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.
The 2014 Legislative Session Tackles Marijuana ReformPosted on by Townsend Myers
A number of marijuana-related bills have been introduced before the Louisiana State Legislature, which began the 2014 session today in Baton Rouge. Among the marijuana-related bills this legislative session are the following:
S.B. 323 (Sen. Morrell and Adley) which reduces criminal penalties for marijuana possession and prohibits application of enhanced sentencing laws to second and subsequent offense marijuana possession. This law would reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a fine of $100 or six months in jail, and strike entirely the second and subsequent offense provisions of the law that made possession of marijuana a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison for multiple offenses.
The less progressive H.B. 14 (Rep. Badon) is still a step in the right direction. It reduces the maximum penalties for subsequent marijuana possession convictions from 5 to 2 years (for a second offense), and from 20 to 5 years (for a third offense).
An interesting compromise bill is H.B 906 (Rep. Woodruff). This bill proposes a dramatic shift in the penalties for possession of first and subsequent offenses of possession of less than 28 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana. First offense possession would be punishable by a $50-$100 fine, second offenses by a $100-$150 fine, and third or subsequent offenses by a $150-$200 fine or probation. The maximum penalties, however, would remain the same as the current law for ALL marijuana offense levels - 6 months (first offense), 5 years (second offense) and 20 years (third offense) – for any amounts over 28 grams. The bill, however, would prohibit an offender from being subject to the enhanced sentencing provisions of the Louisiana habitual offender law if all of his felony convictions were for possession of marijuana.
On the subject of the habitual offender law, H.B. 130 removes any previous felony convictions involving marijuana from being counted as “prior offenses” under the habitual offender law. Curiously, it does not prevent the habitual offender law from applying to a felony marijuana conviction where the offender has prior felony convictions for offenses other than marijuana, leaving open the door for life sentences on marijuana convictions like the one from 2011 in St. Tammany Parish that I wrote about.
In anticipation of the debate on these bills, the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (LACDL) voted today, in a telephone conference, to adopt an official policy statement related to the possession and use of marijuana.
The text of the policy statement is as follows:
We believe that marijuana prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts students, lower income classes, African Americans, and other ethnic minorities who bear the brunt of cannabis arrests and prosecutions. The responsible consumption of marijuana by adults in private should not be defined as criminal behavior deserving of arrest, potential jail time, a criminal record, and the lifelong stigma that accompanies it. Criminalizing marijuana is a disproportionate response to what, at worst, is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.
As a criminal defense attorney, a member of the LACDL, and an advocate for reform of marijuana laws, I wholeheartedly endorse this policy. I also find encouragement in a number of bills before the legislature this session, and hope that the above policy is considered and supported by our state representatives as they debate these bills.
It is worth noting that none of the bills discussed above change the present laws related to synthetic marijuana. First offense still remains a misdemeanor, but all subsequent offenses are felonies punishable by the 5 and 20 year max sentences for second and third offenses, respectively. I believe this is appropriate. I have written in the past that I believe the only way discourage the use of the far more dangerous synthetic types of marijuana is to relax the criminalization of marijuana itself. By declaring that marijuana is less criminal than its synthetic counterpart, I believe the legislature will go a long way toward achieving this objective.
Tips to Avoid Trouble During Mardi GrasPosted on by Townsend Myers
It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, and that means a whole lot of fun for most people, but trouble for some people. As a criminal defense attorney for 20 years, I’ve certainly helped hundreds of people get themselves out of trouble during Mardi Gras, but I’ve also learned an number of ways to try to help people stay out of trouble in the first place during this time of year, and I wanted to offer a few tips about that.
Tip No. 1: Drink Responsibly
The first tip would be to try to drink responsibly. Inevitably, Mardi Gras leads to people drinking less responsibly than they otherwise would, but in my experience 90% of problems that arise during this time of year arise because people have had too much to drink. So to the extent that you can manage your drinking, I think you can avoid a lot of the other problems that I’m about to discuss.
Tip No. 2: Avoid Rowdy and Obnoxious Behavior
The second general tip is to avoid are rowdy and obnoxious confrontations with other individuals. Whether they are verbal or escalate to physical confrontations, aggressive or obnoxious behavior toward other people is generally going to result in some kind of involvement from law enforcement, and potential criminal problems for you.
Tip No. 3: Don’t Argue with Police Officers
The above is especially true with respect to confrontations with police officers. There are a lot of police officers on the street during Mardi Gras. They are going to be asking you to move. They are going to be asking you to stop doing certain things. You may feel that you have a right to be where you are, or to be doing the thing that you are doing, but you are not going to win that argument with a police officer. So just listen kindly, and move on. (more…)
Tips for Filing Expungements in New Orleans Area Criminal CourtsPosted on by Townsend Myers
Having spent a majority of my life as a criminal defense attorney, one of the questions I get asked frequently is how to get a criminal charge removed from your record. The process – known as an expungement - in Louisiana criminal courts is both simple and complex: simple, in that it doesn’t require and vast legal knowledge to complete the required paperwork; but complex, in that the procedures for preparing, filing and processing the paperwork can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you are doing.
Because it can be so confusing for someone to navigate the expungement process, I recommend hiring a lawyer to help. But, the law allows individuals to prepare and file expungements on their own – without a lawyer. So, if you are so bold as to wade into this on your own, here are a few tips to help you:
1. Know where you need to file before you start.
You expungement needs to be filed with the Clerk of Court in the courthouse where your conviction was entered. In the New Orleans area (including the suburban jurisdictions) there are at least 10 different possibilities of where this is. The Clerk of Court, or a local criminal defense lawyer can help you figure out where you need to file so you don’t waste your time and effort filing in the wrong courthouse. (more…)
5 Things You Need to Know About a Sugar Bowl ArrestPosted on by Townsend Myers
I have been a criminal defense attorney for over 20 years, and have spent almost all of that time in New Orleans. Over the course of my career, I have handled hundreds of cases arising out of arrests during New Year’s Eve and the Sugar Bowl.
New Orleans is a popular destination around the holidays, and this time of year I get a lot of phone calls and emails looking for advice about how to handle what for many is an inevitable brush with the law. In that spirit, I have compiled a list of my top 5 things everyone should know about a New Year’s Eve or Sugar Bowl arrest.
1. The worst is probably behind you. If you are reading this post from the comfort of your home or hotel room, it is extremely likely that the worst part of this experience is already over. For most kinds of cases that stem from “party-related” arrests, the time you just spent in jail after your arrest is almost certainly going to be the only time you spend behind bars. Obviously, the more serious the charges the more likely you might be looking at jail time, but in the vast majority of cases I handle around the holidays, the odds of serving any amount of jail time are pretty small.
2. You will have to go to court. Despite what the officer who arrested you told you, there is no way to call the court and pay a fine on your case – you will receive a date to appear in court, and you need to be there. If you fail to appear on your appointed court date, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, (more…)