Tag Archive for 'felony'

Failure to Disclose HIV Status Can Result in Life Behind Bars

The college wrestler Michael Johnson, also known as “Tiger Mandingo,” was found guilty of failure to disclose his HIV positive status to sexual partners and is facing life in prison. Specifically, Johnson was charged with six counts: transmitting HIV to two partners (Class A Felony), attempting to expose a partner to HIV (Class B Felony), and three charges of exposing three partners to HIV (Class B Felony).

hiv disclosureJohnson’s trial in May, 2015 lasted three days. At the trial, medical professional testified that they had informed Johnson about his medical issues. Johnson was well aware of the laws requiring him to tell partners about his condition.

Johnson testified and defended himself, saying he did disclose his status to partners and they were fully aware before they had consensual sex. Johnson was officially diagnosed with HIV in Missouri on January 7th, 2013. The very next day, he had his first sexual encounter with one of the accusers. During trial, prosecutors stated Johnson had also been diagnosed with HIV in Indiana in 2011. Johnson’s lawyer denied this allegation.

Missouri law mandates that all HIV positive people must disclose HIV positive status to partners before engaging in consensual sex, whether practicing safe sex or not.

Another aspect that makes the controversial case even more difficult is the area he lives in. The trial was held in St. Charles, Missouri; 91% of the population is white. In addition, only 13 of the 51 interviewed jurors believe homosexuality is not a sin. If this wasn’t enough, only one of the 12 jurors is black.

Johnson is up against a predominantly white jury in a largely Christian and Republican town. The big question is: did he disclose his HIV positive status to his partners, or did he fail to do so?

The answer to this vital question is up to the courts to decide. Johnson is facing a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of 30 to life in prison. Sentencing begins the morning of Friday the 15th.

Suge Knight’s Involvement in the Fatal Hit and Run

Thursday night, the co-founder of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, was involved in a fatal hit and run accident. He was filming “Straight Outta Compton”, a film about N.W.A, the night of the accident. Knight arrived at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood station Friday morning with his attorney. Homicide detectives were waiting there to question him.

Suge KnightThe crash occurred at Tam’s Burgers in Compton, California. Lt. John Corina with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported that Knight ran over two men in the parking lot of the restaurant. The accident happened about 20 minutes after a fight broke out on the set of the movie. Corina also stated it looked like Knight hit the two men reversing into them, and hit them again by driving forward into them. Terry Carter died in the accident, and actor Cle “Bone” Sloan who appeared in “Training Day” was injured.

Witnesses have told the sheriff’s department that the accident looked like an intentional act. The department is treating the incident as a homicide.

Knight is defending himself by claiming he was attacked by two people and accidentally hit the two men while driving away. Knight’s lawyer, James Blatt, sees the incident as a “tragic accident”. He stated Knight had no idea he ran someone over. Blatt has stated he is positive Knight will be exonerated.

Knight is currently being held on a $2 million bail.

How can Knight defend himself if the case goes to trial? Hit and runs that end in death can be tried as a felony or misdemeanor. If Knight is charged with a misdemeanor hit and run that ended in death, he would have to pay between 1,000 and 10,000 dollars. He also would serve at least 90 days in jail.

But, if Knight is convicted of a felony hit and run that resulted in death, he will pay the same amount but spend two to four years in state prison.

There are four pieces of evidence a prosecutor needs to indict the defendant involved in a hit and run. They first must prove that you were involved in the accident that resulted in injury or death. Second, they must prove that you had knowledge an accident had occurred. Third, the prosecutor must prove one of the two: that you knew someone was injured or killed, or that the accident was so extreme that an injury or death was inevitable. Fourth, it must be proved that you willfully failed to do one or more of the actions above.

Since Friday, police have attempted to obtain video footage from Tam’s Burgers, but the cameras were broken. All other cameras of near businesses were turned away from the accident.

If police are unable to prove that Knight knew he ran someone over or that he did it on purpose, he could get off. Knight has an extensive rap sheet of assault and larceny charges, but this is by far the most serious crime he allegedly committed.

Why Is It so Hard to Indict Cops?

With so many recent cases of white cop vs. black man, the country has erupted into protests demanding change. The George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Tamir Rice, and the Eric Garner case, have thrown the U.S. into a racial tailspin. These cases have all exemplified the complicated process of indicting cops.

why is it so hard to indict cops?Why is it so hard for a grand jury to indict cops? When 90% of cases end in indictment, why do the majority of cop vs. citizen cases end in non-prosecution of the cop?

What Law Does the Grand Jury See?

Indicting a police officer is a far more complicated process than indicting a citizen. The primary reason is that the law is very generous in giving cops the authority to use deadly force.

For example, in the Ferguson case, Missouri law gives officers the right to use deadly force “in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody” if the officer reasonably believes the deadly force is necessary to “effect the arrest” and also he “reasonably believes that the person to be arrested has committed or attempted to commit a felony…or may otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.”

What Protects Cops from Indictment?

Major criminal cases use police investigators and detectives, which poses an extreme conflict of interest in cop cases. Police officers can also serve as eye witnesses, since they were often the only people there (or the only people who lived to testify about it). This massive conflict of interest can affect a prosecutor’s expectations of the cop’s involvement.

Cops enter into the law enforcement field knowing they need to protect their fellow colleagues at any cost. This is exemplified in the field, as well as the court.

Police also have an extensive amount of specific legal protection. Each state has guidelines for what protects its police, but the laws that allow the use of force are backed by the Supreme Court. Police can use force when resisted against, and will extend their use of force if the criminal does the same.

It’s crucial to remember that police officers must make immediate, instinctive decisions to stay alive. This fact that influence a grand jury’s determination as to whether the officer acted reasonably under the circumstances.

Even in times where racial tension is at a high, the majority of the population favors cops. There is a central knowledge and belief that cops are essential to the safety of our country. Some might say they are a necessary evil. Jurors are often asked to put themselves in the police officer’s shoes in these types of cases, rather than the criminals. This creates an even bigger push to side with the police.

Even when police officers are indicted, reports from Philadelphia and Seattle show that most of these cases become overturned. This is a direct cause of the substantial due process protection for police officers.

The criminal justice system is corrupted with racial discrimination. This has especially been prominent in cases such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But, it is key to remember that the criminal justice system is also a complicated one. Only experts can decide if an indictment is necessary. Hopefully, this article has shed some light onto the widespread unknown reasons why indicting a cop is so hard.

Making False Claims of Ebola Is a Felony

Amidst the growing concern surrounding the deadly Ebola virus, there are some who seem to find it amusing to trick the authorities and others into believing that they are infected with the virus. However, it is hardly amusing to play on people’s fears about Ebola by making false statements. If you make such false statements, you will be charged with a felony.

ebola hazmat suitOne such instance was the case of a man who was arrested on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in Georgia and upon his arrival at Cobb County Jail, told the paramedic that he recently arrived from Liberia (one of the countries that are most infected with Ebola) and was experiencing symptoms of the virus. He also said he was in Nigeria, Brussels, and Virginia during his recent trip.

As a result of these statements, the man was isolated, the jail was put on lockdown, and the jail refused new inmates. But after testing the man for Ebola, it was discovered that he did not have the virus, and he had not made any trips outside the U.S. since 2005. The man now faces three counts of felony charges.

Another similar incident occurred on a U.S. Airways flight to the Dominican Republic from Philadelphia. A passenger sneezed and made a joke, stating that he had recently travelled to Africa, thereby implying to his fellow passengers that he might have Ebola. As a result of his statements, a hazmat team dressed in blue protective suits with hoods and clear plastic face masks, boarded the plane and removed him. Upon testing the man, it was discovered that he did not have a temperature, and did not have Ebola.

Still another example of false claims of Ebola occurred in a courtroom in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where an arrestee communicated to police that he had Ebola. Shortly afterwards, Fire Rescue hazmat responders donned with protective suits took the man to be tested for the virus at a medical center, where it was determined that he did not have Ebola. Had he actually been infected with Ebola, a minimum of 250 people, including 150 inmates and 100 corrections officers, could have been exposed to the virus.

In light of these and other similar hoaxes, clearly intended to scare people and to create a disturbance, it should be well publicized that anyone making these kinds of false statements will be charged with a felony, and suffer the consequences.

This is a very serious matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Making false statements about having a deadly, contagious disease is likely to cause panic, fear, and hysteria in everyone around. In the event that someone near you claims to have the symptoms of Ebola, here are the symptoms: fever greater than 101.5°F, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, and bleeding or bruising without any known cause.

Broke USPS Needs Its Bins Back, Giving Amnesty From Felony Charge

You’ve a rebel for blatantly getting away with a federal crime for too long.  Need amnesty?  Well, if you currently possess a United States Postal Service plastic mail bin (which is a felony, punishable by up to 3 years in prison) now is the time to do so because you can return them free of prosecution.  Sure it’s a lame crime, but hey, a crime is a crime and you can always dress up the story later at the bar with car chases and shootouts.  Because we all know that the ladies dig a bad boy, oh and vampires, too, for some reason.

In any case, you heard right.  The increasingly cash-strapped USPS is currently looking for any way to cut expenses and increase its dwindling revenue streams.  So after years of pointlessly and ineffectively pursuing holders of its mail bins, the agency has announced a temporary period of amnesty starting from November 12 to November 26.  Perhaps it’s simply to spread some early Christmas cheer?  Or more likely it’s because USPS has lost $50 million worth of the bins, which run $4 a pop.  USPS has even gone the extra mile by directing soon-to-be-bin-less citizens towards retailers who sell comparable and/or better bins for $6.

Times must be really tough for the USPS.  Don’t people know that we have to do everything we can to keep it afloat less our society crumble into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Seriously though, this really is an interesting turn of events and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out, especially since there is an odd curve ball thrown into the mix of all this.  USPS is only offering amnesty for the return of its mail bins, but is also requesting that people return stolen mail pallets and crates.  The latter two are stolen particularly often as they serve as makeshift furniture for many a dorm room all over the nation.  The twist is that the USPS isn’t offering amnesty to those who return those last two items.  From a criminal theory research perspective, the USPS has inadvertently created a nationwide experiment on effective prosecution and decriminalization.

I know, it all might sound a little crazy, but before you jump to have me committed, take a moment to consider the elements of this predicament and how it relates to current criminal law practices.  Our current criminal justices system has long been one reliant on plea bargains to keep it from collapsing on itself.  This is because the sheer number of criminal defendants makes the notion of prosecuting each and every case impossible.

However, many legal theorists agree that one of the main reasons why there are so many crimes today is because there are too many obscure, harsh, and/or unnecessary criminal laws in existence.  In essence, these laws can make normative and/or less harmful behavior into violations that carry stiff punishments, and in turn force those who commit them into hiding while also increasing the cost and burden on law officials and prosecutors to put violators behind bars.

Now, in the case of USPS’s missing bins, aside from the convenience and utility they offer to customers who hold onto them, one of the main reasons why they aren’t returned is that those who do so after the proscribed return time may be worried about facing prosecution.  Thus they are faced with a rock-and-a-hard-place situation.  They can either return the bin and face potential prosecution, or they can keep the bin and hide their crime.  Either way, USPS doesn’t really benefit in the long run as the latter situation causes them to lose money from not getting their bins back, and the former situation still causes them to lose money since they must expend resources to pursue unnecessary prosecution efforts.

But we won’t know how effective this amnesty attempt will be for USPS’s bottom line until after the experiment is over and the data on it is released.  Though my bet is that the USPS will see a positive spike in returned bins while simultaneously seeing no change on returned pallets and crates.  People I believe, after all, are essentially honest and good.  And I think given the chance most will do the right thing when it’s convenient and safe, as idealistic as that all may sound.

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