Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

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.

How does a Breathalyzer determine intoxication?

When it comes to drinking and driving, there are two things that most people know: 1.) this form of reckless behavior is illegal in all states and 2.) in order to avoid a DUI charge, your blood-alcohol level must be less than .08 if you are over the age of 21.

As you may already know, police can determine your blood-alcohol level using one of two methods: a breath test or through chemical testing. While chemical testing is relatively easy to figure out how it works, Breathalyzers are more of a mystery to many people. In this week's post, we will look at how these devices work to help answer the question: how does a Breathalyzer determine intoxication?

Missouri man pleads guilty to embezzlement, sentenced 70 months

When you are given access to a company's funds by someone of authority at that company, there is a trust that you will use those funds for the betterment of the company. If you misappropriate those funds and use them for personal use though, you not only break this trust but you will be doing something that is considered illegal in every state, including here in Missouri.

This misappropriation of funds is called embezzlement and it's a crime that carries with it a steep price: your freedom. Our Boone County readers can perhaps best see this exemplified after looking at the case of a 61-year-old Neosho man who pleaded guilty in February to several theft charges for embezzling more than $4.9 million from his employer.

Springfield man asserts right to own guns despite past felonies

In August, voters in Missouri passed Amendment 5, which prohibited violent felons from owning a fire arm. Considered by most to be a step toward reducing repeat violent offenses among felons, the thought may never have crossed anyone's mind that the language of the law could be interpreted differently than how legislators intended it.

But as a recent case demonstrates, the current wording of the law creates a loophole that a 63-year-old felon would like the state to acknowledge. Some of our Columbia readers may have already heard about the man's motion to dismiss the weapons charges currently against him -- charges he believes should not have been levied against him.

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.

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