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

Parents: 3 Ways You Can Challenge Your Teen’s DWI/DUI

The last thing you ever expected was to get a call from the police station stating that your child had been arrested for driving drunk. Your teen isn’t even old enough to drink. A DUI can impact your child now and in the future, so it’s important to understand how to fight against the charges. There are a few different methods, each of which has the potential to have the case dismissed.

1. Your child is innocent and the breathalyzer was wrong

If your teen is adamant about the fact that he or she did not drink or that he or she only had a drink with dinner with family, it’s important to question the test results.

One complaint about breathalyzers is that they have the potential to be incorrect. For example, if your teen burped while taking the test, the officer should have thrown out the results. Why? Burping releases more alcohol from the lungs, which skews the test. The officer may request two breath samples. If so, they should match or be very close to one another. If they are not, then the Breathalyzer wasn’t calibrated correctly.

2. The officer stopped your child illegally

An officer must have just cause for stopping a vehicle. For example, if your child was speeding, then asking the teen to pull over is legal. However, if your child was doing nothing wrong and was pulled over, the officer did not have the right to that stop. That fact could have the case thrown out in court.

Here’s another example. If your child was driving home and pulled out of a bar’s parking lot, that in itself isn’t enough reason for a cop to pull over your teen. The officer might suspect that your teen had been drinking, but if your teen has broken no laws, then the officer has no right to make a stop.

3. The tests were taken illegally

Another thing you can contest is if the officer sought a blood test illegally. Blood tests are not the same as breath tests and require a warrant. They are more invasive, since a needle must be used to collect the sample. Officers have the right to ask for a breath sample, but if they want a blood sample, a warrant must be issued.

These are just a few potential defenses for your child’s case. Your attorney has more information on the defenses that you can use to protect your teen against a DUI charge.

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Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Featured on KOLR10 News Story

Adam Woody weighs in with local CBS affiliate KOLR 10 regarding the 2006 murder conviction in Dallas County of Brad Jennings. Jennings’ conviction was overturned by a Phelps County Judge earlier this week following his attorneys filing for a writ of habeas corpus.  A Writ of Habeas Corpus is a petition against an agency holding someone in custody. Once a Writ of Habeas Corpus is filed, the courts must show a valid reason for a person to remain in custody. Click here to learn more about the story and what a Writ of Habeas Corpus could mean in Brad Jennings’ case.

New evidence was discovered in his case, casting serious doubt as to the validity of the jury’s verdict.  Had they heard the evidence that had been withheld, there is a strong possibility that the outcome would have been different.  The granting of a Habeas petition is exceedingly rare, making this story so fascinating.