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
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
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
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
“But I thought that she was 16!”
Often, when someone is accused of statutory rape in Alabama, these are the first words uttered. While the accused may have reasonably and properly thought that the other person was at least 16 years old, the accused can still be liable for statutory rape.
Statutory Rape Defined
Under Alabama law, statutory rape is when someone who has reached the age of consent, which is someone 16 years old or older, has sex with someone under the age of 16. The law is premised on the idea that someone below the age of sixteen lacks capacity to consent to sex. As such, sex with that person is not consensual and is therefore rape.
Note that if the parties are legally married and reside in Alabama, then the person aged 16 or older did not commit statutory rape. Thus, a 20-year-old who has sex with … Read More
CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE CHARLES HENDERSON LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
Todd Henderson dedicated his life to serving his community and fellow man. A 30-year resident of Jefferson County, Mr. Henderson, also an Eagle Scout, served in law enforcement both at the state and federal level for more than a decade.
Mr. Henderson has served as a defense lawyer for the last 15 years, fighting to provide fair representation and protect ing the rights of those accused of crimes. He promoted respect for law and the Constitution for more than half of a century and he upholds service, sacrifice, and commitment to Jefferson County. Recently, the people of Jefferson County elected Mr. Henderson to serve as their District Attorney. Mr. Henderson is the first Democrat elected to that office in over 30 years.
Under Alabama law, an indictment prevents one from carrying out the duties of the position of the … Read More
In recent years, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, there has been much discussion about the “stand your ground” law. A stand your ground law removes the duty to retreat before acting in self-defense. Alabama adopted this rule, thereby eliminating the duty to retreat under certain circumstances.
In 2006, Alabama adopted the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows citizens to defend themselves and others if they are threatened in their home or place of work. In such an instance, a person may use deadly force, provided the person feels that danger is immediate and it is necessary for self-defense. There is no duty to retreat.
Specifically, the Alabama Criminal Code states: “A person who is justified under subsection (a) in using physical force, including deadly physical force, and who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in any place where he or she has … Read More
A harrowing FBI report in 2015 painted Birmingham as a high crime city. In terms of numbers, Birmingham has long ranked near the top of nationwide crime rankings. In fact, it notched the 5th spot in violent crime, property crime and overall crime among large cities in the latest batch of crime statistics released by the FBI.
Birmingham’s homicide rate ranked 7th among cities with populations of more than 100,000. In 2014, there were 59 homicides out of a population of 212,115. In 2012 it saw 66, 72 in 2012, 57 in 2011, 62 in 2010, 71 in 2009, 88 in 2008, 93 in 2007, 109 in 2006 and 105 in 2005.
With the high crime rate comes increased police scrutiny and overzealous prosecutions. Law enforcement typically uses these tactics to squash an increasing crime rate. Therefore, if you are accused of murder or another violent crime in Birmingham, understand … Read More