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Farrelly PC Blog & Case Results

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Will Police Misconduct in DC Finally Be Addressed?

As reported in the Washington Post, on January 24, the D.C. City Council will hold an oversight hearing to address issues related to police misconduct in the District.  Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the D.C. Council’s public safety committee said he wants Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) Chief Cathy L. Lanier to answer questions about whether police officers who are engaged in unsavory behavior are being identified. 

Wells, who is running for mayor, stated “[i]t is very important to me that residents have confidence in our police officers to be upstanding citizens who are on the side of angels and not people who commit crimes.” 


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Monday, December 30, 2013

What is Diversion? -- Part Two

By: Sean Farrelly

This blog post is the second of a two part series discussing the various forms of "diversion" offered for most DC misdemeanor crimes.  

When an individual is charged with a criminal offense in Washington, DC, in most cases a plea offer is made by the prosecutor.  For a majority of misdemeanor offenses and occasionally in felony matters, the plea offer made by the government will be an offer of what is known as “diversion.”

Diversion is a method by which an individual can resolve his or her case short of conviction.  There are many different types of diversion, including, DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  Each type of diversion comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements and Deferred Prosecution Agreements were discussed previously in Part One.  Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court are discussed in detail below.


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Friday, December 27, 2013

What is Diversion? -- Part One

This blog post is the first of a two part series discussing the various forms of "diversion" offered for most DC misdemeanor crimes.  

When an individual is charged with a criminal offense in Washington, DC, in most cases a plea offer is made by the prosecutor.  For a majority of misdemeanor offenses and occasionally in felony matters, the plea offer made by the government will be an offer of what is known as “diversion.”

Diversion is a method by which an individual can resolve his or her case short of conviction.  There are many different types of diversion, including, DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  Each type of diversion comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements and Deferred Prosecution Agreements will be discussed in detail in this blog post.  Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court will be discussed in Part Two.


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Friday, December 6, 2013

What Happens After I am Arrested in DC?

The answer to this question greatly depends on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest.  At the outset, if you are arrested for a criminal offense in Washington, DC, that means that the law enforcement agency arresting you believes there is “probable cause” to place you under arrest.  Whether or not probable cause exists depends on whether in the particular circumstances, a police officer who is conditioned by their observations and information, and guided by their experience, reasonably could believe that a crime has been committed by the person who is arrested.

Once an officer has probable cause for an arrest, the officer can then formally arrest you and take you into custody.  This means that you are now subject to the control of the police, are no longer free to leave and you would most likely be constrained by handcuffs or by some other means. 


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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DC Murders Remain Unsolved

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, despite a continued improvement in the overall murder rate in Washington, DC, homicides continue to go unsolved at an alarming rate.  The total number of homicides has dropped from a peak of 482 in 1991, to just 108 in 2012, a 78% decline over two decades.  DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier credits the overall improvement in police practices for the drastic decrease.  Specifically, she notes building better community ties, developing sources of information, using modern technology, enforcing information-sharing within law enforcement, focusing on violent repeat offenders and efforts to put more patrol officers on the streets to address crime hot spots.


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Friday, August 23, 2013

DUI Sobriety Testing Explained

I have previously written about what to expect if a police office suspects that you may be driving under the influence.  A major part of any DUI investigation is the administration of what are known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. These tests, commonly referred to by law enforcement as SFSTs are a series of tests designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in order to aid law enforcement in their assessment of whether an individual is operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.  Validation studies indicate that if administered properly by a trained law enforcement officer, the tests can accurately predict around 80-90% of the time whether someone's blood alcohol content is above the legal limit.  As the numbers indicate, these tests are by no means infallible, and when administered incorrectly (which is often the case) or by inexperienced officers, the accuracy of the tests is much lower.  Even when administered perfectly by a seasoned veteran, the results of this test do not support a definitive determination that an individual is guilty of DUI.  In fact, the training manual provided during the certification course for SFSTs clearly states that these tests are designed to aid an officer in determining whether there exists a basis to make an arrest, not whether someone is ultimately guilty.  


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Monday, August 12, 2013

US Attorney General Announces Change in Drug Crime Policy

As reported by the Washington Post and numerous other news outlets, Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce new policies for the prosecution of drug crimes by the Department of Justice.  These new measures are aimed at combating the problem of overcrowding in federal prisons.  In addition, the new policies hope to avoid sending individuals charged with non-violent drug crimes to jail for lengthy periods of time.

Since 1980, the population of the United States has grown by approximately 33%.  However, the federal prison population has grown 800% in that same time.  Jails are operating at 40% over capacity.  The federal government spent $80 billion incarcerating inmates in 2010.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Choosing A Criminal Defense Attorney

When choosing a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney there are a number of things you should be looking for. First and foremost, you have to trust anyone you hire.  If after speaking to an attorney you do not feel as though you trust them then you absolutely should not hire that person.  In addition, it is important that anyone you hire has experience with the type of crime you are charged with.  For example, if you are facing a Washington, DC DUI charge, make sure the attorney you hire has plenty of experience with DUI cases in DC.  Finally, do your homework.  A simple Google search of an attorney's name will most likely provide you with plenty of information about an attorney.  Make sure the attorney's reputation is what you would expect.  If you are not able to obtain any information about an attorney after a simple Google search that should tell you a lot about that attorney.  

 

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Happens After I am Pulled Over for DUI in DC?

Most DUI traffic stops start off like every other traffic stop with some kind of traffic infraction.  Generally speaking, police officers do not pull over cars specifically because they believe the driver of the car is under the influence.  Obviously there are situations where an individual's driving is so erratic that the police's first thought is DUI, but that is usually not the case.  Because most DUI stops start with a traffic infraction, one of the best ways to avoid being arrested for DUI is to ensure that you are following ALL traffic regulations.  Obeying all traffic laws will go a long way when trying to avoid a DUI arrest.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why the Police Don't Read You Your Rights

When an individual is placed under arrest a police officer is required to read an individual their Miranda rights.  Those rights, as made famous by mainstream television on shows like Law and Order, guarantee that an individual who is placed under arrest cannot be interrogated without an attorney present or without first waiving his or her right to have an attorney present.  Therefore, if after you are placed under arrest the police officers interrogate you, meaning they ask you incriminating questions related to the crime, without first reading you your Miranda rights, then anything you say to the police cannot be introduced as evidence at trial.  


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When Can the Police Search My Car?

The short answer is, it depends.  If the police have stopped your vehicle due to a traffic infraction they may be able to search your vehicle in certain circumstances.  If the police have probable cause to believe there may be illegal drugs or weapons in your vehicle then they will be legally justified in searching your vehicle.  However, probable cause cannot be established purely through a "hunch" of the police officer.  They must have an objectively reasonable basis to believe there are illegal drugs or weapons in the vehicle.  This basis is usually established if the officer see or smell drugs or see weapons within the vehicle.  In addition, if you or one of your passengers were to tell the police officer that there were drugs or weapons in the vehicle they would also most likely have probable cause.  


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