Wednesday, 18 March 2009

What You Might Not Know About Your Criminal Case

If you have been arrested and are facing trial, you need an effective criminal defense. In order to mount a viable defense against criminal charges and protect your rights, there are many important details that must be recognized and acted upon.

A thorough understanding of the laws that may come into play during your case is required. You should contact a criminal defense attorney if you are unclear about what laws could help or hurt your case and to find out about laws of which you may not be aware. To present a strong defense, you must not only know all relevant laws, but also know what they mean and how they may be applied in your case.

Another important aspect of any criminal defense is following the proper procedures. There may be important deadlines and your rights may be lost if they are not met. Some defenses may require advance notice and will not be allowed to go forward without providing notice. For instance, in most states, an alibi defense requires advance notice.

Criminal courts do not feel sympathy for defendants because they are not familiar with how the criminal court system works and offer no leniency for inexperience in criminal defense matters.

Criminal defense attorneys know to anticipate the prosecution's case and prepare accordingly. As a criminal defendant, you are entitled to certain information from the prosecution. Some of this information may help your case. However, in most states, you must request this information and do so in a particular form. The prosecution does not just hand over information - especially if it helps the criminal defense.

You may be able to challenge the evidence the prosecution presents. Challenges can be based on inaccuracies or such issues as how evidence was obtained, handled and stored.

Criminal cases can be very complex and have many variables. If you have been accused of a serious crime, it is in your best interests to consult with a criminal defense attorney in order to avoid mistakes that could cost you plenty.

Even if you have been arrested and charged with a crime you still have criminal rights. These rights mean you're allowed to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. I want to ensure everyone knows and fully exercises their rights. The first step is towards this goal is knowledge. I hope you never have to use these rights, but if you do, then knowing the laws will make a big difference


Federal Witness Protection Program

Being involved in a criminal case where you are forced to testify against someone else can be a very frightening experience for anyone that is involved. There are many things that you may be worried about depending on what type of situation you may be caught up in. The US Federal Witness Protection Program can be one of the best ways to protect you and your family from any harm coming to you.

The Witness Protection Program is a program that was started by the federal government in order to protect any witnesses that will be an asset to the trial that is going on. This program helps to protect these witness before, during, and after the trial has been completed. The witness and their family might be in danger because of witnessing a crime and testifying against the person that did the crime. The witness protection program often comes into play when there is a trial for any type of organized crime. There are many different restrictions that are required if want to be placed into the witness protection program. If you don't agree to follow all of the guidelines that they set before you, they will not officially let you into the program. The first thing that you must agree to do is to testify at the trial of the person who is being prosecuted. If they think at any time that you will back out on testifying at the trial, then you will be immediately dropped from the witness protection program. The program is only for those who will keep to the deal that you make with the people in the program.

The next portion of the program is always the hardest for anyone to handle because it involves leaving behind your whole life including your family. Once you are in the witness protection program, you must agree to disappear of the earth. You will be forced to have no contact of any kind with any of your relatives including parents. You will also be forced to change your names and appearances. The overall goal of the program is to create a whole new life for you and your family to make sure that no one can recognize you. This is often the hardest for people because they are leaving behind their family and friends and can have no contact what so ever with anyone from their past lives. This is one of the sacrifices that you have to make to be in the witness protection program.

For more information, contact the Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyers of Kohler & Hart at


Protect Your Business From Criminal Investigations - The Worst Legal Disaster Imaginable

Most business owners and executives think that because they are good people who do their best to follow all laws and rules, they are immune from worrying about criminal business investigations and issues. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Everyday conduct and occurrences can be construed as criminal like the following:

• Forgetting to include income on a tax return
• Misstating your income or expenses on a financial statement when applying for a bank loan
• Using loan proceeds for a purpose other than that for which you applied
• Bouncing a check
• Talking to competitors
• Making a mistake on an application for a federal grant, funding or certification

Without exception, the most serious legal disaster that could befall your business is a federal criminal investigation or indictment of you, or any other manager, officer or the company itself. Individuals or the operating business entity, together or separately, can be named as a witness, suspect, or target in an investigation. Enron and Arthur Anderson are the most recently famous of such business crime cases which resulted in the collapse of the businesses themselves and imprisonment of the executives. Many national business and legal experts have concluded that the demise of those two giant companies was not caused by the illegal activity of which they were accused, but the damage to their reputations that immediately drove their investors, lenders, and customers away in a panic.

The following business practices can help protect you and your company from being wrongfully accused or convicted of a federal or state crime:

1. Adopt a Government Investigation Policy
This policy should state unequivocally that your company and its employees will cooperate with any government investigation, but only with the assistance of a qualified lawyer. This policy should be adopted at a time when there is no threat of an investigation or hint of any problem. Write the policy down and include it in all company documents, employee handbooks and materials.

2. Hold a Government Investigation Seminar
Conduct an annual, required in-house seminar on business criminal issues, just like safety seminars and courses, for your employees. The seminar should be conducted by a criminal lawyer to instruct employees on individual constitutional rights and how to protect those rights, to explain the workings of a government investigation, and to suggest ways to handle government investigators and law enforcement officers in the context of an accident, a worksite death, a search warrant, and other investigations.

3. Understand and Utilize Your Constitutional Rights
You, your business and your employees have a constitutional right to a lawyer's counsel before answering or cooperating in any investigation. It is known as the Sixth Amendment. You also have the right to remain silent when questioned by investigators or prosecutors to protect against self incrimination. This is the Fifth Amendment guarantee. It means that you have the right to decline to answer questions that might tend to incriminate you. Use these rights aggressively whenever the circumstance warrants them.

4. Understand that Lying to a Federal Agent or Officer is a Federal Crime
Lies to officials are generally referred to as "false statements." To be a crime, the lie does not have to be given under oath and can be oral or written. Nor does it have to be made in the context of a formal or court setting. Any statement given to a federal officer that can be said to be false, even if mistaken, meets the very low bar of the offense. Most often, the only evidence of the statement is notes or testimony of the federal agent. It is not a requirement of the offense that the government or officer be misled, deceived, or persuaded by the false statement. All that is required for the crime is that the statement have some connection, even though tenuous, to some matter within the jurisdiction of the United States. Today, in America, lying is a federal crime in just about any business context and every business person or executive must be aware of this state of affairs.

5. Contact your Criminal Business Lawyer Immediately
If your company receives a business records subpoena from a grand jury, receives a call from a government investigator or gets raided by a government law enforcement team, call an experienced expert criminal defense lawyer before you answer a single question or do any other thing.

These simple actions can go a long way toward protecting you and your company from criminal business investigations.

Marjorie Jobe is the author of Business Law Battle Plan for Entrepreneurs: Protect Your Company from Lawyers, Lawsuits and Legal Disasters and is a practicing attorney in El Paso, Texas


Federal Criminal Records - Background Checks Are a Must!

Are you an employer at any level? You could just be simply employing a nanny or you could be running your own company. Either way you need to know the federal criminal records of all the different people that work for you. This will save you a lot of headache and possible money in the future. Here is why you must get background checks done on everyone you intend to hire.

The first reason that federal criminal records checks are so important is because of the possibilities of hiring a convicted felon that will steal from you. It would not be a very fun day if you went into the office to find out that everything was gone or that you were missing a ton of cash. This could make you have to file bankruptcy and you could lose your business that you worked so hard to build from the ground up.

The second reason that you need to do background checks is for your safety and the safety of the people that already work for you. Imagine if you hired someone without knowing that they have a history of violence. Then, your best employee ends up in a scuffle with them or even worse ends up dead because you put them in danger. This can be avoided if you take the time to check the federal criminal records database by doing a background check.

The last reason for a background check is because you have a family that depends on you. What if you hired a nanny that was a convicted felon and you didn't know it? How would you feel if you came home from a night out and your home had been robbed of everything valuable? Even worse, they could hurt your children, which would just be a tragedy. This can be avoided if you take the time to do a background check to make sure you know who you are hiring before you hire them.


The Truth About the Setting of Attorney Fees

As a practical matter, the fees lawyers charge tend to vary greatly. It is hoped that the following will help the potential client make at least some sense of attorney fees and how they are set.

NEVER HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITHOUT A WRITTEN FEE CONTRACT You might be surprised how many criminal defense lawyers do not provide written fee contracts. This is extremely dangerous and leads to potential problems. Often times an attorney who chooses not provide a fee agreement will tell the potential client that he will "start" the case at a very low price. Nevertheless, at every stage of the case, the attorney requires more money and threatens to withdraw from the case if he is not paid the additional sums. The result is that you can wind up paying much more than had you hired the attorney who seemed more expensive to begin with. A fee contract avoids these nasty surprises. Besides, why would any attorney not provide a written fee agreement that makes the obligations of both the attorney and the client clear?

AVOID HIRING AN ATTORNEY THAT WILL ALSO POST YOUR BOND While Texas does not prohibit an attorney from posting a client's bond, many states do because of the conflict of interest that exists. The role of a bondsman is to make sure you appear in court and a bondsman has every incentive to inform the court if you are not complying with the conditions of your release. On the other hand, your attorney is supposed to be your advocate and protect you from having your bond revoked in the event you do not fully comply with your release conditions. We have also seen cases where, when a client gets behind on his legal fees, the attorney posting a client's bond threatens, and sometimes does, have the client's bond revoked as additional pressure to pay the outstanding legal fees. It should be easy to see why hiring an attorney to post your bond is rife with conflicts and should be avoided. You should hire an independent bondsman and an independent attorney.

BEWARE OF LAWYERS WITH A VOLUME PRACTICE There are many lawyers out there that have a "volume" practice who offer to do cases at cut rate prices (often these cut rate prices are to "start" the case and the attorney does not provide a fee contract). Many times, the income of these lawyers is actually substantially higher than other more qualified lawyers. Here is why. Let's assume you think about hiring Attorney Smith. You found Attorney Smith in the yellow pages where he has a full page advertisement promoting low fees or Lawyer Smith has sent you, and thousand of other who had been arrested on a particular night a letter promoting his low fees. A yellow pages ad might cost Lawyer Smith $50,000 and he might spend thousands of dollars per month on mail outs. Because Attorney Smith gets so many calls from his ads and mail outs, he has to hire additional support staff to answer the phones and "screen clients" so that is more money toward overhead. Nevertheless, Attorney Smith is able to charge low fees because he has so many clients who respond to his ads and/or mail outs that he can make up for it and pay his overhead by running a volume practice. Often you will meet Attorney Smith for the first time in the courthouse when he shouts your name in the hallway. You will rarely, if ever, be able to get Attorney Smith on the phone to answer questions. If you resist pleading guilty and request a trial, many problems will arise. After all, how can Attorney Smith spend time preparing for trial and then sitting in a trial for several days? Simply put, he can't because the house of cards he has created with the volume practice will collapse if he cannot meet the dozens of other clients who have cases set on the same day. Nevertheless, don't feel sorry for Attorney Smith because he will often make much more money than the average attorney even after accounting for his high overhead. As a rough example, let's say Attorney Smith charges $2,000 per case but handles 500 cases per year. That amounts to a gross income of $1,000,000. Now, lets say another attorney who actually returns your phone calls and has time to prepare your case and represent you at trial if that is in your best interest charges $5,000 per case but handles 50 cases per year. That only amounts to a gross income of $250,000. In sum, if you have a simple case in which you know there are no legal issues to raise and you absolutely know that you do not want a trial and you are not going to want to ask your attorney many questions, it could make financial sense to hire Attorney Smith. On the other hand, if there is any chance that you want to fight your case or you think you will have questions for your lawyer, spend the extra money now or you will have to spend even more later trying to undue what Attorney Smith did, or failed to do, for you.

BEWARE OF LAWYERS SIZING YOU UP Unfortunately, we have heard of many lawyers who attempt to determine how much money potential clients have and then charges them "as much money as they can afford." We often see this with some California attorneys who advertise "national practices" on the internet. While it is admirable for an attorney to reduce her rate for a client with a low income, it is disgraceful for a lawyer to charge a wealthy client more than she would ordinarily charge because the client can "afford it." Beware of lawyers who seem to be asking questions that are designed to determine your income or assets that have no relation to the charges against you.

LEGAL FEES IN STATE COURT WILL DEPEND ON THE TYPE OF CASE This is probably obvious. In state court, fees will almost always depend on the seriousness and complexity of the case.

LEGAL FEES IN FEDERAL COURT WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER There is a huge difference between state court and federal court. Almost all criminal defense lawyers are qualified to practice in state court. Nevertheless, very few criminal defense lawyers practice regularly in federal court. It is extremely dangerous to hire an attorney to represent you in a federal criminal case that does not appear regularly in federal court. Nevertheless, this means that there are very few lawyers to choose from if you are charged with a criminal offense in federal court. For example, in Dallas, there are probably less than 30 lawyers who appear regularly in federal court. Consequently, because of the limited supply, legal fees for criminal cases in federal court are often significantly higher than state court.

LEGAL FEES WILL VARY BASED ON THE LAWYER'S QUALIFICATIONS Again, this should seem obvious, although it is sometimes surprising what lawyers with minimal qualifications will attempt to charge a client. Some qualifications to look for is whether a lawyer is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in criminal defense attorney. Texas Board of Legal Specialization Another is whether that lawyer is AV rated (the highest rating) by Martindale-Hubbell, an independent entity that rates lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell Another is whether the lawyer has been voted a "super lawyer" by other criminal defense attorneys and how many years he or she has been voted a "super lawyer." Super Lawyers

FLAT FEE OR HOURLY FEE Generally criminal defense lawyers in Texas charge a "flat fee" for their representation (although they often charge a "split" fee as described below). An attorney should give you the option of paying an hourly fee, nevertheless, an hourly fee is generally more suitable for corporations that have very deep pockets. Individuals generally prefer the "flat fee" so they know in advance how much the legal representation will cost a the end of the day.

SPLIT FEE FOR PLEAS AND TRIALS Mostly all criminal defense lawyers in Texas will split the flat fee between plea and trial. For example. they might say that the fee for a plea is $5,000 but if the case has to be "set for trial there will be an additional fee of $5,000. Moreover, research has found that, in a large majority of cases, a plea offer will get appreciably better only after the case is "set" for trial. Therefore, even in cases that will not ultimately go to trial, it is often in the client's best interest to at least "set" the case for trial. We would rather charge a fee in the middle (e.g. $7,500) and this way our advice to the client is not colored by the prospect of earning additional monies based on the advice we give and the client can make the decision as to whether or not to go to trial freed from the prospect of having to pay additional monies if he decides a trial is in his best interests.

CONTINGENT BONUSES We have encountered attorneys who attempt to charge a "performance bonus" if they can convince authorities not to indict the client, or if they win at trial, or if they get a case dismissed prior to trial. The Texas Lawyer Disciplinary Rules clearly prohibit such "bonuses" because they are "contingent" on a certain outcome. Texas Disciplinary Rules on Fees You would do well to avoid any attorney who does not follow the ethical rules of his or her profession.

EXPENSES In many cases, it will be necessary to hire a private investigator to investigate the case. In some case, it will be necessary to hire experts to assist the attorney or to testify at trial. It varies among attorneys as to whether these expenses are included in the legal fees charged. Again, however, it is important to have a written fee agreement so that it is clear who is responsible for these additional expenses.

Broden & Mickelsen - Criminal Defense Law Firm

Broden & Mickelsen specializes in the practice of criminal defense at both the trial and appellate level and in both state and federal courts throughout the country


Tax Evasion and Your Criminal Defense Options

The criminal penalties for illegally failing to pay taxes, or tax evasion, can be severe. Federal tax evasion is a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to five years and fines up to $100,000 for those convicted.
Legal efforts to minimize taxes may be made, such as making charitable contributions, contributions to college savings and retirement plans and taking all available deductions for dependents, medical expenses. However, it is not legal to evade taxes by failing to report or inaccurately report income.

The IRS penalizes and prosecutes any person or entity it finds has illegally avoided paying the taxes owed. Approximately 3000 IRS agents are trained to collect information and detect tax evasion. These agents may review federal tax returns, issue a summons to access further financial data and seize or freeze cash, accounts and assets to collect financial information.

If the IRS conducts an audit and finds that tax evasion has occurred, it may levy tax liens, seize property, freeze accounts and garnish wages. Any money, property or other assets a taxpayer owns may be seized to repay the tax liability.

Other Tax Crimes and Penalties

Filing a False Return - In addition to tax evasion, a person may be charged with a felony for filing a false tax return. This is also known as tax fraud. There are stiff penalties for filing a false return including up to three years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. False return can mean anything from understating your income to overstating your deductions. If may include blatant offenses, such as fabricating non-existent dependents.
Failure to File - Failure to file a tax return is a misdemeanor offense, but still carries serious penalties. A person convicted of failing to file a federal tax return can be fined up to $25,000 for each year a return was not filed and sent to prison for a year.

Speak With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are accused of tax evasion or another tax crime, it is important that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer and learn about the IRS and federal tax laws that may apply. Even if you are facing criminal charges, you still have criminal rights.

Ensure that your rights are protected. If you've been charged with a crime, know your criminal rights. These include the right to an attorney


How to Identify an Expert Criminal Lawyer For Defense

A criminal lawyer is required to be specialized in handling different types of criminal cases. The work of these lawyers integrates services that are provided to the people who seek professional legal support when they are accused with some crime. However, the basic purpose of using services of criminal lawyers is to get a lawyer for ourselves whose job is to argue for us to achieve success in the courtroom. Now with the differences and sections of criminal law, there are several categories in criminal lawyers. The selection of lawyer must comply to the nature or category of the criminal case a person is accused with. Therefore, to help you in finding the best criminal lawyer, discussing the various sections and categories of criminal law is essential.

Different Sections Of Criminal Law

People who are arrested for committing crimes like murder, theft, domestic violence, sex violence, rape, abduction, hit and run etc., and other types of cases are in need of a lawyer who is well experienced in proceedings under the court of law. A criminal defense lawyer is of help to those people who are under distress due the accusations of these kind of crimes. A defense lawyer is a criminal lawyer whose services start with talking to the accused party to know about the details of the event. These criminal lawyers are generally much in demand as they are sought after mostly to fight for the accused in the court to get justice for him.

Importance Of Federal Criminal Lawyer

After they have listened to their clients and their point of view on the event, these lawyers start their research work to gather more facts, collect evidences, and prepare for the trial proceedings in the court. Until these lawyers clients or the accused person admits his/her guilt by him/her own, they do not hand their clients over. If you are charged with a federal criminal case, you need to hire a federal criminal lawyer who defends the people who have been arrested or are being investigated by the federal law enforcement authorities. The federal defense lawyers are specialized in the federal law section and represent their client during the case trial in the courtroom.

Role Of Criminal Justice Lawyers

The criminal justice lawyer is a criminal lawyer who performs following steps:

investigation of the case
producing search warrant
interrogation and preparing arrest complaint
indictment or allegation
working for bail or plea bargains

The last task of the criminal lawyer is to make an appeal on behalf of the accused. The defense lawyer is allowed to make appeal to only one level of the appellate court. Visit legal info online for more information