Articles about Federal Criminal Defense – from the news
Alleged mob boss set free after beating two racketeering trials
Many people charged with crimes in the New Canaan area find they are later acquitted of those charges. Being arrested or charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty because everyone is innocent until proven guilty under the law. Sometimes, it may take multiple trials, but even then, a person can still be found innocent.
A 74-year-old alleged mob boss is free after two separate trials on racketeering charges. He spent who spent two and a half years behind bars before beating the changes a second time, and prosecutors say they will not pursue a third trial. Court documents show officials charged the man with low-end loansharking and gambling crimes such as controlling illegal gambling machines.
The case began in 2011 when federal prosecutors charged more than 12 people as the result of a 10-year-long investigation. Eleven of the suspects were eventually convicted, but 10 of the 12 jurors in this man’s case determined he was not guilty of the racketeering conspiracy. Two separate juries also acquitted him on lesser counts and, a judge dismissed the remaining counts.
Even though the evidence presented in this case was the result of a 10-year-long investigation, it was still not enough to convict this man, showing that not everyone who is charged with a crime is guilty of it. If you are facing federal charges, it is important that you find an expert attorney who can prepare the best federal criminal defense to help you fight the charges and be declared innocent.
Source: Connecticut Post, “Reputed Philadelphia mob boss freed after 2 trials,” Maryclaire Dale, Jan. 28, 2014
Any criminal charge could be paired with DNA sample
Being arrested and charged with a serious crime is a stressful and challenging situation. Far too often, officials make individuals facing such a situation feel like they are guilty even before criminal charges are issued. To add to that stress, the U.S. Supreme Court may be condoning such prejudicial treatment by ruling that millions of Americans may be subject to DNA tests.
The federal government already has a database to collect and analyze DNA samples to assist in the investigation of cold cases around the nation. Additionally, 26 states allow authorities to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for serious or felony offenses like assault. The Supreme Court’s ruling expands this authority to all states.
The expanded collecting of DNA samples is an example of the kinds of contemporary issues the Supreme Court faces, and while the U.S. Constitution does allow for some degree of interpretation, these interpretations must be made with an understanding of citizen’s rights as well as that of the law.
Four of the Supreme Court justices opposed the ruling based on their understanding that subjecting individuals to DNA samples infringes their constitutional rights. Other opponents point out that evidence collected in this way may result in false charges against the suspects.
Supporters of the ruling, including one of the Supreme Court justices, say that collecting DNA upon arrest is no different than taking someone’s fingerprints; however, many opponents say doing so results in an unlawful search and a violation of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Source: USA Today, “Supreme Court OKs DNA swab for people under arrest,” Richard Wolf, June 3, 2013
Federal court sees pre-trial drama
Certain criminal cases have the potential to create serious courtroom drama, and often the spectacle feeds media and public attention that rarely serves the prosecutors or the suspect in their attempt to pursue justice. Because of this, good federal criminal defense teams take steps from the beginning of a case to eliminate potential bias and unfair treatment by anyone involved in the trial. A recent case in the headlines shows a great legal team in action protecting their client against potential threats to their client’s defense.
Though the case in question is not scheduled to go to trial until this summer, the suspect’s legal team is already hard at work protecting their client to ensure he receives an impartial trial. The suspect faces charges for his alleged connection to 19 murders and other crimes spanning over two decades, part of which time the suspect is accused of working as an FBI informant.
The role the suspect may have played as an informant raised concerns with the defense team because the judge initially assigned to hear the case worked as a federal prosecutor during the time the crimes were allegedly committed. Because of this potential conflict, the defense team successfully bid with the U.S. Court of Appeals to have the judge removed from the case.
An impartial judge is imperative for any criminal trial to be fair and impartial for victims and suspects alike. When there is any doubt a judge can be completely objective and unbiased, it is the right and duty of the defense team to raise that concern before the trial even begins.
Source: Norwich Bulletin, “Court removes judge from Bulger’s trial,” Denise Lavoie, March 14, 2013
New software to determine parole
Beneath the dazzling visual effects and compelling action, the Tom Cruise film “Minority Report” contained an unsettling central premise: using an automated computer network to predict a suspect would commit a crime before it had been committed, representing a potentially dangerous development in how officials could handle criminal investigations.
It may now be that Hollywood’s future is becoming our present as a new crime predictive software program is currently being used by authorities in Maryland and Pennsylvania as well as soon in Washington D.C. and possibly even Connecticut to determine how likely a convict is of committing a repeat offense if released.
Using a dataset of more than 60,000 crimes, the software developed by a University of Pennsylvania criminologist is designed to determine the probability of a convict repeating an offense by examining parameters such as geography, age, and past criminal record. The criminologist claims the program is specifically toward reducing murder and homicide rates.
In some jurisdictions in Philadelphia and Baltimore, the software has already replaced human judgment and has risen in popularity among court and prison officials. Critics of the system and inmate’s rights advocates question the software as a matter of principle because its statistical evaluation may overlook real progress a convict may have made after completing a sentence, creating the danger of false-positive predictions that could result in a person who successfully reformed in prison continuing to be imprisoned.
The trend of using computers as part of the criminal justice system increases with each passing year, but in doing so, the system lessens human participation in ways that may not always be for the good of suspects, victims, or society alike. The heart of the criminal justice system is ensuring the rights of those who have been charged with or convicted of a crime are honored, and engaging an expert criminal defense attorney is even more critical to ensuring a suspect’s rights are safeguarded.
Source: Wired, “U.S. Cities Relying on Precog Software to Predict Murder,” Kim Zetter, Jan. 10, 2013
Prosecutors can withhold evidence to manipulate criminal law
The law guarantees all citizens the right to a fair and speedy trial in Connecticut and across the nation, hence the reason there are so many federal laws in place protecting defendants and alleged victims. The vast majority of prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys abide by those laws and the standards they set, but sometimes unscrupulous prosecutors find loopholes that allow for techniques and policies designed to secure convictions no matter what the cost.
Current federal law allows defendants to challenge their convictions based on the appearance prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense during the course of the trial, but such a challenge can only overturn a conviction when there is a high probability that the withheld evidence would have changed the outcome of the trial if the defense had access to it.
Past legislation did not attempt to place any priority on the nature of the evidence withheld, following the notion that every piece of evidence is relevant to the trial and that prosecutors are legally obligated to share all of the evidence with the defense, exculpatory or otherwise.
It is especially troubling that the law does not provide any safeguards to prevent or punish the practice of withholding evidence, especially in cases where the defendant may not have the resources or opportunity to prove its significance to their situation. Because prosecutors have little fear of being reprimanded for failing to provide evidence to the defense, some build cases around withholding evidence that leaves defendants lacking in the tools to defend themselves. As long as prosecutors are not held responsible for using such tactics, the idea of a fair trial may be nothing more than a promise on paper to some defendants.
Source: The Atlantic, “Prosecutors Shouldn’t Be Hiding Evidence From Defendants,” Andrew Cohen, May 13, 2013
East Haven officers seeking new trial after convictions
Any time someone is charged with a crime, they should take the charges seriously, but especially so when they are facing federal charges that can be very serious and difficult to overcome. People in the Stamford area are charged and convicted of crimes every day, but not everyone who is accused or convicted is guilty.
Two East Haven police officers charged and convicted last year for abusing the civil rights of Hispanics are fighting their convictions in federal court by filing for full acquittals and new trials. Previously, a jury found them guilty of conspiracy to violate civil rights, making an arrest without probable cause, and filing a false arrest report. One of the officers was also convicted of using excessive force.
The officers were arrested after an FBI investigation into allegations they were profiling Hispanic people. While both officers are awaiting sentencing and word on new trials, one of their attorneys claimed in their request for acquittal that the conviction should be set aside because “a reasonable juror could not have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Any person charged with a crime has the right to a fair trial and to contest their conviction by seeking an appeal or another trial. Someone facing this kind of situation should seek out the best federal criminal defense attorney they can find to help them fight the allegations against them in the best way possible.
Source: New Haven Register, “Convicted officers file motions for acquittal, new trial,” Evan Lips, Nov. 5, 2103.
The law office of Koffsky and Felsen has extensive experience and can help you build a defense to the charges you face.