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GENERAL PRACTICE LAW FIRM

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How To: Arkansas Sentencing Standards

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 1:17 PM Comments comments (104)
 
Here in Arkansas, offenders who have been found guilty are judged based upon several factors. The two most defined factors are the Criminal
History Score and the Criminal Seriousness Level. Each of these two factors are placed on the Arkansas Sentencing Standards Grid. The Criminal history score(which is determined by filling out the Criminal history Worksheet) is located on the x-axis and the Seriousness Offense level (1-10), with 10 being the highest and covering “super villain” type crimes like causing a catastrophe and introducing the public to biological and radioactive Weapons, is located on they-axis. Finding out the “recommended sentence” is as easy as plotting a point on the grid; find the Criminal History Score and go down the level of the offense and you have your “recommended sentence”. Looking at the recommended sentence one might see DCC or AS. The DCC is the department of communitycorrections (i.e. probation). AS is alternative sanctions, such as drug court or other monitoring. Each of these may still be accompanied by time in the county jail or other non-penitentiary time. Also, please note that a Court is free to sentence outside the guidelines if it sees fit. There are also several mitigating (reducing) and aggravating factors (reducing), which can sway a Court’s decision. All in all the Sentencing Standards Guidelines are just what they say, guidelines. Here are the links to the Criminal History Worksheet, Sentencing Grid and The Criminal Seriousness list of offenses.
 
 
*Disclaimer: This blog is not legal advice, but a general explanation of the law that is not specific to your case, if you have one. If you have questions concerning your rights, a recent police interaction or any other legal issue please contact either General Practice Law Firm or another attorney for a proper application of the law to your case.
 

Are Arkansans Getting Carried Away? (with gun rights)

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 12:04 PM Comments comments (97)
There has been a lot of talk about the "technical corrections" made to the offense 5-73-120, carrying a weapon.. Most of this talk concerns whether or not open carry now exists in Arkansas, despite a bill allowing such not passing during the same year in which the "technical corrections" bill did pass. The new law is already in effect and has been since July. Prior to the new changes coming into effect, the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas issued an opinion stating that the new changes did not permit open carry. However, his opinion simply addressed the clarification of "journey", a word previously without hard definition when it came to this law. Now the definition of "journey" is clearly defined as "travel beyond the county in which a person lives". The question proposed to the Attorney General concerned this provision, and his opinion was based on this provision alone. The actual provision which makes way for open carry is below:

5-73-120.  Carrying a weapon.

  (a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.

The addition of the word "unlawfully" is what the big deal is about. Prior to the addition of that word the statute read like this :

" a purpose to employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person"

The difference here is monumental. First the previous definition did not differentiate between the purpose for employing the weapon. This meant that as long as you had a weapon described in the statute (i.e. rifles, not "a barrel length of less than twelve inches", did not apply), and you had any purpose of using it against a person (not wild dogs, but homo sapiens) you are guilty of this offense. FYI- carrying a handgun to defend yourself against a person was illegal under the previous law. Now that the word "unlawfully" is placed in the statute if the purpose for carrying the weapon is to employ it against a person in lawful self defense, those actions would not be in violation of the law ;every one gets to carry a weapon for self defense unless another law prohibits such, i.e. no guns at schools, no guns for felons, etc. Now the tricky part.

No Court has ruled upon this statute in its newest incarnation. A Court may find that the law did not have the effect we just described. There is an argument to be made that the law never intended this and those who make that argument will point to the failure of the open carry bill and the title of this bill only stating that it was to make "technical corrections". However, this would be hard as the plain language of the law is what must be looked at first and it seems to be unambiguous (no ambiguity = no further review). Also, if a Court did some how get around the plain language, a defendant would still have the argument that it is an unconstitutionally vague. Overall the law works like this- if there is no law prohibiting the action the action is legal (please note not all law is statutory). In the case here there no appears to be no law prohibiting the carry of a weapon, concealed or not, in non-prohibited places, by non-prohibited people, for lawful purposes (including self defense). Full statute below:

5-73-120.  Carrying a weapon.

  (a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.

(b) As used in this section:

   (1) "Club" means any instrument that is specially designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious physical injury or death by striking, including a blackjack, billie, and sap;

   (2) "Handgun" means any firearm with a barrel length of less than twelve inches (12'') that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one (1) hand;

   (3) "Journey" means travel beyond the county in which a person lives; and

   (4) "Knife" means any bladed hand instrument three inches (3'') or longer that is capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death by cutting or stabbing, including a dirk, a sword or spear in a cane, a razor, an ice pick, a throwing star, a switchblade, and a butterfly knife.

(c) It is permissible to carry a handgun under this section if at the time of the act of carrying a weapon:

   (1) The person is in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on property in which he or she has a possessory or proprietary interest;

   (2) The person is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces acting in the course and scope of his or her official duties;

   (3) The person is assisting a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces acting in the course and scope of his or her official duties pursuant to the direction or request of the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces;

   (4) The person is carrying a weapon when upon a journey, unless the journey is through a commercial airport when presenting at the security checkpoint in the airport or is in the person's checked baggage and is not a lawfully declared weapon;

   (5) The person is a registered commissioned security guard acting in the course and scope of his or her duties;

   (6) The person is hunting game with a handgun that may be hunted with a handgun under rules and regulations of the Arkansas State Game and Fish Commission or is en route to or from a hunting area for the purpose of hunting game with a handgun;

   (7) The person is a certified law enforcement officer;

   (8) The person is in possession of a concealed handgun and has a valid license to carry a concealed handgun under § 5-73-301 et seq., or recognized under § 5-73-321 and is not in a prohibited place as defined by § 5-73-306;

   (9) The person is a prosecuting attorney or deputy prosecuting attorney carrying a firearm under § 16-21-147; or

   (10) The person is in possession of a handgun and is a retired law enforcement officer with a valid concealed carry authorization issued under federal or state law.

(d) Carrying a weapon is a Class A misdemeanor.



*Disclaimer:This blog is not legal advice, but a general explanation of the law that is not specific to your case, if you have one. If you have questions concerning your rights, a recent police interaction or any other legal issue please contact either General Practice Law Firm or another attorney for a proper application of the law to your case.

No Armor For You (Felon)

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 11:54 AM Comments comments (95)
It is illegal under Arkansas law for a person convicted of the following crimes to possess body armor (bullet proof body armor to be specific):

  (1) Capital murder, § 5-10-101;

   (2) Murder in the first degree, § 5-10-102;

   (3) Murder in the second degree, § 5-10-103;

   (4) Manslaughter, § 5-10-104;

   (5) Aggravated robbery, § 5-12-103;

   (6) Battery in the first degree, § 5-13-201; or

   (7) Aggravated assault, § 5-13-204.

Furthermore it is illegal under federal law for a felon to possess body armor if the felony was:
(1) a crime of violence (as defined in section 16); or
(2) an offense under State law that would constitute a crime of violence under paragraph (1) if it occurred within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

So remember, if you have a felony within the categories listed (either under federal or Arkansas law) you cannot possess body armor (of the bullet proof variety). Relevant statutes listed below.

Arkansas Code Annotated
5-79-101.  Criminal possession of body armor.

  (a) No person may possess body armor if that person has been found guilty of or has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to any of the following offenses:
   (1) Capital murder, § 5-10-101;
   (2) Murder in the first degree, § 5-10-102;
   (3) Murder in the second degree, § 5-10-103;
   (4) Manslaughter, § 5-10-104;
   (5) Aggravated robbery, § 5-12-103;
   (6) Battery in the first degree, § 5-13-201; or
   (7) Aggravated assault, § 5-13-204.
(b) As used in this section, "body armor" means any material designed to be worn on the body and to provide bullet penetration resistance.
(c) A violation of this section constitutes a Class A misdemeanor.

18 U.S.C. § 931 : US Code - Section 931: 
Prohibition on purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons

(a) In General. - Except as provided in subsection (b), it shall be unlawful for a person to purchase, own, or possess body armor,if that person has been convicted of a felony that is -(1) a crime of violence (as defined in section 16); or
(2) an offense under State law that would constitute a crime of violence under paragraph (1) if it occurred within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.(b) Affirmative Defense. -
(1) In general. - It shall be an affirmative defense under this section that -
(A) the defendant obtained prior written certification from his or her employer that the defendant's purchase, use, or possession of body armor was necessary for the safe performance of lawful business activity; and
(B) the use and possession by the defendant were limited to the course of such performance.
(2) Employer. - In this subsection, the term "employer" means any other individual employed by the defendant's business that supervises defendant's activity. If that defendant has no supervisor, prior written certification is acceptable from any other employee of the business.

This blog is not legal advice, but a general explanation of the law that is not specific to your case, if you have one. If you have questions concerning your rights, a recent police interaction or any other legal issue please contact either General Practice Law Firm or another attorney for a proper application of the law to your case.

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