Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

The Court system in Alabama is slowly starting to come back to life. The Alabama Supreme Court has passed the buck on the re-opening, leaving it to each individual circuit or court to decide when and how to re-open. This has led to a patchwork of different policies around Alabama’s courts, and has also caused lawyers like us to make lots of phone calls confirming court dates on behalf of clients.

In the past weeks, lawyers from Skier & Associates have made personal appearances in several courts in Alabama, including Elmore County, Prattville Municipal Court, and Talladega County. We have upcoming dates in Montgomery County, Montgomery Municipal Court, and Barbour County. The Federal Courts in the Middle District are also holding in-person hearings. During this time, we have been party to numerous “virtual” hearings and are very pleased with the technology that has facilitated our ability to swiftly move cases through the process.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles are NOT holding in-person hearings at this time. Stake-holders there are being asked to submit their arguments in writing prior to the hearing. This is not our preferred manner of holding hearings and we encourage the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to make accommodations for in-person or at the very least virtual hearings upon request of the applicant.

As the courts re-open, our policies remain the same. We are committed to safety for everyone, so while we remain open for business, our physical office remains closed to non-employees. We have found that Zoom is a very effective way to communicate with existing and future clients, so for everyone’s safety we are keeping this policy in place indefinitely. We do have facilities in place for signing of documents or for the presence of clients for virtual hearings that ensure the safety of everyone involved. Continue reading

At Skier & Associates, our practice is varied. We have pending cases in numerous venues including Alabama State Courts (District Court, Circuit Court, Family Court in Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Butler, Lowndes and other counties) Municipal Courts (Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook and Wetumpka City Courts for example,) Federal District Courts (Middle District of Alabama) and administrative bodies (Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.)

All of these entities have approached their scheduling and handling of pending cases differently during the period of shut-down, and all are taking different approaches to re-opening. This can be confusing for clients as well as attorneys. Continue reading

Andrew Skier, founder of Skier & Associates, is honored to have been named to incoming Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s Transition team. As a member of Mayor Reed’s “Public Safety & Thriving Neighborhoods” committee, Mr. Skier will be a part of the group advising Mayor Reed on issues related to police and public safety. Mayor Reed felt it was crucial to have a representative of the Criminal Defense Bar on this committee in order to obtain input related to the administration of justice in our community. Continue reading

During its 2019 Regular Session, HB 380, which restructures and places severe limitations on the powers of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles passed both legislative houses and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature, which is likely. While specifics are to be hammered out during the administrative rules process, the net result will be more restrictions on early parole considerations for most inmates. Importantly, the legislation sets rules for when a parole hearing can be held, based on specific guidelines. As is the case with nearly all legislation, there is good news and bad news. Continue reading

Years ago arson used to be the malicious burning of a person’s home. Today in Alabama arson is defined as the burning of any building. There are three different degrees of arson. First and second degree arson are the intentional burning of a building. To be charged with third degree arson the burning doesn’t have to be intentional, only reckless. Also, it makes a difference whether there is a person inside the building.

 

You should talk to a lawyer who often works in the area of criminal law before making any decisions about an arson charge. At Skier & Associates we are ready and willing to sit down and discuss your arson case with you, explain the legal process and what will come next, offer you advice on what you should do next, and discuss representing you if your case goes to court.

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There is hope for those who have been advocating for reform of Alabama’s marijuana possession laws. In a bill filed in the Alabama legislature, penalties for simple possession of marijuana would be lessened significantly going forward. This blog post will examine Alabama’s current marijuana laws as well as how they may change should this legislation become law.

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In a surprising and encouraging move, late last year (2018) the “First Step Act” passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President. The Act purports to change several provisions that will have an effect on Federal criminal cases going forward, as well as many individuals who are serving federal sentences already.

Here are some highlights of this 148 page piece of legislation; as always of course this analysis is early and could be modified over time.

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Alabama law requires that, before the Board of Pardons and Paroles can hear a case, they must notify any identifiable victim of their right to be present at a hearing and make their feelings known on the matter. This has two effects on those awaiting a hearing: First, it can delay the hearing as the process of locating and notifying victims progresses. Second, a victim’s wishes carry significant weight with the Board.

Here are my thoughts and experiences on the matter:

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A recent US Supreme Court ruling has the potential to affect many people who have had vehicles searched by law enforcement, including at least one client of Skier & Associates. The Court in Collins v. Virginia held that the 4th Amendment’s “automobile exception” (which allows police to search an automobile without a warrant) does not apply to a vehicle parked next to a home, and that police are required to obtain a warrant before they can search the vehicle.

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Judges cannot allow juries to hear evidence that was obtained illegally or in violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. A defense lawyer can file a “Motion to Suppress” evidence that he or she believes fits these categories. A Motion to Suppress Evidence can be a very powerful tool for someone accused of a crime. A couple of our clients have had great results in a couple of recent cases thanks to effective suppression motions.

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