Author Archives: Stephenson

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution

Published / by Stephenson

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, overriding lesser laws and acting as the fundamental basis of our legal and political systems. How, then, does the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution work?

Article VI, Clause 2, or The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, is a vital rule which primarily serves to enforce federal rulings over state rulings. As a federated government, the United States has both federal and state laws, as well as a plethora of local laws. When these laws overlap or conflict with one another, there must be some form of remedy to determine which is the ultimate law to be followed; the supremacy clause functions exactly as that remedy.

The Supremacy Clause holds that the constitution, and most federal laws, will supersede and override laws at the state level. States who are dissatisfied with a specific federal law are not permitted to violate it, even if they have their own laws or constitution stating otherwise.

As a conflict-of-laws rule, the Supremacy Clause establishes one ultimate legal authority, and prevents a number of judicial conflicts over jurisdiction from breaking out.
A pertinent historical example of this is the desegregation of schools in the American South in the 1960’s; in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jim Crow laws often forbade African Americans from attending White schools in many Southern states. These laws were eventually rendered null after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were unconstitutional.

Now that racial segregation was unconstitutional per the highest law in the land, it no longer mattered that existing state laws or constitutions forbade them; it was the Supremacy Clause in action.

Intricate legal and political systems like that of the United States need rules such as the Supremacy Clause to keep things functioning smoothly. Without it, our nation would be a land of complex and contradictory laws vying against one another for legal legitimacy.
What are your thoughts on the Supremacy Clause? How do you think our nation would be different without such a rule? Leave a comment down below!

Evaluating How the Criminal Justice System Works

Published / by Stephenson

The criminal justice system is basically made up of 3 major institutions that process each case from inception to trial and punishment. Cases are set in motion when law enforcement officers investigate a criminal offence and gather evidence that can be used to pin down the presumed perpetrator. Thereafter, the case is forwarded to the court system, which analyzes the evidence presented before it to establish whether the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

If the defendant is found to be guilty of the alleged crime, a jail term will be prescribed depending on the seriousness of the crime that he/she committed. The corrections system uses several means to punish offenders including probation and incarceration. The correction system similarly aims at rehabilitating those who go through it.

At each stage of the criminal justice process, there are various constitutional protections that have been implemented to guarantee to protection of the rights of the convicted and accused persons. These protections are important since they make it possible for the criminal justice system to carry out investigations and prosecute the accused persons while upholding their fundamental human rights.

1. Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System

The police are an important pillar of the criminal justice system. The constitution protects those who are accused from police abuse and brutality. The Miranda advisement for instance, prohibits law enforcement officers from carrying out unreasonable arrests and searches. In as much as arrested people are aware of pertinent issues such as the right to remain silent, it is the duty of the arresting officers to remind them about these rights before questioning them.

the criminal justice system hard at work

On unreasonable searches and arrests, the Miranda advisement prevents law enforcement officers from arresting a suspect or searching his/her home without a valid warrant. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, a suspect can be arrested without a warrant in the event that there is a hot pursuit, or the alteration of evidence.

3. The Court System and Bail

Just like it is the case with arresting a suspect, dozens of restrictions pertaining the trial of cases also exist. This includes the right to confront the defendant’s accusers, right to counsel, right against implicating one’s self, and the right to trial by a jury. The role of these safeguards is to ensure that the accused have a fair trial. Besides this, the defendants have the right to choose an attorney of their choice without being restricted by the court.

Before going to trial, the accused may have the chance to post bail. This is what is used to help people get out of jail before any pending trial or sentencing. In the US Constitution, the 8th Amendment explicitly details that bail bonds should not be excessively expensive. There are a few reasons for this, including negating the government’s ability to collect money from a defendant, nor should bail be used to punish a person suspected of committing a crime.

3. Corrections

The role of jails is to punish and rehabilitate criminals. However, this must be done in a human way since they are also protected by fundamental human rights. More often than less, jail terms or probation is used. Offenders who are sentenced to probation are typically those who have committed minor misdemeanors. However, more serious felonies are likely to attract jail terms.

Hope you enjoyed this! If you have any thoughts or comments please let me know.

Should Prostitution Be Legal

Published / by Stephenson

I have had this conversation with multiple people recently, and it created very interesting and heated debates. I have multiple feelings about this particular topic. However, to answer the overall question of this article, no, I do not think that prostitution should be legal.

When you look at it from a personal rights perspective, I can see why one would think that prostitution should be legal. If two consenting adults want to engage in the act of prostitution, why is that anyone’s business? I can definitely see the logic behind that point. That being said, it’s not the act of prostitution that is the issue, it is the results.

My issue with prostitution is the mental and physical side effects that it leaves. First of all, a lot of women who engage in prostitution started doing so before they were even legal adults. They were minors trying to make a living for themselves. It is illegal for grown men to have and solicit sex from minors. The mental and emotional side-effects can be daunting. A lot of them tend to grow up with a distorted view of the world and continue thinking that this is the best way for them to make money when times get rough. I am not judging anyone, I am just saying that allowing prostitution opens the doors for a lot of minors, a lot of runaways included, to enter that world at too young of an age.

legalize prostitution banner

There is also the issue of diseases. This leads to the physical detriments of prostitution. Sexually transmitted diseases are an unfortunate consequence for many prostitutes. So many of their clients treat them like objects and disregard their health. And, sadly, a lot of prostitutes seem to disregard their own health. Prostitution does not promote safe sex. A lot of these women and men do not use protection and knowingly sleep with someone fully aware that they are carrying an STD. All of these STD’s are being passed around to innocent spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends, to other prostitutes and clients, etc.

I read an article that stated that aids could be decreased by half if prostitution were legal. Apparently, a lot of prostitutes do not practice safe sex because they are in a rush to avoid trouble with the law, and they do not want condoms to be used as evidence. The article also stated that prostitutes are reluctant to go to health clinics, because they do not get the proper care that they need due to the stigmatism of their nature of work. This article really opened my eyes to a different perspective. If decrease is true, I could why a lot of people support the idea of legalizing prostitution. That being said, I still feel as though prostitution should illegal. I believe that it will still cause the spread of STD’s, and I still think it is mentally and physically damaging.

At the end of the day, our bodies are our personal property, and it is our choice to decide what we do with them. However, if we see someone doing something damaging to their bodies (mind and body alike), I think it is our mission as people to help and to do something about it. A lot of the time, we are so blinded by our own needs and desires, that we need another perspective on our actions. It may be our bodies, but that doesn’t mean that we know everything that is right for them. What do you all think? Should prostitution be legalized? Leave a comment down below and share your thoughts.

Texting and Driving is Legal in Texas

Published / by Stephenson

Texting and Driving is Legal in Texas: When Will That Change?

Considering what a conservative state Texas is, I was shocked to learn that there is no state law in Texas that prohibits texting and driving for the general public. I was not just shocked, I was appalled.

After learning about this, I went on the DMV site for Texas and almost laughed at what I read. The page about distracted driver’s states that 23% of car accidents are caused by distracted drivers. After stating that, ironically enough, it lists the laws that Texas has implemented to fix that problem. After reading those laws, I realized that they enabled the problem more than fixing the problem.

The only time that texting and driving is prohibited state wide, is when Texas residents are texting and driving in designated school zones, when a driver is under 18, and when a bus driver is driving. Really? So after a person is 18, or when a bus driver hops into his personal car, he or she is allowed to text and drive? This blows my mind. How is that ok? I understand that it is physically impossible to catch everyone who texts and drives, but that does not mean that Texas should just allow them to do whatever they want. If more people got fined or were given a little bit of jail time for texting and driving, I think that there would be a definite decrease in the number of horrific accidents that happen due to texting and driving.

I am not trying to pick on Texas; I have not researched other states who do not have any general laws banning texting and driving. However, I live in Texas, and I am really disappointed to learn this information. I love Texas, but with us being one of the largest states in America, I would have hoped that we would do a better job of protecting and regulating our citizens, while also being an example to other states.

On a more positive note, there are lot of cities in Texas that ban texting and driving. I was happy to see that major cities like Austin and San Antonio are a part of that group. However, I was extremely disappointed to learn that Houston, one of the largest cities in the United States, does not ban texting and driving. Houston should be the main city that prohibits texting and driving. Dallas, another large city, does not have a law that bans texting and driving as well.

I am trying to be rational and figure out what the logic is behind this. Something that came to mind, was that a lot of people would simply deny that they were texting and driving, or perhaps cops would be easily triggered to stop people all of the time. I don’t know. Regardless, this is a huge safety issue. I think that Texas should make a law that bans texting and driving in all cities. I do not know if this is based off of a Supreme Court ruling that says that cities have the power to make that decision on their own or not. I have to do more research. But if that is not the case, then this needs to be changed; not just in Texas, but in all states. Also, to those of you who text and drive. Please, please, please stop. You are not only putting yourself in danger, but you are also putting the lives of other innocent people in danger. Here is an article about the potential to make texting illegal.

Gun Alternatives for Police Officers

Published / by Stephenson

I can only imagine what it is like to be a police officer today. The world we leave in is a dangerous place. Although I feel that racial profiling does, unfortunately, ignite a lot of fear in police officers, their overall fear on the job is not completely unwarranted.

I try to imagine stopping a random stranger on the side of the road and approaching his or her car. I try to imagine going to a stranger’s home to investigate a domestic dispute call and not knowing how violent the aggressor is. That is certainly not a job that I could personally take on, and I commend police officers for taking on that role.

With the fear of the unknown, I understand the need for protection. I certainly would not roam the city without a sufficient method of protection. That being said, I often wonder why guns are the primary method of choice. I also wonder why there are not more alternative uses of protection available. I know that there are Tasers, and I think that they are an excellent alternative to guns. However, I do not understand why they are not used more. I read an article written by a retired cop who said that guns are used more often, because you may only have one option of defense if the aggressor comes at you with deadly force. The article also explained that for Tasers, there needs to be contact of the skin with both electrodes. If that contact does not happen, the Taser will be ineffective.

After reading that article, I can understand why guns are used more often. I just don’t understand why we have not improved the Taser or worked on creating another alternative. Guns are extremely deadly, yet very easy to use. A lot of police officers are not in danger of “deadly force” when they are dealing with citizens. They panic, and they immediately grab their guns, because they know that that will stop the problem. But at the end of the day, it does not stop the problem, and a lot of innocent people are killed.

I am not the one creating these weapons, so I cannot speak on how easy it is to create a new weapon that will be effective while also protecting police officers. However, I do know that we spend a lot of money and time arresting and incarcerating people for marijuana charges, but we cannot seem to spend the time and money on finding an alternative to guns for police officers. Police officers are not the only ones who need to protected, citizens do too. A misunderstanding should not lead to a gunshot wound to the chest. I think that we have enough intelligent individuals who can come up with a non-deadly form of protection for police officers, that it is more effective than the Taser.

5 Reasons to Hire a Divorce Attorney

Published / by Stephenson

Divorce is messy, complicated, and expensive. If you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse have financial assets or children, your divorce may involve a legal and financial battle that can last for years. Most people find the process to be extremely confusing, emotional, and overwhelming, but an experienced divorce lawyer can help you make it out alive. Here are the top five reasons to hire a divorce attorney:

1. You don’t know how to complete the paperwork.
Divorce involves more paperwork than you could possibly imagine. If you accidentally omit or misrepresent something on the paperwork, the repercussions will be severe. An experienced family law attorney knows how to handle the paperwork correctly and persuasively, thus potentially avoiding disaster.

2. You’re an emotional wreck.
Divorce can be like an emotional roller-coaster. An objective attorney can help you see clearly and use logic, rather than emotions, to drive your decision-making process.

3. Your finances are a mess.
Divorce usually involves a detailed financial accounting to identify the parties’ assets and financial needs. The accounting requires careful review of bank statements, credit card statements, stocks, retirement plans, deeds, mortgages, car loans, student loans, childcare expenses, household bills, and more. An attorney can help organize and review these documents so your head isn’t left spinning.

4. You don’t know your options.
A divorce lawyer can survey your situation and recommend the best options for you. For example, an experienced attorney can help you identify a fair settlement demand or reasonable counteroffer. An experienced lawyer can also advise you about your chances of prevailing in court.

5. You are unfamiliar with the law.
If you’re considering representing yourself, understand that the judge will not make exceptions for you. The judge is going to hold you to the same standard as a lawyer. Failure to follow the rules will test the judge’s patience and potentially damage your case. A divorce attorney, however, has the courtroom experience and expertise to handle your case appropriately and effectively.

In sum, having a divorce attorney can significantly increase your chances of success and reduce your stress. For most people, a divorce attorney is an absolute necessity. If you are on the verge of a divorce, you should definitely consider hiring an attorney.

3 Reasons to Attend Part-Time Law School

Published / by Stephenson

Many law schools offer part-time programs for students who want to continuing working while in school. These programs allow students to earn their degrees who would otherwise would have been unable to do so. Below are three reasons to take advantage of part-time law school.

1. Minimize Student Loans
It’s no secret that law school is expensive. The cost of tuition has skyrocketed, and textbooks have never been cheap. The more you take out in student loans to cover these expenses, the costlier your degree will be after interest.
Thankfully, part-time classes help you to minimize your student loans. Part-time class mean smaller tuition bills due over four years, instead of three – thus allowing you to pay more as you go. The more you can pay in school, the less loans you will ultimately need.

2. Gain Practical Work Experience
Many full-time law students graduate without any practical work experience. Those students are often disappointed to find that potential employers are looking for graduates that can hit the ground running.

Attending part-time classes will allow you gain invaluable work experience while in law school. Your practical experience will make you more attractive to potential employers upon graduation. Your experience will also give you interesting talking points for the interview process, which can help you land a job.

picture of law school books

3. Demonstrate Work Ethic and Maturity
While full-time law students were taking a full course load for the past three years, you were out there dealing with the real world. This will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a mature, hardworking adult who can handle whatever life throws at you.
This is perhaps the most appealing advantage from a potential employer’s perspective. All employers want attorneys who can multitask, prioritize, work independently, and handle stress. Your ability to graduate from law school while working will prove that you can handle the job.

The Decision to Attend Part-time Law School
Although there are many advantages to attending part-time law school, it’s not for everyone. Part-time law programs require a lot of dedication and hard work. If you decide that it’s right for you, just remember that all of your hard work will ultimately pay off.

How Do Arrests Work

Published / by Stephenson

An arrest occurs when a police officer apprehends a person suspected of committing a crime. The person under arrest is then taken into custody and they are no longer able to simply walk away. Usually, a person is arrested for being a suspect prior to being formally charged with that crime. Often, when a person is arrested they will also be formally charged. A person cannot go to court and be convicted of a crime without first being arrested and charged with it. Remember, police officers must follow set out rules when arresting a person.

When a person is being apprehended police will search that person. This is done to ensure that they are not carrying a weapon or do not have anything else on their person, like drugs or stolen items. Police may also search the property or car of the person being detained.

A person under arrest still maintains the right to not speak and to have access to an attorney at all times. Police officers must read a person their rights and grant them access to a lawyer.

guy in handcuffs

Once at the station, the police officers will officially take information like the suspects full name and date of birth. This is called being booked and the details of the person being arrested are then formally recorded. The arrested person will also have their fingerprints recorded and their photograph taken.

Then, the suspect may be formally charged with the crime they allegedly committed. The prosecutor must then decide if the apprehended person will be formally charged with committing a crime or not.

If the charges are successfully filed, then that person will need to appear in court. The charges against the alleged criminal will be read out to the courtroom and they have to state if they plead guilty or not guilty.

Depending on the nature of the crime, the person charged may be able to apply for bail. This means that person would pay a set amount of money to the court to get out of jail and ensure that they will go to all mandatory court dates. If bail is refused, that person will stay in police custody until the trial concludes!

Here is another neat article on arrests and how they work. I also wanted to share this video about arrests and excessive force.