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Homeless in Western States Can't Be Prosecuted for Sleeping on Streets

Outlawing the criminalization of homelessness just got a little clearer in the Western United States. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it is unconstitutional to prosecute someone for sleeping on public streets, at least for the most part. More on that later.

'Drug Free' as Probation Condition OK in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Supreme Court unanimously agreed that remaining drug-free is an acceptable term of probation. Though defense attorneys claim that this is a criminalization of drug addiction, the court found that, in light of the opioid crisis and the facts of this case, the punishment fit the crime.

In this case, Julia Eldred, a 29-year-old dog walker, stole $250 worth of jewelry from her client's house in order to buy heroin to feed her addiction. She was put on probation for a year, with the terms being to go to rehab, remain drug-free, and submit to random drug testing. Eldred, though under doctor's rehab care, tested positive for fentanyl just 12 days after receiving probation, and was thrown in jail.

Once 3D printers became a thing, making some things illegal to 3D print became a thing. Clearly there are some dangerous or illegal items you don't want people printing off willy nilly in their basements or garages. And firearms are one of those things.

Soon after Defense Distributed published designs for its "Liberator" -- supposedly the world's first 3D printed handgun -- the U.S. Department of Defense came calling. In the five years since, the two have been battling over the legality of disseminating specs for 3D-printed firearms, and finally reached a settlement that went into effect in June allowed Defense Distributed to publicly release CAD files for the Liberator and other weapons.

As those who watched the 'Making a Murderer' documentary saw, Brendan Dassey was railroaded by police officers and his own attorney into confessing to involvement in the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. Dassey, just 16 at the time, was subjected to four separate interrogations in just 48 hours, most of it without a parent or an adult present and all without his legal representation, who had passed on inculpatory, if inaccurate, information to law enforcement.

Despite a federal judge and three-member panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Dassey's confession was involuntary, a full panel of the Seventh Circuit reinstated his conviction last year. And today the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal.

Ever since a little payphone case from 1967, the Supreme Court has been limiting the kind of information law enforcement can get from phones without a warrant. Ever since, courts have struggled to keep up with the changing technology, both in the form of information available from phones, who gathers and shares that information, and the way we use our phones.

Today, the Supreme Court extended the privacy protections for cell phone users, ruling that police must obtain a warrant to get a phone's location information from cell towers.

Most of us are familiar enough with the general warrant requirement. From seeing cops on TV bang on a front door yelling, "Open up, we have a warrant," to Jay-Z advising officers, somewhat incorrectly, "Well, my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk and the back, And I know my rights so you go'n need a warrant for that," pop culture is rife with warrant references and "common" knowledge.

But very few of us are really knowledgeable about specific warrant requirements. For instance, police almost always need a valid warrant to enter a home, but very rarely need a warrant to search a car on the road. So what about a car parked at home? The Supreme Court, not so succinctly, said cops go'n need a warrant for that.

Let's be honest, we've all probably driven a rental car that we weren't allowed to. Maybe a friend rented the car for a road trip and didn't feel like putting four people on the rental agreement. Or your parents rented a car to visit you, and you decided to run a quick errand in it.

Either way, you violated the terms of the car rental agreement. But does that violation mean you don't have the same expectation of privacy as the registered driver? Not unless you stole it, according to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Fourth Amendment applies equally to the driver who rented the car and a driver who has permission to use the rental car.

Warrantless Cell Phone Searches at U.S. Border OK in Florida Case

People are guaranteed certain rights in the criminal justice system. One of those rights is to be free of random searches. The Fourth Amendment requires police to have probable cause in order to search an individual, which usually must be evidenced through a warrant. There are certain circumstances, however, where a search warrant is not necessary before conducting a search. According to the 11th Circuit, the warrantless search of a Florida man's cell phone didn't violate the Fourth Amendment.

Oregon Bans Domestic Violence Convicts From Owning Guns

Guns will always be a hot issue, especially since it involves trying to balance citizens' Second Amendment rights and prevent gun violence. One step legislators are taking to stop gun violence is limiting the gun ownership of domestic violence convicts.

Oregon is the latest state to pass a law banning domestic violence convicts from owning guns. More specifically, the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, signed a law that closes a loophole that permits people to buy and keep guns after a domestic violence or stalking conviction.

Texas Cash Bail System Ruled Unconstitutional

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has concluded that Houston's bail system is unconstitutional. The decision affirms a district court's findings in a class action lawsuit alleging that Harris County's bail bond practices violated the Due Process and Equal Protection rights of indigent defendants