Springfield Criminal Attorney Adam Woody Featured on KY3 News Discussing Dismissed Polk County Murder Case

A Polk County Circuit Judge dropped a second-degree murder charge against a Southwest Missouri woman based on a new statute that was originally designed to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic.

In Bolivar, Missouri, Danielle Baker was charged with second degree murder after the formerly registered nurse was accused of supplying liquid morphine and other controlled substances to her 15-year-old son, who died of an overdose in March. The morphine was traced back to a prescription for a patient who had died at the healthcare facility where Baker worked, and she admitted to taking the morphine.

But the Polk County Judge found that, under a new immunity law, there was no felony technically committed because her son had immunity and she had immunity because she called for medical help on his behalf.  The new law allows those who overdose, or someone on their behalf, to call for medical help without the fear of criminal charges.

Click here to watch criminal defense attorney Adam Woody’s interview discussing the new statute with KY3.

Stay tuned to see how this new law impacts felony murder cases in Southwest Missouri arising from someone calling for medical help during an overdose.

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Police Can’t Track Cell Phone Movement Without Warrant – Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Discusses New Supreme Court Case

Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that police must obtain a warrant signed by a judge before they can get cell phone records to track the movements of individual customers. This is a further step in solidifying digital-age privacy protections.  What this means is that police must now show probable cause to believe that a person is engaged in criminal activity before they can access his or her cell phone tracking data from a phone company.  Prior to this ruling, no such probable cause showing was required at all.  Police could access this information any time they wanted to, without any showing of probable cause or necessity.  That practice changed last week with this ruling.  Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody, along with Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson, were featured in a recent KOLR10 news story to discuss the case.  Click this link to watch the story.

This Ruling Effects Everyone.

This ruling effects every American. Chief Justice Roberts noted in the majority opinion that, “There are 396 million cellphone service accounts in the United States—for a nation of 326 million people.”

Anyone who has watched crime shows knows that a cell phone sends signals to nearby antenna towers to connect with the telephone network. As the user travels, it pings on successive towers, and the cell phone companies keep records of the phone numbers routed through each tower. Cell phone companies use this data to sort out billing information, such as routing charges.

But police can use the data to reconstruct a person’s whereabouts over days, weeks, or months by mapping the towers used by a given phone number.

Breaking The Cell Phone Ankle Monitor.

By doing so, “[the Government] achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user. Sprint Corporation and its competitors are not your typical witnesses. Unlike the nosy neighbor who keeps an eye on the comings and goings, they are ever alert, and their memory is nearly infallible.” The ruling held that law enforcement access of these records without a warrant invades the citizen’s reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The ruling still allows police to get cell phone records without a warrant in emergency situations, such as the need to pursue a fleeing suspect, protecting individuals threatened with imminent harm, or preventing the imminent destruction of evidence.

It will be interesting to see how Southwest Missouri judges rule on cell phone data accessed without a warrant before the new Supreme Court rule was issued. Stay tuned to see if any major cases are impacted.

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Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Weighs in on Missouri’s Concealed Carry Laws

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody sat down with local CBS affiliate KOLR10 to discuss Missouri’s expansion of gun rights. Click Here to watch the full interview.

In January 2017, Missouri expanded its gun rights by allowing people to carry firearms openly or concealed. So long as the person is legally allowed to own and possess firearms, people can carry concealed weapons upon their person without any type of permit. In Missouri, certain individuals are banned from purchasing or being in possession of a firearm. For example, if you were previously convicted of a felony or have more than one drunk driving conviction, you cannot legally purchase or be in possession of a gun.

This right to conceal carry without a permit is not limited to handguns. It extends to rifles, as well. Missourians who decide to exercise their rights should be cautious of the following:

(1) Be cautious of how you are carrying. You cannot exhibit a firearm in any angry or threatening manner, unless it is in the act of self-defense or defense of others. Doing so would be a Class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon.

(2) Be cautious about where you are carrying. You cannot take firearms into churches, law enforcement buildings, and schools.

(3) Be cautious about which state you are in. If you do obtain a permit, you can show the firearm and carry it unconcealed. Your concealed carry permit will allow you to carry in 34 states, but you must make sure that any state you are travelling to or through honors concealed carry permits from Missouri. Not every state does.

(4) Be cautious and take Concealed Carry training classes. If you are going to possess firearms, training is critical.

Profiting off Humiliating Others: Mugshot.com Owners Arrested for Pay-for-Removal Scheme

It appears we have seen the last of springfieldmugshots.com.  Last month, the owners of Mugshots.com were arrested on charges of extortion, money laundering, and identity theft. The website used data from police and sheriffs’ department websites, collected names, booking photos, and charges. Then, they published the information online without the person’s consent. To add insult to injury, they charged individuals fees to get the information removed.

The company extracted more than $64,000 in removal fees from approximately 175 individuals. In California, it is illegal to charge people to remove their mugshots. The California AG noted that the “pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation. Those who can’t afford to pay into the scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others.”

Missouri Law Criminalizes Pay-for-Removal Schemes

In Missouri, it is a class A misdemeanor for a mugshot website to solicit or accept payment to remove criminal record information and is punishable by up to one year in jail. Each payment solicited or accepted constitutes a separate violation. Additionally, the mugshot website is liable to the subject individual for a loss or harm. The subject individual may be awarded $10,000, or actual and punitive damages. The subject individual only needs to show that he or she was humiliated or embarrassed.

It will be interesting to see if Missouri uses its Pay-for-Removal law to go after mugshot websites. Given the trends noted above, we expect to start seeing more Pay-for-Removal charges. So long springfieldmugshots.com!

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Criminalizing “Revenge Porn”: Attorney Adam Woody Discusses the New Missouri Statute

On Governor Greitens’ last day in office, he signed House Bill 1558 into law, which creates the felony offense of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. Prior to Greitens’ approval, the Missouri legislature approved the bill banning “revenge porn” unanimously.

Missouri joins 38 states and the District of Columbia in outlawing revenge porn. Missouri Senator Gary Romine, the sponsor of the legislation in the upper chamber, says that the new law “provides prosecutors an opportunity to protect the victim, those that have had photographs taken of them while in an intimate personal relationship, and then have fallen apart and used against them at a later date.”

Under the new law, sharing private sexual images without consent constitutes a felony carrying the possibility of two to seven years in jail. Even threatening to do so is a Class E felony, carrying a range of punishment from one to four years in jail. An “intimate image” is an image that a reasonable person would understand as private.

Without this law, the only criminal protection for the victim would be that the assailant could be charged with invasion of privacy, which required the original photo to be taken without the other party’s consent. Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy, but the case was ultimately dismissed. Greitens can never be charged under the new “Revenge Porn” statute because it cannot be applied to conduct that occurred before the law was enacted.

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No Intent to Kill: The Recent Trend of Overdose Prosecutions

One of the best-selling music artists of all time, Prince, recently died after taking fake Vicodin laced with fentanyl. An icon of artistry and individuality, Prince’s opioid-related death sent shock waves across the world. Charges were not filed in relation to his death because law enforcement could not determine who provided Prince with the drugs. Prosecutors across the nation are adding “overdose prosecutions” into their arsenal to combat the rise of overdose deaths.

Across the Country, Overdose Deaths Are Mounting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) reported that in 2016, drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans. CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat notes that, “No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic—we all know a friend, family member, or loved one devastated by opioids.” See here.

In Southwest Missouri, Overdose Deaths Are Skyrocketing.

Greene County, Missouri has one of the highest rates of death due to opioid overdoses in the state. The numbers are staggering: the opioid-involved mortality rate is 11.98 per 100,000. Just miles away, in Christian County, the numbers drop to half of Greene County’s rate, at 6.82 per 100,000. But this still places Christian County in one of the at-risk categories for high opioid mortality rates. See here.

Prosecutors Are Filing Charges to Hold Someone Criminally Responsible.

In West Virginia, a woman woke up after a day of drug use to find her girlfriend’s lips blue and her body limp. In Florida, a man and his girlfriend bought what they thought was heroin, but turned out to be fentanyl, which was more potent. She overdosed and died. In Minnesota, a woman who shared a fentanyl patch with her finance woke up after an overdose to find that he had not survived.

All were charged with murder. So-called “overdose prosecutions” are controversial because none of the survivors intended to cause a death. Nonetheless, such cases are becoming increasingly common.

There are two basic options for prosecuting these cases. First is the use of the existing statutory structure, which is often referred to as the “felony murder rule.” A felony murder statute allows the prosecutor to charge an offense which requires no specific mental state other than that required for the enumerated offense. Here, all that the prosecution needs to prove is that the person committed a drug transaction and a death resulted from the use of the drugs transacted. Case closed. Murder conviction sealed.

Second, state legislatures can create a specific offense of death resulting from the distribution of controlled substances. These statutes are crafted as stand-alone felonies rather than being included into existing murder or other statutes. New Hampshire and New Jersey both adopted such “drug-induced homicide” statutes and define the offense as being one of strict liability. Pennsylvania’s statute applies to any controlled substance and provides that delivery must be intentional. Delaware has imposed a minimum weight to trigger the application of the statute.

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It remains to be seen how the changes across the country are going to effect prosecutions here in Missouri.  Given the trends noted above, we expect to start seeing more murder charges for those who deal drugs in the future.  It will be interesting to see if there is any deterrent effect as a result…stay tuned!

BREAKING: Greitens’ Criminal Case Dismissed – Springfield Attorney Adam Woody Breaks it Down for KOLR10 News

The afternoon of May 14 was an eventful one for those of us keeping up with the criminal case involving Governor Eric Greitens.  The felony invasion of privacy charge against the current Governor was dismissed by St. Louis City Prosecutor Kim Gardner.  Greitens’ defense team filed a motion endorsing Gardner as a witness, and Judge Rex Burlison sustained the defense motion.  Therefore, Gardner had no choice but to dismiss the charge and hand the case off to a special prosecutor or to the Attorney General’s Office.  A prosecutor has an ethical obligation to avoid the “appearance of impropriety”, so they cannot be both the prosecutor and a witness in the same case.  It all came down to a private investigator hired by Gardner’s office previously lying under oath.  Gardner may have known about the deception, but did not disclose that to the defense team, as is her ethical obligation under the rules of discovery.  So, she became a possible witness concerning the integrity, or lack thereof, of the investigation leading to the charge.

This week, Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody has been breaking down the trial on the KOLR10 morning show Daybreak.  Click the links below to see the stories and the interviews.  Visit our blog history for all things Greitens.

May 15 – Case Dismissed

May 14 – Jury Selection

To Testify or Not: Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Weighs in on Greitens’ Fifth Amendment Right

When it comes to a client testifying in his or her own defense or in choosing to assert their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, attorneys must weigh a multitude of factors to provide experienced advice.  One primary factor is whether a client has any criminal history.  In a criminal case, a defendant’s criminal history cannot be mentioned by either party…unless the defendant testifies.  Then, his or her criminal history is fair game for cross-examination purposes.  The jury will hear all of the defendant’s criminal history.  So, putting he or she on the stand carries with it the significant risk that the jury would use the criminal history against the defendant in the case in which they are testifying.

If a defendant has a clean criminal record there is less worry about them testifying, but that doesn’t end the analysis.  For example, if your client is shy, withdrawn, poor at public speaking, easily manipulated, among many other concerns, it may not be a good idea for them to testify and subject them to cross-examination by the prosecutor.  If they don’t testify, the jury will always be instructed by the Judge to not use that fact against them in any way.

In the case of Governor Greitens, none of these concerns are present.  Adam Woody set down with the local CBS affiliate KOLR10 to discuss why Governor Greitens is the defendant every criminal defense attorney wants as a client.  His charisma, charm, and intelligence will serve him well if he chooses to testify in his own defense.  But, he must be careful and not cross the line into conceited, boastful, and arrogant.  He will be prepared and thoroughly coached by his defense team, so we fully expect him to testify whether it is to a jury in a jury trial, or only to the Judge sitting alone whose decision has the force and effect of a jury verdict, which is the case in a bench trial.  Stay tuned…next week will get interesting!

Questions To Ask When Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer

The benefit of having a criminal defense attorney by your side during criminal trial proceedings is clear. For this reason, it is not only advised that people seek representation from a lawyer when facing a crime, it is a legal right. Even defendants who have no money to afford an attorney of their own will be provided a public defender by the Missouri court system.

However, every criminal defense attorney is different. Certain ones may be more suitable to help you than others.

Important questions to ask your potential defense lawyer

You will want to ask various questions when shopping for a lawyer to determine if the one you’ve selected is the right match for you. Here are the questions you may want to ask:

  • Have you ever defended a case like mine? When lawyers handle a lot of DUI/DWI cases, they begin to have a natural instinct for what works and what doesn’t work for this particular kind of case. Make sure your lawyer has the right kind of experience.
  • How many times have you actually litigated a case in front of jury? As you know, many people have “performance anxiety” and they freeze up when it’s time to give a presentation. Others thrive in these situations. An attorney with extensive trial experience is more likely to thrive when in front of a judge and jury. This kind of lawyer will also be more likely to defend your rights in court if the prosecution refuses to be reasonable during your trial proceedings.
  • Can you provide references from past clients? If a lawyer has dealt successfully with clients in the past, he or she will probably be willing to give you references, so you can get a sense of what it is like to work with the attorney from a real client.
  • Have you ever asked a Judge to send someone to jail or prison? Many attorneys who are now criminal defense attorneys tout past experience as a prosecutor as a positive.  Sitting in the position of a potential defendant, be wary of former prosecutors.  Ensure that their loyalty will lie with you, as their client, and not the prosecutor’s office, who are their friends and former colleagues.

Things to keep in mind about trial experience

It’s very convenient for a lawyer to simply work out a plea deal with the prosecution, skip the trial and make a big compromise. These defense lawyers may do this because don’t have good enough trial instincts to evaluate the true risks and potential benefits of going in front of a jury.

If your lawyer has only been to trial several times, then he or she may not have the reputation of being an aggressive criminal defense litigator — and when negotiating a plea deal, the prosecution may not take him or her as seriously as a lawyer who has such a reputation. Taking these points into consideration, for your benefit, make sure that you select a defense lawyer with extensive trial experience.

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