Merrell Law Firm, LLC

Posts tagged "Criminal Defense"

Study finds many psychological tests used in court unreliable

Courts in Alabama and across the U.S. are admitting unreliable psychological and IQ tests into evidence in court, according to a new study. Experts say the use of such tests can unfairly influence judges or juries in a variety of court cases.

Why Miranda warnings are important

Many people in Alabama know that if they are arrested, they will hear the police officer read out a list of rights, beginning with the famous phrase, "You have the right to remain silent." However common these words may seem to be, they are more than just rote phrases. They reflect significant rights that people have when under suspicion of a crime, and understanding those rights can be important to protecting them from violations. These rights, known as the Miranda warnings, take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that mandated suspects must be advised of key rights when they are taken into police custody.

Community service sentences can pose problems

In many Alabama cases, community service is seen as a light sentence or a reprieve from costly fines or jail time. When people cannot afford to pay fines, community service sentences present an alternative that can prevent them from racking up considerable debt. However, one study by UCLA's Labor Center and School of Law indicates that community service can have some of the same detrimental effects on low-income communities and communities of color as other types of criminal sentences. In particular, some of the problems associated with community service are very similar to those caused by expensive court fines.

Laws require scrutiny of informant testimony

A movement is underway to examine the veracity of information offered by jailhouse informants, in part because of DNA testing that has exonerated people who were convicted based on informant testimony. Those who have been charged with crimes in Alabama might gain from increased scrutiny of informants. Several states have tightened regulations on the use of jailhouse informants because they are more likely to have ulterior motives.

Bail and hefty fines can be devastating for the poor

For some, getting a traffic ticket is nothing more than a short-term inconvenience. However, for low-income individuals in Alabama and many other states, it can have a long-term impact on their lives. Those who are unable to pay a fine may be sent to jail, and these individuals may be required to pay a fee for each day that they are there. People can also be charged a supervision fee if they are put on probation.

Robbery convictions can come with hefty prison sentences

People accused of robbery in Alabama may face serious long-term consequences if they are convicted. There are several different kinds of theft charges, and not all of them amount to robbery. In most cases, robbery is considered a violent crime as it is classified as taking another person's property through force or the threat of force. There are several different categories of robbery charges in the state, which depend on the circumstances of the incidents involved, and sentencing can vary depending on the charges.

How ketosis can complicate a DUI charge

If a person in Alabama is in ketosis, it could fool a Breathalyzer machine into thinking that the person is legally intoxicated. This is because acetone is created while the body is in ketosis, which may then be expelled from the body in the form of isopropyl alcohol. However, it is important to know that a breath test is not the only way that authorities determine if a person is too impaired to drive.

Lack of accuracy, privacy in facial recognition technology

The rise in the use of facial recognition technology and the lack of standards or regulation around its use means that people in Alabama and throughout the country who have been convicted of crimes could be tracked in certain public places. Even people who are merely suspected of shoplifting without being charged could be barred from stores that chose to do so. The ban could extend far beyond the initial store and could include all the stores in the network.

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