Criminal Defense Blog

Hangout Musical Festival Arrests


Hangout Musical Festival Arrests

This May thousands of music lovers flocked the Gulf Shores for the annual Hangout Musical Festival.  What is always a great time for music and fun in the sun also usually comes with numerous drug related arrests.  This year there were over 100 reported arrests as a result of the festival. Many of these arrests were for felony unlawful possession of a controlled substance (UPOCS) and public intoxication.

UPOCS and Public Intoxication in Gulf Shores

While most all people know that possession of substances like Ecstasy, Cocaine, Molly, and LSD are illegal, many of these charges were a result of individuals having prescription Adderall in their possession.  Just because you have a prescription for Adderall does not mean you can carry the pills on you if they are not in the prescription pill bottle.  This can be a costly mistake to make. While a UPOCS charge is much more serious than a public intoxication charge, the charge of public intoxication is not one to take lightly.  This can be costly and remain on your permanent criminal record if not handle correctly.

Hangout Music Festival Arrests 

If you were arrested in Gulf Shores during the Hangout Festival you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible about your pending criminal charges.  Call Ketcham Law today and speak with our criminal defense lawyer about your UPOCS, public intoxication, or any other criminal charge you face. Call 205-296-4233 and get the legal counsel that you can not afford to lose.

Posted in Drug Possession, DUI, Marijuana Offenses, Underage Drinking |

Alabama’s Driving Record Point System


Most states enforce a penalty point system of some type when it comes to traffic offenses.  Points are generally applied to a driver’s record after certain driving offenses, which may expire after time.  If a maximum number of points is reached, the person’s driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.  Alabama’s driving record points system serves to keep track of infractions and hold Alabama licensed drivers accountable.

Alabama’s points system in general

If you receive a ticket for reckless driving, you will receive 6 points on your record.  Speeding 26 mph or more above the speed limit, results in 5 points added to your record.  Driving on the wrong side of the road or illegally passing another vehicle earns you 4 points.  Following too closely is worth 3 points on your record.  If you want to see a comprehensive list of points, click here.

What happens when you receive too many points on your record?

Driving record points can lead to suspension, revocation or cancellation of your driver’s license, as well as community service, fines, reinstatement fees and possibly mandatory completion of traffic school or a defensive driving course.  Also, receiving too many points or having your license suspended could potentially result in higher rates for car insurance coverage.

How long could my licensed be suspended?

The length of your driver’s license suspension in Alabama is based on the number of points received during a set period of time. Length of suspension is as follows:

  • 12 to 14 points within 2 years: 60 days.
  • 15 to 17 points within 2 years: 90 days.
  • 18 to 20 points within 2 years: 120 days.
  • 21 to 23 points within 2 years: 180 days.
  • 24 points and more within 2 years: 365 days.

If you have any questions about the point systems, please contact Ketcham Law. We would be happy to look into the points status against your license and whether or not you are looking at getting your licenses suspended.

If you have questions regarding your driver’s license, or any other related legal matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation either online or by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Alabama CDL


Alabama Commercial Driver’s License

Whether you are starting a new job that requires you to drive a commercial vehicle or you just started a new business, in order to drive a commercial vehicle in Alabama, you must first obtain an Alabama commercial driver’s license (CDL).  The specific classes of CDL licenses are different from one state to the next, as are the requirements to obtain one. Here is what you need to know about obtaining an Alabama CDL.

Alabama CDL Classifications

The type of CDL you need depends on weight and cargo.  Alabama classifies commercial vehicles that require a CDL to drive as follows:

Class A: Operate vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds that tow trailers or other vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds

Class B: Operate vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds and tow trailers or vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds

Class C: Operate vehicles that can transport 16 or more people or vehicles that transport hazardous materials

Basic requirements for obtaining a CDL in Alabama

To qualify for a CDL in Alabama you must be at least 18 years old, pass a vision exam and obtain a medical certificate. If you plan to haul materials across state lines, however, you must be at least 21 years old, pursuant to federal regulations.  Much like a standard license, CDL applicants must also pass both a written knowledge exam and a driving test. The CDL driving test has three parts: the pre-trip vehicle inspection, a basic control skills test, and the on-road driving exam. Remember that the driving test must be taken in the same type of vehicle as the class of CDL license you are trying to obtain.

CDL issues of concern in Alabama

Having a CDL makes receiving any traffic ticket or criminal charge much more serious.  State law and Federal regulations prohibit CDL holders from participating in driving schools or diversion programs, thus making the situation much more difficult to overcome. If you are a holder of a CDL and have been charged with a crime or received a traffic ticket, then you must consult with an attorney.  The consequences can be life altering if you are not careful.

For more information regarding Alabama CDL Requirements visit the Alabama Department of Public Safety website.  If you have questions regarding CDL licenses in Alabama, or any other related legal matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in DUI, Uncategorized |

Domestic Violence Charge


Domestic Violence Charge In Alabama

If you have been accused of domestic violence, there are steps you can take to defend yourself.  Unfortunately, there are far too many false domestic abuse accusations made to law enforcement.  Although we are all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, that may not seem to be the case when it comes to domestic violence or assault.  These charges can be successfully defended if you know what to do.

Hire an attorney who specializes in domestic violence

If you have an attorney with experience in handling domestic violence cases like yours, you will have a better chance of mounting a successful defense.  There are so many potential defenses to domestic violence and assault, but they may not apply to your specific case.  So, discussing your case with an attorney who specializes in domestic violence cases is a wise move.

Was it self-defense?

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to prove that you acted out of self-defense or out of the need to protect a child. If it was necessary to take physical action in order to protect yourself or someone else, then it would not be considered domestic abuse.

Technical or constitutional grounds for defense

Another possible defense is based on constitutional grounds. If it can be shown that the arresting officer did not read your rights before questioning you or they conducted an illegal search and seizure of any kind, then may have grounds to have your case dismissed. Certainly, if there is evidence that the assault did not actually occur, you will have a strong defense.

Minimizing potential penalties

In some cases, the evidence may be hard to refute or explain, but if you can show that the act of abuse and violence was an isolated incident and will never become a pattern, you may be able to minimize the consequences.  Everyone can lose their temper as long as it does not become a pattern. There are options for minimizing the penalties, such as agreeing to probation, anger-management counseling or some type of alternative court program.

Abide by any court orders while the charge is pending

One of the most important things you should do is abide by any orders issued by the court while your case is pending.  This usually includes a “no contact” order.  With more serious domestic violence charges, the court will demand that you refrain from contacting the alleged victim. Regardless of whether you may want to try to mend things or explain your side to the victim, it is critical that you refrain from doing so at all costs.

If you have questions regarding domestic violence, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in Domestic Violence |

Witness Testimony


Can a Witness Testify Against Me by Skype?

This may have been a strange question a decade or so ago.  But in this day of smartphones and tablets in the hands of nearly everyone, it actually poses an interesting question.  It is interesting because of the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment which guarantees you the right to “confront” a witness testifying against you.  But what does that actually mean?

The Guarantees of the Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, commonly referred to as the Confrontation Clause, states that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”  The term “confronted” can be a little vague when you start asking whether the person has to be confronted in person.  Many state courts demonstrate a preference for live face-to-face testimony. But this issue is not entirely black and white.  Consider the exceptions made for child victims, for instance, who are allowed to testify via closed-circuit video in order to spare them the stress of testifying in the courtroom with the accused.

There must be exceptional circumstances

Most courts are of the opinion that the right to confrontation provided by the Sixth Amendment is not absolute.  However, the requirement of face-to-face testimony cannot be easily overcome.  Instead, the prosecution must be able to show exceptional circumstances that warrant a departure from in-person testimony.  The most widely recognized exception if where “denial of such confrontation is necessary to further an important public policy and only where the reliability of the testimony is otherwise assured.”

The requirements of the Confrontation Clause

The Confrontation Clause not only guarantees examination of the witness, but it also includes other requirements, including:

  • that the witness statements are given under oath
  • that the witness submits to cross-examination
  • that the jury can observe the demeanor of the witness in order to assess credibility

Regardless, courts pretty much agree that confrontation through a video monitor is not the same as physical face-to-face confrontation.

If you have questions regarding any criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law by calling us at (205) 296-4233.



Posted in Uncategorized |

Do Police Really Plant Drugs on Suspects?


We see it all the time in cop shows, where a defense attorney tries to uncover the conspiracy to frame his client.  But, does that happen in real life?  According to a news article, documents were uncovered by the Alabama Justice Project which purported indicate widespread scheme within the Dothan Police Department to plant drugs and weapons on innocent young black men.

Accusations against the Dothan Police

According to reports, a specialized narcotics team was accused of planting drugs and weapons on innocent suspects for nearly two decades.  Reportedly 12 officers were involved in the scheme dating back to 1996.  Most of the suspects involved were ultimately prosecuted and imprisoned. It is also asserted that police department officials were aware of these abuses as part of an internal investigation.  In fact, the District Attorney was reportedly aware of written statements from police officers admitting that evidence was planted, but he nonetheless proceeded with the prosecutions.  It is believed that there are nearly 1,000 wrongful felony convictions tied to this incredible conspiracy in Dothan.

Misconduct may have been spurred by racial animosity

As the article suggests, the targets of these false arrests and prosecutions were young black men, which raises the question of racism.  According to news reports the Dothan police officers who were involved belonged to a neo-Confederate organization known as being “hostile towards democracy” and exhibiting “an understanding of race that favors segregation and suggests white supremacy.”  In fact, a few of the officers were believed to have held leadership positions in the group.

If you have questions regarding drug charges, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in Drug Possession, Drug Trafficking, Marijuana Offenses |

Illegal Drug Manufacturing in Alabama


Unless you are licensed by the proper state and federal authorities, you cannot manufacture any type of narcotic or other controlled substance.  While it is well known that growing marijuana or making methamphetamine is illegal, those are not the only instances of illegal drug manufacturing prohibited in Alabama.  Any situation involving a controlled substance can land you in serious trouble.

What does Manufacturing mean?

The term “drug manufacturing” refers to any situation where an individual participates in any part of the process of creating an illegal drug.  This can include mixing together chemicals to create LSD, “cooking” or producing methamphetamine, as well as growing marijuana plants. In fact, offering to assist in the drug manufacturing process may be sufficient to support a drug manufacturing charge.

Distributing materials used in manufacturing is also illegal

Illegal drug manufacturing also includes supplying chemicals, chemical mixtures, components, or materials to someone else, if you knew or had reasonable cause to know that those substances would be used to make illegal drugs. For instance, cooking meth requires specific chemical components. If you supply any of those chemical components to someone who then uses them to make meth, you can be charged with drug manufacturing if you knew that is what they were going to do.

Possession of the manufacturing components is enough

A common misconception is that you must actually make the illegal substance to be convicted of manufacturing.  That is not at all the case.  You can actually be convicted of a drug manufacturing if you simply possess the chemical components, manufacturing equipment, or other devices involved in the manufacturing of controlled substances.

Unlawful Manufacturing of Controlled Substance in Alabama

The Alabama Criminal Code criminalizes the actual manufacturing of the controlled substance and also makes it illegal to possess “precursor substances” with intent to manufacture a controlled substance out of the precursor substances.  For instance, possession of sinus medication containing Ephedrine or Pseudo-ephedrine, which are considered a precursor substance used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, can lead to a drug charge.

If you have questions regarding manufacturing controlled substances, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in Drug Possession, Drug Trafficking, Marijuana Offenses |

DUI In Alabama On Spring Break


Being arrested and charged with a DUI in Alabama on spring break, or any other time, can be stressful. If this is the first time and you don’t know what to expect, that stress can turn into a lot of fear. With Spring Break approaching, the number of DUIs is sure to skyrocket in Alabama.  Be safe in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach over the Spring Break and Summer. Be sure not to drink and drive, but if you find yourself in this awful predicament, here are a few things you should know.

What about DUI convictions in another state?

If I have prior DUI convictions in another state, Alabama courts can, and usually do, take those prior convictions into account when determining DUI sentencing in Alabama.  So, have fun on the Gulf Coast this Spring Break, but be sure to have a designated driver or an alternative way home.  Don’t drink and drive!

Does a DUI conviction mean jail time?

The first question most clients ask is, “if I’m convicted of a DUI, will I go to jail?”  The reality is the law authorizes jail time for a DUI, even for the first offense.  However, not every conviction results in a jail sentence.  Here are the possible sentences for a DUI in Alabama.

  • First Conviction – Up to one year in a county or municipal jail, but no minimum mandatory jail sentence.
  • Second Conviction – A minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail. You could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, or not less than 20 days of community service.
  • Third Conviction – For a third conviction within a 5 year time period, there is a mandatory 60 day jail sentence, which cannot be suspended or probated. You can face up to one year of jail time in a municipal of county jail.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction – For a fourth or subsequent conviction within five years, you will be charged with a Class C Felony with a sentence of 1 to 10 years.

If you have questions regarding DUIs, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in DUI, Underage Drinking |

Public Intoxication On Alabama’s Gulf Coast


With Spring Break right around the corner, this is a good time to remind Alabama residents and visitors of the consequences of a public intoxication charge. Although most of us have heard of “public intoxication,”the legal definition may not be as widely known. Before you hit the beach parties and the clubs this year, consider the risk of having a little too much fun. Here’s what you need to know:

Why should you be careful?
Alabama classifies the offense of public intoxication as a violation. Violations carry a jail sentence of no more than 30 days and a maximum fine of $200. Many times a court will have you go through the court referral program and require random drug and alcohol screening. Though a conviction for public
intoxication in Alabama may not be as serious as some other criminal charges, it can still hinder you from getting a job, or losing the one you have. There are many ways to commit this particular crime, butthere are also defenses available that may help you avoid a guilty verdict.

How is public intoxication defined in Alabama?
Under Alabama law, the offense of public intoxication refers to appearing in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, simply appearing to be under the influence is not sufficient. In order to be lawfully charged with this crime, it must be shown that an individual was acting in a way that endangers themselves, another individual, or property. It can also be shown that the individual was annoying another person by behaving in a boisterous or offensive manner.

What constitutes a “public place?”
Under Alabama law, the term “public place” means a place to which either the public or a substantial group of people have right of entry. Here are a few common examples of public places:
-transportation facilities
-common areas of apartment buildings, such as hallways, lobbies, and other areas not designed for residence.

Common defenses to a charge of public intoxication:
Since simply being under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public is not enough to prove the offense, there are several common defenses available, depending on the circumstances. If you did not pose a danger to anyone or yourself by being intoxicated, that would be a defense (i.e., the “quiet drunk”). Also, if you were not being boisterous or annoying. There are many other defenses that may apply, so consult with an Alabama criminal attorney to discuss your options.

If you have questions regarding public intoxication, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in Drug Possession, DUI, Juvenile Crimes, Marijuana Offenses, Uncategorized, Underage Drinking |

Drug Arrest in Alabama


So you think your dog, “man’s best friend,” will be loyal to you?  In most cases, that is probably true, but for one Alabama resident, his family pet helped the police bust him for drug offenses.

Executing a search warrant

Police were executing a search warrant at the home of a suspect, Edward Melvin Henderson, in Prattville.  Henderson tried to flee into a wooded area in the rear of his home.  His Pitbull-husky mix was nearby and ran after his owner when investigators shouted “go get him!”  The police were about to give up on the search after losing sight of Henderson and his dog.  Then the noticed the dog’s tail wagging in the tall grass where Henderson was hiding.

Arrest leads to discovery of meth lab components

When Henderson was arrested and taken into custody, thanks to his pet, the police were able to execute the search warrant.  The search led to the discovery of methamphetamine and components from a meth lab.  Henderson was ultimately charged with failure to obey police, unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Definition of a controlled substance

Certain drugs which have been determined to be dangerous, habit-forming, or otherwise inappropriate for use without a prescription, are designated under the law as controlled substances.  There are federal laws that provide categories for these controlled substances based on factors such as their medical benefits and their potential for abuse.

Charges for manufacturing a controlled substance

Manufacturing a controlled substance refers to the production of certain controlled substances through chemical processes or in a lab, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Cultivation of a controlled substance, on the other hand, would include growing, possessing, or producing naturally occurring elements in order to make illegal controlled substances (e.g., marijuana).

If you have questions regarding controlled substances, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation by calling us at (205) 296-4233.

Posted in Drug Possession, Drug Trafficking, Marijuana Offenses |