Articles Tagged with Criminal law

Restitution is an amount of money paid by someone convicted of a criminal offense. The purpose of restitution is to compensate a crime victim for actual losses incurred as a result of criminal activity. Importantly, restitution is not meant to compensate a crime victim for pain and suffering, hurt feelings, or other non-measurable losses. Only losses that are documented can be reimbursed through restitution.

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Don’t get taken advantage of in restitution orders.

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Being charged with the crime of domestic violence can be confusing. There are several different ways you can be charged. You could be charged with domestic violence in the first degree, second degree, third degree, by strangulation, by suffocation, or by interfering with a domestic violence emergency call.

 

You should talk to a lawyer that specializes in domestic violence before making any decisions about your case because it could be your freedom at stake. At Skier & Associates we are available to discuss your case with you in person, offer legal advice from experienced attorneys, and represent you if your case goes to trial.

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One of the most common questions I am asked is the effect of a felony pardon on a person’s ability to possess a firearm. The answer is a bit more complex than one might think at first glance.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has the authority in our state to issue pardons and restore “civil rights.” These rights include the right to vote, the right to hold public office, and of course the right to possess a firearm.

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Andrew M. Skier, founder and lead trial counsel of Skier & Associates, has been invited by Committee Chair, Hon. Judge Kathleen Cardone, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, to testify before her Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Criminal Justice Act.

The purpose of this committee is to evaluate the effectiveness of current policies and governance structures and their impact on the appointment and compensation of counsel, quality of legal representation, program administration, and adequacy of funding.

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After a long wait, the hearing date is finally here! What should you expect as you prepare for and appear at the parole or pardon hearing?

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has very strict rules for how they conduct a hearing, and it is important to be familiar with these rules.

The Board opens their doors at 7:30 AM every day that hearings are held. Those appearing on behalf of an applicant for either parole or a pardon fill out a form and are directed to one waiting room, while those representing victims or others protesting a parole or pardon are directed to another.

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I was recently given the honor of being appointed to serve a second three-year term as CJA Panel Representative from the Middle District of Alabama. The CJA Panel is the group of private practice lawyers who are accepted by the Federal District Court to receive appointments to represent clients in that court. As CJA Panel Representative, my first task of the year was to attend the national conference in Alexandria, Virginia.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Act, the landmark legislation that set up the system of appointed counsel in place today, allowing even those among us who are unable to afford legal representation will receive the competent, skilled assistance of a lawyer.

After attending the conference, I have a couple of thoughts that I would like to share.

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For the past twenty years or so, Alabama laws have been changing in order to address the problem of violence among those in family relationships. These Domestic Violence laws supplement existing laws such as assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, or harassment if the alleged victim “is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant” (Code of Alabama, § 13A-6-132)

 

In many cases, the “Domestic Violence” designation can result in an increased penalty upon a conviction, and even in the deprivation of civil rights such as the right to possess a firearm.  In nearly every case, however, it results in differences in the way cases are handled.

 

It is the practice in most courts that a person arrested for an offense involving domestic violence is immediately served with a protective order that seeks to prevent further incidents, and sometimes forbids any contact at all between the accused and the alleged victim. Violations of these orders can lead to additional charges being brought against the accused. Because of this. it is important to carefully read these protective orders and strictly comply with their contents.

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When a person is under 21 years of age at the time they allegedly commit a criminal offense, Alabama law allows them to be treated by the Court as a “Youthful Offender.”  What is Youthful Offender (YO) status and what does it mean for me if I qualify?

When a person is granted YO by a judge, this designation has several benefits, some of them substantial.

First and foremost, if the charged offense is a felony, YO drastically reduces the range of punishment in the case to a maximum sentence of three years. Depending on the level of felony offense involved, this can be an important benefit. Even for a class “C” felony, a YO designation would reduce the maximum time of incarceration from 10 years to 3 years.

Equally importantly, the granting of YO has the effect of sealing the record of the case. Any record of the charge, arrest, and court proceedings are made off limits and are not accessible to anyone not involved in the case. This can be important as a young person embarks on their life and applies for jobs or educational opportunities.

Once a person has been granted YO status, even if they are found guilty of the charged offense, it will not show up on their record as a conviction. Instead, the court will treat it as an adjudication, and none of the usual effects of a conviction will apply. A person adjudicated as a Youthful Offender will not be deprived of their civil rights such as the right to vote or the right to carry a firearm.

The trade-off is that in order to be treated as a Youthful Offender, a person must forefeet their right to a trial by jury, and any trial would be before a judge only in a proceeding that is closed to the public.

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