What You Must Know About Miranda Rights

        The Miranda rule is one followed by police officers wherein they inform a person under their custody of his right to be silent during interrogation. It is one of the rules of criminal procedure that law enforcement officers are required to do in order to protect a person from making self-incriminating statements. The Miranda rule contains the Miranda rights, the fundamental rights of a person under custody.

        Whenever a person is accused of a criminal offense, law enforcement officers will try to make him say everything that he knows about it. Worse, they may even torture him so that he will admit his guilt. If he finally speaks, his statements can be used against him and these can be admitted as evidence in a case to prove his guilt. The United States Supreme Court said in the case of Miranda vs. Arizona that with the Miranda rights, the prosecution cannot use as evidence the statements made by a person when he is being asked by a law enforcement officer, unless safeguards are used to protect his right against self-incrimination.

        The wording of the Miranda rights depends on every country. Substantially, these rights mention the following:

  1. The accused has the right to remain silent

        Whenever a person is interrogated, he has the right to remain silent. This is because any statement that he makes can be admitted as evidence in a court of law. This is also to prevent the violation of his right against self-incrimination.

  1. Anything he says can and will be used against him in a court of law

        This must always be said to a person under custody so that he will be careful in making disclosures. The rule does not tolerate lying on his part. It is to ensure that he is granted his rights so that he cannot assert later on that he was not given the due process of law.

  1. He has the right to get the assistance of a lawyer and have him present while he is being interrogated

        Because criminal procedure is a very complicated topic that only lawyers can fully understand, a person under custody must always be assisted by a lawyer before the questioning starts. This is to ensure that every statement that he makes is privileged.

  1. If he cannot afford to get a lawyer, the government will give him one

        If a person under custody cannot hire the services of a private lawyer, the government will give him one. However, being a constitutionally granted right, he may opt not to get the assistance of a lawyer should he wish. He cannot, however, say later on that he was not given a lawyer to assist him.

  1. He can decide at any time when to exercise these rights

        As such, he can decide on when to answer the questions or make any statements pertaining to the criminal charge.

        Every person must know the Miranda rights. These are the procedural safeguards that are required by criminal procedure to avoid violating the fundamental rights of a person under the custody of law enforcement officers.

Two Essential Elements Of Entrapment As A Valid Defense In A Criminal Charge

Entrapment, according to the case of Sorrells vs. United States, is a scheme wherein a law enforcement officer plans to induce a person to commit a certain crime and then apprehend him afterwards. The concept of entrapment is to place to a person’s mind the intention to commit a crime, and induce him to actually commit it. Simply stated, it is a scheme to set up criminals by making them do a criminal act so that there will be evidence to show that they did the crime.

        Entrapment operations have been used by law enforcement officers to get criminals. In fact, it is already an established practice done by police officers. While it is considered by many as one of the most effective ways of getting criminals, there are still some people who question its validity and legality. They argue that it is illegal because the government is not allowed to make a scheme intended to induce a person to do a crime. As such, many courts have decided that it is illegal.

        The United States Supreme Court has stated in the case of Mathews vs. United States the two essential elements that a person must prove to raise the defense that his entrapment is illegal:

  1. The government is the one who induced the commission of the crime

        To be a valid defense, a person must prove that the government, particularly a law enforcement officer, induced him to commit the criminal act. This is because most of the time, there are innocent individuals who fall victims to this scheme. Once apprehended, they will be considered suspects for a crime which they really did not intend to do. For instance, an officer disguising as a civilian carries an unlicensed firearm and gives it to another person. At the moment that person gets the firearm, authorities will apprehend him and charge him with illegal possession of firearms. To avail of the defense, he must prove that he was just induced to commit the alleged crime because of the scheme used by the government.

  1. The person must not have the intention to commit the crime

        Another thing that a person must prove is that he does have any intention to do the criminal act. He must prove that he did not intend to do the criminal act, and he only did it because he was induced by an officer. For instance, a police officer disguises himself as a seller of drugs. When he approaches a person to sell it, intention is vital to keep the defense valid. If that person keeps the drugs without any desire to use it or to sell it, intention is not present; thus, the defense is valid. However, if upon offering the drugs, that person promptly accepts the offer, intention on his part is present; thus, the defense will fail.

        Knowing when an entrapment is valid or not is important especially for those who have become victims to these schemes. While this practice is intended to get criminals, it can also affect innocent people and involve them in a crime which they did not intend to do.

Defending Against DUI on a Boat Charges

Driving under the influence (DUI) on a boat is a very common problem. Every person is aware that driving and drinking causes a huge number of accidental deaths. However, when you are out in the lake and having a good time, drinking does not seem to be that important. Having a couple of beers is all part of having fun while under the sun. In fact, it’s pretty much what people usually do when on a bot.

DUI on a boat is also commonly referred to as Boating under the Influence or BOI. This criminal offense is a serious concern. A person operating a boat with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .08 percent is 10 times more likely to get into a fatal boating accident than a person operating a boat while sober.

DUI on a boat is responsible for over 30 percent of boat accident deaths every year. While not everybody can notice, but the boat’s motion, engine noise and vibration, as well as the sun, wind and sand all make the impacts of drugs and alcohol seem more intense. Such conditions all add up to make a dangerous boating and drinking experience.

Even if you are merely using prescription drugs, including those that are used for the treatment of high blood pressure or heart diseases, you may be negatively affected by outdoor weather conditions.

There are several skills that are needed to drive a boat that are affected following taking drugs or drinking. These include the following:

  • Reaction time
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Judgment
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Ability to Distinguish Colors
  • Focus
  • Night vision
  • Peripheral vision

The inner ear function may also be impaired, making it harder for you to determine which way is down or up if you fall in the water.

If you get arrested and charged with this criminal offense, it is essential that you are aware of your rights depending on your arrest details, and what actions to do next to defend yourself against the arrest charges. The very first thing to keep in mind is to make use of your right to remain silent. Most people get nervous when they get pulled over by police officers. Keep calm because otherwise, you may end up talking too much, which could harm your case. Bear in mind that anything you say to the police will be used against you if you get arrested. Make sure to remain polite and calm all the time.

After being arrested for the offense, your first concern is the possibility of losing your boating license. Hence, it is crucial to know what to do next in finding actions to take to beat the BOI charges. One thing you can do is to take note of helpful information of what you drunk, how much you had and the time you started and stopped drinking. This information is particularly useful in establishing potential ways of what you can do to defend yourself from the charges of DUI on a boat.

Defenses against Charges of Child Pornography

Child pornography has become a growing area of concern during this modern era where information, videos and images can be easily and rapidly accessed.  A great number of child pornography cases are handled by reputable lawyers worldwide. For those convicted, these charges can be a cause of distress. Hence, an aggressive defense strategy is needed.

Majority of child pornography cases begin with a search and warrant followed by the seizure of equipment. These may include iPods, mp3 players, DVD players, discs, flash drives, hard drives and computers. Search warrants may be issued when someone reports finding pornographic materials involving children through a computer. The person reporting may be a computer technician, a family friend or any other person who has remote or direct access to the system. In a few cases, law enforcement authorities make use of downloaded peer-to-peer software to investigate networked computers to check for files that may include illicit pornographic materials. Lastly, law enforcement authorities may find IP addresses and accounts when website postings are taken down. A lot of these sites, some of which are hosted in countries abroad, ask users for some fees in exchange of access. These sites usually maintain records of users in their system.

How to Defend Yourself Against a Charge of Child Pornography

Step 1 – You should not make any statement to other persons, most especially to police officers. You should also not discuss the facts of the case with friends or family members.

Step 2 – You should immediately engage the services of a legal counsel. In a charge of child pornography, you will highly be caught in a waiting game for a certain period of time while computer forensics run system scans on the seized electronic devices. The investigations may last from a couple of months to a year.

The Defenses Available

  • It should be pointed out that it is not a crime to possess pornographic materials. Only the possession of child pornography constitutes a criminal offense. It also requires that the accused had the intent to possess such. This means that the accused must be proven to have the intent to take into possession of such images and that the accused has the reason to take cognizance of its true character and content.
  • There are a lot of ways an individual can obtain images on a computer which does not necessarily imply that they had the requisite of knowledge or intent to take into possession of the image. Computers may have a lot of users. Determining which particular user may have accesses, disseminated, or downloaded the illegal images may be a crucial defense issue.
  • Some states have ruled that an individual cannot be found guilty of this criminal offense based simply on viewing the illegal images in a home computer. Wisconsin, Washington, Virginia and Pennsylvania have had similar rulings on the case. When a particular image is viewed in a computer, that photo is “cached” by the web browser. This implies that the photo may exist on the computer without the individual even trying to download the picture. While the individual may have taken cognizance of what he or she is viewing, the person may have been unaware that the photos are downloaded and saved automatically to the computer, and hence did not knowingly take into possession the “pornography” as state statutes requires.

Limits of Exercising Your Rights without Being Guilty Of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a minor offense and is among the most often committed crime. A person can be charged of this crime when he knowingly disrupts the peace, thus endangering the safety in a certain area. It is a broad offense that ranges from making loud noises in public to causing disruptions in the normal flow of traffic. It works like an umbrella law that covers different subtopics. Each state or country has varying opinions on whether the conduct can be considered disorderly or not.

As this law covers a broad scope, the guidelines that help in determining if a person committed this crime are the circumstances of the situation and the extent of the affected parties. Examples of disorderly conduct are as follow:

When a group of people in public starts making loud noises; when a group of drunken teens hang out in public places; when people are found continuously walking around the vicinity in the middle of the night after curfew; when a crowd breaks into fights; when the house party becomes too loud that the neighbors are disturbed; when couples engage in obscene acts in public; when a person goes through public trash bins and leaves the contents on the street; when a person is involved in prostitution in areas where it is illegal; when protests without permit cause traffic jams; when a person urinates in inappropriate places.

The most common disorderly conduct violation stems from people’s encounter with law enforcement officers.  A person who is pulled up by a police officer for reasons such as speeding or traffic rule violation can be charged with this crime when he starts to threaten the officer.  Regardless of whether he was truly speeding or not, he can be charged separately for his disruptive or destructive conduct.

Disorderly conduct is so similar to misdemeanor cases.  This makes it difficult to judge as it oftentimes breaches the wall between the person’s freedom of speech and his limitations. A law enforcement officer who easily gives the offenders a violation slip can wrongly accuse them of disrupting the neighborhood’s peace when in fact, they are just exercising their rights according to the Constitution.

This offense is criminally punishable.  Once the defendant is found guilty of the crime through a fair trial, he may face a number of penalties including being on probation for a period decided by the Judge, paying certain amount that range from $25 to $1,000, and being imprisoned for as long as a year. It may be a minor offence but as all other criminal cases are, it also leaves criminal consequences.

The person’s record will forever be marked with this crime which can affect his chances of getting a good job or entering into a reputable university. Pleading guilty should not be done so recklessly just to get off of the case immediately. It is best to consult with a lawyer who can find ways to prevent the person’s records to permanently bear the criminal offense.

You should remember that you have your rights as outlined by the Constitution however, the exercise of these rights are subject to making sure that others can also freely exercise and enjoy theirs.

When Is Killing Considered Murder Or Manslaughter

In understanding these two crimes, it is best to begin from their similarities. Murder and manslaughter are both subtopics under homicide which, simply put, is defined as killing another person. It can either be lawful and unlawful depending on the circumstances and other factors present at the time of the crime.   Comparing murder vs manslaughter is necessary to understand the differences in penalties and legal recourse.

For a case to be considered murder, these elements have to be present:

  1. Malice aforethought. Before the offender commits the crime, he must have fully intended to kill the victim. This also includes cases where the victim did not die instantaneously after the offender’s attack but eventually died because of further complications caused by this same attack.
  2. Mental stability. The offender is sane at the time of the crime.
  3. Unlawful killing.
  4. There are at least two parties involved. Although the aforementioned criteria are present in suicide, the fatal injury is self-inflicted that is why it is not generally considered a criminal offense.

As murder is almost always judged based on the mitigating factors that led to the crime, the law classifies it into first degree and second degree. While all elements stated above are present in both, the circumstances of how the victim was killed or who the victim was account for the varying degrees.

If the victim is a policeman, firefighter, Judge, pregnant woman, or a witness to the crime, it is a first-degree murder case. Other factors that instantly categorize the murder as first degree are severe torture, kidnapping, murder associated with other crimes, and sexual assault. If the murder is said to be “spur of the moment” but done with malice, then it is classified as second degree.

Manslaughter, on the other hand, also has some of the elements of murder.  For reasons such as mental instability and negligence, however, the mitigating factors make the crime less grave than murder. Manslaughter can be classified into voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary manslaughter happens when the person kills another out of sudden uncontrollable emotions that momentarily cause him to become mentally unstable while involuntary manslaughter happens when the person, due to criminal negligence such as driving under the influence of alcohol or when a medical staff forgets to replenish the oxygen supply of a patient, unintentionally kills another.

The main distinction of murder vs manslaughter is the presence of premeditation. When the offender, with a sound mind, has been proven to have all intentions of killing the victim prior to the crime, he committed murder. His crime can only be reduced to manslaughter if he killed the victim in what is called as “heat of passion” or he killed by negligence.

Both are punishable by law but the degree of punishment varies according to how grave the offender’s crime is. First-degree murders can receive death penalty depending on how cruel his crime was. Second-degree murders vary from each country but the offender usually serves at least 10 years in prison. Generally, the punishments are harsher for persons found guilty of murder vs manslaughter, which if proven to be less culpable, can be served for only 3 years depending on the law of the state

What are My Rights at a DUI Checkpoint?

A Florida lawyer’s “strategy” for dealing with a DUI checkpoint has caught the imagination of motorists all over the country and put the spotlight on what drivers’ rights are when they are stopped at a checkpoint. According to Warren Redlich, all you have to do when approaching the checkpoint is to put your license and proof that you are insured in a plastic sleeve as well as a flier declaring that you want an attorney, are remaining silent and refuse requests for a search of your vehicle.  Roll up the window with the plastic sleeve on the outside and then refuse to roll down the window or say anything. Doing this would prevent the officers manning the checkpoint from claiming that you showed signs of intoxication such as slurred speech or breath that smells of alcohol. A video of Redlich using this tactic that he posted on YouTube has already been viewed more than two million times.

While Florida police have disputed the legitimacy of the tactic and claimed that Redlich was allowed to pass simply because he showed no signs of intoxication, Redlich said that his method was successful in achieving his stated goal of preventing police from making up a reason to arrest drivers for a DUI. He also claimed that it was not a method that would allow drivers who were actually intoxicated from avoiding arrest since it requires a certain amount of discipline to successfully implement.

Keep in mind that a DUI checkpoint is only legal if it is conducted properly. The following criteria must be followed:

  • Motorists must be stopped according to a neutral formula that does not discriminate against particular drivers.
  • Proper safety precautions, such as adequate lighting, prominently-displayed warning signs, and clearly-identifiable police personnel and vehicles.
  • There must be sufficient indication that the checkpoint is an official one and its nature clearly identified.

What are the rights you can assert when at a DUI checkpoint?

  • The right to not speak to the officers until you can consult with your lawyer.
  • The right to refuse to give consent to a search of your person, car or personal effects.
  • The right to refuse to answer questions without a lawyer present, as well as to participate in acts such as a line-up or other physical acts such as a field sobriety test.
  • The right to exercise your Miranda rights if you are under arrest, and to confer with an attorney if the officer does not recognize your rights.
  • The right to refuse to give consent to an impoundment of your vehicle if you are taken into custody, as well as to make reasonable arrangements to secure your property.

You can have your rights printed in a card that you will hand to the officer along with your license and registration.

In addition, you can refuse to participate in field sobriety tests while at the DUI checkpoint. Keep in mind that refusing these tests will not prevent the officer from arresting you if he believes he has probable cause to do so, but will prevent him from gathering more evidence which can be used against you in court.

Common DUI Defenses That You Can Mount

There are a number of DUI defenses that are available to you if are caught driving while intoxicated. By mounting a strong defense rather than simply accepting the charge, you might convince the prosecution to drop the case or offer to reduce the charge so that you can avoid the more severe penalties such as suspension of your license.

There are two elements to a DUI case: that the defendant was driving at the time they were stopped and that their ability to drive safely was significantly impaired by being intoxicated or having done drugs or a combination of the two. If either of these two elements is proven wrong, the prosecution can’t prove its case. The defense might also attempt to prevent the prosecution from introducing certain pieces of evidence at trial, which can hinder them from proving their case.

The most viable DUI defenses are those in which the procedures related to the arrest are questioned. If the officer failed to follow the right procedures, or did not have any legal justification, when making the arrest, then any evidence gathered from it or the traffic stop may be deemed by the judge to be inadmissible. Without this evidence, the prosecution might have no case and would thus be forced to withdraw the charges.

If you believe, for example, that the officer stopped you because you looked suspicious as a result of your ethnicity, rather than because he saw you driving erratically, you might be able to challenge your arrest.  If you were not read the Miranda warning when you were arrested, then you may be able to question the arrest process and get some evidence excluded at trial.

You can also introduce witnesses to dispute the officer’s observations regarding your state of intoxication. If you can challenge the officer’s contention that you were driving erratically or that you looked intoxicated by offering a witness who will testify to the contrary. For example, if there was another person with you in the car and you accidently crossed the center line because you were distracted, you can ask him or her to testify to this fact in court.

Another viable defense is to contest the accuracy of tests conducted by the officer to determine your level of intoxication. For example, if the officer administers a portable breathalyzer at the scene, the defense may raise questions as to whether the device was properly maintained and calibrated, which would affect the accuracy of its readings, or whether the officer was properly trained to use the device. In addition, they may also claim that there were factors such as indigestion and vomiting which could affect breathalyzer readings.

Other DUI defenses involve questioning the administration of field sobriety tests. For example, if you failed one of these sobriety tests, your lawyer may question if the test was applied properly or if the officer interpreted the results properly. For example, if the officer administered the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the lawyer may raise doubts as to whether it was administered correctly.

An Overview of the Problem of Women in Prison

According to statistics derived from the Bureau of Justice, the number of women in prison is rapidly growing at nearly twice the rate for male prisoners. Around a third of these are jailed for drug offenses and female prisoners often suffer from substance abuse as well as having high rates of being infected with HIV. In addition, many of them have histories of sexual and physical abuse.

What are the factors behind this unprecedented increase? One major contributor is the ‘war on drugs’ which has resulted in some 25% of the women in prison being there due to non-violent drug-related crimes. Others are imprisoned due to other non-violent offenses such as property-related crimes and robbery.

A lot of women end up behind bars after they are arrested as an accomplice to a partner who is the one who is really engaged in criminal activity. Since their involvement in the criminal activity is marginal, they often have no information which they can trade to the prosecutor in exchange for leniency. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, has more to trade for a deal and thus, often ends up spending less time in prison than his partner, even if he is guilty of an increased number of crimes.

Another factor in the skyrocketing female prison population is the ‘get-tough-on-crime’ tactics adopted by states. While these tactics sound good to voters, they have been remarkably ineffective in reducing incarceration rates and have only unfairly targeted poor minority communities. As a result, female prison population has skewed more towards minorities, primarily Latinos since incarceration rates have significantly decreased for African-American women.

The high rates of female incarceration have also adversely affected their families. A majority of women behind bars report that they have a minor child, while around half of them say that they are jailed in facilities that are over 100 miles away from their families. As a result, a high percentage of them report that they have not seen their children even once while they are in jail. In addition, since many of these women are single parents who are the main caretakers of their children, if they are incarcerated it means that their children are deprived of the only parental figure they have ever known. Thus, there is a high risk that in the future, these children will also turn to criminal activity and end up becoming incarcerated as well.

So what can be done to address the problem? Drug treatment programs for women in prison need to be more readily available to help them address their substance abuse problems. In addition, there needs to be programs that address the issues that led to drug use and addiction in the first place, meaning access to extensive counseling as well as help in reintegrating to society once they are released from prison through job training and education programs. Unfortunately, it seems that these programs will not be readily available, meaning that the issue of increased incarceration of women will not have any easy solutions.

How To Protect Yourself If You’re Presented With A Warrant for Criminal Charges

Criminal charges have serious implications in the life of a person. Depending on the nature of the charges, conviction may lead to imprisonment, fine, probation, dismissal from employment, suspension of driving license, etc. In most U.S. states, after conviction of certain criminal offenses, your name, fingerprints and other details will be entered in to the criminal records databases. The meaning and effect of this is that you may not quality for some jobs, places or other offers that require having no past criminal record.

Because of the serious implications of the criminal charges, you must learn how to protect yourself when you are presented with a warrant of arrest. The arrest warrant is a legal writ that authorizes the arrest and confinement of a person. If a police officer presents warrant of arrest, he/she has the right, power and authority to arrest you. In that instance, do not try to put up defense or resist the arrest. The resistance of arrest is an offense that is punishable by the law.

After the arresting officer has explained the criminal charges preferred against you and that he/she intends to arrest you, you should comply and request to contact your attorney, next of kin, friend or other person whom you feel that you information is important. The arresting officer has no power of denying you the right to inform your attorney, family or any other person of the arrest unless there are very clear and reasonable grounds and reasons of doing so.

Criminal charges such as assault, theft, violent crimes and Driving under Influence may attract serious long sentences in jail upon conviction. If you are charged of these crimes or any other, you must ensure that you build up the proper defense.

Building up a criminal defense is not easy. The prosecution will try its best to convince the presiding jury or magistrate to hand to you the severest and maximum sentence ‘as a way of deterring the commission of that crime by setting example to others’…this is serious!

Building strong defense to criminal charges begins with the hiring of a qualified and experienced criminal lawyer. The criminal lawyer will go through the charges and facts to support the same. He/she will also go through the witness statements and find out, based on his/her experience and training of handling criminal casers, how to defend your case.

The gold standard of the trial and conviction of all the criminal charges is that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubts that you committed the alleged offense or crime. Once you have hired the criminal lawyer, you need give him/her all the material facts that are important in discrediting the prosecution case and building your defense.

The communication between a person charged of a crime and his/her lawyer is considered privileged in the United States. This means that your lawyer cannot be compelled to disclose communications between you and him/her. The criminal lawyer is not supposed to lie to the court or coach your witnesses. He/she will call in witnesses and give in those facts that tend to defend you against the criminal charges that you are facing and discrediting the prosecution’s case.