Legal Mischief - FindLaw Blotter

FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Recently in Legal Mischief Category

Despite how rare it actually is that a criminal conviction will be based upon a fingerprint, thanks to the popularity of televised cop dramas, some would-be criminals go to extreme lengths to avoid fingerprint detection. Over the last few decades, numerous stories have emerged of criminals literally cutting and burning off their fingerprints. Shockingly, even plastic surgeons are being asked to help alter fingerprints.

Technically there is no law against a person altering or changing their fingerprints. However, other laws may be able to use an altered print as evidence for another crime. Also, it should be noted that changing a fingerprint does not remove a fingerprint. So after a fingerprint has been altered, a person will continue to leave fingerprints. If a person has changed their fingerprints, it is likely that any prints they leave will be more identifiable than they were before.

Additionally, fingerprints cover a person's entire finger and palm, and those with altered fingerprints may find themselves getting their full hand "fingerprinted." Simply the edges of a person's fingerprint, if not completely changed, can lead to a positive identification.

When a jury is asked to deliberate after hearing the evidence at a trial, they are instructed to apply the facts to the law in order to reach their decision. Judges actually provide juries with written instructions on the legal claims, which usually provide step-by-step explanations on how to apply the case facts to the law. However, on rare occasion, a jury will disregard the law, disregard the instructions, and reach a decision that is at odds with the evidence.

When a jury refuses to convict despite the evidence clearly showing a defendant's guilt, it is called jury nullification. Significantly, when a criminal jury acquits a criminal defendant, double jeopardy attaches and the prosecution cannot appeal or retry the case.

During the holidays, it's not uncommon for cities across the country to see upticks in crime rates. Typical holiday crimes tend to involve either theft or poor decisions. While you may not be able to safeguard yourself from everything, knowing about the common holiday crimes might be enough to prevent becoming a victim.

Below, you'll find 5 common holiday crimes that everyone should know about.

Two unlucky burglars got way more than they bargained for when they broke into the Gas bike shop in Orange County, Florida last week. The pair of burglars found the shop's owner lying in wait, gun in hand, and it only got crazier from there.

The bike shop owner had a few prior break-ins and was justifiably paranoid that it would happen again. As a preventative measure, he began sleeping in his store, with a gun. When the burglars broke in, he allegedly held the two men at gun point, forced them to strip down to their underwear, then marched them into the bathroom where he beat them, while still holding them at gun point. The shopkeeper did not call the police until some time had elapsed and his brother and brother's girlfriend arrived at the store.

Obviously criminals shouldn't profit from their crimes. And I think that we can all agree that a car used in a drive-by shooting or purchased with money from a bank robbery can be confiscated by police. But what about when law enforcement seizes assets before a criminal conviction, or before criminal charges are even filed?

Recent studies are showing law enforcement officials are taking advantage of civil forfeiture laws more than ever. In fact, citizens lost more property to police in 2014 than they did to burglars. And new information is coming to light indicating police are seizing assets from people without any proof of a crime. So how is all this even legal?

On August 30, 2016, the DEA issued a statement regarding the reclassification of a popular pain drug known as Kratom. Kratom has only recently gained popularity in the United States over the last 6 years as both a pain medication and recreational drug. The drug produces an opioid-like effect for the users and is described as “opium’s mild-mannered little sister, with very low overdose potential.”

The DEA asserts that the widely used drug is frequently abused by recreational drug users and that it does not have an approved medical use in the United States. However, non-recreational users are dismayed by the ban, since the drug is seen by many with chronic pain as a needed substitute for the stronger opioid and pain medications currently available in the U.S. market. While Kratom is not as potent as many of the pain medications on the market, according to the recent Forbes article, many chronic pain suffers report that it provides better relief than available alternatives.

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.

Can My Lawyer Turn Me In?

A lawyer can only adequately represent her client if she knows all the facts. On the other hand, a client may be wary of telling his attorney everything, for fear of it reflecting poorly on his case or that the attorney will turn around and spill the beans to prosecutors or the judge.

While there are legal protections in place to foster full communication between criminal defendants and their counsel and you should feel comfortable answering all of your attorney's questions honestly, these protections have their limitations. Here's what you need to know about attorney-client privilege in criminal cases, and when your lawyer might be required to breach it.

Police Nationwide Warn Players About Pokemon Go Crimes

In less than one week since its release in the U.S., Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game that is played on smartphones and in the real world, is changing how we live. Even if you don't play at catching imaginary Japanese video game characters in the world, you will be dealing with players running around all over town and maybe on your property.

If you're playing, try not to commit any crimes. Also, beware of unknown Pokestops, where you might become a victim. The game has already been blamed for contributing to rising crime rates. Certainly, police have had much to say about it.

Independence Day weekend is upon us, which means aspiring pyrotechnicians will be hunting for the most colorful weapons-grade explosives with which to amaze and deafen their neighbors and children come the Fourth of July. And let's be honest, not all the sources for those amateur rocket shows are -- how should we put it? -- legit.

So what happens if you get caught with illegal fireworks? Here's a look at the possible penalties: