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Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Daniel Adkins Jr,? Another Trayvon Martin? Has the stand “your ground laws” created a perceived license to kill?

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The issues surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin filled the media for weeks. In addition, it filled the conversations of people on facebook, linked in, twitter and in coffee shops everywhere. I personally had several conversations with associates, friends and people who randomly discovered I was an attorney, about the situation. In all honesty I had mixed feelings about the issue. I think that a person should not have to flee from an attack and risk being attacked in flight where they are less able to defend themselves as someone is attacking from behind. However, Zimmerman rightfully or wrongly created the interaction with Trayvon Martin, by following him even after he was advised by dispatch that he should stop. Under California Law an initial aggressor can only claim self defense if they clearly communicate to the other party that they would like to cease fighting and retreat. California Law further does not allow for the creation of the need to use of self defense, self defense cannot be contrived.  Clearly, Tray’von Martin and Daniel Adkins Jr. were not in California they were in Florida and Arizona respectively. However, both of these cases create a growing concern that the stand your ground laws are being used as a swords to initiate conflict. Would Zimmerman had followed Trayvon Martin if he did not have a gun? Would Zimmerman have refused to stop following Trayvon Martin if he did not believe he could shoot Tray’von Martin if he felt threatened?

I know I have several friends that are gun rights advocates who will contrast these situations with the numerous situations where gun owners stop robberies and crimes in process. However, Trayvon was not a robber, and he is now gone forever.

the story of Daniel Adkins

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Talking to the Police

I want to start this post by indicating that some of my closest friends are police officers. My first roommates from my college summer bridge program is a police officer and we are still good friends to this day. Hence I have a high level of respect for officers, I think most are honest and they are just trying to do their job. However, like any group of people officers are going to have their bad apples, and since there are sufficient examples of this in the news I will not elaborate.  ( Yes that was my “Some of my closest friends are _______” preface)

Now the other day I was sitting at a bar, and for everyone that knows me well they of course know I was only having water. Regardless, while I was at this “establishment” (that sounds better than “bar”) I ended up talking to a gentleman and the conversation eventually progressed to what I did for a living. Sometimes I hate telling people what I do because it inevitably leads to questions and requests for free legal advice often concerning areas of law I haven’t dealt with since the bar exam.  As a prosecutor it was more annoying because I did not take on clients so I had absolutely no financial interest in people knowing what I did for a living. Now that I am in private practice I need to be more proactive in trying to build possible business connections, but I am a work in progress in that area. So, I told the gentlemen my story, the Readers Digest version of course (DA for over ten years now in private practice primarily criminal defense). The gentlemen who was in town for a convention, then asked me an interesting question “When will it benefit a suspect to talk to the police?” I thought about this for a moment.

My response was something like this:

Generally a person suspected of a crime can gain very little by talking to a police officer or detective before or after being arrested. First, if the officer or detective believes that they have probable cause to arrest the person it is probably nothing that the person can say that will change the detective or officers opinion that the officer has probable cause to arrest the person. If the detective or officer does not believe that they have probable cause to arrest the person, they are probably interviewing the person in hopes that the person interviewed provides them with enough information to establish probable cause to arrest the person.

In addition, a person that is being interviewed by an officer or detective never truly knows what the officer or detective already knows. Therefore a detective or officer can ask a person a seemingly innocent question on its face that does not appear to be incriminating, however the officer or detective may already have incriminating information that they are trying to corroborate with seemingly innocent non-incriminating questions. Therefore always carefully consider your right not to talk to the police. It is generally more prudent to ask the officer or detective to interview you with your attorney present, so that your rights can be protected.

An Attorney You Can Trust

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