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Judge rules that cops can't force peopel to unlock their phones

In a historic decision that might just signal how the law is catching up with modern technology, a California judge ruled that the government does not have the right to force individuals to open their phones using their biometrics. Citizens of New York will be glad to know that not only does this ruling go one more step towards protecting the privacy of every American, but it also flies in the face of numerous other rulings that preceded it.

Do New York misdemeanor charges add to inequality?

Although the term "misdemeanor" applies to minor offenses, these charges play a considerable role in the U.S. criminal justice system. According to one expert, misdemeanor allegations and the sentences that often come with them only worsen the inequalities in American society.

Wrongful convictions remain a serious concern

A wrongful criminal conviction may be the worst nightmare for many defendants in New York. Still, innocent people are convicted on a regular basis. In fact, one study estimates that 6 percent of cases may end with wrongful convictions. Some of these miscarriages of justice have come to light in recent years due to advancements in DNA technology. New access to evidence has enabled people convicted of serious crimes like rape and murder to show that it was scientifically impossible for them to have committed the offenses for which they were imprisoned.

The contents of the First Step Act

For those who have been charged with crimes or are currently in federal prison, the First Step Act could make their lives easier. Individuals who have homes or family members in New York would be required to be incarcerated within 500 miles of those homes or loved ones. In some cases, it could result in a person being set free or having his or her sentences reduced. Those who are facing life sentences under a "three-strike" rule would now only serve 25 years.

Black defendants at risk for racial bias during court proceedings

New York residents may be interested to learn that white as well as black bail judges often show bias toward black defendants. This is according to a recent study that was conducted in the Miami and Philadelphia areas. The authors of the study said that the evidence suggested that racial stereotypes were a factor in the bias that is shown towards black defendants.

DNA evidence prompts revision of lineup procedures

Police officers in New York and around the country have long relied on lineups to provide prosecutors with evidence linking suspects to the crimes they are accused of committing, but a growing number of cases involving individuals who were wrongly incarcerated for years or even decades has raised questions about the reliability of witness identifications. A Louisiana man convicted after a witness pointed him out in court was released in January after 38 years behind bars, and lawmakers in the state responded by introducing rules designed to make the identification process more transparent and fair.

Court ruling an update to the Fourth Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Carpenter v United States, and the ruling has major implications for privacy rights in New York and elsewhere. The court determined that authorities needed a warrant to access the man's cell site location information (CSLI). Prior to the Carpenter decision, officers only needed to have a good reason to believe that accessing this information would legitimately help in a given matter.

Prosecutors charging overdose bystanders with homicide offenses

The opioid epidemic has led to the loss of many lives in New York and in the rest of the nation. As the number of overdose deaths has increased, police and prosecutors have started charging some of the bystanders of overdoses with crimes.

Up to 6 percent of prisoners could be innocent

Being convicted for a crime one didn't commit is a nightmare scenario most New Yorkers wouldn't care to contemplate. However, that nightmare could be a reality for up to 6 percent of prisoners nationwide according to a new study. The study was published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology in April.

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