What to Do When a Loved One Goes Missing?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

Even in the age of constant communication and GPS, tens of thousands of people go missing in the United States every year.

According to FBI statistics, in 2013 there were more than 627,000 missing persons reports entered into the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person File. This database contains records for those who are missing under circumstances indicating they may be in danger, are under the age of 21, have a missing disability, or fall under other criteria which may place them at risk. Of these, more than 84,000 remained active at the end of 2013, with juveniles accounting for more than 40% of those still missing.

What should you do in the unfortunate event that one of your family members goes missing?

  • Report the missing person to police. Although police may encourage you to wait before filing a missing persons report, there is no waiting period required in order to do so. As soon as your loved one goes missing, file a report.
  • Search places they have been seen or would logically go. Once …read moreSource:: Law Blog

Ex-Cop Sentenced to 5 Years for Shooting Handcuffed Suspect

By Brett Snider, Esq.

A former Maryland police officer and Iraq war veteran has been convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for shooting and paralyzing a handcuffed suspect.

Johnnie Riley, 44, formerly a sergeant with the District Heights Police Department, was convicted of shooting Kalvin Kyle in the back after Kyle tried to flee, while handcuffed, from a police cruiser. According to The Associated Press, Kyle was left paralyzed and Riley could’ve faced up to 45 years in prison.

How did the court arrive at Riley’s sentence for the shooting?

Assault and Misconduct Convictions

In July, Riley was convicted of first- and second-degree assault, use of a handgun during commission of a crime of violence, and misconduct in office. Washington, D.C.’s WRC-TV reports that Riley’s trial concluded after only four days of testimony, with jurors taking just a few days to reach a verdict.

The jury had heard testimony about how Kyle was pulled over on suspicion of riding a stolen motorcycle, and how he was handcuffed and placed in the back of Riley’s …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Violent, Property Crime on the Decline: FBI Report

By Brett Snider, Esq.

Society may not be on the brink of destruction after all. At least not according to a recent crime report by the FBI, which shows that property crime and violent crime are generally on the decline.

According to an FBI press release, violent crimes in the United States decreased 4.4 percent between 2012 and 2013 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), while property crimes decreased 4.1 percent. Also uplifting news: Property crimes have been steadily on the decline for the last 11 years.

What was the good (and possibly bad) news delivered by this new FBI data?

Top 4 Violent Crimes in America

In 2013, the FBI collected data on an estimated 1.16 million violent crimes that occurred nationwide. And of that seemingly large sum, these crimes made up the largest percentages:

  1. Aggravated Assault (62.3 percent),
  2. Robbery (29.7 percent),
  3. Rape (6.9 percent), and
  4. Murder (1.2 percent).

Some may think that the rape figure seems low — especially given reports at many colleges — and the FBI has an answer. Prior to 2013, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program only …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Top 5 Questions to Ask a DUI Lawyer

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

Following a drunken or drugged driving arrest, working with a DUI attorney can be the best way to potentially avoid criminal penalties as well as negative impacts on your driving privileges.

When hiring a DUI lawyer, you’ll want to ask some basic questions — for example, whether the attorney has experience with DUI cases. But aside from the basics, there are many other questions you may also want answered.

What should you ask? Here are five important questions for your DUI lawyer:

  1. What should I do about my driver’s license? In addition to potential criminal penalties, a DUI arrest can affect your driving privileges, even prior to being convicted. Typically, preventing your driver’s license from being suspended, or restoring driving privileges which have been revoked, requires administrative action. For example, in California, drivers cited for DUI must request a hearing from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of receipt of a suspension or revocation order.
  2. What factors might make my case worse? Criminal …read moreSource:: Law Blog

Jodi Arias’ Retrial Continues After Defense Delay

By Brett Snider, Esq.

Retrial over the punishment of convicted murderer Jodi Arias resumed Wednesday, after legal issues with the defense’s case caused testimony to be delayed for almost two weeks.

Part of this period was spent addressing legal arguments that media outlets should be excluded from court during testimony in Arias’ retrial to accommodate a “skittish defense witness” to testify in private, reports The Associated Press. The judge in Arias’ case also denied a defense motion to delay the trial based on allegations that police altered or deleted evidence on the victim’s computer.

As the retrial resumes this week, what should those interested in Arias’ retrial look for?

The Media

The news media have won their rights, at least for now, to stay in the courtroom during Arias’ retrial. The Arizona Republic, which was one of the media outlets protesting being shut out of the Arias retrial, reported that an Arizona appellate court ruled in favor of the media last week. The three-judge panel granted a stay on the lower court’s original order excluding the …read more

Source:: Law Blog

NYPD’s New Pot Possession Policy Takes Effect Nov. 19

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

The New York City Police Department has announced that it will no longer arrest those carrying 25 grams or less of marijuana.

Instead, NYPD officers will issue begin issuing summonses to those in possession of small amounts of marijuana, reports Gothamist. The summonses, similar to those issued for speeding tickets or relatively minor offenses, will not appear on a person’s criminal record.

What else do you need to know about the NYPD’s new marijuana possession enforcement policy? Here are five facts:

  1. Brooklyn’s DA already instituted a similar policy. The NYPD’s announcement comes after the Brooklyn District Attorney announced earlier this year that it would no longer prosecute those arrested with less than 25 grams of marijuana.
  2. First offense will result in $100 fine. A violation of New York’s marijuana possession law will still result in a fine of up to $100 for a first offense. The violation will not, however, appear on an offender’s criminal record.
  3. Those cited …read moreSource:: Law Blog

5 Things to Know About Loretta Lynch, Obama’s Atty. Gen. Nominee

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that he was stepping down as soon as a successor could be found.

That successor has now apparently been found: It was announced over the weekend that U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch would be President Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general. If confirmed, Lynch would be the second African American to hold the post of attorney general, following Holder, who was the first.

What else should you know about Loretta Lynch? Here are five things:

  1. Lynch would be the first black woman to serve as attorney general. Beyond being just the second African American to serve in the position, Lynch would also be the first female African American attorney general. Lynch would also be just the second female attorney general following Janet Reno, who served from 1993 until 2001.
  2. Lynch went to Harvard — twice. Lynch attended Harvard for both her undergraduate degree and her law degree, graduating from law school in 1984.
  3. Lynch …read moreSource:: Law Blog

1 in 4 American Households Victimized by Crime: Gallup Poll

By Brett Snider, Esq.

A recent Gallup poll finds that about one in four American households includes someone who’s been victimized by crime — a figure that’s remained fairly constant over the past decade.

According to a Gallup study from 2000 to 2014, between 22 and 27 percent of households have reported being victimized by crime over the last 14 years. Victimization on the individual level has been slightly less reported, with between 14 and 19 percent of Americans claiming to be individual victims of crime.

What do these numbers mean for the average American, and which crimes are the most common?

Top 7 Crimes in the U.S.

Gallup collected information from both individuals and households about the most reported crimes in America, which are as follows:

  1. Stolen money or property.
  2. Vandalism.
  3. Burglary.
  4. Auto theft.
  5. Muggings and assaults.
  6. Robbery.
  7. Sexual assault.

While stolen money or property was the most reported incident per household (15 percent), about one in seven American households reported being the victim of some form of vandalism. This doesn’t seem as shocking when you consider that vandalism subsumes stupid pranks like houses being …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Okla. Dad in DUI Amputation Case Sentenced to 15 Years

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

The young father behind a DUI crash that led to the amputation of a motorcyclist’s leg was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday.

Angel Morales, 22, of Claremore, Oklahoma, had pleaded guilty to DUI in the 2013 crash, reports the Tulsa World. In addition to the DUI charges, Morales was also charged with three counts of child endangerment for having three of his children in his relative’s Cadillac Escalade at the time of the crash.

What did the victim do in this case to encourage the judge to put Morales behind bars?

Victim Impact Statement

Under Oklahoma law, crime victims or family members of crime victims have the right to appear personally at sentencing or parole proceedings and provide a victim impact statement. In cases in which the defendant has entered into a plea bargain, the Oklahoma statute requires that “In determining the appropriate sentence, the court shall consider among other factors any victim impact statements if submitted to the jury, or the judge in the event a …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Silk Road 2.0 Operator ‘Defcon’ Arrested by FBI

By Brett Snider, Esq.

A man accused of running Silk Road 2.0, a revived Internet black market, was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Blake Benthall, 26, also known as “Defcon,” is accused of attempting to resurrect the infamous Silk Road, a somewhat-secret website which allowed visitors to purchase anything from illicit drugs to murder-for-hire contracts. According to Ars Technica, the FBI reports that Benthall is facing charges of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering, and fraudulent document trafficking, all of which carry weighty prison sentences.

What was Benthall doing with Silk Road 2.0, and what is he facing in federal prosecution?

After Silk Road 1.0 Went Down…

The original Silk Road (the website, not the historical trading route) was run by Ross Ulbricht, a San Francisco man who went by his online alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” or “DPR.” Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco last year on drug conspiracy, money laundering, and murder charges, and his online bazaar of black market sales was shut down. The Justice Department seized $3.6 million in bitcoin (a …read more

Source:: Law Blog