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Former LAPD Detective on Trial for Murder Shows Why Suspects Should NEVER Talk to Cops

Former LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus is currently on trial for the 1986 homicide of her former boyfriend’s wife.  The story of how the cold case was cracked is a case-study in police investigation and interrogation.  The lesson to be learned, especially from the interrogation of Lazarus, is that interrogating officers often know answers to questions they pose to suspects and often have enough evidence for an arrest even before the questioning starts.  If this is the case, their goal becomes to secure a confession, not determine the truth and they will “lie, cheat, and steal” to get it … all of which is perfectly legal.

Watch an ABC News story on the case here.

Man Acquitted by Jury, Still Sentenced to 15 Years

The South Florida Sun Sentinel is reporting that a man acquitted in two separate jury trials of fondling pre-teen girls has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison based upon the same evidence which amounted to a violation of his probation. The case underscores the very real possibility of being sentenced on a probation violation despite being found not guilty of the same conduct by a jury. The legal basis for such an outcome lies in the different standards of proof applied to jury trials versus that applied to hearings on violations of probation. While the standard of proof in a jury trial is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” in order to be found in violation of probation, in Florida, as in California, the prosecution bears the much lower standard of proof known as “preponderance of the evidence.” Additionally, whereas convictions on new law violations generally are determined by a jury, violations of probation (even if based upon the same evidence) are decided by a judge.  In essence, while a jury may acquit a defendant based upon a failure of the prosecution to meet the higher standard of proof, a judge considering the same evidence may still nonetheless conclude that the lower standard of proof has been met and thus sentence a defendant based upon a violation of his pre-existing probation.

More Young Adults Arrested Than Ever Before

According to the New York Times, nearly one third of American adults have been arrested for a criminal offense by the age of 23.  In my experience, arrests at this early age generally have one of two effects on the person arrested: they either act as a wake-up call and lead the young adult to come face-to-face with the reality that poor choices can lead to some very serious negative consequences, or they simply become remembered as the first, in a long history of run-ins with the criminal justice system.

As the article implies, how a young adult addresses their first encounter with the criminal justice system system can play a key role in the development of the remainder of their adult life.  Given the fact that schools and employers are now using the internet and the vast array of information available it provides to screen potential job or school applicants, it is imperative that young adults who find themselves charged with a crime, yet who are also mindful of their future prospects, retain an experienced criminal defense attorney with an eye toward limiting any possible lasting damage of an arrest and/or conviction.