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Criminal Defense Archives

Habitual-offender laws result in unjustifiable sentences

We often write about the need for criminal justice reform. And one of the more pressing issues in need of reform is sentencing requirements for repeat offenders. Most states, including Wisconsin, allow for harsher sentencing of individuals convicted numerous times.

DNA testing getting more advanced, but errors still very possible

We have previously written that, of all the forensic tests currently used in criminal investigations, DNA analysis is by far the most accurate and reliable. But it is important to note that these tests are not foolproof. And as DNA analysis techniques become more and more sophisticated, the risk of error may actually be going up rather than down.

Wisconsin Supreme Court expands police search powers: Part II

In a post last week, we began a discussion about a recent ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In a 4-3 decision, the Court essentially ruled to expand law enforcement power to conduct warrantless searches. Specifically, the court may have made it easier for police officers to justify searches without a warrant by claiming the "community caretaker" exception.

Wisconsin Supreme Court expands police search powers: Part I

As we have previously written, the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement. This generally means that police officers must have a warrant before conducting a search, especially when searching someone's home. When evidence is obtained without a search warrant, defendants may file a motion to have that illegally obtained evidence suppressed (essentially thrown out).

Federal judge offers proposal for criminal sentencing reform

In the criminal justice system, there are at least three parties involved in every case: prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. In high-profile cases, prosecutors and defense attorneys may hold press conferences or otherwise talk to the media. But it is rarer to hear from judges on any specific case or on larger issues.

Can better policies result in fewer officer-involved shootings?

In the United States, anyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But many people accused of crimes never make it to court or even to the police station. Too many police interactions end with suspects being shot and killed for dubious reasons. Naturally, these stories - many involving minority suspects - have strained relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they have sworn to protect.

Crime doesn't pay, but law-abiding behavior might be compensated

There are many complex factors that need to be considered in any discussion about fighting and preventing crime. Most can now agree that high crime rates are not simply the result of personal irresponsibility and low moral character. Instead, it is now clear that socioeconomic status and race play significant roles in the equation.

Forensic commission says: Do away with bite-mark analysis

We have previously written about the public misperceptions of forensic testing. Shows like CSI have convinced Americans that forensic tests performed in criminal cases are completely reliable and produce results that are indisputable.

Beyond guilt or innocence: 'Making a Murderer' raises big questions

The vast majority of criminal trials take place in obscurity, and most don't receive much media attention outside the cities in which they take place. But when a case enters the national mainstream, as occurred with the Steven Avery case in the recent Netflix series "Making a Murderer," the reverberations can extend beyond water-cooler conversation and armchair adjudication. The effects, for better or worse, may begin to alter the public's perception of the entire legal process -- and sometimes even the process itself.

Exoneration stats show sad state of our criminal justice system

Now, perhaps more than ever before, Americans are taking a hard look at our criminal justice system and realizing that it is broken. Wrongful convictions are far more common than most people thought they could be, and the causes of wrongful convictions are not simply honest mistakes. Much of the time, they are the product of lazy police work, prosecutorial misconduct and coercive tactics used on defendants who cannot advocate for themselves.

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