Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Law Blog

How do prosecutors decide to prosecute a case?

When authorities believe a crime has been committed and make an arrest, charges are not always a guarantee. Before pressing charges, the police will write an arrest report and have it looked at by a prosecutor. The prosecutor will then make a judgment: should I send this case to a grand jury and let them decide what charges to file? Should I make charges formal without a grand jury or should I drop the case altogether?

It's important to understand that our criminal justice system is run by humans. Humans are subject to prejudice, preconceived notions and ulterior motives. In deciding whether to pursue a case or not, a prosecutor may have many things in mind:

What are the limitations of police in drug searches and seizures?

In the United States, we have the right to privacy, but this right also comes with a limit and, in certain circumstances, a person must give up their privacy when law officials are involved.

Police officers have the authority to conduct searches and seizures if there are reasonable and valid grounds to do so. This is supported by the Fourth Amendment. The police must provide evidence that they have valid grounds to conduct a search or seizure by showing that it is likely that something illegal has taken place and this search will yield evidence in the form of narcotics or other illegal or stolen goods. In certain scenarios, the police must make this case in front of a state judge, who, if satisfied, will provide them with a search warrant. Only then can they proceed with searching for narcotics or illegal goods, but the police may be able to make the search without the warrant as well. Police can make searches and seizures in scenarios where the individual does not have a valid expectation of privacy, for example, if the narcotics or items are openly placed where they are easily visible.The police can conduct a search beyond the parameters of a warrant if there is a threat to the lives of the officers and others or there are special circumstances in effect.

Common forms of defense against voluntary manslaughter

voluntary manslaughter conviction can have very severe consequences which can include massive fines, decades of jail time as well as the irreparable damage to your reputation. Voluntary manslaughter defenses are very similar to those of other homicides. To avoid conviction, the defense has several forms to draw upon.

The simplest form of defense that a defendant can use is claiming innocence. The defense can claim the accused did not commit the crime that they are charged with. This is the best possible form of defense as the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. It relies on the defense providing proof that clears the accused from the charges. This can be in the form of an alibi. In the case of voluntary manslaughter, the defense can only draw upon a perfect self-defense claim; this is the form of self-defense where the situation presented a reasonable requirement for lethal force to be used for the protection of the life of the accused or others. An imperfect self-defense claim would be an admission on the part of the defense to committing voluntary manslaughter. The defense must provide proof that shows that there was a reasonable need for deadly force.

What's the difference between first and second degree Murder?

There are few charges more serious than murder. The mere accusation can completely ruin your life. If convicted, the penalties can range from a few years in prison to a life sentence or the death penalty. However, not all murder charges are the same. The law recognizes varying degrees based on a range of factors.

So what is the difference between first and second degree murder? Simply put, first degree murder involves premeditation. That is, the accused made a plan to end someone's life and carried out that plan. By comparison, second degree murder doesn't involve planning. Instead, the law looks at a few factors:

What are some forms of defense for first-degree murder?

First-degree murder charges can have extremely severe consequences that can include extensive jail time and large fines. To avoid these penalties, there are several forms of defense that can be used. Defenses for first-degree murder come in two main categories. First, defenses that have the accused admitting to killing the individual but refuting the claim that they committed first-degree murder and, secondly, a defense that denies the murder was committed by the accused.

The defense may claim that the accused was mistaken for someone else, or to be more precise, the identity of the accused was mistaken with that of the killer. The may suggest that the prosecution has charged the wrong person and the real killer is someone else. They can solidify this claim by providing an alibi which puts the accused at another location at the time of the crime or by challenging the evidence provided by the plaintiff whether this is in the form of witnesses or forensic evidence. Another strategy is to claim that the accused only used fatal force after the reasonable requirement for the fatal force was needed to ensure the self-preservation of the accused. The accused must not have started the conflict, and the amount of force used must be proportional to the severity of the perceived threat. In some states, it is also required that before the use of lethal force, the person must make an attempt to escape for this to be categorized as self-defense.

What is a Ponzi scheme?

You may have heard the old cliché, "if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is." Such is the case with Ponzi schemes. A Ponzi scheme is commonly known as a pyramid scheme. It involves intentionally scamming investors into believing they will make a profit. The issue is that the profit of an early investor comes at the expense of a later investor who will not receive a return on his or her investment.

The formula for pyramid schemes is simple. A recruiter creates a phony business and seeks investors for this "business." The person then seeks additional recruiters, each of whom will pay a fee to join. Profits from early recruiters are paid with investments from later recruiters. The problem is that recruiting is not infinite, so those who are unable to bring in recruits will never receive a return on their own investment that was paid to the previous recruiter.

Common forms of defense used against sexual assault charges

When faced with a sexual assault charge the defendant has access to several forms of defense. The defendant must look at the circumstances and factors surrounding his/her case and decide which defenses they utilize. The defenses include the following:

 

Study finds black Americans are more likely to get convicted

Alarming stats recently published by the National Registry of Exonerations shows that the disturbing trend of racism in the United States is continuing with more black individuals wrongfully convicted than any other race. The statistics, according to the "Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States" report show that as many as 1,800 defendants were framed for their crimes, a majority of whom were black. The report included statistics dating back from 1989 until present.

Additional statistics are also alarming concerning violent crimes and the ratio of blacks involved in the crimes. African Americans make up only 13 percent of the United States population but account for half of all exonerated for murder. This is more than seven times than for whites. These wrongfully convicted black individuals spend, on average, over 14 years in prison for their "crimes."

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner

Americans throughout the country, including Baton Rouge, Louisiana, love to celebrate. In January it was New Year's Eve. In February we have the Super Bowl, and right around the corner here in March we have Saint Patrick's Day. While many traditional Irish folks like to celebrate it with corned beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread, for many others it is just a good reason to dress in green, maybe watch a local parade, and head out for to the local Irish watering hole or party for some celebrating.

In the United States, the courts take drunk driving offenses very seriously. Not only are you jeopardizing the health and well-being of yourself and passengers in the car with you, but everyone else on the roads as well, including pedestrians. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many people who have had too much to drink to still get behind the wheel, putting everyone's lives at risk.

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