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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

 

Saturday, April 4 seemed like a good day for a cookout. Walter Scott drove his friend Pierre Fulton to a local church to pick up some vegetables. The men dropped the vegetables off at Fulton’s house and then headed over to Scott’s, where the cookout was planned.

Armed officer Charlotte Criminal Attorney North Carolina DWI LawyerOn the way to Scott’s, a 33-year-old North Charleston police officer named Michael Slager pulled Scott over, alleging that one of the tail lights was out on the 1990s-model Mercedes Benz that Scott was driving. Fulton told the Daily Mail that Slager never told Scott why he pulled him over. At some point, Scott exited his vehicle and ran from Slager.

Around the same time, barber Feiden Santana was walking to his job when he came upon Scott and Slager grappling on the ground. Santana said Slager appeared to be in control, and Scott was trying to avoid Slager’s Taser, according to the New York Daily News.

Santana took out his cell phone and began recording the scuffle. As Scott freed himself “and clumsily ran away,” the Daily News reports, Slager fired eight shots from his service weapon at Scott, killing the 50-year-old.

Initially, the North Charleston Police Department reported that Scott had “gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it” against Slager. David Aylor, an attorney for Slager, said that once the community heard “all the facts” surrounding the shooting, it would conclude that Slager had “followed all the proper procedures and policies of the North Charleston Police Department.”

That was before Santana published the cell-phone video of the incident on YouTube.com. The video shows Scott running away from Slager, and shows Slager calmly shooting Scott in the back. Scott’s family members have said Scott was struck four times in the back and once behind the ear. After shooting Scott, the video shows Slager “dispassionately handcuffing him as he lay dying,” according to the New York Times.

The video also shows Slager retrieving an item from the ground and then dropping it next to Scott’s body. Many who have studied the video have concluded that Slager dropped the Taser beside Scott’s body, possibly in an effort to bolster the contention that Scott had gained control of Slager’s Taser. Slager then radioed dispatch, reporting that the subject was down and that “He grabbed my Taser.”

No video frames showed the entire encounter between Scott and Slager, the Washington Post reports, and Slager is entitled to a presumption of innocence. Samuel Walker, an expert in policing, told the Post, however, that the incident was “absolutely outrageous… This person is fleeing. He does not have a gun, he hasn’t stopped to turn… There is absolutely no justification for that shooting.”

The North Charleston Police and prosecutors agreed, reversing their initial justifications in a matter of days, terminating Slager from the police force and charging him with murder. Community leaders in North Charleston told the Post that encounters with police officers for minor traffic infractions are all-too-common, and allege that aggressive police tactics rile residents and lead to violence.

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 


About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3040668/Walter-Scott-heading-home-cookout-Michael-Slager-shot-him.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/us/after-8-shots-a-quiet-officer-now-scorned.html?_r=0

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/man-recorded-shooting-walter-scott-speaks-article-1.2178272

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/08/how-a-cell-phone-video-led-to-murder-charges-against-a-cop-in-north-charleston-s-c/

 

 

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Police.gun.1.london.arp.jpg 

 

 

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Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What am I obligated to do if I’ve been pulled for Drinking and Driving?”

 

Long before Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, and long before New York City police restrained an alleged untaxed-cigarette seller named Eric Garner, killing him and sparking a wave of protests nationwide, a Texas campus police officer shot and killed a 23-year-old college student outside his campus apartment after pulling him over for suspected drunken driving in circumstances that had some calling for a murder charge against the officer.

Motorcycle Police Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyLast week, however, a Texas grand jury cleared the officer.

Cameron Redus was a student at the University of Incarnate Wood at the time of the incident, the Daily Mail reports. Corporal Christopher Carter pulled the 23-year-old over on December 6, 2013 after he said he spotted Redus driving across the Incarnate Word campus erratically.

Redus had been drinking on the night of his encounter with Carter. According to the Daily Mail, his blood-alcohol content was .155 at the time he was pulled over—nearly twice the legal limit. Carter pulled Redus over in the parking lot outside Redus’s campus apartment and ordered him to place his hands behind his back. Redus instead placed his hands on the hood of Carter’s patrol car.

While Carter was patting Redus down, Redus told the officer that he was scared and asked him if he was about to rape him. Video in Carter’s patrol car did not capture the encounter between the pair, but a microphone on Carter’s lapel captured their conversation and sounds of an apparent struggle for control after Redus refused to place his hands behind his back.

Redus can be heard accusing Carter of choking him as the two struggle. Redus can then be heard asking Carter if he plans to shoot him. “Are you going to shoot me if I don’t stop? Is that what cops do? They shoot people,” Redus can be heard saying.

Carter alleged that during the scuffle, Redus managed to take hold of his police baton and struck him with it. Carter said Redus was the aggressor, and that he struggled to get Redus to comply with his orders and stand down from the confrontation.

After Redus called Carter a “piece of s***,” Carter can be heard filing six gunshots.

According to Redus’s parents, autopsy findings showed that Redus was shot in the back at close range. A gunshot wound to Redus’s eye “was delivered at a downward angle, again from very close range,” Redus’s parents wrote in a statement last year.

Redus’s family concede that the young man made some mistakes on the evening in question, but he did not deserve to die for those mistakes. They pointed out that Redus had actually made it home safely without injuring anyone as a result of his apparent drunken driving.

Carter was employed at the time by the University of Incarnate Wood police force. He has since resigned.

The University of Incarnate Wood released a statement after the grand jury’s decision saying that it hoped the audio recording of the incident would “put to rest much of the misinformation disseminated by persons characterizing the recording.”

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3014819/Audio-cop-shooting-student-dead-traffic-stop-reveals-officer-told-stop-29-times-called-pathetic-accused-sexual-assault.html

http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2015/03/26/alamo-heights-police-releases-recording-of-redus-shooting.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/12/family-robert-cameron-redus-shooting_n_4434548.html

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Motorofficer.jpg

 

 

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

 

The prosecution of a former New York City police officer who federal prosecutors say participated in “a concerted criminal plot to kidnap and eat women” has raised concerns that his case will set a precedent for so-called “thought-crime” prosecutions.

Cuffs on Keyboard Charlotte Criminal Attorney North Carolina Felony LawyerThe United States charged Gilberto Valle in 2012 with violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201, for seeking to “seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and carry away and hold for ransom and otherwise, a person[.]” In his indictment, the government alleged that Valle “communicated [over the internet] with a co-conspirator… about kidnapping, cooking and eating body parts of a woman.” The indictment also alleges that Valle accessed a law-enforcement database without authorization and traveled to Maryland to meet with a potential victim.

In 2013, a federal jury convicted Valle of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and of conducting a computer search of a federal database that exceeded his authorized access. Last year, a federal judge dismissed the conspiracy charge, agreeing with Valle that the government failed to prove “that he and his alleged co-conspirators entered into a ‘real’ agreement to kidnap one or more women.’”

Much of the government’s kidnapping-conspiracy evidence came from internet “chats” in which Valle and three alleged co-conspirators discussed “in graphic detail kidnapping, torturing, raping, murdering, and cannibalizing women.” On his profile on the fantasy sexual fetish website where the chats occurred, Valle said he liked “to press the envelope, but no matter what I say, it is all fantasy.”

In dismissing the conspiracy charge, the District Court noted that the conspiracy “existed solely in cyberspace,” that Valle’s co-conspirators were located in New Jersey, India or Pakistan, and England, and never exchanged accurate contact information or even sought to learn each other’s true identities. The conspiracy was one in which “no one was ever kidnapped, no attempted kidnapping ever took place, and no real-world, non-Internet-based steps were ever taken to kidnap anyone.”

Finding Valle guilty of conspiracy based on online statements, lawyers Hanni Fakhoury and Jamie Williams wrote in Gizmodo, would be the equivalent of finding Valle guilty of a “thought crime.”

Valle appealed his conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and that appeal is pending before the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Act makes it illegal for persons to intentionally access a computer without authorization or in excess of authorization. The Act does not define the terms “without authorization” or “in excess of authorization,” and critics say this has opened the door to prosecutors to target perceived misbehavior that has nothing to do with hacking.

In Valle’s case, prosecutors allege that he used a New York City Police Department software program that linked databases from certain federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies to search for woman he had known in high school—a woman prosecutors say Valle wanted to kidnap. No evidence was produced showing Valle used any of the information he accessed from his patrol-car computer in furtherance of a kidnapping conspiracy, and his defense counsel pointed out that he never shared the information with alleged co-conspirators.

The District Court let Valle’s conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act stand because, it reasoned, he had no law-enforcement purpose for accessing an alleged potential victim’s information in his patrol-car computer.

A decision in the case is expected later this year.

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://gizmodo.com/when-does-online-fantasy-become-criminal-conspiracy-1693048478

https://www.eff.org/document/district-court-valle-opinion

https://www.eff.org/issues/cfaa

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/March13/ValleVerdictPR/Valle,%20Gilberto%20Indictment.pdf

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Computer-police.jpg

 

 

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

 

Like countless mothers across the United States, Laura Strange spent two hours cradling her newborn daughter Haley in her arms. Unlike most mothers, however, the twenty-five-year-old’s ankle was cuffed to her hospital bed, and those first two hours with Haley were likely the last Strange will spend with her daughter for the next two years.

Newborn baby Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyStrange is serving time at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California after being convicted of drug charges, according to the Daily Mail. She said being pregnant and being a mother wins an inmate no special privileges—not even the privilege of being able to be a meaningful part of a child’s life.

Strange was transferred from her prison cell to a local hospital when her labor began. A little more than two hours after giving birth, she was on her way back to prison. Her mother, Anita, will care for Haley while Strange serves out her sentence.

An estimated 120 inmates at Valley State Prison are pregnant at any given time, the Daily Mail and Atlantic Monthly report, with some 340 babies delivered annually to prison inmates. The State of California does operate programs that allow inmates in minimum-security settings to live with newborns. Space, however, is limited, and most inmates who give birth while incarcerated “are forced to give up their babies for adoption or foster care, or, in some cases, they give parental custody to friends or relatives.”

A number of interest groups are working to improve the plight of pregnant inmates. The American Medical Association, for instance, has declared that shackling women while in labor is “medically hazardous” and not in line with the “ethics of the medical profession,” according to the Huffington Post. The Women in Prison Project contends that shackling during labor increases the risks of injury both to mother and child. New York State outlawed shackling of pregnant inmates during and after labor in 2009, but most women-inmates interviewed by the Post who had given birth in New York since the ban went into effect said they were still shackled during their labor.

One woman interviewed by the Daily Mail, said she is seven months pregnant and serving a two-year sentence for distributing drugs. The woman—25-year-old Amber March—said her father and other family members had served out numerous prison sentences. She hopes things will be better for her child, but prison officials told the Daily Mail “that children born to criminal parents are… more likely to commit crimes themselves.”

Pregnant inmates, the Daily Mail reports, are given little opportunity for rehabilitation, which makes kicking drug and lifestyle habits all the more difficult once they are released.

A bill introduced in the North Carolina legislature last week could make life even more difficult for pregnant inmates in the Tar Heel State. Under the proposed legislation, a mother could be charged with a felony if her child is born “addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction or harm is a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant,” according to the Independent Weekly.

The proposal does encourage rehabilitation, however. Criminal prosecution can be avoided, in some circumstances, if the mother completes a drug-addiction recovery program, the Independent reports.

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3010929/Why-child-hurt-second-day-Harrowing-images-reveal-pain-jailed-mother-newborn-baby-taken-away-just-hours-birth.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/11/shackling-pregnant-women_n_6847660.html

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/pregnant-addicted-to-drugs-cuff-her/Content?oid=4363337

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hannah_%26_Addaline_Clara_Romaine.jpg

 

 

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers: A past conviction is keeping me from finding work what can I do?

 

A state legislator has introduced a bill that she says will close a loophole in Illinois’ sex offender registry. Critics of the bill say the bill is “overly punitive and burdensome” on offenders who have paid their debt to society, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Old Fashioned mugshot Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneySen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, Illinois—a suburb of Chicago—said that if her bill becomes law, sex offenders would be required to register with police in places where they work. Currently, sex offenders are required to register with police where they live.

In addition, sex offenders must notify police officials in the jurisdictions where they live if they work in another area when any job is five-days-long or more in duration. That information, the Tribune reports, is not always shared with police in the community where a sex offender is working.

That is precisely the scenario that was brought to the attention of Highland Park police officer Michael Leonard. He discovered that a registered sex offender was working at a business in the suburban-Chicago city near a park where children played. While the sex offender committed no violation by being present at the business for work, Highland Park police chief Paul Shafer told the Tribune if an incident occurred “that might match what one of these offenders might do,” his agency had no way of checking whether any offenders may be present in the area because of employment.

Laimutis Nargelenas, a former Superintendent of the Illinois State Police and lobbyist for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said the rights of individual offenders must be balanced against the state’s duty to protect its children. Last year, the Tribune reports, the chief’s association lobbied successfully for an expansion of the sex-offender registry to include colleges and universities.

He said offenders would likely view the proposed employment-site registration as burdensome. He cited one instance, however, in which a registered sex offender was spending more than 60 hours per week on a job site in the state’s capitol and was even renting an apartment there, even though the offender lived and was registered elsewhere.

Having registration information related to offenders’ employment locale, Nargelenas said, would be “very useful information when we conduct these investigations.”

Shafer said he does not think that requiring offenders to register in locales where they are employed is intrusive and said police would only use the information if they were investigating a crime. He said it is “well known that sex offenders have a propensity to violate again,” and that it “just makes sense” to require offenders to notify authorities in locales where they are employed if they are working 40 or more hours per week there.

Will Mingus, executive director of Illinois Voices for Reform, told the Tribune that the employment-site registration requirement would do nothing more than further punish “individuals who have already served their time and who are attempting to support themselves and their families by finding meaningful employment.”

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-sex-offender-registry-tl-0326-20150318-story.html

 

 

Image Credit

“James Dawson – Flickr – Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums” by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums – James Dawson. Via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Dawson_-_Flickr_-_Tyne_%26_Wear_Archives_%26_Museums.jpg#/media/File:James_Dawson_-_Flickr_-_Tyne_%26_Wear_Archives_%26_Museums.jpg

 

 

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

 

The political battle over voting rights in North Carolina has focused in recent years on the issue of photo identification. One side of the political battle wants to require voters to produce valid, photo identification at polling places, while the other side contends that this requirement infringes upon the voting rights of citizens.

Jail Bars Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina felony AttorneyBoth sides appear to missing or downplaying a larger issue that affects the voting rights of millions of Americans: the suspension of voting rights as a result of nonviolent felony convictions.

It seems these days that nearly everywhere I go, I am asked to identify myself. It is not enough that I state my name; I must prove my identity by producing documentary evidence of my identity. It is never enough that this evidence includes my name and other identifying information; the evidence must include a photo.

The commonness of this production and the wide variety of contexts in which I am asked to prove my identity has struck me as ironic. In all these different places and contexts, I must produce a photo identification; but not to vote?

North Carolina has been a focus of political protests and even a lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice over what the Huffington Post called “an array of voting restrictions” passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013. Attorney General Eric Holder called the measures some “of the most restrictive voting measures passed since the civil rights era.”

The law requires voters to produce evidence of their identity in order to vote. That evidence—whether a driver’s license or a state identity card—must include a photo.

The debate over North Carolina’s voting laws can rage on without me. The point of my inquiry here is that the very outspoken critics of North Carolina’s voting laws are missing the forest because of the trees. North Carolina’s voting laws may or may not be suppressing people’s votes; North Carolina’s criminal laws certainly are.

In North Carolina, any person who has been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony—whether the felony occurred in North Carolina or anywhere, with a few exceptions—is barred from voting. Voting rights can be restored, but felons must first seek to restore their citizenship rights—a sometimes costly and uncertain legal process.

Most people may agree with suspending the voting rights of a murderer, but thankfully our prisons are not filled with murderers. Instead, most persons confined to state and federal prisons—and most felons, for that matter—are nonviolent drug offenders. If you chose a poster child for the American felon, it would be the small-time pot dealer, not Charles Manson.

At least two United States Senators—Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada—share this sentiment. Sen. Paul announced last week that he and Sen. Reid were working on legislation “that would restore the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences for nonviolent offenses,” according to TheHill.com.

This is a step in the right direction. Those concerned with voting rights in North Carolina should petition our state legislature to pass similar legislation.

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/235771-paul-crime-laws-biggest-impediment-on-voting-rights

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_163/GS_163-55.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/north-carolina-voter-id-doj-lawsuit_n_4013976.html

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Students_in_a_mock_%22jail_cell%22_at_the_University_of_Houston%27s_Frontier_Fiesta_(1950s).jpg

 

 

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

 

In general, a person’s privacy rights extend as is “reasonable.” Persons do not, for instance, have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they walk on a public street. They may be photographed and recorded in a variety of settings and formats, and their words and behavior can be freely observed, noted and memorialized.

Man videotaping Charlotte Mecklenburg Criminal Defense Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyA legislator in Texas has introduced a bill that would—if it becomes law—criminalize the recording of some people working in the public domain: police officers.

Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba introduced a bill that would require persons employed by a “radio, television station, newspaper or magazine” to maintain a distance of at least twenty-five feet from officers if they seek to record them. Persons who are not associated with a media outlet or who are carrying handguns would have to keep a distance of at least one-hundred feet while recording officers. Violation of the law would be a Class-B misdemeanor.

Villalba said his legislation is supposed to protect officers from harm, but Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter said he could only recall one instance of a citizen interfering with a crime scene. Painter told Dallas’s FOX 29 that police officers are more concerned with protecting the privacy of crime victims than with officer safety. His main worry at crime scenes, he said, “is that pictures of the deceased at a scene might be released before the next of kin is notified.”

Texas Press Association vice president Donnis Baggett said Villalba’s bill draws distinctions that do not exist in reality. Reporters or others who are employed by media organizations “do not enjoy any privilege that the average Joe on the street doesn’t have,” Baggett told FOX 29, so “To somehow draw a line between a newspaper photographer shooting a photo and some average citizen being able to shoot the same photo from a cellphone, that’s a pretty slippery slope.”

The legal and policy director for the Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union—Rebecca L. Robertson—told FOX 29 that citizens exercising their First-Amendment “right to record police officers in public places as they perform their duties” can serve as “an important check against abuse of power by the police.”

The ready availability of audio and video-recording devices at crime scenes and “the growth of citizen journalism” have brought the interplay between law-enforcement officials performing their duties in public and the free-speech rights of third parties who seek to record their words and actions into laser focus in recent years.

As the Washington Post reported nearly a year ago, “it is perfectly legal to record on-duty police in every state in the country.” Despite that, as the Post noted, people were still getting arrested for recording officers.

In some cases—such as in the case of Alberto Troche—cities have had to pay for those arrests. The City of Orlando paid Troche $15,000 after jailing him for recording another man’s arrest. Troche’s attorneys asked a federal court to make the city pay them another $44,000 for prosecuting Troche’s civil-rights case in court.

Both Painter and Baggett do not believe Villalba’s bill will pass Constitutional muster if it becomes law. “I don’t think it will stand up,” Painter said. “That’s my opinion.”

Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.foxsanantonio.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/bill-would-make-filming-police-criminal-offense-11254.shtml#.VQbteY7F9S0

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/05/13/despite-court-rulings-people-are-still-getting-arrested-for-recording-on-duty-cops/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-orlando-pays-man-for-video-recording-arrest-20141224-story.html

 

 

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

 

In a meeting last month, the Santa Clara County, California supervisors voted 4 to 1 to authorize the expenditure of $500,000 on a product they had never seen. They did not know how the product worked, nor were they even sure of its brand name. The supervisors were required to enter into a nondisclosure agreement to even purchase and use the device.

Surveillance equipment Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyBut they would not be using the rectangular device—“small enough to fit into a suitcase, that intercepts a cellphone signal by acting like a cellphone tower,” according to the New York Times. The Santa Clara County Sheriff—Laurie Smith—would be using the device to track down terrorists and missing persons, she said. She could offer no details on technical specifications to the Times and said she had not seen a product demonstration.

Cell-site stimulators—called various names including StingRay or KingFish—capture texts, emails and other data “from all wireless devices in the immediate area” of a device. According to a 2011 Federal Bureau of Investigators affidavit, the device captures data from all devices in an area—even those of bystanders not targeted for investigation. That information is purged, the F.B.I. said, in order to ensure privacy rights, according to the Times.

For now, law-enforcement agencies and their technology suppliers have insisted on a veil of secrecy about the devices, saying disclosure “would let criminals, including terrorists, ‘thwart the use of this technology,’” according to the Times.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC responds to “The person that called the police doesn’t want to press charges, can I still be prosecuted?”

 

The political world has been aflutter with outrage at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a personal email account while employed as the Secretary of the United States Government’s Department of State.

Top Secret Charlotte Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer North Carolina Drug AttorneyIn a press conference last week, Clinton said she decided which emails were a part of the public record and which emails were private. The latter, she suggested, had been deleted.

Now an American state—Massachusetts—is giving police officers the same power, only not over email. According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Secretary of State has refused the newspaper’s request for “the names of five police officers caught drunken driving,” for a “report on an officer who was arrested,” for “booking photos of a state trooper,” and for an “entire log of people incarcerated in the state prison system.”

It seems—both at the state and federal levels—secrecy is all the rage.

In Massachusetts, that state’s supervisor of public records told the Globe that public departments have “the discretion to withhold records determined to be covered by CORI.” CORI stands for “Criminal Offender Record Information. The Massachusetts Secretary of State contends that law-enforcement officials have sweeping powers to decide what criminal records are made public, according to the Globe.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need to hire an attorney if I have been falsely accused?”

 

If you are a parent and your child is a teenager, you need a criminal defense lawyer.

Costumes Charlotte criminal defense lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneySo writes author Lisa Green in her new book On Your Case: A compassionate (and Only Slightly Bossy) Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman’s Life. Green cites numerous examples in her book showing how even good intentions and seemingly harmless actions can balloon into criminal charges for unsuspecting teens—and parents.

Green writes that parents of teenagers need a criminal defense attorney on speed dial for more than criminal charges. What if, for instance, a school administrator asks a teenager to hand over his or her cell phone because he or she was accused of sending inappropriate text messages? The child or young adult has not been charged with a crime, but citizens—including children and young adults—have Constitutional rights, and those rights extend to investigations.

School administrators can search a cell phone, a laptop, a book bag or any other item belonging to a student only if they have reasonable suspicion that a child has engaged in criminal activity. If a search request is made, Green writes, a child or young adult should refuse the request and ask to call one’s parents.

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