Criminal Law Decisions: Decided
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The U.S. Supreme Court has beefed up a federal law preventing domestic violence convicts from possessing a gun, even if there was no proof of actual "violence" or injury.

In a unanimous decision, the High Court ruled last week that the federal ban applied even to those domestic violence convicts who had pleaded guilty without there being evidence of physical abuse, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote this opinion for the Court, which may close a loophole that had existed in federal law for almost 20 years.

Toyota is slated to pay $1.2 billion to resolve a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice over safety issues.

The car manufacturer admitted it concealed and misled consumers regarding safety defects in its vehicles, two of which caused unintended acceleration, reports Reuters. The acceleration defect was blamed for the deaths of a California Highway Patrol officer and his family -- allegedly caused by unintended acceleration in his Lexus.

How does this new settlement square Toyota with its customers and the federal government?

New York City no longer plans to appeal the "stop-and-frisk" ruling handed down by a federal judge last summer, opting instead to carry out reforms.

As this issue had been a plank in Mayor Bill de Blasio's campaign, the new mayor -- who's been in office for less than a month -- spoke Thursday about his administration taking a "major step toward resolving the polarizing dispute" surrounding the police custom, The New York Times reports.

With NYC's fight over stop-and-frisk coming to an end, what changes are now being promised?

No Life Without Parole for Juveniles, Mass. High Court Rules

Earlier this week, the highest court in Massachusetts struck down life sentences without parole for juveniles as unconstitutional. The court said that scientific research shows that lifelong imprisonment for youths is cruel and unusual because their brains are not fully developed.

The court's decision dovetails with a previous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and fits into the goals of our juvenile justice system.

Minn. Supreme Court Finds No Coercion in Implied Consent DWI Law

The Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld the state's implied consent law, which means it's still against the law for suspected drunken drivers to refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test.

A Minnesota driver, Wesley Brooks, had argued that he was effectively "coerced" into providing blood and urine samples, because refusing to do so is a crime under Minnesota's implied consent law.

But the state's highest court rejected the argument, ruling the consent was valid.

A portion of Arizona's controversial anti illegal-immigrant law has been blocked and held as void by the 9th Circuit, finding that the language of the law was too vague to enforce.

The federal appellate court upheld a lower court's injunction stopping the enforcement of part of Arizona's SB 1070, which made it a criminal offense to "harbor or transport" illegal immigrants.

What part of this Arizona law was too vague to enforce?

The NYPD's stop-and-frisk practice is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday, finding that the policy violated the Fourth Amendment as well as equal protection principles.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to appeal the ruling, according to The New York Times.

Despite Bloomberg's assertion that stop-and-frisk has eliminated "thousands of illegal guns," Judge Shira A. Scheindlin stated in her ruling that the tactic allowed police to stop innocent people with no objective reason to suspect them of a crime.

The Supreme Court came down on the side of warrantless DNA swabs on Monday, stating in a 5-4 majority that they did not violate a defendant’s 4th Amendment rights.

In a somewhat surprising split, the Maryland v. King majority stated the Maryland law DNA sampling law did not violate convicted rapist Alonzo Jay King’s rights by authorizing police to take a DNA sample from King after arrest, reports Reuters.

How does this ruling on DNA swabs sit with the Court’s prior rulings on collecting physical evidence from defendants?

In the Boston bombing case, authorities have claimed that the public safety exception to Miranda allowed them to question Dzhokhar Tsarnaev without first reading him his Miranda rights.

Tsarnaev's questioning by the High Value Interrogation Group was conducted days before the 19-year-old suspect was read his Miranda rights on Monday, The Huffington Post reports.

The public safety exception to the general rule of Miranda comes from the N.Y. v. Quarles case, and its use in the upcoming Tsanaev case may broaden its scope.

Police Detention 1 Mile From Site of Search May Go Too Far

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police need a valid reason if they want to detain a criminal suspect far away from the site of a search.

In a case out of New York, the High Court ruled that police needed a better reason than making it safer and easier to conduct a search if they wanted to hold a man 1 mile away from his home as officers searched the man's home.

Generally, the Court ruled that police may detain people in connection with executing a search warrant. But cops will need another valid reason if they want to detain a suspect far from the place being searched, writes Reuters.