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Most people understand that criminal charges require a lawyer. They know that if someone is innocent, a lawyer is needed to help prove their innocence. They know that if someone is guilty, a lawyer can help avoid prosecution. However, what about if someone is guilty and wants to accept the charges, do they still need a lawyer? The short answer is, it’s their choice. No law, mandate, or statute forces a defendant to obtain a lawyer against their wishes. However, this means that the defendant will represent themselves and, therefore, will be expected to speak and act as a lawyer in the courtroom. This expectation might seem trivial for those planning to plead guilty, but before anyone decides to take the path of self-representation, here are a few things worth considering.   WHAT’S AT STAKE?  The first question any defendant should ask and be able to answer for themselves before choosing self-representation is what’s at stake? If a lengthy prison sentence is on the horizon,...
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Most of us have heard of attorney-client privilege; whether we’ve had some experience with the court system or not. Depictions of attorney-client privilege are all over movies, TV, and the news and are usually shed in a not so flattering or conflicting light. Whether portrayed by a crooked lawyer who passionately defends guilty clients; an upright lawyer with tied hands in revealing the truth; or a malicious client who attempts to manipulate the law, there are a lot of misconceptions about what attorney-client privilege really is. So, let’s separate fact from fiction and find out how far real-life confidentiality with a lawyer really goes? WHAT IS ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE? Attorney-client privilege dates back to the 16th century and is one of the oldest forms of confidential communication within the legal system. Since then, it has prevailed in one way or another in many countries’ judicial systems. In America, this privileged communication is a reasonable expectation of privacy between a client and his or her lawyer. In...
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Federal sentencing guidelines provide United States federal criminal judges in federal courts with a set of criteria that can help determine prison time for federal offenses. The guidelines were implemented to make federal sentencing more equitable for anyone tried as a federal criminal and convicted of federal crimes. The federal sentencing guidelines manual factors in the severity of a crime and the defendant’s criminal history to determine a sentencing range, and the more serious the crime, the more likely that the offender will receive a stiff penalty. How Offense Seriousness and Base Offense Levels Factor Into Sentencing  The sentencing guidelines first take into account two elements: offense seriousness, and the base offense level. There are 43 levels of offense seriousness, and as the crimes become more violent, they are categorized as being more serious, which makes them eligible for higher prison sentences. Every crime has a specific base offense level, which becomes the starting point for how judges determine the severity of a crime. Lower-level...
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What is Counterfeiting? Counterfeiting is a crime that occurs when a person manufactures or tries to pass off an item as being authentic when it’s not.  The most common types of counterfeiting occur when trademarks are applied to imitation goods for sale, and fake currency is printed that looks and feels real. But, it goes deeper than this.  It’s also illegal to possess items used in the production of counterfeit goods and currency as well. Why? Well, the trafficking of counterfeit goods is a matter of interstate commerce – which means transactions don’t just take place in one state – it is usually regulated by the Federal government.  While individual states do have the power to write and enforce laws regarding counterfeiting, only the federal government has the power to punish counterfeiters. History of Counterfeiting Counterfeiting has been a problem for both governments and private individuals for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  The most historically common type of counterfeiting involved passing off ordinary or...
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The act of violating any federal fraud law can easily become a major disaster for a business. Therefore, it is always essential to consult a federal defense attorney who is experienced enough to advise you on how to deal with any violation of the federal statutes. Some of the most common federal law statute violations in the industry include: Wire and Mail Fraud Mail and wire fraud have become know over the years as general purpose, as well as ever adaptable federal offenses. According to the law, any proof of mail fraud necessitates a plan for a defraud scheme which involves the mailing of a letter for the purpose of executing such a scheme. To prove a case, it is important to detail any specific intent for the fraud and also to provide material which highlights the falsity of the scheme. Mail fraud may be for both private and public carriers. Using the credit card of the employer and the mailed statements, results in a...
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Federal charges are extremely serious and should never be taken lightly. Federal Agents will often make arrests when they know individuals are least likely to put up a “fight”, like in the middle of the night, or in the early morning when you are not yet fully awake. This may be the scariest moment in your life, but do not let these tactics scare you into speaking to law enforcement officers without your lawyer present. Whether it’s you or your husband, wife, or child, the agents may tell you some information about why this is happening and what will happen next… if they are nice. However, odds are, they won’t be. You or your loved one has just been arrested by federal agents – what will happen now? In this instance, things vary a little bit from court to court and there may be things going on in you or your loved one’s situation that make it a bit different. However, for the federal court...
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One of the basic assumptions about law and the justice system in the United States is that if you are tried for a crime, you have a right to face your accuser, and through your defense attorney,  you have a right to cross-examine them and the statements and claims they make in court.  The Supreme Court has affirmed this in several cases. Perhaps, one of the most famous instances is the 2004 case, Crawford v. Washington, where the Court held that a person providing testimony has to be in the courtroom and actually testify and be available for cross-examination.  How Does This Work with Business Records?  Since, the First Circuit Court clarified the Crawford ruling and holds, generally, business records are not automatically excluded because they are testimony which cannot be cross examined.  Therefore, what makes one document a business record and not subject to cross-examination and challenge in court? What kinds of documents should be classified outside of “business records” and therefore subject to...
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If you receive a letter from a federal prosecutor that says you are the target of a grand jury investigation, then you’ve received what’s called a target letter, and generally, it will read like this.  What Is a “Target”? In a federal criminal investigation, people are put into three different categories: witness, subject and target. If you’re a target, law enforcement agents and the prosecutor believe you did something illegal. This means that the investigation is looking into you.  On the other hand, we have a subject. A subject means that federal investigators think that something illegal happened, and you may know something about it, but they aren’t necessarily trying to prosecute that person.  With that said, being a target is one of the worst places to be in an investigation. What To Do if You Receive a Target Letter A target letter almost always asks you to do something. Some common instances are meeting with the Assistant United States Attorney Investigating the Case, voluntarily...
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