Category Archives: criminal defense

Electronic Monitoring of Sex Offenders

Under a new law that went into effect January 1, some sex offenders (but not all) are required to be monitored for life and tracked by GPS. I’ve had some calls from folks on the list surprised by the new law. Yes, it’s a real thing. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is working on following up on records of guilt findings to track down who is and who is not required to be tracked; those on probation and parole can expect their probation/parole officer to require tracking.

First DWI and the Driving Privilege

What should I expect will happen to my driving privilege after I get my first DWI?

The ignition interlock can mean the difference between keeping your job and being unemployed.

CC by 2.0, Kyle May
CC by 2.0, Kyle May

Assuming you submitted to the breath test and there was no refusal (which may or may not be a good idea):

You’ve got two choices: 1) 30 day suspension followed by 60 day restricted driving privilege, or 2) take an immediate restricted driving privilege with ignition interlock device installed. You must request the immediate restricted driving privilege and submit proof of installation of the ignition interlock device. More information is here.

What if I am later convicted of the DWI? If I get 8 points on my license, don’t I get a suspension anyhow? I called the office of the General Counsel for the Department of Revenue about this very issue. The way they explained it: Yes, you get your 8-point suspension but if you already served your 90 day restricted driving privilege, you get credit for that time.  In effect, you are not denied any additional time driving – at least not for this incident.

Several factors can complicate this scheme. Minors in possession, those with prior DWIs (even out of state), prior suspensions, CDL holders, DWIs resulting in accidents or injury, etc., should expect different outcomes.

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” -Aesop

Except maybe not in Missouri anymore…

The Missouri Supreme Court yesterday handed down its decision in State v. Bazell, in which the Court may have effectively overturned a great many convictions for felony stealing. If you or someone you know has a finding of guilt for felony stealing since around 2002, you may want to talk to a lawyer. It could mean the difference between being a felon and not.

Pardon me…

A governor’s pardon might not mean as much as some would hope, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled in a case handed down Tuesday. Seal of the State of Missouri

“The governor shall have power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons…”

Wayne Stallsworth pleaded guilty in 1960 to burglary, a felony. The court gave him probation, but later revoked his probation and he served two years in prison for his crime. Governor Bob Holden, 44 years after his guilty plea, pardoned Stallsworth.  The next year, Stallsworth applied for and obtained a CCW permit in Buchanan County (St. Joe is the county seat). He successfully renewed his CCW in Buchanan County in 2008 and 2011.

No CCW for people who pleaded guilty to felonies, even with a pardon.

When he moved to Jackson County (Kansas City area) and tried to renew his CCW, the Sheriff said no. The sheriff said the old guilty plea was evidence he was guilty of the felony and, even though the pardon obliterated the conviction, the guilty plea remained. The Court of Appeals agreed. No CCW for people who pleaded guilty to felonies, even with a pardon.

House Denies Relief for Criminally Ill

Although medical heroine, a far more addictive and dangerous drug, will remain available, terminally ill Missourians with cancer in hospice care were denied access to medical cannabis when the Missouri House voted down a bill specifically tailored to terminally ill cancer patients in hospice care.

The House may have been concerned about the terminally ill cancer patients in hospice care eating too many Cheetos, losing their motivation to advance in their career, or developing a fondness for Bob Marley songs. That, or they may have been concerned the medical cannabis may have been a gateway drug to – well – all the other drugs they will take anyhow since they can’t take medical cannabis.

The issue is mostly academic as it would likely take longer to bring to trial than they would survive for many criminally ill cancer patients in hospice care.

Missouri Grand Juries

Grand Jury, National Archives
Grand Jury, National Archives

Missouri prosecutors sometimes seek indictments by grand juries instead of felony informations by way of preliminary hearings. A prosecutor may choose whether to summon a grand jury to come to court and hear evidence and consider whether to issue an indictment, charging an accused with a crime. Criminal defense lawyers do not spend much time with grand juries because the proceedings are held in secret. Transcripts are generally not available. In most cases, prosecutors use a preliminary hearing and a judge decides whether a defendant should proceed to trial, saving grand jurors from having to come to court and saving taxpayers the expense of a grand jury. Also, preliminary hearings are generally not held in secret, so they have the benefit of a public hearing.

Grand juries have other duties, including investigations.

It shall be the duty of the grand jury, at each term, or a committee, to consist of at least three members thereof, to visit the jail of their county, and examine the condition thereof, and inquire into the treatment of the prisoners, and make report thereof to the court.

Section 221.300, RSMo.

Missouri statutes governing grand juries are set forth in Chapter 540, RSMo. Grand juries have far more responsibility than to simply sit back and passively do what the prosecutor asks.

I Am Thankful to Have the Best Clients

I got the most thoughtful note from a client today after a total win on her case.  It really brightens my day.

I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you again! Thank you so much for all of your help – I am so glad this is over with! I hope you have a fantastic 2016!  🙂

And the other day, a past client for whom we obtained a total win brought two beautiful handmade tapestries all the way back from India on a family trip they took there. Angie and I have them proudly displayed in our home. Very generous, thoughtful people.