Frank, Juengel & Radefeld, Attorneys at Law
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Toll Free: 800-748-2105

Violent crimes may involve less traditional weapons, such as cars

It is probable that when most St. Louis residents think of the word "manslaughter" they think of the killing of someone with a weapon such as a gun, knife or some other lethal instrument. One lethal instrument they may not consider when it comes to violent crimes such as this one is a motor vehicle. Even so, drivers accused of impairment and causing an accident involving a death could face charges for involuntary manslaughter.

For instance, when police arrived at the scene of a one-vehicle accident on Sept. 23, they suspected the 42-year-old man driving it of being under the influence of alcohol. Reports accuse the man of speeding, passing several vehicles and then losing control of the vehicle. It then slammed into a tree.

Defending against accusations of running a fraud scheme

If you are facing accusations of fraud, you may not be entirely sure what you are up against. White collar crime of any kind is a serious criminal offense, and these types of cases often involve both state and federal charges.

Penalties for a fraud conviction can range from prison time to loss of your personal reputation. These are serious charges, but it is often challenging for prosecutors to prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt.

How is hate crime defined?

There certainly is a perceived stigma associated with almost any criminal activity, yet that which most assign for hate crimes might be among the most prejudicial. Being accused of a hate crime can leave you facing criminal penalties, yet even beyond that, can destroy your reputation and alienate you from certain members of your community. Thus, any such accusations should be taken seriously and disputed if the actions you are alleged to have committed do not meet the standard of a hate crime. To do this, you of course need to understand what those are.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines a hate crime as any crime for which there is a motivation for committing the crime based on bias. Looking at that definition in two parts, you can see that first and foremost, a crime must have been committed. Acts such as assault or vandalism may leave little room for interpretation, yet what about things that you say or write. You can indeed be prosecuted for making threats against another, however there needs to be substantive proof that you had the intention of carrying those threats out (or that your words might have caused others to reasonably believe that you would). A simple utterance made in the heat of the moment may not meet this definition.

Missouri's sex offender registry

Over the last several decades Missouri, like other states all across the country, has developed a method by which it tracks people convicted of crimes of a sexual nature. This is often referred to as the sex offender registry program. One of the key elements of this program is that every person must register as a sex offender with authorities and maintain updated information at all times.

The Missouri Highway Patrol website allows members of the public to access the registry and even to view a map identifying the locations where a registered offender may live, work or attend school. One reason for this is to allow people to make choices about where they may want to live or work or where they would allow their children to be.

As states get looser on marijuana use, police are cracking down

State lawmakers around the country may be increasingly receptive to recreational use of marijuana, but those charged with enforcing marijuana laws are actually getting tougher. Data released recently by the FBI shows that U.S. law enforcement officers made 663,367 marijuana arrests in 2018.

That’s 3,667 more than in 2017 and 10,118 more arrests than in 2016. Prior to 2016, there was a steady decline in marijuana arrests nationwide for nearly a decade, according to annual FBI reports.

Understanding the castle doctrine

Recently, a Texas murder case grabbed national and international headlines. In that case, an off-duty police officer entered the wrong apartment, mistaking it for her own. Rather than apologizing and exiting the apartment, the officer shot the apartment's rightful occupant. In the officer’s murder trial, the presiding judge permitted jurors to consider the castle doctrine. 

If you encounter an unexpected individual in your home, you are virtually certain to experience a variety of emotions, such as fear and confusion. You may have to use deadly force to prevent a trespasser from injuring you or your family members. Like Texas, Missouri law recognizes the castle doctrine. As such, you may be able to use the doctrine to defend yourself against criminal charges or avoid them altogether. 

Are all forensic testing methods reliable?

There are many types of evidence that can be submitted in a criminal trial, including the results from scientific testing. A wide-range of scientific methods are used to gain information from the evidence collected at the crime scene. The problem lies in the fact that not all forensic testing methods are scientifically validated. That means that the tests are not proven to yield accurate and reliable results. This can potentially lead to the wrong person being convicted of a crime he or she did not commit. 

The Innocence Project reports that over 360 people in the United States have been released from their prison sentences after further DNA testing of the evidence used in their cases showed they were not linked to the crime. In a surprising 45% of those cases, the misapplication of forensic testing was used in the case.

Proving your innocent in a sexual assault case

A sexual offense charge or conviction in Missouri can haunt a person for a lifetime. It may affect not just where they can live, but public perception of them and the job opportunities that become available. Not surprisingly, when a man or woman is innocent of charges made against them, they are especially anxious about paying the time for a crime they did not commit.

In one USA Today article, a former prosecutor for sexual assault cases shared that his default position was to believe women. He noted that where people stood when allegations were made shared strong ties with political affiliations. Liberals tended to also adopt the default setting of believing the woman who reported the assault. Meanwhile, conservatives seemed more inclined to believe the denials of a man who maintained his innocence.

Understanding Missouri's stand your ground law

Missouri was the 25th state to adopt a "stand your ground" law. This statute states that gun owners have a right to defend themselves and their families whether in their homes or elsewhere. 

The first instance of this law used as a defense occurred just a few weeks after the new law went into effect. In the case, a college student tried to sell a used cell phone. When the buyer ran off with it, the student fired his gun as he ran away. The case calls into question the power and limitations of stand your ground laws and when they actually do apply. 

A drug conspiracy charge can involve as few as two people

When a news item about a drug conspiracy turns up, it often involves a "ring" or a large group of conspirators, and thousands if not millions of dollars in potential profits.

However, a drug conspiracy may only involve as few as two people willing to act as partners in the crime. Anyone else charged may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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