Category Archives: Criminal Law

WVU Students: Tips for Suspension and Expulsion Hearings

In a recent article featured in The Huffington Post, the author wrote about West Virginia University by stating, “Students and fans at one of the top party schools in the country won a big football game Saturday. So they lit some fires and flipped a car.”

Unfortunately for the West Virginia University community, the idea of students who love to set fires and flip over cars has become almost a tradition of sorts. What many students and their parents may not know, however, is that a student from West Virginia University who participates in these activities may face suspension or expulsion from school. This outcome is life-changing as suspension or expulsion may affect your ability to finish your college degree or secure gainful employment.

Student Disciplinary Hearings – Suspension and Expulsion Hearings

If a student faces suspension or expulsion, the student faces a hearing panel organized by the Office of Student Conduct to determine what action the University is going to take against the student. The hearing panel consists of both faculty and students, and the hearing panel serves as both judge and jury in the matter. The accused student is given an opportunity to present opening and closing statements, testify on his/her own behalf, call and question witnesses, and introduce evidence. If you are a student facing this situation, here are some common sense types for preparing for the hearing:

1) Take responsibility for your actions.

2) Be prepared to explain to the hearing panel your plan for changing your behavior in the future, and how the decision of the hearing panel will affect your future.

3) Be prepared to explain the hearing panel why you are proud to be a Mountaineer, and why it is meaningful for you to be able to graduate from West Virginia University.

4) Provide the hearing panel with character references either by submitting letters of reference to the Office of Student Conduct prior to the hearing, or calling a witness on your behalf at the hearing to talk about your good character.

5) Read the possible sanctions listed in the University Student Conduct Code, and be prepared to suggest sanctions that you think would best help you and be appropriate in the situation.

During hearings for suspension or expulsion, students are entitled to have a lawyer appear on their behalf at the Student Conduct Hearing. Because these hearings involve opening and closing statements, the introduction of evidence, questioning of witnesses, and statements by the accused student — all things present in a court hearing or trial — you may be best served by retaining counsel to assist you throughout the hearing process. Likewise, if the hearing panel has issued a ruling that you do not agree with, you have the right to appeal and you may be best served by seeking the counsel of an attorney to assist you in this process.

Should you face an upcoming suspension or expulsion hearing at West Virginia University, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Adams Legal Group, PLLC,  (304) 381-2166 for assistance.

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by | November 1, 2013 · 12:08 pm

West Virginia Concealed Carry Gun Laws

I recently had a client who was charged with a minor criminal offense for carrying an unloaded pistol, in a case, in his vehicle.  Insofar as I have done this myself on various occasions, I admittedly had to conduct some research, speak with law enforcement, and review the laws – both to determine why he was charged and to ensure my understanding of and compliance with the laws.

**Please note, that this blog is meant as a primer on some of the most common concealed carry laws and issues in the state of West Virginia and is not a comprehensive review of all pertinent rules, exceptions and peculiarities. This is a quick review and is not a substitute for knowing the laws, including those of some local municipalities (e.g. Charleston and Martinsburg, et al.).

What are the Concealed Carry Laws in West Virginia?

  • Concealed carry in WV is illegal, without a permit/license.
  • A concealed carry license “shall issue” in WV, upon properly supported application to the county Sheriff.
  • No license is required to carry a firearm, for the following purposes:
    • transport in vehicle, unloaded, between home/work and gun shop, range, or a hunting location,
    • on your person while hunting, and
    • on your own premises or the private premises of another with permission.
  • Carrying a concealed firearm in your vehicle without a license or one of the stated purposes is illegal.
  • Carrying an UNCONCEALED non-hunting firearm in your vehicle is NOT illegal, as WV is an “open carry” state.
  • Carrying an UNCONCEALED firearm on your person is not a violation of law, as WV is an “open carry” state.
  • Even with a concealed carry permit, certain public places are off limits, including the following:
    • Schools and school buses,
    • VET (vocational education) facilities,
    • Federal government offices,
    • Courthouses,
    • Magistrate and Family Law Masters offices (where separate from courthouse),
    • Federal, State and County jail/prison facilities,
    • Where prohibited or posted by premises/business owners (technically this would be trespassing)

Finally, as pertains to hunting rifles, the following applies:

  • Hunting rifles must be unloaded and cased, in a vehicle, during non-hunting hours.

Once again, this article is meant as a quick reference to some of the most common rules and issues relating to concealed carry and transportation of a weapon in the state of West Virginia. This is by no means an exhaustive treatment of the subject. If you have any questions about a peculiar situation, we suggest that you contact a local attorney or law enforcement officer to discuss. If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a firearms violation, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers to discuss your legal rights and potential defenses. We can be reached through our website at Adams Legal Group, PLLC or at (304) 381-2166.

(P.S. – Happily, as far as I can recall, each instance where I have transported guns in a vehicle in the past, fit within one of the exceptions identified above).

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by | February 21, 2013 · 10:40 pm

Arrested? Police Failed to “Read You Your Rights”? What Next?

What happens if the police make an arrest and fail to “read you your rights”?

Many people believe that if the police do not read them their Miranda rights, then the arrest and charges will not stick and that they will get off or otherwise prevail. Unfortunately, despite the dramatization by Hollywood to the contrary, this is usually not the case.

Do the Police Have to Read You Your Rights?

The simple answer to this question is no, the police are not required to read you your rights in every situation. However, if they do not and then detain or arrest you for questioning, any statements you make under those circumstances cannot be used against you. Likewise, any evidence obtained as a result of your statements (e.g. a statement that “the gun used in the murder is under the passenger seat” which leads to the discovery of the murder weapon – gun) will generally not be admissible as evidence against you at trial.

What are my rights?

As relates to Miranda warnings, your right is a constitutional right against self incrimination, which derives from the 5th Amendment. The Miranda (a US Supreme Court case) interpretation of the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination requires that before the police arrest or detain a criminal suspect and proceed with any questioning, the suspect must be informed in specific terms (a la Hollywood movies) of his/her right to not speak and to have a lawyer present for any questioning. Thus, if you are detained or arrested and then make statements or answer questions that are being used to incriminate you, without being read your rights, only in these limited circumstances will the police failure to “read you your rights” possibly help your case.

A Failure to Read Miranda Warnings Will Not Necessarily Be a Defense

Because the Miranda warnings are solely meant to inform a criminal suspect of their rights against self incrimination, if Miranda warnings are not given, then any evidence obtained as a result of this failure to warn will be inadmissible. However, in many cases, criminal charges are based upon evidence other than a suspect’s own statements during questioning, after an arrest or detention. Typically, by the time an arrest is made, there is already mounting evidence against the suspect to independently sustain and possibly prove the charges brought. Thus, if questioning occurs after an arrest and without proper Miranda warnings, it is still possible that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the crime, even without any self-incriminating statements by the defendant. In many cases, particularly where an officer witnesses criminal conduct, there is no need for and accordingly no questioning following a detention or arrest. In such a case, there is no statement and thus no self incrimination and thus a failure to provide Miranda warnings has absolutely no bearing on the charges or possible outcome.

If you have questions about an arrest and criminal charges that you are facing, please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about your rights and defenses available to you, particular to the circumstances of your case. Visit us at WV Criminal Lawyers and contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Filed under Criminal Law

Welcome Back WVU Students

West Virginia University and Morgantown, WV saw an influx of 30,000 or so students, as the 2012-2013 WVU school year gets underway. It is always an exciting time around Morgantown, as most businesses, the city and the University are bustling with activity and commerce. It is also an anxious and exciting time for students, some of whom have left the confines and patriarchal control of their parents home for the first time. As this freedom meets with ample opportunities to explore this great city of Morgantown, WV, we at Adams Legal Group, PLLC hope that most of the new students find constructive outlets for this freedom and to burn off the stress and anxiety of all of the new challenges faced under these conditions.

Unfortunately, the reality sometimes becomes that some students take this new freedom and find opportunities for anxiety- and stress-relief in drinking and partying, instead of burning it off through a good long hike up at Coopers’ Rock in this gorgeous late-Summer & Fall weather. As WVU students bustled into Morgantown WV last weekend, unfortunately the WVU police, the Morgantown City police and the Monongalia County Sheriffs office was confronted with a bustle of activity and arrests. Hundreds of arrests have been made in the past week, already, mostly for public intoxication, obstruction, underage drinking, DUIs, and possession charges. While it is great to be social and find different outlets for social engagement and stress relief, we urge students to exercise prudence in moderating their behavior within legal limits. Keep Morgantown safe for you, your fellow students, and all the members of this great city – don’t drink and drive, moderate your drinking within reasonable limits, be respectful of establishments, other patrons and law enforcement.

IF you are one of the unfortunate WVU students to find yourself in trouble with law enforcement and charged with one of the above offenses – we at Adams Legal Group, PLLC can help! CALL US TODAY for your free consultation at (304) 381-2166 or visit us at Morgantown Criminal Lawyers for WVU Students

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Filed under Criminal Law, Current Events, DUI/DWI, General, Legal Services, Morgantown, West Virginia, WVU