Alex Heidt | Law

Founder of Heidt Law Firm

Category: Alex Heidt | Law Blog

Know the Legal Regulations For Federal Employees Using Social Media

In this digital age it is always important that you are careful what you put out online. It is especially key for federal government employees to be cautious of what they are putting out their as well as know their legal rights when it comes to personal social media usage. Of course, all employees are allowed to have their own personal social media accounts, however they must make sure their usage complies with their employers’ code of conduct.

  • Use a Disclaimer – Adding your job title to social media descriptions is allowed however it is important to add a disclaimer saying that these views are your own and are not associated with the company that you work for. When seeing that you work for a certain association, people tend to assume that you are speaking for your place of employment even when that is not the case.
  • Impersonation Warning – Going off of that, it is fine to have a personal account to express interests, views, and things going on in your personal life. However, it is important that you don’t act as a representative of the company that you work for on these accounts without permission from your agency.
  • When To Use – Some places may allow you to use work computers, etc. and minimal work time in order to go onto personal computers. However, it is important to know that your activity can be monitored by the place you are working for while you are doing this. It is important to check out the policy on social media usage during work hours or on company devices.
  • Be Aware – Make sure to set privacy settings on your accounts and only let people you know follow or friend you. Foreign intelligence has been know to target federal employees online so it’s important to be cautious. In addition, if you are aware of misconduct in your agency do not go to social media to talk about it. Reporting these things to the proper authorities are all legal but putting that confidential information on the internet is not.

These are just a few of the points that federal employees should follow when using social media. It is important to take a look at your agency’s policy as every place could have different rules and regulations regarding social media. In every case, be wary of what you share online.

N.C Attempts to Raise the Juvenile Jurisdiction

Originally posted on politifact.com.

A North Carolina legislator, Rep. Duane Hall, believes that the state would save millions of dollars by a small change in its criminal justice system. This change involves the ending of prosecuting anyone above the age of 16 as an adult in the criminal justice system. North Carolina (and also New York) are the only two states that consider anyone 16 years of age and older to be adults when they commit a crime. This label does not change, regardless of the severity of the crime or the circumstances surrounding it.

Currently, many are pushing the change this law in North Carolina. Various legislator and law enforcement officers want to try 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles, unless they commit a really serious crime, which is the view the majority of other states take. This alteration is supported by the N. C. Justice Center and the John Locke Foundation, which are liberal and conservative organizations, respectively. Previously, legislators have attempted to change this law, but each attempt failed. But it seems as though things are different now.

Rep. Hall initially objected to the bill because of its cost, but says the recent studies show that other states with juvenile criminal systems actually save states upwards of tens of millions of dollars. Hall has previously co-sponsored similar bills, known as “Raise the Age” bills. He’s been speaking to various outlets in an effort to generate support for a new bill he intends to file later this year.

Juvenile Jurisdiction

While it seems as though this change to the justice system actually saves states money, why was cost previously a concern? It’ll cost money to expand the juvenile-justice system; personalization will occur in order to offer the juveniles rehabilitation services instead of merely incarcerating them and these costs can add up, sometimes being more expensive than the original cost of the prison system.

Even though these initial costs may be hire, extensive research shows that removing teens from adult prisons lowers the risk of them convicting another crime and becoming career criminals. If proper rehabilitation is offered, these juveniles can become law-abiding citizens and won’t have other run-ins with the criminal justice system. This success rate puts less burden on the adult criminal justice system, because it leads to less criminals, and the community experiences less crime. If the numbers are correct, it seems as though the state could greatly benefit from this change, as well as North Carolina youth. To find out how the legislators foresee this money being saved, read the entirety of the article about this legislation.

To read the entire article, click here.

Criminal bail with Alex Heidt

Criminal Practices Defined: How to Get a Bail Pending Appeal

Anyone who is struggling with a legal issue needs to fully understand the terminology and concepts regarding the process in order to best receive the fair treatment that is deserved and guaranteed by law in all areas. Bail can sometimes be one of those terms which can be tricky to decipher especially if never dealt with before in the past. Different kinds exist, but they all amount to placing money or property up to insure that the defendant will return for the trial and other court appearances. “Bail pending appeal” is a specific type which can be available in some jurisdictions to a person who has already been found guilty.

Bail pending appeal is an offering by some courts to accept the money or property as a guarantee that a guilty defendant will return for future appeal trial dates. This type of bail is not available everywhere and can depend significantly on the state and jurisdiction in which the supposed crime occurred. If it is available then the trial court judge will usually have the most say regarding the situation and it is best to have competent legal counsel at hand in order to speak with the authority regarding this matter. Serious and violent crimes generally will not have bail pending appeal as an option in order to keep the safety of the community at large. Therefore, something like murder or assault will mean that the defendant will have to wait for an appeal while in custody.

Sometimes the length of the sentence can be a determining factor in whether bail pending appeal is available. In most states, there will be some threshold such that if the sentence is lengthy and exceeds that then there will also not be any release until an appeal occurs and then only if a reversal is made on the initial decision. It is just a matter of trying to keep the defendants in the vicinity since anyone dealing with a long prison term is likely to decide that their best option may be simply to hit the road and try to elude the authorities. Past criminal history and past court performance are some more factors that judges will generally take into consideration with the same aim of keeping the community safe and the trial legit. If bail pending appeal is available then a bail bondsman will be able to help in the same manner that he would any other time.

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The High U.S. Prison Population

The United States has the largest prison population in the world, according to various news sources. Many people look at this statistic and wonder how that could possibly be. Why are so many people, usually men, put into prison and for what? Both sides of the aisle have begun to examine this issue and agree it’s a bipartisan topic that should be addressed and changed, if possible. I’ll address several reasons, which are all very interconnected, that have been presented as to why the prison population is so high in the country.

Drug related offenses

The first reason that many feels are the largest contributing factor to the astronomical numbers of inmates in the U.S. prison system is the War on Drugs. From a recent study, the results show that, “during the 1980s, the U.S. Congress and most state legislatures enacted laws mandating lengthy prison sentences — often of 5, 10, and 20 years or longer — for drug offenses, violent offenses, and ‘career criminals.” Since the ‘80s, the War on Drugs has continued in earnest, focusing not on finding and cracking down on dealers or direct sources, but instead jailing people, often young men, for having minuscule amounts of marijuana on their person. Because marijuana is still criminalized in many states, despite its legality in others, people are frequently given jail time for possessing small amounts of the drug, even with no intention of selling it.

Prosecuting minors

Related to the War on Drugs, but not exclusively, is the prosecution of minors as adults. Juveniles are now more likely to commit violent crimes, though the reason for why is not entirely clear. When a crime is particularly heinous in nature, such as murder, a jury is more likely to try the defendant as an adult.

In relation to the War on Drugs, juveniles are frequently caught carrying small amounts of marijuana or other drugs or even deal it themselves. There are also crimes that apply exclusively to juveniles that can get them imprisoned, such as truancy or running away. Statistically, those juveniles who have been previously in jail are much less likely to graduate high school, causing them to possibly be a repeat offender in the prison system, or break their probation over small issues that would normally be treated more leniently.

Long prison sentences

In the last few decades, prisoners have been handed longer sentences than they had previously received. An example of this issue is “In the 1990s, Congress and more than one-half of the states enacted ‘three strikes and you’re out’ laws that mandated minimum sentences of 25 years or longer for affected offenders.” These repeat offenders’ crimes were often victimless, most often associated with possession of drugs or a firearm. Luckily, in some states, these excessive prison sentences are being changes, which I addressed in my previous blog.

Repeat offenders

A final issue with the high number of inmates in United States’ jails is the frequency of repeat offenders. Due to more juveniles being imprisoned, then not being able to finish their education or find a job, they often end up back in the system.
Or, other prisoners will violate parole and immediately be put back into jail for a long term. In order to solve an issue like this one, the reasons why someone is a repeat offender need to be examined, especially when their crimes are of a less serious or nonviolent nature. All of these reasons affect young black men more so than other groups, possibly as a direct result of racial profiling laws.

Excessive Jail Sentences Lessened Due to Minnesota Clemency Project

Long-time prisoners are receiving fresh chances at freedom through the Minnesota Clemency Project which is reviewing many cases in order to determine who is safe to let back out into the wide world. As long as the surrounding circumstances are mostly nugatory and the committed crime was not infused with violence then there are plenty of opportunities for prisoners to return to the community for another chance at proper living.

The primary criteria which must be met are pretty straightforward. First of all, the prisoner must be being held in federal custody where changes in law have set new standards so that if the same crime was committed today then the modern law procedure would result in a substantially lesser sentence. The second important attribute is that the prisoner has been non-violent both during and after the crime. The idea is that the Minnesota Clemency Project will only be offered to lower level criminals who do not have any known ties to larger organizations, gangs and cartels.

The project rallies around the idea that 10 years should be enough for reform in many instances, and so if a prisoner has served at least 10 years then they are ready to be brought up for consideration. This gives new chances to many instead of allowing them to simply languish away inside the confinements of a cell which can often bring nothing but resentment and anger towards authorities and the system which caused the incarceration. Those who are exhibiting good conduct while in prison are to be considered, and this gives an extra incentive to keep activity proper so that the plethora of stabbings, rapes, and other violence does not become the only viable option.

The Clemency Project offers assistance at no charge to the inmates which keeps the opportunity available to all in a fair and reasonable fashion. There are no built-in prejudices and such that would favor an inmate over another based on some type of trivial difference such as race or outlook. Prisoners can get free assistance from lawyers working with the project in order that their cases will best be vetted and given the proper consideration. Even law students can find their niche and gain valuable experience by working with this program in the early years of their study and career. This is touted as one of Obama’s more important initiatives as he was leaving office earlier this year.

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