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As New York reduces marijuana prosecutions, arrests continue

As the push to legalize recreational marijuana gains traction in New York, with help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, several prosecutors throughout the state have announced that they'll no longer prosecute low-level marijuana possession cases. Things like smoking or burning marijuana in public are now considered violations instead of misdemeanors. That means they won't give someone a criminal record that can impact their chances of getting a job or housing.

Tips for taking your prescription medications on vacation

If you're planning a vacation this spring or summer and you need to bring one or more prescription medications with you, be sure that you have the proper documentation to prove that these are your prescriptions. Many people don't realize that possessing prescription drugs without a prescription can land you in jail.

Alternatives to incarceration may decrease repeat offender rate

The United States holds the record for the most incarcerated individuals in the entire world. In 2008, the numbers peaked with 1,000 out of every 100,000 adults being in state or federal prisons. Since this time, many jurisdictions, including those in New York, have instituted a variety of changes to decrease this number. This includes reformations in police practices, decriminalization of some minor offenses and offering rehabilitation options to low-risk offenders. As a result of the changes, incarcerations have decreased to 830 per every 100,000 adults in the United States.

First Step Act seeks to reform federal criminal sentencing rules

After decades of tough-on-crime laws and mandatory minimum sentences that sent people in New York to prison for years, the First Step Act marks a transition in attitudes toward criminal sentencing guidelines. The bill won approval in the U.S. Senate on a vote of 82 to 12. Although critics call it a "prisoner release bill," the legislation, if it succeeds in becoming law, would provide sentencing relief to people convicted for crack cocaine offenses prior to 2010.

The contents of the First Step Act

The First Step Act, which is a bill that is being considered in Congress, might have an effect on some inmates in New York. It will make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which addressed the sentencing disparity in cocaine and crack cocaine cases, retroactive, and this will affect approximately 2,600 inmates. They will still have to go to court to address the issue.

Elements of an assault charge in New York

In order for the government to get a criminal assault conviction in New York State, they have to prove that any injury caused by the defendant was intentional, meaning that it was not accidental.  It is necessary to prove that there was an intention by the defendant to cause "physical injury" or "serious physical injury".  Both of these terms have a specific meaning in the law; they do not have the general meaning we all use in everyday life.

Racial bias could be common in bail decisions

Black defendants in New York and across the country may face an unfair hearing when they go before bail judges, especially if the results of a recent study reflect a national trend. The study, conducted by Princeton and Harvard researchers, examined the decision-making of bail judges in the Miami and Philadelphia areas through a racial lens. The study noted that black defendants were less likely to receive bail, more likely to face pretrial detention and more likely to pay larger bail amounts than white defendants.

The consequences of a sexual assault conviction

If an alleged offender is convicted of sexual assault, they will be sentenced by a judge. The sentence can include jail time, fines or other penalties allowed by state law. The severity of a defendant's punishment will be determined by a variety of factors including details specific to a given case. In New York, individuals are sentenced to a range of years in prison as opposed to a specific amount.

Police pursuit leads to crash and DWI charges

Police in New York say that a 52-year-old Monroe County man was drunk when he attempted to flee from state troopers in the early morning hours of April 20. Reports indicate that troopers were joined by officers from the New York State Police during a pursuit that lasted for between 5 and 10 minutes. The man has been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol, unlawful fleeing, resisting arrest and reckless endangerment, and he faces a raft of motor vehicle infractions and violations.

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