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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog

What will it take to get my license back after an OUI?

Drunk driving comes with a host of serious penalties, some of which can have an impact that reaches into various areas of your life. From your financial well-being to your right to drive, there is much at stake. One of the most frustrating of these is your loss of driving privileges, a consequence that can affect both your career and your personal life.

You must have a valid driver's license in order to transport yourself to school, work or even go to the grocery store. Public transportation may not meet your individual needs, and the loss of your license after an OUI is much more than an inconvenience. You would be wise to know how to get your license back and what you must do at the end of your suspension period.

New DOJ forensic evidence group to set standards for testimony

The evidence continues to mount that commonly accepted forensic science techniques are much less reliable than juries and the public had long been led to believe. In 2015, the FBI revealed that its own analysts had overstated the scientific certainty of microscopic hair analysis tests in at least 90 percent of cases reviewed.

Ballistics, bite-mark comparison, handwriting analysis and several other common techniques have also been challenged as scientifically flawed, according to the Associated Press.

Lawmaker demands release of Justice Dept. enforcement priorities

In light of a number of recent policy announcements by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a leading Senate Democrat is demanding details on the Justice Department's law enforcement priorities. Specifically, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is seeking the immediate release of recommendations of the presidential Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which Sessions leads.

As we discussed recently, Sessions recently indicated that federal law enforcement may soon be cracking down on marijuana offenses, even in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. He also urged U.S. Attorneys to increase the use of civil forfeitures, including "adoptive forfeitures" in which the federal government confiscates property originally seized by state or local officials.

Is the Justice Dept. about to crack down on marijuana possession?

The presidential Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is scheduled to release a report this week. Criminal justice reformers fear it will signal a major crackdown on marijuana -- even in states where it is legal.

In May, Sessions sent a memo to the component heads of the Department of Justice saying that he expects initial recommendations by July 27. That memo listed three areas he wanted to consider in order to ensure they met the department's overall strategy on reducing violent crime: charging, sentencing and marijuana.

Sessions urges increase in civil forfeitures by law enforcement

Civil forfeiture is a process by which law enforcement agencies seize money and property from suspected criminals and criminal organizations. The assets can be seized whenever law enforcement personnel determine they are connected to, or are the result of, criminal activity. This can occur long before the owner of those assets goes to trial, and it can be an uphill battle trying to get them back.

When owners are unable to, essentially, prove their assets are innocent, the law enforcement agency that seized them can keep the assets. It can use them for a special purpose, like a party, or simply to shore up the budget. However, in some cases federal agencies have used a process called "adoptive forfeiture" to take the seized assets a second time -- this time from local law enforcement agency.

Is it fair and legal for police to shame defendants on Facebook?

A Boston writer for the Associated Press recently published an article on whether police departments can legally use their Facebook pages to shame defendants they have arrested. The article cites activity from several different cities where police departments, in a quest to "inform the community," have been posting photos of criminal defendants -- in many cases, accompanied by pejorative quips.

You can read the article here, but one example from Taunton is instructive. It got heavy news coverage. According to the AP, a woman was arrested for running her car into a series of mailboxes before crashing it on a lawn. When the police arrived, they claim, she asked them to send a tow truck. When she was arrested, she had a small lizard in her brassiere. The story was posted, along with humorous asides, on the department's Facebook site.

Supreme Court asked to rule on reach of email warrants under SCA

The Stored Communications Act was passed as Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, long before the possibility of cloud computing was even on the horizon. In general, it addresses the government's ability to compel the disclosure of "stored wire and electronic communications and transactional records."

More particularly, it is a law the federal government often uses to obtain the emails of people it is investigating. Recently, however, a dispute with Microsoft resulted in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

MADD pushes for ignition interlock law

In a year when the national average for highway deaths involving drunk drivers was 1.9 percent, Massachusetts rated 2.9 percent. An average of 121 people in the state die each year from alcohol-related accidents. Impaired drivers were responsible for accidents that killed over 10,000 people across the country in one year.

Across the nation, lawmakers and law enforcement combat those statistics with tougher laws and harsher penalties. A conviction for drunk driving may mean jail time, loss of driving privileges and stiff fines, with these penalties increasing with each subsequent conviction. Recently, however, states are trying a new approach.

When should the tragedy of an overdose become a criminal act?

A 30-year-old Pennsylvania woman has been charged with aggravated assault on a newborn after she overdosed while seven months pregnant. It's a tragic story, made only more so by the shortsightedness and mistakes that appear to have contributed to the events.

Although the woman was charged under Pennsylvania law, we thought it would be interesting because it raises important questions. Should suffering from an overdose that was the fully expected effect of addiction result in criminal charges? Does it matter if intervening events contributed to the outcome of the overdose?

Why aren't more people getting medicine to treat opioid addiction?

A recent study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics looked into whether addicts are getting appropriate medications when receiving treatment for opioid medications. Somewhat surprisingly, only 21 percent of the nearly 21,000 patients studied had received buprenorphine or naltrexone, even though the two medications are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The patients were between the ages of 13 and 25, and all had health insurance through a major insurer.

"Young people may be dying because they are not getting the treatment they need," wrote one of the study's authors.

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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog | Anthony M. Salerno, P.C.