Wheeling Criminal Law Blog

West virginia's current outlook on the opioid crisis

America's opioid crisis is, unfortunately, nowhere near its bitter end. Yet as the rest of the nation struggles to address this ongoing drug problem, West Virginia has been hit the most critically. Recent reports even reveal that prescription drugs continued to enter the state until 2015. What is the current outlook of this crippling issue, and might West Virginia receive its long overdue break from the epidemic that affects thousands of lives each year? 

To the shock of many, Vox News recently shared that drug companies were responsible for shipping over 20 million opioid painkillers to a West Virginia town up until only the last year or so. As a result, the city of Williamson and surrounding areas have suffered the most addictions and overdoses. In fact, opioids have claimed more lives in this state than any other in the country, with an overdose rate of 48.3 per 100,000 residents in 2016. Vox points to another study -- spanning from 2007 to 2012 -- showing that drug companies sent roughly 780 million painkillers to the state of West Virginia as a whole.

The truth behind america's drug diversion programs

For those on the outside looking in, it can be easy to form stereotypes about individuals struggling with drug problems. Today's current opioid epidemic has, however, revealed the shocking reality that countless Americans suffer from addictions -- no matter the age, gender, profession or location. West Virginia is no exception to this crisis, and in fact is home to one of the areas suffering from heroin addictions the most. 

Penalties that surround drug charges can be so severe that an individual can slip even further into an ongoing issue. Recently, lawmakers and advocates alike have considered the ways the nation deals with drug arrests, addictions and recovery programs. 

Proving innocence in a serious case

With the countless portrayals circulating throughout the media, serious crimes have become a common phrase to the average entertainment seeker. However, what many often forget is that those who face severe charges are actual people -- people whose lives have been put on the line in a matter of hours. West Virginians currently experiencing such unfortunate events may feel overwhelmed at the extensive legal process, especially when a felony charge could be looming in the future. While false accusations are a sobering reality, where does the law draw the line? 

TIME focused on the topic of exonerations and the wrongly convicted, stating that exonerations have hit an all-time high in America. In 2016 alone, a total of 166 wrongly accused people were found innocent -- making the third year in a row that exonerations have been on the rise. There may be many reasons for this increase, but experts point toward a gradual trend in accountability within the system. In the past, TIME shares that those most likely to be exonerated were part of high profile cases; more recently, however, exonerations have gravitated toward both violent and nonviolent crimes. TIME used data from the National Registry to reveal that more than half of all exonerations are a result of perjury and false allegations. 

Drug court in West Virginia as a prison alternative

The opioid crisis is making drug charges increasingly more common, both in West Virginia and across the country. Increased drug charges almost inevitably lead to increased incarceration, but drug courts are helping to reduce this.

Drug court in West Virginia is an alternative that can provide those charged with crimes a chance to rebuild their lives by helping them to get clean and sober as they complete the legal requirements set forth for them by the court.

The severity of a false terroristic accusation

Current politics surrounding terrorism have sparked debate on the country's legal and ethical stance on the issue. While there have been a number of recent incidents labelled as "terroristic," many West Virginians still wonder what, exactly, constitutes as a threat of terrorism.

Others in the area feel their rights have been violated when wrongly accused of such a serious crime. West Virginia residents who have been falsely accused of terroristic threats have struggled to cope with the backlash, damaged reputations and the challenge of putting life back together again. 

Could medical marijuana be the answer to opioid addiction?

As most West Virginian residents are aware, the opioid crisis has only worsened in recent years. The epidemic has taken a significant toll on the eastern side of the United States, with West Virginia reporting some of the highest numbers of overdoses. While federal officials continue to grapple with this situation, many are turning to medical marijuana as an answer.

Last March, NBC News focused on the opioid epidemic and, using a recent study, revealed that states that legalized medical marijuana have seen a drop in the number of opioid hospitalizations. The numbers were hardly close: hospitalizations dropped roughly 23 percent in legalized states. Drug and Alcohol Dependence debunked claims that warned of future marijuana hospitalizations after legalization. Because there is no single answer to the opioid epidemic, health experts have reconsidered the ways medical marijuana could help fight addictions. There is still much to study when it comes to understanding the full effects of marijuana, but meanwhile, NBC notes that the opioid crisis claims 91 American lives per day.

Selection of one juror not acceptable to defense

People in West Virginia who have been accused of serious crimes and whose fate rests to some degree in the hands of 12 people named to be jurors in a trial will know how important the selection of those 12 jurors may be to their futures. Certainly there may exist the opportunity to appeal an initial decision but it is nonetheless important to know that one's rights are protected by having a fair and impartial jury

A young man of 20 years of age has recently experienced the selection of a jury in a trial in which he is the defendant. The man is accused of having killed a teenage girl two years ago. Reports indicate that one of the people who was accepted as a member of his jury was not approved of by the defense team. This particular jury member was part of another jury roughly two decades ago. That jury found a defendant guilty of murder.

Finding a job after a criminal arrest

Among the many things that could concern a person in West Virginia when faced with a criminal arrest and potential conviction is how they may ever bounce back from the experience. One of the important steps in doing this is to get a job that can allow them to support themselves and their family should they have one. People in this position should know that they may have opportunities to get a job that they are not aware of.

According to Monster.com, there are two important factors to take into consideration is the amount of time that has elapsed since a conviction and the time that a person is applying for a job. The longer the time between these two events, the less that the conviction may come into play. Another factor that potential employers may look at is any relation between the type of crime that a person was accused of and the type of job that they are applying for.

Religious leaders and church face sex crime case

People in West Virginia who hear reports about the alleged sexual abuse of children may naturally feel anger toward the person or persons said to have perpetrated such acts. However, just as with any other form of criminal charge, it is important to remember that people are always innocent until proven guilty. Many allegations may be made that are in fact not accurate or true. It is up the criminal justice system to identify a defendant's guilt or innocence.

Today several leaders within the Mormon Church in West Virginia and the church itself are facing serious allegations that they essentially aided in the sexual abuse and molestation of multiple children over the course of at least five years. Parents representing six different families have come together to accuse the church and select leaders of protecting one man who was eventually found guilty of child sexual abuse and sentenced to 35 years in prison. 

Is high alcohol tolerance a good DUI defense?

In some ways, claiming that you have a high tolerance for alcohol might seem like a good DUI defense. After all, the idea is that if you can handle your liquor much better than the average person, you drive more safely too. It requires much more alcohol to get you too impaired to drive.

In fact, it is possible for an attorney to pursue high tolerance as a productive line of defense, and some do. However, high alcohol tolerance is not something you want to bring up to the arresting officer.

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