Birmingham Criminal Defense Blog

Alabama Band Teacher Accused of “Bondage Sex” With Students

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law

Sex crimes allegations and charges will often arise between students and teachers, students and coaches or other authorities. In a high-profile case, an Alabama high school band teacher has been accused of forcing at least 8 female students into what authorities have labeled, “bondage-style sex.” The alleged victims have stated that the band teacher abused them over a three-year period. The teacher was arrested earlier this month and could face severe charges and penalties. The 32-year-old band teacher has been accused of gagging and tying up students and using bondage devices on them in the band room at a high school in Brewton.

Individuals who are accused of a sex crime or who are under investigation with regards to allegations of sexual abuse should consult with an experienced attorney. Our Birmingham sex crimes defense attorneys understand the severity of a sex crime allegation and the potential penalties faced by defendants. In addition to a conviction with potential penalties of fines or jail time, offenders will be placed on the sex offender registry for life. Our priority is to minimize the consequences of a sex crime allegation by protecting your rights through strategic and informed advocacy. We will work to protect your reputation, your family, and your future.

By all accounts, this teacher was a favorite among students and had a positive reputation throughout the district. According to a web bio, the teacher improved the band program by growing it from 70 to more than 100 students. He had been a teacher for 6 years before the arrest took place in Thomas, Georgia. According to authorities, the defendant was returned to Brewton where he faces one count of a school employee engaging with a sexual act with a student. Despite these initial charges, authorities maintain that this investigation is still in its early stages and the teacher could face additional charges. Authorities are urging other victims to come forward and share their stories.

The investigation started when one of the alleged victims reported her account to police. At the time that the suspected victims suffered the alleged abuses, they were between the ages of 15 and 17. According to reports, the teacher admitted to having sex with one of the students and has also admitted to sending text messages to others. Reports did not indicate whether defendant has hired an attorney since his arrest. If convicted, defendant will likely face the loss of his teachers license, fines, jail time, and be forced to register as a sex offender.

Sexual abuse allegations can negatively impact any professional, especially one that works with children or teens. Sadly, even if a defendant is acquitted or if a student makes false accusations, the stigma can often follow a teacher or professional for the rest of their career. Whether you are under investigation or have been charged with a sex crime, it is never too early or too late to involve an experienced attorney. Your rights are at stake, from the moment of interrogation or arrest, through trial.

For more information or to speak with an experienced Birmingham defense lawyer, contact Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Criminal Convictions Profitable for Private Prisons, Sept. 20, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

 

Alabama Student Fabricated Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law, Sex Crimes

False accusations can severely impact the lives of the accused and tie up valuable resources. In a recent and highly publicized Alabama case, a University of Alabama student falsified a report that she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted. Since the initial reports of the abduction,  university police have updated their press release stating that the alleged victim has “admitted to fabricating the event.” Despite the time and resources spent on the initial man hunt, authorities have determined that no assault occurred and that the investigation is closed. Is that really the end? What happens when an alleged victim comes clean and admits that a crime was not committed?

Unfortunately, fabricated police reports and false accusations happen, wreaking havoc on the lives of the accused and costing law enforcement valuable time and resources. In some cases a victim may want attention or they may seek revenge against a former spouse or other target. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. In the event that you are accused of a crime or you are being unfairly targeted in a criminal investigation, our attorneys can effectively protect your rights. We will take the time to review the facts of your case and challenge evidence presented against you. Our objective will be to defeat the underlying charges and minimize penalties in the event of a conviction.

In this case a woman alleged that three men pulled her into a vehicle and attempted to assault her. Immediately after she filed a report, the university police department issued a statement describing where the attack occurred. The victim also told police that she was forced inside a vehicle where to other men were waiting. She said that the men touched her inappropriately before she was able to fight them off and make her escape. According to her police statement, the vehicle drove off in an undetermined direction. She ultimately stated that no one was seriously injured in the attack. Investigators issued a public statement that they were seeking three men with “dark skin” driving in a black sedan.

Fortunately, no individual suspects were unfairly targeted, but the case is a reminder that police reports and statements can be falsified and that criminal charges may wrongly ensue. This is not the first time that a college student has faked a kidnapping. Last fall a Georgia student faked a kidnapping to hide a bad grade.

The costs of a false accusation can be immense. Not only does it waste valuable resources, but it detracts police from preventing real crimes. False accusations can be severely damaging to an alleged suspect. Even if a case is dismissed, the accused may face personal and professional repercussions. Fabricating a kidnapping or admitting to false accusations is also a crime and the accuser may be held criminally liable. If you were falsely accused of a crime, remember that you do have rights. An experienced advocate can review your case, conduct an independent investigation and challenge any accusations made against you.

If you have been arrested in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Lethal Drug Shortage: Future of Alabama Executions Unclear, April 14, 2014, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

United States v. Meidel: Motions to Suppress Evidence in Felon in Possession of Firearms Cases

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law

United States v. Meidel, an appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, involved a man (“Defendant”) who neighbors complained was firing a gun in the direction of nearby houses. Police performed a background check of Defendant and learned that he was a convicted felon.

Our Birmingham Felon in Possession of a Firearm attorneys understand that both state and federal laws make it illegal for some individuals to own a handgun.

Investigating officers also learned that Defendant’s girlfriend had purchased a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from a local convenience store.  Officers noted Defendant had purchased 9mm ammunition on two occasions at the same store.  The store manager identified Defendant from a photo array. A witness at the store also reported that Defendant had confronted him and lifted up his shirt to expose the handle of a gun.

Later that month, officers were in Defendant’s neighborhood conducting an investigation into the report of a suspicious vehicle. The officers approached Defendant and inquired as to whether he had any knowledge of the vehicle in question. Defendant and his girlfriend were in their fenced-in yard.  One officer testified that he approached cautiously, because he had reason to believe Defendant was armed and dangerous. Continue Reading

United States v. Gadson: Issue When Dealing with Co-Defendants in a Drug Case

Posted in Alabama Drug Laws, Possession of Controlled Substance

United States v. Gadson, a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, involved two defendants (“Defendant 1” and “Defendant 2”) who appealed their respective convictions for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of controlled substances.  Defendant 2 was also appealing his conviction for retaliation against a witness.

Our Birmingham, Alabama drug defense attorneys understand that convictions involving possession of a controlled substance can carry significant penalties and proper defense requires a detailed understanding of these types of cases. In Alabama, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, such as a derivative of coca leaves (cocaine), can result in over 20 years in prison, depending on the Defendant’s prior criminal history.

In Gadson, Defendant 1 and Defendant 2 were alleged to be members of a group whose intent was to engage in the sale of large quantities of cocaine.   When authorities became aware of their activities, they had a confidential informant (CI) execute two controlled buys of cocaine at the house in which this group was operating. One of these buys took place in the driveway.

After these controlled buys, officers obtained a search warrant and raided the house.  No one was home at the time of the raid, but officers claim to have seen footprints in the snow leading away from an open window.  The police investigation led them to conclude that footprints belonged to Defendant 1.  They believed that he had jumped out of the widow and ran barefoot  to his friend’s house.

During their search of the house, officers found one kilogram of cocaine in a shoe box and another shoebox containing another kilogram of cocaine and just under $30,000 in cash. Defendant 2’s fingerprints were on the second shoebox. The officers also found a loaded shotgun, bulletproof vests, crack, ecstasy, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and other illegal items. Members of the group returned to the town a few weeks later, after things had cooled off, and began selling drugs again until they were arrested shortly thereafter.

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Police Officer Charged: Domestic Sexual Assault and Strangulation

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law

Sexual assault allegations and charges can impact victims and alleged offenders of all walks of life. Those who are accused of sexual assault or abuse include professionals, politicians, and athletes, as well as low-income defendants. In a recent case, a Tuscaloosa police officer was arrested for allegedly assaulting and strangling his wife. If convicted, the officer could face severe penalties, including jail time, fines, and a criminal record. The case is a reminder that even police officers are not above the law.

According to reports
, defendant worked as a patrol officer with the Tuscaloosa police department and has since been placed on administrative leave. For professionals, including police officers, getting accused of a violent crime, domestic abuse, or sexual assault can have serious and long-term repercussions. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and in ensuring that every defendant gets a fair trial. In domestic abuse and cases involving violent crime, competing facts can make it difficult to determine what happened and who was at fault. Every defendant should consult with an experienced attorney who can sort through facts and allegations to ensure they are not over-charged or over-penalized.

Authorities reported that the investigation and arrest were handled by the homicide unit in Tuscaloosa, which is responsible for handling the most violent criminal cases in the area. The unit was assigned to the case after reports of domestic violence in the police officer’s family home. According to the 37-year-old victim, her husband threw her into a chair, held her there and tried to strangle her from behind. Prior to the attack, the victim also alleges that her husband sexually assaulted her. While the case is still under investigation, it is unknown whether the victim had a motive to falsely accuse her husband or whether there was a history of abuse in the relationship.

The homicide unit investigated the case and presented the facts to a magistrate, who approved the warrant for the officer’s arrest. The Tuscaloosa officer was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of domestic violence strangulation. He was booked at the Tuscaloosa County jail with a bond set at $65,000, which was paid days after the arrest. According to court records, the couple were married in 2000 and have two children. They are also separated and filed for divorce in 2012.

In addition to criminal penalties, domestic assault and sexual abuse cases involving a spouse or family member can also impact your rights as a parent or in a divorce matter. In some cases involving divorce, one spouse may falsely allege domestic assault or abuse to gain the upper hand in a custody matter. For individuals facing divorce who have been accused of a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Building a strategic and sound defense from the outset can improve your opportunities to defeat charges and reduce penalties.

For more information or to speak with an experienced Birmingham defense lawyer, contact Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Criminal Convictions Profitable for Private Prisons, Sept. 20, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

California v. Quinones: On the Complexities of Sentencing in Criminal Cases

Posted in Alabama Drug Laws, Possession of Controlled Substance

California v. Quinones, a case from the Court of Appeals of the State of California, involved a defendant (“Defendant”) who was convicted on one count of transporting a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug offense. Defendant had two prior “strike” convictions under the state three strikes law.

In Alabama, the state code provides for one of the most severe habitual offender statutes in the nation. Your Birmingham criminal defense lawyer will be able to review your criminal history and explain if this law applies to your situation.

In Quinones, Defendant was arrested with 80 doses of heroin and a handgun on his person.  A later search of his home turned up 1,500 more doses.   Based upon his record, the Defendant was sentenced to 75 years in a state prison under the repeat offender statute. However, the sentencing judge struck the “while armed” element of the crime, because he felt that it was unnecessary due to the felon in possession conviction.

Courts often use the term “enhancement” when discussing a potential sentencing. There are certain elements that, if proved, will increase the penalty for certain criminal offenses.  Basically, if someone commits an offense “while armed,” that may add years to the potential sentence.  If someone commits a rape “of a minor,” that can add years to the penalty.
Based upon the fact that the trial judge struck the “while armed” enhancement, Defendant appealed his sentence, because his prior felony was not violent in nature.  Defendant argued that the trial judge did not strike the armed element of the offense with regard to potential punishment, but rather struck the offense entirely.
The government opposed this appeal, as would be expected, and argued that the arming element had been found as a matter of fact by the jury and, therefore, could not be stricken by the judge entirely but only as a sentencing enhancement.
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Guilmette v. State: On Motions to Suppress DNA Evidence

Posted in Alabama Violent Crimes

Our Birmingham murder defense attorneys understand the importance of filing a motion to suppress evidence in many cases.

testtubesIn Guilmette v. State, an appeal from the Indiana Supreme Court, Defendant and his co-worker were visiting with their boss at his home.  Just after midnight, their boss took a sleeping pill and went to bed in another room.  His door was closed, and his ceiling fan was on the highest setting.

Thereafter, Defendant’s co-worker went to sleep in a guest bedroom.  While both men were sleeping, court records reflect that Defendant stole his co-worker’s car keys and around $300 in cash.  Defendant is also alleged to have taken the stolen car to two big discount stores, where he stole various items from the stores. He then returned the car to his boss’ home, left the car there, and went back to his home.

Later that day, Defendant’s boss discovered the dead body of the co-worker.  The autopsy revealed that the decedent had suffered numerous blows to his head from a blunt object approximate to the size and shape of a baseball bat.

That same day, police went to question Defendant about the murder of his co-worker.  Defendant denied that he had anything to do with the murder, and claimed that he had ridden a bicycle to the stores from which he was accused of stealing merchandise.
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Unclassified Synthetic Drug Seized in Alabama

Posted in Alabama Drug Laws, Possession of Controlled Substance

Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs, have been growing in popularity in Alabama and nationwide. According to local reports, authorities have arrested and charged two suspects and recovered $100,000 worth of a specific designer drug that has not yet been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Designer drugs are often packaged and sold as other products, including “bath salts” and are trafficked from Asia and internationally. Those who are arrested and charged with trafficking classified synthetic drugs can face serious consequences and penalties, including an extended sentence in an Alabama prison.

Any drug crime can result in serious penalties and charges and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney. Charges involving synthetic drugs can be especially complex due to the nature of their packaging and new classifications. Our Birmingham drug defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of clients facing criminal charges. We will take the time to review your case, identify your legal options, and pursue the best possible course of action to minimize charges and penalties. When charged with a drug crime, it is best to involve an attorney at the outset to improve your defense opportunities.

According to reports, the confiscated drug consisted of a white powder known as AB-Pinaca. This is a chemical compound identified by law enforcement officials to make synthetic drugs known as “spice.” Allegedly, four pounds of the product were shipped from China to a home in Etowah County. Local law enforcement officers collaborated with the U.S. Postal Service, the FBI and other federal agencies to seize the package after a two-week investigation. Local officials reported that it was the first time the drug had been seized in Alabama; however, law enforcement authorities suspect that synthetic drug crimes are on the rise, replacing methamphetamine.

AB-Pinaca is a new synthetic drug on the market that can lead to injury of the circulatory system, lung failure, as well as kidney damage. Authorities also report that the drug can cause permanent injuries after just one use. Typically, the chemical compound is mixed with other chemicals, sprayed on tree leaves, packaged and sold. The drug has also been seized in other Southeastern states and Colorado. The DEA is still reviewing additional substances, including AB-Pinaca for classification.

Defendants in this synthetic drug case could face severe penalties if they are convicted. The suspects were charged under state law with possession of drugs and trafficking. No federal charges have been filed because the drug is not yet considered a controlled substance under federal law. According to reports, the defendants have been additionally charged with marijuana possession and possession of “salvia,” a better-known synthetic drug. Authorities have reported that the defendants are being held on $150,000 bond.

In the event of a drug charge, any defendant should consult immediately with an experienced attorney. The facts of your case should be reviewed and questioned by a drug defense attorney. Evidence can be suppressed if it was illegally obtained and law enforcement officials should use lab tests to prove that the evidence seized was in fact, a controlled substance.

For more information or to speak with an experienced Birmingham defense lawyer, contact Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Criminal Convictions Profitable for Private Prisons, Sept. 20, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Alabama Prison Overcrowding Solutions Sought

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law, Alabama Drug Laws

Alabama is notorious for overcrowded prisons and, in some instances, deplorable prison conditions. In addition to incarcerating non-violent offenders and turning to “lock-ups” as a solution to all alleged crimes, the state is relying on a prison system that is on the verge of a bankruptcy.

Currently, there are over 26,000 inmates, twice the number of inmates that prisons were intended to house. The massively overcrowded prison system is one of the biggest strains on the state General Fund budget, costing nearly $395 million for the 2015 fiscal year. Prisons also cannot keep up with the demand for corrections officers. The ratio of inmates to officers is currently twice the national average.

prisonwireSome have suggested that the solution to overcrowding is to build more prisons. While this may seem like an easy way to address criminal activity in Alabama, it ignores the fiscal reality that building more prisons is enormously costly to tax payers and does not actually help to reduce crime in the long-run. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals who have been arrested and charged with crimes in the state of Alabama. We understand that even individuals accused of non-violent crimes could face lengthy prison sentences. We believe in providing aggressive defense to reduce charges and penalties, including incarceration.

According to the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, it would cost Alabama taxpayers $840 million to end the overcrowding in the prisons. This does not include the additional costs of staffing and operation. In one year, analysts project that it would cost over $1 billion to erect the prisons and put them into operation for only one year. The inevitable costs of incarceration are not realistic in dealing with offenders in the state, especially those who have been locked up for non-violent crimes. While effective criminal defense is one option to help keep defendants out of jail, other policy changes are necessary to stop overcrowding and maintain a manageable prison system.

One viable solution for dealing with the overcrowding is slowing the rates of imprisonment. Some advocates of this solution have proposed alternative sentencing and treatment options, community corrections programs and other housing options that could give non-violent offenders the ability to work and get back on track after a criminal conviction, rather than cost taxpayers locked-up. While some offenders may be better off behind bars if they pose an actual physical threat to others, these offenders are the minority. Most don’t deserve an extensive amount of time behind bars, and taxpayers can’t afford to foot the bill for such a damaging, ineffective approach.

Our Alabama criminal defense attorneys understand that the overcrowding in state prisons is not only a problem for taxpayers and prison operators, it is also a problem for defendants and convicted offenders. Whether you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, facing penalties for white collar offenses, computer crimes, sex crimes, or other criminal charges, we can aggressively protect your rights and interests. Our priority is to defeat your charges. We will pursue every available legal strategy to keep you out of prison.

If you have been arrested in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers to Fill Beds, Derail Reform, Sept. 20, 2013, By Chris Kirkham, The Huffington Post

More Blog Entries:

Historical Criminal Case Illustrates the Importance of Key Legal Protections, Sept. 6, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Alabama Federal Judge Arrested for Domestic Assault

Posted in Assault Charges

Criminal charges, including domestic assault or battery, often involve those who might seem unlikely suspects. The fact is, no one is immune from the law. In fact, high profile suspects often tend to receive harsher penalties, as police and prosecutors are eager to “make an example” or prove a point. They know the public is watching closely.

Business executives, professional athletes, celebrities, and most recently, a federal judge, have all been charged with domestic abuse. Cases involving domestic abuse or assault tend to involve complex fact scenarios and “he-said, she-said” claims. For any defendant, consulting with a legal advocate as soon as possible is key to protecting your rights. A conviction can result in serious penalties as well as a damaging criminal record and loss of reputation.

In a recent case, an Alabama federal judge was arrested and charged with battery after accusations that he assaulted his wife in Atlanta. According to reports, police responded to reports of an altercation at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta. The case sheds light on the complexity of domestic abuse allegations, as well as the lasting consequences of a criminal charge. Our Birmingham domestic assault defense attorneys understand the complex nature of these cases and treat all clients with dignity and respect. We understand the damaging outcome of a criminal conviction and will explore every defense opportunity to minimize charges and penalties.

Police reports allege the 55-year-old U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery was arrested and accused of domestic battery. A woman on the scene was treated for injuries, but declined transport to the hospital. Records indicated the defendant was being held in jail without bond.

He is well-known and respected in the legal community, and could face additional disciplinary action if convicted. The case is a reminder that anyone can end up under the scrutiny of the law and face criminal charges. Experienced advocacy and defense is critical to ensure that you are not over-charged or over-penalized for your crimes.

Domestic abuse charges can carry stiff and immediate penalties. Some examples include restraining orders, a long-term jail sentence, hefty fines, and professional penalties. Upon conviction, you may not be able to enter your home or see your children. You could lose child custody or have your visitation rights severely curtailed.

One way to prevent the damaging consequences of a domestic abuse allegation is to defeat the underlying charges. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case, talk with witnesses and the victim and look at ways to argue for reduced charges. In some cases, the underlying domestic abuse or battery charges can be dismissed or defeated before the case ever advances to the trial phase.

This case is a reminder that criminal defendants come from all walks of life. The defendant-judge presided over the bribery trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in 2006. The jury found both defendants guilty on the charges that the governor solicited a $500,000 donation in return for a seat on the hospital regulatory board. The judge ordered jurors to continue deliberating even after they said they reached an impasse. A appeal for a new trial after alleged juror misconduct was denied. A second appeal alleging that the judge should have stepped down was also denied.

Now, the judge will find the roles reversed.

For more information or to speak with an experienced Birmingham defense lawyer, contact Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Criminal Convictions Profitable for Private Prisons, Sept. 20, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

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