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Posts tagged "Criminal Defense"

Many Americans know someone convicted of a crime

There is a good chance that an individual in Pennsylvania has a direct member of the family who has been sent to prison or jail. According to a study by Cornell University in New York, 45 percent of Americans have a parent, grandparent or sibling who is or was incarcerated. Children and spouses also counted as direct family ties for the purposes of the study.

Younger Americans facing high rates of being taken into custody

Individuals who are currently age 25 or younger are more likely to be taken into custody compared to older individuals. Furthermore, the likelihood of a woman or white person being taken into custody is also greater now than in the past. This is according to research conducted by the RAND Corporation. The research found that Pennsylvania residents in the youngest age range had lower incomes, worked fewer hours and were less likely to be married.

Court rules jurors cannot be dismissed solely on personal views

It is common practice for potential jurors in Pennsylvania to be dismissed from a case due to their personal beliefs. However, jurors in Massachusetts will no longer be dismissed for their world views if they are capable of being impartial and fair, according to a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Stalking laws in Pennsylvania

The common conception of stalking is a shadowy figure lurking in the bushes as they watch and follow their victim. According to Pennsylvania law, however, the crime of stalking is a bit more broad. Stalking occurs when a person willfully and persistently behaves in a way that causes their victim to become fearful or emotionally distressed. Perpetrators can do this by following their victim physically or through other means like the telephone or Internet.

Learning Black English

Stenographers in Pennsylvania are tasked with transcribing everything that happens in court. However, these same people may have a problem understanding a big part of society: African Americans who speak Black English. As a result, stenographers can make mistakes when trying to paraphrase what they heard being said, which can lead to unintended consequences. In one study, when a group of stenographers had to decipher Black English, they misinterpreted two out of every five sentences and were able to paraphrase only a third of what they heard.

Alternatives to incarceration for violent criminals

Even though the rate of incarceration has decreased slightly in the past decade in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States, many advocates for justice reform believe more needs to be done. The First Step Act, which was passed into law in 2018, is designed to further lower incarceration rates by reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders. Unfortunately, this act only impacts certain federal crimes, which represent a small portion of the overall prison population.

Ruling could limit use of biometric data to unlock phones

Many people in Pennsylvania are concerned about the threat to personal privacy that can come with technological developments. This is especially true of people who are involved with the criminal justice system as an increasing amount of evidence involves material garnered from a defendant's mobile phone or social media. However, one ruling by a federal judge may recognize greater protections for some mobile content.

Inequalities in misdemeanor sentencing

About 80 percent of the criminal cases adjudicated in Pennsylvania and around the country each year involve defendants who are charged with misdemeanors. These are less serious crimes that are usually punished with probation, fines or brief custodial sentences, but that does not mean that being convicted of a misdemeanor cannot be a life-changing experience. Civil rights advocates have long complained about the harsh treatment received by African-American defendants charged with narcotics felonies, but studies suggest that racial disparities are even greater in misdemeanor cases.

Tougher DUI penalties signed into law

Driving under the influence in Pennsylvania carries tougher penalties now that the state's governor has signed a bill into law. A felony charge for some third offenses and an increased prison sentence for DUI-related vehicular homicide are just some of the changes that have been made.

NTSB warns about rise in drug-impaired driving

The National Transportation Safety Board has called for police officers in Pennsylvania and around the country to be provided with a standardized roadside test to determine whether or not motorists are driving under the influence of drugs. The government watchdog said in an Oct. 16 statement that action is urgently needed due to a worrying rise in opioid use and the increased legalization of medical and recreational marijuana.

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