Legislation & Policymaking - FindLaw Blotter
FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Recently in Legislation & Policymaking Category

Pardon Day: What Is a Pardon?

On this day 40 years ago, President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office.

If you're not familiar with Watergate, Nixon had been investigated and was facing impeachment proceedings for allegedly spying on various political opponents -- then trying to cover it up -- during his re-election campaign. Ford gave Nixon a "full, free, and absolute" pardon one month after replacing him in the White House, saving the ex-president from a potential criminal trial and conviction.

What exactly is a pardon, and who is entitled to one?

Firearm enthusiasts who may also be parents or grandparents should be aware that the laws regulating the ownership, possession, and use of guns by kids are often different from the laws for adults.

These rules are also facing increased scrutiny following a fatal accident at an Arizona gun range in which a nine-year-old girl shot an instructor in the head when she lost control of a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

What are the rules for when kids can legally own or shoot a gun?

You may not know it, but the item you just bought via eBay or Craigslist may have been stolen. But don't worry. While there are laws against receiving stolen goods, they typically state that the purchaser or receiver must know (or should know) that the items are stolen.

So what can happen if you unknowingly buy stolen goods (especially for purchases that, in hindsight, just seemed too good to be true)? Can you get arrested? The answer depends on your specific situation. Here are a few possibilities:

Not being able to vote as a convicted felon may seem harsh, but the practice of disenfranchisement varies widely, depending on where you live.

Each state has the power to regulate the ability of convicted felons to vote, and they don't all agree on whether (or even how long) a felon should lose the right to vote.

So when and where do convicted felons have voting rights?

5 BB Gun Laws You Need to Know

BB and pellet guns may seem like toys to some, but legally, they may be treated more like weapons.

Police in Ohio certainly considered the BB/pellet rifle being carried by 22-year-old John Crawford inside a local Walmart to be a dangerous weapon. Beavercreek Police officers fatally shot Crawford after Crawford allegedly refused to comply with officers' commands, reports the New York Daily News. The Crosman MK-177 rifle Crawford was holding when he was shot is sold at Walmart. Crawford's wife told the Dayton Daily News that Crawford did not bring a gun with him when the couple went to the Walmart and was killed while holding a "toy gun" he picked up at the store.

What are the laws regarding BB guns? Here are five you need to know:

Teenage love grips many of the nation's minors, and many minors will become sexually active by sleeping with another minor. But statutory rape laws make it a crime to have sex with any person under the "age of consent."

Lawmakers understand that teens want to make love, but is sex between two minors a crime?

Here's what you need to know:

Brooklyn's District Attorney has come out against prosecuting low-level pot cases, under a new policy that will provide a clean slate for some drug offenders.

District Attorney Kenneth Thompson's office will not prosecute those who are arrested for possessing less than 25 grams (just under an ounce) of marijuana and will dismiss cases currently in the system. The Wall Street Journal reports that unlike similar programs in the other New York City boroughs, small-time pot offenders in Brooklyn will have their cases dismissed before having to appear in court.

Why is the Brooklyn DA taking this stance on low-level pot cases?

Florida has clarified its "Stand Your Ground" law with a new bill, expanding its protection to warning shots as well as the use of actual force.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB89 on Friday, in part to prevent criminal convictions like that of Marissa Alexander -- the woman convicted of aggravated assault in 2013 for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. Law professor Eugene Volokh writes for his blog (now part of The Washington Post) that it seems sensible for a law that justifies lethal force to "apply equally to defensive threats of force."

What's the harm in adding warning shots to "Stand Your Ground?"

Pregnant women often complain that strangers will touch their bellies. In some cases, it may be illegal.

Unwanted touching of any kind is the legal foundation for battery, but it often takes more than a simple touch or nudge to turn something like a belly rub into a criminal offense.

With that in mind, here are several good legal reasons for strangers not to touch pregnant women's bellies:

Obstruction of justice covers a broad range of criminal charges that can be filed when a suspect somehow impedes or stands in the way of a criminal investigation or prosecution.

A recent example is the charging of Khairullozhon Matanov, 23, a Kyrgyzstani cab driver who was accused of obstructing a government probe into the Boston Marathon bombing. According to Reuters, Matanov had been friends with accused bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsanaev but allegedly lied about his connections to the brothers when questioned by police.

So what are the most common charges associated with obstruction of justice?