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I am a criminal defense lawyer practicing in Rhode Island.  I handle all types of criminal cases, including, DUI, domestic violence cases, drug case, sex cases just to name a view. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hire an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney to Prevent a Domestic Violence Conviction

         The issue of domestic violence has taken center stage in the news lately due to the recent domestic violence arrests and public exposure of NFL football players.  The recent publicity highlights how widespread this issue is in the community and how it crosses all social and economic lines in society.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States each minute 24 people are victims of violence from domestic partners.  According to statistics kept by the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence during 2013, Rhode Island law enforcement received 7,930 domestic violence related calls and made 5,437 domestic violence arrests.  Clearly, Rhode Islanders are not spared from the crime of domestic violence.
Today, the police do not take any chances with domestic assault and domestic violence cases.  If the police are summoned to a domestic violence call, almost certainly somebody is getting arrested.   An arrest on a domestic violence case will have a long lasting and immense effect on a person's life.  Many times a parent will be barred from going to their own home because of a non-contact that a judge has issued in the case. Some judges will not vacate the non-contact order until the case is completed.  A  non-contact order often leads to financial strain as well as strain on the family.
If you, a loved one or a friend, have been arrested for the crime of domestic violence, do not hesitate to contact an experienced domestic violence defense attorney.  The state of Rhode Island has enacted harsh laws with respect to the crime of domestic violence, known as the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.  These laws consider a wide range of crimes to be domestic violence crimes if they are committed by a family or household member.  Additionally, the definition of a family member or household member is broad and includes individuals involved in a variety of relationships.
           The penalties of a conviction for domestic violence in Rhode Island are severe and the disposition received in a first domestic violence charge will have an effect on future charges. Rhode Island domestic violence laws require mandatory jail sentences for second and third convictions for the charge of domestic violence.   Conviction for a second domestic violence charge requires imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 days and not more than 1 year.  A third domestic violence conviction is considered a felony and requires imprisonment of between 1 and 10 years.  In addition to imprisonment, no contact orders, counseling, prohibition from possession of a firearm, and deportation for non-citizens are imposed by the Court. This is why it is so important to fight your first domestic charge and not wait until you are charged again.  One domestic charge often leads to others for a host of reasons. First and foremost the non-contact order that is issued at the sentencing will for lead to future violations. Second, one of the parties will have a criminal record for domestic violence and the police will not hesitate to arrest you a second time for the slightest incident.
       Please do not take any charge of domestic violence lightly.  Call an experienced domestic violence defense attorney to begin work on your domestic violence case to prevent a conviction.  If you would like to read further information on the crime of domestic violence within the Rhode Island criminal justice system, please refer to my website: www.http://rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com/

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer to Defend Your DUI

      Nationwide and in Rhode Island, law enforcement has come to rely on breathalyzer tests in obtaining convictions in drunk driving and drugged driving offenses.  The use of breathalyzer machines is both a cost effective and convenient method for law enforcement to use in assessing a person's alcohol content.
     Recently, the Rhode Island Department of Health has selected the Intoxilyzer 9000 for Rhode Island law enforcement to use as the new chemical breath test machine for use in the prosecution of drunk and drugged driving offenses.  In Rhode Island the Intoxilyzer 9000 will replace the Intoxilyzer 5000, which no longer will receive service and support from its manufacturer. 
     It is argued that the Intoxilyzer 9000 will generate more useful statistical data with respect to the results of chemical breath tests.  The technology used to determine blood alcohol content (BAC) from the breath samples is different between the 5000 model and the 9000 model.  The reporting of BAC results is also different in that the 9000 will print out a graph showing the information.  Additionally, the 9000 model stores more data than the 5000 and runs a calibration check for each test.  The 9000 will have more advanced capabilities than the 5000 model to meet the legal and quality assurance requirements to insure accurate breath alcohol testing.
     Questions persist as to how accurate these machines are in determining alcohol content on an individual.  These questions are the basis of an experienced criminal defense attorney's defense of a DUI charge.  The manufacturers of these machines require routine maintenance of these machines.  Continued use of the Intoxilyzer 5000, without the continued service and support from its manufacturer, will beg the question of the machine's reliability and accuracy in determining BAC.  In addition to the malfunctioning of the machine, the reliability and accuracy of breath alcohol results is also comprimised by burping and the timing of when the alcohol was last drunk before taking the test.  The administration of the test is essential to obtaining reliable results.  The training of the officer and his or her observations with respect to the eating, drinking or vomiting by the suspect could produce inaccurate results. Additionally, there are legal issues with respect to the competency of witnesses who are obtaining and analyzing the software of the machines and the calibration of the machines.
     Any individual who is arrested for drunk or drugged driving after blowing the legal limit, which in Rhode Island is 0.08, should pursue the investigation of the accuracy of their results by an experienced criminal defense attorney rather just accept the results.  As stated above, there are numerous issues that can be raised to question the accuracy of the results of a breathalyzer test.  It is only through the hiring of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues that an individual can be successful in defending themselves. The penalties of a DUI conviction are severe in Rhode Island.  They include fines, suspension or loss of license, community service, higher auto insurance rates, education, and may include jail time.  If you have been pulled over and subject to a breathalyzer test, please do not hesitate to call Attorney Michael J. Zarrella to review your case.   The Law Offices of Michael J. Zarrella offers a free consultation and provides over 20 years of experience in the criminal defense field with a concentration in the area of DUI defense. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Preventing Convictions Under the Rhode Island Colin Foote Law

With the objective of saving lives and protecting the community, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted the Colin Foote law. Under this law, drivers convicted of (4) four traffic violations within an eighteen (18) month period would be required to attend sixty (60) hours of driver's training and perform sixty (60) hours of community service.  Additionally, a person convicted under this law would face fines of up to $1,000 and face the loss of their driver's license for up to two (2) years.

The Colin Foote law seeks to take the habitual traffic violator off of the streets of Rhode Island for a long period of time.  Consequently, it is imperative that each traffic ticket be defended to the fullest extent by an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Often people who recieved a ticket just mail in the fine because they incorrectly think it is not worth their time and money to go to court.  By doing this, people bypass the opportunity to use the good drivers statute.  However, this has become major mistake to do so.  Judges at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal are starting to suspended licenses for as little as three tickets.  As a defendant, you need to fight every ticket that you receive whether it means hiring a lawyer to try to get you an alternative disposition or go to trial and challenge the charge itself.  You must be proactive otherwise you will find yourself with a suspended license down the road. 

If you or a loved one are in the unfortunate position of having been convicted of multiple traffic violations within a short period of time, you have little choice but to hire an experienced defense attorney to prevent additional convictions and prevent you from being considered a violator of the Colin Foote law.

The judges and magistrates of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal have taken an aggressive stance in enforcing the Colin Foote law.  Often the judges and magistrates will suspend or revoke driver's licenses for between one (1) and two (2) years upon a conviction of this law. The effects of a suspension of a drivers license for an extended period of time such as one (1) year or more can be devastating to a person.  The loss of a license can have an negative effect on a person's employment and their overall life. A good criminal defense lawyer may be the difference in keeping your license or having it suspended. Further, in more serious cases the hiring an experienced defense attorney will mean the difference between having your drivers license suspended for a few months or a few years.

Please do not take traffic violations lightly.  If you are in the position of having multiple traffic convictions within a short period of time, you need to call an experienced criminal defense attorney today.   Have an experience criminal defense attorney begin working on your traffic violations today!

Attorney Michael Zarrella has been helping people keep their driver's license for 20 years.  For more information please review his websites at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com or  www.ridrunkdrivingattorney.com.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Police dogs, probable cause, and the decriminalizing of marijuana.

Police dogs have been helping the police and other law enforcement agencies for decades in the government's criminal prosecution of the war on drugs.  Police dogs are trained to use their sense of smell to detect many different types of drugs including but not limited to marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.  A hit by these dogs often leads to the probable cause needed to conduct a search in a criminal matter.   A dog can smell the smallest trace of a drug. Once the dog has made a hit, the police will often have the right to search a person's car, house, bags or whatever the dog hit on.  The government has used these trained dogs in the investigation of numerous criminal cases which has lead to thousands and thousands of searches.

On April 1, 2013,  legislation in Rhode Island took effect that decriminalizes minor marijuana possession offenses to a non-criminal offense.  This new law will have great implications not only in marijuana cases, but in many other criminal cases where a police dog was used to gain probable cause leading to a search.  The police dogs are trained to hit for many different drugs, including marijuana. Now that minor marijuana possession is no longer a criminal offense in Rhode Island, the probable cause gained by police dogs becomes very questionable.  Without probable cause, the police cannot legally search your car, your house or your person.  These police dogs lead to the probable cause in many cases but now their use might be troublesome for the police.  The dilemma for the government is that many of their police dogs are trained to find marijuana.  The police dogs do not have the ability to communicate to the dog handler what specific drugs it has scented.   Without the ability to determine what drug the dog scented, the probable cause no longer exists. For instance, a police officer stops a car driving on a highway and the dog scent leads to the indication that drugs are in the car.  Normally, this would lead to probable cause that there was a crime taking place. Now that is just not true.  The owner of the car may have a small amount of marijuana and now that marijuana has been decriminalized and there is no longer probable cause. Therefore, the police dog hit for drugs is no longer reliable.

Often a drug dog’s reliability record must  be considered to determine probable cause but it can no longer be deemed reliable if the dog has not been retrained to not hit for marijuana. Consequently, a person who has been charged with any drug charge and who's proable cause was based on a police drug sniffing dog, may be in a positition to have the criminal charge dismissed.  The courts will be under great pressure to suppress evidence based on a lack of proable cause.

A lawyer that practices criminal defense should be ready to argue this in all cases where the probable cause was based on a police drug detecting dog,   A good criminal defense lawyer can make a huge impact on what happens to your criminal case.  Do not take chances on you future!  Hire a criminal defense lawyer with a great amount of criminal defense experience and a proven track record of success.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Rhode Island please call me at 401-523-5271 or visit my websites at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com or  www.ridrunkdrivingattorney.com..

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Criminal defense lawyers are and easy target, until you or a loved one need one.

Ever since I began practicing criminal defense law over 20 years ago, I have frequently been asked, “How can you represent people that have committed a crime?”, or “How can you do what you do?”.  I can confidently answer these questions with the fact that I love what I do and I love protecting people's Constitutional Rights!

It amazes me how many people do not understand the importance of criminal defense lawyers in society.  When someone is charged with a crime, it can feel like it is the world versus the defendant. Although that statement is not one hundred percent accurate, it is not far off.  A defendant who has been arrested for a crime can often feel the weight of the State and all the State’s resources against them.  The Attorney General's office is well equipped with the use of many seasoned criminal defense lawyers, investigators, paralegals, secretaries, toxicology labs, police departments in addition to other agents.  By contrast,  the defendant stands before the Court  alone.  Often in criminal cases, the press is provided all their information from the Attorney General’s office and the prosecuting police department, making it impossible for the defendant to successfully fight his battle in the court of public opinion.  Who stands up for this little man? The press, the police, the politicians, the judge?  No, the only person who will stand beside this defendant is his criminal defense attorney.  Whether the charge is a drunk driving charge or a murder charge, the defendant has his back against the wall and his only ally is his criminal defense lawyer.

Historically, the need for a  criminal defense lawyer was considered so important that our Founding Fathers included the right to counsel in the Bill of Rights.  A defense lawyer’s job is to zealously defend his client. However, in defending his client the criminal defense lawyer does so much more.  Criminal defense lawyers often lead to justice, since without a criminal attorney people would not be able to competently defend themselves.  Without criminal defense lawyers, there would be masses of innocent people being convicted without proper legal representation. Also by doing their job, criminal lawyers prevent unlimited searches and seizures by the police, racial profiling at traffic stops as well as other societal goods.  

When a defense lawyer fights to defend one person’s rights, the defense lawyer is actually not only standing up for these people rights but standing up for everyone's Constitutional rights. Everyone deserves a vigorous defense! The day we say that they do not, is the day we let the police and politicians decide who is guilty.  
Many people often forget that without defense lawyers, punishment would often not be just.  Too often, I see a defendant go before the court pro-se and get taken advantage of by the prosecution.  The pro-se defendant will get a punishment that is unjust and unfair.  Should people go to jail for smoking marijuana? Should they lose their diver's license for 6 months for a couple of speeding tickets? The fact is that good people often get arrested and that arrest record should not dictate their life's story. Often I see judges and prosecutors acting too hastily to give a sentence that will have a long lasting negative implication on someone’s life. I remember instances when I first started practicing law, that a certain judge would always want to give one year probation to a defendant for a first offense marijuana charge as opposed to a filing.   The result of this harsh sentence was that some college student would be stuck with a drug charge on his record for at least 6 years making for a bleak future. The students often would incorrectly think that if they hired a lawyer the judge would get mad at them and the consequences would be worse.   They would think that "If i just go up and admit it I will be better off."  The fact is that they could not be further from the truth.  When you represent yourself in court, more often than not you get taken advantage of by the criminal justice system.

My role as a criminal defense attorney is to ensure that the defendant's Constitutional Rights are protected and that they get an even playing field to confront the prosecution in the courtroom thereby making sure they receive a just outcome. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DNA evidence leads to the release of two North Carolina men who spent 30 years in jail based on coerced confessions.

Recently, two men were released from prison in the State of North Carolina for crimes that neither had committed.  Each man served 30 years in prison before being released. A review of their criminal cases substantiates the fact that both men were detained by law enforcement and after hours of questioning finally gave coerced statements to police. Based on these coerced statements, with little to no other evidence against the two defendants, the State of North Carolina was able to obtain criminal convictions against each of them for rape and murder charges.   The  defendants thereafter spent the next 30 years of their lives in a North Carolina prison. If not for the defendant's new criminal defense attorneys requesting DNA evidence, these men would have spent an entire life time in jail, not to mention the one defendant who was spending his sentence on death row.
In one case, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission found that the DNA on a nearby cigarette came back to another man that was already serving a life sentence for  similar crimes.  These cases show the importance of having good judges, good police work and fair play in the criminal justice system.  A criminal defense attorney's job is to represent their client zealously.  While the police and prosecutor's job is to seek justice, too often police and prosecutors within our American justice system look at a case with blinders on.  Time and again the police and prosecution will find a suspect that they truly believe committed a crime, and focus solely on that person and not the other evidence that may point elsewhere.  As in the case in North Carolina, the police thought they had their men and completely ignored the facts surrounding a sex offender suspect that was later found to be the guilty party. Even today, the the former District Attorney who prosecuted the criminal case stated that the governor would be a fool to consider pardoning the men even though the judge in North Carolina vacated their sentences. 
Over and over DNA is providing proof that confessions obtained after hours of questioning with no lawyer present are completely unreliable.  The confessions are often coerced and at times add little value to a case.  More often then not, judges will let these confessions be heard by the jury at trial because the judge does not want to be perceived as weak on crime.  Too often in my career as a criminal defense attorney do I hear clients tell me that the police have threatened them if they do not confess and that the police threaten to charge the suspect's mother, wife or kids. Other times the suspects are told that if they do not confess the police will arrest their wife and have their kids taken away by DCYF.  How can these confessions obtained under these circumstances be deemed reliable?
The rules of evidence in criminal cases are there for specific reasons one of which is to protect defendants from unfair prosecutions.  When prosecutors and judges start to bend these rules for what they believe to be the greater good, the net cast will often scoop up many innocent people.  It is critically important in the criminal justice system to follow the law and the rules that safeguard defendants so that cases like this are less likely to happen.
My name is Michael J. Zarrella, Esq. and I have been practicing criminal defense for 20 years in the State of Rhode Island.  I have seen attorneys who do not have the proper criminal experience represent clients in a less than proficient manner.  If you have been arrested for a crime in Rhode Island please call me at 401-523-5271 or visit my websites at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com or  www.ridrunkdrivingattorney.com..

Thursday, August 7, 2014

United States Supreme Court Cases Have Significant Impact on Criminal Cases Involving the Search and Seizure of Cell Phones, IPADs and Other Tablets

    It has long been held by the United States Supreme Court that the property on a person at the time of arrest may be searched by law enforcement in order to ensure the safety of the public and law enforcement by allowing for both the search for weapons and the securing of weapons in addition to preventing the concealment or destruction of evidence.  It is well settled by the Court that an individual's expectation of privacy diminishes considerably after an arrest.
    In the recent cases of Riley v. California and US v. Wurie, the United States Supreme Court was faced with considering Fourth Amendment protections in light of the pervasiveness of the cell phone in modern society and the challenges the new technology of a cell phone brings to the guidelines for searches and seizures by law enforcement in criminal arrests.  In both cases, the issue centered around the requirement of the police to obtain a warrant to search the information contained on a cell phone subsequent to the seizure of the cell phone. In its decision, the Court distinguished between the physical nature of a cell phone and thereby obtaining the cell phone as part of a search of an individual and the search of the digital information that the physical phone contains.  The Court clearly found that the police can not search the information contained on an arrestees' cell phone without first obtaining a warrant.   Justice Roberts wrote that "Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple -get a warrant." However, the US Supreme Court acknowledged that the exceptions to warrants based upon exigent circumstances still exist and can be applied when searching information on cell phones. 
    These decisions have been applauded by criminal defense attorney's and privacy rights proponents.  Clearly, the impact of these decisions goes far beyond cell phones and can be applied to tablets and laptops and marks an acknowledgement by the Court that we have entered a new digital age and that a warrantless search of digital information triggers immense privacy issues as compared to a warrantless search of a physical object.  These decisions are a victory for privacy advocates and bring privacy rights into the 21st century.
  If you have recently been arrested for a crime and had a cell phone, IPad or other tablet seized, it is important that you call a Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer immediately.  Make sure whichever lawyer you hire is familiar with these recent criminal United States Supreme Court decisions and their application to your criminal case.
    For more information regarding search and seizure and criminal defense, please view my websites at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com or  www.ridrunkdrivingattorney.com..

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

United States Surpreme Court Decision WIll Effect DUI and Other Criminal Cases

    In a recent United States Supreme Court case, Navarette V. California, the court in a 5-4 decision greatly expanded the ability of the police to pull a motorist over in a DUI or other criminal investigation based on an anonymous tip.  The Supreme Court held that a police traffic stop based upon a 911 call complied with the Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure requirements because under the "totality of the circumstances" the police officer had a reasonable suspicion that the driver was intoxicated.
    As stated in the scathing dissent by Justice Scalia, this opinion "serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail."  I completely agree with Justice Scalia.  This case will now allow for the reliance by police officers on anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations to conduct a traffic stop and further search of the vehicle and person. Additionally, this decision allows for a reasonable suspicion of drunkenness based upon a single instance of careless or reckless driving.
    Justice Scalia, who is often seen as a conservative by many, has continued to be an advocate for fundamental fairness in criminal and DUI cases.  Based on the majority's opinion, anyone at any time can have someone pulled over by the police based on a phone call.  A jealous ex-wife, a former business partner or an employee can now just make an anonymous phone call and have anyone that they may not like pulled over by the police for no reason.  This can be extremely unfair in drunk driving cases.
    For instance, an individual may notice that someone had one or two drinks with dinner and then makes a phone call saying they see a motorist driving erradically.  When the police stop said motorist they will likely smell the alcohol and jump to the conclusion that the individual must have been drunk driving.  This person, even if he eventually passes a breathalyzer test, will have been pulled over, detained, brought back to the police station (sometimes for hours) and have had their car towed because someone may have had a grudge against them.  The person with the grudge never has to worry about their accusation coming back on them because it was just an anonymous phone call.
    This decision does not completely abolish the needed corroboration of an anonymous tip.  Defendants can still argue that their case may not have fallen under a 911 call or defendants can still argue that Rhode Island's Constitution goes further than the United States Constitution which still disallows stops based upon an anonymous tip.

    For more information regarding criminal cases or DUI cases please visit my websites at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com or  www.ridrunkdrivingattorney.com..

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Gang Law Punishes Based On Affiliation Not Actions

The Rhode Island General Assembly recently enacted RIGL 12-19-39.  This legislation can be categorized as "feel good" criminal legislation dealing with gangs. 

The new law adds a consecutive ten (10) year sentence to any crime if it is considered gang related.  Clearly, the punishment is based solely on an affiliation and not based on criminal actions.  The interpretation of what a gang constitutes is not clear and can be subject to many different interpretations.  In addition, this law can clearly be used in a prejudicial manner.  Groups of friends in the affluent suburbs may not qualify as a gang while another group of friends in the city may be construed as a gang.  Almost no towns in the rural areas have specified gang units of the police to identify gangs in their areas.  Conversely, many of the police departments in the inner city are quick to label all young adults as being associated with certain gangs.  The legislation at hand will punish inner city defendants with a much more disproportionate sentence than similar individuals living outside of the inner city.  For instance, a group of individuals in the inner city who are arrested for a narcotics nuisance (a place commonly used for use of illicit drugs) would be looking at a sentence of fifteen (15) years while a similar group in the outlying rural areas would only be looking at a maximum of five (5) years. 

Another problem with this legislation is the challenges it will create when trying a gang related crime in a courtroom.  This legislation states that the gang's  primary activities would involve the commission of criminal or delinquent acts.  This may bring into evidence  numerous "bad acts" or crimes that a defendant is not involved in to prove that the gang that he is alleged to be in qualifies as a gang under the statute.  The introduction of this evidence may make it impossible for a defendant to receive a fair trial on a charge he is facing based on unrelated crimes that he was never involved in.  In short, if a jury hears that a certain gang is involved in drugs and prostitution that evidence may be admissible at a defendant's felony shoplifting charge even though that defendant was never involved with drugs or prostitution. 

It is indisputable that gangs are a problem in Rhode Island.  However, "feel good" legislation such as RIGL 12-19-30 as passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly casts a net that is too wide and will often lead to innocent people being convicted of charges they may not have done in addition it will lead to greater sentences for people that may not deserve them. 

For more information regarding criminal defense please go to my website at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com .

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rhode Island DUI Law Harsher But Fairer

This session, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed and the Governor signed into law new amendments to the already strict Rhode Island DUI law.  Effective January 1, 2015, convicted DUI offenders with a BAC at 0.15 or above, repeat DUI offenders and DUI offenders who have repeatedly refused BAC tests will be mandated to install interlock devices in their vehicles.

However, this new law does address Rhode Island's long-term need of a hardship license. Rhode Island unlike Massachusetts does not have what many refer to as a "hardship" or "Cinderella" license.  Many people in the state of Rhode Island who receive a DUI or Refusal conviction are almost certain to lose their jobs because of the impossibility of getting to work and from work.  Many people that live in rural areas of Rhode Island do not have the benefit of public transportation therefore a conviction makes them unemployable. This new law gives judges the discretion to allow first time DUI offenders to drive to and from work if they have installed an ignition interlock system in their vehicle.  This law only allows a temporary license with limited times for the sole purpose of allowing employment.

Now more than ever,  it is important to hire a Rhode Island lawyer who concentrates in the area of Drunk Driving and criminal law.  These new laws can be helpful but also can lead to more serious penalties.  Lawyers who do not regularly practice in the DUI area may not be as  well versed in these laws and their nuances.

The Law Offices of Michael J. Zarrella has concentrated on criminal defense and DUI defense for 20 years.  Call him now at (401)523-5271 or visit his website at www.rhodeislanddefenselawyer.com or  www.ridrunkdrivingattorney.com..

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New DNA law allows DNA to be taken from the wrongfully accused.

Individual Freedoms Take Another Hit.

This week Governor Chafee signed a bill that requires anyone arrested for a violent felony have a DNA sample taken from them.  The old law required that DNA samples be taken from only those people that were convicted of a felony.  This new law will allow the police to take DNA from wrongfully accused people.  The logic in the law is flawed.
The idea that an individual would have to give his or her DNA after a conviction is based on the premise that those people lost certain rights when they committed the crime.  Under the new law, the police just need to arrest a person to get their DNA. The criminal case does not even have to be charged.  The police need to merely make an arrest to obtain a person's DNA.  This gives the police a unfair tool in getting people's DNA.  
The proponents of the law will argue that it may help solve crimes.   If that is the case,  why stop there? People that are convicted of lesser crimes may pose more danger than people that are wrongfully accused of a serious ones. In addition, DNA is not like photos and fingerprints, those items can be destroyed or sealed.  Rather,  DNA goes into a national data base and likely can never be taken out of that data base.  There are supposed to be provisions to have the DNA taken out the database, but it often will not happen.  If the cases is dismissed and the court orders an expungement it might come off,  but under Rhode Island law not all dismissals can be expunged.  In addition, many defendants that can have their case expunged do not know to file the paperwork. What about cases that have lessor included charges? So you are charged with a crime of rape and you are found not guilty, but you are convicted of resisting arrest.  What happens then. You can not get that case expunged. What happens to your DNA.  Furthermore, they is no way to track if the lab has taken the DNA out of the database.
People today are just to willing to give up rights! This country and this state were based on freedoms and liberty.   Every time we give up a right, we are that much closer to a police state.

Rhode Island Synthetic Drug Criminal Law Update

The State of Rhode Island has enacted a new law which provides for strict penalties for the criminal charge of possession of certain quantities of a class of substances known as synthetic drugs.  This law greatly expands the 2013 law which had placed synthetic drugs (both synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones) on the highly regulated Schedule I drug list in addition to banning the manufacture, sale and use of these drugs in the State of Rhode Island.  Prior to this law, synthetic drugs were legally marketed and sold in Rhode Island under the names of "bath salts", "synthetic pot" and "herbal incense".

Under the recently enacted law, the penalties for the manufacture, sale or possession are as follows:
  • one ounce to one kilogram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of synthetic drug is punishable by imprisionment of up to 50 years and a fine of up to $500,000
  • more than one kilogram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of synthetic drug is punishable by imprisonment up to life and a fine of up to $1,000,000
The State of Rhode Island has made clear through the enactment of these criminal laws that it wants to deter the manufacture, sale or use of synthetic drugs by enacting harsh penalties for those convicted of the crime.

The criminal prosecution of this law will require the police and law enforcement authorities to obtain special training in the area of synthetic drugs and will require the testing of the substance by the Rhode Island Department of Health.  The test conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health will determine whether the suspected substance is considered one of the illegal synthetic substances and critical in determining if the prosecution is warranted.

Defense of a charge of the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic drugs will greatly hinge on  such issues as the manner in which the evidence of synthetic drugs was obtained by the police, the propriety of the administration of the test of the substance and the accuracy of the test.

If you or a loved one have been charged with the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic drugs, be sure to call an experienced criminal defense attorney who can successfully challenge the prosecution's evidence.  The lawyer should be able to clearly explain the charges to you an set forth a well planned legal defense to the charge.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Criminal Defense Law Tip of the Day

I am now starting a new trend on my blog as well as on my Google Plus Page.
I am now offering the Criminal Defense Tip of the Day.  These tips are intended to help people that may need help in the criminal defense field.  I would like any feed back you may have regarding this.

Today's Criminal Defense Tip #1

Tip #1. Did you know that if the police are questioning you, once you inform the police that you would like to speak to an attorney the police are supposed to refrain from asking you any more questions.  So if you are being questioned by the police, ask to speak to a lawyer. This should prevent the police from asking any further questions of you.