Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Named 2017 Trusted Adviser by Springfield Business Journal

We are honored to announce that Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody has been named a 2017 Trusted Adviser by Springfield Business Journal.  Each year, Springfield Business Journal uses an independent panel of judges to choose three attorneys, along with three other professions, in the Springfield metropolitan area who work tirelessly behind the scenes and go above and beyond for their clients.  We are honored to join the prestigious list of previous winners.  Attached is the press release from Springfield Business Journal naming this years winners.

 

 

Difference Between Jury and Bench Trial – Criminal Defense in Springfield, Mo.

Just last week, Nicholas Godejohn, the man accused of killing Dee Dee Blanchard along with his girlfriend Gypsy Blanchard, withdrew his waiver of jury trial.  Previously, he had waived his right to a jury trial and elected to have a bench trial.  He changed his mind and the Court allowed him to renew his demand for a jury.  This is a unique turn of events, and one that the local CBS affiliate, KOLR10, took notice of and did a story on.  Springfield, Mo. criminal defense attorney Adam Woody was interviewed to provide insight into the difference between a bench and jury trial.

Essentially, a jury trial in Missouri is where 12 citizens from the community hear the evidence and decide the factual issues.  They then must agree unanimously whether or not the State proves their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, a bench trial is where the judge and the judge alone hears the evidence and makes the same factual determinations.  The judge in that situation has two roles: decides which evidence comes in at trial, and decides whether the State proves its case.  The finding of the judge in that situation has the same force and effect of a jury verdict.

There are a variety of considerations to take into account when determining whether to waive a jury trial.  Sometimes, overly emotional cases are better to be heard by a judge and judge alone, but again, that depends upon whether there are factual issues that would be better determined by a jury.  There is no magic formula, and as criminal defense attorneys, we must simply make our recommendations to our clients on a case by case basis.  Clearly, the attorneys for Mr. Godejohn made their decision that a jury trial is in his best interest and he agreed.  That trial is set to commence in December of this year.

Man Arrested for Possession Surprised to Find State Didn’t Legalize Marijuana

Ignorance of the law — and election news — wasn’t a valid excuse for an aging Arizona toker arrested this week in Golden Valley.

After allegedly resisting arrest, Lon Victor Post, 54, told deputies early Wednesday morning that he thought the state had legalized marijuana, according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies took him to jail anyway.

Possession of any amount of marijuana remains a felony in Arizona after voters rejected Prop 205 in November by a ratio of about 52 percent to 48 percent. Perhaps Post was confused by the fact that roughly 100 miles to the west and north of him, thanks to successful legalization elections in California and Nevada, adults 21 and older now have the freedom to use marijuana without legal penalty. Maine and Massachusetts also legalized weed for all adults, making Arizona the only one of five states that turned down the opportunity.

The deputies noticed he was having trouble standing upright as he turned down the music and chatted with them. They also noticed a baggie of pot sticking out of his shirt pocket and soon determined that he wasn’t one of the roughly 100,000 Arizonans registered under the state’s medical-marijuana program. But Post, apparently thinking he was being hassled unfairly, “jerked away” as the deputies tried to take him into custody, Carter writes.

Post pulled away a second time, seemed to square up for a fight, and took a menacing step forward. Deputies hit him with a Taser blast, which calmed him down. He then asked why he was being arrested.

“Further conversations with Post, he said that he thought marijuana was legal,” Carter writes. “The deputy advised Post that marijuana is illegal without a prescription and medical-marijuana card.”

That last part isn’t quite right: Qualified patients need to obtain a recommendation, not a federally regulated prescription, in order to register for a card.

Deputies booked him on suspicion of resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia — all felonies.

Had Post been savvier, he could have obtained a card easily and possibly avoided the possession and paraphernalia charges.

But even under the voter-approved 2010 medical-marijuana law, smoking in public remains illegal.

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Uber Effect: Rideshare services may cut DWI arrests in Springfield

Adam was recently interviewed by Emily Wood in in a story for KY3 News about the the impact of services such as Uber and Lyft on the number of DWI arrests in Springfield. Read the story below, or click here to watch the article on ky3.com.

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – On graduation night for Missouri State University, downtown bars were packed, and Uber drivers were busy.

“In the beginning of the night, I was taking people to bars, so now I’m going back downtown to pick them up and take them home,” said Neyko Dominguez, an Uber driver.

When the rideshare company first launched in Springfield in November, police officers were hoping it would make their nights a little easier and the streets a lot safer. In recent months, drunken driving arrests have started trending downward.

“Realistically my thought was, ‘What took so long?'” said Adam Woody, a criminal defense attorney in Springfield.

Woody noticed a quick and sharp decline.

“Interestingly, a lot of times, clients, as an excuse for how they got the DWI, they would say they were waiting for a taxi for hours and just couldn’t get one downtown. It’s slow,” Woody said.

With rideshare services like Uber, no matter what time of day or night, you just have to tap on the rideshare app, and it pops up the drivers closest to you as well as their reviews.

“It takes literally no time to get an Uber: 10 minutes max,” said Gabby Heth.

So far the numbers show a downward trend. Drunken driving arrests for January 2016 were 64 compared to just 38 for January 2017. February went from 66 down to 48, year-to-year, and March went from 70 to 52, year-to-year.

“We still make a number of DWI arrests,” said Springfield Police Lt. Stacey Parton.

Parton said the department doesn’t have enough data yet to attribute that shift to rideshare services but sees it as a positive factor.

“That’s one less person that is out there that’s going to get involved in a crash, possibly injure or kill somebody because of driving impaired,” Parton said.

Dominguez drives for the extra cash and said the bulk of his business comes at closing time.

“I’ve met some different kind of people. Truthful, drunk people,” he said.

The hope is the ease of using the apps, like Uber and Lyft, may help save lives.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I don’t see why people would pass it up,” Heth said.

Numbers around the country are mixed. Other recent studies, including one from Oxford and the University of Southern California, have shown ridesharing had no effect on drinking-related or holiday- and weekend-related fatalities in other places.

Posted in DWI

Judge Halts Lifetime Monitoring for Certain Sex Offenders

Just last week we published a post about a new law being enforced which would require certain sex offenders to be supervised and wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, both for the rest of their lives.  We questioned the Constitutionality of such a bill as the legislature attempted to include offenders who plead guilty to their charges all the way back in 2007, through today.  On Monday, a Circuit Judge in Cole County issued a temporary injunction, stopping the enforcement of the bill statewide and ordering hundreds of ankle monitors that had been installed last month to be immediately removed.  That injunction is likely to be made permanent at the next hearing in July.  Local ABC affiliate KSPR did a story following up on the Court’s order featuring Springfield criminal defense attorney Adam Woody.  Although theses offenders are not going to get a lot of sympathy from the general public, Constitutional over-reach by our legislature, no matter the target population, is something that we should constantly monitor.  Here, the right decision has been made, at least temporarily.

Will Uber Cut Down on DWI’s in Springfield?

According to a recent Springfield News-Leader article, DWI arrests in Springfield have gone down since Uber became operational in Springfield 4 months ago. See the News-Leader article below.

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(Photo: News-Leader Illustration)

When Missouri lawmakers passed a bill this session making it easier for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in the state, they lauded the bill’s potential to reduce drunken driving.

They could have used Springfield as an example.

Since the City Council tweaked the rules to help bring Uber to Springfield in November, the number of DWI arrests in the city has gone down. But there’s some debate about how much credit to give the new companies, which allow customers to hail rides from nearby drivers using an application on their smartphones.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company’s drivers do most of their pickups on the weekends in downtown Springfield, where people might otherwise choose to drink and drive.

Lt. Stacey Parton, in the Springfield Police Department’s traffic unit, said he has the Uber application on his phone and he sees its potential for reducing drunken driving, but he needs more data to truly understand Uber’s impact.

“I will say that Uber has had an effect,” Parton said. “Statistically, I am not sure that we can quantify it right now, but it has had a good effect.”

Uber launched in Springfield in November
Uber launched in Springfield in November (Photo: David Ramos, Getty Images)
From December to March — the first four full months that Uber has been operational in Springfield — there was an average of 47 DWI arrests per month in Springfield.

That’s down from an average of 55 DWI arrests per month in 2016, and way down from the five-year average of 76 DWI arrests per month in the city.

But DWI arrests had been trending down in Springfield prior to Uber’s arrival in November and Lyft launching in January.

Parton said there are other factors to consider when looking at DWI numbers.

In late 2014, Greene County instituted a policy allowing police to draw blood from suspected drunken drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. Parton said he believes that policy is working as a deterrent.

“Word has gotten around,” Parton said. “And I think it has caused people to think more about drinking and driving.”

Parton also pointed to ongoing public awareness campaigns, more housing downtown and the dissolution of SPD’s dedicated DWI unit as factors that might be leading to fewer DWI arrests.

Academic studies have drawn varying conclusions about the impact of ride-hailing companies on drunken driving.

A 2016 study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that Uber did not have a noticeable impact on drunken-driving fatalities in the nation’s 100 most populated metropolitan areas. But Uber points to a 2015 Temple University study that found a drop in alcohol-related driving fatalities after Uber was introduced in California.

On its website, Uber also touts a 10 percent drop in DWI arrests that followed Uber’s launch in Seattle.

 

Click Here for the Full Article

New Groups of Prior Sex Offenders Tagged for Lifetime Supervision and Monitoring

In a new law that took effect January 1, 2017, around a dozen different types of sex offenders are now required to be supervised by the State Board of Probation and Parole for the rest of their natural lives.  Along with the lifetime supervision, they are also subject to mandatory electronic monitoring through the use of an ankle bracelet, at the expense of the prior sex offender.  Adding additional fuel to the inevitable legal battle regarding the Constitutionality of the new bill, the state legislature made the law retroactive to August 28, 2006.  What this means is that anyone who plead guilty to the roughly 12 types of sex crimes, even all the way back in 2006, now suddenly have this new obligation regardless of how well they did on probation or how productive and law abiding they have been in life following their arrest.  Many of these crimes that require the lifetime registry and electronic monitor are non-contact offenses.

Understandably, sex offenders are not a group of people who are going to garner a lot of sympathy.  However, this new bill seems far over-reaching even in today’s society which treats sex offenses as a modern day scarlet letter.  The new law, RSMo. 217.735, includes offenses such as sexual misconduct involving a child.  Although titles of all sex offenses sound incredibly dangerous to most, sexual misconduct involving a child could include behavior such as urinating in public when a person less than 15 accidentally observes the act.  It is hard to imagine a scenario in which that crime should lead to lifetime supervision and lifetime electronic ankle monitor.

This bill is highly likely to be challenged in short order.  The Missouri Constitution forbids laws that ex post facto in nature, meaning laws that require a new obligation based on a prior act.  Appellate Courts across Missouri and across the country have made exceptions in the case of sex crimes, calling the new obligations civil in nature, rather than punitive.  Either way, this new bill is certain to be appealed an the Missouri Supreme Court is likely going to have to settle the debate as to whether or not these new requirements are Constitutional.

Teen Driving Curfews Could Cut Crime, But At What Cost?

Male teen laughing and driving car with two other laughing passengers

Research out of the University of Texas at Dallas say that teen driving curfews can not only curb car crashes, but they could also reduce juvenile crime. That said, should be really we limiting individual freedoms in order potentially reduce crime?

Before we delve into the ethics of the curfew, let’s take a look at the data. For their study, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas analyzed national FBI data from 1995 to 2011 involving teenage drivers and drivers with an imposed curfew. According to researchers, arrests of teens fell between 4 and 6 percent in states that placed a driving curfew on new and inexperienced drivers. In the strictest states, arrests were down between 5 and 8 percent.

Other findings from the study include:

  • The largest declines in arrests were in states that had graduated license programs (GDLs) in place the longest.
  • The biggest drops in arrests were from crimes like murder or manslaughter (11 percent), larceny (5 percent) and aggravated assault (4 percent).

Researchers say GDL programs and driving restrictions have been shown to reduce the risk of a crash, but this was the first study to examine how these restrictions affect youth crime.

“Being able to drive or having friends who can drive is the difference between going out and staying home on a Saturday night,” said study author Monica Deza, an assistant professor of economics. “It seemed intuitive to us that having a curfew on driving hours affected the probability that teenagers would get themselves into trouble.”

Researchers stopped short of saying the study proves a cause-and-effect link, rather, they just noted that there was an association between teen driving curfews and reduced juvenile crime rates.

Balancing Restrictions and Freedoms

Everyone knows that getting your license is seen as one of the biggest steps towards adulthood a teen can make, but each state handles the provisional license differently. Some states don’t let new drivers hit the road after midnight or before 5 a.m., while other states restrict cell phone privileges while in the car.

The issue arises when we take the association at face value and jump to the notion that there should be a widespread driving curfew to reduce teen crime. While that may be true, there would also be a reduction in crime if we had a mandatory curfew that required all adults to be home by 9 p.m. We can’t use the guise of safety as a blanket rule to inhibit personal freedoms. Ben Franklin said so himself when he wrote “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We can go back and forth arguing whether or not driving at night is an “essential liberty,” but it speaks to the larger idea that we can’t just restrict personal freedoms in order to feel a little safer. Some checks and balances certainly need to be put in place for new drivers, but I’m not certain a nationwide curfew is the optimal route.

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Researching Your Attorney – Why Credentials Matter

Deciding which attorney to hire is perhaps the biggest decision people face when defending themselves against criminal prosecution.  Hiring the right attorney may seem like a daunting task given the number of attorneys out there.  Many lawyers claim to be criminal defense attorneys, but also claim to practice family law, personal injury, estates and trusts, and virtually every other kind of law there is.  This is a red herring for, “I am not an expert in any one area, so I’ll try to do a little bit of everything”.  Other attorneys claim to do only criminal defense, but in all candor, don’t have a clue what they are doing and offer a cheap price tag to offset their deficiencies.  Hiring an attorney obviously falls into the “buyer beware” category, but there are things you can do to ensure that you’re hiring a criminal defense attorney who is competent, experienced, and will give you the strong defense for which you’re entitled.

RESEARCH YOUR ATTORNEY.  We can’t say it enough.  Just because someone is listed online claiming to be a criminal defense attorney by no means ensures that they know what they are doing in the courtroom.  Even more concerning are the lawyers who send you solicitation letters in the mail.  Someone who simply claims to do criminal defense is not the same as someone who does criminal defense well.  The key is to research the attorney before hiring and to look for certain credentials to ensure successful, competent representation.

CREDENTIALS TO LOOK FOR: There are many groups and so-called “awards” that attorneys can join or win by simply paying money.  Realistically, those are not awards at all.  Awards that are most credible are those that are peer nominated (ie. attorneys nominating attorneys for awards), followed by independent third party research, and then voted on by credentialed panels.  Awards that fall into this category include Superlawyers, Missouri Lawyers Weekly, Martindale-Hubbell, and Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

Additionally, certification and expertise in a specific area of law is a huge plus.  Although the Missouri Bar does not recognize outside certification organizations, and offer no specialty certification of its own, the National Board of Trial Advocacy offers certification in specialized areas of practice that are recognized by the American Bar Association.  For example, Criminal Trial Practice is a specialty area of certification that the NBTA offers and is recognized by the American Bar Association.  In order to be certified by NBTA to ensure specialized knowledge and experience in Criminal Trial Practice, an attorney must go through a rigorous application process, demonstrate adequate experience across dozens of key practice areas, and finally complete a bar style exam solely in criminal law.  It is a scary thought, but many people who practice criminal defense in Missouri likely could not pass this exam.  That is why certification by your attorney is something to look for to ensure competency and specialized knowledge to protect you against government prosecution.

IS THE ATTORNEY DEDICATED TO CRIMINAL DEFENSE?  Finally, one key in hiring a good criminal defense lawyer is to look for whether the attorney you hire is dedicated to his or her profession of criminal defense and to his or her clients.  Many defense attorneys tout the fact that they used to be prosecutors.  I’m not so sure this is a positive.  You want an attorney who is going to be loyal to you without the concern of them playing both sides.  Additionally, you want to see your attorney have specialized education in criminal defense and specific involvement in criminal defense only groups, such as the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  These organizations provide criminal defense specific training throughout the country to better equip defense lawyers for the rigors of providing the best representation possible for their clients.

Attorney Adam Woody has the among the most combined experience, credentials, and courtroom success of any criminal defense attorney in Southwest, Missouri.  He has never practiced any area of law other than criminal defense, and has been perfecting his craft for over a decade.  He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, as well as the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia.  He is a general member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the treasurer of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, an organization for which he is on track to be president of in two years.  He has been named to the Superlawyers Rising Stars list in 2016, he has won the Missouri Lawyers Weekly Up and Coming Attorney award in 2011, and he has been named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in the country in 2013 through 2016.  He is board certified in the area of Criminal Trial Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and is the only attorney in Southwest, Missouri to achieve such specialty certification.  He has achieved an AV rating by the lawyer rating resource, Martindale-Hubbell, which indicates a Preeminent rating, the highest rating available, based on peer and client reviews and independent panelist research.  He is a member of the invitation only group, National College for DUI Defense, and he has received the same certification in standardized field sobriety testing as police officers receive in their academy.  Adam has achieved hundreds of dismissals for clients accused of crimes, as well as dozens of not guilty verdicts, including for the most egregious of charges such as first degree murder.  He is a criminal defense attorney who is dedicated to that profession alone, and he is ready to step into the courtroom and provide you the best defense available in the region.

When researching an attorney to determine whether you will get the most experienced, most competent, and most prepared defense available, look no further than attorney Adam Woody.  He’s ready to fight the battle with you as your advocate in the courtroom.

Understanding Vandalism Charges

The word vandalism spray painted on a cement wall

If you or a loved one is charged with vandalism in Missouri, whether it be tagging or graffiti or defacing property, the result can be serious charges and severe penalties. If damage resulting from the vandalism is bad enough, you can face steep fines, a criminal record, jail time and even time in state prison.

Many do not realize that parents of minors are financially responsible for the damage that their children cause.  Parents of minors charged with vandalism or tagging need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to handle their case.

Types of Vandalism
  • Carving into a piece of glass or wood such as a table, chair, desk or bench with a knife or any other tool
  • Breaking windows or doors
  • Tagging with markers or paint
  • Damaging somebody else’s property including mailboxes, cars, plants, lawn or other personal property with intent
Difference Between Misdemeanor & Felony Vandalism

For a person to be found guilty of vandalism prosecutors must prove that they maliciously intended to damage or deface personal property of another person.

Charges of Misdemeanor or Felony depend of the severity of the damage caused. Typically damage under the amount of $750 is considered a misdemeanor while damage of $750 and over is considered a felony.

Acts of vandalism will automatically be felonies if they are proved to be “hate crimes.”

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your case as well as help you get the best possible result in court. In some cases, your case may even be dropped if there is not enough evidence.

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