Tag Archive for: Police

7 Reasons People Talk To The Police – And Why You Shouldn’t. Often, one of our first encounters with a potential client involves them telling us that the police want to talk to them. What should they do? Thankfully, they’ve gotten in touch with us before making a big mistake. What do we tell those people (and are now telling you at no charge)?

If you think it is even remotely possible that you are under suspicion for a crime, NEVER talk to the police without first speaking to an attorney. Most people, especially innocent clients, usually don’t understand this advice at first.

First, they say they have “nothing to hide.”

The purpose of every interview is to get you to confess to a crime. Investigators go through hours of training on how to get people to confess. They are trained on how to ask questions. All with the goal of getting a confession or at least get you to say something inconsistent or against your interests. Part of the Miranda warning people are usually given before they talk to police is: “Anything you say can and WILL be used AGAINST you in a court of law.” Whatever you say will be used against you. That’s a pretty good reason not to talk.

Believe it or not, it is common for innocent people to confess. Some studies suggest that up to 25% of confessions are “false confessions” given by a defendant who is confused, tired, misheard the question, is misunderstood by the detective or is simply wanting to get out of the interview room because they’ve been there for hours.

Many people are surprised to learn that the FBI usually does not record their interviews with suspects. (They have suggested a change to this policy, but many agents still follow the old protocol.) They have two agents sit in a room with the suspect. One agent asks questions and the other takes notes. Because they don’t record the conversation with you, it is their word versus your word about what exactly you said. What happens if they misunderstand something you say and tell the jury that you confessed? A jury will probably believe them, and not you.

Next, they say that by not talking to the police it “makes me look guilty.” If the police suspect you are involved in a crime and want to talk to you, something they know ALREADY makes you look guilty. They are already suspicious of you. Further, the fact that you do not talk to them and request an attorney instead is not admissible in court.

They also talk to police because “it will look good” for them. Once you have an attorney representing you, you will have plenty of opportunities to cooperate as the case progresses, if that is the best strategy. In more than 35 years of criminal law practice, we’ve never seen a judge punish a defendant because they asked to speak to an attorney before talking to a detective.

They talk to police because “they promised” not to charge them or give them a deal in court if they would just tell the truth. People are shocked to learn that the law allows police to lie to you. Investigators know this and use this to their advantage. They will tell you that evidence points to your guilt, even if such evidence doesn’t exist, just to get you to confess. They will make you promises that they won’t charge you or will help you get a good deal if you just confess.

This is a lie because they don’t have that authority. No police officer can give you a deal, only the prosecutor can do so and usually a prosecutor is not even involved in the case when the police are asking to speak to you. If cooperation appears to be your best option, then a good attorney will negotiate that cooperation with the prosecutor, who unlike police, is required to keep their promise.

The police “already know everything.” This doesn’t mean that what they know will be admissible or even available in 18 months or more when your case goes to trial. Yet if YOU give them evidence against yourself, the prosecution will probably still be able to move forward against you even if other star witnesses are no longer available or evidence goes missing.

“I need them to know my side of the story.” This is a valid reason to want to talk to the police, but not to actually talk to the police. A good attorney will be able to get your story to the police on your behalf. By allowing the attorney to do it for you, the detectives can’t manipulate what they are told and use it against you. You also get your story to them without subjecting yourself to a lengthy interrogation.

“I can lie my way out of this.” This is the worst reason for someone to talk to the police. The only thing worse than talking to the police about your case is LYING to the police about the case. To do so is actually a separate crime. Remember Martha Stewart? She did not go to jail for insider trading. She went to jail because she tried to talk her way out of a situation. However, got caught lying to federal investigators. Barry Bonds was not convicted of steroid use, but of obstruction of justice for lying.

If you give a statement to detectives, they are trained to prove you are lying and will likely be able to do so. And remember, they can’t say you lied, if you simply refuse to talk to them.

Suspected of a crime? Do not talk. Do not lie.

If the police want to talk to you, tell them you want your attorney and call us immediately.

Southaven, MS Man Killed After Encounter With Police on LSD. Troy Goode, a healthy, 30-year old engineer with a wife and infant son, was, among many other things, a lifelong Widespread Panic fan. Like many who grew up listening to the band’s shows. Even those who grew up around a friend who constantly played the ‘Spread (perhaps to their annoyance), attending a Panic concert was a special event for Troy. And as he got older, as many of us find, the shows we are able to catch get fewer and farther between. As life begins to turn that young man’s freedom to travel into a fond, distant memory.

Unfortunately, Troy and his wife had to leave the show early due to Troy’s apparent intoxication. Troy began acting erratically, exiting the vehicle at one point, and soon drew the attention of the Southaven, MS police. Chief Tom Long of Southaven PD says the authorities were told that Troy was experiencing an “alleged LSD overdose.” Certainly we await results of an autopsy and toxicology report. The most cursory internet search reveals the concept of an “overdose on LSD” to be pure misconception at best, and sinister propaganda at worst. A preliminary autopsy report indicates that Troy died from a heart-related issue.

According to the family’s lawyer, Tim Edwards, Troy was acting “erratically,” but was not violent when the police forcibly subdued him. Of course, police must take every precaution. When approaching a potential suspect who appear to be on psychoactive drugs, are non-compliant and acting erratically. However, the manner in which Southaven PD subdued Troy is the real cause for concern. According to official police statements, eyewitness testimony, and cell phone video camera footage capturing the entire ordeal, what happened next was as follows:

1. This man was taken to the ground by an officer who then subdued him by sitting on his back;
2. During his arrest, officers restrained Troy’s arms and legs by “hog-tying” them behind his back;
3. Troy was then placed face-down on a stretcher;
4. He reportedly communicated to officers multiple times that he was struggling to breathe (note – Troy had asthma);
5. Troy was kept in this position (and thus not taken to the hospital) for over an hour, according to eyewitness reports.

The District Attorney John Champion refuses to say “hog-tied.” According to Champion, “… I refuse to use that term, because that’s not what this is.” Troy was placed in leg irons, which were then attached to the handcuffs he had on behind his back. Champion further stated that in his opinion, the way the officer used the leg irons on Troy was “within the law.” While I certainly hope Mr. Champion is incorrect about the legality of the use of leg irons and handcuffs in tandem behind a person’s back, even if he is correct, this practice should be reviewed given the risk of positional asphyxiation presented by “hog-tying” (I have no problem with using the term – I’ve seen a hog tied, and I am sorry to report that on video, it appears Troy was restrained in a very similar manner). Even on LSD he should have been handled differently.

Troy was eventually taken to Baptist Hospital. After a couple of hours, Troy’s family got a call from the police, saying that Troy’s condition was “stable,” but that if any family showed up at the hospital to check on their family member, they would be arrested for “obstruction of justice.” Soon after this exchange, an employee of the hospital called the family to inform them that Troy had passed away.

This story has had a surprisingly mixed response in Alabama. While many express sympathy and extend condolences to the family of the deceased, some seem to take this opportunity to advance their “anti-drug” agenda, and others outright blame Troy for his own death. It’s this last group I’d like to address here:

You are essentially arguing that “if he hadn’t taken LSD, he wouldn’t be dead.” And in all likelihood, that is a true statement. But it is also a useless statement. It’s like saying “if I hadn’t bought her that car, she never would have died in that car crash.” The argument does away with the relevant proximate cause of the death, and substitutes what is known as actual, “but-for” cause. This second conception of causation is infinitely broader than proximate cause (ie the real reason Troy is dead v. the million different decisions he hypothetically could have made that day and ended up alive).

In short, to blame Troy for his death because he took LSD is to ignore the most salient facts we have that offer a more plausible explanation for his death than “LSD overdose.” Between the anxiety of forcible restraint, the pre-existing asthma condition and ignored complaints from Troy that he couldn’t breathe, it appears his LSD intake (estimated as being 4-5 “hits”) is the least likely cause of his death.

The police have a difficult and dangerous job. They regularly encounter dangerous individuals on mind-altering substances. They are charged with the duty of enforcing the laws of their jurisdiction, but are not trained as lawyers. The police make mistakes. However, it appears this death was totally avoidable, and practices such as “hog-tying,” treatment complaints of asphyxiation, and police response to reports of people suspected of being on psychedelic drugs, are all issues that need to be examined. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Troy Goode. You can donate to Troy’s family at the link below:


What to Expect at a New Years Eve DUI Checkpoint. It is that time of year again where motorists will be ringing in the new year. This usually consists of good food, music, and the occasional alcoholic beverage. It is this time of year where law enforcement takes a more aggressive stance on DUI enforcement. Checkpoints are one manner by which law enforcement handles the enforcement of DUIs. Below you will find what you can expect during a DUI checkpoint.

When an officer first makes contact with a motorist who is stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the officer will be looking for physical manifestations of intoxication. These manifestations include slurred speech, glassy/bloodshot eyes, an odor of alcoholic beverage, inability to follow instructions or any other signs the officer deems a symptom of intoxication. One of the major other signs the officer will be looking for is whether the motorist is being belligerent or combative.

One of the simplest ways to avoid an issue at a DUI checkpoint is to be polite. A motorist who is polite and cooperative will be passed through much sooner than one who is uncooperative and belligerent. Remember though being cooperative is not the same thing as waiving your constitutionally protected rights. You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests as well as any breath alcohol tests.

If an officer suspects you are guilty of DUI, the next step after observation will involve the above mentioned tests. Officers will request that you submit to field sobriety tests. These tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn Test and the One-leg Stand Test. You have the right to refuse any of these tests. If you refuse these tests or even if you comply with these tests, the officer is the sole decider about who is or is not intoxicated.

The final stage of a DUI checkpoint will consist of a breath alcohol test. This test will calculate a motorists breath alcohol content. In Alabama, this test will likely be the Draegar Alcotest 7110. Prior to providing a breath test, a motorist will be advised their license will be suspended if they fail to provide a breath sample. Although the officer will make it sound as if a motorist has to provide a breath sample, motorists do not. Motorists can always refuse the tests

If for some reason you or someone you know is stopped and arrested for DUI, please call our attorneys at Boles Holmes White and allow us to assist you in the defense of your DUI charge.

Second Suspect Arrested in Birmingham Homicide Investigation. Aronde Samuels, 22, has been arrested by Birmingham police and becomes the second suspect taken into custody in connection to a June homicide incident that took place in the 1800 Block of 3rd Place Southwest.  Samuels was finally located after a witness came forward and identified him in conjunction with the murder of 53-year-old Arthur Mills.  He is currently being held without bail at the Jefferson County Jail and has been charged with capital murder.

The first suspect, Davarius McGee, has been charged with capital murder, first-degree robbery, and attempted murder.  Therefore, he is currently being held at the Jefferson County Jail on two $60,000 bonds.

The murder took place at 5:10 p.m. on June 15th when Juliette Lockett was attempting to leave her home.  She was approached by the suspects who stole a ring from her finger and her 2009 silver Cadillac CTS.  Her neighbor, Arthur Mills, confronted the men and shots were exchanged.  The rear window of an SUV on Lockett’s property was shot out and Mills was struck in the chest.  He was rushed to UAB Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:42 p.m.

Although, Lockett died from a massive heart attack on July 19, exactly one month and five days after the attack outside of her home.

Detectives continue their search for a third suspect. Anyone with information about the case to call Birmingham’s Homicide Unit at 205-254-176 or CrimeStoppers at 205-254-7777.

All-Offender Ignition Interlock Legislation Officially in Effect. A new law that is designed to make it easier for judges to require DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. This officially went into effect for the State of Alabama on July 1st. The changes will now allow judges to force first time convicted DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device for at least six months if their blood alcohol content is higher than .08 percent.  The installation of this device will allow a driver to avoid having their driver’s license suspended.  In April, Alabama became the 21st state to pass this version of the law

Senator Bill Holtzclaw and Representative Allen Farley have been applauded for their leadership. Therefore, in authoring this piece of legislation, HB 381/SB 319.

Alabama was the final state to enact an ignition interlock law in 2011.  The previous legislation was set-up to require ignition interlocks for all repeat and first-time convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher.   However, the law was never implemented.  The following year, over 250 people were killed in drunk-driving related traffic crashes. Furthermore, could have potentially been prevented had convicted drivers been using interlocks.

Ignition interlock laws have become a top priority of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  The organization has reported that states with all-offender ignition interlock laws have reduced drunk driving deaths by 20% or more.  Oregon(42%) and Arizona(43%) have seen the nation’s highest reduction ins drunk driving fatalities.

Alabama Expungement Law Takes Effect. Have you ever filled out a job application? If you have, you’ve probably been asked, “Have you ever been arrested?” It’s a pretty loaded question.

What if you were arrested, but prosecutors dropped the charges? What should you say then?

If you say no, you’re lying. If you say yes, the person reading the application will judge you for something you didn’t even do. “Well, they were arrested. Therefore, they must’ve done something wrong,” they’ll think. In addition, if they want, they can search the records and see the arrest for themselves.

Alabama’s lawmakers are fixing this problem.  On July 7th, a new expungement law will go into effect that allows Alabamians who have been arrested, but not convicted of a crime, to wipe away their arrest records. The expungment law also covers those that entered and completed deferment programs like drug or DUI court.  If your records are expunged, you may not have to disclose your arrest records on job, credit, or other applications.

Do you qualify to have your arrest records expunged? Let’s find out:

If you were charged with a misdemeanor, traffic violation, or municipal ordinance violation, your arrest records can be expunged. For instance, they can be expunged immediately if your charge was dismissed with prejudice, no-billed by a grand jury, or if you were found not guilty. For example, if the charge was dismissed without prejudice and prosecutors haven’t refiled it, you have to wait two years to expunge your records.

However, if you were charged with a felony, expungement depends on whether or not you were charged with a “violent” felony. Section 13A-11-70 of the Alabama Code lists the felonies that are considered violent. They are:

Most likely, any other felony charges are non-violent and can be expunged immediately if they were no-billed by a grand jury, dismissed with prejudice, or if you were found not guilty. Although, if you were offered a diversion program like mental health treatment, drug rehab, or veterans’ court, you can expunge your records one year after you complete the program. Finally, if your charge was dismissed without prejudice and prosecutors haven’t refiled it, you can get it expunged after five years if you haven’t committed any other crimes during that time.

So you qualify under the new law. How do you start expunging your arrest record? First, send a petition to the circuit court where the charge came from. Your petition will only be considered if you’ve already paid your other court fees and fines. Furthermore, you need to send a copy of your petition to the DA and the law enforcement agency that arrested you. The petition requires:

  • A sworn statement that you meet the law’s requirements;
  • A case action summary or certified copy of the arrest and case disposition;
  • A certified copy of the arrest record from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center;
  • A description of the charges to be considered for removal and a description of the agencies involved in the arrest and any incarceration;
  • And $300 plus any local filing costs or court costs that the court charges.

Firstly, after you submit your petition, the DA’s office and the alleged victims have 45 days to file their own petition to keep the arrest records public. If nobody opposes, the judge can expunge the records right away, but otherwise, the judge will set a hearing at least 14 days from the date of the opposing petition.

Lastly, having a lawyer can make this process much easier.

However, if you have old arrest records hanging over your head, the new law could be a great opportunity for relief. Don’t miss it. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today to see if you qualify for expungement. If you do qualify, that attorney may be your best ally as you draft your petition. Therefore, an attorney can negotiate with the DA, explain your circumstances to the judge, and represent you at a hearing if victims object to your petition. Moreover, should you choose to call an attorney, the defenders at Boles Holmes White, are prepared to help you expunge your old arrest records. Contact us today for a free consultation at 205-502-2000.

Man Arrested and Charged with Sexual Abuse in Tuscaloosa. James Robert Burns, 62, has been arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in Tuscaloosa.  The charges stem from an incident that took place around 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening near the 15000 block of Beacon Point Drive.  When investigators arrived on the scene in reference to a sexual assault, the teenager stated that she had been sexually abused by a man who lives at the residence.  It was determined that alcohol played a large role in the incident. After witnesses were interviewed and the crime scene was examined. The victim is being treated at DCH Regional Medical Center. While Burns has been taken to the Tuscaloosa County Jail for questioning.  He is being held on a $50,000 bond.

In the state of Alabama, sexual abuse of the first-degree is a Class C felony offense. That is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Man arrested and charged with sexual abuse in Tuscaloosa consluion:

First-degree sodomy is a Class A felony that is punishable by between 10-99 years in prison. Fines up to $20,000, and registration as a sex offender.

Furthermore, if you or someone you know has been accused of a sex crime, it is important that you contact a criminal attorney to handle your case.  The lawyers at Boles Holmes White are experienced in a variety of legal matters. Therefore, have a history of success in the courtroom. Call to schedule a free consultation today.

Birmingham Police Arrest 15 in Operation Recoil. A total of 15 individuals have been arrested in an ongoing attempt by law enforcement to crack down on the illegal sales of firearms and drugs.  United States Marshals and ATF agents teamed up with Birmingham Police Department’s Crime Reduction and Neighborhood Enforcement teams to apprehend the suspects in a round-up that is part of bigger effort known as, “Operation Recoil”.

The suspects arrested are accused of a variety of crimes ranging from drug trafficking to felony possession of firearms.  Authorities also allege that seven individuals were involved in a nationwide scheme that used stolen credit card numbers to buy guns online.  These firearms were sent to Birmingham where another group illegally sold them, often to convicted felons. According to police, much of this activity was going on in the eastern portion of Birmingham.

However, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said the following in a released statement:  “Our department’s number priority is reducing violent crime. We’ve reported historic crime reductions in the City of Birmingham but much work remains to be done,”

The 15 suspects arrested by police are:

  • Lance Alexander – Conspiracy to Obtain Illegal firearm
  • Brian Beasley – Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Quantrey Bryant – Credit Card Fraud, Illegally Obtaining a Firearm, Wire Fraud
  • Michael Chavis – Federal Indictments
  • Christopher Collins – Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Marquette Harris – Conspiracy to Obtain Illegal Firearm
  • Eric Jones – Felon in Possession Conspiracy, Possession of a Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime, 2 counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute  Methamphetamine
  • Christiana Peavy – Federal Indictment
  • Curtis Robinson – Federal Indictment
  • Mizell Sanders – Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Clifford Smith – Felon in Possession
  • Norman Stanton – Federal Indictment
  • Larry Steel – 4 Counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, 3 counts of Possession of a Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime, 2 counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute  Cocaine
  • Lerrell Dowdell – 2 counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, 2 counts of Distribution of Heroin,  Felon in Possession of a Firearm/Heroin
  • Antonio Watkins – Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Warrants Issued in Credit Card Fraud Investigation. The lengthy investigation into a debit/credit card fraud scheme, which took place primarily in the state of Alabama, as resulted in more than 160 felony warrants being issued against six members of a Birmingham rapper gang.  The Gardendale police have been a part of this investigation since February. They are now searching for the members of a gangsta-rap group known as the “Hood Dynasty”.

A press statement acknowledged that the criminal activity took place across the United States but was concentrated along the Interstate 65 corridor from Birmingham to Huntsville.  Gardendale Lieutenant Bryan Lynch reported that the scheme involved the suspects using fraudulent cards to purchase gift cards which were used to pay the personal expenses of the gang members.

Search warrants were executed on May 17th during two raids in Irondale by the Gardendale Police and the United States Secret Service.  The information obtained in these raids resulted in 164 felony warrants being issued on Tuesday against the gang members.

The charges against the suspects are as follows:

Eric Jose Azcona, 27, has been charged with 28 fraudulent uses of a credit card, 26 identity thefts, trafficking in stolen identities, and theft of property in the first degree.  Bond has been set at $1,260,000.

Christian Talmadge Packer, 24, has been charged with 21 fraudulent uses of a credit card, 18 identity thefts. Furthermore, trafficking in stolen identities, and first-degree theft of property.  Bond has been set at $885,000.

Joshua Caleb Lewis, 25, of Birmingham, has been charged with 15 fraudulent uses of a credit card, 13 identity thefts, trafficking in stolen identities, and attempted theft of property in the first degree.  Bond has been set at $645,000.

Devin Daiget Coleman, 26, has been charged with 11 fraudulent uses of a credit card, 2 identity thefts. In addition, trafficking in stolen identities, and attempted theft of property in the first degree.  Bond has been set at $405,000.

Steven Joseph Azcona, 24, has been charged with 9 fraudulent uses of a credit card, 5 identity thefts, trafficking in stolen identities, and attempted theft of property in the first degree.  Bond has been set at $315,000.

Kenosha Renay Shaw, 24, has been charged with 2 fraudulent uses of a credit card, 2 identity thefts. After that, trafficking in stolen identities.  Bond has been set at $120,000.

Trial Date Set for Police Officers Involved in 2008 Alleged Beating. United States District Judge Virgina Hopkins has set a trial date for the lawsuit filed against six Birmingham police officers by Anthony Warren.  It will take place at the Hugo Black United States Courthouse in Birmingham on September 22, 2014 and address charges that accuse police of beating Warren while he lay unconscious on the ground after a police chase in 2008.  The chase, which included an injury to a Hoover police officer and Warren’s arrest, was captured by a police cruiser dashboard camera near the entrance ramp to Interstate 459 from U.S. 31.

Warren is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence but is suing Birmingham police officers Heath Boackle, Thomas Cleveland, Barrett Dewitt, David Doran, Alvin Fortson and Kenneth Prevo regarding the Jan. 23, 2008 incident.

Boackle, Cleveland, Dewitt, Doran, and Prevol were involved in Warren’s arrest following the high speed chase in Birmingham.  The chase concluded after nearly 30 minutes when Warren’s car spun out of control and rolled over.  The video showed that Warren had been ejected from the vehicle and was lying on the ground when officers began to strike him before he was placed in handcuffs.

The remaining claims against the police officers are as follows:

Officers Boackle, Cleveland, and Prevo:

Officers Dewitt and Doran:

Officer Fortson:

  • Unlawful search and seizure