As we all know, communities around the world are making serious changes due to the spread of the coronavirus. It’s difficult to stay up-to-date and know how our lives are being affected by all these changes.
Here, we’ve provided you with some legal information to get you through these confusing times.
What’s the situation in Oklahoma?
All 77 counties of Oklahoma are acting under different rules during this time. (You can see some of the information for yourself at www.oscn.net.)
But that’s why it’s important to have a lawyer who can let you know what is going on as these changes occur.
If you do have a lawyer, it’s important to stay in contact with them.
Even though some businesses and offices are closing because of the outbreak, please be sure to:
Follow your lawyer’s instructions
Continue to make payments (Don’t assume the current state of affairs allows you to avoid paying court-ordered fines.)
Contact your lawyer if you have any questions.
Additionally, some legal proceedings do not require a court appearance. Expunging your old record, for example, can still be done at this time. Give Jacqui Ford Law a call to learn how we can take care of this for you.
We are still here for you.
Jacqui Ford Law is open 24/7. Give us a call at 405-604-3200.
Our team at Jacqui Ford Law hopes that you and your families are staying safe and healthy.
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If you ever find yourself in a situation where a police officer is asking to search your cell phone, you might be wondering if it’s legal for him or her to do so without a search warrant.
The answer is a little complicated. The simple answer is that police definitely need a search warrant to search your cell phone. That was determined by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2014.
Essentially, the things you have stored in your cell phone are like the things you have stored in your pocket, and police need a warrant to search it. There are, however, some exceptions to the rule.
When can police search your cell phone?
Here are some of the most common exceptions to the rule about warrants:
Consent – The owner of the phone gave permission for law enforcement to search it.
Plain view – The cell phone and/or the contents in the phone were in plain view
Public school – The police searched your phone at a public school.
Searched after arrest – You were already under arrest when the officer in question searched your phone. Still, officers mostly need a warrant even if you are under arrest, especially if you tell them at the time of your arrest that you do NOT consent to your cell phone being searched.
Stop and frisk – You are being stopped because police have “reasonable suspicion” that you have committed, are committing, or will commit a crime.
Emergency/police chase – If you were the subject of a police chase, then police might search your phone because they have reason to believe you would destroy evidence related to the pursuit or any crime that happened before the pursuit.
Although all of these exceptions would lead you to believe that police can come up with almost any legitimate reason to search your phone, that’s not correct. Each exception has very specific parameters that have been outlined by previous court decisions. And there are different court precedents that apply for state and federal courts.
The Supreme Court ruled that your cell phone is not like any other “container” that might be found in the suspect’s possession, like, for example, if police find a partially smoked joint in your cigarette pack. Your cell phone, after all, is a window into vastly personal things that could include medical records, bank account information, and much, much more.
That’s why it’s so important for you to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
If you or someone you love believes your cell phone was searched illegally by police, contact Jacqui Ford’s office today.
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In its own words, the nonprofit Trial Lawyers College is “committed to training a new breed of lawyer — a warrior who has the courage to become a real person first, and … the heart to fight for justice in their own passionate voice.”
The curriculum is based on something called psychodrama — taking action based on words and stories — and it’s all an effort to help find justice for the following people:
People without a voice
People who have been oppressed by corporations or government.
It’s an organization that wants to train lawyers and judges to care for clients in an “open atmosphere” that ignores age, religion, nationality, disabilities, gender or sexual orientation.
Who founded the Trial Lawyer’s College?
Gerry Spence is a very successful trial lawyer from Wyoming. He has spent most of his career fighting what he describes as “the new slave master,” i.e. giant corporations and an overbearing government.
Some of his biggest cases include:
Defending Imelda Marcos, the widow of a former president of the Philippines
Defending Randy Weaver at Ruby Bridge
Defending Ed Cantrell and Sandy Jones on murder charges.
Gerry Spence has never lost a criminal case, and he’s secured more multi-million dollar awards for his civil cases than any other lawyer in the United States. He was inducted into the American Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2009.
How does the curriculum work?
Lawyers and judges can sign up for seminars that are held across the country throughout the year.
Topics of the seminars include:
Who helps to teach these courses?
The faculty and staff at the Trial Lawyer’s College is all volunteer-based. These volunteers are some of the top trial lawyers from across the country. Not only do they volunteer their time, they pay for all their own travel expenses to teach these seminars.
“Every TLC course and seminar will teach you skills to help you choose you cases, understand your clients and the underlying stories in their cases, and seek justice in the courtroom,” according to the Trial Lawyer’s College website.
Testimonials from lawyers who have taken the courses say that the curriculum has forever changed the way they practice law.
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The prison system in the United States is split into two main operating groups: public and private. Public prisons hold the vast majority, roughly 92 percent of all people in state and federal prisons, while private prisons hold the remaining 8 percent.
Though private prisons hold significantly fewer inmates, they teem and bubble with controversy in the American political and human rights arenas.
Public vs. Private Prison
The main difference between public and private prisons rests in who runs the facility and how (or if) revenue is generated by its operation. While public prisons are not for profit government-run facilities, private prisons are for-profit companies managed and operated by a US government-contracted third party. In the United States, 17 states exclusively use public prisons while 33 use both public and private.
History of the Private Prison System in America
Private prisons have a long history in the United States, but they have garnered a great deal of attention in the past thirty years as a solution to the country’s high incarceration rates. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States had the highest prison population rate in the world: 716 per 100,000 people. As a comparison, over half of the 222 countries listed in the World Prison Population List had rates below 150 per 100,000.
The first private prison, San Quentin State Prison, was established in 1852 in northern California.
But it wasn’t until the 1980s that these facilities came into the limelight. Increased crime rates and the resulting “war on drugs” left American penal systems overloaded and prisons crowded. The private prison industry presented itself as a solution.
The argument was that the private facilities would provide business-like efficiency that would result in cost-savings for the American government. Additionally, many thought private prisons would assure a greater sense of accountability, as private companies could be fired or fined.
For those who defend the concept of privatizing prisons, the most often cited reason is cost savings. Some studies do reflect this viewpoint, such as one conducted by the Director of Health Policy Center at the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, James Blumenstein. His study reported that private prisons could save states up to $15 million a year. Additionally, the Bureau of Prisons says that private prisons cost an average of 17 dollars a day less per prisoner to operate.
But conflicting research prompts many to disagree.
Claimed Detriments of Private Prisons
However, taking a public temperature of the issue reveals that huge swaths of people are deeply disturbed by the privatization of the prison system. The concern is that private prisons are hubs of neglect, abuse, and substandard practices due to their private nature and profit-driven model.
Because private prisons receive funding based on how many prisoners they hold, many worry that they are incentivized to keep incarceration rates high and take in as many prisoners as possible. This is seen as an incentive not to rehabilitate prisoners and to profit from imprisonment.
Disapproval is fueled by studies such as the 1998 Department of Justice Investigation in Youngstown, Ohio. The study discovered that staff were physically abusing prisoners and the events were never reported. Due to their private nature, private prisons are not obligated to be as transparent as public prisons are, resulting in more confusion and suspicion from the general public.
The Debate Rages On
According to a Pew Research Center publication in April of this year, the number of people in private prisons has decreased since 2012.
Despite this finding, there is no doubt that the private prison debate will continue to find itself in the spotlight as it affects thousands of Americans every year.
As always, if you or someone you know is accused of a crime and facing the possibility of incarceration, you should contact the experienced team at Jacqui Ford Law to act as your best defense.
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When police perform a search, there are certain rules they have to follow. The fourth amendment guarantees protection from unreasonable search and seizure to every American. The exact words read:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Unfortunately, these rules aren’t always followed and illegal searches happen all the time. This this is especially true in drug cases. As an OKC drug lawyer, we always check to make sure any searches were performed properly and lawfully when we defend a client against drug charges.
So if the search is proven to be illegal, what happens to the evidence? Thanks to the handy dandy constitution, any evidence found via an illegal search is normally deemed inadmissible. This exclusionary rule means that if the cops illegally search your car and find 5 kilos of Colombian bam bam in car, the case probably won’t hold up in court.
This is why it’s so important to work with an OKC drug lawyer who knows the ins and outs of Oklahoma search and seizure laws.
Protection from illegal searches can sometimes go a step further than just evidence found directly by an illegal search. There’s a legal doctrine known as fruit of the poisonous tree, which says evidence found as the result of an illegal search can’t be used either.
For example, if the cops illegally take your phone and start going through it and happen to find a text about where your secret stash of pot is, they can’t use the pot, or the text, against you.
Your right go about your day without being searched for no good reason is not something you should let slip away. If your rights were violated during an illegal search and you’re facing drug charges as a result, give us a call for a free consultation.
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Brock Turner is a familiar name to those who have followed the news lately. The disgraced Stanford swimmer sexually assaulted an unconscious woman on campus, but only received a six month sentence.
His short sentence has been the subject of major controversy. Despite the prosecutor’s request for a much harsher sentence, the judge only sentenced Turner to six months. Outraged critics have suggested this is a prime example of lax policies on campus rape and overly lenient sentences for young, privileged, and wealthy whites.
We won’t be broaching those criticisms today, instead we’ll explore another factor that most likely played at least a small part in the sentencing.
In contrast to headlines and social media posts, under California’s laws Turner isn’t technically considered a rapist. California (and other states) has very specific laws that make distinction between sexual assault and rape.
WARNING THE FOLLOWING CONTENT IS GRAPHIC
Unless there is genital-to-genital contact, the crime is not considered rape in California. Since the DNA evidence showed no signs of genital-to-genital contact, the rape charges originally filed against Turner were dropped.
Instead of rape, Turner was charged with three counts of felony sexual assault:
Sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman
Assault with intent to commit rape
Sexual penetration of an unconscious woman
Although he wasn’t convicted of rape, Turner will have to register as a sex offender.
California isn’t alone in being criticized for sexual assault laws. Our own great state of Oklahoma came under fire recently for our oral sodomy laws. As a Oklahoma City sexual assault attorney, Jacqui has personally taken a stand to ensure every citizen in Oklahoma receives a fair trial no matter what they are accused of.
If you’ve been accused of rape or sexual assault, call us today for a consultation. These aren’t the kind of charges you want to face alone.
The iconic comedian and actor who played the memorable character Dr. Huxtable, will go to trial for sexual assault charges. The first accusations against Bill Cosby surfaced in 2004 from Andrea Constand who worked for Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater.
Soon after Constand came forward, more than 50 women also came out accusing Cosby of sexually assaulting them. Due to statute of limitations, Cosby will never have to deal with most of these claims.
Up until a few weeks ago, Cosby’s lawyers have been able to fight the accusations and keep him out of court, but their efforts fell short in the latest preliminary hearing.
During the hearing a Pennsylvania judge mainly heard testimony from those involved in the original investigation back in 2004. Detectives from the Montgomery County Detective read statements taken during the investigation.
Constand herself did not actually testify.
After hearing the testimony and questioning, the judge decided there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial. According to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, since this was a preliminary hearing, “hearsay is admissible.”
Cosby’s lawyers were vocal in the disapproval of the decision.
“There was no evidence of a crime here. And the inconsistencies that plagued this investigation from the beginning continue to plague it now. This case should end immediately.”
The fact that the case is advancing to trial is by no means an indication of Cosby’s guilt. This only means the judge feels a trial is justified based on the initial evidence. The burden of proof is much lower in a preliminary hearing, all that need to be proven was that a crime occurred and that Cosby was connected to the crime.
This is one case that you can bet will be in the public spotlight. If Cosby is convicted he can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison for each charge.
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Oklahoma’s problems with the death penalty have been well documented and pervasive. After multiple botched executions and a last-minute stay of execution from the Governor, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt launch a full scale investigation into the issue.
What this investigation found was incredibly disturbing and embarrassing. Among other widespread problems, the most alarming was the discovery that the Department of Corrections had been using potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride.
In case your chemistry is rusty, potassium chloride is an approved chemical for lethal injection while potassium acetate is NOT an approved chemical.
Other mistakes found in the report included:
Unauthorized oral modifications to protocol
Failure to inspect lethal drugs in transport
Multiple communication errors
No one has been indicted as a result of this report so far, but the investigation is ongoing.
This report has renewed conversations about the validity and permissibility of the death penalty. However, despite growing sentiment, former state prosecutor Lou Keel is still a firm believer in the death penalty.
“Some murders are so horrendous, so heinous that the only right and just punishment is the death penalty. Certainly, this is a process, as a society, that we have to get right. When you impose the ultimate sanction on people, it’s important this be done in the most humane way possible.”
Even Keel, who has sent around 15 people to death row, acknowledges the problems in the system and the need to make improvements.
Given the massive and repeated failures, it’s time to really evaluate if this is something our state can continue to do or if the death penalty should even be enforced. The state has already invested a considerable amount of time and money to create the current protocol, which is failing miserably.
Considering our state is very limited on resources right now, is it worth the cost to continue state-sponsored homicide?
The Associated Press has released reports claiming several Oklahoma State Legislators routinely bring concealed firearms into the state Capitol, despite an official ban on all weapons inside the Capitol.
By law everyone entering the Capitol has to walk through a metal detector, just like at the airport. If the alarm is sounded, the individual will be inspected by the Oklahoma Highway Patrolmen stationed at the door.
Apparently this law does not apply to the people who make the laws. While there has been no official confirmation, it appears OHP is trained to recognize lawmakers and are hesitant to inspect them when the alarm is sounded.
During the investigation, an AP journalist reported counting 6 members of the House who tripped the alarm but were not inspected further. This all happen in a 30 minute observation.
Several legislators were asked if they knew if any of their colleagues were packing heat. No names were mentioned but Rep. Mike Shelton said, “I believe at any one time, there may be seven or eight members of the House who are armed.”
Others said they “knew for a fact” that other legislators come to work armed.
Sen. Ralph Shortey, was quoted, “If a legislator wants to carry a firearm in the Capitol, I think they have a constitutional right to do that.”
Regardless of your opinion of the 2nd amendment, this is pretty disturbing. Oklahoma lawmakers clearly think they can operate above the laws they create and expect everyone else to follow. Laws that are intended for all should be followed by all.
Crystal Ewertz was involved in an altercation with her wife in September 2015 that ultimately lead to the death of her wife, Sabrina Ewertz.
According to police reports, Sabrina was thrown from the hood of the car Crystal was driving. This all happened after the couple had an argument and Crystal decided it was in the best interest of her safety to leave.
In the process of driving away, Sabrina jumped on the hood of the car.
Earlier this week a probable cause hearing took place to see if the evidence warranted a trial. After hearing testimony from three witnesses the judge decided the case will move to trial on an alternative charge of either leaving the scene of an accident or first-degree manslaughter.
This is not surprising because the type of hearing that took place is not a trial with a jury. By no means is this a suggestion of guilt, it is simply an opportunity for justice to take place.
Accidents happen and good people get caught in the middle. That is why Jacqui is proud to represent Crystal and defend her innocence. We are confident that as we move forward the truth will be revealed and Crystal will be able to move on with her life.
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