In 2014, both California and the nation saw a huge number of changes in criminal law and a wide range of scandals. Here is a roundup of some of the top criminal law-related headlines from across the nation.
Past Sex Crimes Come to Light
In late November and early December, more than 20 women accused comedian and actor Bill Cosby of sexual assault. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office investigated some of the allegations, but declined to prosecute because the statute of limitations for the offenses had expired.
In early December, actor Stephen Collins publicly acknowledged that he molested three underage girls. Collins is not facing charges because the statute of limitations has expired. The publicity surrounding Cosby and Collins illustrated how not all sex crimes are prosecuted, even when the perpetrator admits the conduct.
A Good Year for Marijuana
Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for recreational use in November’s midterm elections. Congress enacted a spending bill in mid-December that will prevent the D.C. Council from licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. It remains to be seen whether the spending bill will present a serious obstacle to legalizing marijuana in the nation’s capitol.
Support for recreational marijuana grew following the development of marijuana-related industries, including tourism, in Colorado and Washington. Colorado, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, saw its first dispensaries open in January 2014. Washington, which also legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, saw its first dispensaries open in July 2014.
California Reduces Sentences for Property Theft and Drug Crimes
In November’s midterm elections, California voters approved Proposition 47, which reduced a number of crimes such as the theft of property worth less than $950 and possession of an illegal drug in an amount appropriate for personal use from felonies and wobblers to misdemeanors.
As a result, thousands of individuals have applied to have their prior felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors.
Law Enforcement Officers and Race Relations: The Deaths of Andy Lopez, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice
The public began to question and protest law enforcement officers’ use of force against minorities following the October death of California teen Andy Lopez. The movement gained increased momentum after the August death of Missouri teenager Michael Brown.
Waves of protests rocked the country, with many protestors getting arrested for resisting arrest, blocking freeways, and battery against law enforcement officers.
Still Lost on How to Stop Killing Sprees
In May, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 more before committing suicide. All of Rodger’s victims were University of California, Santa Barbara students. Before beginning the spree, Rodger had disclosed his feelings of loneliness and rejection in online blogs and videos. The murders raised questions about how to identify individuals with violent tendencies and fantasies from content posted on social media.
The interest in stopping killing sprees flared up again following a late November attack at Florida State University by 31-year-old alumnus Myron May, who had been treated for mental health issues. May opened fire on hundreds of students in one of the university’s libraries. May, who was shot and killed after his rampage, had apparently become increasingly paranoid, but had not demonstrated an interest in engaging in violent attacks.
What Wallin & Klarich Can Do For You
If you have been charged with a crime, call a Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully representing individuals accused of criminal offenses.
We have offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. We are able to help you no matter where you work or live.
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