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criminal defense Archives

Study challenges police claims about asset forfeiture

Despite its extensive promotion by law enforcement agencies in Kentucky and across the country, asset forfeiture may do little to promote crime-solving. One study conducted by the Institute for Justice examined laws regarding civil asset forfeiture and the distribution of federal funds collected through the Department of Justice. Asset forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to seize property that they allege is connected to the commission of a crime. Claimed to be a vital tool in fighting drug trafficking, the use of the practice escalated dramatically in the 1980s with the "war on drugs."

Crime and police viewed differently by black and white Americans

Some Kentucky residents may have differing views on crime, police behavior and penalties depending on whether they are black or white. A number of surveys have found these attitudes differ according to race. For example, 87% of black adults compared to 61% of white adults in a 2019 Pew Research Center survey said the criminal justice system did not treat blacks as fairly as whites.

Young people more likely to be arrested than past generations

Decades ago, young people living in Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S. were much less likely to be arrested before the age of 26 than they are today, according to a new study. The study was conducted by the RAND Corporation and published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.

Court clarifies how to evaluate personal beliefs of jurors

>Jury selection in Kentucky involves the careful evaluation of potential jurors. The defense and prosecution generally have differing priorities, and a judge must also consider whether someone could act appropriately as a juror. All parties will scrutinize the personal beliefs of jurors, and decisions to remove people from jury selection sometimes create legal controversies. In one out-of-state case, a defense attorney challenged a judge's dismissal of a potential juror for cause and received a decision from the state's highest court.

Alternatives to incarceration reduce recidivism rates

The recent passage of the FIRST STEP Act has been lauded by civil rights advocates as a welcome first step on the road toward a fairer and less discriminatory criminal justice system, but the federal law does not offer any relief to more than 2 million inmates of state prisons and jails in Kentucky and around the country. Much of the discussion over mass incarceration has focused on the disproportionately harsh sentences handed down to African-American defendants in narcotics cases, but most of the progress in this area has been made by local authorities exploring alternatives to prison.

First Step Act advances prison and sentencing reform

The First Step Act continues to make progress within the U.S. Congress with bipartisan support. The bill contains a number of reforms to criminal sentencing guidelines and seeks to enforce existing rules that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has failed to observe. A prominent reform within the legislation would apply to prisoners in Kentucky and around the country who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses prior to 2010. If passed, the new law could allow people with long sentences to petition for early release.

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.

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.

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