Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

Race disparity in prisons highlights potential racism in laws

Did you know that Hispanics and black people are three times more likely to be stopped by police and searched for drugs than white people? It's a potentially disturbing fact for some of our Missouri readers who may have experienced this potential racial profiling for themselves.

Although many people would argue that justice is blind and that our nation's laws are black and white, some people would argue that this isn't the case, such as the statistic above shows. Furthermore, there are laws, both state and federal, that could further exemplify this point.

Protesters allege bias in police shooting investigation

Peaceful protests have given way to riots and looting in some areas of Jefferson, Missouri, following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. The 18-year-old was shot and killed outside a low-income housing complex last week.

At least one witness has stated that the young man had his hands up and was not struggling when he was fatally shot in the head and chest. The officer, on the other hand, has reportedly said that he believed the teen was reaching for a gun.

Could white collar crime be next in line for sentencing reform?

Earlier this year, new federal sentencing guidelines went into effect for people convicted of certain nonviolent drug crimes. Now, some defense lawyers and other advocates of prisoners’ rights are pushing for similar reforms in the sentencing of white collar crimes like embezzlement, tax fraud and insider trading.

The changes that have been suggested for the white collar crime sentencing guidelines would affect individuals charged with certain federal financial offenses. Many financial crimes can be prosecuted in either state or federal court, so people charged with these offenses in Missouri could be affected.

An update on forcible blood testing in DWI cases

Previously on this blog, we discussed a case that was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the issue of warrantless blood testing in drunk driving cases. That case has since been decided, so we will revisit the topic to provide an update.

The case in question is known as Missouri v. McNeely. It started when a Missouri highway patrolman stopped a man named Tyler McNeely for speeding in 2010. 

Missouri corrections officers charged with inmate abuse

Four former corrections officers are facing criminal charges in connection to their alleged conduct with inmates at a prison in eastern Missouri, where all four were previously employed. Three of the individuals have been charged with physically abusing inmates at the prison, and the fourth individual is accused of having had repeated sexual contact with an inmate.

According to the charges, video footage taken at the prison in 2012 showed one of the officers punching a restrained inmate, head-butting him and slamming his head into a door. Another officer is accused of choking an inmate and pushing him into a cell in such a way that the inmate’s head slammed against a wall, and a third officer is charged with striking an inmate in the face in 2013. 

U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on warrantless cellphone searches

When police arrest someone, the law permits them to conduct what is known as a search incident to arrest, even if they do not have a search warrant. This allows them to search the suspect’s pockets and personal belongings such as a purse, shopping bag or wallet, in order to check for weapons and prevent the destruction of evidence.

But until very recently, it was unclear whether police could look at the contents of an arrested person’s cellphone as a part of a search incident to arrest. Now, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has settled the issue with a resounding “no.”

Missouri police stepping up DWI enforcement this weekend

Missouri law enforcement will be out in full force this weekend, cracking down on drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. With all the celebrating being done this Independence Day at family barbeques, company picnics and friendly get-togethers, it is easy to drink more than you planned to. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead to make sure you get home safely -- and legally.

As part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, police throughout the state will be conducting saturation patrols, meaning that there will be more officers than usual on the roads to keep an eye out for impaired drivers. Historically, drunk driving arrests spike on the Fourth of July to a rate higher than almost any other day of the year. 

29 arrested in Missouri drug sweep

Following a lengthy investigation involving a number of different law enforcement agencies, more than two dozen people have been arrested in south-central Missouri drug sweep.  

The defendants are facing charges for a wide range of drug-related offenses, including possession and distribution of street drugs like marijuana and heroin, as well as prescription painkillers and other medications. Others caught in the roundup have been charged with crimes relating to drug manufacturing, including manufacturing methamphetamine and growing marijuana.

Foristell, Missouri, man accused of dragging trooper in DWI stop

A Foristell, Missouri, man is facing an assault charge related to an alleged drunk driving traffic stop in St. Charles. Assault on a government worker charges in Missouri are serious offenses. The statutes list a wide number of positions that may involve these similar types of alleged crimes, ranging from a law enforcement officer to utility workers or emergency personnel. Assault on a law enforcement officer is a felony level offense that can be added on top of other charges, like a Missouri DWI offense.

Authorities say that a Missouri State trooper sought to pull over a driver to investigate a potential drunk driving incident on Interstate 70. News reports do not indicate what led the trooper to suspect that the driver may have been impaired. Authorities believe that the driver pulled over; however, when the trooper approached the stopped car, authorities claim that the driver fled the scene in his vehicle.

Former Macks Creek teacher sentenced in student rape case

Just last week we discussed criminal charges leveled against a Missouri teacher involving allegations of sex crimes. Allegations of sexual offenses can result in significant consequences that are not associated with many other types of offenses, including potential sexual offender registration requirements depending on the type of the criminal charge. When a teacher is accused of a crime, professional licensing issues may follow.

When police question a person about an incident, information about other potential crimes may come to light. In general, a person suspected of a crime has the right to remain silent regarding his or her possible involvement in an offense. But, police often derive information from one person that may implicate another, and the right to be free from self-incrimination is not implicated in such a situation.

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