Blogs

Were You Charged With Criminal Activity During Nationwide BLM Protests?

It’s hard to avoid the fact that police have recently been generalized for causing the very criminal activity they are tasked with preventing. And that generalization certainly rubs some people the wrong way. But those people should keep in mind that African Americans have been generalized the same way for hundreds of years — and it makes far less sense to judge someone based on the color of their skin than it does to judge them based on their own chosen profession.

Police are acting out with violence against protesters, the vast majority of whom have been completely peaceful. That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. There have been literally hundreds of cases documented with video over the past two weeks alone. Hundreds of arrests have followed lawful activity. This is incomprehensible for the leaders of the free world — and we won’t tolerate it. 

Have you been charged with a crime while present at a nationwide protest? We want to hear your story. While we understand that many protesters also stand accused of civil disobedience, not everyone is guilty of it. You have the right to legal representation when accused of a crime, whether you are guilty or not. Find yourself a qualified criminal defense attorney to discuss the details of your case.

There are alternative options available as well. 

The LAPD is currently under civil suit for its arrest of over 2,600 peaceful protesters. Many of those arrested were detained for long periods of time in cramped buses without proper access to bathrooms or even medical care for injuries sustained — and all this during a pandemic. The suit also alleges that the Los Angeles Police Department is guilty of using excessive force to arrest many of these individuals. 

BLM-LA said that “the LAPD used force to terminate the protests, including the indiscriminate use of ‘less lethal’ weapons that caused injury.”

Were You Charged With A Coronavirus-Related Crime?

Coronavirus is the novel infection that is spreading across the globe at a rapid rate, causing the dangerous disease COVID-19 along the way. It has devastated our economy and pushed millions of Americans out of work, and government-issued checks for individuals and small businesses are too far away to help many of us. The bailout legislation might be signed later today.

Because poverty is the underlying cause of almost all crime, it stands to reason that many people will feel compelled to do wrong during this time of crisis. 

But authorities are taking these crimes very seriously — and so should you. More importantly, you should take any resulting criminal charges just as seriously, because they could follow you around the rest of your life.

Missouri resident Cody Pfister was recently arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat after a video surfaced online wherein he licked an array of Wal-Mart products while asking: “Who’s scared of coronavirus?”

The court said that Pfister “knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed.”

He was charged, but that does not mean he will accept a plea deal or be found guilty of the crime. Prosecutors will likely be fighting tooth and nail to discover whether or not he actually has the coronavirus infection. Or they could be avoiding that information altogether. If Pfister doesn’t have the virus, it’s difficult to assert that much of a threat was made or that charges were anything more than example-making on the part of police.

And Pfister’s criminal defense attorney has his own battle tactics already cooked up. He plans to suggest that the video was actually filmed before the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the coronavirus crisis as a pandemic, making Pfister’s obviously immature actions look quite different in light of new information. But should he be held accountable for that?

Whether or not the strategy works is up in the air. The point is this: if you were arrested and charged with a crime in any way related to the novel coronavirus, you need a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don’t delay.

And those of you who haven’t found yourselves in trouble should take steps to prevent even the remotest possibility. Don’t need groceries or exercise? Then stay indoors. People who have never hiked a day in their lives are helping overcrowd parks and trails around the country, making almost no public area safe for common forms of recreation. Stick to walking around the block or even in your backyard! 

Harvey Weinstein’s Legal Team Says Health Is At Risk After Conviction For Sex Crimes

According to a spokesman for the Harvey Weinstein legal team, the newly convicted man “can go stir crazy just staring at the emptiness” of his hospital room. He should get accustomed to it, because it’s about to get a whole lot worse when he’s carted off to prison. Weinstein faces a potentially 29-year prison sentence for the sexual assault and rape of two women; one in 2006 and another in 2013.

Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual harassment was one of the catalysts for the #MeToo movement, and his incarceration will certainly serve as a stark reminder that this type of behavior has serious, lifelong consequences. 

He is scheduled to receive his sentence on March 11. 

Naturally, his legal team says it will appeal the jury’s verdict. Spokesman Juda Engelmayer said, “It’s scaring him. I think he’s melancholy. He’s very, very low right now.”

Engelmayer went on to describe the hospital bedroom as akin to a jail cell. He was admitted there after complaining of chest pain on his way to New York City’s Rikers Island. Weinstein is known to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, but those looking from the outside inward have their doubts about the situation. Regardless, he is currently under guard, has limited visitation rights, but is allowed to make calls from a hospital common area.

Defense lawyer Arthur Aidala described Weinstein’s state of mind differently, saying he was “upbeat” and “in pretty good spirits.”

Although a whopping 80 women accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, the statute of limitation on most of those alleged encounters had passed. Weinstein argued that the women had lied, and that the sexual encounters were consensual.

Gloria Allred, a representative for some of those women, says that his treatment might be preferential. She wonders why Weinstein isn’t being treated inside Rikers.

Weinstein has lost nearly all his supporters over the course of the trial, but not longtime friend William Currao, who was once his college roommate. “He’s a friend,” Currao said. “I can’t just cut off a friend because of what they’ve done or not done.”

But of course his sentiments are very much at odds with most people within our society, who base their friends off of exactly what they’ve done or not done. 

While the jury did find Weinstein guilty of the aforementioned charges, it did acquit him of others. 

Directly after the verdict was read, Weinstein said, “But I’m innocent.”

He was handcuffed and led away.

Everything You Need To Know Before Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney

Being arrested and charged with a crime is a traumatic experience. Often, the experience is made that much worse by our personal financial situation. Those charged with crimes are much more likely to be riding below the poverty level than those who manage to stay free and clear of the system. And that’s kind of the point: the less money you have, the more likely you are to commit a crime. It benefits everyone in society to avoid emptying your pocket when you’ve been charged with a criminal offense.

Don’t talk to the police. You have the right to remain silent, and you should abuse that right. There’s no reason at all to say anything except “I want a lawyer.” Even when you’re not guilty, the investigators and prosecutors want their “win” and sometimes that means twisting your words or tricking you into saying something you shouldn’t be talking about at all.

Retain counsel. Lawyers will gather the relevant facts and decide what to share with police. They will work together with you to decide whether your case is best resolved in or out of court. When the facts work against you, it’s most likely the attorney will speak with the prosecutor in order to seek a plea deal that can result in reduced charges and a reduced sentence.

Before hiring a criminal defense lawyer, you want to know as much as you can about their relevant experience. How many cases have they argued? How many cases have they won? New lawyers won’t exactly want to share this information, while experienced lawyers will shout it out from the highest mountaintops. Check the website. The information therein will quickly alert you to whether or not the attorney or law firm is young or old. Find someone whose reputation precedes him (or her).

Questions to ask if you’re unsure:

“Who will be handling my case and what experience does this person have?”

“How often do you argue in court versus out of court?”

“How much do you charge on retainer or per hour?”

“Where does the majority of your criminal defense experience lie? Have you handled cases similar to mine?”

“Will there be additional fees in the future if the case drags on longer than expected?”

“I’m charged with a misdemeanor. Do I need a lawyer at all? Am I better off speaking for myself? If so, what should I say to the judge?”

“What are my next steps/obligations?”

“Do you need any other information from me?”

Lawyers have heard every conceivable question. Never be afraid to share what’s on your mind or ask for additional information if you find yourself confused about the process. It’s very complicated. We understand. There’s no need to be intimidated!

Are American Criminal Defense Attorneys Treated Fairly For Their Service?

The American justice system is based predominantly on the constitutional assumption that every person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty — but it doesn’t always feel that way in the courtroom of public opinion, and the public has a lot of opinions. High-profile cases can leave criminal defense lawyers as much in the spotlight as their clients. This is because talking heads and mainstream media generally favor one side of a case regardless of the information available, and the public often follows suit.

This is true even when clients aren’t guilty of the alleged crimes. 

Many of us, therefore, see criminal defense attorneys as slimeballs, even though every American citizen is guaranteed the right to a fair trial and professional defense, regardless of guilt. Someone needs to do the job — so why do we cast down the people who choose to do it? Not everyone who steps foot in a courtroom is guilty, after all. Shouldn’t we give them the benefit of the doubt? And shouldn’t we let their lawyers do the job?

Harvey Silverglate and Monika Greco write for WGBH: “If the most talented and in-demand criminal defense lawyers begin to hesitate before agreeing to represent the most unpopular accused, then those who are in the most trouble — those who need the most vigorous and effective defense — would have to suffer with mediocre representation (and, it must always be remembered, some of them will turn out to be innocent.”

The two believe, therefore, that the increasing polarization of public opinion could result in the greatly diminished effectiveness of the American legal system as a whole.

They write: “The fact that the evidence against a particular defendant might be — or at least seem to be — damning or overwhelming does not dilute the obligation cast upon the criminal defense bar. The fact that there are many who are either ignorant of or unsympathetic to this constitutional right does not alter the fact that lawyers have a special obligation to give vitality to the right.”

The disparity between the rights of American citizens and the courtroom of public opinion cannot be better described than by using the case of Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous women. When Harvard Law Professor Dean Ronald Sullivan opted to defend Weinstein’s Constitutional rights in court, Winthrop House, where he was a residential dean for a decade, was subsequently vandalized with messages like “Whose Side Are You On?”

Messages like that miss the point of our legal system and seek to diminish its credibility and effectiveness. Harvard then removed Sullivan — and his wife — from their deanships. When attorneys have to worry about their reputations and standing within institutions like Harvard Law — which should be held to a much higher standard than this — when taking on any client, there is something very wrong in the neighborhood. Clients innocent and guilty alike will have a lot to be worried about if this continues.

Are Sex Offender Registries Constitutional? Do They Support The Crimes Committed?

It’s impossible to argue against the idea that sex offenders are some of the worst criminals who we incarcerate. But sex offenders are also some of the least impactful criminals who we incarcerate. When we say the words “sex offender,” a lot of ideas probably come to mind: rapist, predator, pedophile, etc. That’s not always an accurate depiction of who falls into the category, though. 

Those who have been accused of prostitution, soliciting prostitution, or even public urination are sometimes forced to register — having their lives destroyed in the process.

And it’s the latter group of people who are inspiring others to question the supposed legality of these laws. Are we unwittingly supporting cruel and unusual punishment? Is it really constitutional to destroy a person’s life because an individual decides to pee in a public space? Because that’s realistically what happens when a person is forced to register as a sex offender

Almost everyone who is told to register will be bound by severe restrictions on being in the presence of certain other groups, like children. But more importantly, these registries severely limit a person’s ability to find work. That’s a pretty rough punishment for a person who stepped outside to urinate.

Often, stigmas are worse. Being on a sex registry doesn’t tell anyone who learns about it what a convicted sex offender actually did to support their being on it. Those registries provide general information like address and picture, often without relevant supporting context. Is it really just to provide people with a person’s address? Doesn’t that simply place them in danger for no reason? 

Many of these crimes include pornographic pictures. A conviction for looking at banned pornography can land someone in jail for decades, but there’s no evidence to support the idea that a person who looks at one of these pictures will engage in inappropriate or illegal conduct outside of their own home. And that’s an issue some people are finding somewhat controversial.

Here are other pertinent facts, according to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers: “About 95% of sexual offenses are committed by previously unknown offenders. Resources committed to known offenders could be better spent on primary prevention. About 97% of juveniles and nine of 10 adults do not sexually reoffend. Resources should focus on repeat offenders, while onerous civil regulations should be challenged.”

And that’s another issue. Most of these crimes we classify as “sexual” in nature don’t involve children, even though the term “sex offender” most certainly connotes a crime committed by an adult on a child victim. They’re neither violent nor do they have an effect on anyone else. Should we really be paying taxpayer money to incarcerate people for immoral acts that don’t actually affect the public good?

What Happens When A Criminal Defense Attorney Breaks The Law?

A Milwaukee resident has been arrested and charged with threatening and stalking an ex-girlfriend who had finally told him she was ending their relationship for good. Matthew Meyer is a 34-year old criminal defense attorney — or at least he was — who claimed that he recently hit his ex-girlfriend in self-defense. His victim, however, claimed that he had routinely stalked her to the point where she was in a constant state of fear for her life.

Meyer was charged with substantial battery, threatening to communicate derogatory information, felony intimidation, and stalking. The evidence was overwhelming.

According to prosecutors on the case: “[Meyer] has engaged in a pattern of conduct with the intent to cause the victim to believe that he will ruin her life, commit acts of violence against her and her friends/family, damage her property, prevent any future relationships, and leave her without money or a job.”

If his actions weren’t disturbing enough — as an attorney he should obviously know better than to blatantly break laws — he actually used his job as a criminal defense attorney to threaten the victim, saying: “Criminals owe me favors…People who are exceptionally dangerous, and good at it, I’ve met plenty, keep in touch with plenty.”

In other words, if you don’t come back to me, I’ll call up a few of my criminal buddies. We cannot imagine this guy will get many clients in the future, and that’s assuming he even gets out of jail anytime soon. These criminal complaints extend from 2017 through 2019, and the criminal court system isn’t exactly lenient on those servants who would up-end its reputation by blatantly breaking the law themselves.

In one example of the mischief that he managed, Meyer punched his victim directly in the face, leaving her with a concussion. In another example, she was walking home from a night out on the town when he appeared behind her and her friend, yelling and screaming. Meyer physically assaulted her friend before they made it to safety.

Those weren’t the first — or the last — incidents involving stalking. In June of this year, Meyer actually showed up in her apartment’s parking garage, harassed her, argued that she couldn’t defend herself without being charged with felony assault and battery, and poured Red Bull on her vehicle. Police were called to the scene of the crime.

This type of behavior continued until October, when prosecutors say the victim woke up one morning to a number of texts. Meyer said: “You’re going to do irreparable harm to your car if you drive it or if it sits there…What’s wrong with your car, you can’t see. I’d suggest you talk to me before driving it.”

She found one of her tires slashed and there were also dents in the vehicle. She called the police, which led to Meyer’s arrest.

Marijuana On The Docket In States During 2020 Election

The subject has been gaining traction for years: To legalize recreational marijuana or not to legalize recreational marijuana? A number of states are poised to once again ask their residents for a decision. Others will ask whether or not the drug should be used for medicinal purposes. The federal government shows no signs of legalizing pot anytime soon — but even the United States Food and Drug Administration has used cannabis-derived compounds as the foundation for a new drug.

What states will likely legalize marijuana next?

Illinois will legalize recreational marijuana by January 1, 2020 after the state legislature voted in favor of H.B. 1438. The bill limits the amount of the drug that can be possessed by nonresidents. Higher doses of THC will be slammed with a bigger tax according to the bill.

Similar legislation has been proposed in New York and New Jersey. Residents may vote on the matter in the 2020 election. That means marijuana may be legalized in either state in 2021 at the earliest.

Ohio might find marijuana legalized by public initiative, which typically enjoys greater support than from lawmakers. There’s a good chance a recreational marijuana will be on the 2019 ballot. That means marijuana may be legalized in Ohio in 2020 at the earliest.

Arizona previously voted against legalization in 2016, but a measure will likely be on the docket in 2020. California previously voted against legalization by a wide margin only to vote in favor a few years later. It’s not a stretch to say Arizona might do the same. If it passes, weed might be legalized in Arizona in 2021 at the earliest.

Florida is more of an unlikely candidate. That said, many people see Florida as a logical choice for legalization because of its success with medical marijuana. Many advocacy groups are turning toward Florida, because if it can happen there — it can happen anywhere.

Thankfully many drug-related convictions will likely be overturned should more states begin to legalize marijuana for recreational use. This would save taxpayers billions of dollars. It would also reduce the stress on an already overburdened criminal justice system. Our prisons are filled to the brim. It might be time to begin the process of emptying them.

Two-thirds of Americans support legalizing recreational marijuana. That our politicians elected to represent our wishes still have no desire to do this says a lot about the state of our political process. It’s broken and we know it. 

If you’re fighting a drug-related charge, it’s time to hire a specialized attorney.

Why Is It So Difficult To Prosecute Rapists?

The numbers are staggering. For every 1,000 sexual assault or rape crimes, only four or five perpetrators will actually spend time in felony convictions and subsequent prison time. The crime itself is one about power and control. The victims are hammered with deep emotional shame after being subject to this kind of criminal act — and perhaps that is why so few come forward to tell their story or make sure the people responsible are held accountable.

The sad statistics regarding sexual assault don’t end there. Only 230 of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the authorities. Only 46 of those reports result in an arrest. If that weren’t bad enough, prosecutors will only ever see a shockingly low number of these cases: nine.

Young women of college-age are slightly less likely to report the crime than their elderly counterparts. Women who are working as members of the United States military are about twice as likely to report. Men who experience sexual assault almost never come forward.

The reasons why people choose not to report the crimes help to shed some light on the overall frame of mind they experience. Many victims fear retaliation, or they don’t think the police can or will help — even if they could. Many have a personal relationship with the attacker and don’t want him or her in legal hot water. A shocking eight percent of victims don’t believe the crime is important enough to report!

Rape cases are also difficult to prove. Many activists even believe that “rape culture” in the United States promotes a criminal justice system that protects the abuser instead of the victim.

One issue is word of mouth. Many victims who choose to come forward are inevitably put under the microscope, not just by lawyers and prosecutors but also by friends and family. They’ve already been traumatized by the assault — but then they go through it all over again when people they’ve trusted their entire lives begin to question their experiences as a victim. Evidence gathering can be nearly as painful and traumatizing as the rape itself.

One of the biggest reasons that rape cases aren’t prosecuted, even when evidence exists, is one of the most mind-blowing: they call it the “CSI effect.” Prosecutors think that American jurors who have been spoon-fed procedural TV shows like CSI expect that real cases will play out similarly or the same — and that means that prosecutors should have plenty of reliable physical evidence to make a slam dunk when closing a case.

Unfortunately the real world does not work like CSI and victims are left behind because no one accepts that fact.

Creating Reasonable Doubt

Defense attorneys use a variety of defenses to ensure that they secure the most favorable outcome for their clients facing legal charges. In order to determine the best possible defense to use, the defense attorneys usually take into consideration the intentions of the prosecutor as well as information that was provided by their client, the defendant.

Generally speaking, the best defense makes it possible for the defense attorney to portray the defendant in the best light, hence earning them a lighter sentence, favorable plea bargain or a ruling of not guilty also known as an acquittal.

Creating Reasonable Doubt

It is possible to have two completely different stories based on the same set of facts. This, therefore, means that it is upon the defense attorney and their client to come up with their own version of the story, based on the facts of the case, which paints a positive picture of the defendant causing reasonable doubt.

For the defendant’s story to have any chance of success, when it comes to arguing against the prosecutor’s claims, it must have a few important characteristics.

For starters, it must be based on the truthful facts of the case as demonstrated by the facts on hand. Furthermore, it should comprehensively demonstrate why the prosecution’s claims are inaccurate by providing an alibi for instance or providing an alternate way the crime could have been committed therefore not being able to prove without a doubt that it was the defendant.

In order to be convicted of a crime, it is the burden of the prosecutor to prove without a shadow of a doubt that the defendant committed the crime. If any alternate versions can exist based on the facts, then the prosecutor has failed and the defendant may be found not guilty.