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Monday, August 12, 2013

US Attorney General Announces Change in Drug Crime Policy

As reported by the Washington Post and numerous other news outlets, Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce new policies for the prosecution of drug crimes by the Department of Justice.  These new measures are aimed at combating the problem of overcrowding in federal prisons.  In addition, the new policies hope to avoid sending individuals charged with non-violent drug crimes to jail for lengthy periods of time.

Since 1980, the population of the United States has grown by approximately 33%.  However, the federal prison population has grown 800% in that same time.  Jails are operating at 40% over capacity.  The federal government spent $80 billion incarcerating inmates in 2010.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Choosing A Criminal Defense Attorney

When choosing a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney there are a number of things you should be looking for. First and foremost, you have to trust anyone you hire.  If after speaking to an attorney you do not feel as though you trust them then you absolutely should not hire that person.  In addition, it is important that anyone you hire has experience with the type of crime you are charged with.  For example, if you are facing a Washington, DC DUI charge, make sure the attorney you hire has plenty of experience with DUI cases in DC.  Finally, do your homework.  A simple Google search of an attorney's name will most likely provide you with plenty of information about an attorney.  Make sure the attorney's reputation is what you would expect.  If you are not able to obtain any information about an attorney after a simple Google search that should tell you a lot about that attorney.  

 

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Happens After I am Pulled Over for DUI in DC?

Most DUI traffic stops start off like every other traffic stop with some kind of traffic infraction.  Generally speaking, police officers do not pull over cars specifically because they believe the driver of the car is under the influence.  Obviously there are situations where an individual's driving is so erratic that the police's first thought is DUI, but that is usually not the case.  Because most DUI stops start with a traffic infraction, one of the best ways to avoid being arrested for DUI is to ensure that you are following ALL traffic regulations.  Obeying all traffic laws will go a long way when trying to avoid a DUI arrest.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why the Police Don't Read You Your Rights

When an individual is placed under arrest a police officer is required to read an individual their Miranda rights.  Those rights, as made famous by mainstream television on shows like Law and Order, guarantee that an individual who is placed under arrest cannot be interrogated without an attorney present or without first waiving his or her right to have an attorney present.  Therefore, if after you are placed under arrest the police officers interrogate you, meaning they ask you incriminating questions related to the crime, without first reading you your Miranda rights, then anything you say to the police cannot be introduced as evidence at trial.  


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When Can the Police Search My Car?

The short answer is, it depends.  If the police have stopped your vehicle due to a traffic infraction they may be able to search your vehicle in certain circumstances.  If the police have probable cause to believe there may be illegal drugs or weapons in your vehicle then they will be legally justified in searching your vehicle.  However, probable cause cannot be established purely through a "hunch" of the police officer.  They must have an objectively reasonable basis to believe there are illegal drugs or weapons in the vehicle.  This basis is usually established if the officer see or smell drugs or see weapons within the vehicle.  In addition, if you or one of your passengers were to tell the police officer that there were drugs or weapons in the vehicle they would also most likely have probable cause.  


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Can I Expunge My Washington, DC Criminal Record?

Whether or not someone can have their Washington, DC criminal records expunged (or sealed) depends on a few circumstances.  First, whether or not someone is convicted or simply arrested makes a big difference when determining whether their record can be expunged.  If an individual is arrested for a crime but is not ultimately convicted (either the case was dismissed or the person was acquitted after trial) then they can generally have the record expunged.  There are two methods for expunging a non-conviction.  The first is to wait a statutorily prescribed amount of time and file an appropriate motion to seal with the court.  The waiting period is usually two or five years from the date the case is dismissed or an individual is acquitted.  The court will consider whether it is in the interests of justice to seal an individual's record.  If the court determines that it is in the interests of justice, the record will be sealed.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Federal Hate Crime Charges Unlikely for George Zimmerman

In case you have been living under a rock, George Zimmerman was acquitted of Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter charges stemming from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  Every layperson, legal pundit and media correspondent from DC to LA has weighed in on some aspect of the verdict.  My Twitter feed exploded on Saturday night and blog posts and news articles continue to trickle in by the dozens.  


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Supreme Court Says OK to Government DNA Collection

On June 3, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Maryland v. King that when police officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold a suspect for a serious offense and bring him to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.


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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Proposal Could Toughen DC DUI Laws

The National Highway Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that all 50 states and the District of Columbia adopt a stricter threshold for DUI laws.  The board recommended lowering the legal limit from .08 to .05 in order to allegedly reduce the number of DUI related fatalities.  This recommendation is a part of a larger initiative that is aimed at eventually eliminating drunk driving altogether.  The Safety Board estimates that between 500-800 DUI related fatalities would be eliminated if the lower threshold were applied nationwide.


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Monday, April 15, 2013

Supreme Court Denies Review in Second Amendment Case

As reported on SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court of the United States has denied certiorari in the Second Amendment case Kachalsky v. Cacace.  The case is yet another refusal by the nation's highest court to consider the full reach of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in the context of the Court's 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.  The Court in Heller, ruled that the District's handgun ban violated the Second Amendment.  However, the Court confined its ruling to the universe of handgun ownership within the home and refused to consider the issue in a broader context.  The Court did however state that the Second Amendment did not provide an unlimited right to keep and bear arms in all circumstances and specifically identified some situation where an individual may not have the right to possess a gun.


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Friday, April 5, 2013

DC Court of Appeals Ruling Could Affect DC DUIs

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of Robert C. Young for a violation of Mr. Young's 6th Amendment rights.  The full opinion can be seen here.  

The sixth amendment issue involved the testimony of an FBI examiner who testified that Mr. Young's DNA matched DNA evidence found at the scene of a rape in NE Washington, DC.  Mr. Young argued to the Court that it was reversible error to admit the FBI examiner's testimony without calling the lab technicians "who derived and identified the two DNA profiles and performed the calculations on which the testifying examiner based her conclusions."  To permit the FBI examiner's testimony was a clear violation of the Confrontation Clause.


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