Over ten individuals have now been arrested thus far in the Florida sting. Most of the arrests are centered around the crime of patient brokering and insurance fraud. Patient brokering involves medical facilities, like drug treatment centers, paying other facilities, such as sober homes, kickbacks, or referral fees, for sending patients with good insurance their way.

Of all the places to give birth, jail sounds the least appealing. While jails and prisons in every state are required to provide medical care for their inmates, the way pregnancy and birth are handled varies quite a bit from state to state. Perhaps one of the most shocking practices that is allowed in over half the states is restraining or shackling an expectant mother, even while in labor, to the bed.

When it comes to questionable policies, it doesn't end there either. Some states only provide 24 hours of bonding time with the newborn, while others may provide for 48 or 72 hours. Only 10 states have programs that allow mothers to stay with the newborns beyond 72 hours, with New York being the most generous, allowing up to four years. Despite solid medical evidence that allowing newborns and mothers to have continued contact benefits both mother and child, most states do not have nursery programs, nor the means to provide childcare.

Unfortunately, despite the policies and duties that are in place, all too often, due to the deliberate indifference of correctional officers or prison administration, inmate pregnancies can go horribly wrong.