Blog Jay Leiderman Law

“Excessive bail shall not be required…” Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution.  Even so, this very moment, approximately 450,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime are being held in U.S. jails. Many of them are there simply because they cannot afford to pay for their release. As detailed below, bail is inherently excessive and unconstitutional.

bail

Bail reform is needed to ensure the poor have the same access to release than

Bail is intended to cause people convicted of a crime to appear at their court date. In some states, bail can be denied if someone is a flight risk or if they pose a threat if released from jail. In most states, release can be arranged through a third party — a bail bondsman – who then keeps a percentage of the bail. Bail has existed in various forms for centuries, though the commercialization and monetary element of our current system is a more modern invention, one that has serious consequences for don’t have money to pay it.

 

Excessive bail is prohibited in the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, but for the thousands of people who sit in jails because they can’t afford the cost set by the courts, bail is inherently excessive and, therefore, unconstitutional. It can also cost people their jobs, custody of their children or semesters of their education.

The for-profit pretrial release system in the United States has spawned a $2 billion-a-year industry of commercial bail bondsmen, who sometimes collect 10 percent of the full amount of money set by the Court regardless of whether the person is found innocent or guilty. This amounts to financial punishment for people who can’t afford to post their own money for their release.

 

While this commercialization of the U.S. bail system is astonishingly unjust, it alone is not necessarily the root of the problem. Problems also persist in states without sureties or bondsmen. In Kentucky, for example, commercial bail bondsmen are prohibited. It is also a “right to bail” state, meaning that people can’t be denied their Eighth Amendment right unless they are charged with a capital crime. Thus, Kentucky courts, like in so many other states, will often set conditions of release at an amount that is incredibly high so that someone who is deemed to be a threat or a flight risk can’t afford it.

 

The impact of bail on people in poverty is also in conflict with another amendment to the constitution – the 14th Amendment, which offers equal protection under the law. Our bail system affects the poor in ways that don’t affect the wealthy. In other words, people are essentially detained because they can’t pay bail, not because they are a threat or a flight risk.

bail

bail is inherently excessive and unconstitutional

Many people arrested for minor crimes – traffic offenses or misdemeanors such as public intoxication – are met with sums under $1,000, which is little more than a nuisance for those with money and an impossibility for someone without it. As critics point out, this disparity represents a breach of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, an argument that is being made in cities around the country to combat a system that disproportionately affects the poor.

 

Defenders of our current bail system use arguments that echo many “tough on crime” sentiments, namely that bail reform advocates want get-out-of-jail-free cards for people who should be dealt with more harshly by our system. Yet, just like the other debates centered around our criminal justice system, being tough on crime too often means being tough on people who are financially challenged.

bail

Judges set bail the same for poor and rich alike

It’s no surprise that people with great wealth don’t face the same problems as poor people. But this inequality shouldn’t be built into our criminal justice system. It’s unreasonable and it’s fiscally irresponsible, contributing to the incredibly high prison and jail population in the United States.

Even the term “unconstitutional,” while accurate, fails to encapsulate the impact our system has on people’s lives. In addition to the challenges it presents in the way of family, employment and education, it also bleeds over into other parts of our courts. People who can’t afford bail often plead guilty in order to get out of jail and typically receive and accept harsher penalties than those who can pay.

 

While the more highly publicized debate about inequality in our criminal justice system is centered around drug crimes, non-violent offenders and mandatory minimums, hundreds of thousands of Americans sit in jail because they don’t have the means to do anything but wait.

 

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Many people often associate the phrase “domestic violence” with physical abuse. Once a person claims to be a victim of domestic violence, we readily conjure up images of that individual being on the receiving end of slaps, punches and other forms of physical abuse.

While it’s true that physical violence is directly related to domestic violence, it’s just one form of abuse, albeit the best-known and most tangible. There are other forms of domestic violence that you should be aware of, all of which affect people from all walks of life.  The perpetrator of domestic violence will often be arrested and prosecuted, and could be subject to significant jail time.  The victim of domestic violence will sometimes retain an attorney for restraining orders or even to sue for money damages.

Physical abuse, the most common form of domestic violence

Apart from slapping and punching, other unwanted physical contact such as biting, strangling, kicking, hair-pulling, shoving, hitting with an object and pinching constitute physical abuse. It’s also physical violence when someone grabs your clothing, restrains you in whatever way or bodily makes you do something or go somewhere against your will. And these acts don’t have to hurt or leave a mark to be construed as physically abusive behavior.

Physical abuse is also not limited to actual physical contact. The withholding of physical needs such as food, sleep and medicine also qualifies as physical abuse.

domestic violence

Domestic Violence can include types of assault

Psychological abuse

A person who gets threats of harm, intimidation, and isolation thrown their way on a regular basis is a victim of psychological abuse. The threats could be of physical harm to the victim, or of actual harm to the victim’s property and even pets. A psychologically abusive relationship could also manifest in the way the abuser tries to control every aspect of the victim’s life.

Sexual Abuse

In a domestic situation, sexual abuse has a rather broad interpretation. Aside from rape and coercing sexual contact, sexual abuse in a domestic setting could also include sexual harassment, forcing the person to have sex with others, or any other physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct that is sexual in nature. There is even a sub-category of sexual abuse called reproductive coercion, where a woman is pressed to have an abortion or not to use contraceptives.

Emotional abuse

A man, woman or child who is the target of unrelenting criticism, insults, name-calling and humiliation within the household could be considered a victim of emotional abuse. In the process, the victim’s sense of self-worth is severely diminished and in many cases, destroyed. The thing about emotional abuse is that many perceive it to be quite common in unhealthy relationships, right to the point where building a domestic violence case around it can prove to be tricky. More often than not, domestic violence action has to combine emotional abuse with other types of abuse to craft a case.

Economic or financial abuse

Limiting the victim’s access to financial resources can be construed as economic or financial abuse. This could include withholding money or credit card use, demanding pay checks be turned over, causing the victim to suffer job loss, openly blocking the aggrieved party from getting work, and forcing the person to work. Diverting the money for necessities like groceries to non-essentials like alcohol, drugs or personal hobbies could also be considered financial abuse.

Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse comes in many different forms. It could be forcing one’s religion on an intimate partner or spouse. Stopping any member of the household to practice her or his religious or spiritual beliefs also qualifies as spiritual abuse. One can also claim this type of abuse if he or she gets ridiculed for the things he or she believes in. In some cases, one parent raises children in a religion or faith without the consent of the partner or spouse.

Most cases of domestic violence are unreported, probably because those who suffer from it have no idea that what they’re going through qualifies as such. This is why it’s important to spread awareness about the other forms of domestic violence so that victims can finally take action and get some measure of justice for themselves.  There are also ways to get help.

Conclusion

Domestic violence is a serious problem in our society.  If you are arrested for domestic violence or are a victim, you should talk to a lawyer about your rights and how to seek help.  Those arrested for domestic violence need a good defense attorney to try to keep them out of jail.  Courts take these cases very seriously.

The best way not to get arrested for domestic violence is to always treat your partner with respect and dignity.  Stay away from physical and emotional abuse.  Your life will be happier and more fulfilling if you can avoid the court system altogether.

 

credits

Affixing an ankle monitor

 

This is a guest post edited only for grammar by Jay Leiderman.  Jay Leiderman is not responsible for the content.

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When Does Misdemeanor Assault Rise to the Level of a Felony?

While assault laws may seem simple and easy to understand on the surface, it’s actually a complex area of law. Every state has its own laws on the books and those laws define the various offenses that constitute assault.  They also delineate what factors could elevate a misdemeanor charge to a felony.

To start, let’s take a look at misdemeanor assault. Then we’ll look into what circumstances could raise what would otherwise be a misdemeanor to the felony level.  Then we’ll take a look at various types of assault.

assault

Dictionary illustration in which the assailant makes physical contact.

Understanding Misdemeanor Assault

You may also hear this referred to as simple assault. In most states, a simple assault is classified as an act that puts another person in fear of bodily harm or causes actual bodily harm. Touching someone with the intent to cause physical injury or in a way that actually causes physical injury could lead to a conviction on simple assault charges.

Depending on the severity of physical injury, a conviction could include penalties of probation, fines and up to one year in prison.

What is Felony Assault?

Felony assault is most commonly known throughout the nation as aggravated assault. This is a very serious charge that can lead to several years in prison upon conviction. Prosecutors will typically charge an offender with this crime if they suspect “aggravating circumstances” were involved. These circumstances include, but are not limited to the following:

 

  • Serious superficial physical injury like severe bruising or lacerations
  • The offense is committed with the use of a deadly weapon
  • Disfigurement or fractured bones
  • The victim of the assault is restrained
  • The assault takes place in someone’s private home
  • Any assault committed on a police officer, prison guard, prosecutor, teacher or medical professional
  • When an adult assaults someone underaged

 

Even a first time felony aggravated assault conviction can lead to a prison term that can carry with it several years in prison. The judge will determine the sentence based on someone’s social and criminal history and the circumstances of the crime.

assault

Threats can be crimes in many states

The consequences can become much more severe on a second aggravated assault conviction with a prison term of additional years. A third conviction could land someone in prison for many years or even for life in some states.

Threats

Threatening someone with bodily harm is considered misdemeanor assault in some states. However states like Arizona have laws on the books that will elevate threatening or intimidating to a felony level if gang activity is involved.

Domestic Violence

Just like other forms of assault, domestic violence charges are classified as misdemeanor or felony offenses. However, in many states, even misdemeanor offenses are prosecuted more aggressively. A first offense

may include community service, jail time, fines and court-ordered behavioral treatment. A second misdemeanor offense could, and likely would, result in additional probation or jail time.  A second or subsequent offense may even elevate a misdemeanor to a felony.

Aggravated domestic violence is typically a felony charge. Domestic violence that results in bodily injury or if a weapon is involved in the assault can also be grounds for a felony charge.

domestic assault

Domestic Violence is typically punished harshly

Hate Crimes

An assault or threat of any kind will rise to the level of a felony if authorities believe the offense was motivated by hate or bias. Hate crimes target specific groups with what are known as “immutable characteristics.”  Immutable characteristics include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and like categories.

What to Do When Your Misdemeanor Charge Is Elevated to a Felony

If you face felony assault charges or the prospect of having a misdemeanor charge upgraded to a felony, you need to seek the guidance of a defense attorney who can help you weigh your legal options. Felony convictions will have life-altering consequences, including prison time, fines and a permanent criminal record.

A skilled assault lawyer can help you understand your rights and work to have your charges reduced, dismissed or acquitted at trial. Without the guidance of an attorney, your odds of being hit with a harsh sentence will increase significantly.

 

Guest post by Amanda Burns

Edited for grammar and syntax by Jay Leiderman.  Content not changed.

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The first thing that you should know is that Marijuana is the Spanish language word for Cannabis. Back in the 1930’s when cannabis came under attack by the federal government drug agents started using the Spanish language “marijuana” instead of cannabis so that the racial passions of the public would be inflamed.  Lost in that ugly racist history is that cannabis was primarily a medicine before it was outlawed in 1937.  It is just in the last 20 years that the medical effects of cannabis have again been touted.

Cannabis compounds are largely derived from of the dried flowers and the leaves of the cannabis plant.  Cannabis is so much more than just a plant, it is a rather elegant compound in the botanic world.  Of the 5 main cannabinoids one is particularly powerful for healing and it is also a non-psychoactive compound called CBD (Cannabidinol). This is the ingredient, along with the THC, that delivers the much needed healing effects of marijuana.

Even though it might seem basic, a lot of people are unfamiliar with the composition and major compounds in cannabis. It’s important in the age of medical marijuana to take a look at some of the scientific benefits of the compounds – specifically CBD and THC – as  they produce most of the benefits that people look for when determining the potential benefits of medical marijuana.

Does hemp oil cure cancer?

There are different types of cancerous conditions affecting various parts of our bodies, so let’s have a look.

  1. Brain cancer

There are a few studies in this area and a good deal of anecdotal evidence. For instance, a study published in the British Journal of Cancer showed that compounds found in hemp oil as well as other cannabinoids managed to inhibit the growth of a brain tumor. The delivery of the cannabinoid was actually safe and it didn’t have any psychoactive effects and the cannabinoids were found to actively decrease the tumor cells in two of the nine patients taht participated in the study.

  1. Lung cancer

The Experimental Medical Department of Harvard Medical School determined that THC is capable of inhibiting the epithelial growth factor which induces the migration of lung cancer cells. Another study published by the US National Library of Medicine showed that cannabinoids are capable of inhibiting the invasion of cancerous cells as well.

  1. Blood cancer

There is some good news on this front related to hemp oil.  A study published in the Molecular Pharmacology journal showed that cannabinoinds inhibit cell growth and are effective against apoptosis (the death of cells) in the mantle cell lymphoma.

4. Other types of cancer

Of course, it’s also worth noting that there are other types of cancer and hemp oil has a lot of additional benefits in that regard as well. Cannabis is definitely a perfect example of how our minds could be easily conditioned to believe in something even when we are conclusively faced with evidence which contradicts our beliefs afterwards. All of us, while growing up, were told that drugs are “bad”, so to speak. However, as science and medicine advances further, it turns out that substances such as cannabis and cannabidinol, for example, could be potentially lifesaving. What is more, this particular substance has over 50,000 different uses, all of which are particularly beneficial. This is something that needs to be taken into account – that’s certain. The US has already noticed this as it reflects in the ongoing legalization tendencies of medical marijuana.

Handling Nicotine Addiction – Positive Effects of Marijuana

Evidence related to cannabis and the potential treatment of nicotine addiction is based on a brand new study conducted with 24 smokers which were randomly chosen and give an inhaler with CBD or an inhaler with a placebo. They were then asked to take a slight puff whenever they felt the need to have a smoke. Those who had the placebo saw no difference and there wasn’t a drop in the use of cigarettes. However, those who were given the real CBD reported a 40% drop in the intake of nicotine. This is quite impressive and it’s without a doubt one of the most impressive new feats of medical cannabis.  It begs the question : what else can this wonder drug do?

Benefits of Marijuana for Acne

The Journal of Clinical Investigation as well as the National Institute of Health discovered that the CBD can actually battle acne. The researchers used cannabidinol on the glands and determined that it has highly anti-inflammatory and sebostatic properties which turned to be a great benefit when treating acne. The research was later published in a study and, to use a turn of phrase; it’s absolutely legit.

Medical Marijuana Benefits Related to Diabetes

Another study conclusively managed to prevent diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice using CBD. The study also revealed that the substance is capable of preventing cytokine which is absolutely crucial because it plays an important part in a variety of different autoimmune diseases.

Other Benefits

In any case, it’s obvious that CBD has a variety of different benefits and healing properties. To list a few more, it can help you handle fibromyalgia, mad cow disease (seriously!), PTSD and many more maladies. In any case, this is a natural substance which is definitely capable of battling all manner of disorders for which medical science hasn’t yet found a definitive and permanent cure. Of course, use should always be in moderation and only after duly recommended by a licensed physician who talks to you about methods, manner and amounts of usage.

cannabis

Author Bio- This post is submitted by John Levy. He is a blogger for Pot Valet, a leading company providing marijuana delivery in Santa Monica. He has 5 years of experience in the Cannabis industry and loves sharing health benefits of marijuana and related products.

  • Edited for grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax by Jay Leiderman.  Not edited for content.
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Ode to the dawn of the twilight

Nothing much happened today. Nothing much at all.

Congress did some stuff. Whatever. Well maybe not exactly whatever. See, there was formerly an uncodified mandate that ISPs (the mega corps that provide you with internet service) not do things like sift through, store and sell your browsing data. To much fanfare and celebration, 5 months ago, companies were formally banned by the FCC from selling your browsing history.

Today Congress reversed that ban.

Congress

These are the members of Congress that voted to violate your Internet privacy rights

Big deal, right? Stop with the histrionics. Whatever.

I mean, it is a big deal to lawyers and journalists and such like folk doing research and contacting sources and needing privacy to exist and whatever, but fuck us anyway. Journos spew fake news and lawyers, well … lawyers. Lol.

If only it was going to end here.

Alas, several things are in the sights of Congress that are much, much worse. For example, the FBI wants to ban encryption for use by private persons. I use encryption. I need encryption. Are you an encrypter? You will be. Oh, you will be. But terrorists use it too. So it’s got to go. I feel safer already.

Same thing for VPN services that don’t log their internet traffic. Are their days numbered? There have been major rumblings.  Ask your nephew what that means. I already have to explain net neutrality to you. Anyway…

Internet Privacy

As if the NSA and FBI spying weren’t enough …

And then there is net neutrality. On its way out. Gasping for sir. Here’s how the good folks at Wikipedia define net neutrality: “Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”

So you know how you have to pay more for Showtime and HBO? How’d you like to pay more to use FaceBook or Twitter? Or have it be unavailable from your local provider? Or if you have to pay more for access if you’re a business. Trust me, you can live without it. It’ll eventually come to basic internet anyway after 5 seasons (I know, I’m about as punny as Dennis Miller and 1/100th as clever).

Don’t sweat it though. Seriously. It’s really good for the bottom line of companies like Comcast and Time Warner that provide you internet service. That’s good for business. Those are the job creators, people. Job creators.

And then, invariably, there will be the rebirth of SOPA or some other incarnation. My Google machine says this about SOPA: “The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a controversial United States bill … to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods.” Every major internet company worth its salt opposed it and it died. But…

Privacy

Letting ISPs collect and sell your Internet browsing data is just the first of many privacy violations to come

Let’s again be honest. Ugh, too much honesty here. Online piracy is a scourge and its seed (see what I did there?) should be wiped from the face of the earth. It matters little that we should give up freedom – like the right to privacy in the computers in our own home – to stamp out piracy. Piracy! FFS, Piracy! It’s not just your patriotic duty as an American, it’s your duty as a citizen of the world to stop the dialogue about the transmogrification of copyright law and the advancement of Creative Commons licenses. Your turn to google, I’m tired. Plus, Lars Olsen needs a new Maserati. (I know. Shut up.) Plus, the NSA has already shown it can be trusted with all of your data. (NSA: Some used spying power to snoop on lovers, 9/27/13, CNN). So there’s that.

What’s my point. As you might have guessed, I don’t have one. Or can’t remember it. Ahh, whiskey.

But there’s this. I wanted to share this with you: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” That’s it. That’s my point. The classic by Big Benny Franklin. Played out though, dontcha think? Encore with Dock of the Bay, exit stage right, whatever. That can’t be my point of this offhanded diatribe.

Information is the new currency

Each action you take on the Internet leaves a distinctive fingerprint. Your data has become your identity. Information is the new currency

No, this is my point. I actually have one. It is this quote by William O. Douglass, former US Supreme Court Justice. Please consider this, as we move forward into a new frontier of constraints upon our liberties that seek to chill the digital revolution and make our thoughts less safe, our lives less creative and our souls less alight with the joys only freedom, true, unfettered freedom, can provide:

“As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

Ode to the dawn of twilight indeed.  Stay vigilant my friends.

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