Monday, September 30, 2013


The United States Sentencing Commission webpage has recently been updated with fascinating information for criminal defense attorneys as well as their federal clients. The information is divided into training material intended for defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges as well as a spotlight section on changes to the law and possible future changes to sentencing. 

The federal sentencing commission determines how to apply federal criminal law but also provides helpful advice to lawyers, prosecutors and even clients in Tampa Bay, Florida.
The spotlight section highlights new information on the recommended expanded safety valve provisions, federal minimum mandatory sentencing and a useful quick guide on minimum mandatory sentencing categories, triggers and exceptions useful in keeping the law handy for practitioners. To find the information just go to the webpage above, look for "spotlight" and keep clicking till your fingers hurt.

Besides the quick spotlight information, the webpage offers an extraordinary amount of new training material for lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Yet this information can be accessed by anyone, so the webpage should be helpful in directing clients toward relevant knowledge about federal sentencing especially if in the difficult position of being a possible target of federal agents, a person of interest in to a federal grand jury or party to any federal investigation. 

To gain access to this wealth of material simply go to the webpage above, click on "Education and Training" then click on "Guidelines Education Materials" and look under "Advanced Training Materials." Here's a summary of what you'll find:
 Loss Primer, March 2013, Victim Primer, March 2013, Drug Primer, March, 2013, Firearm Primer, March, 2013, Immigrations Primer, April, 2013, Sex Offense Primer, March, 2013, Sex offense primer & Failure to register cases, March, 2013, Aggravating and Mitigating Role Adjustments, March, 2013, Multiple Counts Checklist, Criminal History Primer, April, 2013, Departure and Variance, Primer, June, 2013
Also, if you have a client who has served in the military as is often the case in Tampa Bay, Florida use the new information listed on the webpage under the Military Service Departure under 5H1.11 which provides effective arguments in sentencing mitigation for a military veteran. The sentencing departure does not require that your client served in combat and provides a summary of the unique history in America criminal justice of recognizing military service at sentencing which could be useful arguments even in nonfederal Florida cases even where state law does not provide for leniency.

It's often difficult in federal cases for clients to come to grips with the overwhelming power of the federal government, the federal justice system and the hazards of federal sentencing. The sentencing information in the webpage may prove even more useful to clients than their criminal defense attorneys when seeking the latest knowledge about harsh Federal Sentencing Guidelines. 

Friday, September 27, 2013


Chase bank and its bankers should be indicted on federal charges if in fact the bank has committed a federal crime.
My favorite Banker
While the U.S. Attorney General negotiates billions of dollars in a  monetary settlement with J.P. Morgan Bank that will require the bank to acknowledge unlawful mortgage-backed security fraud, one wonders how bankers have avoided criminal responsibility and jail time.

According to press reports the focus of concern for the beleaguered  CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank in his negotiations with our federal government is fear of criminal liability:

A major sticking point in the talks between J.P. Morgan and Justice has been how to resolve a criminal probe of the bank's conduct.
Within the Justice Department, some officials believe they have built a viable criminal case to bring against J.P. Morgan for some mortgage-backed securities issued before the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the discussions. Investigators have been examining whether the bank misled investors about the nature of the underlying mortgages backing those securities, according to people familiar with the case.

If American banks and wealthy bankers who control them can buy their way out of criminal prosecutions, shouldn't ordinary Americans be allowed to do the same? After all wasn't it the greed of the bankers with real estate investors not to mention average Americans over their heads in housing debt that caused the financial meltdown. Yet the bankers got bonuses while the borrowers got jail. Many investors and borrowers of who failed to pay signature mortgage loans received grand jury federal mortgage fraud indictments with plenty of jail time once they were convicted. But of the bankers who profited the most not one has been indicted nor punished. 

The banks and their leaders should be criminally prosecuted if they committed crimes. What the bankers understandably fear is that under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines systemic mortgage fraud like any theft would be punished based on the dollar amount involved resulting in many years of Federal imprisonment for any banker convicted. As the dollar amount attributed to the offenses would be astronomical so too would be the jail time though defense lawyers would try to find the best ways to avoid guideline ranges

Banks and bankers should not be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution by buying off the government of the United States. If law has any meaning in America it must apply equally to every person and to every business entity no matter how powerful. If the bankers have committed federal crime, prosecute them, and if they need a federal criminal defense attorney tell them to give me a call.

Monday, September 09, 2013


Cases that could be quickly disposed of by persuading prosecutors to no file the charges may become much more difficult to defend if a Clearwater criminal defense attorney is not consulted soon enough. In criminal cases it's always vitally important to have an advocate on your side as soon as possible. Your lawyer will demand discovery, conduct an intense investigation and secure any evidence that undermines the investigation or arrest.

Florida law enforcement police vehicle searching for law violators in the Tampa Bay area.
Ready for a Police Chase?
When avoiding an arrest or investigation of crime it's important to note that law enforcement officers do not have to tell you that you are the target of their investigation and that deception is considered an effective police tool so that officers do not always have to tell the truth when questioning suspects about a crime. Yet it's during the initial investigations of officers and prosecutors that the best criminal defense lawyers lay the groundwork for cases to never proceed any further than a mere investigation.

Here are the best reasons to consult a defense lawyer as soon as you are being investigated and before charges are filed by prosecutors.

  1.  A defense lawyer will make certain that no evidence is destroyed, misplaced or forgotten by prosecutors. Prosecutors in Tampa Bay, Florida conduct their own investigation of the facts and circumstances of criminal cases before making felony or misdemeanor filing decisions even if police have made an arrest. In fact, under Florida law, for prosecutors to file felony charges against a defendant they must conduct an investigation which typically includes placing police officers or other witnesses under oath. 
  2. This short window of time before charges are filed by prosecutors is an opportunity for the defense to present prosecutors with the best reasons why the case should be no filed. Because no filing decision has yet been made, prosecutors are open to at least listening to other interpretations of the facts and circumstances of the case. A number of years ago while I was a prosecutor in Clearwater, Florida, I appreciated knowing that the case was weak before rather than after committing the resources, time and commitment to prosecuting a case. Sometimes evidence that may seem reliable to a prosector proves to be unreliable when facts establish that the witness is mistaken. For example, unreliable eye witness testimony has often been shown to weigh too heavily with prosecutors and judges making a mockery of justice and fairness in many criminal cases in the United States.
  3. Once the prosecution files a criminal charge against a defendant the apparatus of the Florida criminal justice system becomes committed to a successful outcome of either a guilty plea or guilty verdict at trial in the case. This momentum toward a result of guilt is difficult for the office to resist because prosecutors will not want to admit that they botched their initial investigation. Therefore, waiting to present evidence at a later time than the initial investigation will often result in the prosecution 'doubling down' by adding addition criminal charges. Further, prosecutors will do their best to win the case by demanding that law enforcement officers conduct further investigations with a view of supporting the failing case.
  4. Defense counsel should also be consulted before any statements are given to law enforcement to determine if a statement from a Defendant is apt to be useful in a future prosecution. Often law enforcement officers gather as many statements as possible from a defendant in hopes of finding inconsistencies or admissions of misconduct. In Tampa Bay, Florida law enforcement officers rarely record their conversations with Defendants making the law enforcement officers the only reliable witnesses as to what was actually said. Therefore confessions are often very damaging even thought they have often been found to be an unreliable indication of actual guilt.
As you can see it's essential that a defendant seek immediate help from an advocate who understands the criminal justice system, law enforcement as well as how prosecutors conduct initial investigations in criminal cases in Tampa Bay, Florida.