Wheeling Criminal Law Blog

What is disorderly conduct in West Virginia?

Each state has its own laws that prohibit behavior that causes public disturbance or breaches the peace. A West Virginia statute specifically outlaws disorderly conduct. This law exists to promote public safety.

If you are not aware of what constitutes disorderly conduct, you may face criminal charges by partaking in disruptive behaviors. Here is an outline of what constitutes disorderly conduct in West Virginia and the penalties you can face if you receive a conviction. 

How does incapacity affect ability to consent to intercourse?

Rape, or nonconsensual sexual intercourse, can be a serious felony in West Virginia. While you may know that physically forcing someone to have sex lacks consent, it is less widely understood how incapacity renders someone unable to consent. RAINN has comprehensive information about incapacity and inability to consent in West Virginia.

One way a person may lack ability to consent is his or her age. A person is unable to consent to sexual intercourse if he or she is under the age of 16. Age differences between the actor and the other person are legally relevant as well. For instance, a person 14 or older commits first degree sexual assault if he or she has sex with someone younger than 12.

Understanding terrorist threats in West Virginia

In May of this year, a student at West Virginia University was arrested for threatening to enact a shooting spree at the school. According to CNN, the person privy to these comments alerted the police, who then arrested the student after an investigation led them to believe that the threat was legitimate. The student was incarcerated despite the fact that no guns or other weapons were found in his dorm room or on his person. 

This highlights the seriousness of making terrorist threats in West Virginia. Preserving public safety is of the utmost importance to law enforcement, and laws governing terrorist threats aim to uphold public safety. According to the West Virginia Legislature, these threats are covered by Article 6. Crimes Against the Peace. In this case, a terrorist act is defined as any act that is likely to inflict harm upon another person, damage another person's property, or cause harm to the surrounding environment. 

How can you get your rights restored?

A criminal conviction in Wheeling may often result in the loss of many of your rights (particularly if an incarceration accompanies said conviction). Yet how long does that restriction of rights last? You may think that once you have completed your imposed sentence, all of the rights that were taken from you will restored. Yet is that truly the case? 

The answer depends largely on both the rights in question and the type of offense you were convicted of. According to the Restoration of Rights Project, in West Virginia your right to vote is immediately restored upon the completion of your sentence (including any probationary period that accompanies it). The same is true of your right to hold public office (a conviction related to bribery, however, permanently disqualifies you from holding office, and a state felony conviction also bars you from serving in the state legislature). 

What are the legal ramifications of drug use & sales?

Addiction not only impacts a person's health, it can also have serious legal consequences. Charges for the use and sale of illegal drugs can be quite severe, especially if the offender is convicted of repeat offenses or is charged with having a large number of drugs in his or her possession. DrugAbuse.com explains possible consequences which illustrate the impact drug addiction and abuse can have on a person's life. 

Different drugs are categorized using different criteria. This is known as drug scheduling, which classifies illicit substances according to their severity. Schedule I is considered the most serious, as these drugs are found to have no medical benefit and the highest likelihood of addiction. Schedule I drugs include heroin, MDMA, LSD, and marijuana, although in recent years many states have made marijuana legal for medical and recreational use. Schedule II drugs are those that can be used for certain medical purposes but still have a high potential for abuse. This includes cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescribed opioids. Schedule III through V drugs have a potential for abuse but are considered to have a much lower risk. 

Defining a hung jury

For those that contest the criminal charges against them, a trial may be the most important element of their cases. During these proceedings, they are allowed to both dispute any evidence that prosecutors present against them and offer up their explanation of events. The ultimate aim of their efforts is to convince those jurors hearing their cases of their innocence. A typical criminal trial will have 12 jurors, which implies that a defendant needs to convince 12 separate people of the validity of their claims. Yet that is often not the case. 

West Virginia's Criminal Jury Instructions reveals that criminal cases require a unanimity for a verdict. When counseling jurors regarding this, the state says "each and every one of you must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty as charged in the indictment before you can find him guilty. If each of you is not so convinced, you must find the defendant not guilty." Furthermore, the state's instructions go on to say "(n)o juror, however, should surrender his or her opinion simply because other jurors are of a different opinion and no juror entertaining a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant should join in a verdict of guilty." 

Ways to avoid a DUI

The police in West Virginia take driving under the influence of alcohol seriously. One Greene County man faces DUI charges after he drove recklessly and sent his vehicle crashing into a mailbox, all while his daughter was in the backseat. 

You may never dream of doing something so reckless. However, every night in West Virginia, people drive after drinking alcohol. It is a serious risk. If the cops arrest you for drunk driving, it is entirely possible you could pay a fine, go to jail and lose your license. You can still have a night of fun as long as you are serious about protecting yourself and getting home safely.

Williamson arrest prompted by perceived attempt at retaliation

When news of an arrest in Ohio County breaks, people may be quick to assign guilt to whomever it is reported that law enforcement officers have detained. They might assume that an arrest would never have been made if officials were not convinced that the target of their action was indeed guilty. Yet it should be remembered that even in cases where evidence may seem to support police action, judgment should be reserved until all of the facts (offered by both sides) can be heard. After all, elements viewed as evidence may still not speak to a person's intent. 

Assigning criminal intent is often what prompts suspicion of an individual. This was evidenced in the recent arrest of a man in Williamson. A person alerted the police that the man had come from Ohio to allegedly retaliate against others for a shooting that occurred in Kentucky. When law enforcement authorities arrived to question the man, he was seated on the porch of a home. He reportedly was in possession of a weapon (as well as drug paraphernalia), and was later charged with obstruction and possessing a weapon. 

Defining sexual assault

Many in Wheeling may hear the term "sexual assault" and automatically equate it to rape. Yet after looking into the details of individual cases, you may find that the assault that is alleged to have occurred did not involve intercourse. This may raise your concerns as to what sort of conduct qualifies as sexual assault, and whether or not you could potentially be accused of it without ever having intended to do it. Many of those that have come to us here at the Scott C. Brown Law Office after having been accused of this crime are indeed unaware of the conduct that netted the accusations. 

One important point to remember that West Virginia classifies sexual offenses into several distinct categories. According to Section 61-8B-1 of the West Virginia Code, these are: 

  • Contact: Intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, anus or any part of a person's sexual organs (either directly or through clothing), or touching another person with any part of a person's sex organs 
  • Intrusion: Any act involving penetration of the female sex organ or a person's anus by any object for another's sexual gratification or for the purpose or humiliating or degrading the person being penetrated
  • Intercourse: Penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ or contact of a person's sex organ with the mouth or anus of another

Why is it easy for petty cash theft to occur?

Not all company funds are kept in a checking account. At times, an employer may keep a small supply of cash on hand for simple, quick purchases. While having cash available can be convenient, there is the chance that a worker might steal some of the money, gambling that the employer will overlook a few missing dollars. There are a number of reasons why petty cash theft can easily happen to a West Virginia business.

As All Business explains, petty cash is an informal amount of cash kept on hand for expenses that are incidental in nature. These expenses may include buying postage stamps, groceries or takeout lunches, or office supplies like pens or memo pads. Because petty cash is kept in small amounts and is easier to access than money in a bank account, an employee has a better chance of siphoning off petty cash.

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