Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

The innocent picture that could lead to criminal charges

Everyone has one. That embarrassing picture of your child running around the house completely naked or a picture of them in the bath tub after a day of playing in the mud. Decades ago these types of snapshots were considered innocent and accepted by society. But as society's views on indecent photography grew stricter, taking photos like this was no longer seen as cute but as shameful.

Our Missouri readers can see this by looking at several cases from across the nation. In each of the cases, parents thought they were doing something innocent -- simply taking photographs of their children. But when investigators stepped in in two of the cases, these parents quickly learned that what they thought was innocent now comes with legal consequences.

Can you fool a Breathalyzer into thinking you're not drunk?

We've all heard them before: those urban myths about drinking and driving and how to avoid criminal charges if you get stopped. One myth says that if you suck on some pennies, the copper will neutralize the alcohol. Another says that swishing with mouthwash before an officer administers a breath test is the best way to get out of a DUI arrest.

Not only are the majority of these myths wrong, but partaking in some of them can actually lead to serious drunk-driving charges in the process. And depending on if you seek the help of a skilled attorney, and how effective you are at presenting your defense, you could find yourself facing a conviction as well -- even if you were not intoxicated.

Facing sexual misconduct charges? Speak with an attorney

Being accused of any crime can be devastating and quite frightening. However, there are some crimes that may be particularly upsetting. For example, sexual misconduct allegations can destroy a person's career and reputation, even if that person is never convicted or the claims turn out to be baseless.

Whether you are accused of offenses related to child pornography, sexual assault or statutory rape, it is important to remember that you have the right to speak with an attorney and take steps to aggressively defend against charges. Our law firm understands how serious these charges can be and how much is on the line for a person accused of a sex crime.

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. 

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