Colorado’s Marijuana Legalization Experience Encourages Lawmakers

Denver criminal defense lawyerSince the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado, other states have been closely monitoring the repercussions of the legalization to determine whether legalization, or at least a lowering of restrictions on use of marijuana, is safe to enact.

Colorado’s experiences seem to have encouraged lawmakers in Louisiana. Government data indicates that the number of homicides in Denver actually fell, by more than 60% in the first six months alone, since the legalization of marijuana in the state. Denver criminal defense lawyers have also found a drop in the rates of other crimes in Denver including the rates of sex crimes and kidnapping since the legalization. The data seems to indicate that there wasn’t a significant increase or decrease in the rate of aggravated assault. However, there was actually an increase in simple assault. Property crimes also dropped by about 9%, since the legalization went into effect.

Louisiana lawmakers are actually using that data to help persuade colleagues in their legislature who are opposed to marijuana reform legislation. The biggest concerns for Louisiana lawmakers who are opposed to marijuana legislation similar to the one enacted in Colorado, is that such legalization will result in an increase in violent crimes, like homicides. Colorado’s experience indicates that that is not the case.

Louisiana lawmakers have for the most part, avoided experimenting with marijuana legalization, and the legislature has shown that it isn’t ready yet for serious marijuana reform. This is in spite of the fact, that the state has some of the highest incarceration rates related to marijuana crimes. It also has some of the strongest penalties for marijuana-related drug offenses.

That state is now looking at Colorado, to learn how it can proceed with lowered restrictions on marijuana use, or even marijuana legalization, without having any impact on crime rates in the state.

Denver criminal defense lawyers have found one significant effect of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado-it has led to an increase in the number of offenses related to disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct. These incidents actually increased significantly by more than 200%, after the legalization of marijuana.

About Half of All Federal Drug Prisoners, Could Be out Soon

Aurora criminal defense lawyerUnder the terms of a new decision delivered by the US Sentencing Commission, approximately half of all federal prisoners in jail for drug crimes could soon be eligible to get out of prison much sooner than they expected.

As many as 46,290 federal prisoners can now apply to get their prison sentences shortened. That reprieve comes courtesy of a reduction in federal sentencing guidelines that was approved earlier this year. That approval actually applies retroactively to persons who are currently serving time in federal prison, for drug crimes. Prisoners, who meet the criteria for the early release, can now apply to get out of prison earlier. Prison releases are expected to begin in November next year.

The Sentencing Commission estimates that as many as 46,290 prisoners can apply for shorter sentences, which accounts for approximately 50% of all federal drug offenders. These are only drug offenders in federal prison, and form a very tiny percentage of the total number of people incarcerated in the United States. Aurora criminal defense lawyer estimate that just over 20% of all inmates who currently are incarcerated in federal prison, can apply for the shorter sentencing as part of the new rule.

Approximately 50% of all persons in federal prison are in there after being convicted for drug crimes, and Aurora criminal defense lawyers know that many of those people were imprisoned after being convicted of nonviolent or minor offenses. Those incarceration rates are so high because of the stringent and overly excessive incarceration guidelines for drug offenses. Those overly stringent guidelines are part of the country’s much vaunted war on drugs that has ripped communities apart, and sent large numbers of minority prisoners, especially African-Americans and Hispanics into prison, for minor drug offenses.

Under the new guidelines, the amount of drugs that the person is caught with will no longer have as much influence in determining the length of the sentence as other factors. Judges will now use modified calculation guidelines to determine sentences. The Sentencing Commission also decided that it wasn’t fair that prisoners who are currently in prison for nonviolent and minor offenses, remain incarcerated while people who now commit offenses will have the newer guidelines apply to them. Therefore, it made the decision to apply the guidelines retroactively.

Indecent Exposure Can Be Charged As Felony Crime

Aurora sex crimes defense attorneyIn Colorado, indecent exposure refers to the exposure of one’s genitals to another person or persons, with the intention of satisfying any person’s sexual desires, and in a situation in which such exposure is likely to cause alarm to another person. Typically, these are charged as misdemeanor crimes, but if there have been similar offenses in the person’s history, those may be charged with a felony crime.

Typically, indecent exposure crimes are charged as class I misdemeanors. However, if the person has previously been convicted of indecent exposure, he may be charged with a sex crime or class 6 felony. That means automatically higher penalties, including a prison sentence. Unfortunately, Aurora sex crimes defense attorney find that in many cases, indecent exposure is the result of a very innocent action. For instance, persons who are sunbathing or tanning in the nude, or even urinating, may find themselves facing indecent exposure charges.

In Colorado, recently, a soldier pleaded guilty to a number of charges including attempted indecent exposure. According to the charges against the serviceman, he offered to pay young women and girls, money to watch him masturbate. Several young girls and women between 12 and 22 years of age reported that were approached by a man in a pickup truck who proceeded to offer them $100 to watch him masturbate. Police had earlier been looking out for a man in a red pickup truck, and officers managed to pick him up and arrest him on suspicion of obscenity, as well as attempted indecent exposure.

In Colorado, indecent exposure can also refer to an act of masturbation performed by a person in front of another person, in a way that causes alarm to another person.

Aurora sex crimes defense attorneys find that one of the more serious consequences of a conviction for indecent exposure is a possible requirement to register in a sex offender registry. That means details of your crime, your name, address and contact information, your photographs and aliases will be accessible to the public. That leads to many complications including the inability to get accommodation in certain areas, inability to apply for or get certain jobs, and other consequences.

Law Enforcement Link Increase in Juvenile Crime with Internet Porn

Denver criminal defense lawyerIn the United Kingdom, law enforcement agencies are linking an increasing number of sex crimes involving school-aged children, with increased accessibility to Internet porn, especially on smart phones.

According to the police, easy accessibility to hard-core porn is to blame for an increase in the number of children, some of them aged as young as eight, who have been arrested for sex crimes including rape in the past few years. The data was released by Police in the Greater Manchester area, and states that since 2009 alone, police have detained approximately 215 children below the age of 15, on sex crime allegations including rape allegations. Most of the persons arrested were boys, but three girls below 15 were also arrested for sex crimes during the same time. Less than 20% of the juveniles were charged with crimes, and 10 children were let off with a warning.

Many children’s groups have expressed their extreme horror at the results of the analysis, and suggest that this increase in the number of young children being arrested for crimes is directly linked to the easy accessibility to hard-core pornography on the Internet. Those increasing incidences of juvenile crime involving very young children, is also being linked to the practice of “sexting.” Denver criminal defense lawyer have found this to be a distressing recent phenomenon in which teenagers and adults exchange nude and explicit pictures of themselves on their smartphones. Smartphones make it very easy to exchange pictures, and apps like Snapchat have been developed for this very purpose. Police officers now also blame sexting for an increase in in sex crimes and rapes.

On a smart phone, pictures can be circulated very easily, raising the risk of charges of child pornography. When a a person below the legal age of consent shares nude images of himself or others on his smart phone with others, he could very easily face charges of child pornography. In fact, in the United States, this has actually happened in a few instances. Speak to a Denver criminal defense lawyer about protecting your rights after an arrest for a sex crime.

Firefighters with Sex Crime Convictions Excluded from Volunteer Fire Companies

Denver criminal defense lawyerDenver criminal defense lawyers find that one of the most tragic and disastrous consequences of sex crime convictions is a requirement to get registered in a federal sex offender registry. Registration is required for certain types of offenses, and can be permanent. Details of the registration can even be open to the public. In New York recently, the governor signed a new piece of legislation that prevents sex offenders on a registry from serving as volunteer firefighters.

Persons who have been convicted of certain sex offenses can no longer join volunteer fire companies or remain members of these companies. They can also not remain members of volunteer ambulance companies. The statement has been applauded by the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York.

In New York, there are 92,000 volunteer firefighters who serve in 1800 volunteer fire departments. Under the new law, any person who is included in a sex offender registry is no longer eligible to become a member of a volunteer fire company or ambulance company. Any volunteer, who is currently serving in a fire company and has been convicted of a sex crime, must immediately terminate his membership in these agencies.

Punishment for certain types of sex crimes, especially those involving children, can continue for years after the person has been released from prison. One of those harsh, long-term consequences is the sex offender registration requirement which can impose a number of restrictions on the person’s life.

Under Megan’s Law, sex offenders in the state of Colorado, who have enrolled in a sex offender registry, can have this information displayed to the public. The details including the name of the person, address and photographs are easily accessible on the website online. Not only that, law enforcement is also allowed to distribute the person’s information in leaflets in local communities, when the person moves into a new house. Speak to a Denver criminal defense lawyer about protecting your rights after an arrest.

A Denver DUI Lawyer Is Your Best Hope For Justice

Denver DUI LawyerIf you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in any of the United States, your DUI citation will cause a major spike in your car insurance premiums. Auto insurance companies usually verify your driving record only once every three years or when you apply for a new policy. While every accident, ticket, and DUI may not always be reflected on your driving record, if your insurance company discovers a DUI conviction and categorizes you as a “high-risk driver,” you should shop around, since rates vary widely. On the other hand, your insurance policy could be cancelled, or your insurer might refuse to renew it. If that happens, you’ll be shopping to find new insurance with the twofold disadvantage of a DUI conviction and an insurance policy cancellation on your record. Don’t let this happen to you; if you’re charged with DUI anywhere in or near Denver, consult immediately with an experienced Denver DUI lawyer.

Colorado compels a DUI offender to obtain an SR-22 from his or her car insurance company. It’s a form which tells the state that you carry liability insurance, and requires your insurer to notify the state if your car insurance is cancelled for any reason. Some insurers don’t offer SR-22; your policy could be cancelled or non-renewed because the company can’t provide the coverage you now require.

To summarize: a DUI conviction will radically raise your auto insurance premiums, and those premiums likely will never sink back to the sum that you pay now. That’s one reason it’s imperative to have the counsel of a knowledgeable DUI attorney if you face any DUI charge in the Denver area. While there are no guarantees in any criminal case, a good DUI lawyer will make every effort to have the charge reduced or dismissed; if your case goes to trial, an experienced DUI attorney will advocate aggressively for your acquittal. It’s your best hope for justice. Increased insurance premiums are only the beginning of the bad news if you’re convicted; fines, jail, and the loss of your driver’s license are among the potential penalties. If you face the charge in the Denver area – now or in the future – get the help you need and contact an experienced Denver DUI lawyer immediately.

Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker Team up on Sentencing Reform Bill

REDEEM Act - Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker Team UpThe United States accounts for 5% of the global population, but 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. It is scary statistics like these that have spurred Senators Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky) and Cory Booker (Democrat-New Jersey) to team up on a sentencing reform bill that they believe will reduce the number of offenders mandatorily incarcerated even for low-level offenses.

The legislation which will soon be introduced is called the REDEEM Act. The proposal would encourage states to raise the age of criminal responsibility, or the age at which a child can be tried as an adult to 18 years, and would require states to expunge or seal records of juveniles.  The proposed bill would also restrict the use of solitary confinement for juvenile offenders, and establish a clear system that would allow certain criminals convicted of nonviolent offenses to have their records sealed. Such sealing of records helps persons with a criminal record gain productive employment, because it keeps their criminal record out of background screening checks conducted by employers.

The new sentencing reform proposals that have been outlined in the proposed legislation are definitely something to encourage. It’s very likely that both Booker and Paul – young lawmakers who have presidential aspirations (Paul has spoken about his interest in running for the White House in 2016) – have realized that the county’s overburdened prison population and arbitrary sentencing guidelines, are important and relevant issues that must be  addressed before the next election. Paul, in particular, has been keen to promote himself as a lawmaker, who is willing to cross the aisle. Last month, he unveiled a new proposal that would help restore federal election voting rights for felons, convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Both of the lawmakers say that the need for a law like this is underscored by the fact that many young American, especially black, brown or Hispanic ones who are convicted of nonviolent, low-level drug offense struggle to find employment after their conviction. They believe that the unemployment problem in many communities is very strongly linked to the mandatory drug crime sentencing guidelines that they believe need to go.

Denver Drug Court Program Turns 20

Criminal Defense Attorney in DenverOne of the most successful programs in Colorado’s criminal justice system turned 20 years old recently. The Denver Drug program allows nonviolent, low-level drug offenders to avoid lengthy incarceration. The Court is designed to target and attack the source of the problem – the substance abuse of the offender.

As part of the Denver Drug Court, offenders are placed under supervised probation and judicial oversight. This helps maintain public safety, while also helping individual offenders avoid the prison system and get help for their substance abuse. The court system is designed to move quickly so that offenders can begin treatment immediately.  When a person has been assigned to the Denver Drug Court, he can be out of jail in just a few days, and can actually begin treatment for his condition.

However not everyone is eligible for the Denver Drug Court program. The program is only designed for low-level drug offenses that are nonviolent in nature. Persons who already have a history of violence, or have previously been convicted of drug offenses, drug dealing or weapons charges are not eligible for the Denver Drug Court. In a majority of the cases, offenders who are processed through the drug court are given the chance to get treatment for their substance abuse, and integrate back into the society.

The court program is divided into three phases, and includes a system of sanctions and incentives to force offenders to comply with the rules of the program. Sanctions can include magisterial reprimands and warnings, custody in courtroom, suspension of travel privileges. Offenders may also be ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous programs, and may be given suspended jail sentences.  However, when they are able to comply with all the terms of the drug court program, they are given incentives that include praise and encouragement, and quicker progression through each phase of the program. The may also be eligible for fee reductions for job training programs, and in-patient programs.

If you have been arrested for a drug offense, get in touch with an expert criminal defense attorney in Denver immediately. A defense lawyer will be able to discuss your options for a legal defense, and work at getting your case dismissed or charges minimized.

Some Federal Drug Offenders May Be Able to Get Their Sentences Reduced

Attorney General Eric Holder and Prison OvercrowdingSince he took charge, Attorney General Eric Holder has made sentencing guidelines and prison overcrowding his biggest priorities. Now, as a result of those priorities, several persons who have been convicted under federal drug laws could have their sentences shortened by as much as two years, under new moves announced by Attorney General Eric Holder.

The Attorney General recently praised an announcement by the Sentencing Commission, which voted unanimously to allow some persons convicted of federal drug offenses to return to court and seek a shortening of their sentencing. According to the statement by the Sentencing Commission, some federal drug offenders could have their prison terms cut by as much as 25 months. This works out to an 18.8% cut. The Sentencing Commission also approved changes to the criteria for persons who would be eligible for shortened sentences. Those criteria include the characteristics of the offender as well as the crime.

The Sentencing Commission believes that as many as 46,290 prisoners will be able to appeal to courts to have their prison terms cut short. According federal data, state governments across the United States spent a staggering $80 billion on the prison systems in their states. The country’s massive prison population problem cannot be denied. About one -third of the US Justice Department’s budget is eaten up by the Bureau of Prisons.

The Sentencing Commission’s statement comes after reassurances by Attorney Holder that persons convicted of nonviolent and low-level drug offenses would no longer be charged under stringent federal drug crime laws that impose mandatory minimum prison terms on offenders. The mandated terms mean that persons are convicted, and sent to prison even for nonviolent offenses like possession of small quantities of drugs.

Incarceration as a solution to drug crimes is a strategy that has completely failed in this country. It has torn apart families and destroyed societies and communities. Certain groups of people like African-Americans and Hispanics have been clearly found to be overwhelmingly victimized by these stringent guidelines. As large numbers of breadwinners have been sentenced to prison for minor drug crimes, thousands of children have ended up growing up in broken homes. The socioeconomic consequences of large-scale incarceration for drug crimes are only now becoming clear.

Can I Be Charged with DUI in Colorado for Riding a Lawnmower?

Denver DUI defense lawyerGranted this is not a question that many motorists in Colorado will struggle with, or even address. However, under Colorado law, the definition for DUI is driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, which could possibly include, yes, a lawnmower.

Under Colorado law, any person who is operating a motor vehicle, under the influence of alcohol, can face DUI charges. These are serious charges, and depending on several factors, you could be eligible for a variety of penalties that range all the way from prison time, fines, alcohol education and even suspension of your license. You might think that the only vehicle that you need to be driving at the time that a police officer arrests you for DUI is a car. That’s not true. You could be riding a lawnmower, and still need a Denver DUI defense lawyer.

That’s exactly what happened to a man in Colorado recently. Police officers found the man riding his lawnmower on a very busy street in Garden City. When they stopped him, they found that he was severely intoxicated. He showed severe signs of intoxication, and could barely stand on his own.

The man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. However, when the media contacted the man in jail, he was indignant and insisted that he was not driving the lawnmower while intoxicated, but was trying to get rid of weeds. . The story might seem funny, but the bottom line is this. If you are drinking, avoid getting behind the wheel of any vehicle, including a lawnmower

Such bizarre DUI incidents are not exactly unheard of. In other instances across the country, persons have been arrested for DUI after they were found riding lawn mowers, and even a motorized La-Z-Boy lounge chair. While they provide humorous fodder for the media, and for the public, these cases also provide very interesting challenges for Denver DUI defense lawyers.