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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How to resolve an outstanding arrest warrant

Today's post is rather short. A question that we often run into in criminal law deals with warrants. This recent question on a law bulletin board we participate on is typical:
I have a parole violation warrant an would like to know how I should turn myself in. How do I do this?

Great question! There are generally three methods for resolving an outstanding warrant.
  • (1) you are picked up by the police
  • (2) you turn yourself in to the local police stations
  • (3) you hire an attorney to make a motion on the docket of the local court, and ask that the arrest warrant be withdrawn (recalled, vacated, or dismissed) and a return date be given.


As you might imagine, option 1 is not desirable, as that almost always results in jail. In DC, I would always get an attorney to file on the docket (option 3). You don't want to sit in jail awaiting a hearing date on your parole violation. This is especially true if you believe they may revoke parole. In that case, you'll sit in jail until the actual parole violation hearing, likely you will not get another bond pending the trial on your parole violation (although, you can).

The term "return date" is legal jargon. It means a new date when you appear in Court for the judge to rule on the arrest warrant, and then to set the appropriate term of your continuing parole and/or violation hearing. Be cautious of the Bail Reform Act that can cause serious problems if you violate a return to court order. If you think that may have happened, you need to contact counsel immediately, as such a violation could result in up to 5 years in jail.

If you need help with getting your parole violation and arrest warrant resolved, give us a call! 703-402-2723.



Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What the HECK!? A story of co-worker harassment gone wild

Sometimes, conflicts spin out of control, and can get disruptive and even dangerous. Image from http://quotesgram.com/img/avoid-conflict-quotes-funny/3303875/


What happens when you work with a person that goes off the rails? Do you have to put up with it? Listen to this recent story posted on a law bulletin board we monitor:
I have learned that several people in my office are extremely concerned about the erratic behavior of a colleague and no one is sure how to handle the situation. This colleague has a unique personality and in the 2-3 years he has been employed everyone has been sensitive to this and generally people do not discuss it; however, on a few occasions we have speculated that he may be on the autism spectrum. This seems important now because we are not sure whether his escalating behavior is benign or if it may be extreme even for him. A couple of months ago, a new person who has a supervisory role over him was hired, and they immediately had poor chemistry. She claims only to interact with him on a business level, disregarding his behavior, and he plainly is disrespectful to her and speaks to her in a condescending tone. On one occasion approximately six weeks ago, she told him he needs to behave in a professional manner and that she wouldn't allow him to speak disrespectfully any longer. He went to his desk and sent her an email telling her to be more professional and respectful and then told a colleague to handle a meeting he was supposed to staff because he was enraged and had to go home. Shortly thereafter he did not go to an annual out of town meeting that all staff are required to attend; the reasons behind this were handled confidentially and staff only have vague rumors as an explanation. Since returning there has been no discussion of it. Upon returning, the supervisor discussed above and another colleague received emailed "reprimands" from this man that told both to behave more professionally and respectfully. The other colleague had not been involved in the personal dispute prior and she has kept her distance from this man since she received the reprimand. (Both women are organizationally senior to the young man who "reprimanded" them.) Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the young man taped photos of one of the presidential candidates and Adolf Hitler to his office window facing out toward employees, which disturbed several people who previously had chosen to ignore his disruptive behavior. Following the election, he replaced the photos with five posters that illustrate the four horsemen of the apocalypse and satan in the center. He has reduced his socialization with staff overall but has escalated his aggression toward the two women discussed above during this period. The vice president in charge of his department evidently did ask him to take down the apocalyptic images after two weeks. She has privately disclosed to the CEO that she feels this employee could be a potential threat to her safety and to others', but she said she is concerned about retribution if she disciplines him because she is worried his mental health and his sexuality may be used as the basis for a discrimination claim should she dismiss him. I am seeking professional advice about the appropriate measures. Despite the bad blood between the two individuals involved, everyone's concern is this young man's erratic behavior, which feels vaguely threatening and which has at least four women feeling fearful and "walking on eggshells" to avoid triggering potential violence.

This is more a narrative than an actual question. You need to tell your employer to contact an employment attorney immediately. Hanover Law both defends and prosecutes civil cases related to EEO and reasonable accommodation issues. Have your manager contact us now. I should note that the person who is acting erratically can sue both the employer and the manager herself. Delicate situations like this require ironclad processes and response. The law does NOT require that you tolerate abusive or disruptive behavior. However, it DOES require that you ensure all procedural safeguards have been met before taking action. The EEO defines harassment as follows:
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

See: EEO Harassment Guidelines


I would also refrain from any public comment of your employment issue (such as the outline you provided). If anything, that could be found later and used against you (to show your "true" feelings about the person). The important step here is to get counsel and discuss this privately. Your employer and the manager (supervisor) in question should do this without delay.

I should also note that by NOT taking action, the employer may be creating a hostile working environment for the remaining employees -- especially the other employees that he is accusing of being rude, and otherwise making them feel very uncomfortable. You cannot ignore this type of conduct.

Give us a ring at 703-402-2723 or 1-800-579-9864. You can also email us at admin@hanoverlawpc.com.

BDSM and public lewdness in front of children. WHAT!?

Every once in awhile, we get a wing-dinger of a question. This rates right of up there! However, it does bring into question what constitutes free speech, and what constitutes lewd conduct. The question:
Let's say that you are into the BDSM scene. This fetish involves you engaging in spit play, where as a submissive you hold you head back, open your mouth and let your dominant spit a liberal amount of saliva down your throat as part of a spit fetish, and you do it outdoors in full view of women and children who don't want to see it are you guilty of indecent exposure. Or how about you perform such an act at a party at your house with women and children present are you guilty of indecent exposure?


Of course, spitting in someone's mouth may not be your cup of tea, but is it illegal? Two considerations here -- (1) what conduct falls afoul of public displays of sexuality, and (2) does doing this in front of children cause a problem?

As to the first point, probably not. While sexuality in public constitutes indecent exposure and probably disorderly conduct, spitting, while fully clothed, into another person's mouth is probably not going to cause a problem (assuming assent, of course). In DC, the code section for this is DC Code 22-1312 entitled "Lewd, Indecent, and Obscene Acts". It reads:
It is unlawful for a person, in public, to make an obscene or indecent exposure of his or her genitalia or anus, to engage in masturbation, or to engage in a sexual act as defined in § 22-3001(8). It is unlawful for a person to make an obscene or indecent sexual proposal to a minor. A person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $500, imprisoned for not more than 90 days, or both.


So what is a sexual act? Good question! The code section is clear on this, too. A sexual act must involve the touching or stimulation, even through clothing, of the sexual organs. Specifically:

DC Code 22-3001
(8) “Sexual act” means:
(A) The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva of another by a penis;
(B) Contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus; or
(C) The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
(D) The emission of semen is not required for the purposes of subparagraphs (A)-(C) of this paragraph.

(9) “Sexual contact” means the touching with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Although disorderly conduct laws (DC Code 22-1321) could be cited to show you were causing a disturbance in the public thoroughfare, it is doubtful this would actually be brought to trial. Likely, public spitting in each others mouths, no matter how distasteful to others this may be, will not be illegal.

However, we have a problem concerning the children. Here, the code is a little different. Any act designed to arouse a sexual gratification in a child is prohibited. Notice the subtle shift in emphasis. This is to prevent children from being exposed to pornographic videos, or being made to watch sexual acts -- even if that are not touched. The code for this can be found at DC Code 22-3010. In part, the code reads:

(a) Whoever, being at least 4 years older than a child or being in a significant relationship with a minor, (1) takes that child or minor to any place for the purpose of committing any offense set forth in §§ 22-3002 to 22-3006 and §§ 22-3008 to 22-3009.02, or (2) seduces, entices, allures, convinces, or persuades or attempts to seduce, entice, allure, convince, or persuade a child or minor to engage in a sexual act or contact shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years or may be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both.


Your actions of spitting into your partners mouth is arguably sexual in nature (you described it as part of your BDSM relationship). Doing so in public could well have the consequence (intended or otherwise) of causing sexual arousal or enticement to a minor who, like you, may find such domination and abject subjugation erotic. This is a problem under 22-3010.

Remove the child component, and probably the worse you could get is disorderly conduct, and even then, that would likely be dropped. Do it in front of children, and you could find yourself facing up to five years for attempt enticing a minor or child under 22-3010. Note that whether you perform in front of children in your house or in the middle of Independence Avenue, makes no difference. This crime is not location centric.

Do you have a question regarding criminal law? Give us a ring! First consult is free -- and as you can see, no topic is verboten! 703-402-2723 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com.



Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com