Gilmer & Giglio

Blog

The FBI has a new fitness app, but you should think twice before downloading

Many of us have fitness apps loaded on our phones: Nike+, Apple’s Health App, Zombies, Run!, and the list goes on and on, but there’s a new option now available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

The FBI Physical Fitness Test App is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

The FBI markets this app as a way to “learn what it’s like to train as an agent.”

The problem, as we criminal defense lawyers see it? This app tracks your location, as most fitness tracker apps do, so it can log mileage for walks or runs, for example; however, if law enforcement wants that information from your average fitness tracker app, they are going to have to go to that company and ask nicely (most companies will say no as they have determined that the cost of providing their customers’ data to the government is much more expensive than the pain of not acquiescing to the government’s requests), or they have to go to court and get a search warrant ordering that company to provide them the records. And in order to get a search warrant, they must demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that they have probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be located in the information they want that company to disclose.

This app? Gives them access to your location data without any type of court order or supervision.

This app requests your phone provide your precise and approximate location, that it have permission to read the contents of your USB storage, and have full network access, prevent your phone from sleeping, and read your Google service configuration.

There may be nothing harmful, here, but there are so many non-governmental fitness tracker apps, we wouldn't use one that willingly gives information on our every move to the government. Be thoughtful about the apps you install on your phone and think hard before you willingly become a witness against yourself.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and your location data is being used against you, give us a call at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.

Supreme Court deals a blow to civil asset forfeiture

Remember way back in December when we talked about civil asset forfeiture? Well, on February 20, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Timbs v. Indiana that could change a lot of that.

In that case, Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty to a drug and theft charge in state court. The maximum monetary penalty for those offenses was $10,000. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement had seized a Land Rover that Timbs had purchased for $42,000 using proceeds from his father’s life insurance. Law enforcement alleged that Timbs had used the vehicle to transport heroin, justifying their seizure of the vehicle. After litigation in the state courts over the forfeiture of a vehicle valued at over four times the potential penalty for his drug offense, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

The USSC ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s protections against excessive fines apply to the states under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and, in keeping with its prior ruling in Austin v. United States, 509 U.S. 602, held that these types of forfeitures fall within the protections of the clauses cited above when they are at least partially punitive.

This ruling strikes a blow against civil forfeitures by state law enforcement agencies across the country. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and the government is also attempting to seize their assets, give us a call at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.

What are the consequences of violating a protective order?

La R.S. 14:79 establishes the criminal consequences for violating a protective order:

On a first conviction that does not involve physical violence, the offender shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both.

On a second conviction that does not involve physical violence, the offender shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than 14 days nor more than 2 years. The first 14 days must be served without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. 

If the violation involves physical violence, the offender shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than 3 months nor more than 2 years. The first 30 days of the sentence shall be without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

On a second or subsequent conviction within 5 years involving physical violence, the offender shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $2,000 and imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years. The first year without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. 

Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 320(K) states that a violation of any bond condition (including the violation of a protective order issued as a condition of bond) shall be considered constructive contempt of court and shall result in the revocation of bail and the issuance of a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest or remanding the defendant to custody. The Court may then increase the defendant’s bail, add additional conditions to his bail, or hold him without bail pending trial. 

If you or someone you know is facing charges for violating a protective order, please contact our office to set up a consult at (318) 459-9111.

What is the difference between a civli protective order and a criminal protective order?

A criminal protective order is issued in conjunction with a criminal charge and most often as a condition of the defendant’s bond obligation. A civil protective order can be issued entirely independently of a criminal investigation and for grounds that may not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

Civil Protective Orders:

Civil protective orders are governed by Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 46, Chapters 28 & 28-a, c & d; specifically: §§2131, et seq., 2151, et seq., 2171, et seq., and 2181, et seq. 

A civil protective order can be filed on behalf of the petitioner alone, the petitioner’s minor children, alone, or both. 

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) shall issue pending a hearing on the permanent order if the petitioner shows an immediate and present danger of abuse in the petition.

Criminal Protective Orders:

Criminal protective orders are governed by Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 313, known as “Gwen’s Law.”

In any case in which a defendant is accused of using force or violence against a household member or dating partner (as defined in the statute), the court is required to hold a contradictory hearing before setting bail to determine the conditions of bail and whether the defendant should be held without bail.

If the court determines that the defendant poses a threat or danger to the victim, the court shall order that the defendant refrain from going near the victim’s home, school, or place of employment, and shall refrain from having any contact with the victim whatsoever.

These conditions will remain in place (unless modified) while the defendant is on bail (i.e.: until the criminal case has concluded).

If you or someone you know is dealing with a civil or criminal protective order and has questions, please call our office at (318) 459-9111.

What is a protective order and what should you do if you are served with one?

In Louisiana there are several types of protective orders. They fall into two main categories: criminal and civil.

A criminal protective order is issued in conjunction with a criminal charge and most often as a condition of the defendant’s bond obligation. A civil protective order can be issued entirely independently of a criminal investigation and for grounds that may not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

In either case, protective orders are issued because there is a threat of harm or harassment from the defendant in the action to the petitioner in the action. Protective orders are not limited to individuals who are married or in intimate relationships and can be issued in situations where one individual is stalking or simply harassing another individual. 

The purpose of a protective order is to prohibit contact between the petitioner and the defendant and to stop the behavior, whether it be physical violence or harassment that is the subject of the protective order.

Protective orders are usually filed by filling out a form available at the Clerk of Court’s office. If you are served with one, you should first note specifically what provisions the Court has ordered you to comply with. The first document you will be served with is a Temporary Restraining Order (or TRO) which will be in place until the hearing date listed in the court’s order. It may prohibit you to go to certain locations or make contact with certain people. In proceedings involving people in relationships, it may permit use of certain property (homes or vehicles, for example) to one of the parties. 

You should contact an attorney as soon as possible upon receiving the TRO because it is likely you will have a hearing date scheduled within two weeks. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not the court will issue a Permanent Restraining Order. At this hearing, you will be permitted to present witnesses and to testify on your own behalf.

A protective order not only has consequences with regard to your contact with the individual filing it. If a protective order is granted, you can lose your concealed carry permit, you will be ordered to dispose of or to surrender to law enforcement all of your firearms, and you may be required to report the existence of the protective order to employers or licensing agencies, depending on the terms of your employment.

If you or someone you know has recently been served with a TRO, call us at (318) 459-9111 to schedule a consult.

Time, again, for another podcast recommendation from Gilmer & Giglio:

Recently, we’ve caught up on Serial: Season Three.

From the show’s website:

Serial is heading back to court. This time, in Cleveland. Not for one extraordinary case; instead, Serial wanted to tackle the whole criminal justice system. To do that we figured we’d need to look at something different: ordinary cases.

So we did. Inside these ordinary cases we found the troubling machinery of the criminal justice system on full display. We chose Cleveland, because they let us record everywhere — courtrooms, back hallways, judges’ chambers, prosecutors’ offices. And then we followed those cases outside the building, into neighborhoods, into people’s houses, and into prison.

We watched how justice is calculated in cases of all sizes, from the smallest misdemeanor to the most serious felony. 

This season, we tell you the extraordinary stories of ordinary cases. One courthouse, week by week.

This is a really interesting view into the inner workings of a criminal courthouse. Take a listen and then come to our facebook and tell us what you thought!

And if you find yourself in need of assistance with a criminal case, call us at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.

The non-criminal consequences of a driving while intoxicated arrest or conviction

Many people are aware that a DWI conviction will result in an order to pay a fine and serve some jail time or spend some time on probation with driver improvement classes, community service, and substance abuse treatment; however, many people are not aware of the non-criminal consequences that can result from a DWI arrest or conviction.

Collateral consequences of a DWI arrest

1. Suspension of your driving privileges

If you are arrested for DWI, you will be asked to submit a breath sample or to a urine or blood test to determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If you refuse or submit and your BAC is above a .08 (or .01 if you are under 21), the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driving privileges. This suspension will occur automatically 30 days after your arrest unless you file an appeal using a form provided to you at the time of your arrest.

2. Licensing Requirements

If you hold a state license, for example, if you are a nurse or attorney, you are required to report arrests to your licensing agency. Failure to do so can cause your license to be suspended or disciplinary proceedings to be instituted. 

Collateral consequences of a DWI conviction

1. Suspension of your driving privileges

A DWI conviction will result in your driver’s license being suspended again. This suspension will run concurrently with (i.e., at the same time as) the suspension related to the breath test; but there is no right to appeal this suspension. For both suspensions, you may be eligible for a hardship license if you comply with certain requirements which may include the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in your vehicle and the purchase of SR-22 insurance.

2. Insurance Consequences

Your car insurance rates may increase or your car insurance may cancel your policy entirely after a DWI conviction. You may also be required to purchase additional “high-risk” insurance in order to get your driver’s license reinstated by the DMV.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DWI, call us at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult to discuss the criminal and non-criminal consequences of such an arrest.

Masks are legal at Mardi Gras!

As we discussed in our Halloween blog post last year, it is illegal to wear masks in public in Louisiana except with a few limited exceptions. Luckily, we are about to arrive at one of those exceptions: La. R.S. 313(C)(2):

“To persons participating in masquerade balls or entertainments, to persons participating in carnival parades or exhibitions during the period of Mardi Gras festivities, to persons participating in the parades or exhibitions of minstrel troupes, circuses, or other dramatic or amusement shows, or to promiscuous masking on Mardi Gras which are duly authorized by the governing authorities of the municipality in which they are held or by the sheriff of the parish if held outside of an incorporated municipality.”

Bear in mind that masks are permissible only after a permit is obtained from the local law enforcement agency.

Have a safe and happy masked or unmasked Mardi Gras!

If you or anyone you know needs assistance with some Mardi Gras related mischief, please call our office at (318) 459-9111 or click the “contact us” link on our website!

Have a safe (and legal) time at Mardi Gras this year!

Mardi Gras in Louisiana is a time of celebration and revelry! We love the parades and bals and fun that come to our community every year! That said, we want our clients, family, and friends to have a safe and legal Mardi Gras, as well.

Some common arrests we see during this time of year involve alcohol: driving while intoxicated and public drunkeness or disturbing the peace.

We also often see people arrested for criminal property damage and resisting an officer, again, often resulting from alcohol consumption and large unruly crowds.

Please avoid trespassing on private property during the Mardi Gras season

All of these offenses (unless this is a third or fourth offense DWI) are misdemeanors but, like any criminal charge, can cause vast and far-reaching consequences in your personal and professional life.

If you or someone you know runs into legal trouble at Mardi Gras festivities this year, please call our office at (318) 459-9111 or click the “contact us” link on our website!

How much will an expungement cost?

Depending on the nature of the charge, the jurisdiction where the expungement will be filed, and whether or not the offense was a DWI, an expungement will cost approximately $600 in filing fees and expenses.*

In general, the filing fees for an expungement are broken down as follows:

  • $200.00 money order payable to Clerk of Court

  • $250.00 money order payable to Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification/Information

  • $ 50.00 money order payable to Caddo Parish Sheriff

  • $ 50.00 money order payable to Caddo Parish District Attorney

Some parishes will charge slightly less or more to the Clerk of Court and in some circumstances, a DWI arrest will cost an additional $50 because certain records have to be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles, along with the documentation of the expungement.

In addition to these costs, a background check must be filed with the expungement, which costs $26 from Louisiana State Police. In order to obtain the background check, you must send a fingerprint card to the LSP and the cost will vary by police department. If you are eligible for expungement because of sentencing pursuant to Article 893 or 894, there may be costs associated with filing the motion to set aside.

*Attorney Fees are charged separately from expenses and will vary by attorney. If you would like to set up a consult to discuss an expungement, please call our office at (318) 459-9111 or click the “contact us” link on our website!

I need a state license, will an expungement help me?

We get asked all the time about the benefits of an expungement when applying for a job. For your average job that is simply going to require a background check and doesn’t have additional licensing requirements, often an expungement will help you.

In the event your job requires more than a simple background check, or has specific licensing requirements, you may be required to disclose an arrest even if you have had your record expunged.

Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 973 establishes the effects of an expungement:

A. An expunged record of arrest or conviction shall be confidential and no longer considered to be a public record and shall not be made available to any person or other entity except for the following:

(1) To a member of a law enforcement or criminal justice agency or prosecutor who shall request that information in writing, certifying that the request is for the purpose of investigating, prosecuting, or enforcing criminal law, for the purpose of any other statutorily defined law enforcement or administrative duties, or for the purposes of the requirements of sex offender registration and notification pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 15:540 et seq.

(2) On order of a court of competent jurisdiction and after a contradictory hearing for good cause shown.

(3) To the person whose record has been expunged or his counsel.

(4) To a member of a law enforcement or criminal justice agency, prosecutor, or judge, who requests that information in writing, certifying that the request is for the purpose of defending a law enforcement, criminal justice agency, or prosecutor in a civil suit for damages resulting from wrongful arrest or other civil litigation and the expunged record is necessary to provide a proper defense.

B. Upon written request therefor and on a confidential basis, the information contained in an expunged record may be released to the following entities that shall maintain the confidentiality of such record: the Office of Financial Institutions, the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, the Emergency Medical Services Certification Commission, Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions, the Louisiana Department of Insurance, the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners, the Louisiana State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, or any person or entity requesting a record of all criminal arrests and convictions pursuant to R.S. 15:587.1, or as otherwise provided by law.

C. Except as to those persons and other entities set forth in Paragraph A of this Article, no person whose record of arrest or conviction has been expunged shall be required to disclose to any person that he was arrested or convicted of the subject offense, or that the record of the arrest or conviction has been expunged.

Subsection (B) establishes the organizations who are exempt from the expungement order:

  • Office of Financial Institutions;

  • Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners;

  • Louisiana State Board of Nursing;

  • Louisiana State Board of Dentistry;

  • Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists;

  • The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy;

  • The Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners;

  • Emergency Medical Services Certification Commission;

  • Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions;

  • Louisiana Department of Insurance;

  • Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners;

  • Louisiana State Board of Chiropractic Examiners;

  • or any person or entity requesting a record of all criminal arrests and convictions pursuant to R.S. 15:587.1, or as otherwise provided by law.

Despite the fact that your un-expunged record will still be visible if you are applying to one of the above state agencies for a license to work in Louisiana, it is often a good idea to obtain the expungement anyway. The fact that your record has been expunged will also be known to the above agencies and it will show that you are either a first-time offender who was sentenced pursuant to Articles 893 or 894 or that you have served a 5 or 10 year cleansing period with no subsequent arrests so as to be eligible for the expungement.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty obtaining employment as a result of a criminal arrest and would like to know if you are eligible for expungement, please contact our office at (318) 459-9111 for a consultation.

How long will an expungement take?

Anywhere from 6 - 9 months from beginning to end.

The first step will depend on the grounds under which you are eligible for an expungement. If you are able to expunge your arrest because you were sentenced under Article 893 or 894, you will first need to file and have granted a motion to set aside your conviction. Once that is completed, you can move on to the first step for everyone else:

(1) Obtain a background check from the Louisiana State Police. This usually takes anywhere from 30-60 days to obtain once you have sent the fees and fingerprints off to the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information.

(2) Obtain all minutes and fill out your forms and then file for the expungement.

(3) Wait. The State has 60 days to file an objection to the Motion for Expungement.

(4) Depending on what jurisdiction the expungement is filed in, the procedure at this point will differ slightly. Some parishes will grant the expungement automatically if no objection is filed; some will require a hearing even if no objection is filed. A hearing will be required if the state objects.

(5) Note that your rap sheet may still show the arrest until you have received certification letters from the arresting agency and Louisiana State Police confirming that their records have been removed from public view.

Because so much of the process is dependent on the actions of third parties (LSP, the State of Louisiana, the court), I always recommend clients begin the expungement process as early as possible in the event they will need their record cleared for a specific purpose.

If you have a conviction you’d like to know if you can remove from your record, give us a call at (318) 459-9111.

New Year, New You!

We’ve all been inundated with the advertising slogan: “New Year: New You!” But in our case, we’d actually like to help give you a blank slate. The new year is a great time to think about clearing up a criminal record.

In Louisiana, people convicted of most misdemeanors and certain felonies can be eligible to have their convictions removed from their public record under certain circumstances:

(1) If that person was originally sentenced pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893 or 894 and has successfully completed their probation; or

(2) after remaining arrest-free for 5 or 10 years (depending on the seriousness of the offense).

If the person meets one of these requirements and an expungement is not excluded for some other reason (i.e.: the person has already received an expungement for another charge within the last 5 or 10 years, the offense is a violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, certain sex offenses, or certain crimes of violence), then that person may be eligible to have the arrest expunged.

An expungement in Louisiana does not “make it like it never happened,” but for many purposes, it will allow the person to say when asked that they have not been arrested or convicted for the offense which has been expunged.

Expungements are great tools for first-offenders or those who have an old criminal record that may be causing them difficulties when job-hunting or apartment-hunting.

If you or someone you know is interested in cleaning up a criminal record this new year, give us a call at (318) 459-9111! And happy new year from us at Gilmer & Giglio!

I blew below .08, can I be arrested for DWI?

Yes.

Driving While Intoxicated in Louisiana prohibits the 

operating of any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance when any of the following conditions exist:

  1. The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

  2. The operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.

  3. The operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substances listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V as set forth in R.S. 40:964.

  4. (i) The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

  5. (i) The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

La. R.S. 14:98A(1). Further, if you are under the age of 21, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .02. La. R.S. 14:98.6.

What all of the above means is that, in order to prove a person is operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the State of Louisiana must prove: (1) that the person was operating a motor vehicle and (2) that the person was “under the influence” of alcoholic beverages. This can be done in a number of ways: via presumption if the driver submits to a breath test, blood test, or urine test, and the results show a BAC of .08 or above; or if the driver performs poorly on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and sufficient other evidence shows that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, controlled dangerous substances, or other drugs.

This New Year’s Eve, if you are going to celebrate, please drink responsibly and arrange for alternate transportation.

Happy New Year from Gilmer & Giglio!

Civil Asset Forfeiture - Is the government trying to give itself a gift of your stuff?

Both State and Federal law allow for, under certain circumstances, the seizure of property belonging to an individual if that property is the proceeds from illegal activity, obtained using the proceeds of illegal activity, or was used in the commission of a crime. 

These seizures are often conducted in cases involving controlled dangerous substances in state court. In federal court, they are often seen in cases involving white collar transactions and large drug cases.

Many people are aware that the government can seize the assets of a person convicted of a crime, but far fewer people are aware that the assets of third parties can also be subject to seizure. For example, the parents of a person charged with distribution of a controlled substance, who lives with them, may find themselves the subject of a civil asset forfeiture if their child is alleged to have sold drugs out of their home. Any asset can be seized by the government using civil asset forfeiture including: money, land, vehicles, buildings, and jewelry.

In both state and federal courts there are procedures that the government must follow to seize assets they believe were obtained through criminal activity. These processes usually involve notice to the person whose property the government is intending to seize; an opportunity to object and request a hearing which may include an opportunity to prove that the property was not used in the commission of a criminal offense, that the property was not owned by the individual who was engaging in criminal activity, or to provide further evidence to show why the government should not be allowed to seize the property. If the property is ordered seized after this hearing, there are usually options for appeal.

The time periods to request these hearings or appeal the forfeiture are usually very short, sometimes less than 30 days.

If you or someone you know has received notice that the government is attempting to seize their property as part of a civil asset forfeiture claim, call us for a consult at (318) 459-9111.