Metro Police Sure to Be Looking for Drunk Drivers in Las Vegas over Halloween Weekend


Las Vegas understands the perils of drinking and driving during Halloween holiday all too well. Numerous accidents in recent years have claimed the lives of innocent people and led to offenders convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) to be sentenced to decades in prison.

In 2012, a 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to felony DUI involving death after his car struck and killed a 12-year-old girl in the area of Sandstone Bluffs Drive and Wesley Lake Place on Halloween in 2011. While that man’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.06 was below the legal limit, he admitted to taking prescription pills before the incident.

Two years later, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to between seven and 20 years in prison for a DUI resulting in death after his truck struck and killed a 17-year-old mother who was on her way home from trick-or-treating with her 2-year-old son and her fiancé’s aunt and uncle. In that case, the man had a BAC of 0.103 percent, and investigators estimated that his truck was traveling at least 77 mph in a 45 mph zone near Ann Road and Coleman Street.

Both of these men are now facing up to 20 years in prison for their crimes. This is not to mention the entire of lifetime of guilt they will personally have to carry even upon their respective releases.

In recent years, Halloween has only grown in its status as one of the major drinking holidays. Considering that the evening is also a time when many children and other minors are openly roaming suburban streets as part of trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods, people who get behind the wheels of automobiles after consuming alcohol are only adding to the likelihood that they will cause or be involved in a tragedy.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has not yet announced any specific times or locations for increased DUI enforcement efforts, but such efforts seem all but a certainty based on years past. If you are out anywhere in the Las Vegas area with plans to consume alcohol during Halloween weekend, you will want to make sure that you have alternative plans for your return home besides driving.

LVMPD not only sets up DUI checkpoints in one area of Las Vegas, but police also use “saturation teams” to patrol “hot spots” by drawing additional officers from area commands. Even if a person is fortunate enough to be arrested for drunk driving without having been in an accident resulting in the death of another person, DUI charges can still cause an enormous number of other problems that can include possible imprisonment and fines.

If you are arrested for allegedly driving drunk anywhere in Clark County, you should seek the help of an experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Police officers are under additional pressure to file more drunk driving charges during these holidays, and this can occasionally lead to arrests being made without probable cause or sufficient evidence of intoxication.

DUI Charges Are Not Always the Only Problem

pulled over cop lightsWhen people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the Las Vegas area, they also frequently receive tickets for the alleged offenses that led to reasons for the traffic stops. In most cases, these citations for alleged offenses such as improper lane change or a broken taillight pale in comparison to the DUI arrest and ultimately get dismissed as part of a plea bargain.

However, there are other cases in which a DUI may be just one of several serious criminal charges an alleged offender is facing. For example, a 43-year-old man was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in substantial bodily harm after an alleged hit-and-run accident on September 6.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the alleged drunk driver was attempting to park his truck at a liquor store on South Rainbow Boulevard when he ran the vehicle onto the sidewalk and struck a 37-year-old employee standing in front of the establishment. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Lieutenant Jeff Goodwin told the Review-Journal that the victim was pinned up against the building.

The alleged offender then backed into an unoccupied sport utility vehicle in the parking lot before driving away on Rainbow where he was forced to stop when police blocked his path. The victim was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

In Nevada, a DUI resulting in death or substantial bodily harm is classified as a category B felony, but failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury to or the death of a person is also a category B felony. Some of the other serious charges that people arrested for DUI in Clark County also face include, but are not limited to:

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Driving While License Suspended
  • Reckless Driving
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

If you were charged with another crime in addition to a recent DUI arrest, it is in your best interest to seek the help of a knowledgeable Las Vegas DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you have no prior criminal record, a prosecutor is highly likely to use any extra criminal charges to seek the harshest possible sentence against you. Working with an experienced attorney will give you the best chance of having the charges reduced or possibly even dismissed.

Don’t End Your Summer with DUI Arrest: Las Vegas Police to Use Checkpoints, Saturation Patrols This Weekend


Whereas Memorial Day is the first major holiday weekend of the year in the United States that is frequently considered the start of summer, Labor Day is generally viewed as the last holiday weekend of the season when the days are their longest. As a result, many people throughout the greater Las Vegas area will be looking forward to one last outdoor barbecue or one more late night out that probably involves more than one alcoholic beverage.

The inclination to relax and have additional drinks increases the likelihood of motorists driving under the influence (DUI). As a result, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has already stated that it is planning sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout the Valley for two days of the holiday weekend.

While the number of total DUI arrests by the LVMPD has seen a steady decline since 2012, do not think that this means police officers are not still actively looking for drunk drivers. This past February, Lt. Todd Raybuck of the LVMPD told KNPR-FM that a large majority of DUI arrests are southern Nevada citizens, with officers frequently catching people driving drunk between the Vegas Strip and valley neighborhoods.

It is in your best interest to plan ahead before any activities that will involve alcohol consumption this weekend. Try to arrange a ride or cab if you will be drinking, but it can be even better if you are able to completely stay off the road. Even if you are not planning on drinking, you will still share the road with others who probably have.

The combined efforts of checkpoints and saturations patrols will increase police presence to help stop more alleged drunk drivers. DUI checkpoints are referred to in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) as “administrative roadblocks.” Under NRS 484B.570, such roadblocks must satisfy the following requirements:

  • The roadblock must be established at a point on the highway clearly visible to approaching traffic at a distance of not less than 100 yards in either direction;
  • A sign must be placed near the centerline of the highway at the entrance to the roadblock displaying the word “Stop” in letters of sufficient size and luminosity to be readable at a distance of not less than 50 yards in the direction affected by the administrative roadblock, either in daytime or darkness;
  • At least one red flashing or intermittent light, on and burning, must be placed at the side of the highway at the entrance to the roadblock, clearly visible to the oncoming traffic at a distance of not less than 100 yards; and
  • Warning signs must be placed at the side of the highway, containing any wording of sufficient size and luminosity to warn the oncoming traffic that a “police stop” lies ahead, and a burning beam light, flare or lantern must be placed near the signs to attract the attention of the traffic to the signs (the signs must be placed at a distance of not less than one-quarter of a mile from the entrance to the roadblock if it is in a rural area or 700 feet from the entrance to the roadblock if it is in an urban area).

Saturation patrols, on the other hand, involve large numbers of officers being deployed to specific roadways. Between the obvious checkpoints and the visible increased police presence of saturation patrols, the hope is that many people are discouraged from even getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

If you are planning on drinking this Labor Day weekend, the one surefire way that you can absolutely guarantee you will not be arrested for DUI is to simply not drive drunk. Should you have anything to drink, either stay where you are or arrange to have somebody pick you up.

In the event you have been arrested because you misjudged the amount of alcohol you consumed or you believe the breath test used by police officers produced a false positive, you should immediately contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney. An arrest for drunk driving is not the same as a conviction, and a lawyer can fully investigate your case to determine whether a checkpoint was illegally set up or some other law enforcement error could result in your charges being dismissed.

Will Recent Deaths Prompt Bigger ‘Party Drug’ Crackdown?

Party Drugs

The deaths of two young women from suspected drug overdoses at the Hard Summer music festival in Pomona, California, last month prompted calls for action about the use of controlled substance at similar events. The Los Angeles Times reported that the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors agreed the following Tuesday to develop a plan to impose a moratorium on similar electronic dance music events.

Despite opposition from electronic dance music event promoters, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the events deserved special attention not only because of a history with drugs, but also because recent fatalities have occurred on county-owned properties. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that increased security measure this year at Hard Summer actually resulted in less drugs being seized than last year while the number of hospitalizations quintupled.

According to the Tribune, patdowns and drug-sniffing dogs led to less than five pounds of drugs—roughly one pound of which was ecstasy and the remaining amount being marijuana—being confiscated this year while the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department seized over 30 pounds in 2014. Pomona Police Department Deputy Police Chief Michael Olivieri told the Tribune that the security was “the most thorough” he’s ever seen.

“I don’t know how you could increase or become more intrusive at a concert, unless you really did submit people to a strip search,” Olivieri told the Tribune. “If you can smuggle drugs and dope into a prison facility … there is no way security measures at a concert venue can be as tight.”

An Associated Press story published in the Las Vegas Sun on August 3 noted that there “at least 19 people have died from overdoses or in drug-related incidents involving music festivals in California and Las Vegas since 2006.”

This past June, 24-year-old Nicholas Austin Tom was pronounced dead at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Electric Daisy Carnival, a festival attended by roughly 135,000 fans that saw 1,400 medical calls and 27 incidents involving people being taken to the hospital. The Clark County Coroner’s office later said Tom died of ecstasy intoxication.

The increased attention that these deaths and hospitalizations this summer have garnered will only lead to additional pressure on local authorities to get more drug charges. This could very well lead to additional searches of younger people even before they ever enter concert venues.

The idea of more young adults being searched without any suspicion or probable cause inevitably calls into question the legality of any such searches. Any person who has been stopped by police for a common traffic infraction needs to remember that an offense such as speeding or an unsafe lane change does not authorize a police officer to search the motor vehicle.

While a first offense for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor in Nevada, ecstasy (otherwise known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA) is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that a first offense for MDMA possession is a category E felony.

Any drug crime can have serious consequences for an alleged offender, but this is especially true for young adults. A conviction for a controlled substance offense can make the offender ineligible for financial aid for college, and the criminal record can have damaging employment consequences later on.

If you have been charged with possessing an illegal drug or even drug paraphernalia in the Las Vegas area, you will want to immediately seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate all of your possible defenses. If there was any police misconduct or procedural errors during your arrest, you could possibly have your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

Increased Enforcement of Synthetic Drugs in Las Vegas

bath saltsSynthetic drugs are not a particularly new problem, but it appears they are becoming a bigger one.

On August 8, the Las Vegas Sun published an Associated Press story discussing the increase in synthetic marijuana use in New York City. The AP spoke to a 47-year-old homeless man identified as J.C. who was smoking synthetic marijuana called “What’s Up?” which came in a foil packet that stated, “Warning: Don’t Smoke” but also had the wording, “lab certified, no banned chemicals,” and “it’s legal.” According to the AP, there has been a spike in emergency room visits over recent months in New York City by synthetic marijuana users “suffering from high blood pressure, hallucinations, hot flashes and psychotic meltdowns that can turn violent or deadly.”

Just three days before the Sun ran the AP story, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a CNN report stating that synthetic marijuana was “flooding the streets of major U.S. cities this summer, causing a surge in overdoses and, according to some police officials, a rise in violent crime.”

According to CNN, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that poison control centers in the United States had tallied 4,377 reports by July of people suffering the effects of synthetic marijuana. This was compared to 3,682 in all of last year.

The Las Vegas area is certainly not immune from this nationwide issue. Just last month, the Review-Journal reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers served a warrant in the 3600 block of Highland Drive, with aid from Las Vegas police SWAT and narcotics officers, as part of an ongoing synthetic drug investigation. A law enforcement official told the Review-Journal that authorities discovered “abundant amounts” of the synthetic marijuana compound “Spice.”

KSNV-TV reported on July 9 that city leaders would consider revoking licenses for two businesses after at least one property was raided for allegedly trafficking illegal synthetic drugs. The Las Vegas Metro Police served a search warrant in February at the 702 MiniMart on Charleston Boulevard and confiscated thousands of vials of Spice as well as cash.

People who mistakenly believe that synthetic drugs are simply legal versions of controlled substances need to be aware that most forms of synthetic marijuana or other drugs like flakka or bath salts are illegal under Nevada law. In the Silver State, most synthetic drugs are treated as being Schedule I controlled substances.

This means that criminal charges relating to synthetic drugs are every bit as serious as traditional illegal drug charges. Even a first offense will be classified as a felony. Some of the most common crimes are graded as follows for first offenses:

  • Possession of a Synthetic Drug — Category E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison and fine of up to $5,000.
  • Possession with Intent to Sell a Synthetic Drug — Category D felony punishable by up to four years in state prison and fine of up to $5,000.
  • Sale of a Synthetic Drug — Category B felony punishable by up to six years in state prison and fine of up to $20,000.

Many of the same defenses that are applicable in traditional illegal drug cases can also be used by alleged offenders accused of possessing or selling synthetic drugs. However, there is a much greater emphasis on determining what specific ingredient in an alleged synthetic drug violates Nevada law. A skilled lawyer can examine all the possible defenses in these cases and work to get criminal charges either reduced or completely dismissed.

DUI Arrests Can Result in Child Neglect Charges

Police officer giving a roadside sobriety test to a drunk driver.

The Associated Press reported that a 31-year-old Montana man was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving on Interstate 80 about 10 miles west of Wells on August 2. Elko County Undersheriff Clair Morris told the Elko Daily Free Press that the driver was “grossly intoxicated.”

In addition to being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and having an open alcoholic container in a vehicle, the alleged offender was also charged with child abuse or neglect for allegedly having an unrestrained child in the car. Morris told the Free Press that there were five people in the car, and one of the passengers was a 6-year-old child in the back seat.

The Free Press reported that the alleged offender was being held on bail of $101,335, but he will presumably face significant difficulties even when he is released. Prosecutors aggressively pursue maximum penalties in DUI cases involving child passengers, and judges are frequently inclined to oblige by imposing very tough sentences.

It is important to understand that under Nevada law, transporting a person who is less than 15 years of age in the motor vehicle at the time of a DUI violation will be considered an aggravating factor in determining the sentence of the defendant. Even first-time DUI offenders are much more likely to face the maximum six-month jail sentence and $1,000 fine allowed under Nevada Revised Statute § 484C.400 in these types of cases.

In this Elko case, the alleged offender not only faces DUI charges, but also a violation of Nevada’s open container law. Under Nevada Revised Statute § 484B.150, this is a misdemeanor offense that is also punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

The aspect of this case that could really result in much stiffer penalties for the driver is the charge of child abuse or neglect. Under Nevada Revised Statute § 200.508, abuse, neglect or endangerment of child is a felony offense. This is true even if the child suffered no substantial bodily or mental harm.

Because the alleged offender in the Elko incident was driving, prosecutors will likely argue that he willfully endangered the unrestrained 6-year-old child in the back seat. That would make this a category B felony. Assuming the driver has not been previously convicted of child abuse, this would be punishable by up to six year in prison. However, a prior child abuse conviction would mean that the maximum sentence could be as much as 15 years.

Any drunk driving arrest by itself can be an overwhelming legal challenge to deal with, but the difficulties become even more substantial with these kinds of aggravating factors. It is clearly in every person’s best interest to never get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while under the influence.  But that caution is increased exponentially when getting behind the wheel with a child passenger having recently consumed any amount of alcoholic beverages.

Prosecutors will be much less likely to accept the suggestion of any reduction in charges when a DUI is compounded with these kinds of additional offenses. It is critical for alleged offenders in such cases to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fully investigate to determine all possible police errors or other legal defenses that could possibly lead to evidence being suppressed and cases being dismissed.

Five Tips for Dealing with Las Vegas Police During Traffic Stops

The arrest of Sandra Bland on July 10 and her subsequent death three days later in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, prompted immediate calls for an investigation into her alleged suicide. However, the case garnered even more nationwide attention when the Texas Department of Public Safety released this video of Bland’s traffic stop last Tuesday.

The video shows Bland being pulled over for a failure to signal, but it also shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia quickly escalating the situation because the 28-year-old woman understood her rights under the law. Bland has been somewhat unfairly criticized for her alleged attitude in dealing with Encinia during the stop, but nothing she said justified the state trooper’s inexplicable conduct.

Bland only told the trooper she was understandably irritated after Encinia asked for confirmation of this observation, and she was well within her rights to ask why she should have to honor a request to extinguish the cigarette she was smoking in her own car. It was at this point that the traffic stop spun wildly out of control and the trooper probably exceeded his legal authority.

This past April, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Rodriguez v. United States that “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.” In Bland’s case, the matter for which the stop was made was essentially at its conclusion as Encinia had written the citation and was preparing to bring it to Bland.

The only grounds for which Encinia might have been able to extend the duration of this stop would have been if he had a reasonable suspicion that Bland had committed some other crime. Of course, smoking in one’s automobile violates no law in Texas, and it is hard to imagine that the cigarette was viewed as a possible weapon since that confrontation was not even mentioned in Encinia’s incident report.

Unfortunately, what this incident really embodies is the way that certain police officers frequently abuse their authority and disregard an average person’s rights with total impunity. However, you should not assume that this type of encounter only happens in Texas. If you are pulled over for any kind of alleged traffic violation in the Las Vegas area, here are five things you should always remember:

  • Keep Your Calm — Any traffic stop can be a stressful experience, but keep in mind that police officers have dangerous jobs. If you are vulgar or loud or confrontational, these types of actions can give any officer reason to feel threatened or challenged. No matter how upset you are about being pulled over, it is critical to keep your emotions in check and avoid lashing out against police.
  • Admit Nothing — Exercise your Fifth Amendment privilege without making a point of saying that you know your rights. You do not have to admit to any wrongdoing. For example, it is in your best interest, when asked if you knew how fast you were going, to tell the officer that you are not going to answer that question.
  • Sign the Ticket — There is a common misperception that refusing to sign a warning or traffic ticket is a refusal of guilt that could later lead to it being thrown out in court. This is incorrect. Signing a citation is an admission of nothing other than you promise to appear in court. Under Nevada Revised Statute § 171.177, an alleged offender must be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate if he or she is refuses to give a written promise to appear in court after being issued a misdemeanor citation.
  • Refuse to Consent to Any Search — Exercise your Fourth Amendment rights when police officers ask to look in your automobile. Again, Rodriguez v. United States involved a police stop that exceeded the proper duration when an officer held the alleged offender for several minutes so a second officer with a drug-sniffing dog could conduct a search without reasonable suspicion. Police officers will frequently try to trick people by asking them whether they have something to hide, but the best response in these situations is to always ask, “Are you detaining me or am I free to go?” Try to avoid having any type of overwhelming odors within your car—primarily marijuana, but also air fresheners that are frequently used as covers for marijuana—as these types of scents are often cited by police as probable cause to search vehicles without consent (even when there was no evidence of such smells) and are more difficult to disprove in court.
  • Ask for an Attorney — Exercise your Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel for your defense. You are under no obligation to say anything without a lawyer, and you should be sure to have legal representation any time you are being questioned by police.

If you follow these rules you can keep yourself safe, you can let the officer feel safe doing his/her job and you can protect your rights.  However, should you be arrested, contact an experience criminal defense attorney in order to keep your rights protected.

Increase in Fatalities Likely Means Increase in Las Vegas DUI Enforcement, Arrests

Sobriety Checkpoint

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) set up a driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoint at Las Vegas Boulevard and Windmill Lane on July 14, the same night that a Nevada Traffic Safety Committee meeting addressed an increase in traffic-related fatalities in the Las Vegas Valley. According to KVVU-TV, there have already been 100 such fatalities in 2015 after there were 77 in 2014, and the Valley has seen seven bicyclist fatalities after none were killed at the same point last year.

Two nights before the checkpoint and safety meeting, two people were killed in a five-car accident on North Lamb Boulevard near Interstate 15 in Las Vegas when a pickup truck traveling at speeds that witnesses told the Nevada Highway Patrol may have been going 100 mph ran a red light and slammed into the other vehicles. The Associated Press reported that the truck’s driver, 26-year-old Arian Galindo, was arrested and faces felony DUI charges after a 52-year-old man and a 34-year-old man were killed in the accident.

A little more than two weeks before that crash, 40-year-old Abraham Lebron Jr. was arrested on suspicion of DUI involving death and hit-and-run after striking and killing a bicyclist in Las Vegas on June 26. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Lebron Jr. fled but turned himself in after striking a bicyclist who was crossing Sahara Avenue at Mohawk Street.

A first-time DUI arrest in Nevada is typically classified as a misdemeanor, and a conviction could possibly result in a maximum sentence of six months in jail. However, this becomes a category B felony under Nevada Revised Statute § 484C.430 if the DUI results in death or substantial bodily harm to another party. A conviction for this offense is punishable by a minimum of at least two years up to 20 years in prison as well as a possible fine of at least $2,000 up to $5,000.

Additionally, an alleged offender could fact category A felony vehicular homicide charges if he or she has three previous DUI convictions and causes the death of another person while driving drunk. In these cases, alleged offenders could be sentenced to 25 years up to life in prison with no possibility of paroles until at least 10 years of the prison term have been served.

The recent high-profile fatal crashes in the Las Vegas area means that officers throughout Clark County will be more aggressively seeking to keep drunk drivers off the road in hoped of reducing DUIs causing death or serious bodily injury. Motorists in and around the valley should fully expect more checkpoints as part of a concentrated effort to apprehend alleged DUI offenders.

It is important for any person who is charged with vehicular homicide to understand that if alcohol consumption is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, then he or she may be able to use the affirmative defense that he or she consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle, and before his or her blood or breath was tested, that caused his or her breath to have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. An alleged offender must file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a written notice of intent to use this defense at least 14 days before the trial, hearing, or other time as the court may direct.

All drivers in Clark County should always avoid drinking and driving, but they should also be prepared for local police to be a little more eager to place alleged offenders under arrest for any signs of possible impairment. Do not assume that a drunk driving arrest is an automatic conviction. An experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney can investigate all of the circumstances involved and fight to possibly have criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

Proposed Nevada Law Could Make Preliminary Hearings a Farce

scales of justiceThe Nevada Assembly is currently considering a very troubling bill masked as a “victim’s rights” bill. Assembly Bill 193 would make hearsay admissible as evidence during the preliminary hearing. During the preliminary hearing, a Justice Court determines whether probable cause exists to pursue charges against the defendant. Assembly Bill 193 goes against a core principle of American criminal jurisprudence, that a person is innocent until proven guilty. If passed, it will result in prosecutions proceeding to District Court with weak and insufficient evidence.

Under Nevada Revised Statutes 51.035, hearsay is, at its core, any statement offered into evidence to prove the truth of that matter asserted that is not made during testimony at the trial or hearing. Chapter 51 lists several ways that such a statement may not be hearsay or may meet an exception to the hearsay rule, such as that the person making the statement is now deceased and the nature of and circumstances surrounding the statement assure its accuracy. Generally, hearsay is not admissible during many important stages of a criminal trial, including, under current law, the preliminary hearing.

Under the hearsay rule, most statements in a criminal trial that are offered against the accused must be made by the person saying them in court, in front of the person being accused and his or her attorney, and under oath. A witness may then be subject to cross-examination, in which the defense lawyer can challenge the accuracy and veracity of the statements being offered into evidence.

During a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor presents evidence that shows probable cause, the necessary standard to pursue criminal charges against a person. Probable cause, in this case, means that, based on facts, a reasonably prudent person who have sufficient reason to believe that, more likely than not, the person charged committed the crime. If the Justice of the Peace finds that probable cause exists, the charges will be bound to District Court for arraignment.

In many criminal proceedings, the testimony of witnesses – often including the alleged victim – is a core part of the prosecutor’s case. The hearsay rule requires those statements to be made in the Justice Court in order for them to be admissible for consideration into whether probable cause exists under most circumstances.

Assembly Bill 193 would erase that requirement. Prosecutors would be able to read statements from witnesses, rather than have the witness testify in court and be subject to cross-examination.

The bill is ostensibly to save victims of sexual assault and other violent offenses the trauma of having to attend the hearing and testify. However, the preliminary hearing serves as an important check on prosecutors. The most interesting aspect about the bill is that the people pushing the bill, namely the prosecutors, have another remedy at law to “save victims” from having to testify, and that is the Grand Jury. Yet the prosecutors rarely take cases with these victims to the Grand Jury. Why? Because it takes a little more time to prepare and get time before a Grand Jury. If the prosecutors were really, truly concerned with the victims then why are they not using this remedy more? Because this bill is about a power grab of Nevadan’s rights.

If this bill passes, preliminary hearings will be virtually a farce. Protecting victims should not come at the expense of forcing people presumed innocent into an unnecessary arraignment and trial. The Legislature would be wise to vote this bill down.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Synthetic Drugs

SONY DSCThe U.S. Supreme Court has granted a petition for certiorari for a case, meaning they will hear it, involving a question of whether the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act can be construed to secure a conviction for what are often called “synthetic drugs” or “designer drugs” if there is a question of whether the defendant knew the substance involved was substantially similar.

The case, McFadden v. United States, has been set for oral argument on April 21. The case involves the sale of so-called “bath salts” from a video store in Virginia. The defendant in the case is alleged to have provided the substances to the store, who sold them. The particular bath salts had chemical compounds that are intended to mimic the physiological effects of ingesting cocaine.

The federal government argued that the Analogue Act, passed in 1986 to address chemicals “substantially similar” to Schedule I and II substances, covered the substances the defendant was alleged to have sold. They argued they must only prove that McFadden knew the substances were for human consumption, an element of the crime under the law.

However, McFadden argued that the federal government should have needed to prove that he knew that the substances were substantially similar to controlled substances, or at least that he deliberately avoided knowledge that they were.

He was convicted, and appealed. The Fourth Circuit upheld the appeal.

The case involves just federal law, but has implications for state law, as well. Many states have struggled to stay on top of synthetic drugs. A synthetic drug, as generally defined, is one that is synthesized with the intent of creating effects on the same physiological effects of a substance that has been deemed controlled. For instance, “K-2” and “Spice” are intended to imitate marijuana, while “bath salts” are often intended to imitate cocaine or methamphetamine.

States have attempted to ban the compounds in the synthetic drugs. However, new synthetics with different chemical makeups are regularly developed. As soon as regulations are put into effect to outlaw a specific substance, developers put out a new one.

Nevada has not yet passed a ban on synthetic drugs, although the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has cooperated with federal officials, like the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2012 in “Operation Logjam.” A ruling favorable to the government might encourage Nevada legislators to go forward with one. Synthetic drugs have gained significant negative attention due to their often unpredictable effects on the body.

If arrested for drug charges in Las Vegas, synthetic or not, it’s important to contact a drug defense lawyer who will protect your rights and fight for the best possible result.



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