Proven Solutions for Your Legal Problems
If you have a pending criminal case and are wondering what to do, I have over 20 years of experience helping people like you solve big criminal problems.
If you have a summons in Municipal Court and are concerned about appearing in court, or how the summons will affect your job, I can help answer your questions.
If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI and are concerned about jail and your driving record, there are things you can do immediately to protect yourself.
If you have found this page because you have any of theses problems, you are in the right place. For more information about all of my criminal defense services, or for answers to common questions, please explore this site using the links above and in the sidebar to the right.
For immediate help, call me now at (504) 571-9529, text me at (504) 237-5245, or send me an email using the "Contact Me" link on the right side of this page. I promise I will respond immediately.
My goal is simple. To provide honest, straightforward answers to your criminal law questions, and give you an objective legal opinion regarding your case. Most importantly, I am here to help you through a difficult time; to guide you through the often uncomfortable journey into - and most importantly out of - the criminal justice system.
Lawyer in New Orleans Municipal Court
New Orleans Municipal Court is where people charged with minor misdemeanor offenses in New Orleans will have their cases heard. Your case will be allotted to Municipal Court either because you have been arrested for a municipal or state misdemeanor charge, or because you have been cited for such a charge and received a summons to appear in court.
In either case you will have a date set for a first appearance in municipal court, generally anywhere from three days to two weeks from the date of your arrest or citation. This is for your arraignment – a date to plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the charges. Either you or an attorney on your behalf will need to appear in court at your arraignment to enter a plea. You cannot do this by telephone, mail or online.
My advice to anyone charged with a crime in Municipal Court is to plead “not guilty” on the arraignment date. Your case will then be set for trial. On the trial date, you or your attorney can attempt to negotiate either a reduction or a dismissal of the charges. If you are comfortable appearing and representing yourself, you may generally be allowed to do that in Municipal Court. There are some cases where the judge may require you to hire a lawyer to represent you however. (more…)
Louisiana Leads the Country in Life Without Parole for Non-Violent Offenses
A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union found that at least 3,278 people are serving sentences of life without parole for non-violent crimes. Around 79% of them were convicted of drug crimes. A hefty 83% of such sentences were mandatory. That is, a state or federal law barred the judge from exercising any discretion, and were triggered by “three-strikes” laws, which demand a severe penalty for a third crime, no matter how minor, if the defendant was previously convicted of two others.
Not surprisingly, Louisiana leads the nation by leaps and bounds. Of the 1200 or so reported state cases of life without parole for non-violent offenses, a startling 429 were in Louisiana. That’s over 33% of the total number of state inmates in the country – in one state!
Prior to 2003 in Louisiana, a third felony offender was compelled to receive life without parole (LWOP) for any felony offense if any of the offender’s previous convictions was for a violent or drug distribution offense. That meant that someone convicted of a non-violent felony like theft or drug possession received a mandatory life sentence if the District Attorney successfully proved that they had at least one prior qualifying felony. In many cases the qualifying violent felony was decades old, but nevertheless mandated life in prison.
Having spent the past 17 years as a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana, I have seen first-hand how application of the old “three strikes” law led to tragic consequences, and have represented many defendant’s who’s lives were quite literally thrown away over convictions for petty offenses. And the ACLU report is replete with examples of policies similar to Louisiana’s working in perverse ways: (more…)
Criminal Policy Reform Gets Mixed Reviews
A new report from the Stanford University Criminal Justice Center examines the response of stakeholders in the California criminal justice system to the state’s now two-year-old prison realignment program. [Full text of the Stanford repot is here.] Two years ago, California shifted responsibility for most low-level criminal offenders from the state to individual counties. The policy shift, according to the new study, is getting mixed reviews from law enforcement and criminal justice officials.
The California program, drafted in response to ballooning incarceration rates and the corresponding increase in the state’s budget, was enacted in response to a federal court order to reduce prison populations in the state. The theory of the program was to shift away from mass state incarceration by diverting some inmates from state to local jails, increasing the number of inmates released on parole, and emphasizing treatment over incarceration for some offenders.
The report concludes that most are cautiously optimistic about the program. ”What was most surprising was nobody said it should be repealed,” said Stanford law professor Joan Petersilia, the study’s author. “They are on board seriously; it’s not just mouthing it, because they know the previous system was failing on almost every dimension.” (more…)
Warrant Required for GPS Tracking of Automobile
In late October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in the case of U.S. v. Katzin that law enforcement officers must have a valid warrant before installing a GPS device on the vehicle of a criminal suspect. In a 2-1 panel opinion, the Court relied heavily on the precedent in the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in U.S. v. Jones, where the Court held that the installation of a GPS tracking device constitutes a search triggering Fourth Amendment protections.
The case involved the 2010 arrest of three brothers who were charged with burglarizing a string of pharmacies in the Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey areas in 2009 and 2010. During the investigation, police placed a GPS tracking device under the bumper of a vehicle they believed was being used in the burglaries. They used it to track the vehicle and the suspects to the scene of a burglary where, after a stop of the vehicle, police found pills, cash and other items believed to have been taken in the burglary.
A federal district judge threw out the evidence, claiming it to be the fruits of an illegal search, and the Court of Appeals agreed with a judge’s earlier decision, saying police first needed to get a warrant before using the tracking device. The government argued that under the “automobile exception” a warrant was not needed to conduct a search of an automobile, and that the exception should apply to GPS searches as well. The court rejected this argument, finding that the automobile exception allows only searches of any part of a vehicle that may conceal evidence. The court said:
Attaching and monitoring a GPS tracker is different [than searching a car for evidence]: It creates a continuous police presence for the purpose of discovering evidence that may come into existence and/or be placed within the vehicle at some point in the future. (more…)