Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

How technology could help you avoid multiple DWIs

Here in Missouri, as is the case in many other states, any DWI conviction after your first becomes increasingly harsher, oftentimes leading to longer sentences and more severe penalties. Most drivers do not want to incur subsequent DWIs after their first because they know that these DWIs become felonies on their record, affecting everything from their freedom to their ability to drive.

This becomes a major problem for people who are living with a substance-abuse condition. Even though they may not want to incur multiple DWIs and the penalties that follow, their condition makes this goal very difficult to achieve. For these people, as well as anyone else who has multiple DWIs on their record, technology may be the answer to this issue.

Legal issues of inventing a breath test to detect drugs - Part II

In one of our blog posts last week we brought to our Missouri readers' attention the fact that scientists are currently looking into a new way of detecting if a driver is impaired by drugs.  As you may remember from the post, a chemistry professor from Washington State University believes that it's possible to adapt a Breathalyzer device to detect THC rather than alcohol.  And if researchers are successful, then this device could become a regular tool for law enforcement across the nation.

But as we mentioned last week, such a test may create some legal issues for residents here in Missouri, which is a concern not just for our readers here in Boone County but across the state.

State's high court hears arguments in three traffic camera cases

Every motorist dreads the moment when they glance in their rearview mirror only to be greeted by the sight of a squad car's flashing lights. 

Here, just a momentary lapse in judgment behind the wheel can result in the officer issuing you a traffic violation that is not only costly, but which will also see penalty points added to your driver's license.

As frustrating as this scenario can be, it takes on a whole new level of frustration when the traffic violation isn't issued by a police officer, but rather through the mail via a traffic camera.

Not surprisingly, these traffic cameras -- the bane of many Missouri motorists -- have been at the epicenter of several bitter legal disputes across the state, with proponents arguing they can make the roads and highways safer and critics arguing that they are nothing more than a revenue stream for local governments.

Legal issues of inventing a breath test to detect drugs - Part I

News of a new breath test that could detect the presence of THC, the chemical found in marijuana that causes impairment, is spreading across national news outlets, causing law enforcement agencies and criminal defense advocates to consider what impact this could have on the nation, especially when it comes to criminal charges for driving under the influence of drugs.

As some of our Boone County readers know, there are existing tests, commonly used by TSA agents at airports, that detect the presence of drugs in real time. According to a chemistry professor at Washington State University, these tests could be altered and adapted for use in the field by law enforcement across the nation. Presently, the chemistry professor and a doctoral student at the university are working on a prototype device that could mean big changes to traffic stops and the law.

Campus sexual assault policies and their affect on the accused

Properly addressing complaints of sexual assault on college campuses has become a hot-button topic over the last few years, with both sides weighing in heavily on what they think campus administrators should do about the issue.

On one side you have the advocates for the victims who believe that college campuses are failing to provide adequate services to students to prevent such crimes from occurring. Furthermore, they feel that the burden of proof is much too high at many colleges and universities, which creates barriers for those filing complaints.

Can police seize my property even if I'm not accused of a crime?

Imagine for a moment that your spouse has taken the family vehicle to the local bar to have a few drinks with friends. Believing that they are good to drive, your spouse leaves the bar and proceeds to drive away. But mere blocks from the bar, your spouse is pulled over by police who witnessed your spouse leaving the bar and are now accusing him or her of drunk driving.

As you already know, police can seize property after an arrest in an effort to gather evidence in the case. In accordance with Missouri law, property can include your vehicle too, especially if you have one or more prior convictions for an alcohol-related traffic offense. But what happens if you're not accused of a crime or are even found innocent? Can police still seize your property?

Jardines v. Florida: the case that reigned in drug-sniffing dogs

Throughout the history of the United States there have been a number of court cases that have captured the nation's attention because they raise important legal questions that are applicable in just about every state. Some of them you may be able to cite off the top of your head even though you may not have a legal background.

One such case is that of Jardines v. Florida, which was decided on in2013 by the U.S. Supreme Court. It raised two important questions that some of our Missouri readers have probably asked before: do police need a warrant before using a drug-sniffing dog at a person's residence? And furthermore, could the use of a drug-sniffing dog to gather evidence constitute as an unreasonable search if a warrant is not obtained?

Why getting an expungement in Missouri is a good idea

Although most people in Missouri are aware of the impact a conviction can have on someone, some may not realize that even after a sentence has been served, that conviction stays on a person's criminal record for the rest of their life. This means that the negative stigmas associated with a criminal conviction stay with that person, impacting nearly every aspect of their life along the way.

In July 2012, however, our state signed into law new terms under which a person could request an expungement of their record. As you may know, an expungement is a process by which a person's criminal record can be erased by the courts. This includes, under the new law, an individual's arrest, plea deal, trial and a conviction.

What is tax fraud and how does the IRS define it?

If you're like a lot of people here in Missouri, then much of you legal knowledge has probably come from discussions you have had with other people or from television shows you watch. But even though some of this legal knowledge may be sound, the same cannot be said for everything you have heard, which can create misunderstandings on occasion when facing criminal charges.

Take for example your understanding of the term tax fraud. Do you know what this crime entails or how the Internal Revenue Service defines it? If you're like most people then you probably have a general understanding of the term but cannot pinpoint the specifics of what makes it a crime. That's why, in this week's post, we will explain some things about tax fraud that we think will help our readers understand the law better.

'Gone Girl' highlights false rape claims and the harm they cause

It's because of false accusations that discussing rape has always been a sensitive subject in our society. As a society, we don't want to assume that all accusations of rape or false; but on the other hand, we know that false accusations can and do happen in this country and even in our state.

This was a point that was briefly highlighted in the movie "Gone Girl," an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel with the same title. For those who have not seen the movie, there is a scene in which Ben Affleck's character meets up with his missing wife's ex-boyfriend to ask him about a rape allegation she made against the ex in the past.

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