No Picture
General Article

The Consequences of Violating Probation

The Consequences of Violating Probation

When an individual is charged with a crime and is found to be guilty, he or she may be sentenced to probation for a period determined by the sentencing judge. Typically, probation is granted in lieu of prison. It is usually granted to individuals who commit petty crimes and are not threats to the well-being and safety of their fellow citizens. Probation may also be the result of entering a plea bargain. In most cases, there are a number of restrictions that come with probation, many of which may be unique to the case.

Usually, though, there are standard rules by which individuals on probation must live. These terms are usually non-negotiable and often are rules that individuals not on probation must follow to avoid criminal convictions. Generally, these terms include:

Staying out of further criminal trouble

Passing random drug and alcohol tests

Regularly visiting a probation officer

Additionally, individuals usually are not allowed to possess firearms or other weapons while under probation. Breaking the terms of probation may carry several consequences, usually depending on which terms are broken and what effect those broken terms have.

Regardless of which terms an individual breaks, he or she will be required to attend a hearing before a judge. After hearing the individual’s reason for violating the terms of his or her probation, the judge may extend the length of the individual’s probation period or sentence the individual to prison.

Individuals who violate their terms the first time may be more likely to just receive an extension. Individuals who violate their terms more than once may be more likely to be sentenced to prison. It is important to note that an individual who is sentenced to prison will not have to complete his or her probation term after being released.…

No Picture
General Article

First Offense DWI

First Offense DWI

The story goes that Williamson County is tougher on crime than is Travis County. As my former boss, Ronnie Earle used to point out, “tougher on crime” doesn’t necessarily mean “smarter on crime.”

Mr. Earle’s point was that when possible, prosecutors should take steps to prevent crime, not just prosecute a Defendant after he’s been accused.

It’s a point well taken. The most efficient law enforcement — including prosecution — is one that keeps crimes from occurring at all. There’s nothing wrong, obviously, with law enforcement picking up the pieces after a crime has occurred, investigating crimes, catching wrong-doers, and turning them over to prosecutors. But it is just flat more efficient to prevent crime altogether.

And in fact, Williamson County is smarter on crime than Travis County is, when it comes to some first offense DWI cases.

In Travis County, on a first time DWI case, if the prosecutor can prove that you were driving while intoxicated, he or she will press hard — be tough — to get a conviction. No pre-trial diversion. Period.

In Williamson County, on a first time DWI case, the prosecutors will hand pick certain cases which they could prove, but think that justice would be better served if the offender appears to be a good candidate for treatment. The treatment is intensive. Standards are high.

Participants in the Williamson County pre-trial diversion program who do not meet the standards are kicked out of the program and prosecuted. So there is accountability. But there is also the chance for true recovery without the profoundly negative impact on one’s future that a DWI conviction has.

So which county is “tougher” on a first offense DWI, Williamson or Travis? I’d have to say Travis County, because in Travis County the defendant gets a conviction on any provable offense.

But the important question is, which county is smarter on a first offense DWI? Williamson County is, hands down. Williamson County offers intensive treatment to good candidates on first offense DWIs, and helps them salvage their futures.

But which county is “tougher” on a second offense DWI, Williamson or Travis? I’d have to say Williamson County, because in Williamson County the defendant gets a conviction on any provable second offense. Pre-trial diversion just isn’t an option there.

But again the important question is, which county is smarter on a second offense DWI? Travis County is, no doubt. Travis County offers intensive treatment to good candidates on second offense DWIs.

In Travis County, on certain second time DWI cases, there is a DWI court. The target population consists of DWI offenders who reside in Travis County or an adjacent county, who have been arrested for a 2nd or subsequent DWI within 2 years of their first arrest or conviction, whose cases do not involve victims, and who have no other unresolved pending cases (violent offenders will generally not be eligible to participate).

The Travis County DWI court is very tough, but it is smart, too. There is no avoiding a conviction for the second DWI in Travis County either, but treatment is required. Standards are high, and the treatment is very intensive. Judge Elisabeth Earle’s point of view, I think, is to resolve any underlying cause of the drinking and driving. But if you screw up, she’ll put you in jail.…

No Picture
General Article

Civil Vs Criminal Law

Civil Vs Criminal Law

One of the major distinctions in the law is between civil law and criminal law. Although there is sometimes significant gray area between these two branches of law, the major difference between the two is that civil law deals with disputes between individuals, whereas criminal law deals with individuals who have violated laws that dictate certain behaviors, and are therefore seen as an affront to society or the state.

In civil law, there are generally two parties to a lawsuit who are seeking a resolution to some sort of dispute. For example, a person who has been injured through another person’s negligence, such as in a car accident, is seeking some sort of compensation for their injury and loss. It also could be a party who is suing another party over a contract dispute, such as a person who is suing a builder for not properly completing promised work, or perhaps the builder who believes he has completed the work properly but is not being paid. In these types of cases, both parties will present their cases, and the court will try to find an equitable solution to the dispute, usually by ordering one party to pay damages to another party. Civil law is a very broad area of the law and can arise out of many situations including employment relationships, landlord and tenant relationships, business transactions, and even family relationships and child custody.

Criminal law is very different. In criminal cases, one party is the defendant, or person who is accused of committing a crime, or violation of statute. The other party is generally a prosecutor who represents the state or the people. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime, and the defendant presents their defense. The court or a jury then decides if the person is guilty or not guilty and then will sentence the person to some form of punishment for their crime which is usually either a fine or imprisonment.

In addition to these major differences, there are many procedural differences between criminal and civil law. There are usually distinct rules of evidence, rules of procedure, and burdens of proof, and the cases are generally held in different courts. It is therefore important to be represented by an attorney who is experienced in practicing in the respective area of law in which you need representation.…

No Picture
General Article

Conspiracy in the Military Justice System

Conspiracy in the Military Justice System

Conspiracy is one of the most misunderstood areas of the law from the layperson’s point of view. There are many opinions as to what constitutes a conspiracy, and often it’s these misinformed opinions that get people into trouble.

In the military, those found guilty of conspiracy may be subject to a court martial. It may seem that the law is far sterner with respect to conspiracy and, in some aspects, it is. Prosecutors believe that when individuals conspire to commit a crime, it makes the crime far more difficult to detect and therefore increases the chance that the perpetrators will get away with the crime.

What is the Groundwork for Conspiracy?

The person that has been charged with the conspiracy is believed to have made an agreement with one or more people to commit a crime. As long as this agreement remains in place, those involved are equally party to the crime if and when it is committed.

Conspiracy gets more interesting, yet somewhat confusing, with the following example. Let’s assume two parties were charged in a conspiracy to rob a bank. One individual actually committed the crime. For some reason during his trial, this individual was acquitted of the conspiracy part of the charge. This does not automatically mean that the second individual – who was charged with the conspiracy portion only – will be acquitted as well, based on the ruling of the perpetrator.

A conspiracy doesn’t necessarily have to be entered into by verbal means only. It is sufficient for a conspiracy to have been formed as long as both parties to the conspiracy understand what is intended. Many times the conduct of the conspirators alone is enough for a charge to be laid.

What has been outlined so far is one side of the law. The other side states that just because an individual was, for example, in the same room where a crime was committed or planned does not automatically mean that the individual conspired to be part of the crime.

These are just the basics of the conspiracy charge itself. Most often, conspiracy charges become far more complex and intertwined. Multiple conspiracy charges can evolve out of a single case. In this event, the total circumstances surrounding the entire case have to be analyzed in order to determine if just one charge of conspiracy should be laid, or whether there is a justification for multiple charges of conspiracy to be laid.

Once it has been established that a conspiracy did exist, it doesn’t take much additional proof to establish a connection between the parties. What may have initially been considered a weak conspiracy case can quite suddenly gain momentum.

What has been covered here is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the law. Hopefully it has been a bit of an eye opener for those who perceive conspiracy as a simple, straightforward charge.…

No Picture
General Article

North Carolina Parole Hearings Explained

North Carolina Parole Hearings Explained

North Carolina parole conditions (Officially: “Conditions of Post Release Supervision”) are given to the convicted person on the day he is released from prison. He signs them, along with his parole officer.

NCGS 15A-1376 et seq governs parole violations in North Carolina. In addition, case law, including U.S. v. Morrissey (SCOTUS 1972) applies in North Carolina. Interestingly, 15A-1376 tracks U.S. v. Morrissey, a Brennan era opinion administrative law/due process opinion that lays out the actual procedure SCOTUS expected states to follow. As far as I can tell, there’s very little other case law from the state courts.

What happens if a Parolee Violates the Conditions of Release?

If the parolee violates the conditions of release, the parolee is subject to immediate arrest and confinement, usually in the county jail.

The parole officer will give the parolee (or his client) a violation report, which will also indicate the date and time of the hearing.

State statute requires that the person be given a “preliminary hearing” with 7 working days (weekends, holidays don’t count) of his confinement.

If the hearing is scheduled more than 7 working days after the parolee’s confinement, statute suggests immediate release is the remedy, although enforcing that would require a habeas application.

The parolee can request a continuance, in which case the parolee waives his right the preliminary hearing within 7 days.

This preliminary hearing is run by a “Hearing Officer.” Statute requires that the “hearing officer” can be a judicial officer, or can be an employee of the DOC whose full-time job is to conduct these hearings. (U.S. v. Morrissey requires this preliminary hearing and simply held that the hearing officer be independent, meaning that the officer could not be a parole or probation officer.)

The purpose of this preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is “probable cause” that the parolee did in fact commit a parole violation, allowing the parolee to be confined until the full parole commission hearing.

The preliminary hearing is an informal hearing where the rules of evidence do not apply. It is not unlike a probation violation hearing, although even less formal. The parole officer attends, and she and the parolee are sworn in. The parole violation letter you or your client received suggests that you merely need to ask for a witness to be called, and the parole commission will make sure that person shows up to this preliminary hearing.

In fact, you need to get your witness there, and get permission from the jail to permit your witness to attend.

Note that parolees have a right to have retained counsel present, but parolees do not, according to case law or state statute, have the right to appointed counsel. As a result, the vast majority of people probably go unrepresented.

At the conclusion of the hearing, after the hearing officer finds that there is probable cause of a violation, statute and case law give you a right to know the hearing officer’s findings and the facts on which he based his findings.

The full hearing should come within 45 days of the initial arrest on the parole violation. Since the preliminary hearing found probable cause, your client will probably be turned over by the local jail to the DOC. You should receive a letter from the hearing officer indicating the date, time, and location of the commission’s hearing.

How does the Parole Commission run its hearing?

As with the preliminary hearing, statute permits you to have witnesses (other than the parole officer and your client) attend the full parole hearing. You would need to work with the prison to permit their entry.

In addition, because cell phones are not permitted, if you have a recording on your cell phone that you want to play for the commission, you’ll need to either have a corrections officer carry the phone with him into the prison for you, or transfer it to another kind of device.

Both the parole officer and parolee are sworn in. If your client denies the allegation, the parole officer testifies at which point you can cross-examine.

I found that one of the alleged violations was, in fact, not a violation at all. Make sure that any violation alleged has a corresponding condition in the “Condition of Post-Release Supervision” document that the parolee signed.

Second, make sure that the violations alleged at the hearing are actually violations for which you or your client was given notice before the hearing.

Third, if your client has been arrested again on crime alleged to have occurred during parole, the parole officer may allege that the mere arrest is a violation of parole. This may be inconsistent with the Conditions of Post-Release Supervision agreement, which may state that the individual cannot commit crimes, not that the individual cannot …

No Picture
General Article

New Hampshire Domestic Abuse Laws Proposed Changes

New Hampshire Domestic Abuse Laws Proposed Changes

Domestic abuse is a major issue not only in Exeter, Portsmouth and Manchester but in New Hampshire generally. It shatters families and creates a cycle of abuse that extends to abused children who are at high risk for abusing their spouses and children.

According to some studies, over 3 million children in the US are abused annually. Battered spouses and their children may seek protection in battered women shelters, having their spouses arrested for assault, and often breaking up families.

In New Hampshire, domestic violence includes the following offenses:

Assault

Sexual assault

Aggravated assault

Threats of violence

Stalking

Emotional abuse or intimidation

New Hampshire domestic violence laws include not only married couples, but extends to ex-spouses, siblings, cohabiting partners, and current or former intimate partners.

In New Hampshire, like most states, if you are the victim of domestic violence, you can seek an emergency protective order from the court that will prohibit the abusive partner or spouse from contacting you or entering your house or apartment. You can also have the perpetrator arrested if the police have evidence of abuse, such as observing injuries and the aftermath of a struggle.

However, this could all change if House Bills 1581 and 1608 pass in the New Hampshire legislature. Current law allows police who are summoned to a home where domestic violence has been reported to arrest the accused upon probable cause without a warrant if they observe signs of violence. This includes evidence of injury to a victim and signs of a struggle like damage to furniture or to the residence. Officers may also seize any firearms which may have been used or were threatened to be used by the accused.

This new law in New Hampshire would take away that discretion from law enforcement and would only permit an arrest if an officer directly witnessed abusive behavior taking place, or he or she must return with an arrest warrant. Although the law has been evidently designed to protect the rights of the accused, the situation could escalate if police must leave the scene to obtain a warrant without having an officer present at the household, leaving the victim at the mercy of the abuser.

The new legislation would also require a defendant under a restraining or protective order to violate it three times before being subject to arrest for violating the order. Presently, a single violation gives a judge discretion to order the violator arrested.

Law enforcement officials also fear that the new measures would not prohibit an accused domestic abuser from possessing firearms or from buying them.

Misdemeanor or Felony Charges

If you are accused of a domestic violence offense in New Hampshire, and depending on the severity of the circumstances, you can be charged with either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, or a felony if serious injury resulted, or if you are accused of rape or other sexual misconduct.

Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction in NH

If you are convicted of domestic violence in areas such as Exeter, Portsmouth and Manchester or in New Hampshire generally, and your offense was a Class A misdemeanor, you face up to one year in jail, fines, probation, and probable participation in a domestic violence treatment program.

Class B misdemeanors do not include any prison time. This would include simple assault charges. You can still face fines and participation in a domestic violence program.

If your domestic violence conviction included a more severe charge such as a sexual offense, serious bodily injury, or assault using a firearm or other deadly weapon, you could face a Class A felony, which carries a possible imprisonment of more than 7 years and up to 15 years. If a sexual assault occurred or a homicide, the penalties increase up to life in prison.

A Class B felony imposes a possible imprisonment of more than one year but not more than 7 years. Probation can be up to five years.

Retain a New Hampshire Domestic Abuse Defense Attorney

Finding the proper New Hampshire domestic abuse defense lawyer is essential if you have been charged with domestic violence or abuse or with any associated criminal charges.

Regardless if there are significant changes to the domestic violence laws in NH pertaining to how and when law enforcement can arrest someone and when you can be charged, a domestic violence and abuse charge is a serious manner.

In some instances, a vindictive spouse or ex-partner may falsely accuse you of domestic violence to gain custody over children or for some other purpose. If you are arrested and charged with domestic violence and abuse, you need the services of Ryan Russman, one of New Hampshire’s premiere criminal defense attorneys.

A criminal conviction could result in the loss of your freedom as …

No Picture
General Article

Considerations when shopping for petite dresses

Wearing perfectly fitting clothing that highlights the parts of the body you like is one of the ideal ways you can enhance your confidence. However, when it comes to petites, it can be problematic to get the appropriate clothing. In reality, apart from dressing to match your body shape, you also need to consider your height. To assist you in navigating through your wardrobe, this guide highlights what you can shop for petite dresses.

Considerations when shopping for petite dresses

Ankle length

If you like to wear longer hems, you can choose those that go up to the ground level. For instance, during summer, you can pair breezy cotton sundresses that cover your ankles with casual footwear and espadrille sandals.

Knee-length

If you want your legs to appear lean and long, ensure you show more leg length. In this case, the dresses which hit slightly above or at the knee are the most flattering for women with petite body shapes. However, you do not want to choose a short dress because, wearing a micro-mini, you can risk appearing like a little girl.

Wrap style

A wrap-style can establish a flattering figure for petite women. However, since the dress is not broken up severely or sharply, it can still establish a smooth silhouette.

Vertical details

Having a dress with stripes that run at its center can establish a taller appearance. Admittedly, it will help in attracting the attention of the viewer.

V-neck

Naturally, the v-necklines are flattering to most body types, even for petites. In particular, the V-neck will show your neck, giving an illusion that you have a long, lean neck.

Dresses to avoid

Horizontal stripes

Petite women need to avoid dresses with horizontal stripes because they will draw the eye horizontally instead of vertically.

Different colors

For a dress to best flatter women’s petite body shapes, it needs to have a monochromatic pattern. In particular, petite women should not wear dresses with one color at the top and another different one at the bottom, because such dresses will cut the body in half.

Calf-length

Dresses that hang at the middle of the lower part of the leg will not offer the long look you might be attempting to achieve.