Michael J. Thompson, Attorney at Law

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Hopkinsville Kentucky Criminal Law Blog

Take court-ordered community service seriously

Judges often have considerable leeway when they're handing down sentences in criminal matters. While there are some crimes that are serious and require a person to serve time behind bars, there are other options that judges have for less serious crimes.

One option that might be possible in some cases is community service. This gives the defendant a chance to serve the people in their area as a way to atone for their crimes. The court may order this type of sentence alone, but it is usually combined with other sentence types.

Misdemeanors and felonies have some big differences

People who are facing criminal charges need to find out several key points of information when they're dealing with their case. One of these things is the category of the charge. There are two primary categories – misdemeanors and felonies. The way that your charge is classified can have a big impact on how a conviction impacts your future.

Within each of those categories, there are subcategories, which are known as classes. These are typically lettered with A being the most serious that's associated with the harshest penalties. As you move through the alphabet, the penalties lessen, and the charge isn't considered as serious.

Open containers of alcohol are almost always illegal in Kentucky

Hanging out with friends can sometimes involve alcohol. There are several things that you have to remember if you're doing this. First, anyone consuming alcohol must be at least 21 years old. Second, you should never drive after you've had alcohol. Third, nobody should ever have an open container of alcohol in a moving vehicle.

Kentucky law doesn't allow any occupant of a vehicle to have an open container. Even if the driver doesn't consume any, it is still against the law to have an open bottle, can or cup of booze in a vehicle. If you're pulled over and there is an open container, you'll likely have to take a chemical test, so the officer can determine whether you're impaired or not.

Society's views may not follow the court's in sex crime cases

A person who is facing a sex-related criminal charge has a tough road ahead of them. In some cases, the social stigma that comes with these charges is worse than the legal issues that they have to deal with. Preparing to handle all of this together is going to take some work, but it is usually possible with proper planning.

One thing that you have to remember is that there are two very different trains of thought when it comes to criminal matters. The first is the stance that the court takes. This is that you are innocent until you're proven guilty. The second is the stance of society as a whole. This one is likely that "you're guilty until you show that you're innocent."

Mandatory minimum sentences serve various purposes

People who are facing criminal charges have a lot of things to think about concerning their cases. One of these is what type of sentences they face if convicted on the charges. This can have an impact on how they approach their defense.

Some crimes have a mandatory minimum sentence associated with them. These are set by law, and judges can't skirt around them. Typically, mandatory minimum sentences are reserved for very serious crimes or for people who are repeatedly convicted of the same charges.

Reasonable suspicion and how it can impact your DUI defense

Police officers have to have a reason for pulling a motorist over. It is possible that they can do this through a drunk driving checkpoint, but they might be able to stop your vehicle even if there isn't a checkpoint. They can watch for signs that you might be impaired. If they see any of them, they have reasonable suspicion to think that you're breaking the law and can conduct a traffic stop to determine what's going on.

Some of the signs they will look for when you're driving include:

  • Almost hitting items on the side of the road
  • Stopping suddenly without reason
  • Failing to obey traffic signs and control devices
  • Straddling the centerline
  • Swerving between lanes
  • Failing to use a turn signal
  • Not having headlights on at night

Crime classifications directly impact sentences

People who are involved in the criminal justice system must realize that not all charges are handled in the same manner. Criminal charges are categorized according to the severity of the crime and the penalties. There are three broad categories you need to know of -- infractions, misdemeanors and felonies.

An infraction is the least serious of these. These usually don't carry a jail sentence. If there is a sentence, it is typically a very short one -- a few days at most.

Do the police have a right to look at your phone?

You had no idea that your new girlfriend or boyfriend was underage -- until their parents called the police and complained about your relationship. Now, you're sitting in a room in front of a police detective who is wearing a serious expression and asking you to turn over your phone. At the moment, you can't even remember what might be on it, so you're terrified of what they may find.

Here's what you should know about your rights:

Collateral consequences make life difficult

Felony charges are a complex undertaking because of the impacts they can have on the defendant if they're convicted of them. Not only does this person have to worry about what the court is going to hand down as a sentence, they also have to think about the life impacts of the collateral consequences.

People tend to focus on things like the possibility of jail time or having to pay fines when they're convicted. They don't think about things like how being labeled as a felon is going to affect their career and housing options later in life.

Hearsay evidence isn't permissible in most cases

A defendant in a criminal trial will need to present evidence to show their side of the story. This can vary greatly from one case to another, but it might include witness testimony and physical evidence. When a person calls witnesses, they must ensure that what the witness says is admissible in the case.

One type of witness testimony that won't do any good is hearsay. This occurs when the person is making a statement that they don't really have any knowledge about. Essentially, this is to prevent people from presenting gossip as evidence in court.

Michael J. Thompson, Attorney at Law

16360 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Oak Grove, KY 42262
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Phone: 270-605-0441
Toll Free: 866-397-7788
Fax: 270-439-1177

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