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Records sealing: what you should know about this alternative to a permanent record

The National Employment Law Project estimates that more than 65 million Americans hold a criminal record of some sort, including convictions for misdemeanors and felonies. Most people know that a conviction, no matter what it is for or when the offense occurred, can follow you around for the rest of your life. However, did you know that even an acquittal or a dismissal of your case can mean a record that will show up on every background check, too?

Luckily, under certain conditions, this record doesn't have to be permanent: if you pursue expungement, it can be sealed so that no employer has to see it, and you don't have to talk about it ever again.

When is a DUI a felony in Colorado?

If you are facing a DUI investigation or charge, you may feel that you already know the basics of what's at stake: in Colorado, DUIs are often misdemeanors, meaning a conviction may mean you must pay a fine, lose your license for a time, and complete court-ordered probation. However, if a DUI is prosecuted as a felony, the consequences can be much greater.

Can you be arrested for an alcohol related driving offense in your own driveway?

Yes, it's possible. Under Colorado law, DUI can be established by showing that an intoxicated person was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, even if the car wasn't in drive or moving. Whether you could be convicted depends on the particular circumstances of your case.

Consider the situation in one of Colorado's main cases on the subject, Brewer v. Motor Vehicle Div., Dept. of Rev. In that case, Broomfield police received a call about a car that was parked with its lights on and its engine running in the middle of a street. Inside, police found a man asleep in the driver's seat who proved to be intoxicated. The Colorado Supreme Court held that a Department of Revenue hearing officer properly determined that the man was in actual physical control of his car when he was found by the police officer.

Drug task force: Marijuana on public land skyrocketed in 2017

With marijuana legal in Colorado, but illegal under federal law, you would think the temptation to grow the plant on public land would be relatively low. Unfortunately for Colorado's forests and mountains, illegal cannabis growers continue to cut costs by cultivating in state and national parks and forests. And, it may be getting worse, according to representatives of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a coalition of law enforcement agencies.

In 2016, its officers located and destroyed over 45,000 marijuana plants growing on public land. Last year, it was nearly 81,000 plants -- and that is 18 times higher than in 2014, the first year of full legalization of cannabis in Colorado. In fact, the number of plants seized and destroyed has grown each year since 2014.

Why the "but all college kids do it" excuse won't work

You worked hard throughout your parenting to create a place of trust and understanding. You wanted your child to be able to turn to you if they were in trouble. And then, one day, they do.

When they call you from college to tell you that they were charged with a minor in possession (MIP) of marijuana, your emotions are all over the place. You're grateful they turned to you. You're not thrilled that they got in trouble. But you're also aware that they are in college, and it's essentially a rite of passage. It can't really be that big of a deal, can it?

Research: Racial disparity in lie detectors

The National Academies of Science released a comprehensive report in 2003 that examined the state of the science in lie detection. After reviewing nearly a century of scientific data and reports and visiting polygraph units run by government agencies, the NAS committee found that polygraphs were prone to both false positives and false negatives.

"Its accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use." In other words, polygraphs aren't accurate enough to be relied on as evidence.

Colorado sees jump in crime, national crime rates still dropping

How safe are we in America? How about in Colorado? Reports on the crime rates were just released by the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Colorado saw increases in both violent crimes and property offenses, the nationwide rates actually dropped, on average.

The crime rate is of crucial importance in criminal justice. When people perceive the crime rate to be high, they often argue for increased enforcement efforts, harsher laws and tougher sentences. These punitive measures are arguably ineffective and have been shown to disproportionately affect the poor and minorities. When people perceive the crime rate as low, they're often more open to less punitive reforms.

Is it double jeopardy when states try cases and then the feds do?

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains the Double Jeopardy clause, which reads, "nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."

The Double Jeopardy clause is meant, in part, to keep prosecutors from getting "two bites at the apple." In other words, it is meant to keep prosecutors from using a first trial to find out the defense's strategy and to iron out any difficulties before going forward with a second trial.

Unprecedented crackdown on hazing by Air Force Academy

When colleges or universities discover an alleged rule violation that could also be considered a crime, they typically have a choice in all but the most serious types of offenses. They can refer the case out to local police and process the case as a violation of school rules, or they can handle the allegations internally through their administrative discipline process without referring it to law enforcement. Both are serious, but referral out to law enforcement can result in criminal prosecution.

For military cadets, the local prosecutor could be the military. Recently, and for the first time in its history, the U.S. Air Force Academy announced criminal charges had been filed against cadets rather than the situation being handled as a disciplinary matter. Two seniors are now facing federal felony charges of dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice. The charges stem from a hazing incident in 2017. They are facing up to five years behind bars.

New conviction integrity unit taking shape in Boulder County

In March, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty announced the creation of a conviction integrity unit in the county which will review criminal cases for signs that defendants are actually innocent. Since then, his office and local criminal defense lawyers have been working to create review criteria and an application process.

The unit will consider any Boulder County case where the defendant has credible evidence that they are not guilty of the crime they stand convicted of. It generally will not consider cases involving legal or procedural errors, which can be appealed relatively straightforwardly.

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