I guess you could put this under the "Philosophy" category of posts. It's admittedly a fluff piece but the idea arose from actual events today, so hopefully it's mildly relevant or entertaining. Maybe relevant or mildly entertaining.
YES! Sorry this is such a simple post, but I sometimes get surprised talking to people at what they don't know about police stops. I want you to think about this- if you and a friend were pulled over, and an officer saw something illegal in the car, do you not think they could separate you and then tell each of you, "well your buddy over there just said it was all yours" or "look, the more honest with me you are, the easier this will go on you?" This is the police doing their job, getting you to give them free information while you are not yet in custody. And regardless of how you feel about police lying to get information, it is A-OK in the eyes of the law.
There are many offenses which require a person to register as a sex offender if convicted. Without going into detail, most of them are sexual offenses you would consider obvious. On the other hand, some charges labeled as sex crimes are not situations where you would consider the person deviant or dangerous at all. In either situation, sex offender registration can be a serious burden, making simple things like finding a place to live or finding a job nearly impossible. There are websites that will list sex offenders' names and addresses, and in today's internet age, there is almost no way to escape scrutiny. There is even a Sex Offender Tracker App for your Droid or iPhone. (OK, the video is pretty misleading, but it is funny, and don't think the technology is too far from reality.)
Travis County Warrants are like that alley cat you used to feed at your college apartment. They just never really go away. Sometimes it's a hot check you wrote by accident, or a ticket you never paid off. Just as often it's failure to pay surcharges for some ticket or small offense that you may never have known about because your address has changed. Even if you don't think you have a Travis County warrant, it never hurts to check just to be sure.
In honor of Halloween Weekend, the Austin Police Department has again issued a "no refusal" designation for people stopped for suspicion of DWI. Take a look at the APD No-Refusal for Halloween Weekend Press Release for more details.
Should you be able to use deadly force in response to non-deadly force? Generally speaking, the answer under Texas law is no. One of the requirements for using deadly force to be justified is that it is in response to another's use or attempted use of deadly force.
Wow, so this decision has quietly just slipped by under the radar (or maybe I'm just foolish enough to believe it isn't already smeared across the blogosphere). The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, not known for being defense friendly, has taken a close look at dog-sniff evidence. Turns out they didn't like it so much. In a September 22, 2010 opinion, the CCA reversed the Court of Appeals and overturned a murder conviction and Richard Lynn Winfrey's 75 year prison sentence. The CCA ruled that while dog-scent evidence may be admissible, it alone will not support a conviction. Winfrey's conviction was based almost solely on a dog-sniff lineup, and the CCA took the opportunity to research current studies and publications on the subject. The opinion is in many respects a breath of fresh air.
Automatic traffic cameras are a relatively recent addition to the Austin landscape. I think they came in about the same time as the high rise condos downtown, but that's probably just coincidence. I started noticing them a few years ago at busy intersections. You can consider it a call from reality, that Austin is slowly becoming a big city. Or you can reason that the poor economic times have forced the city to reach for funds in new ways, like the new solar parking meters. (I love the fact that they're solar, and that they take credit cards, but I resent the fact that they installed them in many spots that didn't have meters before.)
I'll admit that the referring article here is a bit old (January)- but since it's a list for 2009 and the 2010 list is not out yet, I feel safe that it's relevant. Of course, some of the bars at the top have likely shifted, as the hierarchy of the hippest newest club develops. Not to say that there aren't plenty of old Austin stalwarts on the list, even places I (ahem) may have frequented back in the day...
Ok, sorry for the dramatic headline, but it's in reference to an article that I thought was worth sharing. One of my pet issues/concerns is the inability of folks who have been convicted to keep others from finding out about it. Not so much other people they may know, but people like apartment managers, licensing boards, the company that has that job you want, etc. Drug charges are a particularly hot topic for screening, and simply having a drug arrest can prevent you from getting a job, even if the drug case was dismissed!
This leads up to my larger concern- the inability of those who have only been arrested, but NOT convicted, to keep that record private. Specifically, anyone who entered into a Deferred Adjudication agreement to resolve a case, which is a probation where the offense is dismissed (without a conviction) at the end of probation. Convictions can ALL be found in background checks, but entities have become more and more able to gain access to complete records which show not only convictions but, (surprise!) arrests. And sadly, not many screeners care about the distinction between a conviction and deferred adjudication- where there's smoke there's fire... so if you took deferred adjudication to avoid having a conviction, you may still be looked upon differently simply because they know you were arrested.
In any event, the article is something good to chew on. Also, sorry for the plug, but it's a good reason to hire a good drug lawyer or Austin jail release. Aside from a dismissal, or maybe a not-guilty verdict, there are other ways to resolve cases that will allow for full expunction later (which is where a court orders all records of the arrest, bond, booking, etc. to be destroyed). A good criminal lawyer can advise you of your options, and help you make decisions that may well affect your future for decades. Enough jabber, here's the article: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/Advice/WhatIllegalDrugUseCanCostYou.aspx