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United States Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding BAC Warrantless Search in Missouri v. McNeely
The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on January 9, 2013 in the Missouri v. McNeelycase. The issue surrounding the case is whether a law enforcement officer can obtain a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver without the person’s permission or a warrant under exigent circumstances. Steven R. Shapiro, New York, N. Y. of The American Civil Liberties Union, argued on behalf the Respondent McNeely. John N. Koester, Jr., Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Jackson, Mo., argued for the Petitioner and Nicole A. Saharsky, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, Washington, D. C. argued for the United States, as amicus curiae (someone who is not a party to the case, but has an interest in influencing the outcome of the case).
In October 2010, Respondent, Tyler McNeely was stopped by Corporal Mark Winder of the Missouri State Highway Patrol after he observed McNeely driving 56 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone and crossing the centerline. Winder said he smelled alcohol on McNeely’s breath and conducted standard field sobriety tests. Winder testified later than NcNeely did poorly on the tests and that he also refused to take a breathalyzer test. He was arrested and later charged with driving while intoxicated in violation of MO. Rev. Stat. Section 577.010 J.A. 33.
Neely was taken by law enforcement to St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, where a blood sample was forcibly taken from him, without his consent and without a warrant. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that these actions were a violation of Mr. McNeely’s 4th amendment constitutional rights, which amendment protects individuals from warrantless searches, except in special circumstances when a delay in testing could either threaten a life or destroy potential evidence. Other courts have also ruled that because alcohol is known to dissipate in the blood stream, blood tests can be taken prior to obtaining a warrant.
The ACLU argues that the arresting officer made no effort to obtain a warrant because he didn’t think he needed one and not because he was afraid the alcohol would dissipate in Mr. Neely’s system. The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected to settle the issue of whether warrants are necessary for DUI blood tests.
Hiring a Missouri Criminal Defense DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DWI or DUID in Missouri, you should hire a Missouri DWI/DUI criminal defense attorney immediately to defend you. A conviction means that you could face a license suspension or revocation, jail time and/or penalties depending on the number of convictions you have and the circumstances surrounding the case.
At Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys, we understand the seriousness a DWI/DUI or related conviction can have on your life. We have years of experience successfully defending clients facing DWI/DUI charges. Your Imhoff attorney will review the police report, any field sobriety tests, breathalyzer test and/or BAC test to make sure that your constitutional rights were not violated and if appropriate will negotiate with the prosecutor to get your charges reduced to a lesser offense, get you alternative sentencing or get the charges dropped.
Supreme Court to Decide Whether ACCA Applies in California Burglary Case Descamps v. United States
On Monday, January 7, 2013, the United State Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Descamps v. United States case. The case concerns whether a Congressional mandate regarding federal sentence enhancements for prior burglary convictions under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) applies in the underlying case. In the Descamps case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that the District Court was correct in holding that Descamps’ three prior violent felony convictions were applied correctly under ACCA.
The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), requires a minimum 15 year imprisonment for repeat offenders who have been convicted of an unlawful possession of a firearm and violated 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Section 924(e)(1) only applies to defendants with three prior state or federal convictions for felonies or serious drug offenses Under Section 924e)(2)(B) violent felonies are those that either(1) involve threat or physical force against another person; (2) involve burglary, arson or extortion, or a similar type offense; or (3) involve a serious drug offense punishable by 10 years imprisonment.
Descamps v. United States Case
In the underlying case, the petitioner, Matthew Descamps, had five prior felony convictions. He was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)*. This statute prohibits a person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year to possess, ship/transport, or receive any firearm or ammunition. The specific issue in the case is whether Decamps’ prior guilty plea burglary conviction for violating California Penal Code Section 459 qualifies under the generic burglary definition the Supreme Court Case used in Taylor v. United States as “an unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or other structure, with intent to commit a crime.” Under California Penal Code Section 459, burglary is defined as when a “person . . . enters [various structures] . . . with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony.”
The criminal attorney for petitioner Decamps argued that Decamps’ burglary conviction for violating California Penal Code Section 459 simply requires that someone enter a structure with the intent to commit a crime, which could easily fit the definition of a shoplifter, and does not meet the “unlawful or unprivileged” entry required by the ACCA burglary definition. Therefore, Mr. Johnson argued that a conviction under the ACCA does not apply.
The Supreme Court justices appeared to be more receptive to the government’s argument looking to the residual clauses of the ACCA, which also adds “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”. The attorney for the government, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Benjamin J. Horwich, argued that the government was only relying on the burglary clause under the ACCA and not the residual clause, and that the federal sentencing courts should start by looking at the elements of the state conviction and the elements of the generic federal offense under the ACCA to achieve greater sentencing equity.
Many Defendants in other cases have raised a number of constitutional challenges to Section 924(e) such as Congress lacked the constitutional authority to enact this Section and that Section 924(e) is a violation of the Second, Fifth, Six and Eight Amendments, although with not much success. To what degree the Supreme Court may decide to qualify prior convictions for categorical inclusion under ACCA for lower courts to apply remains unknown for now until the Court makes their ruling.
Hiring a California Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing burglary charges in California should be taken seriously, especially if you have prior felony convictions. If convicted, you could face federal sentencing enhancements under ACCA if you were in possession of a firearm during the burglary. Hiring the right attorney to defend you will improve the outcome of your case. At Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys, we have years of experience successfully defending clients facing burglary and firearm offenses. Your Imhoff criminal defense attorney will help you fight your charges by mounting a vigorous defense on your behalf. In consideration of your specific burglary case circumstances, we will work to get the best case outcome possibly through negotiating with the prosecutor to get your charges reduced to a lesser crime, negotiating for you alternative sentencing such as community service or probation and/or including getting your charges dropped. Contact Imhoff & Associates for a free case evaluation.
*In the case of a person who violates section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions by any court referred to in section 922(g)(1) of this title for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than fifteen years, and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not suspend the sentence of, or grant a probationary sentence to, such person with respect to the conviction under section 922(g).
Murder is a horrible, heinous crime. All agree to that. Prior to this week, 28 states had laws on their books that mandated to sentencing juvenile offenders to life in prison without parole.
The issue is that the justice system views juvenile offenders as too young and tender to appreciate the consequences of these crimes. In other words they cannot fully understand and comprehend their actions and the resulting circumstances that they have made because of their actions. Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the opinion for the Supreme Court, stated “Children are different” then adult offenders when it comes to crime and punishment. The cases before the court concerned two 14-year-old boys one from Alabama and one from Arkansas.
On Mondy, June 25th, in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision (Kagan, Bader-Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy & Sotomayor for the Majority and CJ Roberts, Alito, Scalia & Thomas for the Dissent), the court struck down the mandatory life sentence scheme for juvenile offenders. The Majority’s opinion shows that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are cruel and unusual punishment even if it occurred to over 2,000 US citizens (which doesn’t seem unusual) nor does it forbid life terms for youths convicted of homicide. This opinion will not release any one person from prison, or automatically grant anyone a new parole hearing. However, it does create a need to resentence a lot of juvenile offenders.
The Supreme Court followed the reasoning of Mary Barthelme whose work was instrumental in establishing the USA’s first Juvenile Court system in 1899 in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) and other early advocates for juvenile justice. These proponents of juvenile justice come at crime and punishment for children from the angle of rehabilitation and not punishment. Punishment is still meted out for juvenile offenders; however, the focus is on making the child offender into a productive citizen and not to simply remove them from civilized society. The basic premise is that these offenders are immature and less deserving of the country’s harshest punishment.
The Supreme Court has been moving in this direction since 2005 when they struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders. Then, two years ago the Supreme Court invalidated laws that sentenced children to life without parole for crimes that were less serious than murder.
In a justice system that deals in mandatory life sentences, the “whys” of a crime’s occurrence are not dealt with by the court, only the “hows” of the crimes are presented to the trial judge or jury. Justice Kagan in a footnote stated that life sentences can still be handed down to the most heinous of the juvenile offenders, however those sentences cannot be mandatory. The justice system must make accommodations for the juvenile offenders to present mitigation for the circumstances surrounding their crimes. That means that they can explain why these crimes occurred and not merely dispute how these crimes occurred. Judges need to consider factors such as juveniles are less culpable, less responsible for their actions and they’re immature compared to adults. Judges also need to consider the context of their homes and the environment in which they grew up.
This reasoning is in agreement with the very first proponents’ view of juvenile offenders and their crimes. Children now have a better chance of receiving a sentence that is rehabilitative in scope and not merely punishment.
For more information on the criminal defense attorneys at Imhoff & Associates, visit http://www.CriminalAttorney.com. The criminal law firm attorneys practice in Juvenile Law as well as all other areas of criminal law. Interested parties may also contact a criminal lawyer at the firm by calling 1-888-726-0574.
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