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Kansas City Criminal Defense Law Blog

What happens if I don’t take a Breathalyzer in Missouri?

Getting in a vehicle and driving under the influence is never a good idea; however, it happens. In Missouri, if you are arrested for DUI, it can lead to a suspension of your driver's license. With a first conviction, there will be fines to pay, alcohol education courts to attend and perhaps a stay in the county jail.

When you're stopped by police and they believe you are impaired, the officer will ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer at the scene. What happens if you refuse to take that test that can show what your blood alcohol content is?

Not guilty plea from man charged with five murders in Kansas City

During his arraignment on Monday, Nov. 24, a Kansas City man entered a plea of not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder. Reports indicate the defendant remained silent throughout the proceeding with his defense attorney speaking on his behalf. Other charges include four counts of armed criminal action, burglary, vehicle theft and illegal possession of weapons. The defendant pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.

According to a story published in the Kansas City Star, these violent crimes occurred on Sept. 2, when the defendant allegedly shot five Kansas City residents. Court records claim the man first burglarized a home, shooting the two residents who died later of critical injuries. Near the scene, he allegedly shot and killed a neighbor woman in her driveway.

Felony gun crimes carry serious consequences in Missouri

By and large, Americans enjoy the right to possess firearms and Kansas City residents are no exception. Guns allow us to protect our property and persons and for many, they provide a feeling of security in general. However, it is crucial to abide by the law when it comes to guns, as Missouri authorities typically take a strong stance against weapons crime.

The nation's rash of shootings and other crimes involving guns over the past decade or so means prosecutors go after those facing gun charges aggressively. To make matters worse, Missouri authorities have a firm foundation on which to stand due to the typically negative view the federal government has about guns. This can make it especially challenging when it comes to defending oneself against weapons violations.

What penalties can Missourians face for having child pornography?

Missouri takes the creation, promotion and possession of child pornography very seriously. The term "child porn" is used when the person depicted in the pornographic materials is younger than 18. Child pornography criminal penalties can be serious. However, when the child is or even appears to be 14 or younger, the potential penalties can be even greater.

Under Missouri law, filming or photographing a person under 18 in a sexual manner, or forcing them to perform in such a manner is illegal. So is showing or selling them materials that are sexually-explicit. It should also be noted that "Promoting child porn of a minor under or appearing to be under 18" is considered "promoting child pornography in the second degree."

The legal definition of first degree murder in Missouri

Not all incidents that lead to death in Kansas City are going to fall under the umbrella of first degree murder. There are varying degrees of murder that could be used, and there are also related charges, such as manslaughter, which show that a person may have been responsible for a death without the intent to kill. All people who are facing charges after a death deserve fair legal counsel, and one of the first things they should look into is what technically counts as first degree murder and what does not.

The first element that needs to be present, as mentioned above, is intent. If the person who has been accused of the killing did so accidentally and with no desire to cause the other person's death, it is not going to be first degree murder.

Drug court helps drug crimes defendants kick habit

Did you know that there is a special type of court for those Missouri residents who have been accused of non-violent drug violations? These criminal defendants -- many of whom are facing only minor drug charges -- do not necessarily need to be sent through the traditional court system. In fact, the Jackson County Drug Court can provide a variety of feasible alternatives to traditional penalties such as jail time.

Non-violent, lower-level offenders should not have to face serious consequences for their first-time violations. That concept spurred the development of the drug court program, which is designed to help defendants achieve sobriety, improve their health and even gain the education they need to become productive, engaged members of society. If you are facing minor drug offenses, you may be eligible for participation in the Jackson County Drug Court.

Why you need an experienced attorney to handle your DUI case

Did you know that your DUI conviction can have a major impact on your quality of life and your finances? Imagine every future employer finding out about your criminal violation. Sometimes, you may be unable to rent a home or even obtain a student loan, depending on the nature of the DWI offense. It is for this reason that DUI defense is far more critical than most people would expect; a conviction for drunk driving can follow you throughout the rest of your personal and professional life. Defendants need aggressive defense attorneys to protect their rights in criminal court.

Kansas defendants deserve an attorney with years of experience in the field. A team of qualified lawyers can ask the critical questions that can poke holes in law enforcement officers' attempts to pin you with drunk driving. For example, what if there was never a valid reason for stopping your vehicle in the first place? Your drunk driving charges could be dismissed if the officer made a misstep at that stage of the investigation. Other mistakes in police procedure or failures in the breath testing equipment may also lead to a similar outcome.

Changes to state law could alter sex crimes defendants' rights

Missouri officials are promoting the use of a new amendment to the state constitution, which would allow prior criminal acts to be used as evidence in certain sex crimes proceedings. The legal changes, which are supported by groups such as Protect Missouri Children, could compromise defendants' rights by releasing additional information about their criminal pasts during sex crime trials. Missouri is currently one of the most restrictive states when it comes to defendants' rights, protecting nearly all alleged child predators from having to reveal their prior convictions or arrests.

Officials say they are supporting the changes, largely because they believe that perpetrators should not have the right to legal protections if they are accused of assaulting several children. Those accused of multiple instances of child sexual abuse may be acquitted in one case, even as they are convicted in another concurrent case, sometimes because of a lack of evidence. This would seal the legal loophole that allows that to happen, according to legislators.

How does a judge determine the length of a criminal sentence?

Criminal sentencing procedures for defendants in Missouri are not necessarily intuitively obvious. A system for sentencing those convicted of felony offenses exists to ensure fairness and consistency across the board for defendants in the state. When considering a sentence length, the judge will generally weigh three factors: the seriousness of the offense, the average sentence for the same crime and the defendant's previous criminal history.

Serious offenders who have prior felony convictions are likely to receive a prison sentence. However, those who have committed lesser offenses, even felonies, may qualify for probation or a diversion program. Criminal defendants who are convicted of a first-time, low-level felony charge may be eligible for drug programs or "institutional shock," which often involves jail terms of 120 days or less. Individuals who complete the jail-based programs are often eligible to be released and serve only probation for the remainder of their sentences.

Probation rates for murder, assault higher in Jackson County

In Jackson County, Missouri, you are more likely to get away with murder -- or at least with a lighter sentence for committing murder. New statistics show that 15 convicts in the past five years have received only probation after they were found guilty of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. It appears that Jackson County is the most lenient jurisdiction in the region when it comes to convictions for this type of deadly crime.

Experts say that the statistics are simply indicative of the way in which Jackson County tends to handle most of its criminal convictions. Violent criminals convicted of assault crimes also tend to avoid jail time altogether, with even those accused of the worst robbery crimes never spending time behind bars. In fact, many offenders in the area are given second, third and even fourth opportunities to straighten up before they are finally sentenced to hard time.

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