Changes to Some Criminal Laws Pending

Dozens of laws are pending before the Governor right now and many, if passed, will go into effect this coming January, 2016. Three such important criminal laws are pending. One is regarding the decriminalizing of cannabis, another relates to criminal law procedure and crime victim rights and the third involves officer-worn body cameras.

House Bill 218 is pending which involves the decriminalization of cannabis, in some part. If it passes it would call for 4 things to occur: First, if you are found to be in possession of 15 of less grams of cannabis the maximum fine would be only $125. Second, there would be a Cannabis-DUI per se standard of a level 15 nano/ml in your blood or 25 nano/ml in your saliva. Third, it would allow testing of your saliva and “any bodily substance” for a cannabis-DUI. This means you would not be limited to testing of your breath, blood and urine. And, fourth, the law would maintain that juvenile dispositions will remain confidential.

House Bill 1121 puts into effect the crime victim constitutional amendment that helps enforce crime victims’ rights regarding updates on the status of their offenders. It does not allow them a cause of action or provide them other civil court relief but does ensure they receive copies of presentence investigation reports.

Lastly, Senate Bill 1304 allows officers to wear body cameras and sets up the time requirement for how long (90 days for flagged offenses) it has to keep the videos. Among the other important changes, the bill would require officers to give a receipt of sorts to those individuals it stops (“Terry stops”) and the receipt would have to disclose the officers name and the reason for the stop. This can be seen as calling for a much greater level of accountability to all officers making stops.

Lawyers and clients should take notice of these changes, as it impacts potential clients of allages and the criminal procedures a defendant may face in court. If an incident is caught on camera, it is important to know all the rights and discovery rules for a defendant and if the case involves cannabis, it is important to know your rights on how you can be tested, and thus how you can potentially defend yourself from the criminal allegations.

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