The Law Office of Robert D. Anderson, PLLCFormer Chief Prosecutor Of Loudoun County
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August 2019 Archives

Virginia begins crackdown on drunk driving

An annual campaign to reduce incidents of drunk driving began in Virginia a week before Labor Day. The Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign increases the presence of law enforcement throughout the state in order to combat alcohol-impaired roadway fatalities. In 2018, Virginia saw a 12% increase in traffic deaths related to alcohol-impaired drivers, and authorities are alarmed that the problem could only get worse during the coming years.

Technology may give police greater surveillance powers

When people in Virginia buy technologically advanced doorbells, they may not realize that they are also signing up for an agreement with the police. Ring is one company, recently purchased by Amazon, that produces doorbells with a video feed. Homeowners can see who is at the door by checking the connected app on their mobile phones. However, police have a special portal into Ring. They can request video from community residents who are using the app. This may not seem too troubling as it relies on voluntary interactions. However, if the owners don't turn over the footage, police can go to the company directly without seeking a warrant or showing probable cause.

Wrongful convictions often result from poor police practices

For many people in Virginia, the prospect of a wrongful conviction is very frightening, even if the possibilities seem remote. DNA evidence has confirmed that a number of people convicted of serious crimes like murder and rape actually spent decades behind bars for crimes that they did not commit. In many cases, wrongful conviction cases do not indicate mere mistakes or tragedies that take years of people's lives away. Instead, misconduct or abuse by police and prosecutors are often a major part of these cases. Witnesses may be coerced or badgered into providing inaccurate testimony and evidence may even be planted in some cases.

Eyewitness identifications can be flawed

Many criminal convictions and charges are heavily based on eyewitness testimony, even though it is known to be often inaccurate or unreliable. While people may be heavily affected by their experience of a crime, memory can be tricky, especially when people feel pressure to provide important information. In many cases, witnesses of a Virginia crime are asked to view a set of photos or a live lineup of people in order to see if they can identify the perpetrator. This photo lineup may take place some time after the initial incident.

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