Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

Identity theft and false returns carry serious consequences

Did you know that in 2014, the average sentence for an identity theft conviction rose from 34 months to 48 months? Did you also know that the incarceration rate for such crimes also rose between 2013 and 2014 by 7.1 percent? These increases occurred because the federal government is taking a tougher stance on identity theft, a white collar crime that experts say affects thousands of Americans each year.

The reason for tougher enforcement of the law is because, as the chief of the IRS-Criminal Investigation explains, the federal government wants to "send a warning to criminals" that they can face serious prosecution and even steeper penalties if they choose to partake in criminal activities. Some say that the increase in consequences better fits the crime, which can impact identity theft victims years after the initial crime has been committed.

Do I have to take field sobriety tests (FSTs)?

If you have ever been pulled over by police, you know it can be intimidating. Even if you don't think you were doing anything wrong, you might feel very nervous. This is intensified by police commanding orders and demanding information.

License and registration. Where are you headed? Where are you coming from? Hands on the wheel. Look over here. Step out of the vehicle. 

Missouri family faces felony charges for fake kidnapping

Having one's child kidnapped may be one of the most frightening things that could possibly happen to a parent. But what happens when it's the parent doing the kidnapping?

Recently in Missouri, a 6-year-old boy was the victim of his family's conspiracy to teach him a lesson about not trusting strangers. According to an article in CNN, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office has charged the boy's mother, aunt, grandmother and the aunt's coworker with the actual felony crime of kidnapping (among other charges), even though the women had planned and executed the incident as a so-called "educational" hoax.

Should Missouri continue enforcing the death penalty?

As some of our readers may or may not know, Missouri reinstated the death penalty in 1977. Between 1989 and 2012, our state executed 68 inmates, many of whom had been convicted of murder. Recently, a man by the name of Walter T. Storey was added to this list when he was executed this month for a 1990 murder.

But as so many of our Columbia readers know, conviction of a crime does not necessarily always point to guilt. As we have seen in other cases, the mishandling of cases and/or the addition of DNA evidence has led to appeals that have successfully been able to prove a person's innocence. Here in Missouri, this has only resulted in three people being released from death row.

A look at why lowering the legal limit might be bad

Even though we all know it's wrong, drunk driving continues to be a problem across the nation. There are two competing thoughts though as to why drunk driving continues to be an issue. Those who are against drinking and driving say that it's the law's fault because it doesn't give harsher punishments to repeated offenders. Criminal defenders, though they may agree that it's the law's fault, believe instead that the law is too harsh and does not offer treatment programs that could offer redemption instead of continued incarceration.

Where ever you stand on the issue, what seems clear is that something needs to be done. A fine line must be walked though between what is best for public safety and protecting the rights of those accused of breaking the law. Some people believe they have the solution: lower the legal limit to .05. But does this really walk that fine line? Let’s take a look.

Supreme Court to weigh in on what constitutes a routine stop

As we have said before on this blog, we here at Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer are avid followers of criminal defense cases. That's because we, just like our more frequent readers, understand the importance of staying up-to-date on the changing landscape of the law. We see it as necessary in order to successfully put forward the best criminal defense and protect the rights of our clients.

One right we have seen violated and nearly violated time and again is a person's Fourth Amendment right. As we explained in a December post on the topic, law enforcement agencies must have at least reasonable suspicion in order to request the necessary search order from the courts. Without this, law enforcement risk violating a person's civil rights, jeopardizing the validity of the case later on.

House bill on electronic tracking: where is it now?

Back in March, we wrote a post about HB 1388. For those who did not read the post or hear about this piece of legislation on the news, HB 1388's aim is to bolster everyone's constitutional rights by requiring law enforcement agencies in Missouri to obtain a warrant before activating the GPS tracking systems found on many electronic devices.

A bipartisan measure, HB 1388's goal is to please both law enforcement agencies, who want to utilize technology to prevent crime, and civil rights advocates, who want to make sure citizens are properly protected from police who try to overreach their power.

Multiple DWIs can lead to a felony, but you do have rights

Seeing red and blue flashing lights in your rear view mirror can be a scary sight. That's because most people aren't entirely familiar with the subtle nuances of a traffic stop or the laws surrounding them. More to the point, it's this lack of understanding that can lead to missteps on the road to justice, perhaps even leading to an undeserved conviction.

One way to protect yourself from a wrongful conviction is to seek the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Their expertise has been cited in a number of cases as the reason why charges were dropped or a person's innocence was effectively proven. Although obtaining an attorney is an added expense, they are considered by most to be a necessary but welcomed expense, especially because they can make all the difference in some cases.

Those caught by red-light cameras issued a refund

Although most drivers in Missouri would rather see a resolution in the case of Tupper v. the City of St. Louis, which challenges the enforcement of red-light cameras in certain municipalities, good news was delivered to the nearly 900,000 drivers who received tickets due to the automated ticketing system.

The good news was that a settlement had been reached with American Traffic Solutions, the company that is operating the cameras. The settlement grants a 20 percent refund to drivers who had received tickets from the system. Although many alleged violators would like to see all of their ticket refunded -- especially in cases where the traffic violation was issued in error -- some are glad that there has at least been some progress on the issue of red-light cameras in the state.

Mistakenly receiving drugs in the mail and the question it raises

Even with the passage of HB 2238, which will eventually legalize the possession of hemp extract for certain people, Missouri still has some rather strict marijuana laws when compared to other states. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana can result in serious criminal charges that can lead to fines and even jail time.

It's because of our strict drug possession laws that we wanted to present an out-of-state case to our Boone County readers in which a package containing marijuana was mislabeled and sent to the wrong recipient. Although this particular case did not result in criminal charges, it raises an important question: could the accidental delivery of marijuana lead to criminal charges? Let's take a look at the case and our own state's laws to find the answer.

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