How to Talk to Your Teenage Children about Sexting

How to Talk to Your Teenage Children about SextingThere are several studies that indicate that sexting is a widespread practice among teenagers, who don’t completely appreciate the dangers as well as the legal consequences of such practices. Sexting is defined as the sharing of nude, or explicit pictures or even videos of oneself or others using a smartphone. It’s fairly harmless when responsible adults do it. However, when teenagers below the age of legal consent share nude pictures of themselves, there is a serious risk of legal consequences.

In Colorado, there have been cases involving teenagers who exchanged such videos and pictures with legal repercussions. In one widely publicized case in Jefferson County in 2012, two teenagers were arrested after they were alleged to have shared video footage on their cell phone.  The footage showed friends engaged in sexual activity inside the car in which they were all traveling. The footage was then passed on from cell phone to cell phone in the local community. At least one of the teenagers in this case was below the age of 18.

In the Colorado case, one of the boys was actually charged with making the video and sharing with others, while the other was charged with possessing the video and sharing it with others. Both of these are third-degree felony charges. Make no mistake – your child could face criminal charges if he uses his cell phone irresponsibly.

What teenagers may not realize when they take such pictures and send them to others, or when they shared nude pictures and explicit videos of themselves without thinking of the consequences, is that they may be exposing themselves to charges of child pornography. If the person who is depicted in the video or the picture being shared on the smartphone is below 18 years of age, then that could legally constitute child pornography.

Experts suggest that parents drive home the fact that images last forever, and even if these are deleted from your smartphone, they can be transmitted from smartphone to smartphone in a matter of seconds. Pictures can be posted on social media portals, on online porn sites, on Instagram, and can be easily traced to your child’s smart phone. Also stress similar consequences if your child actually takes seminude selfies, and sends them to others.

Music Linked to Rise in Teen Binge Drinking

Music Linked to Rise in Teen Binge DrinkingAny parent knows that there are far too many pressures on the average American teen to drink even though it is illegal. Very often, underage drinking simply leads to DUI, sexual assault, vandalism, indecent exposure and other offenses, because the average teenager may not completely understand the repercussions of such illegal behavior. A new study finds that binge drinking is closely linked to the use of alcohol brand names in popular music.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University Of Pittsburgh and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. The research was based on a survey of more than 2,500 people between the ages 15 and 23. The researchers found in their analysis that binge drinking among teenagers is linked very closely to the dropping of alcohol brand names in popular song lyrics.

According to the results of the study which were published recently in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experiment Research, policy interventions that could help minimize the influence of alcohol brand name references in music popular among teenagers, could actually help reduce the consumption of alcohol in these groups.  Such intervention cold help reduce the practice of binge drinking.

According to the researchers, many popular song lyrics now contain alcohol brand names, and although the industry is not paying for its brand names to be used in such songs, there is no denying the fact that such music typically triggers binge drinking risks in teenage drivers. In fact, the average American teenager is exposed to numerous brand-name alcohol brands in the music that he listens to. The researchers estimate that the average teenager is exposed to approximately 3,000 references to alcohol brands while listening to music. The subliminal cues that are triggered by such brand name references in music could possibly lead to dangerous practices, like binge drinking.

Binge drinking is the consumption of five or more alcoholic beverages during a single session, and is strongly linked to sexual assault, sex crimes, rape, underage DUI, and other crimes. These offenses not only have the potential to result in loss of life or injury to teenagers and others, but a conviction is attached to stringent penalties, including incarceration. Parents can form a strong first line of defense to help their teenagers resist the temptation to drink alcohol in the face of strong peer pressure.

US Sentencing Commission Votes to Reduce Terms for Drug Crimes

US Sentencing Commission Votes to Reduce Terms for Drug CrimesIn an important decision, the United States Sentencing Commission has voted to reduce the terms that are typically recommended for most federal drug crimes. The Sentencing Commission’s new guidelines now mean that as many as three- quarters of all offenders will be eligible for shorter terms.

This move has been a while coming. The American public has become increasingly skeptical about the stringent incarceration guidelines that apply to most drug crimes, even minor crimes that involve possession of small amounts of a drug. In fact, studies have found that the American public is much more in favor of treatment options, or rehabilitation for   heroin and cocaine users, rather than long-term incarceration. Incarceration in these cases   does nothing to tackle the source of the problem, while actually straining taxpayers, and burdening the prison system. The Sentencing Commission guidelines also coincide with moves by a number of states around the country, including Colorado, to minimize penalties for drug possession and other minor drug offenses.

The US Sentencing Commission guidelines would reduce the mandated minimum sentencing that is typically recommended for crimes that do not involve the use of weapons or firearms. Under the guidelines that the Sentencing Commission has voted in favor of, sentences will be reduced by an average of 11 months, depending on the quantity of the drug.

The guidelines now mean that as many as 70% of federal prime offenders could be eligible for shorter prison stays. Currently, the United States prison system is home to 215,000 prisoners. The US currently accounts for 25% of the world’s prison population, even as it comprises only 5% of the global population. That completely skewed ratio has raised eyebrows across the country, and in recent years, there has been a lot of criticism about the high incarceration rates involving offenders convicted for minor nonviolent drug offenses. The proposal was supported by the United States Justice Department as well as several conservative lawmakers. Those guidelines will apply unless Congress moves to oppose them.

The decision by the Sentencing Commission to reduce prison stays for nonviolent drug crime offenders, has been welcomed by civil rights groups, and defense attorneys alike. For instance, Human Rights Watch has commended the decision, but has also urged the Sentencing Commission to move on more reforms that would result in more fair sentencing guidelines for minor offenders.

Will I Need to Install an Ignition Interlock in my car?

Denver DUI attorneyIgnition interlock devices are devices that are installed in the car to act as breathalyzers, and detect the amount of alcohol in a person’s system.

The device prevents the car from starting, if the amount of alcohol is above a preset, predetermined limit. In Colorado, certain persons who have been convicted of DUI may be required to get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles.

Under Colorado law, if you have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and meet any of the following criteria, you can be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.

  • If this is your first DUI conviction, and if you have been driving with a blood-alcohol content of .15 or higher, you may be required to get the device installed in your vehicle. If you meet this criterion, then you are required to have an interlock device in your car for a period of two years.
  • If this is your second conviction for DUI within a period of five years, then you are subjected to the two-year requirement. The device must be fitted in your car, and must be retained for two years before it can be removed.
  • If this is your third conviction for DUI, you will be subjected to the two-year interlock requirement too.
  • If you have been convicted of refusal to submit to an alcohol test for DUI, then you would have to get the device installed, and keep it in your car for a period of two years.

Failure to get the ignition interlock device installed in your car is punishable with a penalty. If you fail to drive a vehicle that has been equipped with an ignition interlock device, even after you have been ordered to so, or try to drive a vehicle that has not been equipped device, then you will lose your driver’s license for a period of one year. You will also be required to get the device examined by a licensed professional at least once every two months, and failure to do so will again subject you to a suspension of your driver’s license.

Any decisions related to ignition devices, eligibility and reinstatement, are made by the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles

Will I Have To Go to Prison after Being Convicted of DUI?

Denver arson attorneyOne of the questions that persons who have been arrested for DUI in Colorado have is whether they will have to go to prison after a conviction.

Obviously, that is a distressing thought, and while people may be more open to the idea of performing community service, undergoing an alcohol education program, or paying any of the other penalties that may be attached to a DUI conviction in Colorado, nobody wants to spend any time in prison at all.

The good news is that if this is the very first time that you have been convicted of DUI, then it is quite unlikely that you will have to spend any time in prison. Prison time for first-time DUI is rare in Colorado,. However, in some cases, the judge may decide to sentence a person to jail for a first-time DUI conviction. Often, in these cases however, the amount of time that you actually have to spend in prison is very low. For a first-time DUI, you may have to pay fines, undergo an alcohol education program, and undergo several hours of community service.

However, things get markedly more serious if it is your second or third or subsequent DUI conviction. The law takes a very stern view of persons who have been arrested multiple times or convicted multiple times for driving under the influence, and prison time is definitely a possibility in such cases.

Subsequent DUI convictions come with harsher penalties, and the amount of jail time that you have to spend depends on the specifics of each case. Prison time may be mandated if you have been convicted for the second DWI offense. The situation can become more serious when there is a brief time gap between the first and second offense. Broadly, if you have been convicted for a second time of DUI within five years of your first conviction, then you may have to spend time in jail.

For a third conviction, a person may be sentenced to a prison term of 60 days in jail with no hope of being substituted by electronic monitoring.

Sometimes, minimum prison terms can be substituted by electronic monitoring. However, in those cases where the law requires a mandated prison sentence, it is not possible to substitute electronic monitoring for prison time.

What Is Blood-Alcohol Concentration?

bigstock-Drinking-And-Driving-2785571One term that you will hear a lot of around the time of your arrest for DUI or in the days after is blood alcohol concentration.

Blood alcohol concentration refers to the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. When you talk about a blood-alcohol concentration of .10%, it means that your bloodstream contains one part alcohol for every hundred milliliters of blood. In Colorado, the maximum legally permissible blood-alcohol concentration that you can have in your body while driving is .08%. When you’re out at a party having a few drinks, it is easy to forget that just a few alcoholic beverages can spike the alcohol content in your blood to dangerously high levels, causing you to fail a breathalyzer test or a chemical test.

Typically, blood-alcohol concentration levels can depend on a number of factors, including the number of standard drinks that you have had. For instance, one 12 ounce glass of regular beer could contain .5% alcohol, while a 17 – ounce glass of malt liquor, can contain 7% alcohol.

Apart from the number of alcoholic drinks that you have consumed, the blood-alcohol concentration in your body can also depend on the time period within which these drinks are consumed, your body weight, and gender. The type of food that you have consumed with your drinks can also affect your BAC level to some extent.

Be a responsible drinker, and monitor the changes in your personality, judgment, coordination and other abilities after having had a few drinks. With a blood-alcohol concentration point of between .02% and .04%, you may feel mildly relaxed, a little lightheaded, and you may find your inhibitions dropping. When the BAC reaches .05% to .07%, you may begin to develop that warm and relaxed feeling, become bolder, more outgoing, and may experience mild euphoria.

When the blood-alcohol concentration exceeds .08%, you may become aggressive and believe that you are much more sober than you really are. Your speech will begin to slur, and you may lose your sense of balance. Your judgment skills will be affected. When blood-alcohol concentration levels are at these levels, it is common to find persons becoming more sexually belligerent and aggressive, or losing their ability to appropriately judge sexual situations. These are the kind of changes that you need to look out for while drinking. If you notice these changes, it’s best to avoid getting behind the wheel.

Colorado Texting While Driving Laws

Denver criminal lawyerIf you are a Colorado motorist, you are more likely than not to have used a cell phone either for texting or having a conversation while driving at least once over the past year. However, there are traffic laws related to the use of electronic communication devices while driving, and penalties will apply if these laws are violated.

Since 2009, the State of Colorado has made it illegal for drivers below the age of 18 to use cell phones and other electronic communication devices while driving. That law went into effect on December 1, 2009 and specifically prohibits drivers below the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving unless it is to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Under that law, motorists above the age of 18 are also not allowed to use a cell phone or mobile phone for text messaging purposes, unless they’re using the cell phone during an emergency. Those emergency situations could include calling the fire department or police department to report a fire, a traffic accident, any kind of incident where there is a serious risk of a criminal act against another person, a medical or hazardous material situation, a dangerous road hazard, or to report a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol or driving recklessly or in any other manner that affects the safety of other motorists on the road.

For an adult motorist in Colorado, the law specifically bans texting while driving and that includes not just the actual process of typing a text message, but also reading a text message. It also includes using your smartphone for other purposes. For instance, many motorists use their time behind the wheel to update their Facebook status, or their status on Twitter. Both of those activities would fall under the purview of this law. Even using e-mail services on your smartphone would be covered.

If you are caught texting while driving behind the wheel, you could be punished with a fine. Penalties can begin with $50 for a first offense, and extend to up to $100 for multiple offenses.

What makes these cell phone while driving laws even more stringent in the state of Colorado is that these are being enforced as primary enforcement laws. That means that a police officer does not need a reason to pull you over if he sees you texting at the wheel. He can pull you over for texting while driving, and does not need to pull you over for another driving infraction before he cites you for texting while driving.

Does the Officer Have to Read out My Miranda Rights during a DUI Arrest?

Denver attorneyMost Americans are very familiar with Miranda rights, thanks to TV cop shows. Those rights must be read out at the time of taking a person into custody or before interrogation. However, it is not necessary that a police officer read those rights to you when he’s taking you into custody while arresting you for DUI or driving under the influence of alcohol.

Miranda rights are typically read out while taking a person into custody and before the officer begins asking you questions or interrogating you about your involvement in the case. However, a DUI situation is completely different. In such cases, the officer will already ask you questions before he decides to take you into custody or take you to the station. Therefore, by the side of the road, or at a checkpoint where you have been asked to get out of your car and perform tests, is not really considered a custody situation, and therefore, the Miranda Rights may not apply to those cases.

However, that does not mean that you don’t have rights, and one of the most important of those is to remain silent. In other words, the police officer doesn’t have to remind you that you have the right to remain silent. Many people in a DUI arrest situation panic, and make statements that might complicate their situation further. For instance, the last thing that you want to do when you are being arrested isto confess to the police officer, that you had a few alcoholic beverages just before you began driving.

However, an exception may be made in certain cases. For instance, say that you have been arrested for DUI, and have been taken to a police station where the arresting officer proceeds to tell you that he wants to ask you a few questions. Your situation at the station could be construed as a custody situation, and therefore, your rights to remain silent kick in. At the station, you are considered as being in custody, because you have no permission to leave, and are being interrogated by a police officer.

In such a case, the officer may be required to read you your Miranda rights. However, if he fails to do so doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed.

What You Need To Know About Domestic Violence Charges?

Denver Felony AttorneyCharges of domestic violence and are very often inked to retaliation, revenge or a divorce /child custody battle gone wrong. These charges often tend to surface during a family dispute, or when a child custody battle has become exceedingly volatile.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that the law takes a grim view of such charges. There is also a widespread public revulsion to someone who is physically violent towards an intimate partner. Any conviction of domestic violence charges could have widespread ramifications for your personal and social lives.

Many people who have been charged with domestic violence don’t take these kinds of charges seriously. However, the fact is that very often, charges of domestic violence can seriously disrupt your life, especially your personal life. Domestic violence charges can very often coincide with a temporary restraining order being taken out against you. That means that you may have to move out of your home, and may have very restricted access to your children.

Besides, charges of domestic violence can also affect your personal and professional lives. A prison sentence can become part of penalties, and you may also be asked to undergo court -mandated therapy.

Apart from revenge, retaliation, and jealousy, domestic violence charges are often also related to intoxication. A drunk person is much less likely to be in complete control over his faculties, and may make physical actions that could be construed as violence. Apart from this, domestic violence is also very often a form of self-defense. However, police officers arresting you were not at the scene when the actual violence or event occurred, and therefore, are not in a position to judge whether it was an act of self-defense.

Very often, domestic violence cases come right down to “he said, she said,“ which means that you need an experienced lawyer on your side who can help present your side of the story, so that your reputation is protected.

Domestic violence charges are even more serious, because they cannot be dropped by the person who brought the charges. If a wife brings charges against her husband for domestic violence, and later, after tempers have cooled down, wants to withdraw charges, she’s not allowed to do for. The only person who can drop the charges is the state prosecutor.

What Are Miranda Rights?

Daniel Murphy Denver atorneyIf you have been arrested, the police officers making the arrest must read out your Miranda Rights. The Miranda rights protect many essential rights, but just because an officer has not failed to read out the rights, doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed.

It is important for every citizen in Colorado to know that there are laws that protect him even after an arrest. An arrest is not an assumption of guilt. You still have the right to the due process of law, and have the right to maintain your innocence by remaining silent.

The Miranda Rights that must be read out at the time of the arrest include the following:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything that you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to speak to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
  • Do you understand these rights as they have been read out you?

Exercise your right to remain silent after you have been arrested, as well as your right to hire an attorney at the earliest. The right to remain silent is probably the most important right after an arrest. You don’t have to answer questions by police officers even if they are badgering you. Very often people panic, and forget the silence can be a good defense.

You will not be punished for remaining silent, and your silence will not be held against you if the case goes to trial. However, if you start making statements, those statements can, and likely will, be held against you in court as evidence. A person may panic. and make several incriminating statements that can be used against him. For instance very often, lawyers see that people start panicking, when they are in the back of a patrol car on the way to the station. They strike up a conversation with the arresting police officer, falsely believing that they can make excuses for whatever happened, or can make the police officers understand why they did what they did.

Although the failure to read out your Miranda Rights will not necessarily result in the charges against you being dismissed outright, they may affect some of the evidence. For instance, some of your responses to questions may be suppressed, and withheld from the trial, if the Miranda rights were not read out to you at the time of the arrest or being taken into custody.