FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

March 2018 Archives

New Trial Ordered for Adnan Syed of 'Serial' Podcast Fame

Fans of the podcast Serial are atwitter over the news that the subject of the captivating podcast's first season has been granted a new trial. Adnan Syed was convicted 18 years ago for murder. But as the podcast brought to light, there seemed to be serious inconsistencies and missed opportunities by his original defense team. Perhaps Serial lovers will now get a new season covering Adnan's new trial after all these years.

What to Know About Idaho's New 'Stand Your Ground' Law

With the recent school shootings and subsequent student protests in the news, gun legislation is getting a lot of press these days. While many activists are talking about gun control and ways to get more guns off the streets, some states are passing legislation to increase or clarify citizens' use of guns in self-defense. Idaho is one such state, and both sides of the issue have a lot to say about their new "Stand Your Ground" law.

Credit Card Skimmer Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

Having your identity stolen is extremely frustrating, and the effort to correct all the damage done can be mind-numbingly time consuming. You have to cancel your credit cards, fight fraudulent charges, and try to repair your credit. Thankfully, one more thief is behind bars after authorities discovered the credit card skimming scheme he was running in Virginia.

Waterpark Co-Owner Faces Reckless Murder Charge for Boy's Death

Waterparks can be a fun activity for kids in the summer, and even for adults sometimes. But, they also carry the risk of serious injury -- from drowning to slip and fall injuries. While patrons at waterparks are usually required to sign a release of liability, there are times when a waterpark can be held liable for certain injuries suffered by its patrons. In fact, certain injuries may even result in criminal liability.

For example, Jeffrey Henry, the co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, a waterpark in Kansas, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of a 10-year-old boy who was decapitated on a waterslide.

What Is a Gang Database? What If Your Name Is on One?

There are a variety of ways that the government tries to reduce and prevent crimes. One example is by having a gang database, which basically lists people who are members of known gangs. Sounds good in theory, but unfortunately, there appear to be many issues with implementing gang databases.

Woman Arrested for Cooking Chihuahua in Oven

Sometimes the cruelty with which people treat children and animals is beyond comprehension, and all you can do is shake your head in disbelief. In a sad case out of Oregon, a woman is being accused of cooking her Chihuahua in the oven. She's been arrested, charged with animal abuse, and could spend years in jail.

Will Bitcoin Become Illegal After Child Porn Links Discovery?

When it comes to bitcoin, you either follow the virtual currency religiously, or your eyes gloss over at the mere mention of it. And if you've invested in it, you may be dizzy with all the ups and downs it's had in terms of value. Now, some researchers say they discovered links to child pornography in bitcoin's blockchain, and that anyone who downloads a blockchain could be legally responsible for the illegal images contained in it. But is that true?

Drug Kingpins May Now Face the Death Penalty

Drugs have been a problem in the United States for decades, but it seems that somehow it's become even more widespread -- maybe because of the increased use of opioids. So, it's not surprising that the government is trying to step up in finding solutions to end this crisis. One way the current administration has decided to address the drug crisis is to seek harsher sentences for drug dealer and kingpins.

Considering President Trump's comments backing the idea of the death penalty for drug dealers, it's no surprise that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a memo along similar lines. More specifically, Sessions' memo directs federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty "in appropriate cases" when it comes to drug-related crimes. In his memo, Sessions noted that over 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016, and for this reason "business as usual" cannot continue.

Mom Arrested After Video of Smoking Baby Goes Viral

Whether you're making a joke about gun violence or abusing an animal, if you post about it online, chances are you're going to get in trouble with the police. This is especially true since others will most likely be upset by your post and make an effort to alert the police to your activities.

That's what one Facebook user did when he saw a video of a baby smoking a cigarillo. The user, who identified himself as Rasheed Martin, posted the video urging that the mother be arrested. And, thanks to his actions, the video went viral and led to the mother's arrest.

Austin Serial Bomber Identified With Surveillance Video and Receipts

People in Austin, Texas can breathe a short sigh of relief -- the Austin bomber has been identified as Mark Anthony Conditt and is no longer a threat. Surveillance video and receipts led to police identifying Conditt as the prime suspect in causing five explosions that injured five people and killed two in the Austin-area since March 2nd.

After a warrant was issued for Conditt's arrest, authorities found him at a hotel in Round Rock. When authorities showed up, Conditt drove off in his car then killed himself by blowing himself up in his car. Police are warning people to continue to be vigilant, however, because they're unsure if Conditt had sent any other bombs nor do they know if he acted alone.

What's the Penalty for Mailing Explosives?

You can never be too careful, even when you're opening mail that's been delivered to your home. Right now, it appears that the threat of receiving a bomb in the mail is limited to Austin, Texas. The latest explosion occurred at a FedEx facility near San Antonio, Texas, but it's believed that the package was bound for Austin. In addition to the explosion, a second package that contained an explosive device was found by authorities, but it hadn't exploded.

This month, there have been four other explosions that have occurred in Austin, which are all being investigated as the work of a serial bomber. Three of the explosives were inside packages that were delivered to homes in Austin, while the fourth was triggered by two bicyclists riding through an Austin neighborhood. Considering that even making a bomb threat can have serious consequences, you may wonder what the penalty is for actually mailing explosives. Here's a quick look at some of the possible penalties.

Oklahoma Finds Another Way to Execute People

While Oklahoma used to execute people at a relatively high rate compared with the rest of the country, the state took a three-year break after a series of mishaps occurred in its death chambers. Now, as the state looks for more fool-proof ways to put people to death, the legislature has approved Nitrogen as it's go-to killing cocktail.

But while the gas may simplify the execution procedure, critics argue its use is unprecedented, and the legislation was pushed through with little medical research to support it. Since the tactic is untested it could also violate prisoners' rights.

Warrants Required for Driveway Searches: Minnesota Court Rules

Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement needs probable cause in order to conduct a legal search. In general, officers must first obtain a warrant before conducting a search. There are also certain facts and circumstances in which police can search without a warrant, although probable cause is still required. Generally, however, a person's house can't be searched without a warrant. The Minnesota Supreme Court has decided that driveways are also protected from warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment.

TSA Sued for Searching Travelers' Devices

As travelers, we've gotten used to undressing for the TSA -- removing our shoes, belts, and jackets. We even submit to revealing body scanners. But now, it seems that the Transportation Security Administration wants to look under the hood of our personal electronic devices as well.

That's the subject of a recent lawsuit filed against the TSA by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They claim that the TSA has been searching these devices and has refused to give any information regarding their reasons for doing so.

Is Failure to Report Child Abuse a Crime?

It's no secret that children depend on the adults around them to keep them safe. Whether you're a teacher, coach, nurse, or someone else who works with children, you have a responsibility to look out for their well-being. This responsibility includes speaking up when you suspect a child has been abused. But is failing to report child abuse a crime? The answer is: it depends.

Some people have a legal obligation to report child abuse based on their occupation, such as teachers and police officers. However, the penalties for failing to report vary depending on where you live. Some may only have their license suspended while others could face fines and jail time.

What's the Punishment for Possessing Date Rape Drugs?

Don't be fooled by the term 'date rape -- it's not any less serious than rape by a stranger. The general distinction between rape and date rape is that date rape occurs during the course of a date. Despite the distinction, however, it's important to remember that both the rape of a stranger and date rape carry the same punishments.

Although date rape can occur with or without the use of date rape drugs, these types of drugs are often used to commit date rapes -- hence being dubbed "date rape drugs." The official name of the drugs that are collectively referred to as date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine. If one of these date rape drugs is used to commit a rape, you should expect to be punished for both rape and possessing date rape drugs (upon conviction).

Death Penalty Proposed for Drug Dealers: Is That Even Possible?

Given the current opioid crisis going on in the U.S., it's no surprise that the government is trying to find a solution. The most recent thought in addressing the drug problem is having the death penalty on the table for drug dealers. President Trump's administration is reportedly studying the issue, and President Trump backed the idea of the death penalty for drug dealers at a rally in Pennsylvania.

SF Woman Settles Lawsuit for Arrest After Police Deny Her a Translator

There are certain rights afforded to those arrested for a crime. Some of the most well-known criminal rights are protection from illegal searches and seizures, Miranda rights, and the right to counsel. But, there are also various policies and procedures police officers must follow as well.

For example, in San Francisco, officers are required to provide interpretive services to people who have a primary language other than English. In the case of Dora Mejia, officers didn't provide her with an interpreter, which resulted in her being arrested. Mejia had filed a lawsuit against the officers and city, and recently agreed to a $50,000 settlement.

Notorious 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison

Martin Shkreli became notorious for raising the price of a life-saving medicine by 5,000 percent and was dubbed the 'Pharma Bro.' Then, it turned out that he misled investors on one of his funds, which resulted in his conviction of federal fraud charges.

Even though his lawyer pushed for a prison sentence of 18 months or less, the judge wasn't swayed. Instead, the 'Pharma Bro' has been sentenced to 7 years in prison. Although Shkreli didn't take the sentence well, he was facing up to 20 years in prison for being convicted of securities fraud, so it's not as bad as it could've been for him.

Gun Storage Laws by State

Whether it's a mass shooting or police shooting a suspect, reports of injuries or deaths because of guns seem to be in the news almost every day. Considering the damage that guns can cause, it's no surprise that there are various gun laws both on the federal and state level. 

These laws address everything from who is allowed to legally own a gun to what kind of guns are allowed to be sold in a particular state. Many states' gun control laws also address issues relating to gun storage, which promote responsible practices for gun owners. These gun storage laws are meant to encourage safe storage for guns to prevent children or people prohibited from owning guns getting their hands on guns.

5 Driving Myths You Should Know

We here at FindLaw have heard our fair share of driving stories, tips, and tricks -- especially when it relates to traffic laws, the police, and the legal system. So whether you're about to hit the road or smarting from a ticket you don't think you deserve, check out our favorite five driving myths.

New Cybercrime: What Is 'Cryptojacking'?

Advances in technology have made life easier and allowed people to be more connected. Unfortunately, technological advances also open a new avenue for crimes. Generally referred to as cybercrimes, these types of crimes are committed online or with the help of computer networking technology.

A common example of a cybercrime is identity theft, where hackers access a computer to seek out personal information that can then be used to steal the person's identity or access bank accounts. Generally when a computer is hacked, the first thought is that hackers are looking for personal information. But, now there is another reason for hacking a computer: cryptojacking. This new cybercrime hijacks computers to produce digital currency.

DUI With a Child in the Car: What Are the Legal Consequences?

While DUI laws vary from state to state, most -- if not all -- states treat DUIs more seriously if the driver has a minor in the car while driving under the influence. A woman in West Virginia, for example, who was recently arrested for a DUI with her 18 month old child in the car, is now facing charges for child neglect for creating risk of injury, which is a felony.

She's also been charged with driving under the influence with an unemancipated minor in the vehicle. As can be seen from this woman's arrest, getting a DUI with a child in the car can result in more serious legal consequences than driving alone or with an adult in the car.