Category: KC Defense Counsel Articles

RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY

   

RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY, Stolen goods

Missouri statutes states that it’s an offense to hinder another person’s legal ownership of his own goods in the event that one receives the goods that he or she knows has been stolen or even thinks that the property has been stolen

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The Grand Jury in Missouri and How it Works

   

Court Room Grand Jury Missouri

Missouri is one of the several states in the U.S. that use a grand jury system to determine criminal indictments. Basically, a grand jury is a group of citizens selected to sit on a jury to investigate possible criminal conduct and determine whether charges should be brought against a potential defendant. Missouri laws empower the grand jury to conduct legal proceedings and decide if there is probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime and should be indicted. However, it should be noted that it’s not the responsibility of the grand jury to find guilt or propose penalties to a party. The grand jury in Missouri plays a key role in running a valuable test for prosecutors in making a decision whether to press charges or not

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MATERIAL WITNESSES AND ARRESTS

   

ARRESTS AND MATERIAL WITNESSES

Whenever one is alleged of having in custody material(s) or information or a piece of information significant to a criminal lawsuit in the court of law; then, the person is referred to as a material witness.

A material witness is a person who is assumed to have in possession information about a matter of a case that is still ongoing in a competent jurisdiction court of law.

The first Judiciary Act of 1789 specifies that a material witness can be detained; however, the Bail Reform Act of 1984 amended the statute which is now codified at18 U.S.C. Ss 3144.

Situations may arise where a material witness will not want to testify at a criminal trial in the court of law due to fear of reprisal, not be duly informed about the case through the court order or other reasons best known to the witness. Whatever reasons the witness is laying claims to for not willing to testify, it lies in the clout of the prosecutors to see that justice prevails in every court proceedings.

What is a reasonable arrest?

According to the Federal law of the United States, law enforcement agents can arrest and detain a person if they have “reasonable cause” that the person in question possesses information significant to a judgment delivery of a pending criminal proceeding. Secondly, if a material witness will not respond to a court order when his attendance will be needed in the law court.

If the prosecutors however want the person to testify, they can secure and have the witness testified in the law court by issuing a material witness warrant.

What is material witness warrant?

This refers to the power a court of law has to arrest an individual who has been duly served with a subpoena but fails to attend court. A material witness warrant can, however, be unconstitutional and a violation of human rights when the authority is abused by the prosecutors or leads to wrongful conviction.

The law states that prosecutors in charge of such case may be sued regardless of the broad protection they have against lawsuits. It is the duty of an experienced defense attorney to help such material witness exercise his rights when such situation occurs.

How long can Law enforcement officers detain a Material Witness?

The constitution states that the law enforcement officers to detain a material witness for as long as the judge deems it necessary to avert failure of justice. 

The same federal material witness statute that authorizes the arrest of material witnesses also permits their release once their sworn have been taken.

All things being equal, no matter how significant the information concealed or discovered in material witness’ custody is, the person should not be charged with a crime and be acquainted once the lawsuit is finished.

Should a material witness turns out to be a suspect in the case, he is not obliged to testify against or incriminate himself in any form. Here, he will need the help of a competent criminal defense attorney in order to pervert punishment in the court of law. Consult with qualified defense attorney today to know more about Arrests and Material Witness

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Missouri DUI Check Points And The Constitution

   

traffic attorney kansas city

In the state of Missouri, law enforcement officials are permitted to set up DUI checkpoints. Typically, these checkpoints are placed on busy roads and the officers involved will either stop every car that comes through or they will use a pre-formulated system to stop cars in a seemingly random manner. Once stopped, a driver may be asked to submit to either a field sobriety test or a breath test and if they fail, they will be arrested and charged with a DUI – even if they didn’t show signs of drunk driving before reaching the DUI checkpoint.

Do DUI Checkpoints Violate The 4th Amendment?

Under normal circumstances, when a police officer initiates a traffic stop in order to determine if someone is driving while under the influence, they first need probable cause to show that there was a legal reason for pulling the driver over.  For example, if a driver runs a red light or is erratically swerving across lanes, an officer has a legal reason to pull them over. Then, based on their interaction with the driver, they may proceed with a field sobriety test or ask the driver to take a Breathalyzer test. Without probable cause, the stop and subsequent DUI can be legally challenged in court.

Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why so many Americans believe that DUI checkpoints violate the 4th Amendment.

What Is The 4th Amendment?

The 4th Amendment states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Basically, this protects Americans by prohibiting law enforcement from making searches and seizures without probable cause. When applying the 4th Amendment to DUI checkpoints, the following should be noted:

  1. Stops Are Conducted With No Probable Cause: Either all drivers are stopped or predetermined cars are stopped, such as every third car. It doesn’t matter if every traffic law has been followed, the driver will be stopped.
  2. There Can Be No Oath Or Affirmation: This means that the officers involved can’t swear to the driver’s behavior prior to the stop. For example, in a typical DUI arrest, the officers could swear something like “I witnessed the driver go through two red lights before finally coming to a stop.” This would be their legal reason for pulling over the driver. While an officer may note the driver’s behavior after they approach them in the DUI checkout, they cannot confirm that the driver was breaking any laws prior to the stop.

 Despite this, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal, as long as they meet specific criteria.

DUI Checkpoints: Law Enforcement Must Meet Certain Criteria

In order for a DUI checkpoint to be viewed as constitutional, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The decision to proceed with a DUI checkpoint at a specific site must be made by a law enforcement supervisor – not an officer in the field.
  2. Neutral and mathematical selection must occur. This means that officers cannot single out drivers because of age, race, vehicle type, or any other factor.
  3. Safety must be taken into account. When setting up a checkpoint, proper warning signs and lighting must be used to ensure that drivers have a sufficient amount of time to slow their vehicle and come to a stop. In addition to this, clearly marked law enforcement vehicles must be used at the stops.
  4. The checkpoint site must be in a “reasonable” location.
  5. Officers must use “good judgment” when determining what time the checkpoint should begin and end.
  6. Anyone passing through the checkpoint should only be stopped long enough for the officer to check for signs of intoxication.
  7. The time and location of the checkpoint should be publically announced in advance.

If law enforcement fails to meet with this criteria it may be considered an unconstitutional checkpoint and anyone charged with a DUI may be able to use this argument as part of their defense.

Do I Have To Go Through A DUI Checkpoint?

If, while driving, you note that a DUI checkpoint is ahead and you can legally turn or make a legal U-turn to avoid the checkpoint, you may do so. However, there are almost always officers posted to specifically watch drivers who avoid going through a checkpoint and if you violate any traffic laws they will pull you over.