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New Orleans Criminal Defense Blog

A drunk driving charge can be contested at every step

Getting stopped for drunk driving is something many individuals do not experience. However, with movies, cop shows, news casts and other sources, the overall process is common knowledge. After checking insurance and plates, the police officer will force you to conduct field sobriety tests and perhaps a Breathalyzer test. In the end, a person who has been charged a DUI or DWI may face the suspension or termination of his or her driver's license, an increase in his or her insurance rates and a mark on his or her record.

With the first-hand and fictional accounts of these situations pervading the mainstream, many individuals may not know what their rights are when they have been stopped. Overall, it is important avoid self-incrimination. For example, if an officer asks if an individual has been drinking, that individual is not required to answer. Additionally, performing field sobriety tests can be refused by an individual. The police officer is limited in what he or she can force you to do.

Drug paraphernalia charges can be serious

Louisiana residents may be surprised to hear that certain items, marketed as though they are designed for legitimate purposes, can be considered illegal. At times, possession of them can result in drug charges. As per U.S. Code Title 21, it is unlawful for someone sell or offer to sell drug paraphernalia. It is pertinent to point out that the person accused doesn't actually have to have any drugs on them to face drug paraphernalia charges. So the question is-what is drug paraphernalia?

Simply put, it is any equipment that can be used to conceal, produce or consume illicit drugs. It can be any item that can be used in connection with illegal drugs. They can be divided into two categories-for the purpose of ingesting and for the purpose of distributing. Items such as kitchen scales and spoons can even be used for the purposes of distribution of drugs, which is why the distinction is important.

What changes are expected for laws relating to drug crimes?

Louisiana has the highest rates of incarceration across the country, and many of the individuals who are languishing away in jails are serving sentences comparatively more serious than the crime they have allegedly committed. Recognizing the need for reform in the criminal justice system, many lawmakers have begun advocating for a number of new laws in the state.

Drug crimes are one of the areas where state lawmakers are trying to moderate sentences, even though there is pressure from the center to increase penalties associated to drug charges. Louisiana recently passed some reforms regarding penalties, including imposing lighter sentences based on the weight of the drug.

Increase in DUI arrests across the state on Labor Day weekend

There are certain times of the year when law enforcement agencies crack down on drunk driving across the country, and Labor Day is one of those times. Authorities also advertise the number of stops conducted and arrests made on these events. As a result of the public pressure and push for taking a serious line against drunk drivers, many people may find themselves facing charges they did not anticipate or stopped for reasons that are not permissible.

According to the Louisiana State Police Troop A reports, troopers made more than double the amount of arrests this year than they did last year. To keep the highways safe, troopers put in more hours, especially in areas where they have conducted research and determined as more susceptible to accidents in the previous years. In one area alone, authorities claimed they had arrested 29 people on the weekend in question, up from 13 the last year. According to reports, five of the arrested were third time offenders.

Don't shy away from availing constitutional right to attorney

As mentioned in last week's post, even when one is facing serious criminal charges, they have certain constitutional protections that are available to them and that they should avail. One of those rights, as enumerated in the Miranda warnings, is the right to an attorney and speaking to one as soon as one is facing criminal charges is beneficial for the accused.

Criminal charges, arrests, convictions and acquittals-all of these have the potential to affect the rest of a Louisiana resident's life. Where a conviction means someone may be spending a number of years, if not the rest of their life in prison, an acquittal often carries with it the stigma of doubt that people cannot shake. For many, a simple arrest can mean potential targeting by authorities for unrelated or related crimes for the rest of their life. It can affect employment, relationship and educational opportunities. In short, the long-term consequences are very serious and should be taken seriously.

What rights are protected under the Fourth Amendment?

Much has been said about the constitutional rights a person has when they are arrested on suspicion of committing a crime. But, what are those constitutional rights and what do they guarantee?

Personal privacy is protected under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. This includes the right of everyone across the country, including New Orleans residents, from unreasonable government intrusion into their homes, persons, property and businesses. These protections extend to when the police stop a person by way of an arrest, or when police search places and items where someone has an expectation of privacy. When their privacy has been violated, for example, an area is searched without a valid search warrant, then the unlawfully seized evidence cannot be used in a criminal trial against that person.

What you should know about refusing field sobriety tests

Sometimes a night out does not end with you safe and sound in your own bed. Sometimes, it can end with handcuffs and a visit to lockup. If New Orleans law enforcement officers pull you over while you are on your way home from Happy Hour, the police may ask you to step out of the car to undergo a series of tests.

Field sobriety tests are part of the tools that officers have at their disposal to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The big question you may be asking yourself is whether you are obligated to participate in one of these tests. You may also be wondering what happens if you refuse to take a field sobriety test or submit to a blood draw. Read below to find out more about what you can expect if you refuse a sobriety test.

Is it always illegal to possess controlled substances?

Louisiana residents who are recovering from a serious injury or having trouble letting go of their anxieties may find themselves taking prescription medicines to ease their pain. But, they may not be aware that the medicines in their cabinets are considered controlled substances and it is illegal to possess them.

Firstly, what is a controlled substance? It's an illegal drug that can have a detrimental effect on one's health, which is why they are regulated both federally and at the state level. This means that if someone is found to be in possession of these substances, they could face lengthy prison sentences and excessive fines. The confusion comes from the fact that most of these same medications are prescribed by doctors and sold through pharmacies across the country for legitimate medical treatment.

Louisiana man faces multiple drug distribution charges

Even though state and federal criminal charges may sound similar to the ear, legally speaking, they are often not. If someone is facing federal charges, they may be facing higher fines and longer prison sentences. Since there is more on the line to lose, it is even more important to consider mounting a strong defense when federal drug charges are imminent, which often results if federal agencies are involved.

A Louisiana man is facing a number of drug distribution charges after being the target of an undercover operation conducted by a number of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. Currently, he has been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession of a controlled substance I with intent to distribute, distribution of a controlled substance I, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance II, and distribution of a controlled substance III.

Does my arrest stay on my record?

Legally speaking, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. The charges may be dropped and an arrested person released from custody for various reasons, including, but not limited to, the fact that someone else has been charged with committing the crime. An arrest is generally not considered proof that the arrested person engaged in the criminal conduct they were charged with. A conviction, on the other hand, is a different matter-it is often more than likely that the person engaged in the conduct they were charged with.

Many people believe that once they have been released from custody and charges have been dropped, their arrest will go away, but this is unfortunately not the case. In most situations, an arrest remains on one's record, and even though businesses across the country, including those in Louisiana, are supposed to disregard an arrest for the purpose of hiring someone, they often hesitate to do so.

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