I recently learned about Miranda rights in a college class that I’m taking. Miranda rights originated after Ernesto Miranda was not informed of his rights while he was being arrested. Today, when a police officer makes an arrest they are expected to say the following statement: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court. With these rights in mind, are you still willing to talk with me about the charges against you?” I’ve heard this statement a bunch of times on movies and TV, but something popped out at me when I studied them for class: that line that says you will have an attorney appointed to you by the court if you can’t afford one.

I never thought about how you have a right to an attorney in every criminal case. That just goes to show how complicated and complex the legal system is. The government recognizes that you need an attorney for a fair trial. I know that most lawyers work at firms and they aren’t court appointed. But I began to wonder, if you can get an attorney to take on your case for free, why would you go through the trouble of hiring one? I was wondering about this so I began reading the websites for a lot of different criminal attorneys. I stumbled upon the website of Truslow & Truslow where they talked about why it’s worth the cost of hiring an attorney.

It turns out that the attorney you can get for free is known as a public defender. Public defenders have a rewarding job, because they get to work for those in the most unfortunate financial circumstances and make sure they get a fair trial. The bad part is that these public defenders have too many cases to give each one all the attention it deserves. On top of this, they are paid far less than the attorneys that work for a firm, and therefore have fewer resources available to them. All of this is going to inhibit a public defender’s ability to look at all the relevant details of your case.

When you choose to hire a lawyer from a firm, they are going to earn their money through putting in the hours necessary to get you the best possible settlement. When these lawyers provide a great defense, you have a much better chance of getting a plea bargain. If you end up getting convicted, these lawyers will continue to work with you so that you have the possibility to have your offense expunged, or taken off your record. Having a criminal offense taken off your record is well worth the money upfront. You may not want to pay several thousand dollars for a top-notch lawyer today, but if you have a DUI on your record, that could cost you a lot more down the line when you’re unable to get a high paying job.

read more

In the blockbuster film Gone Girl (2014), the main character Amy Elliot-Dunne staged her own fake murder in order to have her husband convicted and sentenced to death after she finds out that he was cheating on her. In the movie, she says, “To fake a convincing murder, you have to have discipline.

It then begs the question – is it still really a crime if there was no actual crime committed?

This tends to me the question that most people seem to ask. Since Amy’s character staged the whole thing, is what she did still illegal? There are many underlying tones in that film and novel that point out some of the flaws in the way some mysterious crimes are investigated. One such crime that involves no actual “crime” being committed is that of conspiracy.

According to the website of the lawyers with Kohler Hart Powell, SC, conspiracy to commit a crime is still a federal offense in and of itself. Conspiracy to commit fraudulence or an assassination, for example, is something that takes considerable amount of discipline in order to plan.

However, what a lot of people don’t know is that sometimes, there is no basis for the charges being brought against you if you are being charged with conspiracy. Chances are that agents have been monitoring you, suspecting conspiracy, and they are particularly skilled with years of experience at the art of asking subtle and seemingly innocuous questions with potentially incriminating answers if you don’t know how the law works. There have been cases wherein a person unknowingly gave a testimony that was detrimental for their own situation, thereby giving them a harder time in the long run.

If you are being questioned or suspected by federal agents for conspiracy, it is recommended that you exercise your right to remain silent and to first contact an attorney before you make any sort of statement in order to give you your best chance at a fair and smooth case.

read more

In 2012, an estimated 29.1 million admitted to being under the influence of alcohol when they operated their vehicle. The year after, 1,171,935 drivers were arrested due to alcohol-impaired driving or driving under the influence (DUI): these information are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alcohol-impaired driving remains to be a major concern for authorities; this is in spite of the continuous educational programs, ads and warnings on drivers from the federal, state and local government agencies and various private concerned groups, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Despite the very high number of those guilty of drunk-driving, it is a good thing that fatal accidents due to alcohol-impairment only totaled to 10,076 and 9,967 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.;these figures are based on cases of fatal accidents reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA).

Many different studies have shown and proven that alcohol weakens the mental capacity and motor skills of people who drink. It specifically affects an individual’s perception, judgment, coordination, reaction time, and overall ability in keeping his or her focus. In all U.S. states, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for car drivers is 0.08%, this may be reached after 4 alcoholic drinks within an hour, according to the CDC. Studies have also shown, though, that even at 0.02% BAC (about 2 alcoholic drinks), a person’s ability to perform two tasks at the same time may already be reduced; other effects include decline in visual functions and some loss of judgment. Now, if a 0.02% BAC level already has an impact in a person which may affect his or her driving, how much more will a 0.08% BAC affect his or her capability in operating a vehicle safely? With weakened or impaired control over his or her skills, risks of accident and injury increase; this is basically the reason why drunk driving is considered a major traffic offense.

The millions of arrests and thousands of fatal accidents every year only show how reckless or careless so many drivers are. Drunk-driving not only results to statistical data; it destroys lives of victims and of victims’ families. According to The Benton Law Firm, filing a civil lawsuit against at-fault drunk-drivers to seek compensation is not enough. A criminal suit which will punish the at-fault driver, if only to keep him or her from repeating the very wrong thing he or she has committed is probably necessary.

read more

Some people are fond of saying murder is murder, but the fact is not all murders are the same. There are circumstances in which a person charged with murder may warrant a conviction for lesser included offenses, or homicide of a lesser degree.

In a criminal case, the prosecutor has the option to instruct the jury to consider a conviction for a less serious charge if they believe the primary charge is not warranted. The jury can thus convict the defendant on a lesser charge in lieu of the primary charge. In a murder case where the death penalty is on the table, however, the court is required to give instructions to the jury regarding lesser included offenses such as voluntary manslaughter. This is to provide the jurors a middle ground when they believe the defendant is culpable, but there not culpable enough to warrant the extreme punishment.

According to the Kohler Hart Powell, SC website, it is the role of a skilled criminal defense lawyer to get the charges dismissed, an acquittal, or failing either, conviction for a lesser offense. In most cases, a lesser included offense is easier to prove than the greater offense. For example, murder in the first degree requires the prosecutor to prove premeditation prior to the killing act. For voluntary manslaughter, there is no need to prove the intent to kill, only that the defendant was the one that performed the act of killing. A qualified lawyer can help determine which case it is and can help with the defense.

The jury is typically asked to consider the more serious charge first in their deliberations. If the jury finds that there is reasonable doubt about the commission of the charged offense, or that they cannot unanimously degree that it was committed, they may be asked to move on to the lesser included offenses.

Murder is intentional homicide. A lesser offense would be second degree intentional homicide, in which circumstances i.e. provocation mitigated the act of killing. If the prosecutor is unable to prove intent, then the jury might be instructed to consider reckless homicide (there was no intent to cause death or bodily harm, but created a situation that led to one or both) in the first and second degree.

If you have been charged with murder, you have no time to waste.

read more

In the US, the prosecution of drug law violations has been consistently aggressive in recent years. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the year 2007 saw more than 1.8 million arrests for drug abuse violations. Anyone facing charges should expect to meet serious penalties. Depending on the circumstances of your offense, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in fines. You might also end up serving several years in prison.

Although the debate on the dangers of marijuana has been going on for several years, marijuana possession is among these violations that are met with harsh punishment. Despite the controversy around it, millions of Americans are found to use it every year. According to the website of Wisconsin criminal defense lawyers Kohler Hart Powell, SC, the exact number is over 25 million. That means that a large number of people are in danger at any points of being charged with possession.

While there are select states that have decriminalized its medicinal and recreational use, and even few that have legalized it completely, you could still be charged of a crime in majority of the country. If you have been charged with marijuana possession in a state where it remains illegal, you need to be aware of the heavy penalties you could be facing.

In most cases, first offense possession is classified as a misdemeanor and may result in a $1000 fine, as well as up to 1 year of jail time. At second offense, the penalty might climb to a $2500 fine and 15 days to 2 years in prison. Subsequent offenses will be classified as a felony, where you might have to pay a $5000 fine and serve up to 30 years in prison.

As you can see, a marijuana possession charge is something that you can’t take lightly. Even if you’re among the majority of Americans who believe that the drug should be legalized soon, the law is taking a while to catch up. As emphasized by the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm, facing a marijuana possession conviction can lead to devastating consequences. Don’t hesitate to consult with a criminal defense lawyer to learn what options you have.

read more