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Louisville Criminal Defense Blog

Eyewitness misidentifications lead to new police lineup rules

Kentucky residents want to believe the criminal justice system never makes mistakes. Unfortunately, that's not the case. According to the Innocence Project, the eyewitness identification process used by many police departments is unreliable. Witnesses can be influenced by things like the instructions they receive, their interactions with police officers and even the suspect's race. As a result, many people have been misidentified and wrongly convicted of crimes they didn't commit.

In January, a 58-year-old Louisiana man was released from prison after DNA testing showed he could not have been the person who raped a 39-year-old shop owner in 1979. He had been convicted in part because the victim identified him in a police lineup. However, the Innocence Project said her eyewitness testimony was influenced by interactions with police officers. To prevent similar incidents in the future, Louisiana now requires that police use double-blind lineups, which means the officer overseeing the lineup does not know who the suspect is.

Zero tolerance laws for underage drivers

In Kentucky, as in all states, the legal age for purchasing or possessing alcohol is 21. Driving while intoxicated is against the law for adult drinkers, but the legal definition of intoxicated is different for those over 21 than it is for drivers who are not legally old enough to drink. Most states have zero tolerance laws, or, laws that do not allow a younger person to have even a trace amount of alcohol in his or her system while behind the wheel.

For adults who are over the age of 21, the law in all 50 states allows up to .08 percent blood alcohol for someone who is driving. That means for the average adult, one or possibly two drinks would not make them too drunk to drive legally. But for drivers who are under 21, state laws set the limit at anywhere from 0 to .02 percent. These zero tolerance laws are necessary in order for a state to qualify for Federal-Aid Highway Funds under the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995.

Potential consequences for DUI in Kentucky

The state of Kentucky levies a variety of different penalties against drivers who are convicted of DUI. Those who are convicted of a first offense within 10 years will be sentenced to a treatment program that lasts for 90 days. They will also have their license suspended for up to 120 days. If a second offense occurs less than 10 years after the first, the penalty increases to a license suspension of up to 18 months.

In addition, an offender will need to enter into an alcohol treatment program that lasts for one year. The alcohol treatment program requirements remain the same for a third or fourth offense within 10 years. However, the license suspension increases to up to 36 months for a third offense and 60 months for a fourth offense within 10 years. After a second offense within 10 years, drivers may be ordered to install ignition interlock devices.

Is intoxication a valid defense to a crime?

When a crime has been committed, it is expected under the law that the person who committed the crime had full knowledge of what one was doing, and acted with liberty in doing so. For example, if a person was forced by another to commit a crime, with a threat of death or serious injury, it is possible that he or she will be acquitted of the crime in certain circumstances. When a person suffers from alcoholism, it can be argued that this person suffers from an illness that he or she has very little control over, and when the individual is extremely intoxicated, he or she is unaware of the nature of one's actions and unable to make responsible decisions.

In this sense, intoxication can be a defense to certain crimes but in reality it only applies to certain limited situations. The main factors that will determine whether intoxication can be used as a defense depend largely on whether the defendant was voluntarily or involuntarily intoxicated.

Study finds strict alcohol laws reduce drunk driving deaths

Kentucky and other U.S. states could reduce alcohol-related car accidents by strengthening their alcohol control laws. A new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on May 29, was conducted by researchers at the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center.

According to the study, if all states strengthened their alcohol restriction policies by just 10 percent, around 800 lives could be saved each year. These saved lives would include drunk drivers and their sober victims who together account for 70 percent of crash fatalities. They would also include drivers who have consumed alcohol but are not legally drunk; these drivers account for 20 percent of crash fatalities.

Study shows 6 percent of inmates could be wrongfully convicted

Exonerations for wrongful convictions in murder cases through DNA evidence have been a big news story for the last few years. In other cases, new evidence can appear, or old witnesses can withdraw their testimony. The end result is that a significant number of Kentucky inmates are ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to research from Penn University, there are exonerations in 3 to 5 percent of all capital crimes. Capital crimes can include rape and murder. However, the Penn study was the first to ever consider exoneration figures for non-capital crimes.

Kentucky man faces felony drug charges after ATV ride

A 33-year-old Kentucky man is facing felony drug trafficking charges after allegedly driving an all-terrain vehicle while intoxicated in Bell County on April 29. The Arjay resident is charged with one count of trafficking in marijuana, first and third degree counts of trafficking in a controlled substance, possessing drug paraphernalia, driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving without a valid driver's license and operating an ATV on the roadway.

A Bell County Sheriff's Department deputy says that the sequence of events began when he pulled over an ATV that he had observed being driven erratically and at a high rate of speed. The deputy claims that the man atop the ATV appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and had bloodshot eyes. He was taken into custody after allegedly failing two field sobriety tests.

Three accused of drug offenses after police arrests

Police arraigned three people in Kentucky's McCracken County on April 23 and accused of them drug charges. Police say that the McCracken County Sheriff's Department Drug Division led an investigation that resulted in the arrest of a 49-year-old woman, a 32-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman. Police claim that the investigation was launched after they received a complaint that the 49-year-old woman had arranged to sell drugs in the parking lot of one business in Paducah.

When they arrived, they found that woman in a vehicle along with the other two individuals. Police searched the vehicle where they allegedly found 21.8 grams of crystal methamphetamine as well as quantities of marijuana, amphetamine pills, clonazepam pills and drug paraphernalia. The three individuals were taken into custody and booked at the McCracken County Regional Jail.

Gambling addiction in Kentucky can lead to legal problems

It has been reported that between 3 and 5 percent of all gamblers have suffered or currently suffer from what would be considered a gambling problem. When a person suffers from alcohol addiction, it makes it more likely that they will struggle with maintaining a healthy balance when it comes to gambling, too.

Being gripped by addiction in one form or another has the power to turn your life upside down. If you are struggling with addiction, it is important to know that it is an illness that can be cured if help is sought. Dealing with addiction can increase a person's likelihood of being involved in crime, in addition. This is often because the person changes one's view on reality, and can resort to extreme measures to fund the addiction.

Kentucky woman could face only probation despite criminal record

A Kentucky woman who had previously avoided prison time after killing two people in a DUI crash could face little more than probation again despite facing a slew of new drug and firearm charges. An error by the police might lead to the most serious charges being dismissed.

According to court records, the woman entered into a plea deal in early March with the Jefferson County prosecutor. The sentence handed down by the judge could be for a minimum of five years probation or a maximum of three years in prison. The defendant admitted in the plea agreement to possessing methamphetamine and prescription drugs with the intent to distribute. She also admitted possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

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