The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects Americans against “unreasonable search and seizure” by law enforcement. In most cases, this means that police cannot search us or our property without first obtaining a warrant.
Imagine losing your spouse and children in a devastating house fire. While trying to process this immense loss, police accuse you of intentionally setting the fire. This was the horror felt by a Midwestern man who spent 26 years in prison for a crime that wasn’t a crime at all.
What constitutes evidence in a criminal trial? More importantly, what constitutes solid and irrefutable evidence? Anyone who has seen any of the dozens of television crime dramas would tell you that forensic science is the objective truth. Sadly, shows like “CSI” are far more fiction than fact – particularly when it comes to the reliability of forensic science.
There is a good reason why the accused must be presumed innocent until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In any criminal case where hard evidence is in short supply, there could be a number of narratives constructed to explain the information that is known. But just because an alleged crime could have occurred in a certain way, this alone is not a reason to conclude that it did.
If you have been arrested and/or charged with a crime, you have a lot to lose. Many defendants make the mistake of thinking they don’t need an experienced criminal defense attorney because the charges against them are relatively small.
Criminal justice reform is perhaps one of the most pressing and difficult issues of our time. Despite being the “land of the free,” the United States incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other country in the world. This is not only a problem in its own right; it also contributes to a destructive pattern often seen among imprisoned offenders.
Many of our recent posts have discussed wrongful imprisonment. In many cases, individuals are wrongfully imprisoned because they were mistakenly convicted of crimes they did not commit. But there are other cases in which prisoners who have been legitimately convicted are mistakenly imprisoned for longer than what their sentence dictates.
Times and attitudes have certainly changed in regard to juvenile crime. In the past, behaviors like underage drinking and experimenting with drugs were regarded as teen mischief or simply the mistakes of youth.
The Jackson County Emergency Response Team teamed up with a La Crosse County investigator and Metropolitan Enforcement Group investigator to carry out a drug warrant on Dec. 17 at around 11:25 p.m. Authorities say that they secured a search warrant after receiving tips that a residence where a child lived was being used to make and distribute methamphetamine.
A Wisconsin judge ruled that a man was not correctly tried when he was convicted of killing his wife on the strength of a letter she wrote to a neighbor. The widower was sent to prison for life in 2008 for the poisoning homicide, which seemed to be the fate his wife was expressing fear about in the letter claiming that her husband wanted her dead. That implication led to his being taken into custody on murder charges in 2002, four years after the woman died. In the most recent action, the judge vacated that trial result because the man had no opportunity to confront his accuser.