Finding The Best Criminal Lawyer To Represent You

When referring to criminal law, reference would need to be made to the various aspects which make up such a vast legal area. Consequently, a criminal lawyer refers to an attorney whose studies concentrated on criminal law and its several branches. Defense attorneys are the professionals required for anyone seeking to be well-defended against any criminal accusations.

Crimes are obviously serious violations of the law, which damage an individual either physically or morally. The sort of crimes which are commonly prosecuted are generally homicide, drug trafficking, theft and sexual offenses. However, criminal law is certainly not limited to these alone, and that is why there are several criminal lawyers that specialize in particular areas.

As can be imagined, hiring a lawyer who has sufficient experience in the particular area under which your case falls is crucial. Choosing the right lawyer to represent you will have a determinate effect on the outcome of your case. For this reason you obviously should do a little research on who would be the best attorney for you.

There are few experiences as traumatic as being accused of a crime. This is true both for the accused as well as for their loved ones. Preparing a solid defense requires time, effort, energy and financial means. Trusting your case in the hands of a reliable lawyer will relieve you of much anxiety, since you would know that an experienced professional would be in charge of your defense.

The benefit of having a good defense attorney on your side is that they will be professionally and objectively involved, with no emotional shackles to cloud their determination. Seasoned lawyers would have dealt with several similar cases in their past, so they would know what best to do.

Apart from the emotionally demanding time, facing a criminal charge would mean that your reputation is at risk. This is obviously a very serious aspect, especially as it regards your future professional endeavors. A criminal defense lawyer will know what to do to safeguard your personal record from harmful conviction records. Having a conviction on your record will influence where you can get a job and where you can live considerably.

While having charges dropped is a rare event, a criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate an equitable plea deal in which the charges would be reduced. This is naturally very much dependent on the facts of the case, but in general defense lawyers will manage to secure a much better outcome than what you would have initially imagined. The fear of facing time in jail is predominant amongst accused persons, but it is generally disposed of altogether by an able lawyer.

A very useful tool which anyone looking for a criminal attorney can make use of is the internet. A quick search will give you a wide range of websites of different criminal lawyers and their personal information. This will allow you to compare the different potential choices and to opt for the lawyer who seems best able to defend your rights. Apart from information, you can also use such websites to contact the lawyer directly and ask anything you wish. It is also possible to obtain a free consultation session with the lawyer of your choice so that you will be able to get to know how he approaches your case. Choosing the right criminal lawyer will be instrumental in your case.

Criminal Lawyer – What Are Their Roles and Responsibilities?

It would be quite unfortunate if you were charged for a serious criminal case. The crime may have been committed knowingly or unknowingly. In such a situation, you need to appoint a lawyer at the earliest. Will County, Illinois is where several criminal cases are fought every year. If you are a resident of Will County and involved in a criminal lawsuit then hire a criminal lawyer Will County immediately.

Do not wait for the court to appoint a public defender or attorney for you, and hire a lawyer by yourself. While choosing a lawyer in Will County IL, you need to verify the lawyer’s experience and educational background. Make sure that you hire a well-educated lawyer, as he/she will represent you in the court of law.

Each criminal case is different from others and this is why the lawyers have to do the research work properly before the case begins. People have misconceptions that criminal lawyers only represent and ask questions in the court but they do much more than this.

Role of a criminal lawyer in Will County IL

The criminal defense lawyers spend huge amount of time in gathering information from all the witnesses who were present when the criminal action was performed. In some cases, the lawyers also hire investigators to get information which helps in proving their clients guiltless. Once you have hired a lawyer in Will County IL then he/she will also try to discuss with the prosecutors to reduce the charges and punishments to some extent.

As the lawyers are familiar with all the court procedures and methods which are not written in any law book, they know what kinds of appeal and arguments will work. Prior to the case, these criminal defense lawyers analyze and understand all the hidden costs which are involved in the lawsuit. Even if their clients lose the case, the criminal lawyers in Will County IL help in altering the imprisonment period or compensation fees.

Legal Defense – Choosing a Criminal Lawyer

One would think that few people wake up every day, concerned about whether they will commit a crime, but the truth is that laws are broken all the time and most people don’t give it a second thought. Unfortunately, punishment for committing a crime is never pleasant to deal with, and people sabotage their chances of exoneration, simply because they don’t know their rights. If you’ve recently been accused of committing a crime in San Antonio, and are awaiting a court hearing, it’s important that you know how to choose representation for your case.

The important thing to remember about selecting a criminal lawyer in San Antonio is that they must have time to give you their full attention and allocate time getting to know the ins and outs that led you to being part of a criminal investigation. If there is one person that you should be able to tell all the details of your story to without holding back, it should be your criminal lawyer.

Before you start your search, it’s also important that you are aware of what sets a quality San Antonio criminal lawyer apart from any other lawyers that you might find on the internet. The coveted difference is that criminal lawyers spend most of their career in their state, giving them valuable experience with state and federal laws as they apply to criminal cases.

Those who are not from the state of Texas, but are facing charges in the San Antonio court system, you might be thinking that it would be smarter to hire a lawyer from your home town. However, if you’re not originally from San Antonio, but have become mixed up with criminal activity there, it’s essential that you seek a San Antonio criminal lawyer or local attorney from the city or surrounding areas because they will be much more familiar with the judge and prosecutors that will decide your case.

If you just want to get this whole mess over with, you might be tempted to just hire the first lawyer that offers you a reasonable rate, but remember that choosing a criminal lawyer is one bad decision you can’t afford to make. It’s likely that receiving these criminal charges opened your eyes to other bad decisions you’ve been making in your life, and the only way that you’re going to get a second chance to realize your future is by hiring a criminal lawyer that is invested in getting you the justice you deserve.

When trying to select between criminal defense lawyers in the San Antonio area, it’s important that you don’t just assume that they are a good choice because they have a nice website or because they run TV commercials. Ask questions about whether or not they have experience with cases like yours, and what the outcome of those cases were. Make sure that there are no language barriers or case strategies discussed that you don’t truly understand. You and your lawyer must be on the same page so that you can present a successful case.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Lawyers

Criminal law is a set of laws that deal with all aspects of crime. These include crimes such as murder, assault, arson, manslaughter and many other crimes that are considered as harmful to the welfare of the public. Criminal lawyers are the people you normally run to when you are faced with such charges. You can use them to represent you in a court of law.

That is why you need to be completely well informed in order to engage the best lawyer hence positive results. Many people have found themselves in a situation where they lose their case even when all the evidence is in their favour. This mostly happens when you engage an incompetent lawyer. To avoid such a scenario, you need to learn several things about criminal lawyers in general and the one you plan to hire in particular. Look for an attorney as soon as you have been charged. This will give you time to get a good one and to prepare well for your case. The earlier you do that, the more your attorney will be able to help you. Your chances of winning will increase if you choose someone who is well known and has been in the profession for long time.

Do not forget to confirm the certification of your lawyer. This is important, as it will give you an opportunity to choose the services of an expert. You can get all the information you need on the internet, by going to his workplace or even his law school. Once you identify who to work with, find out if he is familiar with cases like yours. If so, find out how many of those cases he has won and how many he has lost. Give him the job if he has a history of winning but if not, chances are that he will lose your case as well so find another one.

Criminal law solicitors ought to be knowledgeable in a wide variety of fields in criminal defense. Choose such a lawyer and ensure he has particular knowledge in your case. Your case will be built from various perspectives and you will be able to capture the attention of the jury Avoid hiring a specialist. This is because all your arguments in court will be based on just one point of view. You may end up losing your case.

Choose someone with whom you can connect freely. This should be someone who has a high regard for you and will respect your views. Arrogant lawyers will not waste their time gathering evidence for your case. Avoid them at all costs. You can call a solicitor soon after committing a crime without necessarily waiting for the authorities to be involved. This will help preserve evidence that could be useful to your case. A competent criminal lawyer will ease your way throughout the court proceedings and the case will be over before you know it. The best part is that victory will be all yours.

The Job of a Criminal Lawyer

Criminal law defines actions which are prohibited by the government because these actions threaten the physical and emotional welfare of the general public. Penalties for committing a criminal offense range from imprisonment to death. When an individual is accused of committing a crime, a criminal lawyer will be hired by both the accused (the defense) and the accuser (the prosecutor) in order to obtain a punishment that fits the crime.

A Criminal Lawyer’s Tasks

During the initial investigation, the lawyer works with the police to examine evidence found at the crime scene and collaborate witnesses testimonies of what they saw happen. He’ll also investigate the motives behind both the accused and the accuser’s actions.

Based on the collection of evidence the lawyer determines whether to pursue the criminal case. If more evidence is needed, the investigation will continue. But if sufficient evidence is available, a court date will be set.

During the trial, the criminal lawyer will strive to prove the defendant guilt or innocence through presenting the evidence found at the crime scene and by questioning individuals who were witnesses of the crime. He should try and obtain the most beneficial punishment for the accused. Even if the evidence unequivocally points toward a guilty verdict, a sentence in prison may not be the best option. Depending on the crime, there are many rehabilitation options that ought to be considered if the accused will not be a danger to society.

The Criminal Defense Lawyer

The criminal lawyer representing the defendant is the criminal defense lawyer. He represents the defendant during the trial, working toward either a “not guilty” verdict, or a lenient sentence.

It’s important to understand that the role of a defense attorney is not to simply push a “not guilty” verdict to the jury. If the accused is guilty or will most likely be found guilty, the defense lawyer will work to get the most lenient and beneficial resolution possible.

A criminal defense lawyer has a couple options to ensure a minimized sentence for his client before the trial even begins.

The first is a plea bargain. Depending on the severity of his client’s crime, the likelihood of a guilty verdict from the jury, the available evidence, and the penalty’s severity, a lawyer may be able to resolve the situation without going to court. The defendant would have to be willing to plead guilty and then his lawyer would work with the prosecutor to enforce a fee, reduced prison sentence or community service requirements.

Pre-trial motions allow the defense lawyer to try and get certain evidence discounted before and during the trial. His ultimate goal is to completely dismiss the case.

Once the jury convicts the defendant, his criminal lawyer can evaluate the possible success of an appeal, especially if new evidence has surfaced or a new witness is found. Sometimes evidence used during the trial can be proved false or the sentence may prove to be too strict.

The Prosecution’s Lawyer

The prosecutor is the one bringing the accusation against the defendant. Whether it’s another individual or the government, the prosecution’s lawyer will represent the accuser, working toward a “guilty” verdict and maximum punishment for the defendant.

When Do You Need a Criminal Lawyer?

If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime and if there is a possibility of being imprisoned, then the first thing you have to do is hire a criminal lawyer. Some people feel they can represent themselves, particularly in cases of drunken driving and so on. They often wake up to the necessity of getting expert help only when it is too late.

A criminal lawyer can help you if and when you find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Sometimes, even when there is no misconduct or misdeed involved, people do get entangled with the law. In such cases, it is a good idea to hire a criminal lawyer.

A criminal lawyer can help you keep your criminal records clean. If your criminal record is clean, your chances of landing that dream job are high. You need not fear a background check or answer questions that make you uncomfortable. A criminal record can lead to a number of problems like loss of civil rights, loss of financial aid (in the case of students), deportation or denial of naturalization. Often, criminal record could impact future income and job potential significantly.

There are several advantages to hiring a good criminal lawyer. For one thing, they know the law of the country and of the particular state inside out. Thus, they can easily evaluate and determine beforehand whether the individual can beat the accusation. For instance, many a time, a case is dismissed simply because correct legal procedures were not adopted at the time of arresting or detailing the individual involved. There have been a number of cases where the evidence submitted in court has been rendered useless because the lawyer was able to punch a hole through it. Different aspects of law impinge the outcome of a case and an experienced, qualified criminal lawyer has the qualifications and the experience to deal with these variables.

In case the individual is arrested and sentenced to jail, criminal lawyers know how to strike deals with those concerned so that the convicted person is subjected to minimum tenure of sentences. Through the dexterous use of certain kinds of information, the criminal lawyer can get prosecutors to reduce jail term. On the other hand, if an individual were to represent themselves, they may not be able to strike such a deal simply because most prosecutors have no rapport with the defendant and are therefore in no mood to strike any deal with them.

Often, people who seek a good defense lawyer are frightened away by the cost involved. Many people feel that lawyer’s charges are too hefty and therefore represent themselves in the case. This could prove to be a costly mistake in future.

Did Nixon Get the War on Drugs Right? Michael Massing’s The Fix

The Fix by Michael Massing. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000, 335 pp., $25.00.

The dust jacket of Michael Massing’s The Fix summarizes his thesis in bold red letters: “Under the Nixon Administration, America Had an Effective Drug Policy. WE SHOULD RESTORE IT. (Nixon Was Right).” That is a pretty extraordinary claim to make regarding an administration that gained office in large part through the “Southern Strategy” that had at its heart Nixon’s declaration of a “War on Drugs” and whose policies created the cocaine epidemic that caused so many new concerns a decade later. At most, I would agree that the Nixon administration’s pursuit of a fundamentally bad policy included some worthwhile efforts that have been devalued by every subsequent administration. This was not because Nixon or his closest advisers were right about drug policy but because Nixon was more interested in foreign policy issues and his benign neglect of domestic policy allowed a number of positive developments to blossom in the midst of the mire of incompetence and corruption that characterized his presidency.

Perceptively concluding that “policies being formulated in Washington today bear little relation to what is taking place on the street,” Massing attempts to depict the real effects of drug policy at the street level. Unfortunately, he doesn’t rely on the epidemiologic evidence or read the careful analyses conducted by researchers like myself who have systematically examined what is truly taking place on the street. Instead he relies on the journalist’s usual — and usually misleading — tool of dramatic anecdotes.

Massing’s anecdotal case is presented through the stories of Raphael Flores and Yvonne Hamilton. Flores runs Hot Line Cares, a drop-in center for addicts in Spanish Harlem. Hot Line Cares, which Flores founded in 1970, is essentially just a cramped office in of an otherwise abandoned tenement where Flores and his staff advise and assist addicts who want to get into treatment. Given the fragmented state of drug abuse treatment in New York City, and in most other American communities, it is no easy task to connect addicts with appropriate care and even harder to connect them with adequate aftercare. Massing writes, “If a Holiday Inn is full, it will at least call the Ramada down the street to see if it has a vacancy. Not so two treatment programs”

Yvonne Hamilton is a crack addict trying to get her life together. Massing describes her trials and tribulations as she copes with her illness and makes her way through New York City’s treatment non-system. It is an affecting story and well told. The author presents it as an argument for treatment and perversely as an argument against decriminalization or legalization. But she is one of the many examples that show that prohibition does not prevent addiction. And improvements in her drug problem seem to have less to do with the treatment she did receive than with changes in her life situation.

These two lives provide a touchstone to which his narrative will later return. The middle third of the book shifts dramatically in tone as Massing chronicles the evolution of the war on drugs in Washington. During Nixon’s tenure, the government spent more money on treatment (the “demand” side) than on stopping drug trafficking (the “supply” side), which he argues led to declines in both drug overdoses and crime rates. As successive presidents felt pressure to emphasize the “war” rather than treatment, he asserts that the number of chronic addicts skyrocketed. In the third and last section Massing returns to Spanish Harlem, where Hamilton continues a difficult struggle to remain drug-free and Flores struggles to keep his center afloat and to keep from falling into addiction himself.

It is the second part of the book that is the heart of Massing’s thesis. It is a tale that is familiar to those of us who are active in the field of drug policy and, in addition to scholars, other journalists have told it before — Dan Baum (1996) and Mike Gray (1998) doing so particularly well — but I will summarize (with some details Massing missed or left out) the history of drug policy under Nixon for the reader who is not familiar with the story.

In 1968, as Richard Nixon was making his comeback run for the presidency, he adopted the “Southern Strategy” that has been the key to Republican victories in presidential races ever since. Since the end of Reconstruction every Democratic presidential candidate had been able to rely on the votes of the “solid South” but the Northern Democrats’ support for civil rights had been the cause of increasing disaffection in the South, as epitomized by Strom Thurmond’s independent run for President against Truman in 1948. Then, in 1964, Alabama Governor George Wallace’s bid for the Democratic nomination for President showed that racism won votes in the North as well as the South. Nixon wanted to win the South, as well as racists’ votes in the North, without offending more traditional Republican voters by an openly racist campaign. The answer Nixon and his advisers found was to campaign against crime, which most Americans quite falsely equated with minorities. So what if the crime rate was actually declining, Americans seem to always believe that crime is increasing just as they seem to always blame it on cultural or racial outsiders.

Even better than campaigning against crime, the Nixon team soon realized, was campaigning against drugs. Most Americans, again falsely, equated drug users with violent criminals. Better still, for that great “silent majority” whose votes they sought a campaign against drugs symbolized a campaign against both Blacks and much hated hippies and anti-war protestors. When Nixon declared “war on drugs” he was appealing to the basest elements of the American electorate and it worked, just as it has worked for other candidates since.

The success of his anti-crime/anti-drug campaign presented Nixon with a serious dilemma when he took office – people were expecting results. At first his administration considered admitting that constitutionally crime control was a state responsibility and proposing to act through support of training programs and grant-in-aid to state and local police forces, but his approach had little political pizzazz and was largely abandoned after it failed to impress the public. Nixon had some ideas of his own, such as a nationwide mandatory death penalty for selling drugs – a strategy that has been tried in Red China and in Singapore and has clearly failed in both nations – but fortunately he was more interested in foreign policy and left the search for a solution to the drug problem in the hands of John Ehrlichman and the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Within the Domestic Policy Council Egil “Bud” Krogh Jr., a young lawyer who is better remembered as the man who headed the White House “plumbers” of Watergate fame, was charged with responsibility for finding a way to visibly impact drugs and crime before the 1972 election. Massing portrays Krogh as something approaching the tragic hero of the tale, but I’m not sure that many other than Massing and Krogh himself hold such a positive view of his public service. In any case, it is true that Krogh played a key role in shaping both the good and the bad in the Nixon administration’s drug policies.

In one of his other roles as liaison to the government of the District of Columbia, Krogh had become acquainted with psychiatrist Robert Dupont who was running one of the early methadone maintenance programs in DC. Krogh was reluctant to accept a maintenance approach to addiction but he did see that it was the one approach that actually had some evidence of effectiveness. In June of 1970, Krogh sent the Council’s youngest lawyer Jeffrey Donfeld to visit methadone programs in New York and Chicago, including the first such program, which was directed by Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander of Rockefeller University, and a “mixed modality” model developed by University of Chicago psychiatrists Jerome Jaffe and Edward Senay.

Donfeld was dubious about the claimed effectiveness of methadone treatment and even more dubious about its political acceptability – in terms that have since become familiar, he wondered if it would send the wrong message. Donfeld found Jaffe in particular to be “politically sensitive” to the emotional issues involved in methadone maintenance. Donfeld believed that the “mixed modality approach,” which he called “different strokes for different folks”, by offering a range of treatments that included detoxification, drug-free, and maintenance approaches, effectively masked the methadone program from political criticism.

Much as Raphael Flores is the hero of the first part of the book, Jerome Jaffe is Massing’s hero for the second part. Jaffe has described his meeting with an essentially clueless Nixon. He sidestepped Nixon’s idea of the death penalty for dealers and suggested that the one value of law enforcement might be in pushing up the street price of drugs and thus encouraging more addicts to seek treatment – this idea was later taken up by Peter Reuter of the Rand Corporation but his research showed that the effect of aggressive law enforcement on supply was essentially nil and on price was tiny.

Jaffe attempted to make four points in his meeting with the President an d each was to bear fruit in shaping the future of drug policy under Nixon. The first was the need for more research and evaluation of treatment. The expansion of a small division within the National Institute of Mental Health into a National Institute on Drug Abuse and a National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse grew in part out of this recommendation. Second, he noted that currently there were a dozen different federal agencies funding treatment that didn’t even talk to each other. He felt that coordination of all these efforts was needed in pursuit of a coherent national strategy. This led to the creation of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, which he was startled to find himself appointed director of, as the nation’s first “drug czar”. Third, given the extent of heroin addiction, he urged that methadone maintenance should not be restricted to a few small research projects but should be made widely available. Fourth, he urged that funding for treatment be dramatically increased. These last two points were at the heart of what Massing refers to as “The Fix”.

Jaffe’s first big White House assignment was to develop a plan for controlling the skyrocketing prevalence of heroin use among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam, which involved 10 to 15 percent of all GIs in Vietnam if not more. Pentagon policy was that heroin use was a crime and that any serviceman who used heroin should be arrested and prosecuted. The result of this was an over-burdened military justice system but no reduction in heroin use. Jaffe urged that the Pentagon should adopt a treatment approach instead of a punitive one.

Massing suggests that Jaffe’s solution relied for its effectiveness on the GIs’ overpowering desire to return to the United States. He advised the Pentagon to subject all GIs to urinalysis before shipping them home. GIs who tested positive for heroin would have to stay in Vietnam for detox. The military’s reaction to his plan was to object that it would play havoc with the complex logistics of troop movement, to which Massing reports that Jaffe replied, “I cannot believe that the mightiest army on Earth can’t get its troops to piss in a bottle” When his plan was implemented, Massing reports that the percentage of GIs using heroin quickly dropped by more than half.

Jaffe himself tells it quite differently. It appears that as an academic and researcher he was aware of the growing evidence that most heroin users do not become addicted and the early follow-ups showing that most of the troops who were addicted to heroin in Vietnam abstained successfully, and usually without any treatment, after returning home (Jaffe and Harris, 1974). He didn’t fool himself into believing that the urine screening program actually deterred heroin use among the troops while serving in Nam. What he expected was that once word of the urinalysis got around heroin using GIs who weren’t addicted would stop using for the last weeks before rotation home and only the truly addicted would be unable to do so and thus fail the urine test. This is apparently what happened but it gave the politically useful appearance of a far greater success. The classic follow-up study by Robins, et al. (1980) confirmed that most of the GIs who became addicted to heroin while serving in Vietnam recovered fully and permanently after returning to the US and also found that recovery rates were not improved by receiving treatment – a finding the implications of which I discussed in several publications of that period (Duncan, 1974, 1975, 1976 & 1977).

I believe that the rapid recovery of Vietnam addicts demonstrates that for most of the GIs who became addicted, heroin use served as a coping mechanism for dealing with the stress of serving in a war zone. The relief they obtained by using heroin served as a negative reinforcer and negative reinforcement produces powerful habituation. Once they returned home their heroin using behavior extinguished in an environment where for most of them it was no longer being reinforced. Those who persisted in their addiction, according to Robins, et al. (1980), were the ones who returned to conditions of poverty, an alcoholic parent, etc. – exactly the ones who would continue to need a stress reliever. Treatment was far less relevant than environmental change, which is what Moos and his coleagues have found to be true for alcoholism treatment (Moos, Finney, & Cronkite, 1990; Finney & Moos, 1992).

As Massing reports, Jaffe was able to convince the Nixon administration to increase funding for drug abuse treatment eightfold over what it had been when Nixon took office. For the only time so far since America began its failed experiment with drug prohibition, the treatment budget was larger (twofold) than that for drug law enforcement. Massing attributes a decline in narcotics-related deaths and in crime rates to this budget increase and a more than 300 percent increase in the number of persons in treatment. It would be nice for treatment advocates like me if that was true but no knowledgeable analyst is likely to agree that it is.

While more addicts in treatment probably played some role in reducing the numbers of narcotics-related deaths, there were two other factors that probably played a far greater role. First, was the introduction in 1971 of naloxone (Narcan®), a full narcotic antagonist, which replaced nalorphone (Nalline®), a partial narcotic antagonist, as the drug of choice for treating narcotic overdoses. Second, was the growing popularity of amphetamines and other stimulants resulting in them replacing heroin as the primary drug of addiction in America. This may also have contributed to the decreasing death rate in a tertiary fashion by reducing demand for heroin and therefore reducing the price and increasing the purity of heroin on the street which would reduce deaths that often result from allergic reactions to the impurities in illicit heroin.

There is strong evidence that the availability of methadone maintenance in a community with large numbers of heroin addicts will bring about a reduction in rates of property crimes, especially the burglaries and petty thefts that addicts most often engage in to raise money to support their habit. It is very likely that the expansion of this modality under Nixon and Jaffe did lower crime rates. Crime rates, however, were already trending downward and the continuation of that trend was probably more important than any government policy.

The gravest defect of The Fix lies in its tacit assumption that the general direction and goal of our nation’s current drug policy is fine and just needs some tinkering with its budget priorities in order to “fix” it. Well, Nixon didn’t fix it, nor will or can any future president. The goal of eliminating recreational drug use has never been achieved anywhere nor is there any good reason why society should be better for achieving such a goal.

I directed one of the early treatment centers to utilize the “mixed modality” approach that Jaffe advocated and I continue to believe in its value. The fragmented state of most treatment services today, so well illustrated by Massing’s two examples, certainly is a serious barrier to the effectiveness of treatment. So I would certainly agree with Massing that America would benefit greatly from both a return to greater funding for treatment and the use of multimodality treatment. But no public health problem can be adequately controlled through treatment, or secondary and tertiary prevention as we in public health prefer to call it. It is only through primary prevention that a problem as big as drug addiction can be meaningfully reduced. It certainly cannot be reduced by operating a system in which between a third and two-thirds of the current patients don’t need any treatment at all because their drug use is recreational and not addictive.

Effective primary prevention of drug abuse, however, has to be something far different from telling people to “just say no” and telling prophylactic lies to kids in D.A.R.E. classes. First of all, effective prevention (primary, secondary or tertiary) must focus on the actual problem of addiction rather than on all use of certain selected drugs. Most users of any of the widely used drugs, with the exception of nicotine users, are not addicted, are not at great risk of becoming addicted, are not doing any substantial harm to themselves, and aren’t harming anyone else by their use of the drug. Even a small proportion of tobacco smokers are not addicted and are not harming themselves by smoking. Society has no valid interest in preventing drug use but a very clear interest in preventing addiction.

Second, primary prevention cannot be achieved by scaring people — least of all by scaring them with lies. Programs like D.A.R.E. make a strong impression on many preadolescents and early adolescents who swear they are never going to use drugs but by their mid-teens most of them have learned through observation that much the D.A.R.E. officer told them was lies and they are not only ready to experiment with drugs but cynical in viewing any valid warnings they might receive from adults about real risks. Effective prevention must be based on facts not scare stories. Instead of insisting that kids should stay drug-free forever, which virtually no one in our society is or should be, we should be teaching them how to responsibly assess drugs and situations of use so that they can choose wisely what and when and how regarding drug use.

Criminalizing drugs and drug use makes all levels of prevention more difficult. No drug user or abuser is going to be better off for being arrested. Treatment in the criminal justice system is a good idea for those who are arrested for real crimes such as theft or assault but treatment in the criminal justice system is always fighting an uphill battle against the harm done by the system. Numerous studies have shown that any form of punishment for drug use increases the likelihood that the drug user will become or persist in being addicted.

Private Investigators – Movies Vs Reality

When most of us hear “private investigator,” we picture the iconic Hollywood private eye with a black trench coat and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He’s usually drinking a Scotch or a brandy or something on the rocks in a short glass. He’s stoic and a bit disheveled, a rebel. He’s someone with all the keen investigative skills of the finest police detective and none of the couth. He wouldn’t fit into an organized police force.

While the image of the investigator is burned eternally into our collective memories, it varies tremendously from what private investigators represent in real life. There are a number of myths that every fictional private eye since Sherlock Holmes has fortified. Those interested in becoming or working with a private investigator may be interested in knowing which of those movie myths are true and which ones are busted.

Movie myth #1

All private investigators are men

Busted: Of course women are private investigators. PI Magazine estimates that about 15 percent of the roughly 60,000 licensed real-life private investigators in the United States are women. The number has been on the rise over recent years, climbing steadily.

Movie myth #2

Investigators are rebels without much use for manners. They’re outsiders, tough guys like Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Mike Hammer who don’t mince words, who say it like it is. Their personalities are serrated and rough and people don’t much like them though they mysteriously respect them.

Busted: A private eye’s job demands that he or she be likeable and respectable. A PI has to be able to ask questions and get answers. The job, while it often does involve some stereotypical detective work like surveillance, requires solid interview and interpersonal skills. Private detectives have to be able to get the truth from the people they’re working with. Being able to relate with them and ask the right questions is often more about finesse than aggression.

Movie myth #3

Private investigators can do everything a cop can do without the bothersome restraints and red tape police have to deal with.

Busted: While private investigators, depending on the cases their working, may not have to worry about how evidence was obtained in terms of admissibility in court, they do have to obey the law. They can’t legally impersonate the air conditioning repair man in most cases, they can’t break into people’s homes to snoop and they can’t tap phone lines in most states. In most states, retaining someone against his will for questioning would be considered felony kidnapping. All states except Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho,

Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania and South Dakota require licenses.

Movie myth #4

Detectives are lonely guys who wait at their desks in smoky home offices waiting for a busty blonde to walk through the door and ask him to investigate a steamy murder.

Busted: First, many private investigators work in detective firms, in slick offices where people wear suits and someone directs calls. Second, even those private eyes who work independently do more mundane work. They run background checks for employers and apartment complexes. They examine legal paperwork and help lawyers with civil and criminal cases. They offer premarital screening serves and investigate infidelity along with insurance claims and child custody cases.

The work of the private investigator is diverse and varied. But it almost never involves high-speed chases and gun battles.

Movie myth #5

P.I. work is rewarding, interesting and independent.

Confirmed: Private investigators have to be open to learning and researching new issues, interviewing subjects and getting to the truth. Every day is different and the workload changes regularly.

While the private investigators of the real world are just normal people in professional careers, the Hollywood image of Humphrey Bogart, Jack Nicholson and Tom Selleck battling the dark side for justice and a paycheck are likely to endure.

Hidden Camera Laws and Legal Advice

If you are planning to install a surveillance system in your home or business it is wise to examine your states privacy laws and consider areas where you may be in violation, which could result in hefty fines and/or a jail sentence. It is unlawful to install covert or hidden security cameras in areas considered to be a private place.

United States privacy laws define a private place as somewhere one can be assume to be safe from unauthorized surveillance. This includes areas such as locker rooms, changing stalls, bathrooms, bedrooms and hotel rooms. This means that you cannot install hidden security cameras or listening devices in these areas without prior written permission from the individual. State laws regarding security cameras are not uniform across the board. Only a small number of them have statutes regarding hidden camera installation. They are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah.

In most cases evidence gathered using hidden video cameras will still be admissible in a court of law if a crime is committed whether permission was granted or not. While it may be illegal to install a security camera in a retail store dressing room, footage capturing shoplifters in these areas is still often used to prosecute criminals. The two circumstances covert observation is considered illegal are when the owner of the premises has not authorized observation, or the recorded video/audio is used for illegal means.

Privacy law and the use of hidden security cameras is currently an area of major controversy. This technology has improved rapidly over the last 10 years and laws are still being developed to deal with its implementation. Tools that were once only available to high end law enforcement and government spies can now be purchased by anyone. A fully functional wireless security camera setup including transmitter, receiver, or built in data storage can be purchased for as little as $50. This double edged sword has allowed individuals and business a sense of security previously unattainable, but the easy installation of wireless security cameras has also given way to significant abuses. Research has shown that even a large portion of lawful security cameras are regularly used for voyeuristic purposes.

Unfortunately they way it sits right now there is very little that can be done to prevent people from installing illegal spy camera. As a business or homeowner you can keep yourself out of trouble by checking your state laws or consulting a private investigator or lawyer about your security system setup.

Moses v. Jesus: Why do Conservative Christians Prefer Moses’ Commandments to Jesus’ Beatitudes?

Why are conservative Christians so concerned about displaying the Ten Commandments in public and especially in courtrooms?

Conservatives and their lawyers claim that the Ten Commandments are (or, should regain their position) at the heart of American jurisprudence because the Decalogue represents our commitment to Rule of Law. And, they have made these arguments in cases like McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky[1] (in which the ACLU challenged the legality of displaying framed copies of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courtrooms) and Van Orden v. Perry[2] (involving a challenge to the legality of a Ten Commandments monument displayed as part of a statehouse exhibit). Immediately after the Supreme Court decided these two cases, Mat Staver, the conservative Christian attorney who argued the McCreary County case, stated

The Ten Commandments have become a universally recognized symbol of law because of its [sic] influence on our law and notions of right and wrong. The Court should recognize the Ten Commandments are more than an historical relic. The Founders would be outraged that we are even debating the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments. That the Ten Commandments would be deemed unconstitutional is an insult to the Constitution, to our shared religious history …[3]

While the Supreme Court decisions released this week in these two cases did little to resolve the issue of religious displays, they elevate the issue in the American culture wars while obscuring a broader set of questions that we should consider: Are the Ten Commandments really a building block of American society, and a representation of our preference for order? If they are, should they be? Given our culture, tradition and values, should we display the Ten Commandments publicly as a sign of reverence for our institutions?

Frankly, I doubt it.

I am certainly not against religious displays in public.[4] But, I would be much more in favor of the idea if conservatives were arguing for the public display of what should be the set of tenets at the center of Christianity and its influence of society – the Beatitudes. In pursuing this discussion, it is easy to get off track, and onto a kind of argument that is not particularly productive – the appropriateness of displaying religious documents in public forums,[5] or appropriate standards of review for governmental policies implicating religion.[6] I hope we don’t, because I want to raise an issue related to the questions I posed above, one that I find much more interesting. It’s time for conservative Christians to decide – who do you like better, Moses or Jesus?

It can’t possibly be both, because as we know from St. Paul’s letters that Jesus freed us from the Law (promulgated by God through Moses, in the Christian and Judaic traditions). Jesus’ Beatitudes are a “new law” of redemption leading to freedom, peace, charity and happiness. The word beatitude itself comes from the Latin beatitudo (meaning happiness). Jesus’ mission to the world was to preach that “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He did not tack on “and, God is really angry so there’s going to be hell to pay.” In short, Jesus’ message was not one of retributive justice carried out by a set of state institutions that enforce a religious code for living. So why are conservative Christians, the heirs of Jesus’ mercy and love, supporting Moses over Jesus?

Rejection of the Ten Commandments by courts has contributed to disaffection with the society, belief that Christian values are under attack, and sustained political and legal action on the part of the conservative Christian social movement. Certain, not all conservative Christians would side with Moses on this score, but they are the exceptions to the rule. If others thought about it, they would realize that they are backing the wrong horse, and could make a better argument using the Beatitudes. I would like to see courts argue against a public display of words like “blessed are the peacemakers,” or (even better) “blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” I’m certain courts would insist that such words would have to be placed within an historical context. But, can you see courts today objecting to consideration of the beatitudes and “blessed are the merciful” before sentencing, as they did recently when they overturned the decision of a jury that considered the Old Testament during deliberation?

So, why then is the punitive justice of Mosaic Law equated with Christian principles when Jesus himself preached peace and mercy, not “an eye for an eye?” The answer is not that conservative Christians are uncomfortable with a legal status that places them on the outside. Conservatives of all stripes actually feel much more comfortable on the outside of the system then the inside. Once they gain political power they have just as much trouble as any other winners in managing the state and maintaining their principles. The strange part is that they would want to win at all. The images of Mosaic Law are the armies of Israel conquering Canaan, and later the armies of Christian Europe conquering Jerusalem. The image of the Beatitudes is of the suffering Christ on the Cross, put there by the state. If conservative Christians today feel that they have been cut off from government (and their values shunted aside), isn’t that what is supposed to happen? “Blessed are ye when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

Even more perplexing, if conservative Christians did manage to dominate the institutions of government, why would they want to put the principles of Moses into practice rather than those of Jesus who superseded him? The Ten Commandments are the symbol of a system that while claiming to be Christian (if not in origin, then in practice) in no way resembles the work of Christ. This system endorses a way of living that shows little of the respect for human dignity that is at the heart of Jesus’ work. Yet its adherents claim to be followers of Christ. So, why do they endorse the “eye for an eye” logic that Christ himself refutes when constructing a state based on Christian principles?

I think the answer lies in ideology and authoritarianism. People prefer the easy answer to the question of who is good and who is bad. Mosaic Law provides the most parsimonious response to both criminal conduct and behavior outside the mainstream. In fact, Mosaic Law (or, at least those parts of it that we like to keep around – the “stone my mother at the gates of the city” part is a bit passé) is applied much more easily and consistently (particularly within the state) than Jesus’ mercy and peace. From that standpoint, it is more coherent, and almost scientific in its application. There is action, and there is reaction. Law becomes routinized, predictable, and consistent. It is a man-made list of proscriptions, but it ultimately takes on the form of a natural and undeniable force applied unthinkingly and automatically. You do the crime, you do the time. Punishing those whose behavior is offensive makes logical sense from a self-centered point of view. It’s supposed to make us feel better when the state carries it out. Retribution restores our faith that, if we behave as the state wants us to behave, we will be protected. For those who behave against the authority of the state, there will be retribution. People demonstrate the same kind of faith in the systems’ ability to pass judgment in the economic sphere as well. Americans conflate economic success with personal virtue.

The difficulty with the legal paradigm based on Mosaic Law is this – it is not the work of Jesus. Under the Mosaic Law, justice is imputed – citizens are not called upon to evaluate the effectiveness of the system in achieving justice, or its usefulness in establishing social arrangements and distributions of power, wealth, or status. Furthermore, citizens are not required to think carefully about themselves in relation to others. In promoting consistency and uniformity, the law asks no one to be unselfish, to turn the other cheek, or to set aside asserting one’s rights against someone else in favor of forgiveness and community with others.

This is a way of thinking about life characterized by atomism more in line with scientific theory than with religious doctrine. Unfortunately, in America alternative modes of thinking are difficult to defend in the abstract – mainly because they are abstract and have no adherents to defend them. Social scientists recognize this. Jennifer Hochschild argues that we have “individualized”[7] even personal responsibilities and duties to community. In other words, there must be some individual benefit for Americans if they will endorse policies that require recognition of others’ rights or needs. Placing the Ten Commandments in courtrooms merely reinforces our ideological attachments, rationalizes a type of justice that is distinctly unchristian, and focuses our attention on what is best for self rather than what is most useful for building the rich human interaction that is the basis for any productive society. Law-abidingness (even when that law is clearly unjust) is considered a sign of virtue, merit and innate goodness. The Ten Commandments are the very embodiment of this kind of justice – losers deserve to lose and criminals to be punished, and those who do not conform should experience punishment because nonconformity is a purely personal failing. That is the essence of democratic authoritarianism. As Hochschild notes, there is no absolute reason for envisioning life in this way, it is “simply an epistemological choice … But to the degree that the focus carries a moral message, it points to a weakness at the very heart …”[8] of Americanism because we have been deceived into believing its universality.

This leaves us few options for evaluating the usefulness of our system of justice. It also explains why it is so hard to argue for the Beatitudes, and why conservative Christians see an ancient law, outmoded by the work of their own savior, as embodying the central tenants of their faith. We can, however, draw two conclusions. First, the tenets of conservative Christianity are based in part on socio-cultural norms and preferences for behavior. Perhaps if conservative Christianity endorsed Christ as its central figure it could make some legitimate claim to universality. But, it has failed to do so. Furthermore, conservative Christianity fails to endorse all Mosaic law, picking and choosing which laws to follow and enforce based solely on what is socially acceptable. Thus, all that can be said about this is that conservative Christians favor a culturally derived sense of justice, that they represent this cultural derived sense of justice as both universally good and related to Christ, but that it actually emanates from the Ten Commandments, a law outmoded by Christ himself. If we can agree on this (and I doubt we will), then perhaps we can begin a public dialogue about what social arrangements and definitions of justice are most useful for promoting social good.

Second, conservative Christian social activism could in fact be very useful. It is not the activism that is the problem, but the inconsistencies in the principles underlying that action. Perhaps there is a way to endorse the idea of social change, but fundamentally reshape the values that underlie it. However, this project holds little chance for success because conservative Christians deride the idea that social good should ever be a basis for our decisions. This brings us back to the first conclusion – the values espoused by conservative Christians supporting the display of the Ten Commandments are culturally derived and time bound despite claims to the contrary.

In the end, conservative Christians are fighting the right battle (for social change) using the wrong list. The Beatitudes at their core are pragmatic. Unlike the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes are distinctly lacking in authoritative commands, dogmatic principles, or rigid standards. Take for instance that portion saying Blessed are the poor in spirit, and Blessed are the meek. Poverty in spirit and meekness are qualities of humility, not dogmatic certitude. One cannot imagine the poor in spirit and the meek leading a crusade to kill the infidel – they could never be so certain. Thus, both suggest that lacking dogmatic belief and certitude are appropriate characteristics for followers of Christ. They might read “blessed are the humble, who are not so arrogant to believe that they know everything and have the right to impose that knowledge on others.” Under this mode of thinking, any religious conviction that cannot tolerate uncertainty and that fears open critical self-examination is a form of idolatry. Thus, the Beatitudes supplant the Ten Commandments by introducing an approach to living that contradicts the old list at every point.
Even more strikingly, the Beatitudes imply that if you want to be successful you cannot act as the Ten Commandments dictate – you cannot angrily persecute non-adherents from a list of dos and don’ts. In fact, such persecution is precisely what those who follow the Beatitudes should expect for themselves. Furthermore, Blessed are the merciful presents us with a range of potentially pragmatic behaviors applied across social institutions. Those who show the mercy of Christ are blessed, not those who impose authoritarian power to punish, or those who impose their ideas about right religion on others or even themselves. Unfortunately, the word righteousness in blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness is too often taken to mean the dogmatic form of religiosity. But, in context with the other Beatitudes, it seems to imply that taking the pragmatic stance (characterized by the qualities of mercy, peace, and poverty in the face of uncertainty) is truly to seek after righteousness, and righteousness itself is seeking the best in life despite its ever changing nature.

[1] Supreme Court Docket No. No. 03-1693. See American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky v. McCreary County, 354 F.3d 438 (2003) for the sixth circuit decision below.

[2] See Van Orden v. Perry, 351 F. 3d 173 (2004) for the fifth circuit decision below.

[3] Staver, Mat. “Supreme Court Issues Split Decisions Regarding The Ten Commandments.” Liberty Counsel Alert, Washington, DC: June 23, 2005.

[4] Quite the contrary actually. I’m on the side of Texas in the Van Orden case, especially as the state responded to concerns about displaying only the Ten Commandments by morphing the monument into a broader educational display about the law.

[5] Critical analyses of religion in public forums abounds. For popular reviews of attitudes among the religious, particularly conservative Christians, see Wolfe, Alan. “The Opening of the Evangelical Mind.” Atlantic Monthly 286, no. 4 (2000): 55-76, or Cox, Harvey. “The Warring Visions of the Religious Right.” Atlantic Monthly 276, no. 5 (1995): 59-69. For academic analyses of the New Christian Right, jurisprudence and religion in public, see Steven P. Brown’s Trumping Religion, this author’s The Culture of Conservative Christian Litigation (forthcoming), Greg Iver’s Redefining the First Freedom: The Supreme Court and the Consolidation of State Power. New Brunswick, PA: Transaction Publishers, (1993). For a broader review of the New Christian Right as a social movement, see Wilcox, Clyde. Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press (2000), and Moen, Matthew C. The Transformation of the Christian Right. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press (1992).

[6] Such disputes are typically “politico-moral” in nature. The Court has struggled to define appropriate standards that safeguard religion from governmental influence while maintaining the free expressive rights of citizens. Beginning with Engel v. Vitale (1962), the Court continued to refined First Amendment religion clause jurisprudence. Engel and its progeny treat various areas of religion in public life, including public displays such as the one at issue in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, but also public policies on religious observances by state institutions, state support for religion in public schools, support for religious educational institutions, and recognition of religious beliefs of citizens.