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Recently in Criminal Procedure Category

Not long after we all fell in love with CSI and the science behind forensic evidence, much of that science was called into question. Beyond the accidental errors and purposeful evidence tampering at crime labs and by lab technicians, it turns out that the underlying basis for many types of forensic evidence was flawed.

Now, another long-trusted crime fighting aide is coming under scrutiny. As Radley Balko writes for The Washington Post, it turns out drug sniffing dogs aren't especially good at sniffing out drugs. And this news should have an impact on a big case pending in the Supreme Court.

Cops Can't Force Phones Unlocked With Face and Fingerprints

In a landmark ruling, a federal district court judge in Northern California ruled that police cannot force people to use biometrics to unlock their phones without a specific warrant. As technology advances, some are worried about their invasion of privacy, both civilly and criminally. Though this ruling has limited jurisdiction, it is the first of its kind to outlaw the use of biometrics based on Fifth Amendment rights.

What Happens If an International Student Commits a Crime?

International students have it slightly harder than domestic students, and not just on the language front. Those in the U.S. on a student visa must not only stay in school to keep their visas valid, but also stay away from even being suspected of certain crimes. And if found guilty, the punishment could be harsh. 

So, before you try to get a fake ID to go out to college bars like you do in your home country, educate yourself about the unique consequences of your situation.

Can Cops Search Your Home Based on Sense of Smell?

According to the Kansas Supreme Court, the nose knows. In a 4-3 decision, the highest court in Kansas resolved conflicting decisions at the appellate level to rule that if police smell raw weed when outside a Kansas home, they can conduct a warrantless search of the home based on probable cause. This smells fishy on many different levels, as pointed out by the minority opinion, but the ruling will stand.

On Tuesday afternoon, a 14-year-old driver plowed an SUV containing two other juveniles through a red light in Houston, colliding with a pickup truck driven by Silvia Zavala. Zavala was killed in the crash, and the teens claim they were fleeing a man who brandished a semiautomatic handgun at them, after they threw eggs at his car as a prank.

Now, the juvenile driver is facing adult murder charges. The alleged gun-toting pursuer remains at large.

Admitted Child Sex Abuser Walks Free Because DA Shows Up to Court Drunk

In a bizarre twist, a charged child sex abuser walked free after the prosecuting attorney showed up drunk to the plea hearing, and then forgot to file for a continuance. Based on the snafu, charges against the defendant were dismissed because he wasn't afforded a speedy trial. Now that prosecuting attorney is out of job, and may find herself behind bars, on a different but somewhat related charge.

Darius Jacob Taylor wasn't even in the same state when Wesley Burnett was shot and killed. And yet Pennsylvania prosecutors charged Taylor with criminal homicide.

Under the felony murder rule, anyone who participates in a dangerous felony can be charged with homicide if the crime results in a killing. Burglars have even been given life sentences after victims died trying to flee the scene of the crime. But some are arguing that the felony murder rule is being stretched too far, and that the rule itself may not serve its intended purpose.

If you're charged with a crime, chances are it's a violation of a local ordinance or state statute. But every now and then, if a crime is committed on federal land, a criminal enterprise spans multiple states, or you're involved in federal campaign shenanigans, you may be facing federal criminal charges.

Those charges and investigations can vary from state and local prosecutions, so here are five questions (and answers) regarding criminal investigations under federal law.

Girl Charged With Killing Infant in Daycare

In a bizarre string of events, a 10-year-old girl has been charged with first degree murder for the killing of a six-month-old boy in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. The laws in that state dictate that anyone 10 years old or above that is charged with first degree murder must be arraigned in adult court, regardless of whether or not the case will eventually end up in the juvenile system. The girl was brought into the courtroom in early November, sobbing and shackled. By all accounts, it was a very hard day in this rural Wisconsin courtroom.

A "wobbler," in criminal procedure parlance, is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. That discretion is normally left up to prosecutors, although in some states judges may reduce felonies to misdemeanors under certain circumstances.

When it comes to DUIs, most drunk driving offenses are misdemeanors but may be bumped up to felonies depending on the specifics of the case. So, what makes a DUI a wobbler? And why does that matter to you?