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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerThe majority of police officers are good and rational human beings. Nonetheless, police brutality, aggression, and confrontational behavior does exist. Knowing how to handle such situations should you ever experience one, is critical. In fact, in some situations, it could very well save your life. At the very least, an understanding of your Constitutional rights and thoughtful action can help reduce the risk of a wrongful arrest, wrongfully filed charges and wrongful conviction. The following explains further.

Understanding Your Risk

Anyone can experience police brutality or aggression. However, there are some groups who are at an increased risk. For example, African American males are three times more likely to be killed by an officer of the law than any other race. Further compounding this issue is that African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by a police officer than other racial groups. Whoever you are, it is critical that you understand how you can attempt to de-escalate a situation and protect your rights.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, defendant rightsFor many people, social media is a place to connect with friends, family, or even businesses; however it can also be a tool for police, prosecuting attorneys, and other legal officials to use as they see fit. As a result, anyone who shares illegal activity — be it alleged animal abuse, child abuse, rape, kidnapping, or murder — may find themselves in jail facing criminal charges. Woman Faces Charges of Animal Abuse after Posting Photos on Facebook In December of last year, a North Carolina woman allegedly posted a photo on Facebook of a dog with its mouth taped shut. Shared approximately 400,000 times on the popular social media site, several users called for an investigation into the matter. When local officers responded, they allegedly found no sign of injury and dogs that appeared to be cared for, but the woman was still arrested on charges for cruelty to animals. Facebook Video Leads to DUI Arrest While driving down the road, an Ohio man allegedly took a cellphone video of himself drinking from a partially concealed bottle. Just hours later, the man found himself in police custody. With a copy of his 12-second video in the hands of the police, he faced five misdemeanor charges, including operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and possessing an open container in a vehicle. Yik Yak Willingly Hands Data Over to Law Officials While not all social media platforms will openly admit that they provide information to law officials, the platform Yik Yak has no qualms about being open with its data. Recently, Yik Yak (and other witnesses) reached out to Oneonta City officials after young college student allegedly posted a mass shooting threat. Though the message was soon deleted, the individual now faces charges for making a terrorist threat (a Class D felony), and second-degree aggravated harassment (Class A misdemeanor). Social Media Used in Pending Criminal Cases Anything that is not set as “private” on your social media accounts may be fully accessible to members of the public and admissible in court. Even if you only share the information with a select group of people, it is possible to find that a recent status update or photo is being submitted as evidence. Bottom line: do not share potentially incriminating evidence on social media. Even better, do not discuss your pending criminal case with anyone other than your attorney — and that includes on social media. If you need aggressive and competent representation after an arrest, the skilled Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, can help. With more than 250 years of combined experience, our attorneys know what it takes to build a solid defense. Learn more by calling 414-271-1440 to schedule your consultation today.

Sources:

http://myfox8.com/2015/12/13/woman-accused-of-posting-animal-abuse-photo-on-facebook-to-face-nc-judge/

http://huffingtonpost.com/entry/drunk-driving-facebook-video-leads-to-dustin-rittgers-arrest_568443eae4b0b958f65b27cb

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, defendant rightsThe past several years have seen a rise in tension between police officers and the communities in which they work, especially African American communities. Since the death of Michael Brown and the unrest in Ferguson, calls have grown louder in Wisconsin and around the country for reform. One particular reform that is being implemented in major cities throughout the country is the use of body cameras on police officers. Similar calls have been made here in Wisconsin, with differing success to date. A Tale of Two Cities There is good news on the horizon for Milwaukee residents who have been the victim of police brutality in the past. By the end of 2016, the entire Milwaukee police department may be outfitted with body cameras, much sooner than police officers in many other big cities throughout the United States. This is what the mayor of Milwaukee has proposed, and it will cost $880,000 to implement in the 2016 budget. This comes on the heels of many tense moments between police and citizens in the past year, as well as a White House task force that reported that body cameras reduce officers’ use of force and complaints about excessive force. At the same time Milwaukee is poised to lead the nation on this issue, an advisory board in Madison voted four against two in September against a pilot program requiring patrol officers to be outfitted with body cameras. A petition has been started, however, by concerned citizens to also require Madison officers to be equipped with body cameras, based on a high number of excessive force complaints. What to Do in the Meantime The budget for body cameras in Milwaukee has still not been approved, and there are no plans on the horizon for Madison officers to be outfitted with body cameras. The rest of Wisconsin lags behind the major metropolitan areas. In the interim, we continue to hear stories of citizens who feel their civil rights were violated by the police when they were arrested. Of course, many police officers are overwhelmingly decent and law-abiding citizens, who protect the rest of us at great personal risk to their own safety. However, there are cases in Wisconsin and throughout the nation where people’s rights are violated by overzealous police officer or in other situations where tempers flare. Do You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated by the Police?

Whatever the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you have certain rights, which cannot be violated. If they are violated, your criminal case may be dismissed, and sometimes you may even have a lawsuit against the entity that violated your rights. In any event, the attorneys at our firm have extensive experience with criminal defense, and will know whether or not your rights have been violated, if you are unsure. If you have been arrested in Wisconsin and feel your rights may have been violated in the process, call or email the skilled Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys at our firm today to see how we can help you.

Sources:

http://channel3000.com//town-of-madison-police-to-wear-body-cameras/34327738

http://dailykos.com/story/2015/09/11/1420223/-Madison-WI-Needs-Police-Body-Cameras-Petition

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal justice systemThrough each stage of the criminal justice system you have rights that must be protected. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution grant you many rights, including the right to an attorney in most stages of criminal proceedings. These rights ensure that your trial is fair and that you do not unjustly get sent to prison. However, some of your rights, including the right to an attorney, can be waived.

Each year numerous people are arrested in the United States and are charged with drug violations. To be sure, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2007, estimated that 14 million individuals were arrested across the United States, and approximately 1,800,000 of those individuals were arrested for drug violations. In Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, approximately 340,000 individuals were arrested in 2012, and an estimated 27,000 of those arrests were related to drugs.

Miranda Rights

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, warrantless searchesLegal disputes over the admissibility of evidence seem like they have the potential to be quite dry, but in reality they can make all the difference in the outcome of a case. For instance, if a person is charged with possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution will have a difficult time proving their case if the judge prevents them from actually introducing the drugs to the jury. In the criminal context, one of the most important rules related to the admissibility of evidence comes from the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from “unreasonable” searches. Importantly, if a police officer finds evidence as a result of a search that the court considers unreasonable, then the prosecutor cannot use that evidence in the trial as a punishment for violating the defendant's rights. Police and Warrants The general rule about whether a search is reasonable is whether it was executed pursuant to a valid warrant. Warrants are legal documents that empower the police to perform a search. The police get warrants by going before the judge, and presenting evidence that there is probable cause to believe that a search will turn up further evidence of criminal activity. The mere existence of a warrant does not make all searches valid. For instance, warrants are limited to searching specific premises for specific items. If the police exceed the boundaries of the warrant, then the search may be deemed unreasonable. Similarly, warrants are only good for a limited amount of time. Police are not allowed to seek warrants and then store them indefinitely to use as needed. Searches executed under an outdated warrant may also be considered unreasonable. Exceptions to the Warrant Rule Importantly, the rule that police need a warrant to perform a search is subject to a variety of exceptions. One of the most important exceptions is for vehicles. It would be impractical to always force police to seek a warrant during a traffic stop, so the law allows police to use their own judgment. If the police believe that there is probable cause to perform a search, then they may search a vehicle over the driver's objections. However, if that search turns up evidence of a crime, the judge at trial will have to determine whether the officer actually had probable cause. Another important exception to the warrant rule is one of consent. Police officers are allowed to ask for permission to perform searches of people or their property. People are under no obligation to consent to these searches, but if they do consent, they lose the authority to later contest the reasonableness of the search. The law provides a variety of protections to ensure that people accused of crimes do not have their rights violated. If you are facing criminal charges, and want to learn more about these protections, contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer today.

 

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal recordOne of the most difficult parts of a criminal conviction is the continuing existence of a criminal record. Long after people have served their time and reformed themselves, they can still find their criminal record holding them back, preventing them from getting work, housing, or state licensing. Wisconsin law does allow for people to have their criminal records expunged in certain circumstances. However, it is important to note that Wisconsin's laws on expungement are particularly harsh. They do not provide as many benefits as some states' laws do, and they can also only be accessed for a limited number of reasons.

How Expungement Works

Expungements in Wisconsin are available to only a limited group of people, usually those who committed their crimes as juveniles or young adults. In order to qualify for an expungement, a person must meet four criteria. First, they must have committed the crime while they were under the age of 25. Second, the crime must be a misdemeanor or certain low-level, non-violent felonies. Third, the person must have successfully completed their sentence, which includes things like complying with the terms of probation following a release from prison. Fourth, the court must determine that the offender stands to benefit from an expungement and that such an expungement would not go against the public interest.

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Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, police searchThe U.S. Constitution provides a variety of rights to people accused of crimes, such as the right to a jury trial, the right to avoid testifying against oneself, and the right to be safe from cruel and unusual punishment. One of the most important of these rights is the right to be protected from unreasonable searches, which comes from the Fourth Amendment. This right prevents the police from searching a person's home or property without a warrant (with some exceptions).

This criminal right is unique because of the way the government enforces it. Many constitutional rights are enforced by monetary damages. If a person has their rights violated, then they can sue the government and recover money for the harm they suffered. The protection against unreasonable searches is enforced through something known as the “exclusionary rule.” The exclusionary rule states that any evidence that police uncover as a result of an illegal search may not be used in court. Additionally, any evidence that the police later discover as a result of illegally-obtained evidence is also banned from trial under the colorfully named doctrine of “the fruit of the poison tree.”

Why Have the Exclusionary Rule

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Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, Milwaukee car crash attorneyOne of the most difficult things for people to deal with in relation to traffic accidents and verbal statements is the fact what they say early in the process can have powerful impacts later on. People involved in traffic accidents will end up dealing with complex bureaucracies like the police department and insurance companies. People should understand that things they say at the scene of the accident or when talking to insurance companies can be used as evidence against them later in the case. In fact, people can even accidentally settle their claims without meaning to when talking to insurance companies because the law and legal ethics give clients a wide degree of authority to settle their own cases.

What Not to Say to Police

The first place many people make mistakes with regard to saying things they should not is when they are talking to the police after an accident. When people get into a traffic accident, it is important to call the police. This will usually involve an officer coming to the scene and taking statements from both drivers. It is important to be truthful when giving these statements, but it is also important not to volunteer more information than a person has access to.

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criminal justice system, Wisconsin defense lawyer, Wisonsin criminal defense attorneyAttorneys act as people's representatives in court, often making tactical decisions when there is no time to consult with their client. Additionally, attorneys work with clients to develop overarching legal strategies. In order to do this job well, attorneys need to have a clear picture of all the facts that their client knows, which means they need complete honesty from their clients. For instance, a criminal defense attorney will not be able to develop a strong trial strategy if their client lies about where they were when the crime was committed. In order to foster this complete honesty, Wisconsin law provides clients with attorney-client privilege. This privilege protects clients from being forced to testify about conversations with their attorney, and it affords the same protection for lawyers.

When Privilege Applies

The purpose of the privilege is to help people get candid legal advice, so it does not apply to every conversation that anyone has with a lawyer. Instead, it applies only to communications between lawyers and clients or representatives of either party, which means that a communication between a legal secretary and a client could qualify for privilege if it meets the other requirements. Additionally, the communication must be confidential. That does not necessarily mean that only the lawyer and client were present for it, but it cannot be a public communication. Finally, the communication must be made for the “purpose of facilitating the rendition of professional legal services.” If something meets these qualifications, then it is protected from forced disclosure in most circumstances.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, constitutional rightsThe law attempts to provide a variety of protections to people who have been accused of a crime. Before and during a trial, the Constitution conveys numerous rights that are designed to prevent abuses on the part of the criminal justice system. After the trial, a losing defendant is allowed to appeal their case to a higher court if they think the trial court made a mistake. Yet sometimes even with all these protections, courts still make mistakes. When that happens, people may be eligible for a writ of habeas corpus, also known as a habeas petition or simply the Great Writ.

Understanding the Writ

Habeas corpus is an old writ that has been around since the drafting of the Constitution, but is now codified in 28 U.S.C § 2254. The idea behind the writ is that it provides a check on the government, preventing someone from being held without good cause. Essentially, it lets people being held by the government go to court to argue that they are being held illegally.

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