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When it comes to the criminal justice system, most people accept the fact that a plea bargain is the only guaranteed way to avoid more serious consequences. Despite a person's innocence, accepting a deal is often the most expedient, and certainly the most certain, end to a scary situation. Trials are uncertain, and being found guilty at trial generally involves lengthier or harsher sentencing.

However, how good a plea bargain will be often depends on who's negotiating on a defendant's behalf. While some deals may be too good to pass up, others can have grave consequences that impact every facet of a person's life.

After a criminal conviction, or being released from custody, a person usually must 'walk on thin ice' for a varied length of time. That's usually due to being on probation or parole.

Sadly, when probationers and parolees violate the terms of their parole or probation, they can end up facing time in custody. Probation, or parole, officers are tasked with regularly meeting with individuals and reporting violations to the courts. As such, individuals often wonder whether they can record their meetings with a parole or probation officer, as they would with a police officer conducting a traffic stop.

Thomas Arthur was first indicted of murdering Troy Wicker in 1982. Three convictions (two of which were overturned), seven stays of execution, and 35 years later, Arthur was executed by the state of Alabama, mere minutes before his latest execution warrant expired.

Arthur's eighth attempt at a stay was denied by the Supreme Court, despite the dissent of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who questioned the state's use of death penalty drug midazolam and its denial of phone service to Arthur's attorneys during the execution.

Undoing Obama era guidance advising federal prosecutors to pass on charging low-level drug offenders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered prosecutors in his Justice Department to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense" under the law. What this shift means in practice is that federal defendants may now face "the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences," which were frowned upon during previous AG Eric Holder's tenure.

Sessions called his directive "moral and just" and advised that "[a]ny inconsistent previous policy of the Department of Justice relating to these matters is rescinded, effective today." What will the new rules mean for prosecutors and defendants?

Gary Howard was arrested, charged, and convicted of marijuana possession with intent to distribute after he was found with 18 grams of pot. To put that amount into context, that's about enough for 18 joints. And, because Howard had a prior felony on his record, those 18 grams got Howard 18 years in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Howard appealed his harsh sentence, and was rebuffed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. But the court's Chief Justice Bernette Johnson slammed her colleagues' decision, calling it "outrageous," "ridiculous," and of "little societal value."

When a person is sentenced to probation, or is paroled from prison, many of their individual rights will be restricted until the court appointed supervision gets completed. Among the most serious deprivation of rights includes a parolee’s or probationer’s inability to freely travel around the world, or even just the country.

Generally, a released convict who plans on travelling to another state for less than a few weeks will only need to get permission from their supervising officer, or the court. In many jurisdictions, if the conviction was for a misdemeanor, then permission may not be required except for extended travel.

However, if the plan is to remain in the other state permanently, or for more than a few weeks, then, more than the usual permission to travel is required. For extended travel, or moving across state lines, a person subject to court ordered post conviction supervision will need to get approval before leaving, or moving, to avoid penalties and arrest for violating the terms of their supervision.

Whether through new DNA testing, faulty forensic science, or procedural error, many criminal convictions eventually get overturned or vacated. Often, these exonerations don't occur until years or even decades after the fact and in that span a defendant may have already paid thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, fees, and restitution.

So when a conviction is tossed out, what happens to all that money? Until last week, Colorado had a statute on the books that allowed the state to keep fees and restitution paid by criminal defendants, even after their convictions were overturned. But the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled the law unconstitutional.

Sniffing glue, paint, gas, or other household products, may seem harmless, but the dangers are very real. In addition to the dangers to one’s health, in most states, using household products to get intoxicated is actually illegal. Although inhalants typically do not fall under the federal controlled substances act, most states have laws specifically banning their use.

Not only are inhalants like glue, spray paint, and even canned air, linked to harmful respiratory problems, their use can be fatal, as a result of Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, or a chemically induced heart arrhythmia.

While it rarely comes as a surprise to learn that college students experiment with drugs, some might be surprised to learn that many of these experimenting students are experimenting with drugs to help them actually study. Certain drugs, like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are commonly referred to as “study drugs” as these help individuals focus and stay focused.

What may even be more shocking is that as a result of the popularity of the study drugs, students that have prescriptions for these medications can expect to be asked to share or sell their medication by friends and other students seeking a boost in their focus. However, under the law, selling Adderall, Ritalin, or Vyvanse can be treated just like selling cocaine or meth.

An inhalant can be any type of gas or chemical that a person inhales to get high. Frequently, inhalants are sprayed or poured onto cloth rags, and a person will inhale the chemical or gas fumes to get high.

Most commonly-used illegal inhalants are actually legal products that a person can buy at a general store. For example, whipped cream in a can, rubber cement glue, and spray paint, are common inhalants that can be readily purchased in countless stores. While users might get temporarily intoxicated, the use of inhalants is linked to numerous side effects, including the potential for death.