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The Supreme Court for the state of New Jersey, in an opinion released last week, just changed the way judges in the state will sentence most juvenile offenders. The opinion, which actually decided two criminal conviction sentencing appeals, centered on whether a juvenile should be sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide related crime.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that not only should juveniles not get life without parole, they ruled that sentences that are in essence, life without parole, (i.e. 75 year sentences) are functionally the same thing as a life sentence.

The governor of Vermont, who signed the bill into law in the state to decriminalize marijuana possession, has just issued 192 pardons to individuals convicted of marijuana crimes. The pardons, which were all for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, also required that the offenses not be in relation to a DUI charge or violent crime. However, the pro-pot governor decided that issuing pardons for these pot convictions would be one of the last things he did before leaving office.

With the populace's shifting mentality towards marijuana legalization across the country, these pardons make sense. After all, the state law in Vermont provides for decriminalization, which means that possession of marijuana should not even be a criminal matter anymore than a traffic ticket is. Unfortunately, many people still have criminal records for offenses that, today, would not even lead to a criminal record.

After two botched executions in 2014 of an Arizona inmate, and an Oklahoma inmate, much public attention was brought to the issue of what drugs are administered to execute death row inmates. After the two-hour long execution, Arizona's attorney general temporarily halted all other executions in the state, and a court order keeps the temporary ban in place until the order is lifted. While the two-hour long execution was successful, the inmate struggled, grasped for air, and moaned in pain during the process, which evidenced that the anesthetic, midazolam, was not working properly.

A problem for many states, like Arizona, that seek to execute death row inmates is the availability of humane methods. Drug manufacturers, while usually more than willing to make a sale, generally do not want their product to be associated with the death penalty and have made their products difficult to obtain for death penalty states.

Despite the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaporizers, neither can be used on a plane. Recent regulations passed by the federal government went into effect this year officially prohibiting e-cigarette use or vaping. Additionally, because of the risk of fire posed by e-cigarette batteries, they are not allowed to be charged on planes.

Prior to the regulations, each individual airline had an independent policy prohibiting it, which was backed by a federal regulation allowing airlines to enact their own policies that don't conflict with the law. The penalties for violating federal aviation regulations can be extraordinarily severe.

FAQ for DUI Probation

Facing a conviction for drunk driving can be really scary. You may have felt compelled to take a plea bargain, especially if it meant you avoided all jail time. Depending on your situation, usually any deal that avoids time behind bars is preferable to facing the unknown of a criminal trial. However, even if you avoid jail, you are likely going to be on probation for some time.

When a person charged with a DUI is sentenced to probation, they usually have lots of questions about probation. Below, you'll find 5 of the most frequently asked questions about DUI probations.

One of the most frequently enforced criminal laws against minors is underage drinking. On college campuses across the country, police departments are ready to surprise party-goers under the legal drinking age with arrests for being underage and under the influence. While college students are usually all over 18 years old, the legal drinking age is still 21, and as such, anyone under 21 who is caught drinking or possessing alcohol can be arrested for a minor in possession (MIP).

What comes as a shock to most is that in nearly every state, a person under the age of 21 can be arrested merely for holding an alcoholic beverage in public. It doesn’t matter if the bottle of alcohol is sealed shut, or belongs to another person. In most states, law enforcement doesn’t even have to see alcohol to make an arrest. Merely being intoxicated or registering a BAC above 0 can lead to a minor’s arrest for MIP. While most states have strict laws prohibiting minors from possessing, buying, or drinking alcohol, punishments vary from state to state.

While it may seem like a good or clever idea in the heat of the moment, lying to a police officer can land you in some real serious trouble. While the Fifth Amendment provides individuals with the right to be free from self-incrimination, otherwise known as the right to remain silent, there is no constitutional right that provides the freedom to lie to cops. Not even the First Amendment’s freedom of speech will protect a person if they are caught lying to police.

The penalties for lying to the police vary depending on the severity of the falsehood and the response/result of the falsehood. Additionally, aside from the differences in criminal law from state to state, lying to federal officers is treated much more seriously and is punished as a federal crime.

Penalty for Gun Store Robbery

The criminal charge of robbery is actually something different than what most people expect. In most states, in order to be charged with robbery, there must a victim present at the scene of the crime, as opposed to a burglary charge, which does not require that a victim be physically present at the scene of the crime.

As you can see in the this news story about a gun story burglary, the crime is being called a robbery. Burglary, in most jurisdictions, is a felony because it involves not just a theft, but also, unlawful entry onto another’s property. So in the above gun store burglary, it is likely the defendants would face felony charges if caught.

Is Identity Theft a Felony?

Like many other crimes, identity theft is a wobbler. Depending on the state and the severity of the crime, identity theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Sometimes, it's not even called identity theft, but rather impersonation, or fraud. Generally, an identity thief will gain access to a person's bank or credit card information, or enough personal information to open a new credit card, and use the credit to make purchases or cash withdrawals or cash transfers.

Typically, when an identity thief uses their illicitly gained information to steal money, or make purchases, in the absence of specific identity theft laws, the crime will usually be treated like any other theft. Theft crimes tend to wobble between misdemeanor and felony charges depending on the circumstances and value of the stolen or illegally purchased items. Additionally, restitution is usually part of the punishment, regardless of whether it is charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

So you decided to throw some eggs during Halloween and now you’re facing vandalism charges. Unfortunately, despite your desire to express your opinion through the hurling of eggs, there’s no freedom of egg-spression in this country. Throwing an egg can actually land you with a vandalism charge and leave you asking: how do I defend myself against a vandalism charge?

The bad news is that there really isn’t much you can do if you were caught in the act, or if there is surveillance footage clearly implicating you. Unless you have an attorney telling you the evidence against you is not strong enough, there’s a good chance your best way out of trouble is via a plea bargain to a lesser charge or a civil compromise. The way vandalism is charged varies from state to state, and may even vary depending on the value of the property defaced or destroyed, as well as the cost to clean or repair the property.