Adam Woody Law

Court Rules Police Need a Warrant to Get Data From Your Car

Your connected car data might be safer from prying eyes — Georgia’s Supreme Court has ruled that police need a warrant to obtain personal data from cars. The decision overturns an earlier state Court of Appeals ruling that defended police obtaining crash data from a car in a vehicular homicide case. The state and appeals court “erred” by claiming that the data grab didn’t violate defendant Victor Mobley’s Fourth Amendment rights protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures, according to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court determined that a car is included in the “effects” covered by the constitutional amendment. It also found that the state hadn’t identified an exception to that rule that would apply in this case, and that claims this would be an “inevitable discovery” (and thus exempt from requiring a warrant before the search) didn’t hold up. Police officers weren’t even looking for a warrant at the time they took data from the car’s Event Data Recorder, according to the ruling.

Not surprisingly, the reversal has already pleased privacy advocates. The ACLU, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Mobley in the case, argued that the court had acknowledged the “danger of warrantless access” to car data. Black boxes like the EDR often contain extremely detailed information about not just the behavior of the car, but connections to other systems that can include phone contacts, location history and other sensitive info. The civil rights group also contended that this was no different than searching other computers without a warrant — it just happens to be a “computer on wheels,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said.

Barring a US Supreme Court challenge, this could have a significant impact on how law enforcement searches cars in the future. Simply put, they’ll have to make clear that they either have or are seeking a warrant before they even think of taking data from a car. The timing is appropriate as well. Numerous automakers are developing intensely connected cars that could have a raft of personal data. Without privacy protections, American police could theoretically abuse their power and obtain details about your personal life with few consequences.

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Senate passes bill making animal cruelty a federal crime

The U.S.

Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that makes animal cruelty a federal offense.

The PACT act, which stands for Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, passed the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support.

The president and CEO of the Humane Society released a statement hailing the bill’s passage.

Pact will revise a previous law passed in 2010.

Current federal law only explicitly prohibits animal fighting and only criminalizes offenders if they make and sell videos showing the animal cruelty.

PACT allows for prosecution for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals and sexually exploiting them.

There are exceptions for hunting.

Offenders would face felony charges with fines and up to seven years in prison.

The bill now goes to the president’s desk.

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New Greene County Circuit Judge Needs Governor Approval

Greene County judicial district is on track to get its first new Circuit Judge since 1976. Previous fights failed.

Over the past twenty years, Greene County has added three new Associate Circuit Judges because the number of Associate Circuit Judges per county is based upon population growth. On the other hand, Circuit Judges are ultimately based on political pull and must be approved by the Governor.  The good news for Greene County is that current Governor Parsons has strong ties to Southwest Missouri and Springfield.

Circuit Judges handle felony criminal cases, as well as some civil lawsuits. Underneath the Circuit Judges are the Associate Circuit Judges. Those judges handle misdemeanor criminal cases, conduct preliminary hearings for felony cases, and work on some civil lawsuits.

County leaders say that adding a new Circuit Judge would reduce the amount of time people spend in the overcrowded Greene County Jail awaiting trial or a plea deal.

Greene County Presiding Judge Michael Cordonnier reports that it would allow the county “to divide the caseload and provide more access to judges.”

Others are not as hopeful. Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott noted his concern that criminal cases might not move any faster without adding more public defenders or prosecutors in the new Circuit Judge’s courtroom.  The real problem right now, however, is not due to lack of enough Circuit Judges, public defenders or prosecutors.  The real problem right now is that the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office is systematically eliminating one of the circuit judges using their right of a change of judge.  One judge in particular made a ruling that their office did not like, so they are now changing out of that judge in every single criminal case for which he is assigned, causing tremendous gridlock and pressure on the other sitting Judges.  Because of this, there is even more necessity to add an additional Circuit Judge.

The Greene County Courthouse already has a spare courtroom to use and the county has budgeted money to build new space for the future.

We are looking forward to Governor Parson’s decision about adding a new Greene County Circuit Judge. It will be interesting to see if adding this new Circuit Judge alleviates the overcrowding in both the Greene County courtrooms and the Greene County Jail.

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Expungement Basics

Expungement (also called “expunction“) is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or erased in the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be referred to as “setting aside a criminal conviction.”

The availability of expungement, and the procedure for getting an arrest or conviction expunged, will vary according to several factors, including the state or county in which the arrest or conviction occurred. In some jurisdictions, it’s not possible to get an expungement.

Legal Effect of an Expungement

An expungement ordinarily means that an arrest or convictions “sealed,” or erased from a person’s criminal record for most purposes. After the expungement process is complete, an arrest or a criminal conviction ordinarily does not need to be disclosed by the person who was arrested or convicted. For example, when filling out an application for a job or apartment, an applicant whose arrest or conviction has been expunged doesn’t need to disclose that arrest or conviction.

In most cases, no record of an expunged arrest or conviction will appear if a potential employer, educational institution, or other company conducts a public records inspection or background search of an individual’s criminal record.

Are Expunged Records Completely Gone?

An expunged arrest or conviction is not necessarily completely erased, in the literal sense of the word. An expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of a person’s criminal record, viewable by certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts.This limited accessibility is sometimes referred to as a criminal record being “under seal.” In some legal proceedings, such as during sentencing for any crimes committed after an expungement, or in immigration/deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that is “under seal” may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.

Factors Determining Eligibility for Expungement

Whether you may get a criminal record expunged depends on a number of factors, including the jurisdiction; the nature of the crime or charge; the amount of time that has passed since the arrest or conviction; and your criminal history. Some states, including New York, don’t allow for the expungement of criminal convictions at all.

Expungement vs. Having Your Records Sealed

Having your criminal records sealed is similar to having them expunged, but much less “hidden.” If your records are sealed, then it means they are not available to the public; this would include private investigators, credits, and employers. However, these records still exist in the context of the criminal justice system. For example, the sealed convictions will still be considered prior offenses if you are arrested in the future.

Get Legal Help with Your Questions About Expungement

The laws relating to expungement are highly variable and different jurisdictions may have different requirements that need to be met before an expungement can be granted. Contact our office today at 417-720-4800 to find out more information about expungement in Springfield, Missouri.

Felony Charge Dismissed Against Springfield Pharmacist Represented by Adam Woody

The case of State of Missouri v. Gary Grove in Christian County has now been resolved.  What was once a felony charge of Involuntary Manslaughter in the Second Degree was reduced to and resulted in a plea to a traffic violation of failure to maintain lane of travel.

Originally a Careless and Imprudent Ticket

Following a vehicle accident in June of 2017, prominent Springfield Pharmacist Gary Grove was issued a ticket for Careless and Imprudent Driving.

Grand Jury Indictment for Involuntary Manslaughter

He was then surprisingly indicted by a Christian County grand jury in November of that year for Involuntary Manslaughter in the Second Degree.  His “mugshot” was posted on many media outlets accompanied by news articles detailing the case and the felony charge, and his reputation was irreparably damaged.

Charge Reduced to a Traffic Lane Violation After Adam Woody Provided Medical Records and Expert Reports

After our office conducted a thorough investigation, we provided the Prosecutor’s Office with Mr. Grove’s medical records and multiple expert reports that the accident was due to a medical emergency he experienced while driving that night. In an interview with KY3, Mr. Grove clarified that he had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in his body two weeks after the accident. 

Mr. Grove is happy to get this matter behind him and move forward knowing that the Christian County Prosecutor’s Office ultimately made the right decision in reducing the charge to a lane violation after evidence showed that the accident was due to Mr. Grove facing an unavoidable medical issue while driving that evening.

Moving Forward

It truly was an accident in the purest sense of the word, but one that Mr. Grove will have to live with for the rest of his life.  His remorse has been agonizing at times since the accident.  He can now move forward and continue operating three Grove Pharmacies in Springfield, where he helps thousands of clients with their daily needs.  Grove Pharmacy has remained family owned and operated for over 60 years here in the Ozarks.

Aside from owning Grove Pharmacy since 1980, Mr. Grove devotes his time to community involvement and humanitarian needs.  Mr. Grove has dedicated his time as a volunteer at the Aids Project of the Ozarks for 30 years.  Through Grove Pharmacy and Grove Spa, Mr. Grove donates to over 200 charities each year.  To that humanitarian end, his heart pours out to the victim of this accident, Julien Wayne, as well as his family, friends, and loved ones.

The silver lining at the end of the day is that the system worked and that justice did not come at the expense of a felony conviction and the possibility of prison time for a good, decent man.  A felony was wholly unwarranted and unsupported by the evidence, and fairness was accomplished through an amendment and disposition as a lane violation.  We thank the Christian County Prosecutor’s Office in working out an appropriate disposition in the face of public scrutiny.  That is what justice deserves.

Sources.

KY3 Story. https://www.ky3.com/content/news/Springfield-pharmacist-pleads-guilty-in-deadly-crash-from-June-2017-508066311.html

KOLR 10 Story. https://www.ozarksfirst.com/news/pharmacy-owner-gary-grove-pleads-guilty-to-traffic-lane-violation/1898833494

Springfield News-Leader Story. https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2019/04/03/springfield-pharmacy-owner-pleads-guilty-lesser-charge-manslaughter/3350815002/

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!