Categories
Prostitution

Soliciting Prostitutes Laws in Louisiana

Soliciting Prostitutes Laws in Louisiana

Soliciting for Prostitutes Laws in Louisiana

Have you recently been charged with Soliciting Prostitutes in New Orleans or elsewhere in Louisiana? Do you want to know what awaits you in court and just who can get you out of it? Well, this article will clear your doubts and set you up in the right direction.

Criminal offenses, especially ones like Soliciting Prostitutes, can have you in jail for months and even years or pay huge sums that could wreck your finances both momentarily and in the long run. Knowing just what to do and who to run to when you’re faced with these charges would most definitely set you in the right path. Here’s what you need to know about Soliciting Prostitutes in Louisiana and who can get you home free.

What is Soliciting Prostitutes under Louisiana RS 14:83?

This is the charge given to the John for offering money to another person in exchange for sex. This refers to inviting, soliciting, directing, and transporting someone to a place with the intention and knowledge you would be promoting prostitution. If you have been caught, the court could order then all the property used in committing the offense or proceeds both monetary or financial shall be seized and impounded if you get convicted.

What are the Penalties of Soliciting Prostitute

Penalties for Soliciting for Prostitutes in Louisiana

The penalties for this crime include;

  • Anyone convicted for committing the crime of prostitution shall be fined an amount that wouldn’t be more than five hundred dollars ($500) and you shall be imprisoned for not more than six months. You also could be sentenced to these two penalties.
  • Anyone who commits solicitation for prostitutes when the individual that is solicited is less than 18 years shall be fined more than fifty thousand dollars and imprisoned with hard labor for at least 15 years but it wouldn’t be more than 50 years. You could suffer these penalties separately but that rarely happens.
  • If caught soliciting with an individual below the age of fourteen, you would have to pay a fine of seventy-five thousand dollars and then you would be kept in prison for at least 25 years but not more than 50 years. You most times might suffer both penalties because 14 is such a young age to be involved in prostitution.

You could also lose all your property used in the solicitation of these Prostitutes. These items include computers, computer-related equipment, motor vehicles, moving visual images of the victim, disc, videotape, and all other types of digital recording media, instruments, and currencies.

The Court must Prove the following before conviction

  • That you were using intention while committing the crime of soliciting prostitutes.
  • That you were completely mentally and physically stable to commit such acts.
  • That you had complete full knowledge of the age of the individuals involved.
  • They must prove you were using these individuals to make a financial profit or gain by using them for prostitution.

What are the defenses to Soliciting Prostitutes in Louisiana?

Soliciting Prostitutes crimes can be devastating on the lives of defendants. Even after you serve your sentence, you may find it difficult to get a job, education, or housing due to your crime. Dealing with criminal charges such as Soliciting Prostitutes is a frightening experience.

That’s why the criminal lawyers at the Barkemeyer Law Firm are the right choice to represent you and get you free. We have high experience and necessary resources to defend you against soliciting prostitution charges in Louisiana as long as you have strong reasons why it wasn’t you who committed the crime.

Possibly you might say:

  • The footage on the street cameras was doctored and you were not the one taking the person that charged you with the Soliciting Prostitutes charges.
  • You were simply offering the other person a ride to their destination.
  • You had no idea this was a crime, to begin with.
  • Were mentally ill when the particular crime was committed.

We will work hard to get your charges outrightly dismissed or reduced to a minimum via an agreement. If eventually, your case goes to trial, our criminal attorneys will fight your case and try as much to secure a not guilty verdict. If in any case, a conviction is unavoidable, we will work hand in hand with the court and prosecutors to get you much lower sentence to get back to your life as quickly as possible.

Contact New Orleans Soliciting Prostitutes Defense Lawyers

Have you been accused of a Soliciting Prostitutes crime in New Orleans? If yes then don’t fight the criminal justice system alone. Contact our New Orleans criminal lawyers to work tirelessly to get the best outcome for you.

We well know that no two cases are the same. We will thoroughly review each detail of your case to ensure that you receive the best legal defense and that your rights are kept intact and protected.

It is said that if you’ve been charged for a criminal offense such as Soliciting Prostitutes, speak to a criminal defense attorney. Criminal records can have long-term consequences. A conviction record can lead to a higher and harder sentence for the future crime and it makes it difficult to come out of it.

An experienced lawyer can assist you in navigating the criminal process and help you get out of the problem or reduce your sentence. Well, you’ve got a highly experienced soliciting defense attorney in New Orleans. We can try to get you out of this case or lessen your sentence irrespective of the circumstances. All you have to do is contact us.

Categories
Public Intoxication

What You Need to Know About Public Intoxication Charges in Louisiana

Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, are party central. The lights are always on and the drinks are always flowing. In fact, in New Orleans, it is legal to drink out in the street.

To be more exact, it is legal to drink outside only in the French Quarter, and only out of a plastic container. It is also legal for someone over the age of 18 to drink with someone who is over 21.

However, with all this freedom also comes responsibility. Even though it is legal to drink in public, it is not legal to be drunk in public.

Public intoxication is a misdemeanor charge in Louisiana, but a conviction will show on your criminal record. Since the law, and charge, is very subjective and depends largely on the observations of the police, there are some things you should be aware of before taking your party to the street.

Let’s talk about what you need to know about public intoxication in Louisiana.

What is Public Intoxication

To be charged with public intoxication in Louisiana you must appear unable to function with full mental and physical abilities. If it appears you are or will become, a danger to yourself or others, you are considered drunk in public.

Sometimes this charge is also known as drunk and disorderly. It means you are behaving in a manner to cause disruption in a public setting as a result of consuming too much alcohol or another controlled substance.

The law generally defines a public place as outside in the street, on the sidewalk, in parks, or outdoor venues. It does not cover activity at a private residence unless you are trespassing on their property.

Proof of Public Intoxication

Here is where the law gets a little tricky. The decision to charge someone with public intoxication is at the discretion of the police officer you encounter. They are not required to perform a breathalyzer test, but they do need to establish probable cause.

It is also worth noting that just being drunk in public is not enough for a charge. The behavior and actions must be consistent with someone who is likely to be a danger to themselves or someone else.

This can be quite subjective and depends largely on the opinion and experience of the officer.

There are several examples of probable cause. Were you stumbling around and unable to walk? Did you have bloodshot eyes or a strong smell of alcohol on your breath or clothes? Were you being unruly, loud, or combative with others?

If you believe you may have a drinking problem, find resources here.

Consequences of Public Intoxication Charge

As previously mentioned, a public intoxication charge is a misdemeanor, but it can still have a negative impact on your life. There are two ways a police officer can handle a situation where they believe someone is drunk in public.

An arrest can be made on the spot. If that happens, you will be taken to jail and booked on the charge. You must then arrange bail or contact a lawyer to get you released. You will then receive a date to appear at court for your plea.

The officer can decide not to arrest you and just give a summons to appear in court for the citation of public intoxication. There is a date you must appear and if you fail to show up, an arrest is next.

If found guilty, you can be made to serve up to 90 days in jail in New Orleans or Jefferson. This could result in losing your job and other embarrassing side effects. There is also a fine you would be required to pay.

In addition, the charge will remain on your criminal record. These all have long-lasting effects on your life. It would serve you well to try and fight the charge and move on with your life. 

Defense for a Public Intoxication Charge

The hardest part about proving you are innocent of being drunk and disorderly in public often comes down to your word against the officer’s word.

It is not illegal to only be intoxicated in public, so there is no need to administer a test. The charge stems from the disorderly part.

In fact, public intoxication falls under the umbrella of disturbing the peace. It is not a matter of proving you weren’t drunk, it’s trying to show you were not being disruptive or a danger.

If you were with other people, it would certainly help if you had witnesses to testify on your behalf. If multiple people are willing to say you were not being unruly or causing a disturbance, it could work in your favor with the court.

Another defense is if you can prove you weren’t in a public space. This may be harder to prove if your arrest or citation was on the street or at a venue, but if you can show you were at a private residence or gathering you may be able to have the charges dropped.

Of course, you always have the defense that you were not even drinking. There can be no public intoxication without consuming alcohol.

This can be difficult to prove as well, but if you have receipts from restaurants that show only non-alcoholic drink purchases those could be entered as evidence. Again, any friends or witnesses to the event could also testify that you had not been drinking.

These kinds of defenses are risky without back-up evidence when you have the word of the police officer stating different information.

Don’t Gamble With Your Future

You are not required to have a lawyer present during your court proceeding, but considering the potential outcome, it is advisable to have an experienced attorney on your side to fight on your behalf.

A charge of public intoxication is not something to take lightly. It can have a long term impact on the rest of your life.

For more information on how we can help with this charge or other legal matters, please reach out

Categories
Disturbing the Peace

Ultimate Guide to Disturbing the Peace Charges in New Orleans

  • Have you or any of your loved ones recently been charged with disturbing the peace in New Orleans?
  • Are you looking for a way to peacefully get yourself out of court and out of trouble?
  • Are you aware of exactly what disturbing the peace really is and what the penalties you are liable to face are?
  • Do you know of any attorney who can get you out of the case and protect your criminal record?

Well, you would find all the answers and more in this article.

What is disturbing the peace in New Orleans?

In this article, we will clearly delineate and fully explain everything that would lead you to get arrested for the crime of disturbing the peace. Yes, you heard that right, disturbing the peace is a crime in the laws of New Orleans and no court handles it with levity. Below are some of the situations that the laws regard as disturbing the peace:

  • If you have engaged in a fistfight in a manner that alarms the public, you have committed the crime.
  • If you have used any offensive language on anybody who isn’t illegally where they are or if you have called them by a name which is derisive in such a way that the public is alarmed, you have committed the crime.
  • If you walk around drunk, high on some drugs, or intoxicated in any way and by any means that alarms the public, you have committed the crime.
  • If you engage in any act of violence — it doesn’t have to be a fistfight — where three or more people are involved in such a way that the public is alarmed, you have committed the crime.
  • If you organize any gathering anywhere which is not authorized or lawful, you have committed the crime.
  • Displaying actions that are geared towards causing a commotion or leading to a change in the route of a burial. You have committed the crime as long as this action took place either one hundred and twenty minutes (2 hours) before or one hundred and twenty minutes (2 hours) after the event.

The above actions could most definitely land you in court and probably in prison if you’re not well defended by your attorney. This is why you shouldn’t be planning to settle for just any attorney. You must consider the kind of criminal attorney that you hire. A matter such as this one could land you in jail and take up some useful months of your life or make you pay sums which are unplanned for. The criminal defense attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm regularly defend clients charged with Disturbing the Peace in New Orleans.

Disturbing the Peace by Fistic Encounter

One of the most common scenario supporting a disturbing the peace ticket in New Orleans is disturbing the peace by fistic encounter. This provision is in both the New Orleans Municipal Code as section (5) and Louisiana law as section (1). Police officers will often cite the defendant with this charge instead of simple battery if he believes both individuals consented to the fight. On the other hand, if the officer believes the defendant attacked the victim without the victim being an aggressor, the arrest would be for a battery.

Example of Disturbing the Peace by Fistic Encounter

disturbing the peace by fistic encounter in new orleans
Disturbing the Peace by Fistic Encounter

It is Friday night at the Boot and it’s packed. Joe Smith just grabbed his Bud Light draft in a 16-ounce plastic cup that’s overflowing. He tries to meander through the crowd back to his friends. Another group of guys are horse playing causing one to bump into him and spill his beer a little on the guy who was horse playing, causing him to say “Hey watch out, Man!” The beer-holder, says to him, “You watch out!” After all, he’s not too happy about losing half his beer. So, they get to pushing, then decide to go outside to fight since the bouncer wasn’t having it inside. They go outside and wrestle around in the street for a few minutes, with nobody getting hurt. The cops show up and give them both a ticket for Disturbing the Peace because they were fighting in public. The officer tells them to go their separate ways. Unfortunately, now each one has a criminal record. This is where the criminal lawyer comes in.

Disturbing the Peace by Public Intoxication

drunk in public disturbing the peace
Disturbing the Peace – Public Drunkenness

This provision is found in the Louisiana statute under La RS 14:103(3) and as a separate statute of the New Orleans Municipal Code under Sec. 54-405. Disturbing the peace under this provision is simply being drunk in public or appearing in an intoxicated condition. Basically, an officer will make an arrest or detain an individual for this when they are so wasted that they pose a threat to themselves or to the public. The officer determines that if he left them there, they could potentially hurt someone or themselves. The arrestee may have been having a good time earlier in the evening, but things got overboard and now he’s in a bad spot to where someone could get hurt. The officer has to protect him and everyone else. The penalties are still the same for this provision of disturbing the peace or Public Drunkenness in New Orleans.

Disturbing the Peace with Offensive Words

Disturbing the Peace by Offensive Language, Cursing, Profanity
Disturbing the Peace by Offensive Language

Both the Louisiana and New Orleans statutes prohibit the use of offensive language in public. The New Orleans statute is more focused on prohibiting the use of threatening language that would make the victim feel like they are about to get harmed. Really, this is a simple assault under Louisiana law. The Louisiana Disturbing the Peace statute prohibits addressing any offensive, derisive, or annoying words to any other person who is lawfully in any street, or other public place; or call him by any offensive or derisive name, or make any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with the intent to deride, offend, or annoy him, or to prevent him from pursuing his lawful business, occupation, or duty. Officers often arrest people for shouting and cursing in public. Making a scene by threatening others will land someone a disturbing the peace by offensive language ticket.

What are the possible penalties for disturbing the peace in Louisiana?

If you have been ticketed for the crime of disturbing the peace in New Orleans, the following are some of the possible penalties that you will face under Louisiana State law:

  • You would be fined an amount not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
  • You would be imprisoned for a period of time, not more than ninety days (3 months).
  • Sometimes, based on the gravity of the crime, you could be made to pay the fine and still serve the jail term.

Situations like this are not what you should leave to luck or in the hands of an attorney who doesn’t have the exact required experience to get you home free. Imagine meeting a judge who doesn’t really care for the fine but prefers that you stay in jail and serve the term for correctional purposes. That would dent your records and it doesn’t even matter if you only spent a few days there or that you were jailed for a crime as trivial as disturbing the peace.

What are the possible penalties for disturbing the peace in New Orleans?

The crime of Disturbing the Peace is also a New Orleans City Court law found in the Municipal Code. If a New Orleans City Police officer gives you the summons, you could be facing the charge under Section 54-403 which carries harsher penalties that the Louisiana state law. In New Orleans, you would be looking at a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to 5 months. So, there is a big difference in the sentencing ranges based on who is prosecuting you.

How to Protect Your Criminal Record

After you have received a summons for Disturbing the Peace, the fact of that summons will be on your record. The next issue to deal with is how to prevent a conviction from getting on your record. It all depends on how we handle the case in court. The summons and/or conviction may be eligible to get cleaned off your record if the case is set up properly in the beginning. Not every conviction is eligible to be removed or expunged from your record. The process of filing an expungement is how to get your record cleaned up. Our focus for our clients charged with Disturbing the Peace is to have the case resolved in a way that they are then eligible for an expungement of the arrest and/or conviction if there even is a conviction.

Importance of Clean Criminal Record

It is ideal to have a clean criminal record for many reasons such as getting into higher education schools such as colleges and graduate schools, renting apartments, obtaining loans, employment, getting a professional license, etc. Even a charge like Disturbing the Peace will make the person seeing it wonder what your judgement is like. Your chances of getting that job start going down. Plus, you could end up having to explain why you got the charge which can never be a good thing. Therefore, do not just go and plead guilty to Disturbing the Peace in New Orleans. The fine or probation you receive are not the only penalties. The penalties are ongoing for the rest of your life due to your criminal record. Contact our Disturbing the Peace lawyers in New Orleans at 504-226-2299.

How Can I Beat a Disturbing the Peace Ticket in New Orleans?

To increase your chances at beating a disturbing the peace charge, you need to hire a New Orleans disturbing the peace defense attorney as soon as you get the ticket.  Do not wait until after you go to court. The lawyers at the Barkemeyer Law Firm will:

  • Appear in court on your behalf and enter a plea of not guilty, so you don’t have to come to court.
  • Examine the police reports for inconsistencies and technical errors that could result in a reduced charge or dismissal of your case entirely.
  • Review all the evidence that the prosecutor has against you such as witness testimony and search for weaknesses in that evidence.
  • Negotiate for reduced charges or dismissal which may lead to smaller fines, less probation, and court fees.
Categories
Know Your Rights

What to Do When Getting Pulled Over: 7 Tips

On a typical day, 50,000 drivers are pulled over. That equals over 20 million motorists every year.

Encounters with law enforcement are stressful. But the more you know about your rights, the better prepared you will be if you get pulled over. Drivers must be aware of what police officers can and can’t do at a traffic stop.

We’ve outlined some of our top tips for drivers when being pulled over by police. Let’s explore.

1. Make Safety a Top Priority

If flashing blue lights are behind you, pull over when possible. But don’t disregard your wellbeing. Many people panic and stop their vehicles in unsafe areas. 

Turn on your hazard lights and drive a little slower. This tells the police officer you are complying with the request. Continue driving until you find a secure space.

It is your right as a driver to wait to pull over until you feel safe. Choosing a secure area protects you, your passengers, and the police officer from harm.

The best places to pull over are well-lit streets or parking lots. If the officer is driving an unmarked police car, stop where other people are around. You can also call 911, give your location, and verify the vehicle belongs to a police officer.

2. Place Your Hands on the Steering Wheel

Once you have safely pulled over, turn off your ignition. Place both hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer. By having your hands visible, the cop will know you are not a threat.

Do not get out of the car. That will give the impression you have something to hide.

Roll down your window half-way. Leave enough space to hand any vehicle documentation to the police officer. 

If it’s dark, turn on your vehicle’s interior lights. Stay calm while you wait for the officer to approach. Any passengers should remain seated with their hands on their laps.

3. Ask the Police Officer Why You Were Pulled Over

Police officers in Louisiana require reasonable suspicion to pull over drivers. The reasons include speeding, running a traffic light, having a broken taillight, or swerving between lanes (reckless driving). Police officers must inform drivers of the reason they were pulled over.

If an officer asks why you think you were pulled over, you do not have to answer. Instead, claim you are unsure of what you did wrong and ask the cop to explain. 

Even if you know you broke the law, you do not need to confess. The Fifth Amendment states that a citizen may remain silent. An officer cannot force you to answer questions or admit wrongdoings without being in a court of law.

4. Give Documentation Once Asked

Do not supply the officer with your ID, license, or registration until he or she has asked. The officer must first explain why you have been pulled over before requesting documentation.

Don’t attempt to speed up the process by handing over your documents as soon as the cop approaches your vehicle. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel until the officer requests that you do. Reaching into your car could be misinterpreted as a sign of aggression or an attempt to hide evidence.

Once the cop explains why you are being pulled over and asks for your documents, supply your state license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration.

5. Be Polite

While you do not have to answer the officer’s questions or confess to wrongdoing, you should be respectful and polite.

If the incident was minor, you know you broke the law, and you don’t plan on fighting the ticket, apologize for your wrongdoing. Saying “I’m sorry” can be the difference between a hefty fine and a warning.

Conversely, a police officer may be pulling you over to issue a warning, but rude behavior can be the reason for a ticket instead. Talking to cops may be frustrating, but try to remain calm and collected.

Cooperate as much as possible. If you don’t agree with the traffic stop and plan on taking the incident to court, remain polite. Any aggression, frustration, and foul language can escalate the situation and make you appear suspicious of other crimes.

6. Record All Encounters

You may record your encounter with police using a dash camera. If you are recording, let the police officer know immediately.

Most states allow anyone to record police officers (as long as you don’t interfere with their work), but some states require all parties to consent. In Louisiana, it’s legal to record police officer encounters.

If you are using a dashcam, make sure you follow all of the protocols in your state. Some regions restrict dashboard camera placements because they obstruct the driver’s view. 

Don’t use your camera as a weapon. Just turn it on, let the officer know everything will be recorded, and continue as normal. The footage can be used later to ensure both parties complied with the law. 

7. Don’t Forget You Can Deny a Vehicle Search

Police do not need a warrant to search your car in New Orleans. However, they need to have reasonable cause. The officer may search your car if they see or smell anything in plain view. 

If you do not feel a vehicle search is necessary, tell the officer that you do not consent to the search.

If you have been pulled over within reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the police may search the passenger compartment and front region of the vehicle. But if the officer does not have probable cause, he or she may not conduct a full vehicle search without your consent.

If you have been arrested, police are allowed to search your vehicle without consent in New Orleans.

Have You Been Wrongly Pulled Over? 

Police officers are here to protect citizens and keep roads safe. However, sometimes the proper protocols are not followed. That’s when we step in.

If you feel that you have been wrongly pulled over, let our team help. We protect our client’s criminal records and ensure law enforcement officials are not abusing their power.

Contact us to learn more about what our expert lawyers can do.

Categories
Bail

How Do Bail Bonds Work?

Guide to the Bail Bond Process

When someone is arrested for a crime, the judge has the option of setting a bail. The judge will determine the bail amount after examining various factors surrounding the arrest and defendant such as the alleged crime, facts in the affidavit of probable cause, defendant’s criminal record, where the defendant resides, and any other flight-risk factors. Basically, the more of a flight-risk the judge views the defendant, the higher the bail. The reason for this is because when the defendant posts bail, he is ensuring to the court that he will appear at the required court dates. So, if the defendant is willing to fork over money, then it is likely he will go to court so he will eventually get the money back after the case is over. If he does not go to court, the bond that was posted could be forfeited and it would go to the court. The defendant would then be required to post a second bond if the judge is willing to set another bail.

The More Serious the Charge, the Higher the Bail

The more serious the charge is, the higher the bail amount will be. If the defendant is facing a charge that carries prison time or even mandatory prison time, the judge will set the bail very high because the defendant becomes more of a flight-risk.  The judge knows the defendant may choose to just not appear at court and run off and hide. Therefore, judges typically do not set low bail for serious charges. Minor felony charges will have lower bail amounts ranging from $1000 – $5000. Misdemeanor charges such as simple assault may have bail amounts of around $500 – $2500. Many times, police officers will not even book an individual on a misdemeanor and just issue a summons to appear in court, therefore, no bail is set.

Options for Posting Bail

If you can’t afford to post a cash bond, which is posting the entire bail amount yourself at the jail, then you could hire a bail bondsman to post it. You would pay the bail bondsman 10-12% of the bail amount. That is his fee for putting up the entire amount. Therefore, you would not get that percentage fee back after the case. On the other hand, if you posted a cash bond, you would get the entire amount back after the case if the defendant shows up to his required court appearances.

Bail Bond Example

For example, let’s say the defendant is arrested in New Orleans, Louisiana for possession with intent to distribute cocaine (5 ounces). Let’s say the defendant’s address on his driver’s license is in Texas.  The judge has determined based on the facts and circumstances that bail should be $50,000.

Option 1

The defendant’s family/friends could pay $50,000 in cash to the jail and hope he goes to court so they can get the money back in the end. It is a risk for them. He is facing a charge that will be prosecuted firmly and carries prison time.

Option 2

The family/friends could hire a bail bondsman and pay him $5000-6000 to put up the entire $50,000. The bondsman will keep that $5000-6000 fee as his payment. So, the family will be out of that money.

Option 3

Do not post a bond. If it seems like the defendant may end up doing time anyway, it may be smarter to save your money and put it towards a criminal defense attorney so he can minimize the jail sentence or even beat the case.

Option 4

Try to get the bail reduced or a ROR bond, personal surety, or sign-out bond. Hire a criminal defense attorney to contact the judge. Depending on the bail amount and facts and circumstances, the attorney might be able to get a reduced bail. This will not happen in every case. The attorney would have to show some mitigating factors to the judge that he didn’t know about when initially setting the bail. 

How Do Bail Bonds Work?

Important Considerations

  • Is the defendant on parole or probation?

If so, there will likely be a hold, so posting bail is a bad idea since he won’t get out anyway.

  • Does the defendant have pending charges in that jurisdiction or elsewhere?

This is important because if he is already on bond and he gets a new arrest, that would be a violation of his bond conditions on the first case. Therefore, the prosecutor in the first case could move to have his bond revoked which would land him in jail. Posting bail on the second case would be pointless.

As you can see, there are many factors involved when deciding to bail someone out of jail. The bail bonds process is very simple on a case like a first-offense DWI but gets more complicated with more serious charges. Getting the help of a criminal defense attorney early on is the best option. We can help you figure out the best strategy.

Categories
Know Your Rights

What Are Your Rights? What to Know When Speaking to the Police

If you’ve been pulled over by the police and are being questioned by them, it’s hard to know what your rights are. Even though you have rights (such as remaining silent) the cop might imply that you have no choice but to do as they say.

Many people in New Orleans find themselves in this situation. They aren’t sure of what to do and rely too much on the police officer to guide them.

See below for an in-depth guide on what are your rights when speaking with the police. Be sure to remember these for the next time you’re pulled over in Jefferson or New Orleans.

Your Rights When You’ve Been Stopped

Most of the confusion on your rights occurs when you’ve been pulled over by a New Orleans police officer. You’re unsure of what you need to comply with and when you aren’t legally required to speak up.

See below for the rights that you have when you’ve been pulled over and are talking to the police in public.

1. The Right to Remain Silent

Anyone that’s watched a law show in the past knows the first part of their Miranda rights, which states that you “have the right to remain silent”.

However, not many people are aware that their right to remain silent begins as soon as you’re pulled over not only after you’ve been arrested.

This means that you don’t have to answer questions like “do you know how fast you were going?”, “where are you headed?”, or “what are you up to?”. You can choose to stay silent throughout to not damage your side of a potential court case.

Be warned, however, that you should state your interest in remaining silent out loud and right from the start. You will still be required to identify yourself when the officer requests it and they will more than likely arrest you if you refuse to.

2. You Have the Right to an Attorney

There’s a lot of confusion on this portion of the Miranda rights. You have two rights here: 1) the right to an attorney and 2) access to a government-appointed lawyer if you can’t afford one.

Be sure to take the time and find a trustworthy New Orleans attorney that you can call on in case of an emergency one day. Finding a reputable lawyer to work with will help your chances of winning the case from the start.

You’ll want to make sure and find a lawyer that has experience in the crime that the officer pulled you over for. For example, if you’ve been pulled over because you were speeding, then you’d want a traffic attorney to help you out.

3. The Right to Refuse Consent

If the officer suspects that there is additional evidence on yourself, they might consider conducting a search. Contrary to popular belief, you have the right to refuse the consent of that search.

While this might not stop them from conducting the search at the moment, your verbal refusal before they conducted the search can be used in your case.

Remember, an officer can’t conduct a search of your property without a warrant. State your refusal of consent early on, and if they search your property illegally, it will strengthen your case down the line.

How to Comply

Just because you have rights when being pulled over doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comply with the law enforcement officer. Whenever you’re speaking with the police, you should be respectful and honest with every decision you make.

Here are a few tips on how to comply and ease the tension of the situation for both yourself and the New Orleans officer that’s pulled you over.

1. Stay as Calm as Possible

While it can be intimidating and nerve-wracking to be pulled over by the police, remember to breath and stay as calm as possible. They’re human just like you are, and want to be treated with respect.

You can reduce the tension of the situation by being respectful and honest about exercising your rights. 

Lying or giving the officer fake documents (such as a fake car insurance ID) will only make matters worse. This will give them enough probable cause to arrest you and will weaken your case in legal proceedings moving forward.

2. Follow the Proper Process

It’s important to remember that even when you’ve been arrested, you still have the Miranda rights to protect you. But that doesn’t mean the officer(s) won’t try to get you to talk.

After you’ve been arrested, state your wish to remain silent once again and ask that you speak with your lawyer at once. If you have a lawyer in mind, be sure to give them the name so that they can make arrangements for you to speak with him/her.

You’ll be given one phone call, which you should use to call your attorney. Officers aren’t legally allowed to listen in on calls between yourself and your lawyer (thanks to attorney-client privileges).

However, if you choose to call a friend or a loved one, the officers are still allowed to listen in on the call.

What Are Your Rights: Memorize These for Future Use

You never know when you could find yourself talking to cops or answering questions after being pulled over. Remember what are your rights and how to use them properly.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the 10 things you should do to prepare for going to court.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.

Categories
Summons

10 Things You Should Do to Prepare For Going to Court

If you’ve got a court appearance coming up, you will no doubt have worries about which way the proceedings will go. 

Whether you are attending to defend yourself, as a witness, or you’re bringing a lawsuit against someone else, you’ll want a smooth and stress-free day in court. Regardless of your role in the proceedings, there will be a lot resting on the way that you perform and present yourself. 

But what can you do to prepare yourself for your first day in court? 

Here are ten things that you should do to prepare for going to court. 

1. Decide Whether You Need an Attorney 

The first thing that you’ll need to do when preparing for your appearance in court is to decide whether you’ll need to hire an attorney to represent you in court. 

An attorney will understand the proceedings well. They’ll know how the court works and what they can ask the judge for. 

While you may think that you have a strong argument in your favor and that you’ll be confident in court, you might be up against opposition with a  tough legal counsel. 

If you do decide that you need an attorney, you should hire them early to make sure they have time to prepare your case fully ahead of the court date.

2. Gather Up Evidence and Witnesses

Once you know that you’ll have to go to court, think about what evidence you’ll need for your case. This may come in the form of letters, photos, videos, audio recordings, emails, witnesses, and more. 

All of these people and things will need to be present in the courtroom. The clerk of the court will need to issue a subpoena, so you’ll need to allow time for this. 

3. Plan for the Worst 

You shouldn’t assume that your day in court will go your way. What will happen if things don’t go the way that you believe they should? For instance, could you be facing a fine if things don’t go well for you? Do you have the means of paying this fine if you’re ordered to do so?

Make sure that you make plans for if things don’t go well for you. 

4. Keep the Court and Your Attorney Updated

If anything changes in your personal circumstances such as moving house or changing your phone number, be sure and let the court and your attorney know. 

It’s important that they be able to contact you on the run-up to a court appearance just in case the date changes or the case is moved to another court. 

5. Assume You’ll Be in Court All Day 

While some court cases are over and done with quickly, others can take longer. Make plans to spend the entire day in court. 

This means making sure that you’re off work for the entire day and that you have no other prior appointments. 

Courts can have lengthy dockets, and they try and get through them as quickly as possible. This is not always possible, though. If you start complaining that you need to be somewhere else, the judge will not view this favorably. 

6. Make Sure That You’re Prepared 

Ahead of your first day in court, you will need to ensure that you’re as prepared as possible for your court appearance. Spend some time making sure that you have everything in order and that you’re not missing anything at all. 

Check all of your documentation and paperwork ahead of the first day. If you’re being represented by a lawyer, speak with them prior to your day in court. 

If there is anything that you need from your attorney, don’t hesitate to ask them. 

7. Dress Appropriately 

Whatever the reason you’re in court, you’ll want to give a good impression. You can do this by ensuring that you dress appropriately for the court. 

Think about wearing something smart such as a suit or a modest dress. Avoid wearing casual clothes as it will look as though you’re not taking the matter seriously. 

8. Get to Court Early 

On route to the court, things could go wrong. You may face traffic jams or delays on public transport. Allow plenty of time to get to the court. 

Many courts are quite big and have multiple hearing rooms. Allow time to find the right room.  They will also have a security check that you’ll need to pass when you arrive. This could delay you from arriving in court. 

Don’t be late for court; this will reflect on you. A judge may view this as a lack of respect for the court, and they may even charge you with contempt of court.  

9. Listen to What the Judge and the Court Staff Tell You 

The judge and the staff in the court will have clear instructions for you. Make sure you listen to these instructions and that you follow them. Often, there will be important information about your own rights. 

It may feel overwhelming at times, but it is essential that you remain focused and try your best to follow the proceedings and understand everything that is going on. 

10. Read Everything You’re Asked to Sign 

There may be times when you’re asked to sign important court documents. When you sign these, you’re essentially saying that you’ve read the documents.

Make sure that you read everything. Don’t worry if it seems as though you’re holding everything up by doing so, making sure you understand your rights and what is going on is essential. 

Going to Court is a Significant Event 

Going to court is a major event, and it is one that should not be taken lightly. By being prepared for your appearance and by presenting yourself in the best possible light, you’ll appear as honest as possible. 

If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in New Orleans, get in touch with the Barkemeyer law firm today. 

Categories
Criminal Law

Receiving a Car Accident Court Summons: What to Do Next

You are at fault in a traffic accident so you pay the ticket to resolve the matter. You are shocked when you later receive a court summons.  Now, what do you do?

A summons is an official notice to the recipient that they are being sued. The summons arrives with the complaint stating the allegations made against you and requests the court to award a sum of money to the Plaintiff.

If you receive service of a car accident court summons, it is imperative that you respond within the required time frame to avoid being found in default. A default means you have not answered, and the Plaintiff wins their lawsuit.

Read on to learn how to protect yourself if you are being sued.

I Received a Car Accident Court Summons – Now What?

When you receive a summons and complaint, the clock immediately starts ticking. To make sure the deadline for response is not missed, make a note of the date on which you receive service.  The 2011 Louisiana Laws Code of Civil Procedure CCP 1001 states that you must file the answer to a complaint within 15 days of receiving service unless otherwise provided by law.

You have the choice of representing yourself, called going pro se, or hiring an attorney who specialized in civil lawsuits.

Going pro se may seem like a money-saving option, but it can cost you far more in the end if you lose the case. A reputable civil law attorney will have solid client reviews showing their expertise in law. They will know how to review car accident records, demand discovery, conduct depositions, file and answer motions, subpoena medical records, and present evidence in court.

The Lawsuit Process

The first step after you receive a summons or complaint is to prepare an answer. You must follow proper court format, which includes the appropriate header, answering each allegation in the same numbered format as the complaint, and including your prayers for relief.

In answering each of the allegations as “admitted as true” or denied as untrue” and providing the reason it is untrue, you are establishing the areas you contest in the lawsuit. These are the factors that must be either negotiated for a settlement or will be decided before a judge.

Do You Have the Right to a Jury Trial?

The value the Plaintiff is alleging in the original pleadings determines whether or not you may request a jury trial. If the Plaintiff’s complaint values the case at less than $50,000 then neither party a right to request a jury pursuant to the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, Article 1732.

Filing for Exceptions

In Louisiana, Defendants have the right to file “exceptions” to the lawsuit. This includes things such as claiming that the lawsuit is too vague, or is “prescribed” because it was untimely filed.

Another exception would be if the filing took place in the wrong venue, meaning location. The court is likely to waive exceptions unless they are filed before or with the answer.

Pretrial and Scheduling Conference

The court may require the parties and attorneys in a lawsuit to appear before the court for a pretrial conference. The matters discussed at this conference may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Simplifying the issues, including eliminating any frivolous claims or defenses
  • Whether amendments to the pleadings need to be filed
  • What material facts and issues have no substantial controversy
  • What material facts and issues are in good faith controverted
  • Proof or stipulations regarding the authenticity of documents
  • Advance rulings from the court on the admissibility of evidence
  • Limitations, regulations, or restrictions on expert testimony under the Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 702
  • Control and scheduling of discovery and any issues regarding disclosure
  • Identifying witnesses, documents and exhibits

Following the pretrial and scheduling conference, the court will issue an order that recites the agreements made and actions taken at the conference.  All attorneys and parties must comply with the order or be subject to sanction by the court pursuant to LA Code Civ Pro 1551

Louisiana does not have a statute that sets forth a time requirement on when a case must be complete. Litigation can take months or years, depending on the complexity of the case.

Discovery

Discovery is an all-encompassing term for obtaining evidence to support your position. This begins with accident reports, medical records, and witness statements. 

Either party may file interrogatories, requests for admission, and requests for production of documents. Interrogatories are questions presented in writing and answered in writing under oath.

Requests for Admission are statements the other party wants you to admit or deny. Again, you must reply in writing under oath. If you do not respond they may be deemed admitted.

The response to a Request for Production of Documents must be in writing and include the documents requested or an objection and reason for the objection.

Depositions are verbal testimony done with the attorneys before a court recorder. The person being deposed may be a witness or a party to the lawsuit.  Testimony is under oath and may be entered into court in lieu of live testimony.

The most frequent use of depositions is to obtain information. They may be used during the trial to accuse a witness of perjury if they give different factual statements on a witness stand then they gave under oath during a deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

When negotiating a lawsuit, it is common for the parties to participate in alternative dispute resolution. This is a process in which the parties agree to allow an outside mediator to review the merits of the case. The parties agree to be legally bound by the mediator’s assessment of the case.

Don’t Hesitate to Act

A good legal defense attorney brings peace of mind. If you have been served with a car accident court summons do not hesitate to contact the Barkemeyer Law Firm. With three convenient locations in Covington, Metairie, and New Orleans, we are never far away. Schedule your consultation today!

Categories
Assault

What to Expect When Facing Assault Charges in Louisiana

You may think that trying to intimidate someone by threatening them is okay. The truth is, threatening someone is committing assault. You may receive assault charges for violating Louisiana law, which states an assault is a threat of bodily harm that makes a person fear impending violence. Aggravated assault is if you use a weapon during the assault.  

The New Orleans Crime Statistics Summary report shows that in 2016, the last year of actual data available on crime, there were 2,093 incidents of aggravated assault. The projection is that there will be 1,897 incidents of aggravated assault in 2020.  The projection relies on an analysis of 17 years of data.

Here is what you can expect to take place if assault charges are filed against you.

The Arrest

When arrested you are only legally obligated to provide your name and address to the police. You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions without an attorney present.

If the police want to question you, tell them you want an attorney. Do not respond to their questions until your attorney is present. Many people think they will not say anything that hurts their case, or that appearing helpful will help them. This often causes more harm than good.  

What Happens After Arrest on Assault Charges

When arrested on assault charges in Louisiana, you will likely need to post a bond for release from jail. If you are not able to post a bond, you will remain incarcerated throughout the court process.

Probable Cause Determination

The probable cause determination takes place within 48 hours of your arrest and may take place without you or your attorney. A judge and the district attorney will conduct the hearing to determine if there is probable cause to justify your arrest.

First Appearance: Bond Hearing

If your assault charge is a felony crime, you will need to appear before a magistrate for a bond hearing. At this time your bond will be set based on the nature of the alleged assault, your prior criminal record, and the likelihood of you returning to court for future hearings.

District Attorney Reviews Case

Following the arrest and bond hearing, the district attorney’s office will review the file to decide if they will file formal charges.

If you are in jail, the district attorney must file an indictment or bill of information within 45 days of the arrest on a misdemeanor charge. They have 60 days following the arrest if it is a felony charge.

If you are released on bond, the district attorney has 90 days to file an indictment or bill of information for a misdemeanor. They have 150 days to file paperwork on a felony.

If the district attorney does not initiate prosecution within the designated time frame, they must release you from jail. They can only continue to hold you if the government shows a reason for their delay.

Arraignment

Once the District Attorney files charges an arraignment takes place. You and your attorney will appear in court and enter a formal plea, which is usually “not guilty.” 

Plea Bargain

While a case is pending the district attorney and your attorney will likely engage in negotiations for a plea bargain. The goal is to reach an agreement that is acceptable to you, your attorney, the district attorney, and the court.

Plea agreements are reached when a reduction or dismissal in charges is made or the parties agree to a lesser sentence. This resolves the matter without the need to have a full trial.

Trial

If your attorney is not able to negotiate an acceptable plea agreement, the court will set the matter for trial. When charges are for misdemeanor assault, a judge will conduct the trial. If your charges are for a felony, the trial may be before a judge or jury.

When a trial is heard solely by a judge, the judge decides all matters of law and fact, and whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime.

If a trial is before a jury, the judge determines all matters of law, and the jury decides matters of fact, including whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime.

Right to Speedy Trial

You have the right to a speedy trial, and the countdown begins on the day the district attorney files the indictment or bill of information. If your charges are for a capital offense the trial must be held within three years. If the charges are for a felony the trial must be held within two years, and for a misdemeanor within one year.

Sentencing

When you take a plea bargain or are convicted by a judge or jury, sentencing sets forth the terms of your fines, probation, or incarceration. If a plea bargain enters the sentence it is sometimes pre-arranged with the district attorney and judge prior to the entry of the plea. Sentencing is based on the current conviction and your criminal record.

Assault, also referred to as simple assault, is a misdemeanor. The sentence on this charge is up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $200 pursuant to LA Code RS 14:38

Aggravated assault is a criminal offense that includes a dangerous weapon. This charge has a sentence of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The exception is if the assault is against an employee of a retail business during the commitment of robbery or attempted robbery, the minimum sentence is 120 days to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 pursuant to LA Code RS 14:37.

Aggravated assault with a firearm includes the discharge of a weapon. This is a felony charge with sentencing up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 pursuant to LA Code RS 14:37.4

When to Hire an Attorney

If you or a loved one are arrested on assault charges you need to contact an attorney immediately. Assault charges carry severe penalties and negotiating the court system is challenging. A criminal defense attorney will be familiar with the law, criminal process, and will negotiate the best plea bargain possible or go to trial with you.

Many people wait to see what will happen, hoping the problem will go away because they are innocent. Do not make this life-altering mistake. Whether you are guilty or innocent, we will fight to achieve the best outcome possible on your behalf.

Call the Barkemeyer Law Firm today. With offices in New Orleans (504) 226-2299 and Covington (985) 888-0009 we can handle your case in New Orleans, Jefferson, or the surrounding area.  You can also contact us online to schedule a consultation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Categories
Minor in Possession of Alcohol

Your Complete Guide Underage Drinking Laws in Louisiana

Underage drinking is very common in Louisiana, and around the United States in general. Statistics show that 58% of American teens will have had at least one alcoholic drink by the time they reach 18.

Generally, American laws on underage alcohol consumption are much stricter than in other countries. However, Louisiana’s legal system is different to those of other American states in many ways.

Louisiana’s laws on underage drinking, therefore, take a little getting used to if you haven’t visited the state before.

Read on to learn more about these laws and how they’re likely to affect you if you’re new to the state.

What’s Different About the Law in Louisiana?

While the federal government sets down the basic laws Americans must abide by, states are in charge of setting more specific rules and regulations. Louisiana approaches this process in a different way than any other state.

Other states decide matters in court with the help of legal precedent. This means that they look at the decisions of courts in similar matters previously and base their findings on these.

However, Louisiana follows French and Spanish legal traditions. These don’t rely on judicial precedent, preferring to allow the judge to make a ruling based entirely on their interpretation of the laws and statutes.

This legal system has thrown up some quirks in the way Louisiana authorities deal with alcohol. Anyone who is a native of New Orleans will tell you of the drive-thru daiquiri stands dotted around the city. Despite strict drink driving laws, these stands are perfectly legal.

However, other areas in the state have much stricter alcohol laws. Before you travel to Louisiana, you should read up on the parish you’re going to and the laws they have.

Underage Drinking in Louisiana

All American states must abide by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. This sets out that no person under the age of 21 years will be allowed to drink or possess alcohol.

Louisiana law sets out that this will apply other than in the case of limited exceptions. These exceptions include the following:

  • Where the person is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse that is over 21.
  • Where the person must handle alcohol as part of their job, such as in a restaurant.
  • Where the person consumes alcohol in a private residence.
  • Where the person consumes alcohol as part of a religious celebration.

Therefore, if you’re concerned that your son or daughter won’t be able to drink with you while you’re on vacation in Louisiana, you should know that you won’t break any laws as long as you accompany them.

Penalties for Underage Possession or Consumption of Alcohol

If you are over the age of 18 and under the age of 21, you will face legal sanctions if you are caught in possession or under the influence of alcohol.

You may face a fine of up to $100, a driving license suspension of up to 180 days, or a jail term of as much as six months. The severity of the sentence will depend on whether you are a repeat offender, as well as various other life circumstances.

To ensure that you get as favorable an outcome as possible after being charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol, you need to hire a lawyer with experience of dealing with cases involving younger people.

Purchasing Alcohol for a Minor

It is illegal to purchase alcohol for a minor unless you are a parent, guardian, or spouse of the minor in question. 

The penalties for breaching this rule are wide-ranging and potentially severe. A judge can impose a fine of up to $500, a driving license suspension of up to 180 days, or even a jail term of up to 30 days.

Selling Alcohol to a Minor

It is an offense to provide anyone under the age of 21 with an alcoholic beverage unless the provider is a parent, guardian, or spouse over that age. Another exception arises if the person owns or works for a licensed establishment and is accepting the delivery of the alcohol in a professional capacity.

Servers of alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants must be at least 18 years of age.

As is the case for someone who purchases alcohol for a minor, the penalties here are potentially quite severe. A court can impose a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to six months. 

Driving Under the Influence as a Minor

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal no matter what age you are. If a police officer apprehends you committing this offense, they will issue a DUI or DWI.

However, the rules are much stricter for someone under the age of 21.

If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.02%, the police will assume that you’ve consumed alcohol. For a first offense, you will receive a fine of up to $250, as well as having to sit a driver improvement course and undergo a substance abuse evaluation.

For repeat offenses, sanctions are much stricter. Judges can impose a jail term of up to three months if they feel it is necessary. 

Staying on the Right Side of the Law

Whether you’re just coming to Jefferson or New Orleans on vacation, or you’re moving to the state of Louisiana permanently, you’ll need to read up on underage drinking laws to make sure you don’t break a rule. While Louisiana is less strict than other places when it comes to alcohol, law enforcement officers still punish transgressions.

If you need advice on an incident relating to underage drinking, or any of our other practice areas, contact us today.