Michael J. Thompson, Attorney at Law

SE Habla EspaƱol

270-605-0441 Local
866-397-7788 Toll Free

Hopkinsville Kentucky Criminal Law Blog

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.

Know your options for plea bargains in your case

Many criminal cases are resolved through the use of plea deals. Reaching one of these requires you to have a basic knowledge of the criminal justice system and the applicable codes. One thing that you should always remember is that you will likely need to have a lawyer to negotiate for you since many prosecutors won't work with anyone other than the defense attorney.

When you decide that you are going to try to work out a plea, you have to think about how the case might be resolved. You can only do this if you agree that you committed the crime you will plead guilty to.

Problem with breath test equipment is raising red flags

Most people know that breath tests are one of the primary tools police officers use to determine whether a driver is legally intoxicated. When a person is accused of drunk driving, defense lawyers look for things that might show that the test wasn't accurate. A recent development in another state might be of interest to those who deal with drunk driving in Kentucky.

The state police in Michigan have suspended their contract with a company that provided breath test devices based on evidence indicating that the company misstated the accuracy of the device. The state has begun a fraud investigation to look into the situation.

Sexual assault charges are often a catch-all option

Many people don't understand the wide scope of things that are considered illegal sexual contact. Laws against sexual assault encompass a vast array of situations, some of which people might think aren't illegal. It is imperative that everyone understands some of the basic points of this type of crime so they can avoid them or address the matter if they are charged with it.

In the most general of terms, sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual action. This can include touching and intercourse. Interestingly, it can also encompass being forced to masturbate when a person doesn't want to do this.

Probation violations must be carefully handled

One of the possible sentences that a person facing a felony might encounter is being placed on probation. When this occurs, you will have to report to a supervision officer who will ensure that you are complying with the terms of the program. If you don't do what's required of you, the probation officer can file a violation with the court.

Everyone placed on probation is provided with a list of the rules they are expected to follow. While some of these remain consistent through all cases, the circumstances of your case might change the requirements some. For example, a person convicted of a drug charge might have to undergo random drug testing to determine whether they are complying with the requirement to remain drug-free.

Marijuana testing controversial for traffic stops

Impaired driving is a big problem throughout the country. While many people automatically attribute impairment to alcohol, it can also come from other sources. One of these is marijuana, and even though this drug hasn't been decriminalized here, police departments around the country are finding that it is increasingly difficult to determine when marijuana is a factor in impairment.

Officers who stop someone for the suspicion of alcohol impairment can perform a breath test to determine whether the person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level that exceeds the legal limit. There hasn't been a test for marijuana until recently, but now that one is available, there are opponents who note that it isn't what it seems.

Plea deals can benefit those facing criminal charges

Plea deals are a major component of the criminal justice system. These agreements benefit the defendants, the prosecution and the court. Somewhere around 90% of cases are resolved in this manner, but defendants who are considering it should understand some important points about what these deals mean for them.

One of the top reasons why defendants choose to take part in the deals is because they want to have an idea of what sentence they are going to face. One of the components that they can try to work out a deal on is the sentence, so the defendant might be able to avoid having to face a sentence at the top end of the spectrum; however, you must be careful because the sentence that's agreed on is a suggestion. The court can decide to bypass it in favor of something different.

Michael J. Thompson, Attorney at Law

16360 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Oak Grove, KY 42262
Map and Directions

Phone: 270-605-0441
Toll Free: 866-397-7788
Fax: 270-439-1177

Back To Top