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The Department of Justice will no longer ask defendants who accept a plea deal to waive their rights to appeal their case based on bad advice given by their defense attorneys.

This is a bit of a departure from plea bargain tactics employed by federal prosecutors, which sometimes involve requiring an appeal waiver for any sort of plea deal. According to The Associated Press, this might not be that big a change, as only 35 of the 94 U.S. Attorneys' offices request that defendants pleading guilty give up their right to sue over ineffective counsel.

What does this change in DOJ policy mean for criminal defendants in federal court?

Philadelphia may have just become the largest U.S. city to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot with a bill signed on Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Nutter signed the city's marijuana decriminalization bill into law, making the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $25 fine, reports The Huffington Post. Dealing or buying marijuana is still a crime, regardless of weight, but those who just enjoy getting blazed in public now have less to worry about.

Let's get down to seeds and stems with this Philly decriminalization law.

California has eliminated the sentencing differences between crack and cocaine offenses, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Fair Sentencing Act into law on Sunday.

The Act, also known as SB 1010, mirrors the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which narrowed the gap in federal law between the punishments for crack and cocaine offenders. But California's law goes further, treating cocaine and "cocaine base" (read: crack) the same in terms of punishing drug convicts.

What does this change mean for drug offenders in California?

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?