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Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Law Blog

How we can help protect a young person's future

The last several posts on this blog have discussed the rights of young people, who can often find themselves accused of crimes while at school either in the Baton Rouge area or in another part of Louisiana.

Louisiana youth and their parents or guardians should keep in mind that just because a person is in school when he or she gets accused of criminal activity, the police and Louisiana prosecutors will not therefore resort automatically to the juvenile justice system or, if the student is legally an adult, opt for a light punishment.

Rights of students at Baton Rouge public schools

Last week's post discussed how two students at a Baton Rouge area school were facing serious criminal charges following a sweep of their school. Especially in light of this recent news story, Louisiana students, particularly those who are legally adults, need to be aware of their rights and the limits of those rights while they are at school. Not knowing those rights could, among other things, lead to serious drug charges or worse.

For example, some students and their parents might be tempted to think that, while at a public school, a student has the exact same privacy rights that he or she would have while walking on the public streets. School officials have the right to take extra steps to keep schools safe, which means that they may do more than a police officer in the course of an investigation.

School search leads to arrest of two Baton Rouge students

Two teens, one of whom is legally an adult, who attended a Baton Rouge high school are facing serious drug charges after a random lockdown and inspection of the school yielded evidence that incriminated the two students.

Specifically, both students are faced with charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell it. They also face an additional drug possession charge which has been enhanced since the drugs were found at the school. These young people faces serious consequences, including the possibility of jail time.

What is substantive due process?

The last two posts on this blog have discussed how Baton Rouge and Louisiana law enforcement officers and prosecutors have definite boundaries as to what they can and cannot do with respect to charging a Louisiana resident, or anyone for that matter, with a crime.

Basically, the police are subject to two types of legal limits on their authority that are both loosely called "due process." The first, called "procedural due process" basically means that a before the government can take a person's rights, such as by convicting someone of a sex offense and putting them in jail, they must that person the opportunity to fully defend himself or herself.

When the state steps out of bounds, we fight back

Last week's post discussed how Baton Rouge law enforcement officials mistakenly arrested two men for a crime that is based on a Louisiana law that would in all likelihood would not past constitutional muster. The error was so flagrant that the police pretty quickly reversed course and announced that those charges would not be pursued.

However, in other cases, the ones that are not so clear cut, Louisiana police or prosecutors may exceed the legal authority that the have under either federal or state law. As one example among many, they may seize a person's computer to look for child pornography on a mere whim or hunch that a person has such material on his or her computer.

Police detain two men on 'crimes against nature' charges

Baton Rouge police recently detained two men who were being intimate in a public park on charges of both "trespassing" and "crimes against nature." Although a trespassing charge may be simple enough to clear up, as it implies only that one was in a place where he or she had no right to be, the charge of "crimes against nature" sounds and can in fact be scary.

The problem with what the Baton Rouge police did is that, following a decision by the United States Supreme Court, it has become apparent that the federal courts would find Louisiana's crimes against nature law unconstitutional. It is even more disturbing that this is not the first time that Louisiana authorities have tried to use this law to support an arrest; officers with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's office made arrests on "crimes against nature" charges in 2013.

Who supervises probation and how does it work?

Louisianans who find themselves accused of a sex offense, or any other crime for that matter, may find themselves breathing a sigh of relief if they are offered probation in lieu of a prison sentence. This may encourage them to take a plea bargain even though the prosecutor's case is a weak or even when they believe themselves innocent.

Before taking that plunge into an attractive probation sentence, however, Louisianans should ask themselves whether they truly understand the precise nature of a system that may be trapped in for months or even years.

Louisiana explores methods to curb drunk driving

A recent forum sponsored by the Arcadiana Press Club produced several suggestions for reducing the frequency of drunk driving offenses in Louisiana. The panel consisted of a city court judge, the warden of the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, the executive director of the Louisiana Safety Commission, and other officials involved in efforts to control substance abuse.

Perhaps the most important suggestion to emerge from the discussion was an endorsement of the establishment of a statewide database of persons who are arrested for driving while intoxicated. Such a database is intended to provide police throughout the state with information about persons who have been arrested for drunk driving; without such a database, the information does not often cross parish lines.

What is a suspended sentence?

Some people in Louisiana may hear about what lawyers and judges call a "suspended sentence." In Louisiana, a judge can suspend a sentence for most criminal convictions, including a conviction following a felony charge.

A suspended sentence is a sentence that a judge "suspends" ever the head of the defendant, meaning that the defendant does not go to jail immediately but will usually have to go through a period of probation. If the person completes probation without incident, then the person does not have to worry about going to jail all.

New Louisiana laws will make DWI convictions more serious

Last year, the Louisiana legislature passed a number of laws, many of which went in to effect a few weeks ago at the beginning of 2015. Some of these laws will impact those Baton Rouge residents who unfortunately find themselves being accused of a crime.

Perhaps in response to ongoing public pressure, the legislature toughened up the state's DUI laws. Under the new laws, a person who gets convicted of a DUI charge, even a first-time offense, could face a minimum of 10 days behind bars. Those who repeat a DUI one time will, according to sources, face 30 days in jail. In addition to the jail sentence, those convicted may also have to perform 34 hours of mandatory community service.

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