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More People Eligible for Felony Expungements in Louisiana August 1, 2019

Effective August 1, 2019, the Louisiana legislature has made a few changes to the States’ expungements laws. The first change makes clear that the records that must be removed from public access after an expungement order is signed include records of arrest or warrants for failure to appear bench warrants provided that bench warrant was related to the same offense(s) for which the person is seeking an expungement. This change will close a loophole that could have allowed an individual to receive an expungement, have their arrest record for the original arrest removed from public access, but have their rap sheet still show an arrest or an outstanding warrant for a bench warrant if they had failed to appear in court for any reason for that same charge.

The second change increases the availability of expungements for individuals with felony convictions. Also, taking effect on August 1, 2019, Code of Criminal Procedure Article 978 now allows individuals who are entitled to a first offender pardon pursuant to Article IV, Section 5(E)(1) of the Louisiana Constitution to be eligible for an expungement, as long as the offense they are attempting to expunge is not a crime of violence as defined in La. R.S. 14:2(B) or a sex offense as defined in La. R.S. 15:541.

The First Offender Pardon contained in the Louisiana Constitution automatically pardons an individual who has been convicted of a non-violent crime (or of mingling harmful substances, extortion, or illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities) who has completed his sentence. This effectively means that, for those convicted of only one felony, who may not have been sentenced pursuant to Article 893, they will be eligible to expunge their arrest and conviction immediately upon completion of their sentence, provided they are otherwise eligible for a first offender pardon.

If you or someone you know thinks you may now be eligible for an expungement, please contact our office for a consult at (318) 459-9111.

United States Supreme Court reverses conviction in Curtis Flowers' Sixth Trial for Murder

On Friday, June 21, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling reversing the conviction of Curtis Flowers for First Degree Murder after his sixth trial. Four of Flowers’ previous trials had been overturned for prosecutorial misconduct in jury selection and the fifth ended in a mistrial. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the prosecution’s systematic removal of black potential jurors from the jury was a violation of the Court’s precedent in Batson v. Kentucky. Flowers’ case was the subject of much public and media scrutiny over the past year due to its being featured in the second season of the podcast “In The Dark.”

Scotusblog has a good write-up of the opinion issued by Justice Brett Kavanaugh:

“The State’s relentless, determined effort,” Kavanaugh concluded, “to rid the jury of black individuals strongly suggests that the State wanted to try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before an all-white jury.” Such a history, Kavanaugh stressed, cannot be ignored when considering Evans’ intent going into Flowers’ sixth trial.

Justice Kavanaugh’s full opinion and those of the two dissenting Justices, Thomas & Gorsuch, can be read here.

New Child Safety Seat Laws Take Effect August 1, 2019!

For those of you with children under the age of 18 who sometimes ride in your vehicle, be aware that new laws have been enacted which may have an impact on you.

Senate Bill 76 increases the ages for many child safety restraints and requires that a child meet not only the height and weight requirements, but also the age requirements set in the statute for each type of restraint.

The new law requires:

  • rear-facing child restraint systems for any child under the age of 2

  • forward-facing restraints with an internal harness for children over the age of 2 who have outgrown the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements for the rear-facing child restraint

  • a booster seat with a vehicle lap-shoulder belt for children over the age of 4 who have outgrown the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements for a forward-facing restraint system; and

  • an adult safety belt for a child who has reached the age of 9 years old and has outgrown the previous restraint systems height and weight requirements.

Please note that a child must meet both the age and height and weight requirements to move to the next safety restraint; otherwise, the child must be placed in the more restricting of the categories which applies.

If you or someone you know falls afoul of these new restrictions, contact us for a consult at 318-459-9111.

Podcast Recommendation: Annotated - Books Behind Bars, Part I

The Annotated Podcast by BookRiot is one of my favorites because it covers all kinds of topics about books (and makes book recommendations), but this particular podcast is all about something that is also relevant to our work.

The May 7th episode discusses organizations that provide used books to inmates in prisons across the country and some jurisdictions’ attempts to restrict inmates’ access to used books.

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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.

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.

I'm being pulled over, can I just swallow the drugs to keep the police from arresting me?

Swallowing your drugs to keep the police from seizing them as evidence is a bad idea for a LOT of reasons. From a legal standpoint:

First, the officer may charge you with obstruction of justice.  The Louisiana Obstruction of Justice Statute is pretty long, but the relevant part says:

“A. The crime of obstruction of justice is any of the following when committed with the knowledge that such act has, reasonably may, or will affect an actual or potential present, past, or future criminal proceeding as described in this Section:

(1) Tampering with evidence with the specific intent of distorting the results of any criminal investigation or proceeding which may reasonably prove relevant to a criminal investigation or proceeding. Tampering with evidence shall include the intentional alteration, movement, removal, or addition of any object or substance either:

(a) At the location of any incident which the perpetrator knows or has good reason to believe will be the subject of any investigation by state, local, or United States law enforcement officers; or

(b) At the location of storage, transfer, or place of review of any such evidence…” 

The punishment for committing obstruction of justice? If the crime you’re trying to cover up is a misdemeanor or non-hard labor felony: a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to FIVE YEARS. For hard labor felonies, the punishment is a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment up to 20 years. The punishment for first offense simple possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana? A fine of up to $300 and 15 days in jail.

Secondly, just because you swallow the drugs doesn’t mean you can’t be prosecuted for possession of the drug if the officer saw it in your possession before you swallowed it. The officer will be able to testify about what he observed and a jury may still find beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed a controlled dangerous substance.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for possession of a controlled dangerous substance, call us for a consult at (318) 459-9111.

State Court v. Federal Court

Common Questions regarding State Court and Federal Court:

  1. Is there a difference between State Court and Federal Court?

    Yes, several. State courts have only the authority to handle crimes which are prohibited by their state laws. And only those crimes which occurred within their states and the smaller district divisions of the courts.


    For example, the First Judicial District Court in Caddo Parish can only handle cases where the crimes were committed in the State of Louisiana, and particularly only in the First Judicial District which encompasses the Parish of Caddo. State courts have no authority to handle federal crimes.


    Federal courts have jurisdiction to handle only violations of federal law and federal laws, because of some specific constitutional requirements, have limited jurisdiction over criminal acts that occurred in more than one state (i.e. drug trafficking across state lines) or which involve interstate commerce (i.e. wire fraud).

    This is why some offenses which are crimes under state law are not crimes under federal law and why there are often additional interstate requirements for prosecutions in federal court.

  2. I have been charged with a drug offense in a Louisiana District Court, can I be charged with a crime in Federal court?

    That depends. If the drugs were transported across state lines, yes, if the drugs you are charged with possessing are illegal to possess under both state and federal law (currently, most of them are, although some states marijuana laws differ from federal law). 

  3. If I’ve been convicted or acquitted of a crime in state court that is also a crime in federal court, doesn’t double jeopardy mean the federal court can’t prosecute me

    No. The double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution states (in part): “…nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”

    However, because our system of government is one of dual sovereignty, we are citizens of the United States of America and also our State of residence. Each sovereign, the United States and the State of Louisiana, has the authority to prosecute the crimes committed within their jurisdiction, without being subject to double jeopardy restrictions for the actions of the other.

    This means that if you are tried for a drug offense in state court and found not guilty, the State cannot retry your case for another shot, but the federal court which has jurisdiction over that case can then prosecute you in the event that the circumstances of your arrest were in violation of a federal crime.

If you or someone you know is facing prosecution in state or federal court and you would like your questions answered, please call us to set up a consult: (318) 459-9111.

There is a warrant out for my arrest. What do I do?

An arrest warrant is issued under several circumstances, usually after a law enforcement officer has shown a judge that there is probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, or if you have failed to appear in court after receiving proper notice of the court date. Under both circumstances, the warrant will allow law enforcement in any jurisdiction to take you into custody. If you are outside the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued, you can be held for some time before you are transported to that jurisdiction.

If there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest, you should make arrangements to turn yourself in to the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued. In most cases, when the warrant was issued, the issuing judge will set a bond amount. The bond amount is the amount of money you will need to pay to be released pending the resolution of your case. In Louisiana, you can pay bond in cash for the full amount, with property valued at the same or more than the amount of the bond, or through a bondsman by paying the bondsman a portion of the full amount of the bond.

If you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, you should not attempt to flee the jurisdiction nor should you attempt to hide from law enforcement or resist arrest. If there is a warrant out for your arrest and you are not sure what to do, call us at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.

I'm a victim in a criminal case. Can I drop the charges?

In a civil case, the parties are the plaintiff, the party who claims an injury, and the defendant, the party who is alleged to have caused the injury. 

But in a criminal case, the parties are the person accused of the crime (the defendant) and the state, who is prosecuting it. The person who alleges he was harmed by the accused is not a party; rather, he is simply a witness in the state’s case. 

In a civil lawsuit, a plaintiff can dismiss his case at any time and for any reason. In a criminal case, the victim has no power to dismiss the case. Only the state has that power.

So what happens when a victim wants to drop charges against a defendant in a criminal case?

(1) Most District Attorneys offices have a Victim Assistance Office or Coordinator. These people are employees of the DA’s office whose job it is to help walk victims through the legal proceeding. Among their duties are also to communicate with victims regarding their wishes in the case.

(2) If the defendant has hired an attorney, a victim can also contact that attorney directly regarding signing an affidavit of non-prosecution. Although, again, the prosecutor does not have to accept this affidavit, it is a sworn statement by the victim in the case that he does not want the case prosecuted. 

(3) Some District Attorney’s offices have “drop slips” or forms that can be filled out in the district attorney’s office to notify the prosecutor that the victim does not want to see the defendant prosecuted.