Monday, April 7, 2014

Free in Kentucky: RIOT!!! (that's just a title, not a command or sug...

Free in Kentucky: RIOT!!! (that's just a title, not a command or sug...: Crank up the Ramones, it’s gonna get feisty in here.  Recently, and at such time as I should have addressed the issue before now but I ...

RIOT!!! (that's just a title, not a command or suggestion)

Crank up the Ramones, it’s gonna get feisty in here. 

Recently, and at such time as I should have addressed the issue before now but I had a baby so get off my back, there was a riot.  I call it that because I’m using a term of the common vernacular.  News agencies called it a “riot” and so that’s what I’m calling it.  At least for now, before we get a legitimate legal definition of the conduct.  On the night of March 22, 2014 a large group of individuals – who appear in videos to be mostly if not all black teenagers – took to the streets of downtown Louisville.  Videos have emerged of the incident.  From at least one gas station, we can see (a slightly more polite?) looting was taking place.  A video of a downtown business shows kids jumping on cars in a parking lot.  There are reports of a rowdy incident at White Castle, and some spotty violence (a 13 year old girl was assaulted and robbed, as was a 61 year old man).  A total of about 17 incidents were reported.

I don’t know if the conduct was racially motivated or not.  People seem to be assuming it was.  At this point I’m not sure if the victims were white individuals or if they were minorities.  The news agencies I’ve seen aren’t reporting that information.

One person out of the approximate 200 was arrested.

In other, more timely news, the University of Kentucky won their final 4 game against Wisconsin.  So they’ll be playing in the National Championship game tonight.  The forecast in Lexington calls for a 105% chance of flaming couches.  Whether they win or lose, people in Lexington will take to the streets.  The riot will just be a little “nicer” if they win.

I have several close friends in the Lexington area and at this point I would like to offer them some free legal advice because I am such a sweetheart. 

Hey Ho Let’s Go talk about riots and how much trouble you can get in for engaging in such tomfoolery.

According to the KRS, "Riot" means a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five (5) or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function. 

By the KRS definition, the conduct in Louisville from the March “riot” would certainly qualify as Riot.  And depending on whether the tumultuous conduct in Lexington tonight causes property damage (it will) there may be an actual Riot in Lexington tonight (there will).  With that in mind, let’s take a look at how much prison time Riot carries.

(1) A person is guilty of riot in the first degree when:
(a) He knowingly participates in a riot; and
(b) In the course of and as a result of such riot a person other than one (1) of the participants suffers physical injury or substantial property damage occurs.
(2) Riot in the first degree is a Class D felony.

In this beautiful Bluegrass State, a Class D felony means that the perpetrator is facing 1-5 years in prison. 

So try to keep it safe out there.  Be careful and wear a condom.

Wait…that’s probably not going to help you in the riot.

Anyway – happy Blitzkrieg Bopping.

Love,


Greg Simms

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This is Why the US War On Drugs Does Not Work

Accept the Fact that Prohibition Doesn’t Work

This is step one.  Step three is where everyone is happy.  And if you don’t know what step two is, clearly you don’t understand step one.

            Step one is people accept the fact that prohibition does not work.  More specifically, laws which prohibit people from consuming intoxicating substances are ineffective.  And it’s not just here.  Not just now.  Prohibition doesn’t work anywhere.  And it has never worked.
           
            It is now more than 40 years after Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971 and we have spent more than $1 trillion on prohibition since then. What do we have to show for it?
            If you’re an economist, all you need to know is this: In 1990, cocaine was about $275 per gram.  Today it’s less than $200 per gram.  Yes, the street price of cocaine in the United States has actually DECREASED. (UNODC.org)
            If that doesn’t convince you that prohibition is not working in the US, take our prison population for an example.  The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with about 2.3 million behind bars. More than half a million of those people are incarcerated for a drug law violation. (from CNN 12-7-12)
           
            Do you think we are the first?  Do you think that the United States government decided that drugs are bad and that we’re the first civilization to try to prohibit people from using?  Let me give you a little snapshot, here:
            We, as a race of human beings figured out more than 6,000 years ago that we could ferment beverages.  And when we drank those fermented beverages, we caught a buzz.  At that point, we decided – as a species – that catching a buzz was a good thing and we were never going to stop.  Along the way, humans found and created new ways to catch said buzz, but we haven’t stopped.  And we aren’t going to.
            The attempts to prohibit people from taking intoxicating substances date back to the 7th century – under Islamic law.  Although Islamic law (according to the wikipedia) is often interpreted as prohibiting all intoxicants - not only alcohol - it is interesting that the practice of smoking hashish has continued throughout the history of Islam, against varying degrees of resistance.  BT-dubs, the prohibition of cannabis isn't new, either.  Fields of cannabis were burned in Egypt in the 11th and 12th centuries. 
            So, then…cannabis is gone, right?
            If we’ve spent $1Trillion on fighting drugs – there are at least LESS drugs, right?
            Despite tough anti-drug laws, surveys show the U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world.  The World Health Organization's survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, shows Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.  For example, Americans were four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (16% vs. 4%).  Marijuana use was more widely reported worldwide, and the U.S. also had the highest rate of use at 42.4% compared with 41.9% of New Zealanders. (CBS News 7-1-08)
            Our prisons in the US are tough.  We have stellar precautionary measures, steel, timing locks, guards, bullet proof glass, guards, strip searches, and more guards.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go to a prison and try to visit someone.  See for yourself.
            And guess what?  There are drugs in prison.  Not just any drugs.  Like, ALL drugs.  I have seen proof with my own eyes.  I have represented clients who have successfully snuck drugs into prison.  I have represented clients who tested dirty for drugs because they used while in prison. 
            The truth is that prison should teach you everything you need to know about prohibition.  The prisons have drugs.  You could spend $20Trillion creating a complete police state in every city in America.  You could turn the country in to a prison.  And drugs would still be here. 

            They are in the safest, most secure places in America. They will never go away. 

            Accept it in your heart of hearts.  Know that prohibition is ineffective.  Know for a fact that there is nothing we can do, no law we can enact, that will make drugs disappear.  Know it.  That’s step one.


            And if you truly accept it, you will know what step two is.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Free in Kentucky: Friendly Advice to Parents

Free in Kentucky: Friendly Advice to Parents: You should take pictures of your young children off Facebook.              As a criminal defense lawyer, I have been around some pretty...

Friendly Advice to Parents

You should take pictures of your young children off Facebook. 

            As a criminal defense lawyer, I have been around some pretty unsavory individuals.  The most unsavory of which have been child molesters.  This particular breed of monster is the most culpable of any person I have represented because they prey on children and they generally do not stop until they are put away in prison.
            I’m not going to carry on about any details or attempt to scare any of you who are parents.  I’d just like to offer some advice.  If you have pictures of your children on Facebook, you should delete them.  Some predators collect pictures of kids off Facebook and other social media sites. 
            Let’s say you have 800 Facebook friends.  Assuming you are like me, some of those people are folks you couldn’t pick out of a lineup.  Maybe you went to grade school, middle, or high school with some of them and haven’t seen them in person since graduation.  If one of those people is a predator and is choosing the next victim from social media, you don’t want your child to be one of the options.
           
            I’ve debated posting this for a while.  I don’t want to scare anyone – and I don’t want to make parents out there feel bad because they’ve already put photos up for the world to see.  I’m not saying you’re a bad parent and I’m not saying you’ve done anything wrong.  But as a criminal defense attorney, I can tell you that you might want to delete those pictures and let your family members know that you don’t want your children on Facebook.

            If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call me.  My door is always open.

            Greg Simms, Murphy & Powell, PLC (502) 618-4949.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Free in Kentucky: Dogfighting in Kentucky is Illegal.

Dogfighting in Kentucky is Illegal.


There’s an ASPCA “Action Alert” that is up on their website that at least implies that having dogs for the purpose of fighting, in Kentucky, is not illegal.

It is. 

For some reason, Kentucky seems to distinguish between 1) owning a dog and training it to fight; and 2) owning a dog that you actually enter into a fight, or organizing a dog fight.

The first situation is a violation of KRS 525.130b, and the language of that statute is as follows:

525.130b Cruelty to animals in the second degree -- Exemptions.

(1) A person is guilty of cruelty to animals in the second degree when except as authorized by law he intentionally or wantonly:

(a) Subjects any animal to or causes cruel or injurious mistreatment through abandonment, participates other than as provided in KRS 525.125 in causing it to fight for pleasure or profit (including, but not limited to being a spectator or vendor at an event where a four (4) legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit), mutilation, beating, torturing any animal other than a dog or cat, tormenting, failing to provide adequate food, drink, space, or health care, or by any other means;
(b) Subjects any animal in his custody to cruel neglect…

(3) Activities of animals engaged in hunting, field trials, dog training other than training a dog to fight for pleasure or profit, and other activities authorized either by a hunting license or by the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall not constitute a violation of this section.

(4) Cruelty to animals in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

The language of the statute in (1)(a) is a little choppy, but it does, in fact, outlaw the owning and training of dogs for the purpose of fighting, in the Bluegrass State.  It is clarified a bit by subsection (3) which states that training a dog for reasons OTHER than training a dog to fight for pleasure or profit is not illegal.  Nothing clarifies some ambiguous language like a double negative.

If you own a dog and actually use it for fighting (as opposed to just training it to fight), you would be prosecuted under the Cruelty to Animals in the First Degree statute - which reads as follows:

525.125b Cruelty to animals in the first degree.
(1) The following persons are guilty of cruelty to animals in the first degree whenever a four-legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit:
(a) The owner of the animal;
(b) The owner of the property on which the fight is conducted if the owner knows of the fight;
(c) Anyone who participates in the organization of the fight.
(2) Activities of animals engaged in hunting, field trials, dog training, and other activities authorized either by a hunting license or by the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall not constitute a violation of this section.


(3) Cruelty to animals in the first degree is a Class D felony.

Long story short, dogfighting is illegal in Kentucky and the ASPCA has reckless disregard for the truth.  I don't know why they put out such information.  Maybe it's to spur an emotional response to get people to vote for a stricter law.  Either way it's incompetence or intentionally misleading the public.  Both of which can lead to serious backlash on the ASPCA.  

Thanks and have a great day.

Dogfighting in Kentucky is Illegal.

Dogfighting in Kentucky is Illegal.


There’s an ASPCA “Action Alert” that is up on their website that at least implies that having dogs for the purpose of fighting, in Kentucky, is not illegal.

It is.

For some reason, Kentucky seems to distinguish between 1) owning a dog and training it to fight; and 2) owning a dog that you actually enter into a fight, or organizing a dog fight.

The first situation is a violation of KRS 525.130b, and the language of that statute is as follows:

525.130b Cruelty to animals in the second degree -- Exemptions.

(1) A person is guilty of cruelty to animals in the second degree when except as authorized by law he intentionally or wantonly:

(a) Subjects any animal to or causes cruel or injurious mistreatment through abandonment, participates other than as provided in KRS 525.125 in causing it to fight for pleasure or profit (including, but not limited to being a spectator or vendor at an event where a four (4) legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit), mutilation, beating, torturing any animal other than a dog or cat, tormenting, failing to provide adequate food, drink, space, or health care, or by any other means;
(b) Subjects any animal in his custody to cruel neglect…

(3) Activities of animals engaged in hunting, field trials, dog training other than training a dog to fight for pleasure or profit, and other activities authorized either by a hunting license or by the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall not constitute a violation of this section.

(4) Cruelty to animals in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

The language of the statute in (1)(a) is a little choppy, but it does, in fact, outlaw the owning and training of dogs for the purpose of fighting, in the Bluegrass State.  It is clarified a bit by subsection (3) which states that training a dog for reasons OTHER than training a dog to fight for pleasure or profit is not illegal.  Nothing clarifies some ambiguous language like a double negative.

If you own a dog and actually use it for fighting (as opposed to just training it to fight), you would be prosecuted under the Cruelty to Animals in the First Degree statute - which reads as follows:

525.125b Cruelty to animals in the first degree.
(1) The following persons are guilty of cruelty to animals in the first degree whenever a four-legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit:
(a) The owner of the animal;
(b) The owner of the property on which the fight is conducted if the owner knows of the fight;
(c) Anyone who participates in the organization of the fight.
(2) Activities of animals engaged in hunting, field trials, dog training, and other activities authorized either by a hunting license or by the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall not constitute a violation of this section.


(3) Cruelty to animals in the first degree is a Class D felony.

Long story short, dogfighting is illegal in Kentucky and the ASPCA has reckless disregard for the truth.  I don't know why they put out such information.  Maybe it's to spur an emotional response to get people to vote for a stricter law.  Either way it's incompetence or intentionally misleading the public.  Both of which can lead to serious backlash on the ASPCA.  


Thanks and have a great day.