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September 2016 Archives

So you had a bad day, forgot about your court date, and just found out that the judge issued a bench warrant for your arrest. What is that and what are you supposed to do now? A bench warrant, like any other warrant, authorizes the police to arrest you when they find you. The primary difference is that a judge issues a bench warrant of their own accord. Sometimes the police will actively search for you by coming to your home or business, depending on the severity of the crime and the number of times you have failed to appear in court.

If a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest, even for something as trivial as a speeding ticket, you need to act quickly, as having a bench warrant can lead to your arrest. Failing to appear in court is a serious violation that can cost you time and money, as well as potentially increase the severity of your charges and make a judge less lenient when determining your sentence, if you’re found guilty or enter a plea.

Petty Theft for a Minor

Kids and teenagers can find themselves in all kinds of trouble. Hopefully, most of it will be of the harmless variety. But even some small crimes with no apparent victim can be a big deal for minors and their future.

Take petty theft, for example. So named after the French word petit, meaning small, it refers to thefts of property having a relatively low dollar value. While it may not sound like a big deal, this small crime can have lasting consequences for minors, and should not be taken lightly.

The NYPD has gained notoriety over the past decade due to its use of the policing tactic known as SQF or Stop, Question, and Frisk (more commonly known as stop and frisk). The stop and frisk tactic allows police officers to stop anyone on the street or in public who they have a reasonable suspicion might have committed -- or is about to commit -- a crime. While the NYPD has drastically scaled back its use of the tactic, the statistics are staggering and show that it yields a net negative outcome when community perceptions are factored in.

While there are strong proponents on either side of the debate, the numbers seem to show that it is used disproportionately against minorities, wastes resources, and is ineffective (unless used with stops based on "probably cause indicators").

5 New DUI Laws to Know About

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

It may seem odd, but a DUI in Maryland isn't the same as a DUI in Pennsylvania. And a fourth offense in Kentucky might be treated differently than a fourth offense in Colorado. State DUI laws can vary, and they're subject to change from year to year.

Here's a look at some recent changes to state DUI laws and what they could mean for your DUI case.

While the crimes of grand theft auto and joyriding may seem like the same thing, there is an important distinction between the two. The amount of time that the thief intends to dispossess the owner of their vehicle makes all the difference.

Simply put: joyriding is when a person takes a car without the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. Grand theft auto (GTA) requires the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle.

After decades in decline, overall violent crime rose by almost 4 percent last year and much of the increase was spurred by a rise in gun violence and murder rates in large cities. One of the cities struggling with gun violence is Washington, D.C., which saw homicides in one ward triple in the first half of 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015.

The District has a history of having some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country. So what are D.C.'s current guns laws, and how might they change as law enforcement tries to stem the rising tide of gun violence in Washington, D.C.?

Blocking traffic is not legal and is not a new practice for protesters. When protesters block traffic, they are engaging in civil disobedience, a term coined by one of America's earliest freethinkers and intellectuals, Henry David Thoreau.

While nearly everyone caught in a traffic jam caused by protesters becomes upset due to the delay, it is important to recognize that reporting on traffic conditions is a mainstay of local news stations across the country, while protests often get ignored. Blocking traffic means at very least making the local traffic report.

Although organized protests or marches can obtain permits to close streets, frequently protesters move from the permitted areas. When protesters block highways or streets that they are not permitted to be on, they do risk arrest. However, police are loathe to arrest peaceful protesters, even when they block traffic. The recent protest in Washington D.C. blocked a busy intersection for 7 minutes, and there were no arrests reported.

A DUI charge may sound simple enough. Maybe you didn't get into an accident, had a low breathalyzer result, or even heard about a friend who got a similar charged dropped. Unfortunately, not all drunk driving charges are that easy.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, a first-time DUI can be a misdemeanor charge or a felony; you could be looking at community service or jail time; and you could plea bargain it to a non-DUI offense or be stuck with an expensive drunk driving charge on your permanent record. With so many ways a first DUI can go, it's even more important to have a good DUI attorney on your side. Here's why.

Obviously criminals shouldn't profit from their crimes. And I think that we can all agree that a car used in a drive-by shooting or purchased with money from a bank robbery can be confiscated by police. But what about when law enforcement seizes assets before a criminal conviction, or before criminal charges are even filed?

Recent studies are showing law enforcement officials are taking advantage of civil forfeiture laws more than ever. In fact, citizens lost more property to police in 2014 than they did to burglars. And new information is coming to light indicating police are seizing assets from people without any proof of a crime. So how is all this even legal?

Should I Plead Guilty to DUI?

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Maybe you think the cops pulled you over for no reason. Or maybe you don't think your speech was slurred when you talked to the officer. Or maybe you're convinced you passed those roadside sobriety tests. There could be dozens of good reasons to fight a DUI charge. But there could also be a few good reasons to plead guilty as well.

No one likes the idea of giving up without a fight, and you should never plead guilty to a crime you did not commit. But there may be advantages to pleading guilty to DUI. Here are a few:

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man thought responsible for bombing attacks in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, was arrested following a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey yesterday. Law enforcement believes Rahami placed the bombs that exploded Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City and Seaside Park, New Jersey, as well as pipe bombs found Sunday night in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Linden prosecutors have already charged Rahami with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer after last night's shootout, along with one count each of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Could there be more charges to follow? And where will Rahami go to trial?

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Getting home after a couple beers may seem simple enough. But drunk driving can lead to accidents, and those accidents can be fatal. All of a sudden what seemed so simple now has devastating consequences.

Here's what happens when a simple DUI becomes vehicular manslaughter.

High School Vandalism Charges

There are innocent high school pranks, and then there are outright acts of vandalism. And the line between the two can be nearly invisible. Ten Arkansas teenagers allegedly crossed that line and then some by spray painting, super gluing, and etching a rival team's beloved panther mascot statue.

So what kinds of charges, and punishments, could these kids be facing? (And could their parents be in trouble, too?) Here's a look.

Getting pulled over is no picnic. But things can really go sideways if you don't know your rights -- you can either fail to enforce rights you do have or exacerbate the situation by claiming rights that you don't.

So the next time you get pulled over, make sure you're cool, calm, and collected and you're familiar with these three laws:

Perhaps inspired by the TV show 'Justified' or perhaps just trying to redefine Kentucky bluegrass, marijuana possession arrests seem like they're rising in Louisville. Just last month, a SWAT team found almost 60 plants in one house on Vim Drive in South Louisville. While the state does allow some research and cultivations of industrial or agricultural hemp, possession of its close relative for recreational use or distribution is strictly prohibited.

So what do marijuana possession charges look like in Louisville? And what potential penalties could you face if convicted?

DUI Statute of Limitations

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

If you were pulled over for a DUI, how long can criminal charges hang over your head? If you got arrested for DUI last week, can prosecutors wait until next year to bring charges?

There are time limits on criminal cases, but those limits can vary from state to state and from crime to crime. Here's a look at statutes of limitation for DUI charges.

If you've been following the Slender Man story, both teenagers involved in the attempted murder of Payton Leutner have now pled not guilty by reason of insanity. Based on what has been reported about the attempted murder, that sounds about right as no rational explanation exists for the horrifying actions.

Payton Leutner was invited to a sleepover at a classmate's house along with one other classmate. The following day, while out in a park, the two other girls, then only 12 years old, attacked, stabbed, and attempted to murder Leutner. Fortunately, she was able to escape, and she has now recovered from her physical injuries.

It's long been understood that certain sciences are in fact pseudo-sciences and are often referred to as junk science. Commonly, junk science takes the form of sham products designed to prey on people's insecurities. That flashing light you've velcroed to your body is not going to reduce your waist, despite what that scientist on that 2 a.m. infomercial tells you.

However, last week the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama's advisors on technology and science are about to issue findings calling into question scientific practices accepted by the court system relating to CSI-style forensic evidence.

While the president's advisors' findings are not saying that all forensics are a sham, they are saying that many of the types of accepted forensic evidence do not actually meet the criterion for what should be accepted as evidence in a court of law.

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Whether you're heading back to your college campus this fall or arriving at a university for the first time, chances are you'll find yourself at a party with alcohol. And there's also a good chance you'll be put in a position of drinking and driving. Hopefully, you'll choose drinking or driving, but we all know that even the best-intentioned college students don't always make the best life choices.

So if you've been charged with a DUI on campus -- or need a few more reasons to avoid one -- here are five things you need to know about DUIs in college.

Gun control laws are a controversial topic that generally focus on the possession and sale of the guns themselves. But what about the bullets the guns fire? Proponents for stricter gun control laws also support regulating the types of ammunition available to the public, as well as who can sell and purchase ammunition. The idea of bullet control has been around since at least Chris Rock explained his solution to the gun violence problem (WARNING: linked video contains Adult Language).

Across the United States, each state is free to regulate guns and ammunition, as long as they don't run afoul of federal laws and the Second Amendment. Certain types of ammunition have been made illegal by several states as these types are seen as having no "sporting" value.

If you're willing to violate your warranty and the law in order to install that aftermarket mod to make your cars go faster and look furious-er, just be ready to get pulled over for those awesome mods.

Certain performance modifications are completely legal, such as adding a spoiler, high performance suspension, ultra-light wheels, and even some performance engine components. However, sometimes seemingly minor car modifications are not only illegal, but will get you pulled over by the police.

Prescription drugs can save lives. Then can also be addictive and potentially deadly. And the line between legitimately filling a prescription and abusing the system to sell pills for profit is sometimes so thin as to be invisible.

So what's the difference between having the prescription pills you need and having enough prescription pills to open up an illicit pharmacy? Here's what you need to know about criminal prescription drug charges and penalties.

If you live in Atlanta, you’ve probably noticed a lot more carjacking stories on the evening news. AAA Insurance has noticed, and is warning residents about two popular carjacking techniques. “A person goes over to fill their car up and when they leave their vehicle open someone comes over on that side,” AAA spokesperson Garrett Townsend told Atlanta’s CBS46. Atlantans should also be on the lookout for the “squat and scoop,” where perpetrators stage a fender bender and strike when a driver gets out to check the damage.

So how can you avoid becoming a carjacker’s next victim? And what criminal charges do alleged carjackers face? Here’s what you need to know.

On August 30, 2016, the DEA issued a statement regarding the reclassification of a popular pain drug known as Kratom. Kratom has only recently gained popularity in the United States over the last 6 years as both a pain medication and recreational drug. The drug produces an opioid-like effect for the users and is described as “opium’s mild-mannered little sister, with very low overdose potential.”

The DEA asserts that the widely used drug is frequently abused by recreational drug users and that it does not have an approved medical use in the United States. However, non-recreational users are dismayed by the ban, since the drug is seen by many with chronic pain as a needed substitute for the stronger opioid and pain medications currently available in the U.S. market. While Kratom is not as potent as many of the pain medications on the market, according to the recent Forbes article, many chronic pain suffers report that it provides better relief than available alternatives.

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

You might've had the thought before: "Sure, I got a DUI once in North Carolina, but how are the cops in Arizona going to know?" Or you thought, "I just got a DUI on vacation in Florida, but I live in South Dakota so the ticket won't follow me home, right?"

Not so right there, chief. The Non-Resident Violator Compact is an interstate agreement covering 44 states and Washington D.C., allowing law enforcement to track and enforce traffic violations nationwide. So how does the NRVC work, and how might it affect your DUI case?