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Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Law Blog

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.

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.

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