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Recently in Criminal Procedure Category

You may have heard you get one free phone call when you're arrested. You may not have heard how much phone calls from prison can cost after that, or how much cities, counties, and telecommunications companies are making off those calls.

One fewer city, however, will be profiting from jail phone calls. New York City is making phone calls from its jails free. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law eliminate the charges, and eliminating about $5 million per year in city revenue from such calls.

It can be seen as a sad state of affairs when the best critical commentary of our criminal justice system is coming from a late-night comedy show. But that's John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" for you. This week, the show tackled criminal prosecutors, the county, state, and federal attorney who decide which crimes, if any, a defendant should be charged with -- decisions that impact everything from plea bargaining to trials and sentencing.

As Oliver pointed out, prosecutors wield an incredible amount of power in the criminal justice system, often with little or no consequences for misconduct. So, what are the ethical obligations for criminal prosecutors, and what happens when they fail to meet them?

Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor or Felony?

Is domestic violence a misdemeanor or felony? The answer is, it depends on a lot of different factors.

Defendants in Some States Can Now Get Text Alerts for Court Dates

Texting has become the preferred method of communication in America today. We may not like it. But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! That's exactly what numerous public defenders are doing in California, Maryland, Pennsylvania Virginia, and New York, with more states to come. These offices are using a distinct series of text messages to remind defendants of court dates, and the results have been staggering.

Florida's 'stand your ground' law has been controversial since its inception, perhaps never more so than in the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. And in the fourteen years since the law was first enacted, legislators, law enforcement, and courts seem no closer to providing clarity on when and how it should be applied.

Take this weekend's case of Michael Drejka and Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater. Surveillance footage showed Drejka confronting McGlockton's girlfriend after she parked in a handicapped space. When McGlockton exited the store, he pushed Drejka away from the car and to the ground. Drejka pulled out a gun and shot McGlockton in the chest, and the latter died after fleeing back into the store. Police on Saturday announced they would not arrest Drejka, on the basis of the state's "stand your ground" protections.

Officer Can Draw Blood of Unconscious Driver Without Warrant

Intoxication and consent -- it's a complicated topic. The very definition of consent, what it means to be able to give it, and how intoxication factors into consent, has been the subject of heated debate. Recently, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a police officer can draw the blood of an unconscious driver without a warrant, and without actual consent.

Why Did a Court Rule Cash Money Bail to Be Unconstitutional?

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia upheld a lower court's decision regarding "whether there is a federal constitutional right to deposit money or obtain a corporate surety bond to ensure a criminal defendant's future appearance in court as an equal alternative to non-monetary conditions of pretrial release. Our answer is no."

This may sound confusing. It may also sound like a bad thing. However, according to civil rights advocates, it's an important decision for those who may not have the finances to pay for bail with cash.

They told Jamel Dunn he was going to die.

As five teenagers filmed Dunn screaming for help and struggling to stay afloat in a small Florida pond, they mocked his final moments. "Bruh's drowning, what the heck," one can be heard saying on the video. "Ain't nobody gonna help you, you dumb (expletive)," another taunts. "We're not (fixing to) help your (expletive)." The group laughed, left, and then posted the video to YouTube. Dunn's body was recovered three days later, decomposing on the shore. "We just (let) buddy die," they jeered, "we could have helped his (expletive), and we didn't even try to help him."

Dunn Drowned a year ago, and last week Florida prosecutors announced they could not bring any criminal charges against any of the teens. Here's why.

No, right? While most of us are generally familiar with the concept of double jeopardy -- the legal precept that prohibits multiple prosecutions or punishments for the same crime -- not all of us know the particular ins and outs.

For example, can you be charged with both state and federal crimes for the same incident? And if you were granted a presidential pardon, could a state prosecute you later? These later questions will be decided by the Supreme Court next term, so here's a look a double jeopardy generally, and the new Supreme Court case specifically.

There can be a million reasons why someone who witnessed a crime doesn't testify at a suspect's criminal trial. Fear of reprisal is an obvious one, or maybe the person legitimately doesn't want to see the defendant prosecuted or possibly jailed. Perhaps the witness has moral objections to the criminal justice system generally or the way the particular case was handled, and doesn't want to cooperate. Or it could be something as simple as not being properly advised -- via subpoena or other means -- about the details of the trial or case.

Whatever a witness's reasons for not testifying, prosecutors have a legal obligation to see justice done in every case. And they may want a person to testify even if that person doesn't want to. But how far can prosecutors go to secure a material witness and ensure they testify at trial?