Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Firm Law Office of Adam Woody Receives Two Prestigious Awards

We are honored to announce two recent awards for the Law Office of Adam Woody.  Just this week, it was announced that the Law Office of Adam Woody has been named by the U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers in the Ninth Edition of the “Best Law Firms” rankings for the first time.  It was also announced that Adam Woody has once again been chosen for recognition in the 25th edition of The Best Lawyers in America for his high caliber work in the practice area of DUI/DWI Defense.  Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on rigorous peer-review survey methodology comprising more than 7.8 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys.

We are thrilled with our inclusion in these two prestigious lists and will continue to provide our area with the highest level criminal defense legal service available.

Change in Missouri Sex Offender Registry Law Could Allow Some Sex Offenders to Remove Name from the Statewide Registry

Under old Missouri law, both a serial rapist and a person charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct (public urination in some cases) would be placed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry for life. The Registry’s burdensome reporting requirements applied to both people, including reporting to a police station four times every year. Everyone was lumped together. It was one of the toughest Registry laws in the country.

Under the old Missouri statute, if you were ordered to register federally, then you were always required to register under Missouri law for life. Period.

But it didn’t work the other way around. If you were eligible for removal from the federal registry, which was a different system with an easier method of removal, you did not have a method to get removed from the Missouri registry. Even though there was a method to get removed from the registry, appellate courts denied removal under the old Missouri statute.  That is no longer the cases, and thousands of people required to register previously are now immediately eligible for removal from the registry.

New Missouri Law

Senate Bill 665 became effective in August, and transformed Missouri’s system from being “one size fits all” to a “tiered system,” which mirrors the federal system.

Under Missouri’s new tiered system, a Tier I offense is eligible for removal after fifteen years of the date of conviction and twenty-five years for a Tier II offense. A Tier III offense is only eligible for removal if it was a juvenile adjudication and is eligible after twenty-five years from the date of conviction. Source.

After a person passes the fifteen or twenty-five year mark, they are not automatically removed from the registry. They must petition the court and a judge will make the final decision.  They must have a completely clean record during that time, and must have been faithfully registering pursuant to law.

Additionally, the new Missouri law changed the reporting requirements based on Tiers. Under the new law, Tier I offenders have to visit law enforcement annually, Tier II offenders will be required to update their information every six months, and Tier III offenders must check in four times per year.

Purpose of the Change

The sponsor of the new law, St. Charles Republican State Representative Kurt Bahr, explained that the purpose of the new law is to “create[] a little less burden on the local law enforcement agency so that they’re not spending all their time on these guys who are typically lower-threat people and they have more time to focus on the tier three offenders.” Source.

With these big changes to Missouri’s sex offender registry laws, there will likely be a huge spike in the number of low-level sex offenders who request removal from the registry in Southwest Missouri.

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Weighs in on Brad Bradshaw’s Medical Marijuana Lawsuits

Springfield Attorney Brad Bradshaw wants to make sure his medical marijuana initiative, Amendment 3, is the only one voters see on ballots for Missouri’s November election.

Bradshaw has filed suit to remove two other medical marijuana initiatives from the ballot, but time may not be on his side. Bradshaw challenged the signature count for Proposition C and the legality of the signatures for Amendment 2.

A Cole County Judge in Jefferson City dismissed the lawsuit against Amendment 2. Bradshaw has appealed that decision to the Western District Court of Appeals.

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody was interviewed by KOLR 10 and noted Bradshaw’s time constraints for challenging the initiatives. The election is only around 8 weeks away. It could take several weeks to get the case before the Western District. If Bradshaw loses in the Western District, he plans to take it to the Missouri Supreme Court, which would take even longer.  The ballots have to be prepared a couple of weeks in advance so Bradshaw really only has about 6 weeks to work the case all the way through the appellate system…an incredibly short amount of time to accomplish such a feat.

Bradshaw’s Amendment 3 is self-funded with $1 million dollars, self-written, and riddled with controversy. It would create a Biomedical Research and Development Institute.  That research institute would then get 15% of the total sales of medicinal marijuana statewide, which is the highest tax on such a product by far across the 31 states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.  The head of that Board must have both a law degree and a medical degree and the head of the board hand selects the other board members.  Obviously, Bradshaw is one of the few people in the State to have a J.D. and M.D., so he would likely plans to be named as the head of the board.   Source.

Amendment 2 is sponsored by New Approach Missouri, and taxes medicinal marijuana at 4%.  Those tax dollars would go toward state-sponsored or not-for-profit veterans organizations.

Right now, all three initiatives are on the ballot and it looks like it will stay that way. Stay tuned for more developments on the medical marijuana initiatives.

Click here to watch the full interview.

Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Weighs in on Federal Duck Boat Investigation

All eyes were on Southwest Missouri this summer when 17 people died while riding the ducks on Table Rock Lake. Predictably, families of those killed began filing lawsuits against Ride the Ducks and its owner, Ripley Entertainment.

Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri is attempting to intervene in the civil cases.

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody sat down with KOLR10 to discuss that move.

Attorney Woody explained that the evidence and witnesses in the civil lawsuits are identical to the criminal investigation and lawsuits. The Government does not want witness statements or other evidence to get into the hands of the possible defendants, which would help them prepare and coordinate defenses in advance of any criminal indictment. Halting the civil cases will prevent both sides of the civil lawsuits from talking to those witnesses or accessing any of the evidence while the Government investigates and decides its next steps. Woody explained that, if the cases are stayed by the Court to allow the Government time to investigate, then he would expect the defense to try to have the cases dismissed for failure to proceed in a timely manner.

Stay tuned to find out whether the Government decides to take further action against Ride the Ducks or its employees.

To watch the full story and interview, click here.

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.

Source.

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.

Source.

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!

Source.

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.

Source.

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.

Source.

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!