The hunt for a serial bomber in Austin, Texas, who killed two people and injured several others with homemade package bombs was this week’s leading national criminal law news story. After a weeks-long investigation involving state and federal law enforcement agencies, authorities came to suspect that 23-year-old Mark Conditt was the bomber. As officers closed in on Conditt, he killed himself by detonating a bomb inside his vehicle. The New York Times has an article describing the meticulous police work that cracked the case, and the Austin Statesman has full coverage of the terrifying bombing spree. Keep reading for more news.
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Suppose a defendant is convicted of a class I felony and has a prior record level of I. That’s a “C” block on the felony sentencing grid, where only community punishment is authorized. Community punishment can include a range of punishments from a fine only, up to supervised probation, but does not encompass a straight active sentence. The defendant informs the sentencing court that she wants to serve her time in prison. The defendant further explicitly states she will not accept probation and refuses to meet with probation, missing several opportunities to begin the intake process. What options does the trial court have? Continue reading →
Some law enforcement agencies concerned about officers’ exposure to fentanyl have stopped field testing white powders. A question I’ve had several times is whether a magistrate may find probable cause for a drug offense involving a white powder without a field test. The answer to that question is yes, so long as the totality of the circumstances provides reason to believe that the powder in question is a controlled substance. Continue reading →
Students across the country walked out of class for 17 minutes at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning in a mass protest against gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Florida last month. The demonstration came exactly one month after the shooting and the 17-minute duration represents the 17 people who were killed. At Columbine High School in Colorado, students added 13 minutes to their protest to represent the victims of the 1999 shooting at that school. Keep reading for more news.
Spring is just around the corner. Daffodils. Daylight saving time. Filling out your bracket. And reading the annual Structured Sentencing Statistical Report for Felonies and Misdemeanors from the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. Today’s post collects some of the highlights of the report. Continue reading →
Here’s a question for you: which of the following injuries is more serious?
- The victim, a police officer injured while fighting with a suspect, “sustained puncture wounds [from bites] on his left forearm and right bicep.” The officer testified that the bites were extremely painful, and they caused “severe bruising and depressions, [and] permanent scarring . . . includ[ing] a large circle on his right bicep, ‘just over a half an inch to an inch in a circle’ with a ‘large depression[,]’ and ‘a deep ridge’ on his left arm. The officer experienced loss of sleep and extreme stress [and] had to be tested multiple times for communicable diseases.”
- The victim, a six-year-old girl injured when her father “forcibly twisted” her leg until it broke, suffered a “spiral fracture” of her femur. A physician described such fractures as “incredibly painful,” and the child required morphine to control her discomfort. She was placed in traction and underwent surgery to place titanium rods in her leg. The surgery resulted in lifelong scars. The victim was in a cast for several weeks, and used a wheelchair and a walker during her recovery. She regained the full use of her leg in five to eight months, but had to repeat kindergarten as a result of missing so much school.
You can vote on the answer below. Once you have voted, read on to see how the court of appeals viewed these two scenarios.
This week the Justice Department sued California Governor Jerry Brown and the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, alleging that certain recently enacted California immigration laws are unconstitutional. The New York Times says that the laws “restrict when and how local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers.” The Justice Department’s position is that the laws “reflect a deliberate effort by California to obstruct the United States’ enforcement of federal immigration law.” Keep reading for more news.
Expunging criminal record information can be like removing ants from under your refrigerator. Just when you think you’ve eliminated all the ants/information, there’s another trail. That’s how a talented attorney in this field described the process in her article of the same name here. It’s also an apt description for figuring out the legal requirements, procedures, and forms for obtaining an expunction, in North Carolina and elsewhere. Here’s my latest effort, the 2017 Guide to Relief from a Criminal Conviction in North Carolina.