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Louisville Criminal Defense Blog

What SCRAM bracelets are used for

A SCRAM bracelet may be issued to someone who has been convicted of drunk driving in Kentucky or other states. The bracelet looks for any signs of alcohol in the offender's sweat, and it can be used in place of in-person testing for those who have been released on parole. It may also be used on repeat offenders or others who have been ordered to not drink alcohol by a judge.

The device works by taking a reading once per hour. In addition to looking for the presence of alcohol, it can also detect whether the device has been tampered with. After collecting relevant data, it is sent to a central monitoring station. If a person has consumed alcohol or tinkered with the bracelet, police or other authorities will be contacted. Depending on the severity of an individual's conduct, it may be considered a probation or parole violation.

IRS seeks to prosecute fraudulent tax havens

Some Kentucky residents may find that their tax returns are scrutinized by the IRS because the agency is looking to crack down on what it identifies as abusive tax schemes. The IRS is applying scrutiny to structured domestic and foreign trusts as well as more complicated methods that attempt to reduce a filer's tax liability by relying on the financial privacy laws in some foreign countries as well as credit or debit cards issued by foreign banks.

The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) department is targeting white collar crimes that involve deliberate tax evasion. While the agency says that its focus is on those who promote or sell tax schemes to other people, accountants or lawyers who are involved in facilitating the transactions and reporting could also face investigation and charges. In addition, people who put their money into foreign investments can also face prosecution, especially if the agency alleges that they did so in a knowing attempt to avoid taxes.

The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony

Kentucky residents who commit a crime may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors generally carry sentences of no more than 12 months, and those sentences are typically served in a city or county jail. A felony is an offense that is considered especially serious such as murder, burglary or rape. If convicted, an individual may face more than a year in prison.

The procedures for trying a felony case are strictly adhered to in an effort to preserve a defendant's rights. There may be other punishments available as an alternative to jail or prison time or in addition to a sentence depending on the severity of the crime committed. If a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, a prosecutor may be given more leeway to determine how the case will be handled. Those who face misdemeanor charges may also have a greater chance of obtaining a plea bargain.

Racial disparties can impact bail decisions

Cash bail is a hotly debated topic in Kentucky and across the country, especially as several studies have indicated that conscious or unconscious racial bias can play a major role in bail decisions. In one study, bail judges in Miami and Philadelphia were shown to have a bias against black defendants, including both white and black judges. The study found that black defendants were more likely than white defendants to be held in pretrial detention rather than given bail; pretrial detention has been shown to be linked to higher conviction rates.

On average, black defendants are ordered to pay over $7,000 more in cash bail than white defendants. Decisions about pretrial detention and bail amounts are governed by a bail judge's beliefs about the defendant's likelihood to skip bail or reoffend. However, statistics show that white defendants are often much more likely to be rearrested after a release on bail. Since the decisions made about bail do not line up with outcomes, the researchers noted that racial stereotypes and biases appear to be influencing these decisions.

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.

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