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Felonies Archives

Silence is golden

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of what is perhaps one of the two or three most famous Supreme Court cases. On June 13, 1966, the Court handed down the decision in Miranda v. Arizona. That case altered police procedure and the portrayal of police in movies and television, and placed in the American vernacular the memorable phrase that begins with, "You have the right to remain silent…."

Fingerprint id on phone offers less 5th amendment protection

Among the more powerful Constitutional protections we have is the Fifth Amendment right to refuse to incriminate ourselves. You cannot be made to testify at a criminal trial or during an investigation. If you ask for an attorney as soon as police place you in custody, you essentially never have to say another word to police or prosecutors during the criminal process.

Missouri and the 'ban the box' movement

If one of the goals of the criminal justice system is to stop people convicted of a crime from doing it again, it makes sense that the system should be set up to encourage people to find jobs after paying their debt to society. But when a job application asks about your criminal record, you can bet the chances of you landing the job are slim if you have one.

Have you ever been really angry?

People use stereotypes because they are easy. When it comes to crime and the criminal justice system, many people in Columbia probably use some stereotypes when it comes to thinking about who causes crime in the city. Of course, it is criminals.

Scientific fact or one person's opinion?

Criminal courts have to deal with the use of scientific evidence all of the time. Numerous tests are employed. A breath test used to assert a DUI charge, a drug test designed to identify potential illegal drugs or a test that claims a hair follicle or tire tracks are connected to the accused.

It can't happen here

When it comes to wrongful convictions, most people make the same mistake. They say something like, "it could never happen to me, I've never done anything illegal." But of course, if you were convicted and you had committed an illegal act, it wouldn't be a wrongful conviction, would it?

Justice Department will require crime lab accreditation by 2020

The Justice Department has announced that it will eventually require the crime labs that it contracts with to be accredited. While this is encouraging, a review of the way in which crime labs are accredited and the quality of forensic evidence that is used by courts suggests we have a long way to go before many of the problems in this area are solved.

Is it a real crime or merely fantasy?

Most crimes have specific elements that a prosecutor must prove in order to convict someone accused of that crime. These elements can range from simple to complex. The first-degree assault in Missouri described as, "A person commits the offense of assault in the first degree if he or she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another person."