Archive for December, 2008

How College Students Can Avoid Being Arrested

I practice law in a college town and have handled many cases involving college students. If you are a college student, I have three suggestions that, if followed, will significantly lower your chances of being arrested.

Don’t Have Drugs in the Dorms

First of all, don’t smoke pot in the dorms. You might think you are smart enough to disguise or eliminate the smell, but you’re not. Countless police reports tell a tale of a resident assistant (or other university employee) smelling cannabis in the hallway and then calling the cops. If you smoke pot in your dorm room, you are playing with fire.

If you keep marijuana or other drugs in your dorm room, you may be arrested even if you never light up in the room. Why is this? This is because your neighbor or roommate may light up causing the police to come knocking on your door. When the officers ask to search your room, even though you should say “no,” you won’t. You will give them permission to search your room. When the officers search your room, they will find your drugs and you will be arrested.

If you think the cops have better things to do than investigate marijuana smokers, you’re right, however, few things make a cop happier than finding drugs. If a cop has a chance to search you or your room for drugs, the cop probably will.

Avoid Large Parties

There might not be anything more emotionally satisfying than drinking beer with 150 of your closest friends, but don’t do it. There will be a curmudgeon who calls the police about the blaring stereo or screaming multitude. When the cops show up, if you are a “minor,” you will, at a minimum, receive a city drinking ticket. There is also the chance that if you are obnoxious enough, or if you have a fake ID or drugs on you, that you will be arrested on a state criminal charge.

Don’t Get Drunk

Drunk college students do a lot of stupid things. Among other things, they get in fights, break property belonging to other people, steal things, drive cars, and refuse to leave bars. If you don’t get drunk, there is less of a chance that you will do something stupid — and illegal.

Jeremy Richey

Being High Isn’t Required for DUI

If you are a pot smoker, you might think twice before you drive in Illinois. This is because it is illegal for a person to drive if “there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in the person’s breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis . . . .” 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6).   Furthermore, a person can fail a drug screen for weeks after smoking pot.  According to WebMD, “Light users — those who smoke a joint once in a while — will have a negative drug screen after a marijuana-free week. Heavy users — sometimes called ‘stoners’ — may continue testing positive for a month after their last bong hit.”

This post is not merely an academic exercise. Non-high people are frequently arrested on DUI charges. For example, here is one way I have seen this happen. Let’s suppose a cop stops a car for speeding. When the cop approaches the vehicle, he notices that the driver has bloodshot eyes. The driver hasn’t smoked cannabis for two days. The suspicious officer asks for permission to search the person’s car. The person tells the cop it is OK for the cop to search the car. The cop discovers a joint or small flecks of marijuana on the floorboard of the car. The cop then asks the person when the last time he smoked pot was. The person tells the cop it was two days ago. The next thing you know, the person is at the hospital getting his blood drawn.

It may (or may not) upset you that a stoner might be breaking the law by driving three weeks after smoking a joint, however, that is the law. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

Jeremy Richey

Is It Ethical to Plead Not Guilty?

The other day, I spoke to a person who said it is wrong for a guilty person to plead not guilty in court. I could see where the person was coming from, but he was wrong. He was taking the words “not guilty” too literally. Those words do not operate in a vacuum; they are part of our legal system. Our legal system establishes a presumption of innocence for every person charged with a crime and places a burden on the government of proving the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When a person utters the words “not guilty” in court, all the players (such as the judge, prosecutor, and defense lawyer) understand that the person is requiring the government to carry its burden. Furthermore, all the players expect the overwhelming majority of defendants to plead not guilty at their arraignments. So, when a person enters a not-guilty plea, he is not being deceptive or dishonest; he is doing what is expected of him by the system and its players. It is perfectly ethical for a person to plead not guilty even if the person believes himself to be guilty as sin.

Jeremy Richey

First and Last Name Please

As a solo practitioner, I answer my own phone. A pet peeve of mine is when a client calls me and only gives me his or her first name. The problem with this is that if a client with the name “George” calls, I may have four different clients named George and I may not know which one is calling. To satisfy my curiosity of who George is, I have to ask George what his last name is. The conversation might go something like this.

Jeremy: Hello, this is Jeremy Richey.

George: This is George. Have you received the police report yet?

Jeremy: Which George is this?

George: Smith

Jeremy: Sorry, George. I have several clients with your name and I didn’t recognize your voice.

George: No problem.

Jeremy: No I haven’t, but . . . .

Of course, this is not a big deal, but it is a pet peeve of mine nonetheless. I appreciate each and every client that hires me and I don’t want to offend any client by not recognizing the client’s voice on the phone. So, if you call me, humor this curmudgeon in the making and identify yourself by first and last name.

Jeremy Richey

Criminal Law Blawgosphere Roundup

Has anything interesting been going on recently in the criminal-law blawgosphere?  You betcha.

Houston’s Mark Bennett has been busy chastising the newly-elected District Attorney in his neck of the woods.  (I think it is safe to say that Bennett is not afraid to stand up to powerful people and call them out on their bullsh**.)  “Following the politically-motivated firing of several prosecutors perceived as dangerous to her regime, Harris County’s soon-to-be District Attorney Pat Lykos has taken further steps to improve morale in the Office.”  [More]

New York’s Scott Greenfield wants his clients to follow his instructions.  “There’s some bone in people’s head that compels them to ignore the advice of the person to whom they have paid a substantial amount of money and in whose hands they have entrusted their life.”  [More]

Fort Worth’s Sean Matlock points out that material things should not take priority over obtaining good legal representation.  “It is never a good decision to postpone a potentially life-altering decision for economic reasons.”  [More]

Mike at Crime & Federalism shares a story about how bad decisions by one woman could lead to a false-rape claim. “Unfortunately our law does not treat women and men equally.  Women are not viewed as rational actors or autonomous beings – especially when it comes to matters of sex.  When a woman gets drunk, has sex, and regrets it, it is the man who must be a rapist.”  [More]

How does Maryland’s Jon Katz find time to blog?  He makes time.  “Do you take time daily to eat, brush your teeth, and get dressed?  . . .  If so, there is time to blog . . . .”  [More]

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?  WindyPundit, Robert Guest, and Crime & Federalism discuss a sting operation designed to catch cops behaving badly.  If you learn nothing else from these posts, please learn that you should never grow Christmas trees indoors using grow lights.

Jeremy Richey

Jeremy J. Richey, Attorney at Law
© Jeremy J. Richey and The East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.