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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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What is Forgery? You have most likely seen forgery play out in movies and TV where one person is signing another person’s signature for some type of monetary gain, but most people don’t really know the real meaning of forgery in all its incarnations. So what is forgery and why is it considered such a serious crime? California Penal Code 470 PC defines forgery as, every person who, with the intent to defraud, knowing that he or she has no authority to do so, signs the name of another person or of a fictitious person to any of the items listed in subdivision (D) is guilty of forgery. The subdivision D referenced in this definition includes falsifying checks, bonds, bank bills, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, money orders, contracts, bills of payment, credit card receipts, lottery tickets, power of attorney, and certificates of ownership. The key to a forgery charge is the intent of the person who committed the act, meaning, did the person sign someone...
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If you are a fan of the hit HBO show, “Big Little Lies”, you most likely tuned in for the final episode of Season 2 last night. This episode was drama-filled, ending with the five main characters, Bonnie, Celeste, Madeline, Renata, and Jane, walking into the police station to most likely confess to the murder of Perry Wright. Perry Wright, Celeste’s abusive husband, was found dead at the bottom of a staircase at the end of Season 1. Not knowing whether his death was an accident or murder, Season 2 cleared things up when it was made known that Bonnie had pushed him in order to protect her friend, Celeste. As this show takes place in Los Angeles, it poses the question: If Bonnie is charged with involuntary manslaughter for Perry Wright’s death, can she use the defense strategy known as “defense of others”? Self Defense in California Before breaking down what “defense of others” is, it is important to define self-defense and go over...
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In the corporate world, white collar crime is far from sparse. Business people have access to all sorts of insider information, funds, assets, etc. and these crimes can be very scandalous, especially when powerful faces in business are involved. If you take the risk of committing a white collar crime, you can face many years in prison, especially if you are unable to reach a deal with the prosecutor on the case. From the headlines, you have probably heard of a variety of white collar crimes. However, we are going to go over the most common types below: Securities Fraud As one of the most common types of white collar crimes today, securities fraud is at the top of our list. Securities fraud happens when one person makes a financial decision based on a false statement that another individual made about a company or the value in its stock. The most common form of securities fraud is insider trading. In cases of insider trading, “insiders”,...
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Under the California Penal Code 290 PC, when an individual is convicted of a certain sex crime they are required to register as a sex offender. The California sex offender database is run by the California Department of Justice, and the information is uploaded to their “Megan’s Law” website for the public. What is Megan’s Law? After seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and killed by a known child molester in her neighborhood, Megan’s Law was enacted in 1996. This California law allows the government to notify the public about sex offenders whom it believes pose a public safety risk and every state now has some form of Megan’s Law. With that said, there are a couple of ways to keep your information from being posted on Megan’s Law website, which we will discuss below. It is important to note that the California sex registry has three tiers. Tier three requires lifetime registration. Tier two requires a twenty (20) year minimum, and tier one requires ten...
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What Makes an Effective Federal Criminal Defense Attorney? There are a number of traits that make a successful federal criminal defense lawyer. Some of the more obvious skills include intelligence, interpersonal skills, experience, and excellent written and oral communication. These skills are generally what people look for when they are seeking the help of a criminal defense lawyer for their case. Yet, there are other attributes that are often overlooked when individuals are researching lawyers that they should be aware of. The following will go over these traits and will hopefully help you find a criminal defense lawyer that will lead to a successful case. Assertiveness A trait that the best criminal defense attorneys share is they are assertive in voicing their opinions and are skilled in getting their main points across clearly and concisely. Further, it is important to not confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness. Although a good criminal defense lawyer should be aggressive when it comes to protecting your freedom, they should not be...
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Before a defendant can face prosecution in a criminal case, they must be in their “right” mind in order to understand the charges being brought against them. Known as “competence”, when a defendant’s mental state restricts them from comprehending the charges in their case, the court will deem them as incompetent to stand trial. When this happens, the law dictates that the defendant can’t be convicted because everyone is entitled to a fair trial under the law, and if the defendant does not have the mental capacity to understand why they are being prosecuted, the trial is unfair by its nature. In general, the chance that the court will determine someone incompetent to stand trial is rare. Further, in order to determine if someone is truly incompetent, the court can order the defendant to undergo psychological testing by a professional. What Happens if You Are Found Incompetent? Along with the right for an individual to defend themselves, and their right to legal representation, every criminal...
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Federal Investigations: Why? Federal investigations are the first step in the federal criminal justice process. Generally, they are launched by the filing of a credible crime report, data that has been gathered by a federal intelligence agency, information from defendants in pending criminal cases who are seeking leniency, or from a parallel civil investigation being conducted by a regulatory agency. In any federal investigation, the federal law enforcement agents are trying to determine whether a federal crime has been committed, who are the responsible parties, and the evidence pertaining to the crime. Federal Investigations: Who? In a federal investigation, a majority of the work (interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence, etc.) is performed by federal law enforcement agents, such as FBI special agents. Yet, in some cases with a larger scale crime, it is not uncommon for multiple federal agencies to perform a joint investigation. Throughout the entire investigation, federal agents will need to work closely with a federal prosecutor in order to secure legal documents, such...
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