Criminal Defense

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Racial Inequity in Louisiana Regarding the Death Penalty

How do Louisiana death penalty statistics demonstrate racial inequality?

If anyone needs evidence that racism still exists in the state of Louisiana, they don't have to look any further than the statistics relating to homicides in the state. If ever there was evidence of a societal view that "Black Lives Don't Matter," it can found in a recent study of the death penalty in Louisiana, soon to be published in the Loyola University Journal of Public Interest Law.

Some of the appalling facts noted are as follows:

  • Louisiana almost never executes murderers who kill African-American men in spite of the fact that more than 60 percent of the murder victims in the state are black males
  • Between 1976 and 2011, there have been about 15,000 murders of black males in Louisiana. Of the individuals found guilty of these crimes, 62 were sentenced to death and 3 were executed
  • During that same period of time, approximately 1300 white women have been murdered, for which 89 death sentences have been meted out and 18 people have been executed

These facts lead to the inescapable reality that the execution rate for killers of white females was 48 percent higher than for killers of black males. The racial inequities evident in these statistics mirror those evident in studies of statistics of the U.S. as a whole, though the figures for Louisiana are even worse than the national average.

Finally,  researchers unearthed the fact that no white person has ever been put to death for killing a black male in the history of Louisiana. The researchers point this is might be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment protection of equal protection.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Some Louisiana District Attorney Offices Levy Dismissal Fees for Domestic Violence Victims

How does requiring payment to drop domestic violence charges affect those involved?

In three parishes of Louisiana, St. John the Baptist, East Baton Rouge, and Bossier, victims alleging domestic abuse and then reneging on their claims, are charged a nonrefundable fee for the second action. It is well-known that victims of domestic violence frequently become frightened about the possible consequences of reporting their abuse and subsequently retract it, though this is not always the case. Victims often give a variety of excuses for backing down, including declaring that the injuries suffered were inflicted accidentally, or that the victim did something to provoke the attack. In some cases, of course, the accusations were false to begin with and the retraction is justified.

When alleged victims are charged fees (typically $100) for taking back their accusations, the situation raises a good many eyebrows. Although the parishes mentioned are the only ones on record as charging a "dismissal fee," it is believed that other parishes may quietly engage in the same practice. Recently, however, E. Pete Adams, the executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association stated that he was unaware of the practice.

Legal scholars and advocates for victims, especially poor victims,  of domestic violence,  protest the practice  of charging such fees as dangerous. They believe that any added future expenditure attached to reportage of domestic abuse drives the crimes even further underground, resulting in more violent attacks, more injuries, and even more murders. Charging domestic abuse victims for protecting themselves is, according to this point of view, immoral and counterproductive, especially because it creates an unfair hurdle for abuse victims who are low on the socioeconomic scale. In addition, because the retractions are often fodder for the defense, victims may be forced to pay for evidence that will later be used against them when they may be accused of filing a false police report.

Those who defend the practice of charging a fee state that while the fee they charge is not covered legally by any statute, it is also not prohibited by any state law. In addition, they assert that only half of such domestic abuse complaints actually result in dropped prosecutions. More often, they result in lesser charges.  They further note that, before abuse charges are dropped, a lengthy review process must be undergone, often requiring an intensive background check and a period of counseling for the perpetrator.

If you have been charged, or are entangled in,  a domestic violence case in Southern Louisiana, please do not hesitate to call the offices of Joe Larré Law Firm where a highly qualified attorney is available to help. Serving clients throughout Southern Louisiana, we can be reached at 504.520.8989 or 985.231.7777.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Two 16-Year-Old New Orleans Boys Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison

Is there, or should there be, any leniency for minors who commit horrendous crimes?

A recent case in which two 16-year-old boys were arrested and pled guilty to a series of very serious crimes is leading to renewed discussion of the way punishments are meted out to minors. Both teenagers confessed to robbing, kidnapping and raping a 30-year-old woman on the day after Thanksgiving. Each was sentenced to 35 years in prison and each will be required to register as a sex offender for his lifetime.

Although the boys were charged as adults and the crimes they committed were heinous, their sentences would have been harsher if they had been 18 years old at the time of commission. This is because, in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles who committed crimes before they reached 18 years of age. A divided court decided that the law must take into account the "immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences" of youth.

If the young criminals had been 18 instead of 15 at the time they committed the crimes, Louisiana law would have mandated sentences of life in prison for aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping. As it is, their attorneys were able to arrange plea bargains that will enable them to seek parole once they have served 30 of their 35 year prison sentences.

Considering the severity of the crimes, these two young criminals are considered by some to have been given too much leniency in their punishments. They did, after all, commit six counts of aggravated rape, ostensibly viciously attacking their victim physically because robbing her had been unproductive. They also took their victim's car, its contents and her driver's license. In her highly emotional testimony, heard in a locked courtroom sealed off from the public, victim described the painful ordeal and its aftermath, during which she has had to undergo extensive therapy.  On the other hand, these boys were so young that it is highly questionable that they were capable of mature judgment.

Although the teenagers have now, through their attorneys, apologized for their brutal crimes and have acknowledged that they understand that they are going to be incarcerated for a large portion of their lives, it is difficult to know whether, even now, such young people can fully grasp the extent of their crimes or their punishment.

Being arrested and accused of a crime, especially if you are a young person, is a serious trauma and can have far-reaching consequences. If you are facing criminal prosecution, you are entitled to a vigorous defense. Please contact one of our highly qualified criminal defense attorneys at Joe Larré Law Firm for assistance. Serving all of the Southern Parishes of Louisiana, we can be reached at 504.520.8989 or 985.231.7777.

The Joe Larré Law Firm LLC specializes in DWI/DUI Defense, Car Accident Personal Injury, and Criminal defense, assisting clients in Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish, St Charles Parish, St Tammany Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Orleans Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, Tangipahoa parish, and all other Southern Louisiana Parishes.

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