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February 2012 Archives

Can Police Intercept My UPS Package?

Nearly every package, even those sent overnight, which are mailed via UPS, DHL, FedEx, or Post Office is sent through a central processing area. These areas may be located in Louisville, KY, Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, or other locations throughout the United States. This area is for sorting and shipping, but it is often also used to detect illegal and/or stolen goods. Most of these areas are also patrolled with drug sniffing dogs that can detect marijuana and many other substances. The police or other local authorities are often called by the shipper if there is suspicious activity. If a dog hits on a package, that is generally considered as probably cause so that the investigator can obtain a search warrant. Once a warrant is issued, the package can be opened and the sender can be charged with the crime. Many times if a package is known to contain drugs, the police will go a step further and repackage the material and send an undercover agent, posising as the delivery man, to deliver the package. This is done more often where the volume of drugs would lead the authorities to believe that the receiver is trafficking a controlled substance. There are many legal issues involved, including federal versus state charges; jurisdiction of a state law violation; suppression for illegal search; reasonable right to privacy and the basis for the suspicious package. If you have had a suspicious package intercepted, have been contacted by authorities, or if you are the subject of a drug trafficking case, you should seek legal counsel immediately. An attonrey may be able to minimize the legal ramifications and direct the prosecution towards a more favorable resolution. In Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati, CVG or federal court in Eastern District of Kentucky, contact Michael W. Bouldin for a consultation. Call or email at mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or 859-581-6453.

Can Police Search My Smartphone?

Police in various areas of Norther Kentucky and Cincinnati have begun checking the phones of automobile and truck drivers. KRS 189.292 is a current law that makes it illegal to text, email or use the internet while driving. New proposed regulations would have car manufacturers imbed devices in new vehicles that would not allow the use of smartphones while the car is in drive. Lawmakers in some states have overlooked the fact that the majority of the people using smartphones are not the driver of the vehicle, but passengers. (Kentucky has not enacted such a requirement). If you are questioned, stopped, arrested or the subject of a criminal investigation in Northern Kentucky, you do not have to give permission to the officer to search your phone. Like any other search, it is legal if the person consents to the search. If the officer asks for permission, simply say NO. If permission is granted, they can certainly search. If you deny permission, the officer may seize the phone if he believes that there is illegal activity; then he must obtain a search warrant to view the contents of your Droid, iPhone or Blackberry. Police have begun to realize the amount of evidence which may be obtained from a smartphone or PDA. A search warrant can only be obtained if there is reason to believe that there is incriminating evidence on the phone. Because a Droid, iPhone or Blackberry are actually small computers, the courts generally require that a search warrant be obtained prior to searching. If the police or other investigating agency searches without permission or a search warrant, there is a likelihood that any evidence recovered may be suppressed since it is a violation of civil rights against improper searches; see the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. Simply because they are handheld does not give the owner any less of a right to privacy than if it was a desktop computer. While the initial intent may be to prove that a person was texting while driving, the information obtained from smartphones or PDAs has led to arrest and convictions of child pornography as well as provided strong evidence in drug trafficking cases. They have also been used when investigating a traffic accident to see if you were talking or texting during the accident. Know your rights. If you have questions or were charged, call Mike Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or mike@bouldinlawfirm.com.

Should I Admit My Role In Criminal Activity?

The general answer is No and I will often counsel clients to not make any statements to police without first discussing with an attorney. Police and other investigators throughout Kentucky and Ohio regularly use persuasion to attempt to convince criminal defendants to make statements regarding the alleged criminal activity. Unfortunately, there are two problems: (1) Once you give a statement, it can and will be used against you in a court of law. If you lie, the lie will be used against you to prove that you cannot be trusted. If they or the jury thinks you are lying about even the smallest thing, it will be hard for them to believe anything that you say. (2) The police do not have authority to promise outcomes. Police will often tell a defendant that if he/she cooperates, that certain results will be forthcoming. They may tell the defendant that he will not be arrested, will avoid indictment or stay out of jail. They do not have the authority. This requires the consent of the prosecution. The police may make a recommendation to the prosecutor, but the prosecutor is not required to follow the recommendation of the officer. Further, the court is not required to follow the recommendation of the prosecutor unless there is a negotiated plea deal. The important thing to remember is to involve an attorney at your earliest opportunity. Listen to your attorney. A defendant is not entitled to a public defender until requested and appointed by the Judge. Most often, this is only after the investigation is complete, a charge and/or indictment is made and the defendant has appeared in Court. Hiring an attorney during the investigation stage may be critical in avoiding making an admission that can cost an effective defense. If you believe that you are under investigation and have questions, contact Michael W. Bouldin for a consultation in Ohio or Kentucky. To schedule a consultation, call or email at 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) or mike@bouldinlawfirm.com.

What's Wrong With Bringing Drugs to Your Prostitute?

Northern Kentucky is again in the news with the allegations that Clermont County Commissioner Archie Wilson coming to Covington to seek prostitutes. Generally, the solicitation of prostitution is a relatively minor offense. There are two problems here: (1) he allegedly brought drugs; and (2) he is a public official. Public officials often run on the "family values" and pound the pulpit about the wordly sins. Once those same public officials are then caught committing those sins, the puiblic is generally outraged. Here, Mr. Wilson has already resigned despite that he has not yet been convicted of any crimes. I will say that Mr. Wilson has surrounded himself with very good criminal defense attorneys. W. Robert Lotz is one of the top attorneys in Northern Kentucky and his Ohio counsel, Louis Sirkin is known nationally for his defense of the First Amendment and rights of strip club owners, employees and patrons. Bringing the drugs, whether sold or given away, is considered trafficking in the Commonwealht of Kentucky. This is seldom thought of by people who share illegal drugs with friends. Sharing the drugs is the same thing as selling drugs on the street. The crime is a felony for all but the smallest amount of marijuana (and even then it is a felony if within 1000 yards of a school or daycare). First offense soliciation of prostitute is often an offense that can lead to diversion. The humiliation and social sti (gma is often much worse than the criminal penalties. I have represented individuals caught in sting operations this year in both Covington and Newport. If you have been charged with prostitution, drug possession, trafficking or any other crime, call Mike Bouldin for a consultation. Contact Mike at mwbouldin@fuse.net or call 859-581-6453 (859-581-MIKE).

How Do I Pick a DUI Lawyer?

The most important thing to remember when speaking with a potential lawyer is not to be afraid to ask questions. The best and most qualified lawyers will welcome your questions and they will take it as a sign that you have done your homework. Remember that when you are interviewing an attorney, the attorney is also interviewing you to see if he or she wants to take your case. A good lawyer would rather represent a truly prepared client, a client who is committed to getting the best legal representation available. Here are a few questions you should ask in order to make an informed choice of who will represent you. • How many years have you been in practice? This will tell you much about the attorney's potential experience. But, also ask what they have done all those years. • How much experience do you have representing persons who are charged with DUI? You should leave the attorney's office confident that you have spoken to someone who has real expertise and experience in DUI law. • Do you have real experience handling a case like mine? You do not want a lawyer who sees your case as a new experience that he or she would like to try. You want someone with the experience necessary to do the job for you. • How many cases have you taken to trial? Your case might need to go to trial in order to get the outcome you deserve and it is imperative that your attorney have trial experience if it is required. You should also inquire about the preferred choice of a jury or bench trial. • Who in the office will actually be handling the case and what are their qualifications? Most attorneys work with a team. The lawyer that you might be speaking with might not actually be the person who does the bulk of the work. • Are you covered by a legal malpractice insurance policy? There is really no two ways about this. Your attorney should have malpractice insurance. Malpractice insurance is just as much insurance for you as it is for your lawyer. • Have you ever been disciplined by the State Bar? You do not want a lawyer with a long disciplinary rap sheet and you deserve to know if your lawyer has been disciplined in the past. • What are all the potential legal costs, including investigators, experts and the like? The lawyer should be honest with you about what your case might cost. You want to be secure that the lawyer is not luring you in with promises of unrealistically low fees and costs. • What challenges do you see in my case? The lawyer should be able to explain to you what he or she sees as the challenges you face and what they could mean for the ultimate result. • How will you keep me informed about my case? You must feel comfortable with the attorney's commitment to communicate with you. You should know if you would really be kept informed of developments in your case. • What will be the final outcome of my case? A good attorney will not promise you a specific result, because it is always impossible to be certain how a case will turn out. Any other answer is dishonest and unethical. A good attorney can only promise to do his or her best job in defending you. When you look for a potential defense attorney, tell him or her everything that you think is relevant, and then some. Something that you dismissed as a minor detail might make all the difference in your case. Most importantly, be honest. You have nothing to fear. Except in rare cases, if you are talking to an attorney face to face, even before he or she has decided to take your case, you already enjoy attorney-client privilege. This means that nothing you say could ever be used against you. If you ever have any doubt that your communication with the attorney is privileged, you should simply ask.

Is Arrest Mandatory for Possession of Marijuana?

Kentucky law has been modified to allow for issuing a citation for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Physical arrest is no longer the preferred way of handling these types of misdemeanors under the new system of use of detention centers. Generally the arrest for possession is only in connection with other behavior: operating a motor vehicle, disorderly conduct or resisting arrest. In Northern Kentucky there are a number of ways an attorney can assist if you have been charged with paraphernalia or possession of marijuana, or other similar substances (i.e. salvia). Options include plea of guilty and possible later dismissal of the case, plea of not guilty and bench or jury trial on the issues. This option may also include motion(s) to suppress certain evidence. A third and often used option is diversion. This is only available for first time offenders but may allow for early dismissal of the case and expungement of the criminal record in much less time. This also allows persons filling out job applications to answer that they have not been arrested for a misdemeanor. This may be especially important if you do not want to lie or mislead a potential employer even though the record had been expunged. If you have been charged you should explore all options with an attorney experienced in handling criminal matters in the county of arrest. In Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Gallatin and Hamilton counties, contact Michael Bouldin for a consultation at 859-581-6453 or mike@bouldinlawfirm.com.

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