Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

Is it a crime to fake a signature on sports memorabilia?

Say you have a jersey of your favorite sports star. As is, it's worth about as much as you paid for it. But if the jersey were to contain the signature of that player, it would be worth a lot more because it'd be considered a collectible. Knowing this, would you ever consider faking the signature of the player in order to make your jersey worth more money?

If you have, then you may want to stop before you act because doing so could be considered a criminal offense and could lead to punishment on the state and/or federal level. That's because forging a signature of sports memorabilia is considered fraud, which carries serious penalties if you are convicted of committing this white collar crime.

How false memories can lead to a wrongful conviction

Most people would consider criminal charges to be an incredibly troubling thing to face because they know that their freedom could be at stake if they are convicted of committing a crime. Most people also know that wrongful convictions do happen across the nation, oftentimes leaving a person labeled as a criminal even though they have done nothing wrong.

In many cases, wrongful convictions can occur because of confessions that are later proven false by other evidence. But this might lead you to ask: why would someone confess to committing a crime they didn't do? If you're like some of our Missouri readers, you may be thinking you would never allow yourself to be convinced into confessing to a crime you had nothing to do with. But would you be correct in making this assertion? Some psychologists say no.

Potential changes to the Missouri criminal code expected in 2017

Did you ever vote for a politician because they promised to make changes you thought would greatly benefit the community or state? Most people do. But have you ever stepped back and considered how these legislative promises affect the functionality of existing statutes? Probably not, unless you have needed to defend yourself against criminal charges.

Because our criminal statutes are so complex and subject to change over time, some crimes can become misclassified while others receive changes that increase sentencing requirements to the point where some prosecutors even start to question the fairness of the punishment. The hope though is that things will change in Missouri, especially now that changes are being suggested for the better.

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.

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