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Officials say DNA testing supports felony charges filed in crash

The patrol car of a police lieutenant searching for a burglary suspect was struck by a pickup truck. The driver fled the scene and was later found. Officials in Oklahoma County say that DNA testing supports the felony charges facing the owner of the pickup truck.

It was determined that the pickup’s speed was approximately 45 mph at the time of the crash. During the investigation conducted on the night of the accident, officers located the pickup about one-half mile from the scene. The individual driving it was nowhere to be found.

The vehicle registration gave police the information needed to locate the owner. He is said to have admitted to owning the pickup, but denied being the driver that night. The truck’s airbag deployed during the crash, and DNA testing was done on material police claim was discovered on it. The results supposedly provide conclusive evidence that the vehicle owner was driving that night.

Based on this alleged evidence, the man was arrested and taken to the Oklahoma County Jail after being processed at the Midwest City Police Department. He faces a charge of Accidents Resulting in Nonfatal Injury — Failure to Stop, which is a felony. His bail was set at $25,000.

Officials claim that forensics never lie. That statement, however, appears to overlook the fact that that police, lab technicians and others who handle evidence sometimes make mistakes. Prosecutors will still be required to prove to the court that the DNA results they say support the felony charge were not somehow tainted by improper procedures. If any irregularities are found, the results may be ruled inadmissible as evidence at trial.

Source: kfor.com, “DNA tests lead to arrest of man involved in hit-and-run with police supervisor“, M. Delatorre, July 22, 2015

Traffic stop leads to DUI and other criminal charges for driver

Oklahoma law enforcement officers are required to have probable cause to stop a vehicle. If the officer is somehow unable to substantiate the traffic stop, anything discovered because of that stop might not be admitted into evidence in court. Therefore, the criminal defense of anyone facing criminal charges in connection with a traffic stop starts with a review the events leading up to the driver being pulled over by police.

For example, an officer recently pulled over an Oklahoma man claiming that his tag light was not functioning. When the officer approached the vehicle, he claimed to smell alcohol. Supposedly, the driver was sitting on a bottle that allegedly contained alcohol, which the officer says he tossed into the back seat when the officer asked him to exit the vehicle.

The officer claims that the 25-year-old driver admitted to drinking alcohol and did not pass a field sobriety test. A breath test allegedly indicated that the man had been drinking. The man was placed under arrest and was booked on suspicion of DWI, open container and other traffic violations. He was also faces a charge for child endangerment because a 3-year-old child was in the back seat of the SUV.

The driver’s criminal defense team will most likely review all of the circumstances leading up to the traffic stop through his booking to make sure that his rights were protected. The review will include determining whether the officer had sufficient probable cause to stop the vehicle and whether the driver’s alleged admissions were legally obtained. If the officer failed to follow proper procedure or any equipment — such as the unit used for breath testing — was not working properly, the criminal charges could result in a dismissal.

Source: news9.com, “Man Accused Of Driving Drunk In Harrah With Child In SUV“, June 16, 2015

Media Miranda Rights

In 2012, the movie “21 Jump Street” was released as a sort of winking joke about the 1987 television show of the same name. It was hailed as a comedic gem, but there was a recurring joke that many criminal defense attorneys won’t find too funny. One of the characters couldn’t remember how to recite the Miranda rights to people he was about to arrest. This eventually cost him one of the cases he was pursuing.

What’s bothersome about this is that it implies that Miranda rights are unimportant — that they can be laughed and joked about in the movies, and that people will think nothing of these rights other than they are a punch line. To the contrary, Miranda rights are vital to the criminal system, and they are obviously very important to the people being accused of a crime.

What these rights say is very clear:

  • You have the right to remain silent, which is crucial. You don’t have to say anything to the police because, as the Miranda rights saying goes…
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney, and every person accused of a crime should invoke their right to remain silent and contact or get an attorney immediately after being accused of a crime.
  • If you can’t afford an attorney or get one, then an attorney will be appointed for you.

These rights must be told to you by a police officer. If they fail to inform you of their rights, it can complicate the proceeding against you — more specifically, anything you say to the police is inadmissible in court.

Source: FindLaw, “‘Miranda’ Rights and the Fifth Amendment,” Accessed Feb. 12, 2015

DUIs Can Get Complicated

As many Oklahoma City residents likely heard, a while back the state took its time in proceeding with charges against people who were accused of drunk driving. In some cases, it took up to two years for the charges to get sorted out and filed. This was because incongruities and complications with these cases forced prosecutors to thoroughly look into the investigation and the charges against certain individuals. They wanted to make sure the charges were appropriate, given what occurred.

Some people may have had the charges against them dropped. Others likely were hit with DUI charges after such a long wait. It’s important to realize that these discrepancies during the criminal investigation can have a major impact on the charges associated with your name.

But it’s also important to realize that even though it is easy to assume every DUI case is the same, the reality is that every DUI case is unique. There are little wrinkles that may play a role in your DUI case that are not present in other DUI cases. This makes each case very delicate for prosecutors, as any mistake — by them or the police who initially dealt with the matter — could result in a dropped case.

Anyone accused of driving under the influence should not immediately assume that their life is over and that the charges will stick. There are plenty of things that could have been done improperly during the investigation into your actions, leading to lesser charges or no charges at all.

House Arrest Drawbacks

Many people have heard about electronic monitoring and house arrest before, and they probably think of it as a form of transition for someone who is coming out of jail. They may think that individual should be thankful for having such an incredible blessing. They may even think that people don’t deserve such a transition because it’s “too easy” on them.

While these are mostly ill-advised points of view, the one thing that they are wrong about is that this transition is somehow a “blessing” or letting the individual “off easy.” A life of electronic monitoring and house arrest is anything but glamorous and easy. In fact, it is very difficult.

Living under these conditions means that the individual is barely allowed to leave his or her designated “home” area. In addition, they can never take off the monitoring device that they have. Oh, and did we mention that the individual usually has to purchase and pay fees on the equipment that is used to monitor them?

Also, think about how this limits an individual’s ability to socialize; to go out and find a job; to see their family or run errands. Everything becomes more complicated because they are restricted to their home unless certain clearances are made.

Even some of the “blessings” that people who are convicted of crimes receive are still incredibly punishing. This is just a reminder that people accused of a crime have it very tough, even after they pay their debt to society or do their best to transition back into society.

Source: Mother Jones, “The Quiet Horrors of House Arrest, Electronic Monitoring, and Other Alternative Forms of Incarceration,” Maya Schenwar, Jan. 22, 2015

What happens when you refuse to take a breath test?

Imagine for a moment that you are driving home after having a few beers at a bar with a few friends. You chose to drive there and now instead of taking a cab or having someone else drive you, you got behind the wheel of your vehicle and drove home. During the drive, a police officer noticed you swerving and eventually pulled you over. He had reasonable suspicion that you were intoxicated, and asked you to take a breath test to confirm your blood alcohol level.

Here’s the question: what happens if you refuse to take that breath test?

There are a few things to note here, and the first is that you are actually compelled to take the breath test. As a condition of accepting a driver’s license from the state, the state requires that you submit to a breath test when asked. So right off the bat, refusing that breath test will get you into trouble.

Now, the consequences and penalties associated with refusing a breath test vary from case to case, but you will lose your license as a result. You’ll also likely face jail time and numerous financial penalties as a result of your decision.

Maybe worst of all is the fact that your refusal will become a major talking point in the courtroom. The prosecutors will likely use your refusal to show the court that you were indeed hiding something, and this could swing the case against you.

Source: FindLaw, “Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?,” Accessed Jan. 9, 2015

Oklahoma License Suspension

We’ve written about driving under the influence charges before on this blog, and we’ve even talked about the penalties. Today let’s talk about one of these specific penalties and go a little bit deeper in to the punitive effects it has on an individual’s life. So let’s talk about driver’s license suspension.

Oklahoma License Suspension

It sounds so simple, and it may not even seem like a big deal to you. “Oh well, I can bus and taxi wherever I need to go.” But once you’re put in a situation where you lose a privilege you once had, this punishment takes on a whole new meaning. Without a driver’s license, your transportation costs may increase. Taxis and buses aren’t free. Even if these modes of transportation end up being cheaper than your routine gas stops, they still aren’t as convenient as your personal vehicle.

Losing your license can impact other areas of your life that aren’t labeled as “convenient.” For example, your job may depend on your ability to drive. Without a license, your job could be at risk. Even if your job doesn’t directly require you to drive, the inability to drive could jeopardize your ability to get to work, either entirely or in a timely fashion.

You may also have other responsibilities with family members or friends that require you to drive a car.

There are so many ways that a driver’s license suspension affects an individual’s life that you may not even think about until you’re in that situation. Ultimately, this post is meant as a reminder and a warning. In Oklahoma, there is an automatic license suspension associated with a DUI charge.

Source: FindLaw, “What if I am Charged with an Offense that Requires a Driver’s License Suspension?,” Dec. 11, 2014

Protect Your Rights

Everyone has civil rights, and when you are accused of a crime, you have a very specific set of rights that apply to you. The police and the prosecution have to respect your rights, and if they don’t, the case against you could crumble. How to uphold, protect and use your rights, though, isn’t something everyone knows how to do.

In a somewhat similar situation, juveniles — and in some cases their parents — don’t realize the severity of the criminal case that faces them or their child. They may think that a minor crime committed by their son or daughter doesn’t necessitate a lawyer to defend them. They may think the criminal justice system will smile upon their child and let them off with a lessened punishment.

However, that isn’t always the case. In both of the these scenarios — being accused of a crime, and a juvenile being accused of a minor crime — a criminal defense attorney is necessary to ensure that your rights are protected and that your case is properly handled. Contact us at Jacquelyn Ford Law to help you should you be accused of a criminal act.

Know Your Rights If You Get Arrested

Would you Know Your Rights If You Get Arrested?

The stress, fear, depression and anger associated with the arrest process can make a person accused of a crime completely forget that they actually have rights during that stressful, fearful, depressive, angry process.

Criminals have rights. That may not be something that everyone wants to hear, but it’s the truth. And those naysayers would want the very protections granted by those rights if they were ever accused of criminal activity. Upholding these rights in the immediate aftermath of an arrest is absolutely crucial. These moments are when the police could pry critical or self-incriminating evidence out of you or the case. You need a lawyer to protect you and uphold your rights during this time.

At Jacquelyn Ford Law, we are passionate about protecting people who have been accused of a crime. Our job is to keep the police and the prosecution in check, and we have the experience and knowledge necessary to do just that. For your sake, if you are ever accused of a criminal charge in the Oklahoma City area, give us a call.

Why NFL games spark added crime in host city

The study looked at a number of U.S. cities that have NFL teams: Detroit, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, Baltimore and Newark (for the New York teams). The study examined how crime changed for a football gameday when the city was hosting their home team.

What the study found is that larceny and motor vehicle theft increased on home gamedays. Larceny jumped 4 percent on home gamedays and motor vehicle thefts jumped 7 percent. Overall, crime increased 3 percent in a city which was hosting their own professional team. There are a couple of factors that likely play into this phenomenon.

The first is that on gamedays, there are tens of thousands of people crammed together in restaurants, in parking lots, in stadiums and many other areas. In that mass of people, it is easier for people to pickpocket or commit crimes. Also, in this mass of people, there are more objects and personal belongings to be taken. Alcohol could also play a huge factor in the rise of criminal activity, though that isn’t mentioned in this study.

Crime is a complex entity, and the people who commit these offenses certainly play their small part. Even when they make such a mistake, they need to defend themselves against the criminal charges — whether the incident occurred on gameday or not.

Source: Washington Post, “Why city crime spikes during home football games,” Roberto A. Ferdman, Nov. 26, 2014