Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What to Expect in a Federal Criminal Trial

You can expect particular events or stages to happen in a federal criminal trial while others may or may not happen depending on the unique characteristics of the case and the defense attorney's strategy and skill. When charged with a federal crime a trial is not required by way of pleading guilty. It is assumed you are on this page because you or your loved one want to prove your innocence or do not agree with the charge(s), counts, or plea offered.

Events Before and During a Federal Criminal Trial:

  • Arraignment- the initial hearing wherein the defendant is told his charges and rights. The judge will also ask the defendant whether he pleads guilty or not guilty.
  • Discovery- the prosecutor must turn over all exculpatory evidence to the criminal defense lawyers. The criminal defense lawyers may not have to turn over evidence if they agree with the facts and only disagree with the interpretation or story line of the facts. 
  • Plea Bargaining- the prosecutor may choose to offer the defendant a plea deal to avoid going to trial.
  • Preliminary Hearing- if a defendant pleads not guilty, a preliminary hearing is held. At this hearing, the prosecutor must bind the defendant for trial with sufficient evidence by convincing the judge.
  • Pre-Trial Motions- made by the prosecutor and federal defense attorney in requesting the court to make a decision on a particular issue before trial.
  • Trial- the facts are presented and narrated to the judge and jury by both sides, the prosecutor and federal defense attorney.
  • Post-Trial Motions- these are made in requesting that the court reconsider or re-evaluate it's decision, such as a new trial, correcting a sentence and more.
  • Sentencing- if the defendant is found guilty, he will return to court to be read the punishment, which may include time in prison and fines.
It is worth noting that regardless of whether the defendant decides to go to trial or not, an investigation by law enforcement and arraignment is required. However, if the best federal defense attorneys are hired early enough, such as early in the investigation, they may be able to convince law enforcement, such as detectives and/or prosecutor, that the client is innocent and to halt the investigation or drop the case.

Top federal defense attorneys know that which particular charge is brought against the defendant is very important and, if there is overwhelming evidence, can be skillfully argued to another charge that would either require less time in prison  or more easily disproved in trial. The preliminary hearing is very important as it is much like a mini-trial in which a federal criminal lawyer can either argue against the charges for lesser charges, counts, or to dismiss the case. Throughout the federal case, the best criminal lawyers will always be persistent in trying to get the case dismissed, dropped, or continuously cut away at the prosecutor's case to get a winning result.

The reality is federal criminal defense attorneys have many opportunities to sway the case in favor of the defendant from the time the initial investigation begins to sentencing and even beyond, such as in an appeal or other post-conviction relief method.

If you are being investigated by federal authorities it is imperative you talk to top federal defense attorneys immediately. Our federal criminal attorneys are passionate about getting the best for you and squashing the prosecutor's evidence, especially in preventing evidence from being entered, and nullifying the prosecutor's interpretation of events. Speak to our top criminal lawyers now, call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Criminal Lawyers in California Support Prop 47

Criminal lawyers in California widely support Proposition 47 because it simply makes sense in light of research gathered from other states successful at reducing crime and mental health research related to drug addiction.

New York is widely recognized for very significant dramatic reductions in both crime and prison populations. Many states across the U.S. using alternative strategies to incarceration in fighting crime  have also experienced reduced crime levels and number of prisoners.

California's Proposition 47 also reflects the executive agenda of the federal government in being smarter on crime. The federal and local governments across the U.S. are starting to implement new policies for low level drug offenders who need drug and mental health treatment. Politicians are noting that prisons may not serve to solve underlying problems of offenders; prisons may actually exacerbate those problems and even harden them into becoming a risk.

Drug treatment  professionals know that if the underlying problem(s) causing addiction are not successfully treated it is very likely the condition and self control of an addict will spiral downwards.

Criminal lawyers and professionals working in drug rehabilitation centers have known for years that an addiction to illegal drugs often goes hand in hand with petty and non-violent offenses, such as theft.

Criminal lawyers from LibertyBell Law Group advise that California Prop 47 is smarter, cheaper and a commonsense justice policy. The lawyers say that sending someone to a drug treatment center may save lives, heighten public safety, and is a more humane and compassionate method to deal with those in unfortunate circumstances.

On November 1, 2014, a similar measure in federal law called Amendment 782 (a.k.a. "Drugs Minus Two") will allow the early release of federal inmates convicted of drug crimes for those who qualify. Though, each prisoner must be reviewed by a judge before approval. Among the many factors considered are the criminal history and conduct in prison.

If Proposition 47 passes, California will follow suit by having each pre-qualified prisoner evaluated by a judge for retroactive sentence reduction. The criminal history and risk assessment will be thoroughly reviewed on in deciding if the inmate poses a danger to public safety. If the judge decides the inmate does not pose a risk to public safety, the inmate will be retroactively sentenced for an early release from prison.

Proposition 47 reduces particular crimes from felonies to misdemeanors where the value involved in the crime does not exceed $950. Drug possession would be reduced to a misdemeanor and the individual would receive much needed drug treatment, and possibly other social services, instead of prison time.

Prop 47 crimes reduced to misdemeanors:

  • Shoplifting
  • Grand theft
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Writing a bad check
  • Personal use of most illegal drugs
If you or a loved one has been convicted of a drug offense, find out the types of post-conviction relief and retroactive sentencing reduction that are available for an early release from prison and speak to a top criminal lawyer now, call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Drugs Minus Two or Amendment 782 Retroactive Sentencing Reduction

Very recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission created Amendment 782, a.k.a. "Drugs Minus Two," to reduce the guidelines for all controlled substances (drug offenses), by two levels. This amendment will affect all drug offenses except base levels 38 and 6, which are the very maximum and minimum federal drug offense quantities respectively. If Congress does not overrule the amendment, it will go into effect November 1, 2014. There is general consensus that Congress is in favor of it.

Even though the "Drugs Minus Two" retroactivity is expected to go in effect on November 1, 2014, no prisoners will be released before November 1, 2015. The U.S. Sentencing Commission estimates that over 46,000 prisoners are eligible for retroactive reduction in sentences for drug offenses.

In order for a prisoner to be considered eligible for "Drugs  Minus Two" and get a sentence reduction, a judge must carefully examine each prisoner's case and conduct in prison. A judge will only consider if a prisoner is eligible for a "Drugs Minus Two" retroactive sentence reduction if a motion is filed by the prisoner's lawyer.

It is important to note that courts will evaluate and prioritize cases based on the current release date of the prisoners. In other words, the quantity of drugs or other mitigating factors will not be considered in who's case will be combed through first. The release date is of the upmost importance because the government would like to release prisoners affected by Amendment 782 and get them started  on community reentry programs as soon as possible. Community reentry services are  required to assure the success of the persons released back into society so they can get necessary support services and a new start on life.

If you are a prisoner or have a loved one sentenced for a federal drug offense and would like a "Drugs Minus Two" sentence reduction approved by a judge, speak to a lawyer now and call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761).

LibertyBell Law Group's lawyers are experienced in successful post-conviction motions and related matters. Simply put, our lawyers know what judges want to see and in what manner they want it presented, which is also very important. Know that having a top lawyer gather the necessary paperwork that is only available and released to board certified lawyers and who has the experience necessary to present you to the judge in the best manner makes all the difference in the world in getting an Amendment 782 retroactive sentence reduction and consequently being released early from prison.

In order to be considered for "Drugs Minus Two" retroactive sentencing as early as possible it is imperative to hire a lawyer immediately so that the motion can be filed on the very first day that Amendment 782 goes into effect, which is November 1, 2014. Hiring a lawyer immediately is important because the lawyer needs to conduct an investigation, get paperwork from the Bureau of Prisons, and write a successful motion which takes time. Keep in mind that getting paperwork from government agencies is time consuming, and it can be hard-pressed getting paperwork from the Bureau of Prisons. You need the most aggressive attorneys, such as the lawyers from LibertyBell Law Group, to get a winning sentence reduction done as soon as possible.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Federal Defense for Drug Trafficking & Witness Protection

When being investigated for federal drug trafficking or being interrogated for involvement with ties to a trafficking conspiracy or associated criminal organization you may be thinking of becoming a criminal confidential informant. Lawyers know the different legal protections available and offered will depend much on the strength of evidence and information provided to law enforcement.

Whether or not you qualify for the witness protection program will depend on many factors such as:
  • Proximity to crime
  • Witness to crime
  • Quality of information provided as hearsay
It is said that becoming a criminal informant is akin to signing a death warrant. There are risks involved in cooperating with the government in exchange for a much lesser sentence. Some of the best lawyers working in federal defense are even able to get the criminal informant probation or complete dismissal of charges. Before making a recommendation, a lawyer needs to evaluate the strength of your case, evidence to be offered to the government against what they already have, their position, and the other defendant's position.

There are many forms of cooperation; witness protection in the form of a changed identity and displaced to another part of the country is rare and generally offered in only extreme cases. Federal drug traffickers and their associates are usually very dangerous and have been known to react violently to a "snitch," even killing off family members. In many cases, especially when not represented by a lawyer, protecting a witness only means that law enforcement will come down hard on the person(s) making criminal threat on the informant putting you and loved ones at a serious risk.

Before considering becoming a confidential informant it is best to speak to a criminal lawyer with federal defense expertise in drug trafficking and organized crime cases. A lawyer can ascertain law enforcement keeps any promises made to you, and you will be protected to the fullest extent of the law. A lawyer can explain the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a confidential informant for an investigation or trial of a federal drug trafficking conspiracy case.

If you are being investigated in a federal drug trafficking case, talk to our lawyers now and call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Defense in Federal Criminal Trials by Lawyers

Creating a winning defense for a federal criminal case is very time consuming and involves a lot of work behind the scenes by lawyers and their experts, aside from the skill needed to perform well during the actual trial. Attorneys working on a trial must also consider the unique preferences and characteristics of the court judge and staff. A judge and court staff can make the work of a lawyer much more difficult if they want to, such as by delaying the processing of documents and denying motions.

Attorneys prepare a defense for a federal case by:

  • Investigating using his/her private investigators and experts.
  • Questioning and researching witnesses.
  • Writing legal documents.
  • Reviewing and investigating the evidence including mishandling.
  • Preparing opening and closing statements and more.

Get more valuable details and read a complete article by clicking this link, how an attorney prepares for defense in a federal trial.

If you are being investigated for a crime, or have been indicted so that you may prepare for federal defense and court it is imperative you talk to an attorney well experienced in federal cases and trials. Call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761) now.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Real Estate Investment Fraud Cases

Lawyers know alleged real estate investment fraud can bring to action many separate criminal and civil cases. Investors, the plaintiffs, may bring civil lawsuits against developers, lenders, and escrow companies and any company or individual they believe to be conspiring and directly involved in the scheme to defraud.

A civil lawsuit alleging fraud may prompt a state and federal investigation inciting a separate criminal case and vice versa. State or federal attorneys commonly file criminal charges that include mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in investment fraud cases. Each mail fraud and wire fraud charge can carry a penalty of 20 years in federal prison; several counts can on each charge can severely inflate prison time leading to life in federal prison. Money laundering carries a penalty of 10 years in prison. Penalties also include enormous fines and restitution depending on the amount defrauded.

Going to Trial for Fraud

Civil cases alleging fraud go to trial when a settlement cannot be reached. Lawyers point out that a settlement agreement can be used as evidence in other cases. Going to trial for a federal criminal case needs to be decided by lawyers experienced with federal defense. Criminal lawyers know that accepting a plea agreement for a federal criminal case is generally much better than going to trial, as only 3% of federal trials are won.

However, an experienced top attorney can argue for a plea agreement that is favorable and requires no prison time and also argue down the amount of restitution and fines. Our lawyers have been known to even argue down restitution and fines to the very minimum and even payments of $100 dollars or less a month. Regardless of the route, you need an experienced lawyer to get you the very minimum penalties if convicted, one who can even get you below the mandatory minimum sentencing. This requires great skill and expertise only had by the best lawyers.

Defense lawyers take into account several factors when deciding to go to trial, such as prior criminal convictions, the facts of the case, circumstantial evidence, and more. Generally speaking, if  an intent to defraud can only be inferred, defense lawyers will proceed to a trial by jury. In these types of fraud cases, the 'eyewitness' testimony is actually a person's mental processes that are being disputed for material facts.

Real estate investment fraud cases that question the motive and intent of individuals or companies may raise certain issues to light, such as a company's policies and procedures, personal relationships and histories of involved individuals, fiduciary duties and more.

Accusations of real estate investment fraud are prosecuted aggressively and must be fought by top criminal lawyers. If you have been accused of or being investigated for fraud, contact our lawyers immediately and call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lawyers on Criminal and Civil RICO: Defenses & Distinctions

Lawyers tailoring defenses for criminal and or civil RICO cases take into account many factors. One key distinction between civil and criminal RICO cases is the burden of proof. In a criminal RICO case, a prosecutor must prove the defendant(s) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil RICO case, only a preponderance of evidence must be shown. That is, a plaintiff's lawyer must prove the claims and facts in the civil complaint by way of clear and convincing evidence.

Distinctions between Criminal and Civil RICO cases

Civil RICO cases seek a different result, a compensatory gain for damages. Lawyers working on the defense may even agree to a settlement before a jury decision if they feel it is in their client's best interest and they may do so at any time during a trial. Prosecutors in criminal RICO cases vehemently seek imprisonment, fines, and restitution paid by the defendant.

A conviction on a criminal RICO case often results in a prompt filing of a civil RICO case. In the past, a civil white collar RICO case was not likely to prompt a criminal RICO case. However, today state and federal law enforcement agencies are pursuing white collar criminal RICO cases much more vigorously. White collar criminal RICO cases have been increasing and are on the rise in both state and federal courts as prosecutors see it as a very effective tool.

If you are being investigated as part of a RICO enterprise it is imperative you talk to lawyers with expertise in RICO cases, such as the lawyers from LibertyBell Law Group. LibertyBell Law Group has a team of criminal, civil, federal and white collar lawyers who put their brain power and mass experience together with their wealth of resources and experts to get you the best results. In fact, LibertyBell Law Groups has recently attained the coveted Top 100 Trial Lawyers award.

Civil RICO and Fraud

After working on numerous white collar crime cases, LibertyBell Law Group's lawyers know most civil RICO cases involve allegations of fraud. This parallels with government publications which commonly cite fraud as the main racketeering activity among white collar RICO cases. There are many classifications of fraud and the defenses for fraud, or any racketeering activity for that matter, used by top lawyers depend on the type and the unique characteristics of the case.

Defenses for Criminal RICO

LibertyBell Law Group's criminal lawyers build custom and winning defenses for RICO in both criminal case and civil cases. One of the strategies they may employ in defending a client in a criminal RICO case, especially when not representing other defendants in the same case, is to argue and prove the defendant was either not part of the criminal enterprise or to distance the client as much as possible from the enterprise. Another strategy lawyers employ is to build a strong criminal defense against the sole racketeering activity associated with our client. This is more easily accomplished when the client is only associated with one or a few of the many racketeering activities alleged in the case. Of course, these defenses cannot be applied to all cases as all cases are not the same. Our criminal lawyers know the best defense is always a custom made defense tailored to fit the client exactly; it surprises the prosecutor and throws him/her off the balance and stays ahead.

Defenses for White Collar Civil RICO

White Collar RICO cases generally have both civil and criminal threads, however, more often than not private attorneys file civil claims for damages. White collar lawyers from LibertyBell Law Group may seek to prove there was no criminal intent or knowledge in a RICO case and can do so by proving lack of knowledge that is lost along lines of and levels of authority. While this may be an effective defense in a white collar criminal RICO case, defending a white collar civil RICO case requires a different strategy. A plaintiff in a civil RICO case is not concerned with the internal workings of a company as much as there is a concern for monetary losses. In other words, the legal definition of the business and how it relates to the "enterprise" is sought to be accountable for monetary losses in most white collar civil RICO cases.

Lawyers know that if fraudulent or criminal intent is proven this can result in substantially higher settlements. In other words, if the plaintiff successfully proves racketeering activities were carried out, such as mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering or others, the defendant will have to pay out substantially higher amounts of money. When there exists mountains of evidence that resulted in monetary losses to the plaintiff, white collar civil lawyers will seek to prove no criminal or fraudulent intent to minimize the settlement amount. White collar lawyers from LibertyBell Law Group also seek to preserve the public image and reputations of clients.