Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Female Teacher Charged With Rape of Ninth Grade Male

Another one of those stories huh

Well we have seen a lot of these over the past few years. Certainly not something I remember hearing about when in school. I'm sure this occurred. Maybe not as frequently.

I do think we are seeing more cases being prosecuted.

A Sheffield Junior High School teacher has been charged with rape and sodomy after authorities said she was caught with a Sheffield High ninth-grader.

Police detective Capt. Lanny Coan tells the TimesDaily that 38-year-old Amanda Watkins was charged on Monday and has been transferred to the Colbert County Jail.

Coan said her bail is set at $15,000.

A police officer caught Watkins and the 15-year-old student Saturday night in a car parked behind Covenant Christian School.

Coan said the two were trying to get their clothes on when the officer pulled up.

The second-degree charges are Class B felonies and are punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Books on Criminal Law

There are a number of great books that you can read that cover some aspect of criminal law. I've read several hundred over the last few years. A lot of fiction, a lot of non-fiction, a lot of academic type books and even a number of biographies.

Here are some suggestions for some of the more academic based criminal law books
Criminal Law (Black Letter Outline)
The Criminal Law Handbook: Know Your Rights, Survive the SystemCriminal Law, 4th Edition (Hornbook Series)Criminal Law and ProcedureCriminal Law: Case Studies and Controversies, 2nd Edition

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How do you determine a bond?

I always get a number of questions about bonds. Why is my bond so high? Why do I need a bond? Can my bond be lowered?

Generally as a Defendant in a criminal case, the Judge will grant you some sort of bond. By making this bond you guarantee that you will show up for your court proceedings.

Judges have guidelines although there are no hard and fast rules as to what your bond will be based on your charge. Judges make you post a bond to ensure that you will return to court.

The major factors in determining your bond

1. Do you have ties to the community? - Generally if you are arrested where you live your bond will be lower than if you are arrested out of state. You are determined to be much less of a flight risk in your own community.

2. Are you employed? - Those who have good stable employment are less likely to put that job in jeopardy by skipping court.

3. Do you have family members that have ties to the community? - If your family members have good standing they are more likely to ensure that you will show up for court and protect their reputation. Especially if these family members help post your bond.

4. Have you failed to show up for court in the past? - We are creatures of habit and if you skipped out in the past you are considered more likely to skip out on the future.

5. How much can you afford to pay -

Bonds come with conditions set by the Judge. If you fail to comply with these conditions your bond can be revoked. Most bonds require that you remain drug free and require drug tests even for crimes where drugs are not directly involved. If you fail a drug test your bond might be revoked. If you commit more crimes while out on bond your bond might be revoked.

Let us know if you have more questions.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Larry Langford Trial

I try and refrain from making comments on pending cases. However, the current criminal trial of Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford provides too many teachable moments to ignore.

Langford was indicted on a number of public corruption as well as tax related charges. The Government has already introduced testimony from co-conspirators Bill Blount and Al La Pierre who have already plead guilty.

The Defense indicated in their opening statements that they will rebut this evidence with testimony that the clothing and jewelry purchases made for Langford were gifts and not bribes. Usually, the Defendant does not take the stand but in this case it is quite plausible that Langford will testify in his own defense.

If Langford takes the stand then his credibility will be weighed by the jury against that of Blount and La Pierre. Who is more believable? The defense will argue that Blount and La Pierre's sentences will be based on the strength of their testimony against Langford.

Public corruption cases can be very broad and cover some very detailed material. Will the Prosecution be able to explain some very complex bond transactions transactions in a way that the members of the jury can understand?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Marketing During Tough Economic Times

The recession that we are going through affects every business. Nobody in the private or public sector is immune to the economic downturn that we are facing. I believe that the general outlook for 2009 is bleak. As a small business owner I will be keeping my costs down and always looking for ways to save a few bucks. However, that does not mean that I will stop marketing efforts. In fact, I've learned that this is a great time to market for several reasons. Much of this post will focus on what I define to be the differences in marketing and adverising.

I've found that if I'm not out beating down the bushes looking for new clients and new opportunities then a competitor will be capitalizing on my missed opportunities. This is the perfect time to set up meetings with potential referral sources and work on my online marketing content and create free media.

Marketing does not mean that I have to spend a lot of money. In fact it is just the opposite. I correlate the word advertising with spending money through means such as phonebook advertising, newspapers, television and radio. Those methods have not presented the biggest bang for the buck in my experience. I like to focus more on marketing in which I focus on relationships and the ability to define my unique entire package to potential clients. Advertising tends to focus on creating an image and hoping that potential clients will buy into that image.

As an attorney, I find it useful to market to a lot of potential referral sources. Those sources are in direct contact with people that need my services. Marketing to me is going after a very specific type of fish with a very specific type of bait. Advertising is just throwing a worm in the water hoping to get a bite. I've tried both and especially during a very tough economic situation I see marketing as the best use of time and money.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bill Aimed at Curbing Drunk Driving

The Alabama State Legislature is considering a bill this session that will require repeat drunk driving offenders to install a ignition interlock device on their motor vehicle. My understanding is that it has already gone through the public safety committee.

I think that this bill definitely comes with good intentions. This requirement only attaches with a second DUI conviction.

But do not think that this will get all of the intoxicated drivers off the road. However, I think that some offenders will try and drive other vehicles while intoxicated.

When I look at new laws passed, I try and establish whether they will unfairly discriminate against anyone. I cannot find any flaws with this bill. I know some may argue that interlock devices may be unconstitutional. However, being that this does not attach until a second DUI offense occurs, I think the potential unfairness is removed.

I definitely do not think that these devices should be put on all cars. It would raise the sticker price of cars and be an unfair burden to those that do not drink. Studies are very inconclusive as to how these devices actually work.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Better Policies on Torturing of Prisoners

We are very proud of our new President. We are very optimistic also that he will help America improve its image across the world. One of President Obama's first moves was taking a stand against the torturing of prisoners.

We understand that we can learn a lot of intelligence from Prisoners; however, we do not believe in the inhumane treatment used to achieve this goals. Kudos to President Obama for this move and prohibiting some of these techniques by signing an executive order on his second day in office.

Some may argue that the new policy toward interrogations does not go far enough. I say that we have already made progress considering where we were under the Bush regime.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

City of Oakland Fires Officers Who Falsified Arrest Warrants

Earlier this week the U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow against the Constitution . The court determined that evidence seized in a unlawful arrest may be used against defendants in some instances.

Well luckily, the U.S. Constitution has not been completely been disregarded. The City of Oakland fired 11 officers for falsifying search warrants . Officers had lied about drugs having been confirmed as drugs through laboratory tests. Lawsuits had been filed alleging constiutional rights had been violated.

Regardless of how Oakland got to this point, they are willing to remedy the violations by terminating the officers. That does show integrity and faith that our constitution despite being eroded does still exist to serve a purpose.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Supreme Court Rules Evidence in Improper Arrest Can be Used

Add another tool to the Prosecution's ever growing toolbox. The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that evidence seized in a bad arrest will not have to automatically be thrown out by the courts.

I agree with the dissent that this extremely weakens the exclusionary rule. I also have a major concern that someone wrongfully arrested on a technicality will not be protected. Imagine how many oops mistakes we will now see by the police.

In this particular case, a drug and gun-possession conviction of an Alabama man was upheld when a man was arrested only because of a computer mistake.