Being arrested on a warrant can be an unsettling event. Moreover, having the police knock urgently on your door and demand entry, often in the early morning hours, can not only be disturbing, but dangerous, to you and your family. The police are wary about who they may encounter and what danger they may face, and often come in force and heavily armed. People who wake up to yelling and commotion and the presence of heavily armed intruders may assume they are facing home invaders, not the police.
Cooperating with law enforcement officials during a criminal investigation can sometimes lead to an offer of immunity. If the person cooperating could also be charged with a crime based on the information provided to law enforcement officials, a grant of immunity can offer future protection and keep the person out of jail. However, not all grants of immunity ensure the government will not prosecute a cooperating witness for a crime related to the information given.
Having a criminal record can be a great barrier to obtaining gainful employment. People can be wary of hiring employees with criminal records because they do not find them trustworthy or because they are afraid that their customers would object if they knew that the employee had been in trouble with the law. Nevertheless, people with a criminal conviction should not be punished for the rest of their lives for past mistakes when they have already served their time.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution holds that in order to be charged with a capital or "otherwise infamous" crime, a person has to be indicted by a grand jury. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that this Fifth Amendment requirement is not imposed on the states, and a grand jury indictment is not therefore not constitutionally required for a state felony. The New York state constitution, however, mirrors the U.S. Constitution in its requirement that a person facing a felony charge first be indicted by a grand jury.
The legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use has been on the rise nationwide for several years. Although many states have acknowledged the value in medicinal marijuana, only two have taken steps to allow the legal use of marijuana recreationally. In New York State there have been attempts to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana as is done with alcohol through legislation such as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Additional proposed legislation has aimed at decriminalizing or reducing the penalties associated with the possession of smaller amounts of marijuana. The laws aimed at possession have focused on the disparate way in which current laws are applied, resulting in more racial minorities arrested for possession of relatively small amounts of marijuana.
The use of confidential informants in law enforcement can sometimes be a grey area that can be exploited by both the informant and the law enforcement agents involved. Becoming a confidential informant can be a way to avoid going to prison, although it may also mean accepting the informant role for a quite some time. Becoming an informant can also be dangerous when it exposes the informant to threats of bodily harm or threats from those he is reporting on to the authorities. While there are obvious advantages in becoming a confidential informant in order to get criminal charges against you reduced or dismissed, the downside should be well thought out when deciding whether or not to inform.