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FAQ You Deserve the Best Defense
  • White Collar Crimes

    • What is white collar crime?

      White-collar crime is a term used to describe criminal conduct involving illegal acts that use deceit and concealment to obtain money, property or services, or to secure a business or professional advantage. Another way to define white-collar crime is as a “paper” crime or crime that is committed in the workplace in white-collar industries as opposed to blue-collar industries. White-collar crimes are usually not violent, but their effects can be just as devastating.

    • Who prosecutes white collar crimes?

      White collar crimes may be either state or federal crimes. Because they often involve lengthy investigations that can cross state and international boundaries, the federal government is usually in a better position to investigate and prosecute white-collar crimes. Usually, a federal prosecutor, known as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), will head up the prosecution.

    • What is a grand jury?

      A grand jury is a group of individuals tasked with gathering information about suspected criminal activity by listening to testimony from witnesses and examining documents and other evidence. The prosecutor acts as legal advisor to the grand jury and directs the flow of witnesses and evidence. At the end of the proceeding, the grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence to indict the defendant for the crime.

    • Are defendants in white-collar crime cases treated any differently than other defendants?

      The courts try to treat white-collar defendants no differently than other defendants. There may be a suspicion that white-collar defendants receive preferential treatment, especially regarding plea bargaining, terms of pretrial release, and sentencing. It is important to remember, however, that white-collar crimes, while very serious, usually do not involve physical violence, and are not crimes that are committed easily. The concerns that a court might have when deciding whether to release a defendant before trial, or deciding where to place a defendant to serve a jail sentence, are not the same for a white-collar defendant as they would be for a defendant charged with a violent crime. Furthermore, many white-collar cases depend on the cooperation of one or more defendants. A plea bargain for one defendant that seems unduly lenient may be the only way the government has of pursuing a case against a defendant guilty of far more serious crimes.

    • How does the prosecutor decide which cases to pursue?

      The first thing the prosecutor looks for is a legally sound case, or one without any obvious defects that will get it thrown out of court, such as violations of the defendant’s constitutional rights or destruction of evidence crucial to the defense. The prosecutor next decides if there is enough evidence, with regard to both the quantity and the quality thereof, to make conviction probable. Finally, the prosecutor decides if prosecuting the case fits in with the office’s policy objectives, or whether a more informal disposition such as pre-trial diversion may be a better option.

    • What is restitution?

      Restitution involves ordering the defendant to pay the victim a sum of money designed to compensate the victim for the monetary costs of the crime. Some individuals convicted of white-collar crimes are also required to pay fines. The federal Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act of 1996 (MVRA) provides that victims of certain crimes may be entitled to an order of restitution for certain losses suffered as a direct result of a crime for which the defendant was convicted. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A. Many state and federal laws also require a criminal offender to make restitution to the victim, and the court will order restitution under those laws when the offender is sentenced.

    • What is forfeiture?

      Though criminal forfeiture laws vary from state to state, generally, the government may seek criminal forfeiture when the property is used in the commission of a criminal offense, or was obtained through criminal activity. For example, the government may ask the court to allow it to seize an automobile purchased by a defendant with the proceeds of an insider trading scheme. The government also may seek forfeiture of money or bank accounts if it proves that the money was used in the commission of a crime or is the proceeds of a crime.

    • Will I be able to find a job after being convicted of a white-collar crime?

      Finding a job after a conviction for a white-collar crime may be difficult. Many white-collar crimes involve fraud and dishonesty, and employers may worry about hiring a person with a criminal conviction for fear of similar conduct occurring in the future. In addition, some employers may worry about having to disclose the fact that they hired an employee with a criminal record to shareholders or in various documents.

    • Do I need a lawyer to represent me even if I am innocent?

      Every criminal defendant needs an attorney. Innocent defendants are perhaps in even greater need of zealous representation throughout the criminal process to ensure that their rights are protected and that the truth prevails.

    • If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?

      You may not understand the full implications of the crime with which you are charged. Even if you are guilty of the crime with which you are charged, the advice of experienced counsel may be able to minimize your sentence and maximize your opportunities to move on with your life. Criminal defense attorneys are needed to equalize the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and to ensure that the constitutional rights that are guaranteed to all criminal defendants, whether guilty or not, are preserved.

  • Sex Crimes

    • How are sex offenses punished?

      Punishment for a sex offense can vary dramatically depending on the category of crime. A misdemeanor sex crime conviction (such as indecent exposure) may receive less than a year of jail time, a fine, community service, counseling, or probation. A felony, on the other hand, may be punished by a lengthy prison term (up to a life sentence). Additionally, released sex felons must register as sex offenders and multiple convictions often lead to greater punishments.

    • Is consent a defense to sex crimes?

      Consent may be a defense to sex crimes, in some cases. However, some individuals are not considered able to consent to sex under the law. For those individuals, even if they explicitly agree, their agreement is not legally valid. For example, minors, the mentally disabled and unconscious or intoxicated people (even if they willingly became intoxicated) typically cannot provide valid consent. Statutory rape or date rape charges may result.

    • What is entrapment?

      Police may uncover sex offenders by posing as prostitutes, underage individuals or other parties to catch sex offenders while committing (or preparing to commit) sex crimes. Some sex-offense defendants argue that police actions, such as offers of sexual services, constitute entrapment. Entrapment means that the police induced the defendant to commit a crime he or she did not intend to commit before it was suggested by the police. However, entrapment is not a valid defense if the defendant intended to commit the crime and the police simply provided a means to do so. In prostitution cases, the offer of sexual services by a police officer is almost never held to be entrapment because the defendant is generally found to have been intending to purchase sexual services prior to interacting with the decoy officer. The elements of an entrapment defense are complicated and sensitive to the facts of your situation. Contact an attorney immediately if you believe you were entrapped.

    • Is it statutory rape if someone lies about his or her age?

      A mistake about age is not typically a defense to statutory rape charges, even if the underage person lied and gave consent. It is a “strict liability” offense, which makes the perpetrator responsible regardless of the surrounding circumstances.

    • What is the difference between rape and sexual assault?

      Many state laws no longer use the term “rape,” replacing it with sexual abuse or sexual assault to describe prohibited sexual acts. Traditional rape is covered by these statutes and may be designated sexual abuse in the first degree. However, most sexual assault statutes cover more types of sexual acts than what is traditionally thought of as “rape” and apply to victims of either gender.

    • What is probable cause?

      “Probable cause” is a term that refers to the belief that a person has committed a crime by legal standards. A finding of probable cause can lead to an arrest or conviction. There is not a bright-line rule establishing precisely what constitutes probable cause. However, a finding of probable cause requires objective facts indicating a likelihood of criminal activity. A hunch or an unfounded complaint alone does not satisfy the requirement.

    • Who must register as a sex offender?

      Generally, any adult or juvenile who has been convicted of a certain sex offense, who is on active supervision for a sex offense or who has been committed as a sexually violent predator must register with the state law enforcement agency as a sex offender. The duration of the offender’s duty to register varies, based on the original offense and the risk of re-offense. In some states, sexual predators or sexually violent offenders must register for life.

    • Will the community always be notified of the presence of a sex offender?

      States have different laws on community notification of a sex offender’s presence. Typically, the public may browse the state registry on the Internet or at law enforcement offices. In some jurisdictions, notification may be more active and police may contact individuals and businesses in a neighborhood to alert them.

    • What are the defenses to a sex offense?

      Generally, the defenses to a sex offense include insufficient or tainted evidence, factual innocence, mistaken identity, and, in some cases, consent.

    • If I am charged with committing a sex offense, do I need to hire an attorney?

      Anyone facing sex offense charges should hire a lawyer. You have the right to an attorney’s assistance. An attorney may help you protect your rights and may be able to avoid or lessen charges by negotiating with the prosecution. A sex offense conviction may result in incarceration, fines, loss of job or family, and registration requirements. A lawyer is able to analyze all available options to put you in a position to defend yourself and try to avoid these ramifications.

  • Internet Crimes

    • If I install filtering software on our home computer, is that enough to protect my children?

      While protective software is a start, it is only a first step. Your children can access computers from locations outside the home, and filtering software is not 100 percent effective. Speak with your children about the dangers of the Internet and make sure they know what to do in difficult or dangerous situations.

    • I accidentally forwarded an email that had a virus attached to it. Can I be prosecuted for distributing a virus?

      Current legislation addressing cyber-crime makes knowingly sending out a virus a crime. If you did not know that the virus was being sent out, and you had no part in the creation of the virus, you are not criminally liable.

    • If I put a disclaimer on my website, will that be a defense to a copyright infringement prosecution?

      No. Such disclaimers may even help to prove that the website operator knew his or her conduct was unlawful, thus helping the prosecution to make its case that the infringement was done knowingly.

    • I took some pictures of my toddler in the bathtub. Am I guilty of distributing child pornography if I send these to family?

      It is unlikely. While there are stories about people being investigated or prosecuted on child pornography charges for taking innocent snapshots of their children, these cases do not result in the conviction of the parents who took the pictures. A picture like this, which does not include “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area” (sexual conduct according to federal law), does not fall within the federal definition of child pornography.

    • Who makes the laws that govern the Internet?

      There is no single authority that governs the entire Internet because the Internet’s reach extends across the world. In the United States, federal and state governments have enacted laws applicable to certain transactions and interactions that take place over the Internet. If something is illegal in the real world, it is likely to be illegal on the Internet.

    • Where do I report an Internet crime?

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) have teamed up to create the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). IC3 processes complaints and refers them to the appropriate agencies. You can also contact the FBI directly concerning child pornography or child exploitation; the FBI or U.S. Secret Service concerning financial or banking crimes (such as “4-1-9 scams”); and the FBI, U.S. Secret Service or Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerning fraud crimes.

    • If a law enforcement official poses as a minor on a chat site, isn’t that entrapment?

      Probably not. Most of the time, this tactic holds up in court. The outcome of each case, however, depends on its unique circumstances. If you have been accused of an Internet crime, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

  • Drug Charges

    • What are the common legal challenges raised in drug cases?

      The most common challenges in drug cases relate to how the evidence was obtained. If the police violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights or Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, the court will suppress the drugs or statements as being unlawfully obtained. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the case may be dismissed as a result.

    • What is the difference between civil and criminal forfeiture?

      Forfeiture is the government seizure of property connected to criminal activity. In criminal forfeiture, the government takes property after obtaining a conviction, as part of the defendant’s sentence.

      In civil forfeiture, a criminal charge or conviction is not needed; the government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime. In theory, criminal forfeiture is a punishment, while civil forfeiture is remedial. Most forfeiture actions are civil.

    • What does a grand jury do in a drug case?

      A grand jury is a group of people called together by the prosecutor to gather and review information about suspected criminal activity. After listening to witness testimony and examining evidence, the grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence to issue an indictment charging the defendant with drug crimes. Grand juries are used in the federal system and most states. At the federal level and in some states, grand juries must be used for charging felony drug crimes; in some states, they may be used but do not have to be.

    • If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?

      Even if you plan to plead guilty to the drug crime with which you are charged, getting the advice of experienced counsel offers you the best chance to minimize your sentence and maximize your opportunities to move ahead toward a brighter future. Criminal defense attorneys play an important role in the criminal justice system by equalizing the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and by ensuring that the constitutional rights guaranteed to all criminal defendants are protected.

    • What are controlled substances “Schedules”?

      The federal Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into five categories, or “Schedules,” based on their potential for dependency and abuse as compared with their therapeutic value. Schedule I controlled substances have the highest potential for dependency with no accepted medical use, while Schedule V drugs have a low potential for dependency and accepted medical uses. The most severe penalties for illegal possession, sale or manufacture of controlled substances involve those listed in Schedule I. Most, if not all, states have drug laws that mirror the Controlled Substances Act.

    • What are sentencing guidelines?

      Federal and state sentencing guidelines are standards used by the court to determine the punishment for a convicted individual. They have been adopted in an effort to increase consistency in sentencing. The length of a sentence is based on two factors: the severity of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal history. The guidelines specify a minimum and maximum sentence the court can order. In certain circumstances, the judge may depart from the specified range.

    • What is the difference between parole and probation in State Court?

      Parole and probation are employed in the punishment phase of the criminal justice process. Parole comes into play after a person has been imprisoned and is released subject to supervision by an officer of the court. Probation refers to a criminal sentence separate and distinct from incarceration. Probation is a common sentence imposed for first-time offenders or for less serious charges. It typically involves releasing the convicted offender into the community subject to certain terms and conditions. Both parole and probation may include conditions like drug treatment, drug testing, and status appearances before the court.

  • Criminal Defense

    • What should I do if I am arrested?
      If the police arrest you, immediately ask to call an attorney. Do not say anything to the police because you could incriminate yourself. Even if you are innocent and were in no way involved in the crime for which you have been arrested, ask for a lawyer and do not speak to the police without your criminal defense attorney present.
    • Do I need a lawyer’s help if I am accused of a crime?

      It is in your best interest to consult a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible if you suspect you will be facing the criminal justice system. Whether or not you believe you have been wrongfully accused, an attorney will fight for your legal and constitutional rights, and monitor the proceedings for legality and fairness. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for free legal counsel.

    • If I am convicted of a crime while I am in the United States legally on a work visa, can I be deported?

      Yes. If a person who is not a citizen of the United States is convicted of certain crimes, he or she can be deported or removed. This includes lawful permanent residents living and working in the United States. Pursuant to U.S. immigration law, if a noncitizen is convicted of an aggravated felony, a crime of moral turpitude or any one of a number of other listed crimes (such as violations of laws relating to domestic violence, controlled substances and firearms), he or she is at risk of removal or deportation. In addition to deportation, a conviction may adversely affect a lawful permanent resident’s ability to become a United States citizen.

    • What is the role of the grand jury?

      The grand jury decides whether there is sufficient evidence to indict a suspect and continue the criminal proceedings against him or her. The indictment is the formal process of charging a person with a crime. The grand jury reviews the evidence and may hear testimony in deciding whether to indict someone, but the grand jury makes no decision about guilt or innocence. All states use the grand jury system to some extent, though there may be differences in procedures and numbers of jurors.

    • What is the role of the prosecutor?

      The prosecutor is the attorney who represents the federal, state, local or tribal government in a case against a criminal defendant. The title of the prosecutor varies by jurisdiction, but some common titles include district attorney, county attorney, city attorney, United States attorney and state attorney. The prosecutor has the public duty to punish those committing crimes, balanced with the duty to fairly try such individuals.

    • What is the difference between probation and parole?

      Probation is a type of criminal sentence that allows a person to stay in the community rather than serve time in prison, as long as he or she complies with certain conditions, such as regularly reporting to a probation officer, refraining from alcohol and drugs, and not committing further crimes. Parole is the supervised release of a prisoner from incarceration into the community before the end of his or her sentence. Conditions of parole are similar to those of probation.

    • What is restitution in the criminal context?

      Depending on the applicable federal or state laws, part of a criminal sentence may include the payment of restitution to the victim or victims for their losses associated with the crime. Restitution may include compensation for property damage or loss, medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost income or funeral expenses. Part of the philosophy behind criminal restitution is to give the criminal offender a direct part in making things whole for his or her victim.

    • What is white-collar crime?

      White-collar crime, also called paper crime, refers generally to nonviolent financial crimes involving fraud or other dishonesty committed in business or commercial contexts. Examples include insider trading, embezzlement and tax evasion. “White collar” refers to dress shirts worn in office settings as opposed to uniforms or casual clothing appropriate to “blue collar” industrial settings.

    • How are children and youth prosecuted?

      A minor is prosecuted for criminal conduct in a separate juvenile court system. The philosophy of the juvenile justice system is that children should not be punished or stigmatized for criminal conduct because of their immature abilities to make proper choices and to recognize right from wrong. Instead the role of the juvenile justice system is seen as rehabilitative and guiding rather than punitive. However, for particularly violent crimes, adolescents may be tried in the adult system.

    • What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
      Exact definitions may vary by jurisdiction, but the traditional definition of a felony is a crime that is punishable by a year or more in jail. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of less than one year. Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors.