How Can a Police Officer Influence your Breathalyzer Reading?

How Can a Police Officer Influence your Breathalyzer Reading?It is a situation that every motorist dreads. Being pulled over by a police officer for DUI can be intimidating. If you believe that you are safe just because you have had a couple of alcohol beverages and are confident that you will clear the breathalyzer test, you may not be entirely right. There are ways that a police officer can influence your breathalyzer reading, without you even knowing it.

How can the officer do this? What he does is manipulate your pattern of breathing as he is administering the breathalyzer test. It is scientifically proven that the concentration of alcohol in your breath changes considerably during the breath. The first part of the breath is likely to contain the least concentration of alcohol. In fact, at this stage, you are very likely to register below the .08% level. However, as you begin to inhale more deeply, you’re much more likely to be in dangerous territory. The last part of your breath actually contains a higher concentration of alcohol.

A police officer knows this, and may ask you while you are taking the breathalyzer test to breathe harder. If you breathe deeper and harder, the breathalyzer is likely to detect more traces of alcohol in the last part of your breath. You are therefore much more likely to fail the breathalyzer test or register at or above the .08% level.

That means that you’re possibly looking at a DUI arrest, even though you may not be intoxicated at all. It’s highly likely that you will be very confused at such a time, especially because you do not believe that the number of alcoholic beverages that you had were sufficient for you to register at the maximum permissible limit.

Just because you have registered at the maximum permissible level or higher on a breathalyzer does not mean that a conviction is guaranteed. The first thing that you need to do when you have been arrested for DUI is immediately get in touch with a Denver DUI defense lawyer.

Solitary Confinement and Female Prison Inmates

Solitary Confinement and Female Prison InmatesFemales make up approximately 7% of the approximately 2.4 million people currently in American prisons.  That is a very small percentage compared to males, but the rate of incarceration for women is growing, and quickly.

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report titled Worse Than Second Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States. Solitary confinement refers to the confining of the person for 22 to 23 hours alone in a small bathroom-sized cell. Such confinement can continue for weeks and months, and it is not unheard of for inmates to be sentenced to solitary confinement for even years.

According to the report, such incarceration affects women in especially harmful ways. For the most part, many of these women don’t even deserve such harsh punishment. An overwhelming majority of women imprisoned in the United States have been convicted of nonviolent offenses. They have a very low security risk, and in many cases, those crimes are simply triggered by overwhelming poverty. Poverty can be linked to any number of crimes that women are convicted for, from sex crimes and drug offenses to welfare fraud.

In the case of women, these are crimes that were simply committed in order to survive. In 2004, according to the report, more than 90% of incarcerated women in the United States had annual incomes of below $10,000, before they were incarcerated. Very few of them had actually completed high school before their incarceration.

Also, when women commit violent crimes, it is very often in self-defense. They could be defending themselves against a stranger, or in a horrific domestic violence situation. Additionally, more than 90% of female prisoners are believed to be survivors of domestic violence or rape. Many suffer from mental illnesses, and their incarceration is made worse by the fact that many of them are also mothers to very small children. Solitary confinement seems to have an even more harmful effect on women because these women have very little contact with their children. Any contract is only through videoconferencing, and up to 20% of incarcerated women may find that their children have been placed in foster homes.

All of these factors contribute to immense trauma and severe mental stress, compounding the already poor condition of these women further.

Breathalyzer Problems Tied to Wrongful Convictions in Colorado

Breathalyzer Problems Tied to Wrongful Convictions in ColoradoBreathalyzer problems that lead to a wrongful conviction or wrongful DUI arrest are not exactly unheard of. In fact, a number of cases involving wrongful arrests and convictions of persons based on incorrect breathalyzer readings have emerged in recent years. Colorado is not immune to such problems.

Recently, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a report which found that quality control systems in breathalyzers impacted at least 33 breathalyzer tests. All of these tests were conducted in Weld County, and are believed to have impacted at least 33 individuals.

According to the report, 33 persons were administered the breathalyzer test on an Intoxilyzer 9000 machine. The machine had not been calibrated to display the correct tolerance target during the initial certification process. Not only was the machine poorly calibrated, but the officers administering the test using the machine also made errors which affected the accuracy of the results.

The DUI arrests linked to possibly incorrect results from this machine occurred between August 30, 2013 and January 21, 2014. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has informed law enforcement agencies about the inaccurate readings and the cases that have been affected as a result.  Out of the 33 individuals, who got incorrect results due to the detective breathalyzer, 24 arrests involved the Colorado State Patrol, and 4 arrests involved the Frederick Police Department. Two arrests were made by the Firestone Police Department and the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, and one arrest was made by the Dacono Police Department.

Inaccurate breathalyzer results can be a very effective DUI defense. Just because you have tested positive on a breathalyzer, have registered at or above the .08% level, and have been arrested, does not mean that the breathalyzer readings cannot be called into question. An experienced DUI defense lawyer in Denver will be able to identify whether any errors have been made in the calibration of the breathalyzer.  Sometimes, errors may creep in because officers at the scene have not administered the test correctly. A lawyer will be able to identify whether this happened, and will be able to call into question the breath test readings in your case.

What to Do during an Arrest

What to Do during an ArrestFacing an arrest can be one of the most frightening experiences for a person. However, having your wits about you and behaving in a calm manner is important during this time. Panicking or talking too much can actually jeopardize your case.

If you are arrested or are being detained for investigation, here’s what you can do to protect your rights:

Stay calm. Panicking is not going to help you.

Avoid the need to talk too much, even if you feel like you will be able to explain your position and make everything all right. It doesn’t work that way at all. In fact, when people panic, they say things that can be held against them later. Don’t simply assume that you can talk your way out of any situation- you may actually end up making the situation a lot worse.

Do not make any statement to the officers.

Be polite.

Ask for an attorney.

If you’re asked any questions, avoid responding, and ask for your attorney. Any questions must be answered only in the presence of your attorney.

If police officers have shown up at your home for an arrest, do not allow officers to conduct a search of your home. Do not obstruct any search, however. Sometimes, officers may barge in and search your property anyway, but you have the right to refuse consent, and this is very important. Your defense lawyer can later use your lack of permission for a search to allege that the search was unlawful and illegal.

Even if you are being arrested at home, the same rules on silence apply. Don’t answer any questions.  You also do not have to make a statement. Inform the police officer that you want to speak to your lawyer.  Similar rules are in place when it comes to searching your car.

Do not resist arrest, even if you believe that you have not done anything wrong.

If you are currently under investigation and believe that you may be arrested soon, prepare yourself as well as your family members. If you are a single parent, make arrangements for your children to be taken care of. Keep the phone number of your lawyer handy.

More Criticism of US Incarceration Policies

More Criticism of US Incarceration PoliciesThe US criminal justice system, which is based too heavily on incarceration, has been the subject of criticism from several quarters in recent years. Now, a new report by the National Research Council confirms that there is a very urgent need in this country to revise the criminal justice policies, specifically those related to sentencing laws, in order to reduce the number of people in prisons.

A large number of people in American prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. According to the report, over the four past 40 years, imprisonment rates in the country have increased more than four times. Currently, there are 2.2 million adults in American prisons, making this the largest prison population in the world. It isn’t as if crime rates have increased over the past 4 decades. It’s simply that policies based on national politics have created a climate of fear, and encouraged policies of stringent incarceration, even for minor offenses.

According to the report, during the 70s and 80s, new laws expanded criminal processing and sentencing even for minor and lesser offenses. They also increased the amount of time that would be served after convictions, and laws called for stringent prosecution and intensive punishment of drug crimes.

During this time, a number of laws including those that call for mandated minimum sentencing, as well as the three- strikes law that is notorious for pushing people into jail for long periods of time, were passed. The War on Drugs definitely contributed to its share of sending people for long periods of incarceration, dividing families, and tearing communities apart. Not only were more people going to jail during this period of time, but they were also being sentenced to longer and longer sentences.

According to the report, heavy incarceration of this manner is a major burden on society, not just financially, but also socially and emotionally. Spending on incarceration over the past few decades, for instance, has been much higher than the budget increases for other important causes, including transportation and welfare. More money goes to support the country’s prisons, than the country schools.

Mandated minimum prison sentencing needs to be scaled back, if the problems with the American prison system are to be solved. It’s also important for sentencing guidelines to include non-incarceration avenues, like rehabilitation.

Sex Offense Rates at US Campuses Up, Even As Overall Crime Rates Dip

Sex Offense Rates at US Campuses Up, Even As Overall Crime Rates DipNew federal data finds that the overall crime rate reported in American colleges and universities actually dipped over the past 10 years. However, during the same period of time, the number of sex offenses that were reported, increased.

The data came from a survey by the Education Department. The report was jointly published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics. According to the survey, there were 3,330 sex offenses on campuses in 2011, which was a 52% increase from the 2,200 offenses reported 10 years earlier. During the same period of time, campus crimes in almost every other category including auto theft, dropped.

The drop in crime could be seen even with an increase in enrollment in college students during this time. There were approximately 16,000,000 college students in the United States in 2001, and that number had spiked to 21 million students in 2011. The Department Of Education survey focused on the safety situation in elementary and secondary schools across the country. Males were much more likely to report being victims of crimes, compared to females, and in the urban areas and suburban areas, students were much more likely to have been victims of crime, compared to students in rural areas.

There has been an increased spotlight on the incidence of sex crimes in American campuses recently, and the administration has also decided to get involved. The White House recently established a task force that was given the job of investigating the problem, and identifying colleges and universities that could do more to prevent such crimes and handle them better.

This only means higher persecution of innocent college students, who will now be required to defend themselves in a volatile and highly charged environment. It’s important to remember that very often, college sex crimes on campus are difficult to investigate. Alcohol is very often involved in these crimes. Both the victim and the defendant may have consumed alcohol, and may not remember details of the incident very clearly. There are few reliable witnesses to these crimes, and often, these crimes involve people who were earlier in a consensual sexual relationship, which makes issues of consent even murkier and difficult to establish.

If you are currently being investigated for a campus sexual assault or a sex crime in Denver, your rights can be compromised.  Speak with a defense lawyer in Denver immediately.

Shoplifting Crimes: Racial Profiling of African American Shoppers

Shoplifting Crimes: Racial Profiling of African American ShoppersThe practice of profiling shoppers of a certain race has been a common one at major retailers for years. This is even though many studies show that much of the shrinkage at the biggest retailers in the country is a result of employee pilferage, rather than any shoplifting.

Recently, a jury in Oregon awarded more than $100,000 to an African-American woman, who was falsely accused of shoplifting. According to the news reports, the incident occurred in May 2011, when the 59-year-old woman was shopping at an H&M clothing store. It was the opening day of the store, and the woman was one among hundreds of shoppers. But she seems to have been singled out by store personnel, for investigation. She was taken to a back room, and charged with shoplifting.

The woman claimed in her trial, that the charges were the result of her race. The jury agreed that the store had falsely arrested the woman, and acted with malice. The jury however did not find that race was the basis of her arrest.

However, across the country, such racial profiling of African American shoppers continues abandoned. This is in spite of the fact that back in 2009, a survey by the University of Florida Survey on Retail Losses found that employee theft accounted for a much higher percentage of annual retail shrinkage every year, compared to shoplifting.

The survey found that employees accounted for approximately 44.5% of all the shrinkage at 200 retailers across the country. Shoplifting, on the other hand, accounted for about 32.7% of the shrinking. The survey actually suggested that loss prevention officer at these retail stores, would actually do a much better job of reducing shrinkage by keeping a closer eye on their own employees, and focusing less on racial profiling of shoppers. One study that was conducted in Minnesota found that the average shoplifter was a white woman between 25 and 50 years of age.

Shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, but it can have serious consequences. Very often, these charges are the result of a genuine misunderstanding when a person leaves the store, forgetting to pay for an item in the bag. However, these are serious charges, and if you have been charged or arrested for shoplifting, you must get in touch with a Denver criminal defense attorney immediately.

Long-Term Consequences of DUI in Denver

Long-Term Consequences of DUI in DenverOften, by the time a person decides to consult a DUI defense attorney, he might already have jeopardized his case by making a number of mistakes along the way. The biggest mistake is failing to consult a Denver DUI lawyer, as soon as he’s arrested. As a result, a conviction can occur and can remain on your criminal record, causing problems for you over the long term.

In Minnesota, a judge is finding out exactly how problematic a DUI arrest can be.

The judge here is a Republican nominee for the Supreme Court of Minnesota. Michele McDonald is the Republican’s endorsed candidate for the Supreme Court, and she was arrested last year for DUI, and resisting arrest.  According to reports, the 52-year-old McDonald was pulled over by police officers who say that they detected a mild odor of alcohol coming from her vehicle. She refused a field sobriety test, and claimed that she had not been drinking. She refused to take an alcohol test at the station, and as a result, she was charged with third-degree test  refusal, fourth degree DWI and resisting arrest.

The judge claims that this DUI action against her is retaliatory, and insists that she was not drunk enough to be legally intoxicated at the time of the arrest. She has decided to take her case to court. Her endorsement by the GOP still stands, but is now considered shaky, because according to many of the committee members who endorsed her for the Supreme Court, they had no idea about the DUI arrest at the time they endorsed her.

Being arrested for DUI is no laughing matter. It may seem like a joke to get drunk and get pulled over by a police officer, and be asked to go through the motions of a field sobriety test, but make no mistake. Officers will prosecute your case to the fullest extent. A conviction is very likely, unless you take steps to protect your rights by getting in touch with an attorney as soon as you’re able to, and saying as little to officers as possible.

Colorado Judges Experimenting with Tough DUI Penalties

Colorado Judges Experimenting with Tough DUI PenaltiesWhen it comes to DUI and the NFL, some judges are trying to make an example of these high-profile arrests. DUI is a major problem in the National Football League, and many athletes have recently been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s not just athletes who seem to have a history of DWI. Many top ranking executives with some of the NFL teams, have also over the past couple of years been arrested for DUI.

Recently, Matt Russell who happens to be the director of player personnel for the Denver Broncos was sentenced to seven months in prison after being arrested for DUI. Russell pleaded guilty to charges of DUI, as well as additional charges of careless driving, and possession of an open alcohol container.   He was also sentenced to probation for two years. He’s likely to become eligible for work release, however. This was his first DUI arrest.

The Denver Broncos took a dim view of his arrest, considering the long string of DUI arrests involving NFL athletes. It suspended him following his arrest.

A seven-month sentence for a first-time DUI in Colorado does seem excessive, and it is appropriate to wonder whether the judge wanted to make an example out of an NFL executive. The National Football League has been struggling to contain its seemingly runaway DWI problem. These DWI arrests involving NFL executives and athletes are very heavily publicized in the media. The NFL is already facing severe criticism about the high risk of brain injuries involving its players, and allegations that the organization was aware of these brain injury risks, but did nothing to protect players. It hardly needs problems with player DUI to deal with.

The NFL is currently planning modifications to its DWI policy, under which a player would be suspended for a couple of games after an arrest for DWI. Currently, the NFL rules impose a two-game penalty on players who are arrested for first-time DUI. However, the player is suspended only for the second arrest. Under the proposed new policy, however, a player would be suspended for one game, even for a first-time DUI arrest.

College Sex Assault Outrage Resulting in Flawed Legislation

Bill SB967 - College Sex Crimes OutrageThe outcry over incidences of rape and other sex crimes on college campuses has, as any Denver criminal defense attorney would have expected, triggered a knee-jerk response among lawmakers. In California, a new bill that has been introduced in the Assembly takes the topic of consent between two college students, to seemingly ridiculous levels.

According to Bill SB967, which has been passed by the California Senate, all college campuses that are run by the state must require an “affirmative and conscious decision” by each participant to engage in sexual activity. In layman’s terms, any college students who desire to engage in sexual activity must make sure that the other participant has clearly and unequivocally, made clear verbally his or her permission to participate in the activity. The bill further states that “lack of protest or resistance” and “silence” cannot be construed as consent.  In other words, if you’re a college student spending time with your girlfriend, you have to very clearly receive a clear, verbal “yes,” and only “yes” before proceeding The consent must be ongoing throughout the sexual activity.

The bill doesn’t make clear exactly how such verbal consent will be enforced. It also does not mention if the consent is valid if the parties are intoxicated, as very often happens in cases of college rapes. In fact, these are very often offenses that involve alcohol or drug use by both parties. The bill also does not say whether this policy of obtaining verbal consent, should be enforced throughout the relationship. As the relationship gets more serious, does the person have to keep hearing a verbal “yes,” clearly, every time there is sexual activity?

This is a bill that is very poorly- thought out, and poses more questions than it answers. Comedians will have a field day with the bill, which seems to be just another attempt to gain political mileage out of what is a very volatile issue right now. The bill seems to be an attempt to regulate physical intimacy, an endeavor that is likely to fail at every level.