Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

Springfield woman facing voter fraud charges

Here in Missouri, as well as in other states across the nation, it is a crime to misrepresent yourself in any way during the election process. Whether you're running for office or casting a vote, voter fraud is considered a serious offense in our state. Depending on the severity of the election crime committed, a person could face serious penalties including a lengthy prison sentence and a steep fine as well.

A Springfield woman is learning this the hard way this month after being accused by police of voting twice in Missouri during the April 7, 2015 election. As is explained in Section 115.631.1 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, it's a class one election offense to vote more than once in our state. If a person violates this law, they could face up to five years in prison and as much as a $10,000 fine.

Proving a DWI case can be difficult (Cont.)

In the recent crash, he has not yet been charged with any alcohol related charges, and this may be tied to the fact that he fled after the crash.

His passenger told police that had been drinking prior to the crash. The driver turned himself in on Sunday night. The crash occurred at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, so it is unlikely that law enforcement would have been able to obtain an accurate measure of his blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the collision after he surrendered to authorities.

Proving a DWI case can be difficult

Drunk driving has long been perceived as a significant problem on America's roads. Long gone are the days when someone leaving a restaurant or bar would "have one for the road." And much of the reduction in the nation's highway fatalities from the 1980s is the result of stricter enforcement of driving while intoxicated laws.

But it is still seen as a serious problem and more than 10,000 deaths are attributed to drivers who are intoxicated. In addition, this tends to cause the police in most jurisdictions to continue to engage in aggressive enforcement of the DWI laws.

Don’t lose your independence with a Fourth of July DUI

Before heading out for your Fourth of July plans, remember that police in Missouri will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

Numerous law enforcement agencies will be joining forces in effort to crack down on as many suspected drunk drivers as possible using sobriety checkpoints and extra patrols.

Racial bias in our laws lessen, still not perfect though

There were a lot of lessons to be learned from the incident in Ferguson. For many across Missouri, including here in Columbia, one of the main lessons learned was that racial bias is still prevalent in our society, perhaps even among law enforcement officers who are tasked with upholding a law that is supposed to be color blind.

For those who regularly visit our blog, you know that this isn't the first time we have talked about the possible racial bias that exists within our criminal justice system. Back in August last year we spoke about the apparent racial bias found in federal sentencing laws, particularly for non-violent drug crimes.

How bad science can leave you facing a wrongful conviction

If there is anything that crime shows like "CSI" teach of it's that forensic science is oftentimes the key to getting a conviction. Without it, prosecutors have to let "the bad guy" walk free because they don't have the evidence they need to put them away for the crime.

But thanks to groups like the Innocence Project, we can see that forensic science isn't infallible. Many techniques, from bite mark comparisons to blood splatter analysis, have not been put through the rigors of evaluation by the scientific community. More still aren't standardized, making room for procedural errors and the possibility of wrongful convictions too.

Case shows affect campus sexual assault claim has on accused

When conversations turn to the topic of sexual assault, most people focus on the impact such events have on victims. They often talk about the psychological impact as well as the social stigma that accompanies the act. The conversation typically then turns to the topic of justice and how it can be awarded to victims.

Rarely ever though does the conversation touch on how a sexual assault allegation can affect the person being accused. When you think about it, it's not hard to see why. Our society is ruled by the idea of justice; and to think that someone accused of a crime is actually innocent doesn't tend to be our first thought.

Supreme Court ruling may affect bail rules for immigrants

Did you know that at present time, the wording of our laws here in Missouri allow law enforcement to deny bail to an individual if their immigration status is in doubt? We are one of three states that has enacted legislation to do this. But could a recent Supreme Court decision force lawmakers to reconsider the constitutionality of such an action? Some in the state might argue yes.

For those of our Columbus readers who follow the U.S. Supreme Court and the decisions it makes, you may have heard about their ruling in a case that called to question the constitutionality of laws that deny a person the right to bail solely based on their immigration status. The question has created some confusion across the nation and for good reason. Courts have delivered conflicting verdicts regarding unauthorized immigrants in the past.

Parents who serve alcohol at parties can face charges too

In a matter of a few days, graduation ceremonies will commence for high schools across the state of Missouri. Along with school festivities also comes individual parties for each graduate. And while some parents may want to respect the law and avoid serving alcohol to minors, some parents might not see the harm in honoring their child's -- and their friends -- passage into adulthood with an alcoholic beverage.

If you are considering the same thing for your child's graduation party, we'd advise you to stop now before acting. That's because it is illegal here in Missouri, as well as across the nation, to provide alcohol to a minor. Unless you are the parent of the minor and you are on private property, giving alcohol to a minor is a criminal offense that can not only mean negative consequences for you but also for the minor as well.

Government can't keep a felon's guns, Supreme Court rules

As some of you may know, federal law prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony from owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition. Violation of this law can result in up to 10 years in prison though the sentence can be escalated to 15 years if the individual has been convicted three or more times for a violent offense. Here in Missouri, our gun control laws for felons are just as severe, seemingly barring even non-violent felons, which is something we pointed out in a September post last year.

People who have been convicted of a felony may find it alarming that they can never own or possess a firearm because of state and federal gun control laws. But what may be far more disconcerting is the fact that many jurisdictions have been known to seize firearms from convicted felons on the premise that they are eliminating the risk that the felon may use the gun irresponsibly. Unfortunately, this seemingly good deed is actually creating problems for convicted felons.

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