Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC
Phone: 816-318-7943
Located In Belton, Missouri And Serving Clients In The Kansas City Metro Area

Belton Missouri Criminal Defense Law Blog

Poor people facing jail over hefty fines

Missouri is among many states across the country where people in poverty are suffering particularly damaging consequences from initially minor brushes with the criminal justice system. Towns, cities, counties and state governments are increasingly relying on citations, fines and court fees to balance their budgets. Instead of raising taxes, which impact all residents and are often tied to income and wealth, these localities are depending on fines to cover basic costs of local services. As a result, poor people who are unable to pay the fees are suffering disproportionate effects of this type of enforcement.

In 1983, the Supreme Court ruled that people cannot be imprisoned because they are too poor to pay their fines. However, versions of the practice continue nationwide to the present day. Many people jailed for being unable to pay these debts were never criminally convicted or even charged. Instead, the initial issue was a minor fine that escalated due to the person's inability to pay the bill and the associated mounting debt. In addition to imprisonment, other people have their driver's license taken away. As a result, they may lose their jobs or rely on driving without a license, putting them at risk for further penalties and fines.

Man faces second-degree murder charge after apartment shooting

Being convicted of violent crimes in Missouri will inevitably result in serious penalties. When the charge is murder, those who are confronted with these allegations must remember the life-changing consequences they face. With charges this severe, a legal defense to combat the allegations is a must.

On July 8, it was reported that a 30-year-old man was arrested for second-degree murder and weapons charges after an unplanned incident. According to the investigation, the male victim, age 31, bumped into an apartment door after tripping on a barbecue. As he walked away, the door opened. The man inside reportedly had a gun and yelled at the victim. As the victim walked up the stairs, shots rang out. Law enforcement said that 11 shots were fired. The victim was unarmed.

Tips for dealing with an impaired driving stop

When you are pulled over for the suspicion of drunk driving, you need to start thinking about your defense right away. There are some specific points that might come into the picture when you are trying to fight the charges. Remember your rights and understanding how your actions might impact you.

One of the most important things that you can do when you are pulled over and a police officer suggests that you are impaired is to be respectful and remain silent. You do have to answer basic identifying questions, but that is the limit of what you must say. You need to show your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

An overview of exculpatory evidence

Missouri defendants in criminal trials may obtain an acquittal or a dismissal in a case through exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence is defined as anything that would tend to establish that a person is not guilty of committing a crime. Data from a cellphone or DNA test results could be examples of this type of evidence.

In some cases, a defendant may be able to access the personnel file of a police officer by asserting that it could prove his or her innocence. As a general rule, prosecutors must turn over any exculpatory or impeachment evidence that they possess. Impeachment evidence could be used to cast doubt on the credibility of a witness. If such evidence is not turned over, a failure to do so could be grounds for an appeal or a request for a new trial. That was the key takeaway in the Supreme Court case of Brady v Maryland.

Affirmative defenses to DWI charges

When criminal defense attorneys in Missouri and around the country represent motorists accused of driving while intoxicated, they may question the reliability of toxicology evidence or the legality of a traffic stop. However, there are situations where attorneys may mount what is known as an affirmative defense. Attorneys mounting such a defense do not deny that their clients got behind the wheel after drinking, but they do introduce new facts to explain their behavior.

Two of the most common affirmative defenses to drunk driving charges are necessity and duress. Necessity could be argued when driving prevented a greater harm. Examples of necessity include rushing an injured individual to hospital who could otherwise have died and fleeing from a potentially deadly situation. Motorists may mount a defense based on duress when they were threatened with violence if they did not drive.

Public safety apps may be tools to advance racism

Missouri residents may believe that neighborhood crime apps and other recording devices keep them safe. However, it may simply scare them into thinking that crime is prevalent in their area when it may not be. It may also lead to enhancing stereotypes about minorities and other groups who may be incorrectly labeled as criminals. In many cases, police departments use information from these apps and other recording devices when developing law enforcement plans.

Therefore, they may be more likely to target minorities or areas where minorities are most likely to live. If a minority does interact with police, there is a chance that the individual could be shot or taken into custody based on a misunderstanding. Homeless individuals may also be stereotyped as criminals or an otherwise undesirable group of people within a community. This can also increase their risk of potentially hostile interactions with police officers.

What to do if you’re facing DWI charges

Facing DWI charges can be an extremely challenging time. You might fear the punishment of making a mistake or are potentially unable to pay the fine. Fortunately, there are options, especially for first-time offenders.

One of the best things that you can do is arm yourself with knowledge. Understanding how to handle this situation and knowing what options you have can make it a less stressful process and put you in the best position to make the best out of a bad situation.

What is an expungement and how do you get one in Missouri?

Criminal records can do a lot of damage to your life, even if they are a result of a mistake when you are very young. A criminal conviction, even just a misdemeanor, can have a lasting effect on your personal and professional life. In some cases, it can affect your education as well.

If you made a mistake at one point in your life that resulted in the criminal record, you may find yourself wishing that it was no longer affecting your future. There is good news for those who have a previous criminal record but no current legal problems. An expungement may be the way for you to get a fresh start and move on so that your previous conviction no longer affects your future.

Plea negotiations postpone Missouri murder trial

The trial of a Missouri man accused of murdering his wife and then burying her dismembered body in a shallow grave that was scheduled to start on May 28 has been postponed. The judge who set the new date said that the trial was delayed because negotiations with prosecutors were ongoing. The trail will take place in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The man could be sent to prison for the rest of his life is he is convicted.

Prosecutors say that the man killed his wife because she had filed divorce papers to end their marriage after 35 years. She was last seen alive in June 2015 just days before she was to appear in court. Police suspected that man had played a role, but they failed to discover a body or evidence of his involvement during extensive searches of the couple's farm and surrounding 35 acres of land. During an initial interview, the man is said to have given detectives permission to collect his DNA and search his cellphone, business and pickup truck.

Missouri woman pleads guilty to murder

A 46-year-old Missouri woman was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 20 after pleading guilty to a charge of murder in the second degree. She also admitted to possessing a gun illegally and using it in the commission of a crime. The woman had been charged with first-degree murder for the April 2018 slaying of her boyfriend. The Holts Summit man was found shot in the head in his home.

When the woman called the Callaway County Sheriff's Office to report the killing, she told deputies that she had been at a friend's house until approximately 1:30 a.m. and a safe containing $15,000 and an undisclosed quantity of marijuana had been taken. Deputies began to consider the woman a suspect when her friend told them that she had left at about 11:00 p.m. During the course of the investigation, the woman blamed the victim's daughter for the killing and then implied that a man had committed the crime after taking her to the house at gunpoint.


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Benjamin Law Firm

Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC
8427 Clint Drive
Belton, Missouri 64012

Phone: 816-318-7943
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