Capital Punishment in the United States

Though still a controversial issue, capital punishment continues to be practiced in the US. The death penalty is still a form of punishment that is practiced in 31 states, the federal government and the military.

Capital crimes

These are crimes for which someone can be sentenced to death:

1. Aggravated murder

This includes murder which involves the rape of the victim, the murder of an on-duty police officer and robbery-murder in almost all states. However, most aggravating factors vary from state to state. Some states have even included child murder in their list of aggravating factors.

2. Crimes against the state

These may include treason, espionage, terrorism and large-scale drug trafficking.

Methods of execution

The death penalty can be executed in several ways. Some states have only one method of execution available while there are those who provide for more than one method.

1. Lethal injection

This is the most common method of execution in the United States. The lethal injection is the primary method of execution available in all 31 states that allow the death penalty. However, other methods are available in most states.
In several states, they use a concoction of three drugs to execute this sentence while some states use a single drug.

2. Electrocution

This method of execution is available in 8 of the 31 states that have the death penalty. These states are Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

3. Hanging

This method of execution is only available in 2 states; New Hampshire and Washington. While offenders in Washington are allowed to choose this method over lethal injection, those in New Hampshire can only be hanged when the lethal injection is unavailable.

4. Gas inhalation

This type of execution is available in Wyoming, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, and Arizona. In the first three states, gas inhalation is only used as a backup method when lethal injection is unavailable.
However, in Arizona, an offender can choose to use this method even in the availability of the lethal injection. In California, it is both a backup method and an offender choice.

5. Firing squad

man standing in front of firing squad

Execution by firing squad is rare and is only allowed in 2 states; Utah and Oklahoma. In Utah, it is only administered if an offender chooses it while in Oklahoma it serves as a backup method. It is also worth mentioning that Oklahoma is the only state that offers more than two execution methods.

Prevalence of the death penalty

Although offenders are still sentenced to death in the US, it’s a rare occurrence. Currently, there is an average of one death sentence for every 200 murder convictions.

A Review of the U.S Immigration Law

The United States has been dubbed the land of opportunities. For this reason, many people seek to move there in search of better livelihoods. The US has a complex immigration law, which was established to stipulate who are allowed to move into the country, and how long they are allowed to live and work in the US. The immigration law similarly dictates the deportation process of individuals who enter and live in the country illegally.

picture of immigration documents

Immigration to the US is often based on several factors. These include the reunification of family members, the admission of skilled immigrants who might benefit the country’s economy, the protection of refugees fleeing from war torn countries, and the promotion of national diversity. Understanding these provisions can help one to establish how America’s legal immigration system works.

Family-Based Immigration

The unification of families is one of the most significant principles that govern the US immigration law. In this regard, the law allows LPR’s and US citizens to bring specific family members into the country. Family based immigrants may either be admitted as immediate relatives of American citizens or via the family preference systems. Those who are allowed into the US via this system include spouses of American citizens, unmarried children of US citizens who are under 21 years old, and parents of American citizens.

Employment-Based Immigration

The United States allows immigrants who have valuable skills to work in the country on temporary or permanent basis. Temporary employment visas allow foreign nationals to work in the country for limited periods. Their ability to change jobs is equally limited. On the other hand, permanent employment-based immigration visas allow immigrants and their eligible spouses and unmarried children to enter the country.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The US immigration law is dedicated to protecting refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable persons. Refugees can be allowed to enter the US if it is proven that they face persecution by returning to their home countries. The number of refugees who can be admitted into the US every year is determined by the President and the Congress, which places an admission ceiling.

The Diversity Visa Program

This visa program was created in 1990 and targets countries that have low immigration rates into the US. Each year, 55,000 visas are randomly allocated to citizens from nations with less than 50,000 immigrants to the US over the last five years. To be eligible for this program, one must have attained high school education or its equivalence.

The DEA

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Its mission is to enforce existing laws and regulations of controlled substances. They collaborate with other law enforcement agencies – state, local and federal – to seize illegal drugs and arrest individuals involved in their manufacturing (growth and harvesting), dispensing and selling or distribution. They also play a significant role in assisting foreign governments.

DEA agents also gather evidence for the prosecution of violators, at interstate or international levels. Federal law’s punishment for offenders can be still. The conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin could range from 10 years to life imprisonment. When prosecutors add the intent to launder money to the charges, the sentence can rise to 20 years to life.

The list of controlled substances continues to expand rapidly. In addition to narcotics like heroin, oxycodone, opium and morphine, there are stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines. Illegal drugs are under the umbrella of hallucinogens and include LSD, Inhalants and another classification are depressants like barbiturates. Like the FBI, the DEA also publishes a list of their top wanted fugitives. It’s not just illegal drug kingpins who are involved in dispensing controlled substances. Often, those in the medical field, such as physicians or pharmacies.

Notable Cases
In October 2015, a physician in Los Angeles was the first medical professional was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder. His charges stemmed for illegally prescribing massive amounts of dangerous, addictive drugs to patients who had no need of them. Consequently, the patients died of overdoses. This guilty verdict was the first doctor in the U.S. to be convicted of murder in a crime involving illegal drugs. The doctor was sentenced to 30 years to life.
Another capture of a drug war lord that made the news was that of Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman-Loera. He had been an elusive fugitive for years, and even escaped from his Mexican prison. He was extradited from Mexico in January 2017 to New York and awaits charges for allegedly organizing a drug trafficking enterprise, murder and money laundering.

Abby Lee Miller

Should Abby Lee Miller be Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison?

Who is Abby Lee Miller?

If you do not know about Abby Lee Miller, you have been missing out on an entertaining, yet controversial woman. Abby Lee Miller is the owner of Abby Lee Dance Company. Abby’s dance studio is featured in the hit Lifetime television series, “Dance Moms.” On Dance Moms, Abby is known as the dance teacher who can be rather harsh to her students, but who also has had a large part in creating talented, and successful dancers.

For the past 5 seasons of Dance Moms, things seemed to be looking pretty good for Abby. She was engaged in different business endeavors, had students who were taking off in the entertainment industry, and she had a new dance studio in LA. However, things began to take a turn for Abby when she was charged with bankruptcy fraud in 2015. Before Dance Moms started, Abby was going through a tough time financially. Abby eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When Dance Moms started, Abby began making a lot of money from a lot of different projects she was involved. Unfortunately, it is said that Abby hid or tried to hide $750,000 of those profits. She also did not report thousands of dollars that she received while visiting Australia one time. Abby eventually pled guilty to a couple of the charges. I am not positive if this is correct, but it has been said that Abby paid the money back that she owed. In the end, Abby may be facing up to 2 ½ years in prison. She is hoping to receive probation.

Is the Crime Worth the Punishment?

Do you feel that Abby Lee Miller deserves probation, or a 2 ½ year sentence? Is 2 ½ years too long of a sentence for a crime? I personally think that it may be.

At first, I was completely against Abby being sentenced to jail. I think I let the idea of seeing little kids without their dance teacher cloud my thoughts. At the end of the day, however, she committed a crime. All of the sparkly costumes and camera lights cannot change that.

However, I often wonder if people should be given some sort of leniency when it is there first offense. This is just a personal thought; I am not expecting anyone to agree. I understand that this is a grown woman who knew better. However, I think that it is very easy to lock someone up and throw away the key. It is also very easy to look at someone else’s life and make judgment calls when it is not us in the situation. I don’t know. If she paid the money back, and if she never committed a crime prior to this, I question a 2 ½ year sentence. Not just for Abby, but for a lot of people who are currently in jail or who are awaiting a sentence. I personally support showing people as much mercy as possible. I understand that people can do so some unthinkable things, but still, we all make mistakes. A lot of people do a lot of crazy things, and they never get caught. Somehow, however, they have no issue commenting on what strangers do and what kind of sentence those strangers deserve.

Trust me, I know that what she did was 100% wrong. I just question her possible sentence time. In the end, we will just have to wait until her sentencing date, which should be coming up soon. Who knows, she may end up getting probation. What do you think? I would love to read your thoughts and opinions. Feel free to leave a comment down below about your take on this situation and/or situations similar to it.

An In-Depth Review of Intellectual Property Law

An In-Depth Review of Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual property law covers matters pertaining to the legal rights that individuals have to their inventions, artistic works, and designs. This law typically protects the exclusive control and use of intangible assets with the objective of giving individuals the incentive to develop creative works that are beneficial to the society. In doing so, such individuals can also fully profit from their labor without the fear of fraud.

shaking hands over property negotiation

The US constitution grants Congress the power to grant inventors and authors exclusive rights to their conceptions. The Intellectual Property Law is administered by the US Copyright Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office. Patents give designers and creators exclusive rights to use their creations in the marketplace. This way, they can also profit if they choose to transfer the right to an individual or an organization.

Generally, trademarks protect slogans, names, and symbols used by designers and creators to distinguish their products. Rights have the potential to last for ages, and can also be obtained using a mark. Although it is not mandatory, owners are advised to register their trademarks since it guarantees additional protection against exploitation.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property from Infringement

If your business is synonymous with a particular trademark, you should protect your intellectual property since it goes a long way in determining the success of your establishment. The complex nature of today’s corporate world has led to a rise of copyright infringement incidents. This is basically the unapproved use of intellectual property. The easiest way of deterring infringement is by providing notices. This increases the visibility of your rights, thus putting you in a better position to sue anyone who infringes on your rights.

You can deter would-be infringers by marking your products with the number that the Patent and Trademark Office will assign to you. If you are yet to be assigned a patent number, you can include a “patent pending” label on your product. This will deter others from copying your design before you are assigned a patent. Notice of copyrights and trademarks can be given by using appropriate symbols such as ™, and © on the product. Thereafter, you are required to register the copyright or trademark so that it can be added to official government records. You can sue those who go ahead to infringe on your trademark.

Personal Injury Cases

A person who has suffered personal injury can hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the party who caused them injury. Personal injury can include accidents where the person was injured or malpractice where a mistake occurred during a medical procedure. Personal injury cases are part of civil law cases. This is where the party who has filed the complaint in court is seeking financial compensation for damages. This is different to a criminal case where the nature of the crime is criminal and criminal charges are being pressed.

suffering from a personal injury

Steps In A Personal Injury Case

There are many steps in a personal injury case and many depending on the circumstances many ways the case can go. Some cases go to trial whilst others are resolved out of court.

Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer

A person seeking compensation for a personal injury case needs to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent them. A personal injury lawyer is a qualified lawyer with experience specifically in civil litigation and personal injury cases. Usually a lawyer dealing with personal injury law is more experienced in tort law than other lawyers. This refers to law that falls under civil wrongdoings, economic damage to a person, or defamation cases where a person’s property or reputation is damaged.

Filing A Complaint

In order to make a claim for personal injury compensation, an official complaint needs to first be filed by the person claiming injury. Once a lawyer has been hired, the official complaint can be lodged. This is the official lodging of a lawsuit against the party accused of causing damages.

Informal Settlement

The common option in a personal injury case is for the case to be settled through an informal settlement agreement. This is where the two parties involved in the dispute come to an agreement through negotiation. This negotiation normally involves the lawyers for each party and insurance companies. If negotiation works then the aggrieved party will receive an agreed upon amount of money as compensation.

Going To Court

If an informal settlement agreement cannot be negotiated out of court then the case goes to trial with a judge and jury to gain an official judgement. This option is costly and will take a long time for the case to reach the courts. Personal injury court cases occur when the two parties cannot come to a fair amount of compensation to settle for or when the defending party does not agree to provide compensation. The aggrieved party will then go to court to ask the judge to award compensation to them for the personal injury. Let me know your thoughts!

Law’s Function as a Symbol in America

The United States of America is an extraordinarily unique country, one created by and for the people, rather than any one individual. Ours is a government of institutions and laws, binding each American together, and holding us all accountable to one another. Above all else, the rule of law symbolizes the United States and her citizens, as well as its commitment to upholding the international order.

Few other nations benefit from the liberties and freedom enjoyed each day by Americans, and few things are held in such high reverence in the U.S. as our judiciary system. It’s then worth asking how, exactly, law has come to symbolize our nation and its people.

There is no finer example nor greater power of American law than the United States Constitution. This document, penned by our founders and relied upon throughout our history as a legal compass, has built the very foundation of our country. Americans rightly view the Constitution and principles instilled within it as the bedrock of our nation, though seldom do we appreciate the lengths to which it goes to protect us.

Everywhere one looks in America, there is law; our courthouses and statehouses dot our maps, and Americans are regularly exposed to law in their media and everyday experiences. Whether it’s being tried by a jury of your peers, or merely being bombarded with advertisements for legal services on your way to work, we all find ourselves immersed in a world of law.
From our nation’s inception, our government officials have derived their authority not from a divine mandate, but rather the will of the people. This principle, enumerated in Article I of the constitution as it establishes the House of Representatives, has driven the United States to become the international role model of the rule of law. Time and time again, other nations have formulated their constitutions, governments, and guiding national principles with the assistant of the United States.

Our constitution serving as an example for others is perhaps best seen in the nation of Japan, which, after world war II, formulated a constitution based not only on its own national principles, but those of the American Constitution. Time and time again, our courts, legal documents, and rich judicial history has served as an example around the globe.

Countless times throughout American history, the people of the United States have fallen back on the symbol and power of their judicial system to rescue them from tyranny. Two presidents have been impeached, and countless instances of discrimination have been struck down, all through the vital institutions of the judiciary.

Law has become more than a guiding principle of life; these days, the law in the United States serves as a cultural icon, an ever-present reminder that our government is one of, by, and for the people.

How have you seen law function as a symbol in the United States? How would our nation be different without our judicial system? Leave a comment below!

Ways to Post Bail

weighing options in court

If you’ve been suspected of committing a crime, a judge may have ordered you to post bail to stay out of jail until you are required to return to court. The bail amount is set by a judge at the arraignment (or at a hearing, if necessary). There are a number of methods of posting bail. In this article, we’ll explore the options that defendants have to securing their freedom before a court appearance.

Cash
Cash is the most widely accepted form of bail payment. Simply pay the full amount of cash and you will be set free. The money will be refunded 2 – 6 weeks after making your appearance in court.

Check
Similar to cash, a check made out for the full amount can secure your freedom. This option isn’t always accepted by every jurisdiction. After all, a check may be returned with insufficient funds. For this reason, only cashiers checks can be used.

Property
Your property can help you post bail. Signing over ownership rights for your property worth the full amount can be used in lieu of cash. Your property can be your home, your vehicle(s), jewelry, and other forms. If you don’t show up for court, your property will be seized.

Bonds
A bond (known as a “surety bond”) is a guaranteed payment of the full amount. By contacting a bail bondsman, they cover the full amount while a defendant only has to pay 10% of the bail to guarantee their freedom. Some bond sellers may require collateral, which is a financial stake in a person’s property (i.e. vehicle, house) that can make sure that the professional gets a return on their investment should a person not appear in court.

a judge deciding on bail amounts

Remember that your money will be returned for all of the aforementioned methods of payment. However, if you are using a specialist, your money won’t be refunded. Essentially, a bail bondsman puts up the entire amount of bail in exchange for keeping 10% of the bond. If your bail is set at $10,000, you only have to pay $1,000 to guarantee your freedom until your court date.

Credit Card
One of the newer and more controversial methods of posting bond is using a credit card. The reason being that credit itself is a type of loan and may not have the same binding effect that cash or property have on ensuring that people show up for court dates. Services like GovSwipe can assist those that lack the other forms of payment and avoid costly incarceration. Not every state accepts credit cards, and the states that do accept credit cards only accept certain credit cards.

There you have it! These are the more popular methods used to help people get out of jail. If you are in a jam and need to get out fast, the above options will be the easiest route for you and your loved ones. Let me know your thoughts, please leave a comment below.

Should Felons Have the Right to Vote?

I love writing about these controversial topics. They push me to think, research, and search the brains of others. I have never really thought about this particular issue. Now that I have, I cannot stop thinking about it.

I feel pretty passionate about this topic, because I already feel like the prison system is flawed in so many ways. I was reading some comments that people wrote about this topic, and two stuck out at me. They were contrary opinions, but they each made me think. One comment was against felons and prisoners having the right to vote. The comment stated that when prisoners committed their crimes, they have (depending on the crime) taken or affected the rights of others, so their own rights should be taken or affected. I felt that that was a good point. When felons steal, kill, cheat on taxes, etc., they are affecting the rights of others to some degree. However, they are not affecting everything single right that that person has. I personally do not see the correlation between someone stealing and someone voting. I understand that this is a punishment, but I also thought that the prison sentence and being ostracized by society was the punishment. I don’t know if taking away someone’s voting rights is an effective or necessary punishment.

That brings me to the next comment that I read. This comment supported the idea of prisoners (which I am assuming included felons), having the right to vote. The comment stated that prison dehumanizes people enough, which makes it harder from them to be successful when they are finally a part of society again. Taking away the right to vote isolates them even more. I could not agree more with that comment. I wrote an article before that somewhat discussed the dehumanizing issue within prisons. Taking away a felon’s right to vote seems to only serve the purpose of making them feel like they are nothing, I don’t know if that is going to make them feel like they should improve themselves. I don’t.

voting rights for felons

There are also other factors to think about. Perhaps voting should depend on the crime that a person commits. I don’t think that all prisoner’s and felons can be lumped into one category. Some felons made one horrible mistake, others had a bad upbringing, maybe the felon shouldn’t even be a felon at all and the real felon is out there living his life and voting. There may be some felons who should have their voting rights taken away, but I do not believe that that should be a generalized solution.

I am curious to know what you guys think about this. Please share whether you think felons should be allowed to vote or not in the comment section below.

Common Crimes People Are Arrested For

Being arrested is not a common occurrence for most people. Being arrested means that you have been caught doing something illegal or that you are suspected of having committed a criminal offence. There are however common crimes or offences that people are often arrested for more often than other crimes.

Below are the common crimes that people are arrested for:

Assault

People arrested for assault have threatened to commit harm to another person showing that they have the ability to do so. Not to be confused with battery, people charged with assault have not actually carried out the physical harm but only threaten to.

DUI

Being arrested for a DUI means that you were caught driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a common crime that people are arrested for especially during routine traffic stops carried out by police officers.

Disorderly Conduct

graph of crimesPeople arrested for disorderly conduct are deemed to be disturbing the peace. This can apply to people intoxicated in public, loitering or behaving in a disorderly conduct to themselves or others in a public place. Disorderly conduct is not classed as a serious criminal offence but a misdemeanor. Disorderly conduct can include people arrested for fighting in public.

Possession Of Drugs

Possession of illegal narcotics and drugs is an arrest able offence. Each state differs as to the penalties and charges for drug possession. There is a difference between people in possession of small amounts of drugs and those found to be carrying large amounts where there is an intent to sell.

Public Intoxication

If a person is visibly intoxicated in public they can be arrested. Arrests for public intoxication are common, especially around big sporting events or holidays when people consume large amounts of alcohol. People arrested for public intoxication can also be arrested and charged for disorderly conduct if they are disturbing the peace.

Resisting Arrest

A person can be arrested and charged with resisting arrest. This is quite a common crime that people commit when police officers are attempting to apprehend an individual. If a person gives chase or does not cooperate whilst being arrested then they will be charged with resisting arrest.

Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicle theft, or grand theft auto, is a criminal offence that people are commonly arrested for. The be arrested and charged with stealing a motor vehicle the person either needs to have stolen the car or have attempted to steal it.