FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

May 2014 Archives

7 Dumb Ways to Get Arrested at a Concert

With this summer's concert season set to break attendance records, it's time to remember a few key items on your concert checklist: don't forget the tickets, be sure to put on some sunscreen, and, oh yeah, don't get arrested.

Like any event with crowds of people (and typically a lot of alcohol) concerts seem to generate their fair share of dumb crime stories.

Here are seven sure-fire, and really dumb, ways to get yourself arrested at a concert.

Is It Illegal to Buy Drugs on Amazon?

Amazon is a one-stop portal for buying almost anything on the Internet, but you should be wary of using it to buy drugs. Despite the questions about legality, Amazon still hosts sellers which offer products which are unavailable without a prescription, or may be barred by the FDA.

So when is it illegal to buy drugs on Amazon?

If You Insult a Cop, Will You Get Arrested?

Insulting a police officer is never a good idea, but it’s a separate issue whether you can be arrested for it.

Those who get in officers’ faces either with their words, actions, or even photography, are often arrested under statutes which prohibit obstructing officers in their investigations or arrests.

Can you legally be arrested for insulting a cop? There are many different types of insults you can hurl at law enforcement officers, and each of them may have a different legal consequence.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Murder?

The statute of limitations can prevent a suspect from being prosecuted for a crime committed too far in the past — even if he or she admits responsibility.

There is typically no time limit for prosecuting a suspect for serious crimes such as murder, but there are always exceptions to this rule. Former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. had his murder conviction thrown out after a Florida appellate court ruled that the statute of limitations prevented him from being charged.

So is there really a statute of limitations on murder?

Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Fines?

Debtors prisons were outlawed in the 1800s, and the U.S. Supreme Court, as recently as 1983, has said that a person cannot be imprisoned for not being able to pay their fine.

It goes without saying then, that you can't get sent to jail for not paying your court-ordered fine, right?

Don't count on it.

After Santa Barbara Shooting, Should California Reconsider Gun Laws?

In the aftermath of last week's deadly shooting in Santa Barbara, California, shock is turning into anger for many who feel that lax gun laws are at least partially to blame.

Others argue that if California's gun laws, already some of the most onerous in the nation, couldn't prevent this shooting that no amount of rules will.

What are some saying could have been done to prevent the shooting?

Clearwater Beach Shootings: Multiple Arrests, 2 Injured

A chaotic string of shootings in Clearwater Beach over Memorial Day weekend have ended with a handful of arrests and at least two persons injured.

The shootings allegedly sparked during a fight between two groups at a Clearwater, Florida Hyatt Regency, reports Tampa Bay's WTSP. The hotel shooting was followed by a shooting in a temporary parking lot and a third shooting at a local restaurant. One victim was hospitalized with a groin injury, while another is alleged to have run off after being shot in the hand.

Police have arrested at least four people in connection with the Clearwater Beach shootings.

Don't Know 'Jack': 5 Tips to Avoid Being Carjacked

Detroit has long been known as The Motor City. But it now has a new auto-related nickname: Carjack City.

Carjackings have become so pervasive in Detroit, reports The Associated Press, that residents are in fear of stopping for gas and have started rolling stop signs in bad parts of town to avoid potential armed car thieves. But whether you live in Detroit, Newark, New Jersey (which actually has a higher per capita rate of carjacking than Detroit), or anywhere else, there are some easier ways to avoid getting carjacked than running stop signs.

Here are five tips to keep you from being the victim of a carjacking.

5 Legal Tips for Holiday Weekend DUIs

A terrible way to celebrate a holiday weekend is with a DUI. Yet so many holiday revelers will be cursing themselves as they end the weekend in a squad car or a drunk tank.

No matter what holiday you're celebrating, follow these five legal tips for dealing with a holiday weekend DUI:

Dad Throws Toddler in Pool, Gets Charged With Child Abuse

An Arizona dad who police allege threw his 23-month-old daughter into a pool to teach her a lesson about water safety ended up getting taught a lesson of his own.

Corey McCarthy, 23, of Phoenix, is being charged with felony child abuse.

Why do authorities feel like this dad's pool punishment was more akin to water torture?

'Garage-Hopping' Homicide Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

A Montana man has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide after the fatal shooting of a "garage hopping" exchange student.

Markus Kaarma, 29, of Missoula, is accused of killing 17-year-old German exchange student Diren Dede after the young man allegedly snuck into Kaarma's garage in search of alcohol. Kaarma's attorney announced that the homeowner will be invoking the state's version of the "castle doctrine" in his defense, Reuters reports.

Can Kaarma legally shoot and kill a teen for rummaging through his garage?

When Can a Court Order a Mental Evaluation?

When can a court order a mental or psychiatric evaluation? These evaluations often involve long medical and psychiatric tests, so they are not doled out lightly.

But as Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius' case shows, a mental evaluation can be ordered if it's alleged that a mental condition may have contributed to the commission of a crime. Pistorius is set to begin his psychiatric evaluation next week in South Africa, The Associated Press reports.

Similarly in the United States, courts can force a person to undergo mental evaluation, but only in certain circumstances. Here are a five common situations in which a court may order a mental evaluation:

What Is Intent to Kill? How Do You Prove It?

Proving an intent to kill is required in most murder charges, and it involves the specific intent to end a human life.

Although there is often strong evidence to support this element of murder, it can often be hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

So what counts as intent to kill, and how do prosecutors prove it in court?

Can You Get a DUI Based Solely on an Officer's Statement?

A woman's car gets T-boned by a sheriff's cruiser that runs a stop sign. The woman's injuries, including a broken neck, are so severe that responding officers are unable to perform a field sobriety test.

So can the officers arrest her on suspicion of DUI relying solely on a deputy's statement that her speech was slurred and her eyes were red? The answer, and what happened next, may surprise you.

'Cold Water Challenge' Gets Minn. Teen Arrested

A Minnesota teen participating in the "Cold Water Challenge" was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor after jumping off a bridge last week.

Joseph Mark Sanislo, 19, of Coon Rapids, was charged with disorderly conduct after jumping off a bridge in Brooklyn Park, near Minneapolis, as a friend recorded it on video, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A witness called authorities, and rescuers responded to the scene.

Sanislo apparently took the plunge as part of the "Cold Water Challenge" -- a social-media stunt increasingly popular among teenagers. But not only can the "Challenge" land participants in legal hot water, it can also lead to injuries and even death.

10 Colleges With the Most Liquor-Law Disciplinary Actions

College is a great place to learn about all kinds of things, including what happens when you break liquor laws.

And like seemingly everything related to the American college system, there's now a ranking of the colleges with the most liquor law violations in the country.

Which schools' students had the most tears in their beers?

What Happens If You Violate Your Probation?

What happens if you violate your probation?

In criminal cases, a judge will often grant probation, releasing a defendant convicted of a crime back into the community under certain restrictions. Conditions of probation can include drug testing, meeting with a probation officer, and electronic location monitoring -- anything a judge deems reasonable and appropriate.

If you fail to adhere to those conditions, you could just get off with a slap on the wrist -- or you could fare much worse. Here are five potential consequences of a probation violation:

When Can You Appeal a Conviction?

When your criminal case goes south, you may wish to appeal your conviction. But appeals are only likely to be successful in certain circumstances where there has been some sort of mistake or error.

Here are a few situations in which you can certainly appeal your conviction:

Nat'l Police Week: 10 Tips for Dealing With Cops

This week is National Police Week, and we want you deal with police in a legal, yet legally savvy, way.

We all know that a police officer's sworn duty is to protect and serve the public. Still, having an officer stop you on the street, pull you over on the road, or ask you a simple question can be nerve-wracking, even when you haven't done anything wrong.

Police are not required to tell you the best way to interact with officers, so we will. Here are 10 tips for dealing with the cops:

High Driver Calls Cops on Drunken Driver; Both Get Arrested

New York State Police officers got a two-for-one deal when a man called in to report being side-swiped by a drunken driver -- only to find himself arrested as well for driving high.

The Daily Freeman reports that Albany resident Malcolm Sidbury called in a hit-and-run accident on the Taconic State Parkway. Officers tracked down the alleged hit-and-run driver, Thomas Robbins, and arrested him for a number of vehicle violations including driving while intoxicated. A breath test revealed Robbins had a 0.25-percent blood alcohol concentration.

However, police also arrested Sidbury for driving under the influence of drugs, which raises the question: How did they know?

A 1st for Denver? Cops Investigating Marijuana Theft

Denver cops are investigating a theft of legal marijuana (under state law, anyway) in a case that might be a first for the Mile-High City.

Chronic Therapy, a legal grow house in Denver, experienced a break-in April 23, when burglars made off with $12,000 in pot plants. Denver's KCNC-TV reports that police have released footage of the suspects caught on the house's security cameras.

With pot now legal in Colorado, will police be investigating more marijuana thefts?

Can an Orange Jail Jumpsuit Prejudice a Jury?

An orange jail or prison jumpsuit is fairly standard for criminal defendants who appear in court. But is it legally required, and perhaps more importantly, could it prejudice a jury?

On Tuesday, a lawyer for Dias Kadyrbayev, one of the suspects alleged to have helped Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, asked a federal court if his client could wear "street clothes" instead of an orange jumpsuit when he appears in court, reports the Boston Herald.

Is it an option not to wear an orange prison outfit in court?

This Week in Animal Cruelty: Hot Sauce Puppy Hater, 'Vampire Vet'

A Florida man pleaded no contest to a felony animal cruelty charge last week for dousing a puppy in hot sauce. Sadly, he wasn't the only person caught mistreating animals.

Ephrian Myles of Sarasota was sentenced to one year in prison and 18 months of probation. He will also have to take anger management classes and can no longer own a pet or live in a house with an animal.

Here's what led up to Myles' arrest, along with two other cases of alleged animal cruelty in the news:

Sexual violence against women has been making headlines of late, especially in the context of the military and in higher education. According to a White House task force, "nearly 20 percent of female college students have been assaulted, but only 12 percent of cases are reported," according the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

With heightened attention on the issue, President Obama is "seeking more openness about the issue of sexual violence on and around the nation's campuses," reports The Associated Press. To that end, the Department of Justice released a list of schools under investigation for failing to comply with federal law.

Which schools are on the list, and what does it all mean?

Siete Ways to Avoid a Cinco de Mayo Arrest

Police are preparing to arrest Cinco de Mayo lawbreakers, and many are planning patrols and checkpoints to nab felonious fiesta-goers.

Luckily (or shall we say, afortunademente), there are many ways to avoid a Cinco de Mayo-related arrest. Here are siete (seven) legal tips you'll want to keep in mind:

Senior Prank Gets 60 Teens Arrested in N.J.

More than 60 New Jersey high-school seniors were arrested early Thursday after allegedly trashing their school as part of a senior class prank.

Law enforcement responded to a burglary alarm at Teaneck High School about 2:30 a.m., finding greased doorknobs, urine-soaked hallways, and flipped desks. Although some students may have escaped police capture, 62 students were arrested, reports New York City's WNBC-TV.

What legal trouble could be in store for these high school pranksters?

Mont. Teacher's 1-Month Rape Sentence Overturned

An ex-teacher's one-month rape sentence was illegal, Montana's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Stacey Dean Rambold is now set be resentenced by a different judge, CNN reports.

Rambold, who was 49 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide. Rambold was originally sentenced to just 30 days in jail.

Why does this convicted rapist teacher need to be resentenced?