Crime Law

Recent Controversy Concerning Police Brutality

The political climate in the United States has recently been tense after the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Everyone is on edge, and the potential for violence to occur is on everyone’s mind. In times like these, it often difficult to propose a plan of action to address the violence problem and still be just to everyone. This is the case with law enforcement, as there has been much recent controversy surrounding police brutality. Without an incredibly nuanced approach, there could be catastrophic consequences.

Following the recent deaths of two Florida police officers and the shooting of two more, lawmakers are considering expanding protections and handing down harsher penalties for those that assault police officers. They plan to do this by adding law enforcement and emergency response personnel to the protected classes of race, religion, and sexual orientation under hate crime laws. This would mean that even off-duty officers would be protected, and this new classification would protect anyone that the perpetrator of the crime even thinks is a police officer, whether it is true or not. The Florida Police Benevolence Association is advocating for this change, citing the current political climate and increased aggression towards law enforcement as reasons for the push. The FPBA states that any move to discourage someone from assaulting a peace officer is a positive change. However, according to The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, this change should not be necessary because increased punishments already exist for those who commit violence against police officers. Any crime committed against law enforcement automatically gets bumped up one level regarding the seriousness of the offense. In fact, similar legislation to include law enforcement under hate crime laws was already proposed in Florida earlier this year, and it was backed by The Florida Sheriff’s Association. That bill was never even heard by a committee, so it is likely this similar bill will die as well.

There are some problems with including law enforcement and emergency personnel under hate crime laws. Would other careers be added to this? What about members of the military? There are branches of criminal defense in Florida that help service members in the event they run into legal trouble, for instance, the Flaherty Defense Firm that was found via a simple Google search, but what if a service member is assaulted by someone who dislikes the military? If we begin to include some occupational choices under the hate crime statute, it is only fair to include all of them. A lawyer in the above article aptly asks, “Are construction workers next?”

The possibility may exist that there is no clear cut way for the government to address violence against police officers. Aside from harsher penalties, which already exist, the police departments could take more precautions to keep themselves safe while also ensuring the protection of the citizens they serve. Putting law enforcement on the same list as those who experience real discrimination every single day is likely not the correct solution, especially when becoming a police officer is a clear choice.

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Assault vs. Battery

Assault and battery are two actions that constitute domestic violence. While they are similar, assault only presents an attempt to injure, whereas battery demonstrates actual contact. To be charged of assault, no contact needs to have occurred. To be legally characterized as battery, the action must posses three factors: intentional touching, the touching is harmful, and there was no consent from the alternate party.

The keyword for assault is intent. Whether or not someone harms his/her partner, they can still be charged with assault. Verbal arguments do not present strong evidence for assault, however situations that present a violent, no-contact action do.

By definition, battery is when there has been a harmful or offensive action against another person, in which touching is involved without the victim’s permission. Broken down, the definition outlines three factors for an action to constitute battery: it is intentional, harmful or offensive, and unconsecrated. Even if the action doesn’t inflict harm or pain, it can still be offensive, and therefore can meet this requirement for battery.

Assault and battery can be tried together, as they often intertwine. However, even if there is no conviction, an accusation alone can present obstacles in one’s life. There is a range of consequences for being charged of assault or battery, with heavier repercussions for the more extreme cases.

Waukesha Criminal Defense Lawyers may attest to how this form of domestic violence can inflict damage in every dimension of life. Often, assault and battery can be considered and tried together, as they often intertwine. While it is important to decrease the rate of domestic violence, it is equally important to protect those that are fighting for justice as a result of it.

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Death by Intoxication in Texas

It really does not pay to drink and drive in Texas, even if you are the daughter of a state judge. A 2007 incident involving the intoxicated college student in an SUV and the rear end of a large box truck ended in the death of the girl’s 19-year-old boyfriend. According to Texas law, she was charged with intoxication manslaughter when her blood alcohol level revealed she was considerably over the legal limit at the time of the crash. The 7-day trial ended in a conviction that satisfied the victim’s family and the letter of the law.

Texas is the only state that identifies a homicide caused by an inebriated or impaired driver as an independent offense and it is called intoxication manslaughter, although other states do have similar laws that apply to that type of situation. Some call it vehicular manslaughter, others DUI manslaughter, and still others use related terms.

Manslaughter is one of two types of criminal homicide, in which the other is murder. Not all homicides (where one person causes the death of another person) are criminal i.e. self-defense, but all cases of manslaughter and murder are. Any criminal defense attorney in Dallas will explain that manslaughter is considered the lesser crime because of the absence of malice, forethought, or intent to kill, and can get off on probation depending on the circumstances with the right representation.

A charge of intoxication manslaughter is applicable when the driver is legally drunk or otherwise intoxicated as evidenced by blood tests even if there is no apparent impairment and causes the death (immediate or eventual from injuries sustained) of a passenger, occupants of other vehicles, or a pedestrian. Intoxication must be voluntary, which means that the defendant knowingly used an intoxicant before operating a vehicle. Such a charge may also be applied for cases with similar results when an intoxicated person operates a boat, airplane, or amusement ride.

Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony. The mandatory minimum is four months in prison which can be deferred to a more convenient time as what happened in the above case, 240 hours of community service, and 10 years probation plus a fine of up to $10,000. The maximum prison sentence for a conviction of intoxication manslaughter is 20 years.

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The Harsh Consequences of Cocaine Use

Cocaine, a highly-addictive and powerful stimulant, is categorized by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of the United States as a Schedule II drug, that is, an illegal substance that has the tendency to be abused; doctors, however, can administer it to patients for medical purposes.

Being charged with a drug-related crime, especially cocaine, means huge fines and time in jail, both of which would be increased if the crime would involve injury or death. For first offenders, mere possession of the drug in any amount can result in one year behind bars and a minimum fine of $1,000, according to the United States Code (USC) of Controlled Substances Act.

The Nashville criminal defense lawyers of Horst Law, as well as the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, explain on their websites how drug crimes are aggressively prosecuted in the US, so as to discourage anyone thinking of getting involved in drug-related activities. Both law offices also point out how a drug crime charge can have a devastating effect in the lives of those caught, regardless of the purpose of involvement in it.

Drug- related crimes include manufacturing, possession, distribution, selling, or use of prohibited drugs and drug paraphernalia. Cocaine, specifically, which is consumed most in the US, is used as a stimulant to keep workers awake for increased productivity during longer working or to keep party goers active all throughout the night. However, despite having no real intent to abuse the drug or use it to harm anyone, if caught in possession of it, absence of ill intent will never save the offender from the harsh punishments. And often the first offenders and those who simply use cocaine as stimulants, individuals who actually never understand the law on illegal drugs, are the ones caught.

Being convicted of a drug offense can very well destroy one’s future, thus, a person being charged of this type of crime would absolutely need the greatest defense that only a well-informed and highly-competent lawyer can provide. Criminal defense lawyers from Mark T. Lassiter’s or Daniel Jensen’s law offices are the most commendable legal counsels for the job due to their extensive experience on criminal law and capability to competently defend any person accused.

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