On a hot summer night in 2003, 14-year-old Evan Miller and 16-year-old Colby Smith found Cole Cannon, a neighbor, passed out in his Lawrence County, Alabama trailer. The two teens went into Cannon’s trailer to steal some money. Cannon awoke while Miller was pulling $300 out of Cannon’s pocket. A fight ensued between Cannon and Miller, with Miller beating Cannon with his hands and a baseball bat. Miller returned to Cannon’s trailer and set it on fire to conceal evidence of the crime. The fire killed Cannon.
The prosecution charged Miller with homicide. Miller was tried as an adult, due to the gruesomeness and viciousness of the murder. The trial court convicted Miller of first degree homicide and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. After a series of appeals, the case went to the United States Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Hears the Case
The Eighth Amendment to the … Read More
38 states, including Alabama, hold bars and similar vendors responsible for the actions of an intoxicated patron if the bar serves that person alcohol when he or she is noticeably intoxicated. The laws in place in this area are known as Dram Shop Acts.
The word “dramshop” is defined as a place where alcohol is sold in small units. Legislatures nationally have used the term to refer to the liability imposed on bars and the like for serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons.
Alabama Dram Shop law
In 1986, a group of intoxicated minors driving from a party collided with another vehicle, injuring the passengers. The injured passengers sued the sponsor of the party and the owner of the cabin where the party was held for violations of, among other things. the Alabama Dram Shop Act. The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendants. This court affirmed … Read More
In March, the Birmingham police and the fire department arrived at an abandoned school one evening after reports of a fire. The fire department extinguished the fire and the police followed up with an investigation. The police noticed several trash cans that were on fire. They also noted that the school building was not in use. Based on these factors, the police determined that someone had committed arson.
In January, the Montgomery police and fire department responded to a fire in an abandoned building. The police suspected arson because the building had no power. In February, the police arrested a man and charged him with arson.
This article will discuss the following defenses when faced with an arson charge in Alabama:
- Insufficient evidence
The Alabama Criminal Code states: “A person commits the crime of arson in the first degree if he intentionally damages a building by … Read More
Recent events in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery highlight the importance of strong criminal defense. In all three cases, the police busted what they claim are prostitution rings and arrested several people. In fact, the police arrested 17 people in Tuscaloosa and 10 in Montgomery. Reports state that undercover police contacted the defendants via the internet or simply met them on the streets.
Currently, the crime of engaging in prostitution is a misdemeanor in Alabama, meaning that the punishment for such a crime is less than one year. However, there is a push within the Alabama legislature to increase the punishment to a felony so those convicted would face serious jail time. As such, it is crucial to have the proper defense when facing such a crime.
Alabama Criminal Code
The Alabama Criminal Code states: “No person shall commit an act of prostitution as defined in Section 13A-12-120…No person shall … Read More
The Alabama Criminal Code defines burglary as the unlawful entering or the unlawful remaining on property combined with the intent to commit a crime. In Alabama, these charges are classified as either first, second, or third degree burglary. Each classification has its own specific punishment and each requires its own specific elements of the crime.
First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary is the most serious burglary crime in Alabama. The Criminal Codes states:
“a) A person commits the crime of burglary in the first degree if he or she knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling with intent to commit a crime therein, and, if, in effecting entry or while in dwelling or in immediate flight therefrom, the person or another participant in the crime:
(1) Is armed with explosives; or
(2) Causes physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or… Read More
A person who signs a contract is bound by that contract under Alabama law, even if the person signing the contract does not read the contract. This is applicable provided the contract would be otherwise enforceable. Therefore, when negotiating a deal, it is imperative to read the terms of the contract. Parkman White provides clients with contract work, from basic deals, real estate transactions, to complex corporate transactions.
To qualify as an acceptable contract, a contract needs these three items:
Offer and acceptance require an intent to offer and an intent to accept the terms of the contract. The offeror must manifest an intent to offer something and the offeree must manifest intent to accept the offer. To make the contract binding, the offeree must provide consideration in exchange for the offerror’s service. Consideration is the exchange of performance or promise of performance by … Read More
There is a debate within American society as to whether the use of controlled substances such as drugs should be banned. Some claim that drug crimes are victimless crimes and not much different than alcohol; others cite their effects, both short and long term, as reason to ban them. Regardless, under both Alabama state law and federal law, illegal drug distribution and use are illegal, and the penalties for violating anti-drug statutes are harsh.
Statistics reveal that law enforcement, particularly drug enforcement, focuses on those who distribute drugs. It seems that law enforcement does not look to enforce the law against end users. They seek to enforce the law against distributors, manufacturers, and those involved in transporting the drugs.
The Alabama statute criminalizing drug distribution makes it unlawful for a person to sell, furnish, give away, deliver, or distribute a controlled substance. A controlled substance is defined in … Read More
One day, a man walks down a public street minding his own business. As he passes a store that sells flour, a barrel of flour falls from a second-story loft and hits him in the head, causing significant damage. The plaintiff is unable to prove that the store owner breached his duty of care. Regardless, the court holds the store owner liable for negligence based on the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur. This theory presumes negligence because it infers negligence based on the nature of events. This is the case of Byrne v. Boadle from 1863, wherein an English Court inferred negligence and held the store owner responsible. Alabama courts also recognize the tort theory of res ipsa loquitur.
Note that res ipsa loquitur makes a rebuttable presumption of guilt, not a definitive determination of guilt. If a plaintiff successfully raises a res ipsa loquitur charge, the burden … Read More
The third amendment to the Alabama State Constitution, passed in 2014, states that the Constitution “provide[s] that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.” In theory, this amendment provides every Alabama citizen the right to open carry of a firearm, even if the person carrying the firearm does not have a permit. There are restrictions, however, as certain individuals may not carry a gun and certain circumstances prohibit individuals from carrying guns.
Individuals Banned from Carrying Guns
The Alabama Code provides that the following may not carry a gun:
- People who were convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime;
- Drug addicts or “habitual drunkards;” or
- Anyone who intends to do bodily harm on the premises of a public school.
Note that school security personnel are exempt from this ban if acting to … Read More
Imagine this shocking scenario: A dad is driving to pick up his kids from their friends’ house after school. On his way to the house, a drunk driver plows into the dad’s car, severely injuring the dad. An ambulance rushes to the scene and takes the dad to the hospital. His condition is critical; the man is hemorrhaging and has multiple fractures and he has fallen into a coma. His wife later comes to the hospital to find her husband in bad shape. Three days later, the dad dies. After a grieving period, the mom decides to sue the driver of the other car for wrongful death.
Alabama law defines wrongful death as the “wrongful act, omission, or negligence causing death” of another. The deceased’s estate, through his or her personal representative, can bring the suit.
The law also provides that a wrongful death claim may be brought … Read More