CHP Officers Made ‘Game’ of Sharing Suspects’ Nude Pics: Warrant

By Brett Snider, Esq.

The California Highway Patrol is being investigated for an alleged “game” in which officers shared nude photos of women stolen from suspects’ cell phones.

In a search warrant affidavit, CHP Officers Sean Harrington and Robert Hazelwood are accused of snagging near-naked selfies from arrestees’ phones and then trading them like baseball cards. The Contra Costa Times reports that Harrington confessed to stealing explicit photos from a DUI suspect’s phone as part of a sophomoric “game” between other officers.

If true, what charges could these allegedly pervy CHP officers face?

Search Warrant Reveals Possible Charges

As of Tuesday, no charges had been filed against either Harrington or Hazelwood, but an investigation is ongoing. The October 14 search warrant, with an attached affidavit from a district attorney’s office inspector, gives us a taste of things to come for these suspects.

Search warrants need to state that there is probable cause to believe that a specific offense has been committed and that evidence of that offense will be found in or on the persons or places to …read more

Source:: Law Blog

NYPD Hatchet Attack: Innocent Bystander Shot; What Happens Next?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

After the hatchet attack on NYPD officers in Queens last week, the alleged attacker was shot and killed. But what about the innocent bystander who was accidentally shot by police?

A 29-year-old woman was struck in the back by officers’ bullets as she was walking about half a block away, The New York Times reports. The woman remained in the hospital over the weekend.

The woman’s ordeal raises questions about what happens when innocent bystanders are accidentally shot by a police officer’s stray bullets.

Woman Underwent Surgery

The hatchet attack occurred about 2 p.m. Thursday, as four NYPD officers posed for a photograph on a sidewalk. According to the Times, a man armed with an 18-inch hatchet approached the officers and began striking them without provocation. One officer suffered a severe head wound; another officer was struck in the arm. Both were rushed to the hospital.

The two other officers present fired at the attacker multiple times, killing him. In the chaos, stray bullets also hit the woman, who was also taken to the hospital.

The unidentified woman underwent surgery last week; her condition …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Is It Legal to Fight Back If Someone Hits You First?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

No one (or at least anyone in their right mind) goes around looking for a fight.

But sometimes, whether you’re looking for it a not, a physical confrontation may find you. If you find yourself the victim of an assault, what can you do to defend yourself without also potentially being charged with a crime?

Is it legal to fight back if someone punches you first?

Self Defense

Use of force that would otherwise be criminal in nature may be excused if it was done in self defense. Though the specific rules for self defense vary from state to state, generally, a person under an imminent threat of physical violence can act to prevent being harmed.

In a physical confrontation, self defense typically allows a person who reasonably believes he is about to be hit to defend himself. However, if you’ve already been hit, and the person who hit you indicates by words or actions that he is not going to hit you again, self defense generally does not allow you to hit that person back. Self defense may only be invoked to prevent further harm, not …read more

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5 Rare, Long-Shot DUI Defenses, Including the ‘Low Carb’ Defense

By William Peacock, Esq.

Drunken driving suspects don’t always argue “I wasn’t drunk” or “I wasn’t driving.” Sometimes, they get a little more creative with their DUI defense theory.

Of course, the more creative the theory, the less likely it is to work. But hey, everybody needs a Hail Mary once in a while. And if a DUI is likely to impact your career (as it may for police officers and truck drivers, for example) one of these long-shot defenses might be worth trying.

Of course, defense strategy is something that you should discuss with your attorney, and if you’re desperate enough to try one of these, you need an attorney, so consider this helpful information — not legal advice. Here they are, from plausible to utterly nuts:

1. Breathalyzer Wasn’t Calibrated.

This isn’t a rare approach — it just rarely works. Like all scientific measures, a blood-alcohol reading has a margin of error. And if the machines used to measure one’s BAC aren’t properly calibrated, it widens that margin of error.

Of course, cops know this. Lab technicians know this. As do lawyers. Think of …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Ind. Serial Killing Suspect Remains Silent, Gets Contempt Warning

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

An Indiana man arrested last week and charged with the murder of a 19-year-old woman made his first appearance in court today after leading police to the bodies of six more women he is believed to have killed.

Despite his earlier cooperation with police, suspect Darren Vann, 43, was silent during his first court appearance, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Vann’s refusal to answer questions posed by the judge caused the judge to postpone the hearing for a week; she also warned Vann that he may be held in contempt if he continued to stonewall.

Vann Charged With 2 Murders; More Charges Expected

Vann is currently being charged with two counts of murder for the deaths of 19-year-old Afrika Hardy — who was found strangled in a motel room last week — and 35-year-old Anith Jones, whose body was among the six found by investigators after Vann’s arrest.

Investigators say that Vann helped lead them to the bodies of Jones and five other women, three of whom remain unidentified. Police say that Vann, a convicted sex offender, claims to …read more

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Failure to Appear in Court: What Can Happen?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, it should go without saying that showing up for your court appearances is important.

Even if the crime you are accused of committing is something as minor as a traffic offense, if you agree to appear in court and fail to show up, you may find yourself facing additional penalties. In cases where the charges are more serious, the consequences for failing to appear will likely be even more severe.

What can happen when a criminal defendant fails to appears in court? Here are a few of the potential consequences:

Bench Warrant May Be Issued

If you fail to appear in court, a judge may choose to issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This warrant will allow law enforcement to take you into custody at any time. In some circumstances, law enforcement may actively seek to execute the warrant at your home or business.

Bail May Be Imposed and/or Forfeited

If you were released following your arrest on your own recognizance in lieu of having to post bail or secure a bond, …read more

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Arrested While in College? What Happens Next?

By Mark Wilson, Esq.

Ah, autumn. That time of year when leaves change, pumpkin-flavored foods proliferate, and college students become unruly. As you may have heard (and seen), Keene State College in New Hampshire was the site of injuries and arrests this weekend, when students attending various off-campus parties celebrating the annual pumpkin festival started throwing things, leading to tear gas and arrests.

College sometimes feels like a whole different universe than the rest of the world, but are the laws any different? What happens when you get arrested in college?

Here’s what inquiring students need to know:

Your Arrest Timeline

If you’re arrested while in college, events occur largely the same way they would if you weren’t in college. After you’re arrested, you’ll be taken to jail, where you’ll be booked and get to make that famous “one phone call” — if your jurisdiction allows it.

While most states require that you’re <a class="colorbox" title="What is an Arraignment?" …read more

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Beware Pot-Laced Candy This Halloween, Denver Police Warn

By Daniel Taylor, Esq.

Police in Denver are warning parents about the potential for trick-or-treaters to get tricked into consuming pot-laced candy this Halloween.

With the passage of Colorado’s marijuana legalization law, the state’s marijuana dispensaries have begun selling pot-infused candy that often times looks nearly identical to regular candy, reports ABC News. Edibles such as marijuana-infused candies account for as much as 30 percent of sales at some of Colorado’s legal dispensaries.

Now police are trying to get the word out to parents about the potential for children to be exposed to marijuana by inadvertently eating these marijuana-laced treats.

Halloween Warning Video

With the upcoming Halloween the first since recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Colorado, police are looking to get the word out to parents. The Denver Police Department has released a YouTube video explaining to parents the dangers potentially posed by marijuana edibles on Halloween featuring the owner of a Denver dispensary:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wQdLzyN8AU&w=420&h=236]

The video explains how manufacturers of marijuana-infused candies sold at Colorado dispensaries often …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Mom Drives Son to Commit Shooting; Charged With Attempted Murder

By Brett Snider, Esq.

A Florida mom has been charged as a principal to attempted murder after allegedly driving her gang member son to go shoot someone.

Sondra Conegia, 54, the mother of attempted murder suspect Lewis Hawkins, 32, is alleged to have driven her son to the intended victim’s girlfriend’s apartment where Hawkins fired “four shots at him from a 9 mm gun,” reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Hawkins then reportedly got back in Conegia’s car and they left the scene.

No one was killed or injured in the shooting, and Hawkins has not yet been caught. So why is his mom still on the hook for attempted murder?

Mom’s Motive Unclear

Most moms would kill to have their adult sons involve them in their lives, but attempted murder charges typically aren’t part of the equation. Who knows what was going through the 54-year-old mother’s head when she allegedly drove her son to confront and ultimately try to kill a man.

According to Orlando’s WOFL-TV, police report that the intended target of Lewis’ bullets, Dion Skeeter, 34, had an <a class="colorbox" title="Woman arrested, accused of driving son to …read more

Source:: Law Blog

Can You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

By Brett Snider, Esq.

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a nightmare scenario for many drivers, but you may be able to legally refuse to perform one.

Refusing Breathalyzers and blood tests will likely result in the automatic suspension of your license, but the same may not be true for FSTs. There may be other practical and legal consequences for refusing to try to balance along the side of the road, but it may a driver’s best legal option.

So can drivers legally refuse a field sobriety test?

You Can Refuse Everything, Unless a Warrant Is Involved

When you are pulled over by an officer on suspicion of drunken driving, the officer may attempt to subject you to FSTs, Breathalyzer tests, or even blood tests to determine your sobriety. You may legally refuse to take any of these tests, unless the officer has a warrant. Even on a “no refusal” weekend, you may legally refuse to submit to a FST or breath/chemical test performed by officers.

However, if the officer is able to obtain a warrant after you refuse (which they may do over the phone with a …read more

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