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.

Report: Lower Incarceration Doesn’t Translate into Higher Crime Rates

Denver criminal defense lawyerYet another report debunks the theory that higher rates of incarceration keep Americans safer. The report finds that on the contrary, lower levels of incarceration can possibly lower crime rates.

The report was released by the Sentencing Project, which found that states that have implemented substantial sentencing reforms to lower the numbers of people in prison in their states, have found their prison populations drop significantly as a result of those policies. Not only that, these states, according to the Sentencing Project report were actually able to bring about a substantial drop in crime rates as a result of those policies.

The report specifically mentioned three states – New Jersey, New York and California – that have implemented lenient and more enlightened sentencing policies in order to deal with crimes. They have found that as these states moved towards more liberal and lenient punishments for offenders convicted of low-level or nonviolent offenses, they have seen a decrease in all types of crime rates. These include property crimes as well as violent crimes.

According to the report, while the overall prison population in the country increased by 10% between 1999 and 2012 and there was a drop of 26% for violent crimes and 24% for property crimes, New York and New Jersey were able to reduce the prison population by 26% during the same period of time. The Sentencing Project researchers say that prison operations across the country can probably be safely reduced by as much as 25% without any kind of effect on public safety.

That’s in sharp contrast to the shrill arguments of pro-incarceration advocates who claim that letting more prisoners free would actually jeopardize public safety and place people at risk of crimes.  The statistics prove to Denver criminal defense lawyers that that is simply not true.

High levels of incarceration are a huge burden on taxpayers, and also in most cases are a very feeble deterrent to crime. They do nothing to reduce recidivism rates, and actually impair the person’s ability to integrate back into society after incarceration.  If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, speak to a Denver criminal defense lawyer immediately to discuss how to protect your legal rights.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident is a Serious Crime

Denver hit and run defense lawyerUnder the law, there are certain steps that must take place after an accident. One of the most important steps is the exchange of contact information. The motorists involved in the accident, must stop at the scene of the accident and exchange contact information with each other.

If the accident has resulted in injuries that require medical attention, then you may leave to the accident scene to obtain medical attention for yourself or your loved one’s injuries, but then must return to the accident scene. Obtaining contact information from the other motorist will help you when you begin the process of filing a claim.

In some cases, however, motorists may actually leave the scene of an accident before they exchange contact information with the other person. In many cases, Denver hit and run defense lawyer find that these are genuine mistakes. For instance, a motorist driving a large car like an SUV or pickup truck at night, could be involved in a collision with a pedestrian without even realizing it. A pedestrian dressed in black, and walking at night on a poorly lit road, may simply not be visible to the motorist. The motorist may continue to drive on, without realizing that she has collided with a pedestrian or bicyclist, and this has resulted in injuries.  In other cases, people don’t believe the damage is very heavy, and if the other motorist looks like he’s uninjured, they simply drive away from the scene.

Any accident in which one of the motorists leaves the scene of an accident is called a hit-and-run accident, and law enforcement takes these offenses very seriously. Your duty to exchange contact information with the other motorist at the scene is strongly established. Make no mistake, these are very serious offenses and you will require the legal advice of a Denver hit and run defense lawyer.

In those cases, where the accident has caused fatal injuries to a person, you could actually face felony charges. Typically, a hit-and-run accident involving a fatality, involves class-three felony charges, and penalties can extend to up to 24 years in prison.

What You Need to Know about Colorado’s Marijuana Laws

What You Need to Know about Colorado's Marijuana LawsColorado’s marijuana laws have been updated to allow persons to use marijuana for recreational purposes. However, other laws have not kept pace.

For instance, the laws that protect children against exposure to dangerous drugs have not kept pace with the new law. As a result, persons who are found in possession of marijuana in a home that has children could actually lose their children to child protection services agencies.  There have been cases in Colorado, in which fathers have been denied unsupervised visitation rights with their children, because they used marijuana. One Colorado father was denied visitation rights to his child after a court ruled that he would have to undergo a drug test for visitation rights to be restored. Fortunately, an appeal coat overturned the lower court’s decision.

That case is just one example of the disconnect between the laws in Colorado that allow the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and several other drug-related laws that continue to frown upon such pot use. Under the law in Colorado, if you are an adult about the age of 21, you can legally possess marijuana. You are allowed to possess 1 ounce of marijuana or 1 ounce of THC. You’re also allowed to enjoy recreational marijuana in both concentrated as well as edible forms. However, just because the sale of marijuana is allowed for recreational purposes, does not mean that there are no restrictions on your use of marijuana. For instance, you are not allowed to use marijuana in public. You cannot use or smoke pot in openly or public, and if you do so, you can be ticketed.

It’s also not legal for you to drive after using pot. Colorado DUI laws have a legal limit for the amount of pot that you can have in your system, while you are driving. Under the law, the limit is 5 ng of THC per milliliter of blood.

Colorado’s marijuana –related DUI laws have been criticized because different people metabolize marijuana at different rates, and it’s hard to define an exact THC concentration in the blood that could actually impair a person’s driving abilities. Regardless of this, those are the laws in Colorado, and if police believe that you are driving while high under the influence of marijuana, you are likely to be pulled over, and may be asked to take a blood test.

Aurora Police Experiment with Electronic Ticketing

Aurora Police Experiment with Electronic TicketingSpeeding motorists in Aurora who are speeding will soon be part of an expanded electronic ticketing department. The Aurora Police Department is soon likely to begin using an electronic ticketing system that will allow police officers to hand over citations using electronic devices.

These electronic citation devices are designed as scanners that police officers can use to hold the hand, and swipe over a motorist’s driver’s license. That information immediately gets uploaded to a ticket and if the motorist wants a printed ticket, the ticket can still be printed out on a wireless printer that is mounted on the motorcycle.  In fact, the scanner can also be used to immediately give the motorist a court date for the offense.

The Police Department’s 11 motorcycles are likely to be fitted with the wireless printer. According to the department, the device will streamline the citations process that is currently in place. Under the current system, a police officer has to write down citations which are then handed over at the end of his shift. All of that information has to be manually typed into the system. The scanner reduces much of that workload, and information will be immediately updated

The Police Department has chosen the motorcycle team to experiment with the program because motorcycle officers seem to have the highest amount of contact with public. The department will analyze the success of the program. If the technology is found to be efficient and accurate, the department is likely to expand electronic citation technology to all officers, and eventually all traffic units in the department. The department also believes that the number of errors that creep in when police officers give citations will be dramatically minimized with the use of this technology.

Traffic offenses may seem minor to you but these can have severe, long-term repercussions. For instance, if you have accumulated more than the maximum number of points on your driver’s license, you could actually have your license suspended. Even simple traffic offenses can result in fines, and restrictions on your license. For more severe offenses, you could face a revoked license, and could end up paying higher monthly insurance premiums on your policy. If you have been cited for traffic violations, discuss your defense with a Denver traffic offense lawyer.

Colorado’s Pot Laws Lead to Increasing DUIs

Colorado's Pot Laws Lead to Increasing DUIsThere seems to have been a mixed response to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. On the one hand, administration officials say that business is up and crime is definitely down. On the other hand, toxic detox centers claim that there has been an increase in the number of DUI admissions that involve pot use.

According to industry officials, since marijuana was made legal in Colorado, the state has experienced an economic boom. Over the first four months after legalization alone, sales of recreational marijuana led to approximately $11 million in tax revenue. State officials also claim a higher demand for real estate in Colorado since the marijuana laws went into place.  At least 10,000 people are currently employed in the marijuana business in Colorado.

Besides, crime has dropped. Regardless of fears to the contrary, it also does not seem that marijuana shops are serving or selling to minors. A number of undercover operations found that not even one marijuana business sold marijuana to a minor.

However, there also seems to have been a negative effect of the legalization of marijuana. According to detox centers, there has been an increase in the number of Colorado DUI admissions linked to marijuana use. According to the centers, last year, at least 8% of the admissions into the detox centers were those accused of driving while under the influence of pot.  That number increased to 15% in 2014. There have also been incidents related to pot ingestion by children. According to the Children’s Hospital Colorado, since the legalization of marijuana in the state, it has treated 11 children who became ill after ingesting edible marijuana. In six of the cases, the children became critically ill.

Overall however, the positives seem to override the negatives. The law is only six months old, and as people become much more comfortable with the thought of easier access to marijuana for recreational use, many of these minor quibbles are also likely to be ironed out. Marijuana-related DUI is on the rise, and we have the poor Colorado laws related to marijuana DUI to blame for that. There are differences in the way different people metabolize marijuana, and the law for pot-related DUI simply does not take these into consideration.

Colorado Ignition Interlock Laws for DUI

Colorado Ignition Interlock Laws for DUIAn ignition interlock device is a device that is specifically designed to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. The device is a common part of DUI penalty programs in many states, and makes it impossible for persons to drive a vehicle if they have more than the maximum legally permissible mount of alcohol in their system. It is often used as a penalty, for persons, who have been convicted of certain DUI offenses.

The device will take a sample of your breath, and will detect the amount of alcohol in your breath.  If it detects that the amount is much more than a preset limit on the device, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. The ignition will shut down, and you will no longer be able to operate the vehicle. Besides, you may also be required to provide periodic breath tests while you are driving, in order to maintain negative results.

Under Colorado law, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, if you meet the following criteria.

You have been convicted of a first DUI per se, with a blood-alcohol content or .15 or greater. This is a part of the new law.  Before 1 July 2014, the limit was .17 or above. In these cases, the interlock requirement is for two years.

You have been convicted of a second per se lifetime DUI conviction.  This penalty comes with a two-year interlock period.

You have been convicted of a third class per se or DUI ( lifetime.) Here too, the ignition requirement is two years.

Some cases of alcohol test refusal could also mandate that you get an ignition interlock device installed in your car.

Make no mistake. Getting an interlock device installed in your car can be expensive. The cost can range from between $800-$1000 per year. Besides, you will be required to get the ignition device installed in all of their vehicles. That includes not just cars that you own, but even those that you co-own, or are allowed to operate.

Is the College Sexual Assault Crisis Being Blown Out Of Proportion?

Is the College Sexual Assault Crisis Being Blown Out Of Proportion?A piece in The Daily Beast asks the question – are college sexual assault numbers being inflated? According to the statistics that are currently being used even by the White House as part of its campaign against sexual assault on campus, as many as one in five women on college campuses are subjected to sexual assault. However, earlier studies have indicated a number that is closer to one in 40.

Many experts now believe that the one in 5 statistic that is being bandied about by feminist groups and other supporters of stronger campus rape laws, is possibly inflated. That data comes from a study which was conducted in 2007 by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice. The study involved a group of young college students between the age of 18 and 25, who were each given Amazon gift certificates of $10 to participate in the study. This data is hardly conclusive or reliable.

Advocates, who have been calling for stronger campus sexual assault laws in order to deal with what they believe is an epidemic of rape on college campuses, claim that inaccuracy in numbers makes no difference, and that there is a rape crisis to be concerned about. However, that is not true at all. When you inflate numbers, you create an environment in which colleges and universities are pressurized to take poorly-thought out actions that could actually come close to infringing on people’s rights.

Already, in far too many cases, rape charges are being filed in cases where the sex was clearly consensual. Very often, these charges are filed as a result of a sexual misunderstanding. False accusations of rape are nothing new, and have been around for years, but over the past few years, there has been a campaign to change the definitions of “consent”  and other important rape-related terms to become very restrictive. That means a very real risk that students may be wrongly accused of these crimes.

Rape is a one of the most serious of all crimes. A conviction could possibly destroy a person’s employment prospects, further education opportunities and his personal and social relationships. The term “rapist” unfortunately is being used far too often, and applies too often to college students who were given the impression that the female was in favor of a sexual encounter.

Pot Breathalyzer to Detect Marijuana Content

Pot Breathalyzer to Detect Marijuana ContentBlood testing to detect the amount of marijuana in a person’s system have is widely believed to be unreliable. However, currently, such blood, hair and saliva tests are all that law enforcement officers depend on to determine whether a motorist has consumed marijuana before driving. Now, a Canadian company has announced that it is working on a breathalyzer to detect the amount of marijuana in a person’s system using breath tests.

The breathalyzer is being developed by Canadian technology company West Point Resources. It is called the Cannabix breathalyzer, and it is very similar to the handheld breathalyzer device that is currently used for determining the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. This handheld device  will be able to predict accurately within minutes if a person has consumed marijuana over the past two or three hours. The device can be used to support the observations of police officers at the site.

According to the company, the device will become popular among law enforcement agencies, because blowing into a device is not as unacceptable to motorists  as giving up saliva or blood samples for a test. Besides, the current tests for determining whether a person has high marijuana content in his system are expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome. The device is currently in the prototype stage, and more reviews and analysis will be conducted before we have a final version.

However, the lack of a breathalyzer device that can reliably measure marijuana content of blood is not the only obstacle to fair marijuana DUI laws in Colorado. It’s not just a matter of having a convenient tool that can effectively and efficiently measure alcohol content. It is also the fact that there’s plenty of disagreement on what should constitute the maximum permissible limit of marijuana content.

In Colorado, under the law, the maximum legally permissible limit for marijuana in a person’s system is 5 ng per milliliter of blood. However, in many states, it is 2nanograms per milliliter of blood,. Many experts believe that a more acceptable level would be 10 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana in Denver, speak with a DUI attorney.