FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

January 2015 Archives

What Do Federal Child Abuse Laws Say? 3 Things You Should Know

In addition to state laws prohibiting child abuse, the federal government has its own laws meant to protect children from neglect and other forms of abuse.

These laws include minimum child welfare standards to which the states are required to conform. However, a recent three-year study by the Children's Advocacy Institute found that none of the states are actually meeting these standards, NPR reports.

What do federal child abuse laws require? And what did the study find when it comes to enforcement of these laws at the state level?

What Is Resisting Arrest? Are There Any Defenses?

What is resisting arrest, and what defenses can potentially be used to defeat the charge?

A San Francisco public defender was arrested Wednesday after she refused to let police photograph her client in a court hallway. Notably, a police officer told her before she was placed in handcuffs that she would be arrested for resisting arrest.

Eventually, Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested, though a cellphone video shows that, far from "resisting," she let police cuff her and lead her away. So how can she be prosecuted for resisting an arrest that hadn't happened yet?

Can Your Car's Paint Job Get You Pulled Over?

Most people are well aware that driving too fast or in a reckless manner is likely to get you pulled over. But a car's paint job may also attract the attention of law enforcement.

It's not against the law to have a crummy paint job or to paint your car an especially obnoxious color. Fortunately for most of us, the fashion police have not yet been granted the same power as the actual police to make arrests.

So how can your vehicle's paint job get you pulled over?

After a DUI Arrest, Don't Forget Your DMV Hearing

In the aftermath of a DUI arrest, it's important to remember that in addition to the criminal charges you are facing, you may also have a limited amount of time to request a hearing with your state's DMV in order to avoid a lengthy driver's license suspension.

In most states, immediately following a driving under the influence arrest, a person essentially has two different cases to deal with: the criminal case in criminal court and the administrative case through a state's Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent vehicle registration agency.

Why is it important to know about this administrative hearing process?

Can a Winter Storm Travel Ban Get You Arrested?

The Northeast is preparing for a snowstorm that could bring what The New York Times calls "near hurricane-force winds." the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey have declared states of emergency, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordering a shutdown of the New York City subway and bus systems starting at 11 o'clock tonight.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took the additional step of declaring a travel ban, also starting at 11 p.m. this evening. What does such a ban mean, and what happens if you disobey the order?

5 Reasons Criminal Trials Are Often Delayed

Although an accused criminal is often arrested immediately following an alleged crime, that person's criminal trial may take years to complete because of delays in the proceedings.

The ongoing trial of accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes, for example, was delayed several times before jury selection began earlier this week. According to Yahoo! News, the trial has been delayed for two and a half years, more than three times the timetable recommended by the Supreme Court of Colorado for felony criminal cases. The case has already had five trial dates and two judges, with a request for a third denied. In addition, more than 1,700 motions, notices, orders, and other court documents have been filed in the case.

What are some of the more common reasons for delays in a criminal trial? Here are five:

7 Common DUI Probation Conditions

In addition to fines and jail time, a DUI conviction can often result in a defendant being sentenced to probation.

Probation is a criminal penalty that permits a person convicted of a crime to be released back into society. However, an individual on probation does not enjoy the same level of freedom as a typical citizen. The conditions of a person's probation generally depend on the crime for which the conditions are being imposed, but they generally dictate the things a probationer must and must not do.

Here are seven common conditions of DUI probation:

James Holmes Trial: 9K Potential Jurors Summoned

As the murder trial of accused theater gunman James Holmes gets underway in Colorado, the court has reportedly gathered the largest jury pool in U.S. history.

About 9,000 juror summonses were issued to potential jurors in the case, reports Fox News. The judge in the case has said in court filings that he asked for such a large jury pool because of the high-profile nature of Holmes' death penalty case. Holmes is accused of walking into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012 and opening fire on the crowd. Twelve people were killed in the attack and 70 were injured.

How will the jury be selected, and what are the two sides looking for during the jury selection process?

AG Holder on Civil Asset Forfeitures: 5 Things You Should Know

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the U.S. Justice Department will strictly limit local and state law enforcement agencies' use of so-called federal "adoptions" for civil asset forfeitures.

The federal asset forfeiture program originally began in the 1980s as part of the war on drugs, reports The Washington Post. At that time, few states had similar forfeiture laws; however, federal adoption of seized property allowed local and state law enforcement agencies to prevent seized property from being returned to criminals. But federal adoptions have continued to be used even as states passed their own forfeiture laws. According to the Post, since 2008 local and state police agencies have used a federal civil asset forfeiture program called Equitable Sharing to seize $3 billion worth of cash and property.

What do you need to know about Attorney General Holder's announcement? Here are five facts:

DUI Basics: What Is a PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) Test?

During a DUI stop, the results of a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test will often determine whether a driver is arrested or let go.

But there are some important differences between these preliminary alcohol tests and the testing of blood, breath, or urine following a DUI arrest.

What makes a PAS test different?

When Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dismissed?

There are many ways to get arrested on domestic violence charges. But there are also numerous reasons why those charges may later be dismissed.

In the case of soccer star and goalie for the U.S. Women's National Team Hope Solo, a judge dismissed the two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence assault Solo was facing following a motion filed by Solo's attorneys, reports Seattle's KING-TV. According to Solo's attorneys, the two alleged victims failed to show up for scheduled depositions and had changed their version of events on the night of the alleged assaults.

What led to the judge's decision in this case, and what are some of the other common reasons that domestic violence charges may be dismissed?

Video of Toddler With Gun in Mouth Gets Couple Arrested

Here's a good way to get your kids taken away from you: Let them play with a .40-caliber handgun.

A couple from Evansville, Indiana, is facing child neglect and criminal recklessness charges after police found a cellphone video of the woman's 1-year-old baby placing a gun in her mouth. The incident was apparently no accident: According to police reports, a man can be heard in the background of the video repeatedly encouraging the toddler to say "pow."

George Zimmerman Arrested; Denies Throwing Bottle at Girlfriend

Just when you thought it was safe to be George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted of the 2013 shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin is back in the news.

Zimmerman was arrested and jailed on Friday for aggravated assault after allegedly throwing a wine bottle toward his girlfriend -- an incident he denies. It was Zimmerman's third domestic violence-related incident since his acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case.

Md. Bishop Facing Manslaughter Charges After Alleged DUI Crash

The second-ranking member of Maryland's Episcopal Diocese is facing criminal charges, including manslaughter, following a suspected hit-and-run DUI crash in which a man was killed.

Baltimore authorities say Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook was allegedly texting while driving when she veered off the road, hitting a bicyclist from behind, reports The Associated Press. The bicyclist, 41-year-old Tom Palermo, died from head injuries suffered in the crash. Cook reportedly fled the scene before returning 30 minutes later.

What charges is Cook now facing for the fatal crash?

Dad Arrested Over Playboy-Themed Party for Daughter: 3 Legal Lessons

A California father's Playboy Mansion-themed party for his daughter's 18th birthday wasn't just in questionable taste, it was also allegedly criminal.

San Diego County sheriff's deputies arrested attorney Jeffrey Lake, 48, for violating a local social host ordinance, reports the Poway News Chieftan. There were reportedly as many as 200 people at the party, including many scantily clad teenage girls and underage drinkers. Deputies reported finding one 16-year-old passed out in a bathroom who had urinated on himself and another 19-year-old passed out in a bedroom closet.

What can other dads learn from Lake's potentially costly mistake? Here are three legal lessons:

Calif. Man Gets 2 Years in Jail for Killing Cat

A Long Beach man who allegedly killed multiple adopted cats will spend two years in jail after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors.

Steven Ullery, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty in December, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was sentenced Tuesday to two years in Los Angeles County Jail. Ullery had faced up to five years in prison if convicted at trial.

What led to the charges against Ullery and his plea deal with prosecutors?

Ex-Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell Sentenced: 5 Legal Questions and Answers

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges.

The sentence was imposed today by U.S. District Court Judge James R. Spencer, reports The New York Times. McDonnell was convicted in September of accepting loans and gifts from a businessman in exchange for political favors.

What should you know about McDonnell's sentencing? Here are five legal questions and answers:

Child Charged With Vandalism: What Punishments Are Possible?

If a child is charged with vandalism, what punishments are possible?

Vandalism is, generally speaking, the intentional destruction of another's property. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the cost of the damage and also on the intent (for example, gang-related graffiti is punished more harshly than non-gang graffiti).

A lot of vandalism gets committed by minors, who end up in the juvenile justice system. Because vandalism is a property crime, there is property to repair. A question from FindLaw Answers wants to know who pays for the damage and what the consequences are for the minor who committed the crime.

Ariz. Teacher Charged With Murder After Alleged DUI Crash

An Arizona elementary school teacher is being charged with murder following a suspected DUI crash.

Erica Kristine Flynn was a third grade teacher at Frye Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona, reports Phoenix's KTVK-TV. But Flynn will reportedly not be returning to her job next semester after being arrested and charged with second-degree murder following a crash that a killed a woman December 27.

Why is Flynn being charged with murder in the crash?

What's the Difference Between Burglary, Robbery, and Theft?

Although burglary, robbery, and theft are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between the three.

What the three have in common, of course, is that they all may involve the unauthorized taking of someone’s personal property by another person (aka stealing). But beyond this shared link, burglary, robbery, and theft are all different crimes.

What are the differences between the three?

When Do Recreational Pot Laws in Ore., Alaska, D.C. Take Effect?

For some, the biggest news out of this November's election was the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C.

The two states and the District of Columbia are now set to join Colorado and Washington state -- which both passed recreational marijuana laws in 2012 -- in allowing both medical and recreational use of marijuana. But until the newly passed laws take effect, pot users may still run afoul of existing laws prohibiting marijuana use in these jurisdictions.

When do these new laws take effect?