Class A misdemeanors that could change your life (and your teen’s life)

Which Class A Misdemeanor Might Your Teen {accidentally} Commit?

Are we ready for summer vacation yet? The last thing a parent wants to worry about over the break from school is having their teen face Class A misdemeanor charges.

After all, the list of these potentially life-changing crimes is literally longer than your arm (even written with normal-sized font.)

Potential outdoor crimes lurk behind every train track and tree.

If your teen loves the outdoors and will have extra time on their hands this summer, committing a misdemeanor is actually shockingly easy. Did you know that in Missouri, defacing a cave wall is a Class A misdemeanor?

While this might seem like a far-fetched crime, how many teens wouldn’t think twice about carving their name and “leave their mark” on the world? Think back a few years – did you ever carve your initials in a tree? It’s the same idea.

If your teen is already out exploring said cave, just suppose they decide to pollute the cave waters. That, too, is a Class A misdemeanor.

Then there’s the railroad tracks. How many of us have trespassed on railroad property (also a Class A misdemeanor), albeit very carefully? Placing those pennies on the railroad tracks? Highly illegal!

Who hasn’t seen a movie where a young person explores an abandoned building? Trespassing of the first degree is normally a Class B misdemeanor in Missouri (only six lonely potential months in jail, folks). Trespassing in school buses are the exception, meriting a Class A category instead. Just warn your teens, okay?

What if they’re out looking for that special gemstone or rock? Warning! Don’t surface mine if you don’t want a possible misdemeanor threat on your head.

Summer fireworks – a true Class A Misdemeanor

What about fireworks? A teen entrepreneur should just stay away from the fireworks business. Selling fireworks without adult supervision under the age of 16 is illegal. Never sell fireworks to child under age 14. As you can see, fireworks are a risky business altogether.

Discharging fireworks around the wrong building is also a Class A misdemeanor. Boating and fireworks don’t mix, either. In a spirit of summer fun, can you imagine your teen throwing a firework off of a boat? That’s illegal — bad news if the Natural Resource Police are nearby!

Let’s travel down memory lane for a moment. What crazy stunts did you pull as a teen? Surely we can all pull something out of our memory bank.

Summer parties and driving – a strict NO alcohol rule

The temptation is so real! Teen drinking and driving scares the pants off of parents. You simply must have this conversation with your child, even if drinking is not their thing. Riding in a vehicle with an intoxicated friend driving – well, that’s a recipe for disaster!

Remind your child that even one drink before driving is TOO much.

Teach your teen that all it takes is a BAC of .020 under the age of 21 in Missouri to land a DWI charge. You definitely will need a good criminal defense lawyer to keep your child out of jail with such a charge.

Your teen’s Class A misdemeanor risk will escalate dramatically if they are stopped by an officer as a prior DWI offender. Besides potential jail time and fines, and license suspension, certain rehab programs will be required, such as the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP). Check out this website for the latest on DWI charges.

Drugs – be aware and beware

This past winter, police spotted a Marshal Missouri teen sitting out in the freezing January weather. Sadly, he was in possession of more than 10g of marijuana. He was charged not only with possession but with alleged intent to sell – a Class E felony.

According to NOLO, first-time possession of less than 35g of marijuana but more than 10g is normally a Class A misdemeanor! (Unless you are inside a school zone – drug charges ramp way up there.)

Although not a Class A misdemeanor, getting caught driving with any trace of drugs in your system in Missouri for first-time offender is an automatic 30-day license suspension. Since teens may undergo surgeries (say a sports injury) and receive pain-killers, it pays to be aware of the risks of driving even after it seems the pain-killers have worn off.

Technology and teens – multiple risk factors

Distracted driving is a huge risk factor for bodily harm and death. No one under 21 is allowed to text and drive in the state of Missouri. While not a Class A misdemeanor, if a teen is caught texting and driving, he or she faces a fine of up to $200, 2 points on their license, and a loss of a Good Driver discount on car insurance. Consequences get much, much worse if one causes a distracted driving accident due to texting.

On the other hand, sexting is a serious crime involving potential child pornography charges. Because those laws are so complex, it’s hard to say what charges your teen would end up with – quite possibly a felony charge that would follow them for ages. Tell your teen sexting is not a joke unless they think a jumpsuit, prison food, and prison walls shared with the toughest of bullies is fun!

First, you and your teen should know that even a Class A misdemeanor has serious consequences. Possible fines and potential jail time of up to a year are no summer fun adventure!

If convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, your child will carry a criminal record that could literally haunt them for years. Certain Class A misdemeanors cannot be expunged. For example, renting an apartment in the future could be very difficult, depending on the criminal record.

Even more damaging, your teen is required to tell his employer if he has a Class A misdemeanor on his record. Since employers already struggle to find good, reliable help, a teen with a record is going to be on the bottom of their “hire list”.

Charged with a misdemeanor? Here are some ways an experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer will work to help you:

  • Know Missouri laws and legal procedures to fight for your best outcome.
  • Ensure your teen’s fair and respectful treatment.
  • Reduce or even eliminate fines.
  • Reduce jail time.
  • Work to get a criminal record expunged.

Safety tips for a spring trip into St. Louis (OR some ways to avoid becoming a victim of violent crime)

 

Violent crime rates in St. Louis are a matter of hot debate.

While the St. Louis area has been in the “hot seat” on the news in the past few years,  there’s some evidence that the crime statistics are skewed. You can read the article links included. You decide for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions about Safety in St. Louis

http://www.politifact.com/missouri/statements/2017/oct/24/pete-hegseth/pete-hegseth-gives-correct-statistics-st-louis-cri/

What’s not up for debate — most major cities worldwide have certain areas prone to violent crime.

Crowded conditions, poverty levels, and cultural differences all contribute. Interesting to note, when calculating crime rates in St. Louis, the suburbs were not included unlike calculations for some other major cities. Therefore, Politifact.com gives a “mostly true” rating to St. Louis crime statistics.  Does that mean you need to avoid the city of St. Louis? Certainly not.

St. Louis has such a wealth of things to see and do! If you’re getting “spring fever”,  you just need a little safety guidance to enjoy the area.

According to Trip Advisor and Smarter Travel’s websites, exercise greater caution in the north and east parts of St. Louis. Violent crime is higher in these areas.

Many of the city’s tourist attractions are NOT located in these areas. If you’re heading out to enjoy a major sporting event, you’ll find the 3 major stadiums in the safe Central Business District.

Looking for a great music or performing arts event?  Grand Center is the hub for the performing arts, also known to be a safe district.

Use common sense. Make a safety check list for your young people venturing out on their own.

  • Lock your valuables out of sight inside your car.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • Don’t walk alone at night.
  • Park in a well-lit, Preferred Downtown Parking Facility
  • Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Limit cell phone distraction while you are on foot in the city.

According to  30 year law enforcement veteran Steve Kardian, it only takes seven seconds for a criminal to choose you as a target.  How long does it take for you to glance down at your cell phone?

In his 2017 book The New Superpower for Women, Kardian outlines concrete ways or tips to avoid becoming a target of violent crime.  Surprisingly, a confident walk and stride helps to deter a would-be assailant. If you shuffle down the street while hunched over your phone, you become a prime target.

Kardian also suggests the “casual glance” or a split-second glance as you’re out and about.

The casual glance around helps you to stay aware of your changing surroundings. A split-second glance also lets a troublemaker know that you are aware of him. What criminal wants to get caught?  As a result, a victim of choice is at least temporarily distracted or unaware of their surroundings. Busy mom alert!

Stay cool in crowded conditions and keep your eyes open for your exit route. ( Don’t want to be accused of violent crime? Keep your own cool at your child’s sporting events.)

Pop concert? Large outdoor event? Check out your potential exit routes.

If you’re the aggressive, elbow-shoving  type, take a chill-pill before entering the crowds. Take note of the Anheuser-Busch heir Billy Busch.  He was recently in the news unfortunately being charged with fourth degree assault due to losing his cool at his son’s basketball practice!

Protect yourself and those you love. If you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the law and  will defend your rights, call attorney Nathan A. Steimel – (636)244-3737 for free initial consultation today.

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

 

 

 

What you need if you (or your daughter) are pregnant, addicted, and facing drug possession charges

help for an addicted pregnant mother

It’s a mother’s worst nightmare — you discover your daughter is addicted to opioids, pregnant with your grandchild, and facing drug possession charges!

In a recent 2017 study compiled by the Missouri Foundation for Health, in the past ten years, the number of babies born addicted to narcotics in Missouri has increased by an astounding 538%! This nightmare is a genuine reality for many Missouri grandmothers.

Add a mandatory minimum sentence to this scenario. Even a compassionate, reasonable judge will have no choice in the matter. A mandatory minimum sentence is just that — mandatory!  Judges are not allowed to rewrite the law.

Drug possession charges are no laughing matter in Missouri.

According to FindLaw.com,  cocaine possession charges start with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail.  That’s a Class C felony on a person’s record.

One year may seem like a small amount of time, but for a pregnant momma, that’s a hugely important year. Your pregnant daughter may end up in jail and even give birth while incarcerated. That’s enough to make you cry!

Prenatal care is sure to be less than “five-star” under these circumstances. Diet, exercise, and good environment help an unborn baby’s healthy development. The stress of the prison environment  is bad enough for mother and baby. Think about the roomies! How about frozen TV dinners every night?

If an expectant mother is addicted to opioids, she will need access to withdrawal meds such as Suboxone to wean herself and the baby off of narcotics. Getting access to these drugs can be challenging enough for an addicted expectant momma outside of prison.

A recent news story in The Riverfront Times reminds us of the grim facts. Pregnant, addicted women often receive bottom-of-the-barrel treatment by society and even from those who should be their most trusted ally — their OB-GYN.  Shame and stigma follow these expectant mothers everywhere!

It’s easy to understand this attitude, though. Addiction is so harmful to the unborn child. C’mon! Get your act together, right? Throwing stones only injures the innocent in this scenario.

Encouragement and compassionate, nurturing care are important for every expectant mother — for the sake of both mother and baby.  Mandatory minimum sentencing punishes an unborn citizen in this respect. It’s the legal setting for a modern-day Les Miserable.

Addiction and drug possession charges carry long-lasting consequences. Besides the social stigma, there’s the criminal record. Imagine spending a year in jail, then attempting to get hired or to rent a decent apartment.

Meanwhile, what do you do if you or a loved one are currently facing drug possession charges, pregnant or not? You need prompt access to both medical and legal help.

Hope and medical help for pregnant addicts is now available in the St. Louis area through the efforts of an amazing woman and a growing team — Dr. Jaye Shyken of the Women and Infant Substance Help Center (also known as the WISH Center).  It’s a branch of St. Mary’s Hospital.

Concrete personalized action plan. Proven ways and methods to break addiction. Accountability. Dignity.  One can only hope this one-of-a kind program at the WISH center will take off like wildfire around our nation. The epidemic of addicted mommas and babies is no longer an issue we can ignore.

Is there any legal hope or help, despite mandatory minimum sentencing?

Yes and YES!  You definitely don’t want to end up with the maximum possible sentence. Your very first step is to reach out for expert legal help.

You need an aggressive, experienced criminal defense lawyer. It pays to explore and know your options — even possible probation for a first-time offender. Attorney Steimel of the greater St. Louis area knows Missouri drug possession laws. He will fight for your best future in court. Call 636-244-3737 today. Don’t face criminal charges without timely expert legal help!

 

What if you commit accidental shoplifting in Missouri?

Not too long ago I “overheard” a conversation on social media about an accidental shoplifting.

The story ran something like this: a busy momma with little ones had a cart overflowing with groceries and other items at a large retailer. She distractedly went through the checkout.

Unfortunately she started to leave this store with an unpaid item on the rack beneath her cart.  Security stopped her and checked her receipt. She profusely apologized and offered to pay for the item. Security still called the store manager who made her wait for the police.

She was treated like a criminal in front of her children for an honest mistake.

Her very irate husband published a letter to this retailer on social media.  I can’t fact check any of their story.  However, it’s a personal phobia of mine.  I often check receipts after shopping to make sure items were charged.

Accidental shoplifting is an easy crime to commit!

What about you?

Ever take a call on your cell while the cashier is ringing up your items? Or have your child asking you a whole list of questions during the process?  Rush hour (4-6pm) at the grocery store and long lines equal stress, too.

More than ever, we function on “overload” setting in daily life. Sometimes this results in an accidental felony!

Retailers undeniably face a genuine epidemic of shoplifting. According to a Time.com article, stores lost 48.9 billion dollars of inventory in 2016!

Of this amount, almost 37% of this loss was due to customer shoplifting.  Employee theft accounted for 30% of the lost inventory.  However, accidental shoplifting cannot be ruled out!

http://time.com/money/4829684/shoplifting-fraud-retail-survey/

If you shop at Walmart, be especially careful to avoid accidental shoplifting. They’ve adopted their own interesting twist in dealing with shoplifting in Joplin, Missouri.

If you accidentally walk out (never mind that the cashier should also be held partially responsible) with an unpaid package of water bottles under your cart, this could cost you $400 plus time.

Meet Walmart’s “Restorative Justice Program”!

According to The Joplin Globe, this program is designed to cut down on frequent calls to the police.

http://www.joplinglobe.com/news/local_news/wal-mart-takes-its-own-approach-to-shoplifting/article_454c256b-2268-5514-9473-2712d1cd26c8.html

However, it only applies to those with a clean record. Welcome, accidental shoplifter!

You have the choice of paying $400 and completing an online course.  Said course surely restores your brain cells from accidental shoplifting mode!

Fail to complete the course?  Fail to pay in full? Walmart reports you to the police!

Don’t care for this option?

Walmart calls the police and files a report.  You will need to show up in court.

In Missouri, shoplifting items under a $500 value is considered a Class A Misdemeanor —  punishable by possible jail time and fines.

Unfortunately, unless you fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed  in court, you will end up with a misdemeanor on your record.

True, you may qualify to get your record expunged.  Expungement for a misdemeanor now only requires a three year wait from the completion of your sentence, parole, or probation.  http://steimel-law.com/blog/get-your-legal-record-expunged/

Starting 2018 with any shoplifting charges? A misdemeanor or especially a felony charge (items over $500)  radically changes your life! You need experienced, aggressive legal help TODAY.

At the Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC, you can pursue your best options for your future!  Call 636-244-3737 to get your free initial consultation today.

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Come clean in 2018 — get your legal record expunged

Celebrate an expunged criminal record in 2018

Do you have a few wild oats that always come back to haunt you when you fill out a new job application or apply to rent an apartment? Maybe a DWI or perhaps a MIP (minor in possession) charge? Due to  recent changes in Missouri law, you may now qualify to have your criminal charges expunged from your record.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve never heard of the term “expunge” before.  A quick peek at dictionary.com gives us a brief definition. “to strike or blot out: erase; obliterate”. 

What if this happened to your criminal record? Wouldn’t it feel good to start 2018 with a clean slate?

Imagine not having to tell a potential employer of your one and only DWI ! That may just make life a whole lot easier for you.

You could answer “no” to committing a felony or misdemeanors in many situations as long as you are a one-time offender. Your court and criminal records would be sealed. No snoops allowed.

( Applying for a job in law enforcement or banking, for example? You will still have to disclose your record to your potential employer.)

The good news is that the state of Missouri has recently greatly expanded the list of felonies and misdemeanors they will expunge.

The Columbia Tribune reports that about 1,900 different felonies or misdemeanors will now be eligible to be expunged.

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/20171130/law-making-it-easier-to-expunge-criminal-records-in-missouri-takes-effect-jan-1

While not everyone with a misdemeanor on their record will qualify to have their criminal record expunged, many more folks than were allowed before can apply and start the process in 2018.

Only one felony in a lifetime or two misdemeanors or ordinance violations can be expunged. 

You may need to be patient, especially for alcohol-related offenses.

If you have a DWI on your record, you will have to keep your record squeaky clean for ten years before getting it expunged in court.

To get a misdemeanor expunged, the wait is three years from the date of completion of your sentence, parole, or probation.  This is FAR better than the former ten year wait to get a misdemeanor off of your record.

Other felonies will normally require a seven year wait for your clean slate.

What are some types of felonies or misdemeanors NOT eligible to be expunged?

  • Violent crimes
  • Repeat offenders (more than one DWI, for example)
  • Class A felonies
  • Sex offenses
  • Traffic misdemeanors while driving a commercial vehicle

For someone who made a foolish mistake and learned from it,  having your criminal record expunged is a wonderful second chance for a better life.

But you do have to take action. You have to fill out paperwork.  You have to show up in court. Most importantly, you do need to avoid any repeat offenses.

You don’t want to mess up this second chance.

You need the legal advice and step-by-step help of an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney!

The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC will give you a free evaluation of your case.  http://steimel-law.com/criminal-defense.html

You don’t have to face your day in court alone.  Call 636-244-3737 today to get a great start to 2018!

 

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

 

Keep your hunting safe and legal

trespassing laws in MO
Safe hunting!

Long before children knew and loved the story of Bambi, his ancestors helped to save the lives of our Founding Fathers. 

That’s right! Without deer meat, the Plymouth Colony may not have survived their first few harsh New England winters. In fact, in 1621  Indian Chief Massasoit brought 90 men to the first Thanksgiving feast! In order to feed them, they provided 5 deer with their hunting skills. No licenses, no hunter safety classes — it was open season all winter long.

Times have changed! If you’re  bringing home the venison for Thanksgiving this year,  you’ll need to have your “ducks in a row”.

Let’s start with the legal part.  The main crime hunters commit is trespassing on private property. What about a Class B misdemeanor on your record?  If the judge decides against you,  you could face jail time!  Your family would miss you and your venison on Thanksgiving Day.

Then, imagine how losing your hunting license  for a year and forking out some hard earned dollars in fines would further dampen your grateful spirit!  That’s the penalty for trespassing while hunting.

Trespassing truth — even if you shoot your deer on legal ground, you can’t retrieve your kill if the deer runs a few feet and dies on someone else’s property.  Maybe diplomacy will help.   Contact the property owner.  There’s a nice chance they’d rather not deal with disposing of the carcass themselves.  Hopefully, they will also appreciate the fact that you didn’t choose to trespass on their property.

If that fails, well, you’ll just have to keep hunting!

Keep your eyes peeled for purple paint! Purple paint markers or “no trespassing signs” are the responsibility of the property owner. It’s their job to let you know their property’s boundaries, according to the  Missouri Department of Conservation.

https://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/know-trespassing-laws-during-deer-season

Gun safety is a given.  if you’re a licensed hunter, you already know the rules, right?

Still, accidents happen to the best of us. The worst kind of accident involves not just injuring yourself — but injuring someone else, also!

Someone I know decided to fake target practice in his bedroom mirror. Said mirror shattered since the supposedly unloaded gun had a bullet left inside. Thankfully, no one was hurt!   Just a youthful mistake could have caused serious injury or death.

What Dad said is still true. Guns are not toys! 

So keep an eye on the kid who is enamored with your hunting gear and weapons.  Teach them early the basic gun safety rules.

  • Check your unloaded weapon to make sure it is in good working order.
  • Never point a gun at a peaceful person, even if it’s not loaded.
  • Keep your trigger-happy finger OFF the trigger until time to shoot.
  • Don’t climb trees or run with a loaded gun (unless you’re GI Joe).

if you are involved in a hunting accident,  don’t add a Class A misdemeanor to your misery!

Here’s how to stay out of jail  and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner (maybe even venison roast) with your family, courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“If you are involved in a firearms-related hunting accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance. Failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.”  ( https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov)

If you are in need of legal defense due to a hunting accident or trespassing charges,  The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC will give you a free initial consultation.  http://steimel-law.com/

Attorney Steimel knows your rights and is well-versed in Missouri laws.   Call for help today!  636-244-3737

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.