ALEXANDRIA, Virginia. A recent article in Time addressed some of the tangible ways that criminal justice reform will be handled under the Trump administration. The White House’s website changed to reflect the incoming administration’s new policies. One of the policies specifically reflects the administration’s commitment to the law enforcement community, with one of the issue statements on the website titled, “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.” While it isn’t yet entirely clear about how this will be implemented in terms of federal law, criminal justice advocates have expressed some concern over policies that have been suggested.
Donald Trump campaigned on policies to reinstate police enforcement practices like “stop and frisk.” The New York branch of the American Civil Liberties Union found that when the policy was in force, Latino and Black residents of the city were more likely to be stopped than white residents. In 9 out of 10 cases, individuals who were stopped, were innocent. The practice was found to be unconstitutional by a federal judge.
Regardless of one’s political persuasion, individuals facing criminal charges should be concerned. Under the Obama administration, local law enforcement was investigated when officers abused their power. Time notes that future investigations are less likely to take place under Jeff Sessions, who called these “consent decrees” “dangerous.” New policies under the Trump administration may also put protestors at risk of criminal charges. Several states have proposed legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to criminalize public demonstrations.
According to the Star Tribune, Virginia joins several other states in proposing tougher laws against demonstrators. While none of these laws have been passed yet, if they are passed, they could lead to year-long prison sentences for individuals who are convicted of illegal assembly. Other proposed laws provide provisions for police to charge protestors for police services. In Virginia, a bill has been proposed that would result in higher penalties for individuals who are charged with “unlawful assembly.” If the law is passed, individuals would face a class 1 misdemeanor charge, which means protestors could face up to a year in jail and high fines.
Individuals facing criminal charges can sometimes feel like they are at a disadvantage. Police departments have immense resources to gather evidence, investigate a crime, and find witnesses. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, it can be hard to know where to start. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can help gather evidence, review the case that prosecutors have against you, and help you understand your legal options. Jonathan Y. Short, P.C. is a criminal defense attorney in Alexandria, Virginia who is committed to protecting the rights of those facing criminal charges.
While laws may be changing, there are many laws that protect your rights. For instance, you are innocent until proven guilty and you have the right to seek the representation of a criminal defense attorney. If you have been arrested in Virginia, you also have the right to remain silent. Assert your right and ask to speak to a lawyer. Jonathan Y. Short, P.C. can help. Visit our website at http://www.shortlaw.com to learn more.