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Benton Kentucky Criminal Law Blog

Man charged for assault while out on bond

A 43-year-old Kentucky man was charged with assault after an incident at a home in McCracken County on Sept. 27. At about 8:30 p.m., deputies visited the home after receiving a report about a domestic disturbance. Deputies allegedly witnessed the accused man leave the home while running after a woman. When deputies instructed the man to stop, he ran back into the home.

The man reportedly stayed in the home while deputies tried to contact him by phone and vehicle PA system. After several attempts to contact the man failed, the Sheriff's Dept. Special Services Team went into the residence and detained him. He was booked at McCracken County Jail on one count of fourth degree assault with minor injury and one count of first degree fleeing on foot. Because he was free on bond, he was also charged for violating the conditions of his release.

New device may measure marijuana intoxication

Kentucky residents may want to know that researchers have created a device that can test whether a driver is impaired from cannabis. While law enforcement agencies have tests that can determine the level of THC, the key ingredient in marijuana, there is currently no approved test that can gauge a user's degree of marijuana intoxication.

The potalyzer device, created by researchers at Stanford University, can detect THC in an individual's saliva as well as the concentration level of the component. The researchers say that using a person's saliva to determine THC levels is less invasive than other forms of testing and may have a stronger connection to impairment than THC found in blood or urine. After collecting a cotton swab of saliva from an individual, magnetic biosensors are used to locate any THC molecules. Within three minutes, the results of the test can be obtained from a laptop or smartphone.

Parental involvement may impact teen drinking

Teen driving can be a major concern for Kentucky parents as they consider various types of outside influences that can affect the decisions of their children. One of the most serious issues related to teen driving is the consumption of alcohol before driving. However, a survey of more than 1,000 young people suggests that concerned parents can positively influence these decisions by simply implementing clear family rules.

Experts suggest that a combination of good household rules and community standards related to drinking and driving play a major role in the choices of young drivers. More than one-third of teens surveyed indicated that they had avoided parties involving alcohol in the previous 30 days because of clear rules in the home about this activity. While the rest of the responding teens indicated that they had attended such events, their likelihood of consuming alcohol at these events was 38 percent lower if their parents had imposed those types of rules.

Understanding accomplice liability

In Kentucky, people may be charged with a crime and face substantial penalties if they were complicit with another person who actually committed the offense. The person who is charged for being complicit in the commission of a crime is known as an accomplice and may face an identical punishment as the person who committed the crime.

In order to prove accomplice liability, a prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a number of different elements of the offense. It must be proven that a different person committed the crime, that the defendant aided, counseled, encouraged or abetted the other person to commit the crime and that the defendant had the required mental state at the time of the actions.

Couple crashes into pole then gets attacked by bees

Kentucky law enforcement authorities at the Laurel County Sheriff's Office reported an unusual DUI case that resulted in the car's occupants being stung by bees. The incident reportedly happened July 26 in Laurel County on Patton Spur Road.

According to authorities, a 36-year-old East Bernstadt man was driving a GeoTracker with a 35-year-old Dry Ridge woman as his passenger. The man reportedly crashed into a utility pole, causing the electrical lines to fall and disturbing a beehive that was apparently attached to the pole.

What to do if there is not adequate legal representation

Kentucky residents may know that people are entitled to have an attorney if they if they are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor that could lead to incarceration. However, their rights do not stop here. They are also entitled to what is known as adequate representation. This means that even though a person may not have the best attorney, the attorney must be competent.

If a person's legal representation is found to be incompetent, then a guilty verdict might be dismissed. However, courts operate from the presumption that an attorney's conduct is professional, so a defendant must take significant steps to demonstrate this incompetence.

Miranda rights and interrogation

While many Kentucky residents recognize that they have rights when detained by authorities, they may not clearly understand how to invoke them. Miranda rights include the right to have a lawyer present during questioning and the right to remain silent when interrogated. However, invocation of the rights is necessary to access the full protection provided. Silence alone may not put an end to questioning.

The onus is on authorities to inform people of their rights. Further, it must be clear that a detained party understands these rights. If they convey their understanding but proceeds to talk, their speech might be used as evidence. Waiving these rights can occur through making statements on a voluntary basis. An explicit statement of intent, in other words, is not required.

Alternate ways to resolve criminal cases

Plea bargains are an essential part of the Kentucky criminal justice system. They save time, keep the courts from being bogged down and can help alleviate crowding in jails and prisons. Prosecutors like plea bargains because they weed out minor cases and concentrate instead on the serious cases that need their full attention. They also prefer plea bargains as they represent a sure thing as opposed to a trial that may or may not go their way.

Settling a case outside of the courtroom may be in a prosecutor's best interest as it keeps the court's case load moving in a timely manner. As judges want to keep cases moving and prosecutors want to stay in a judge's good graces, a plea bargain may be a better alternative than going to trial unnecessarily.

Intent and mental state factor into criminal laws

When a Kentucky state prosecutor levels criminal charges against a person the specific facts of the alleged crime will be used to select the precise charges. The concept of "mens rea" will be applied to make the decision. This Latin term describes the legal process of determining the extent of guilt found within the person's mental state at the time of the crime. It splits crimes between those in which people intended to commit a crime and those that involved people who did not mean to do anything wrong.

As an example, theft is a crime that requires that the person not only steal something but also intend to keep it permanently. Someone who takes a person's cellphone but intends to return it would technically not be stealing. If the taking of an object can be shown to be done with the purpose of depriving the owner permanently, then the definition of theft could be met.

Cartel leader cleared for extradition

People in Kentucky may be aware that some criminals can be extradited from other countries to face charges in the United States. On May 20, the Foreign Ministry of Mexico announced that since the United States had agreed to not seek the death penalty against the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, it would allow his extradition to face drug-related charges in multiple U.S. districts.

The man had been imprisoned in a maximum-security prison in Mexico, but he escaped in July 2015. In January, Mexican marines recaptured him during a raid.