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Seattle Criminal Defense Law Blog

The Financial Burdens Plaguing Criminal Suspects and Parolees

Prison populations have skyrocketed over the past 50 years. Currently, 2.2 million people are incarcerated in facilities throughout the United States, an increase of 500 percent with longer sentences contributing to that massive growth.

More prisoners mean an outlay of more money. In 1980, the cost of housing them was close to $20 billion (in current dollars). By 2015, that number more than quadrupled to an astounding $87 billion.

The Unlikely Survivability of R. Kelly's Freedom

After years of rumors and criminal charges surrounding his supposed proclivities for minor females, R. Kelly has replaced a wardrobe custom-made for a wealthy R&B mogul for an orange jumpsuit and ankle shackles.

This appearance was not his first time in front of a judge, nor his inaugural stint in jail. Kelly’s latest incarceration comes five months after sexual abuse charges put him in a Cook County Jail where he bonded out.

Parolees Getting Out the Vote

For decades, few paid attention to a felon sitting in prison and not having the right to vote. It was considered part of the punishment. “Doing the time” meant stepping behind the curtain on any given election day was not an option.

Recently, a groundswell of activity has states considering laws resembling those in Washington when it comes to the restoration of voting rights.

Emojis as Evidence

Early in the existence of the “Internet Age,” a form of shorthand developed to convey laughing out loud and other reactions to random posts or direct messages. Yet, for those online aficionados, abbreviations did not go far enough in their brevity.

Thus, emojis were born and became the parlance of our time.

How Far Can the Police Go in Searching Cell Phone Data?

The growth in the number of people who own cell phones matches the ongoing technological improvements by manufacturers looking for their piece of the market share. Once bulky and hard to handle, the devices now fit easily into the palm of the owners’ hands. Once expensive and exclusive to the wealthy, practically everyone from all walks of life relies on cell phones.

Phone calls are only part of the options the devices provide. Evolving into mobile devices, they have become mini-computers that contain megabytes of data that once required entire buildings to house.

How far can the police go in searching cell phone data?

The growth in the number of people who own cell phones matches the ongoing technological improvements by manufacturers looking for their piece of the market share. Once bulky and hard to handle, the devices now fit easily into the palm of the owners’ hands. Once expensive and exclusive to the wealthy, practically everyone from all walks of life relies on cell phones.

Phone calls are only part of the options the devices provide. Evolving into mobile devices, they have become mini-computers that contain megabytes of data that once required entire buildings to house.

How ‘genetic genealogy’ could violate your civil rights

One of the biggest cold cases in modern history made news about a year ago with the capture of the alleged “Golden State Killer.” The man identified as the suspect has been charged with 26 counts of murder for his alleged spree of murders and rapes in the 1970s and 80s across California.

If the man had been caught through conventional policework, the case would still be notable for its sheer size and scope. But it has been especially noteworthy because it relied on a practice called “genetic genealogy,” which up until now has mostly been a way for history enthusiasts to build accurate family trees based on genetic data shared on genealogy websites. There is little doubt that, now proven, genetic genealogy will be used to solve more cases alleging violent crimes, sexual assault, homicide and more. The question is: Are we ready for the potential privacy intrusions that come with such changes?

Does new legislation impede defendants charged with sex crimes?

 

Although mounting any criminal defense can seem overwhelming, allegations of criminal sexual conduct against adults involves special considerations. The reason is reputational: such crimes are often media fodder, and a defendant may feel like he or she is indicted in the public’s opinion before ever getting due process of law.

Many 'violent offenders' in US prisons committed no violent crime

Burglary. Purse snatching. Manufacturing meth. Marijuana possession, of a certain amount. These are all examples of crimes that some states consider violent. Others include possessing a precursor chemical with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, aiding in an attempted suicide, and trafficking in a stolen identity.

Most people wouldn't consider any of those offenses to be violent. Yet state statutes around the country do, and they punish people more severely when they have committed a so-called violent crime. When a crime is considered violent, a conviction can get you labeled a violent offender. That often means a significantly longer sentence -- even a three-strikes sentence.

Prosecutors would rather drop cases than reveal child porn tool

"When protecting the defendant's right to a fair trial requires the government to disclose its confidential techniques, prosecutors face a choice: Give up the prosecution or give up the secret," an expert in computer crime law and former Justice Department lawyer told the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica recently.

That's because the right to fully confront all the witnesses and evidence against you is protected by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That right wouldn't mean much if the defense simply had to take the prosecution's word for how a particular technique works.

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