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While republicans and democrats may disagree on everything from taxes to abortion laws, there’s one thing both political parties appear to strongly agree on—there are some big criminal problems with our criminal justice system.


As we come to the third month of 2015, many hot issues are coming to the surface that politicians and civilians alike realize need to be addressed. Some of the most important problems facing our criminal justice system today include:


Militarization of police. Last year’s shootings in Ferguson brought attention to the implications of militarized policing. Local  law enforcement officials were provided with gear and weapons from the pentagon, including M-16s, armored vehicles, helmets, and camouflage uniforms. In essence, the police officers were outfitted and equipped like soldiers.


Why is it so dangerous when police officers start acting like soldiers? Police officers are supposed to restore the peace and protect the people, while soldiers’ primary purpose is to terminate an enemy. When policing duties become with military duties, it can result in needless conflict and senseless killings.


In response to media and public scrutiny and protests from both parties, President Obama has agreed to reexamine the Pentagon’s program for distributing weaponry into local police departments.


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Legalization of marijuana. According to recent statistics, more than 20 million Americans use marijuana on a regular basis, and even more use it occasionally. But in the eyes of the federal government and many state governments, these people could be considered criminals. Many citizens and public officials alike feel that an unnecessary amount of  American tax dollars and law enforcement officials’ efforts are squandered in the process of hunting down, trying, and incarcerating non-violent marijuana offenders.


In the first steps towards a solution for this criminal justice controversy, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana. It appears as though other states may soon follow suit, including California, Nevada, Alaska, and Oregon. As the laws surrounding marijuana use evolves, it is likely that there will be a decrease in the number of marijuana-related imprisonments and arrests.


Federal and state sentencing. Over the past three decades, the number of prisoners in federal facilities has skyrocketed. One major cause of prison overcrowding may be overly harsh sentencing. In response, there have been some proposals to reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain types of crimes.


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On a local level, many states have been introducing sentencing reforms, eschewing prison in favor of alternatives such as home detention and rehabilitation.


Civil asset forfeiture laws. Civil asset forfeiture laws allow police and prosecutors to confiscate the monetary assets, homes, vehicles, and other forms of property from people who have not been convicted or even—in some cases—arrested. If a property owner tries to get their property back, they must prove their innocence in court. In many cases, police officers are allowed to keep seized property for their own profit rather than placing it in a general treasury fund. Much of the public and many government officials agree that these procedures are unfair and are calling for reform.


Indigent defense. If an accused person is unable to afford an attorney to defend them in court, the government must provide a lawyer for them for free. Although this is a good idea in theory, in practice, indigent defense lawyers are often unable to perform competently because they are flooded with so many different clients. In some cases, lawyers are only able to meet with their clients for one brief session before a court case. Without an adequate defense, many people are wrongfully convicted or given harsher sentences.


It may be tempting to use a free, court-assigned lawyer after you have been charged with a crime, especially if you don’t feel you can afford a top lawyer. But without an expert criminal lawyer, you may end up paying much more than the cost of hiring one in the form of hefty fines and lost time in prison.


When it comes to protecting your freedom and future happiness, it’s never a good idea to go cheap. You simply can’t afford to leave the outcome of your case up to chance.


At the Law Office of Kimberly Diego, we’ve been defending clients for years, and have a proven track record of success. We have the skills, experience, and determination necessary to prepare a rigorous defense and ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Don’t put a price on your future. Give us a call—the initial consultation is free.


About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing atThe Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.


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