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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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.

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

Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Analyzes the Craig Wood Trial for Local CBS Affiliate KOLR10

Throughout the death penalty case of Craig Wood, Adam Woody served as a trial analyst on the morning show, Daybreak, for the Springfield CBS Affiliate, KOLR10.  For recaps of the trial, insight into trial strategy, information on the trial process, and more, see the daily segments below.

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 2

November 3

November 6

November 7

Although the jury found Craig Wood guilty of first degree murder, they could not come to an agreement as to whether the death penalty was appropriate.  Judge Thomas Mountjoy will sentence the Defendant in January, and it will be at that time we will know whether he receives life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.

 

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.

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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The Future is Here: Breathalyzer Skin Patches

We all know that if someone is arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, they will be required to take a breathalyzer test, usually later at the police station. And this test result will be the primary evidence used against him in a drunk driving case.

The first problem with this is that the amount of alcohol in the blood is constantly changing — either rising due to absorption from recent drinking or, more likely, falling due to metabolism of the alcohol.

The second problem is that it is only illegal to have a .08% blood-alcohol concentration at the time of driving — not later at the police station.  And this breath test may not be given for an hour or two after the driving has ended — particularly in accident cases, where the police may not arrive for some time.  So the prosecution has to try to estimate what the blood-alcohol level was when the suspect was driving based upon the later test.

The third problem is that because of this, for the test results to be admissible as evidence in court they have to have been obtained within a certain period of time — in California, for example, within three hours.

But what if there was a breath-testing device which could record what the blood-alcohol level was at the time the suspect is actually driving?
Flexible Wearable Electronic Skin Patch Offers New Way to Monitor Alcohol Levels

San Diego, CA.  Aug. 2 – Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a flexible wearable sensor that can accurately measure a person’s blood alcohol level from sweat and transmit the data wirelessly to a laptop, smartphone or other mobile device. The device can be worn on the skin and could be used by doctors and police officers for continuous, non-invasive and real-time monitoring of blood alcohol content.

The device consists of a temporary tattoo — which sticks to the skin, induces sweat and electrochemically detects the alcohol level — and a portable flexible electronic circuit board, which is connected to the tattoo by a magnet and can communicate the information to a mobile device via Bluetooth…
Clearly, the government would be very interested in requiring anyone convicted of DUI to wear such a patch for the probationary period (commonly three years).

 

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