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Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Law Blog

Many synthetic drugs are illegal in Louisiana

Baton Rouge residents may remember that just a few short years ago, many Louisianans were turning to so-called synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs as a legal alternative to drugs that could otherwise land people in trouble with the law. Louisiana authorities quickly closed this legal loophole, however, such that now many synthetic drugs are illegal.

Those who use common forms of synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs now can face drug charges and the severe legal penalties that can come with those drug charges should they be convicted. Specifically, a person caught distributing these types of chemicals can receive a maximum sentence of 50 years at hard labor in a Louisiana prison. While penalties for synthetic marijuana distribution are more lenient, one can still wind in prison for 30 years should he or she get convicted on a synthetic marijuana distribution charge.

How accurate are eyewitness identifications in violent crimes?

Many people in Baton Rouge may believe that if the police produce an eyewitness who actually saw a suspect commit a robbery, assault or other crime of violence, then the ensuing court case is to a large extent merely a formality. The popular culture, including detective shows and even media reports, tends to suggest that the identification of an eyewitness is gospel truth.

Contemporary research reported by the American Psychological Association, however, demonstrates that this common assumption is not always true. Even when people can safely assume that an eyewitness is doing his or her best to tell the truth as he or she saw it, lots of physical and psychological factors can affect the reliability of the account.

Baton Rouge man accused of rape, robbery

A young man from Baton Rouge is facing serious criminal charges in connection with a home invasion that allegedly happened recently. If convicted of these charges, the man faces significant time in a Louisiana prison.

The man is accused of being one of four people who went to an apartment and broke in. According to the tenant of the apartment, the men then grabbed both the tenant and a woman who was with the tenant and put them into a bathroom. The group then reportedly hit the tenant over the head with a pistol several times. The gun allegedly discharged during this encounter.

How we help Louisianans stay off the sex offender registry

Last's week's post on this blog discussed Louisiana's sex offender registry and the serious and long-term consequences that are associated with having one's name on that registry. For some Baton Rouge residents, being on the registry may seem simply to be an extended prison sentence: a person's personal liberties are sharply restricted, and a person's professional and republic reputations are all but destroyed.

However, once a person is convicted of certain types of sex crimes, it is very difficult for that person to argue that his or her name should not appear on the registry, at least for a number of years. The best way to avoid having one's name on the registry is to put up a vigorous defense to the allegations in an effort to avoid a conviction altogether.

Louisiana sex offender registry spells long-term loss of liberty

Getting convicted of a sex offense may seem like a nightmare scenario for a resident of Baton Rouge. Jail sentences are often stiff when it comes to sex crimes, and the stigma associated with these types of crimes can lead to a lifetime of personal and professional difficulties.

As one example, most people convicted of sex crimes are required to register with Louisiana law enforcement authorities so that their names can be placed on the state's sex offender registry. A person has three days after being released from jail to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and provide all kinds of personal information.

What are field sobriety tests supposed to determine?

Many residents of Baton Rouge have probably seen an officer administer the standard field sobriety tests to a person suspected of drunk driving, at least on television or through the Internet. Although most Louisianans may have a vague notion that these tests have something to do with the filing of a DUI charge, they might not know exactly what they are and what they determine.

Although there are many symptoms of intoxication that can manifest themselves, three standardized field sobriety tests were developed for law enforcement officers both in Louisiana and around the country to use. The purpose of these tests is to help police start building a case for a DUI conviction; no one should assume that the tests will be administered or interpreted impartially.

Definition of hate crimes in Louisiana

Last week's post on this blog discusses a recent incident in which Baton Rouge authorities arrested a man on accusations that he committed hate crimes against another person in this state. The story may have left some Baton Rouge residents wondering what exactly a "hate crime" is in this state and what the potential consequences of a committing a hate crime are according to Louisiana law.

In order for a person to face a hate crimes charge in Louisiana, a person first has to commit another criminal offense that involves a victim. The statute lists these offenses. While this list includes serious charges like murder and kidnapping, it also includes crimes like trespassing and theft.

Baton Rouge resident accused of hate crime

Being accused of a crime is often a very serious situation and could place the alleged offender in a difficult position. In some situations, the details of the supposed crime could personally impact the life of the accused, making it extremely important they exercise their legal rights and defend against these allegations.

According to recent reports, a Baton Rouge man was accused of both a hate crime and damaging a person's property after an incident in a trailer park where this man lived. Preliminary reports suggest that the man allegedly got upset when a man of Hispanic origin, who is one of the defendant's neighbors, drove around the defendant. While facts indicate the defendant was in the road, it is not clear whether he was actually impeding traffic.

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.

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