Criminal Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide
discussing legal aspects related to Criminal Law.
Over the last few years, a number of drugs have made it to the market that, while not technically illegal, had the same effects as taking other, outlawed narcotics. Unfortunately, many of these drugs only made the news after something unfortunate happened, like an overdose, an accident caused by someone intoxicated by the alternative drug, or a celebrity disclosing their addiction to it.
Of all the concepts in the field of criminal law, few are more hotly debated, and more subject to constantly inconsistent results, than the concept of constructive possession. But what is it? How can someone be held responsible for possessing drugs or guns that are not on their person (especially if there is a perfectly reasonable explanation of who may actually be the owner)?
A Message from Uncle Sam to Taxpayers Who Have Undisclosed Foreign Bank Accounts: the Clock Is Ticking
OVDI: Is the IRS playing unfair? Read on...
Everyone has seen a few cents on the ground, likely dropped while someone pulled a ring of keys from their pocket. While we would probably not think twice about picking up a penny, what if it was a bank envelope full of $100 bills? It may seem like a dream come true, but there are certain legal obligations when one finds misplaced money.
It is an age old question that many of us have debated at one point or another: should executions be legal? Are they an effective deterrent and means of punishment, or is it an expensive and anachronistic practice from a less civilized time? Regardless of where you come down on the debate, one key factor that always seems to come up is cost. So, which is cheaper: execution or life in prison without parole?
After a natural catastrophe, riots, terrorist attack, or other devastating event, it is not uncommon for some members of society to take to the streets and begin taking almost anything they want. Sometimes looters only take necessities, like food, water, and toilet paper, but more often than not, looters are taking items of value like televisions, computers, jewelery, etc. How does the law deal with this and what are a person's rights when trying to prevent looting?
In United States v. Nosal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to determine the boundaries of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. It ultimately concluded that violations of an employer's computer use policy did not amount to "exceeding authorized access" under the CFAA.
The term “insider trading” seems to pop up in the news with a fair degree of frequency. Celebrities have even been accused of engaging in it, like Martha Stewart. But what is insider trading and why is it illegal?
Every year, millions of Americans visit the little bodegas and shops, often located in ethnic ghettos of large cities, to purchase counterfeit or knockoff designer goods. Others buy these items online, at flea markets, or dozens of other locations. Wherever one goes, there is some question as to the legality of such transactions. After all, one is knowingly buying a product that is a copy of a trademarked and copyrighted work. Is this legal?
Michigan assault charges can be defended by asserting self-defense. There is a Michigan Self-Defense statute, MCL 750.951 and jury instructions which protect a defendant's right to self-defense. In many cases, there’s no legal duty to retreat from an attacker -- at home or out in public. This is known as the Stand Your Ground defense.
In this modern digital age, it is often common for romantic partners, particularly those in long distance relationships, to exchange revealing photos of one another. These photos are often intended for the eyes of the receiver only. But, how can you be sure? What happens if you break up or the other person turns out to be less discrete than you had hoped? Is it illegal for someone to share those photos with others?
Service of process must be done accurately and according to the rules of each jurisdiction. Generally, three methods of process are permitted: personal service, substituted service, and service by publication. Personal service, or hand delivery, is always preferred as it is seen to be most accurate. Substituted service is allowed when the defendant is unable to be contacted in-person. Service by publication is only used as a last resort, as it is quite unreliable.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are used by judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys to determine the possible sentence, or the range of a possible sentence, for any federal crime. They are based on the concept that each type of offense should result in a sentence within a determined range – adjusted to the high or low end of the range – depending on certain known factors, including the defendant’s criminal history.[i]
A criminal investigation conducted by the IRS is different from a civil investigation. Criminal investigation of taxpayer returns or fraudulent activity is conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS (CI). CI is the heavy artillery of the IRS arsenal.
In an “eggshell audit,” you must walk on eggshells to represent your client effectively in the civil examination without exposing the fraud, all the while honoring your duties to the tax system not to mislead the revenue agent.
To File or Not to File an Amended Return to Correct an Original Return That Has Criminal Tax Dimensions
Your client has filed a fraudulent return underreporting his tax liability. He now has misgivings. He comes to you and expresses great concern. What should you do?
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when the loss could have been avoided. Often in cases of medical malpractice, those who are left behind after a loved one's passing wonder why the doctor is not going to jail for murder. Is it possible for one to charge a doctor with murder when their treatment of a patient was so poor as to result in death?
Admit it, you have probably thought about it. What can you legally say to a cop and get away with it? Maybe an officer pulled you over on the wrong day, maybe you distrust cops, or maybe you just like living on the edge. Whatever your reasoning, you might be surprised to find out that getting a little mouthy is not technically an automatic one way trip to jail.
For those who have never been to prison, considerations of prison food are probably not high on the list of concerns about prison conditions. But, many a prisoner has suffered through daily rations of “nutriloaf” and probably has a very different take on the matter.
Obviously, going to jail or prison involves having one's rights curtailed. But, that does not mean inmates in the United States are without basic human rights. Even the most hardened criminal has basic rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. If you or someone you know may be facing incarceration, you should know your rights, or what your friend or loved one's rights are or will be while behind bars.
Incarceration of any kind is designed to be an unpleasant experience. But, the policies, rights, and daily life of an inmate can be very different between these two types of institutions. So, what is the difference between jail and prison.
Most people understand that piracy of copyrighted works is illegal. But, many do not understand what piracy is or whether their role in the act of downloading pirated materials is a crime. Immense amount of data are downloaded everyday using file sharing programs called “torrent clients.” That means that millions of Americans are using torrents to share files, often containing pirated materials, which may leave you wondering, “Is it legal to download torrents?”
Child abuse and neglect are ugly realities. Turning a blind eye to the act can doom a child to serious injury, emotional trauma, or even death. Children are the victims least able to stand up for themselves since they depend entirely upon their parents for food, care, and legal status. So what do you do if you suspect child abuse or neglect? How can you report it and protect a child in danger?
After the recent economic downturn, the news was filled with stories about various Ponzi schemes. Bernie Madoff became notorious for defrauding millions of dollars from high-profile investors through such a scheme. So what is a Ponzi scheme and why is it illegal?
Bitcoin is a form of electronic currency that functions without being backed by any governmental authority. Bitcoin is often called a “cryptocurrency” because it is decentralized and uses a complicated system of cryptography to prevent double-spending. This form of currency has become a matter of great public interest as authorities debate whether it is legal and, if so, how they can regulate its use in illegal transactions and monitor it for tax purposes.
Whenever someone dies it is normal for the survivors to want to find an explanation and a person to blame. Unfortunately, in some cases, nobody is to blame, and it was just that person's time. But, in other cases, when the death could have been avoided and someone else was in a position to prevent it, a wrongful death may have occurred.
All too often stories appear on the news of children in trouble with the law. Some bring guns or knives to school, others are shoplifting or stealing cars, and of course, there are always the ones who get into fights. Often, public outcry demands that something be done against the parents as well as the child. So, who is responsible when a child breaks the law?
Most of us are familiar with the concept of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI), but how do these translate to boating? Is it illegal to boat while drunk? If one is cited for boating under the influence, will that affect their driving license? Can you be given a breathalyzer on your boat?
Many have wondered whether body paint is sufficient covering to be considered clothing such that a person could not be arrested for public nudity. This question becomes popular particularly around holidays like Halloween, but has often come up with relation to art projects, political protests, and even sporting events. As with so many things in the law, the answer is unsatisfactorily vague.
In the United States, bounty hunters are sometimes employed to chase down those who miss their hearings or trials in criminal cases.
In most tax cases, the IRS only wants to get the money it is owed, along with some interest and penalties. In some cases, the IRS can impose a penalty for negligence, or perhaps a penalty for filing late. However, during an audit, the IRS may suspect that you have been committing tax fraud.
It is important to understand that the laws of New Jersey provide for a suspension of a defendant's driver's license upon conviction of any N.J.S.A. 2C:35 drug offense - even if the offense had nothing to do with a motor vehicle.
A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between a prosecutor and a criminal defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty in return for a concession by the prosecutor. The defendant is presented with the maximum charge or punishment that the defendant would be held to if he or she goes to trial. Subsequently, the prosecutor presents the defendant with an opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to the original charge with less than the maximum sentence.
Kaufman County neighbors Dallas County and has a no tolerance policy for DWI. If you are pulled over and the officer believes you have been drinking, odds are you are going to jail. But being arrested for a DWI in Kaufman County does not mean you are guilty! It means you need to get ready to fight the charges and our firm can help. This guide will help introduce you to the process so you can know what to expect.
Millions of Americans experienced bullying at some point as a child. I personally experienced bullying between 5th and 8th grade when I went through a phase where I stopped growing up as much as out for a few years. Psychologically, I saw myself as a short, fat kid for years after, well into college when I was actually 6'3” tall and well built. The effects of bullying can be damaging and long lasting.
Many professional athletes over the last two decades have been subjected to humiliation and ridicule after it was revealed that they used steroids to gain a competitive edge. From the Olympics to cycling to professional baseball, it seems no high level sport is safe from the use of such banned substances, a practice often called “doping.” But why are steroids illegal?
Like most other states, Virginia has tough laws when it comes to driving while under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs.
Learn about Nevada's domestic battery laws and the penalties imposed by the state for conviction of these offenses.
We have all seen police shows where, immediately upon arrest, a police officer begins telling the suspect “you have the right to remain silent...” The list of rights the officer is about to recite are known as Miranda Rights. So what happens if the officer does not read you your Miranda Rights at the time of arrest?
It is well known that in American law, in order to convict someone of a crime, the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But that is only one side of the equation. The defendant also has an opportunity to present evidence to support a defense. So what kinds of defenses can one raise in a criminal case?
You may have heard of someone using an alibi to avoid criminal liability, either in real life or on a television show or movie. But what is an alibi? How does it work? What are the legal consequences fo claiming an alibi?
Getting arrested is an incredibly stressful, confusing experience, both for the person under arrest and their friends and loved ones. And, once taken to jail, there is probably just one thing on everyone's mind: getting that person back out of jail. So, how is that done?
Graffiti is an unusual topic in the art world. Several artists have become iconic for their graffiti art works, like Keith Haring and Banksy. But how does the law deal with the debate between free expression, art, and the crime of defacing others' properties?
A 29 year-old woman faces criminal charges connected with impaired driving after she struck a minibus carrying disabled children in the hamlet of Central Islip in Suffolk County this month.
The term assault is used with relation to any number of different crimes and civil offenses, often incorrectly. So, what is assault, actually? And what are the different types of assault?
In many stores today we see the signs warning about being on camera and advising that shoplifters will be prosecuted. Despite these measure, every year billions of dollars worth of products are stolen from retailers. So what is shoplifting, how is it different than other types of theft, what are the possible consequences, and what impact does it have on society?
What happens when famous pieces of art are stolen and law enforcement leads run dry? Private recovery agencies are called upon to bring back these multimillion dollar masterpieces, often taking years to track the work, earning staggering fees, and blurring the line between legal and illegal activities.
Domestic violence can happen anywhere and is not bound by race, religion, or socio-economic status. But, recent studies show that African American women are at three times the risk of experiencing a lethal domestic violence event than any other racial groups in America. Indeed, domestic violence murders are among the leading causes of death of black women ages 15 to 35.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly known as the “ATF”) is responsible for regulating guns in the United States. A current loophole allows individuals to obtain weapons such as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns through corporations, trusts or other legal entities.
Every state is responsible for passing laws regarding local standards for moral conduct. As a result, each state has enacted its own laws regarding sex crimes. Most are common to every jurisdiction, such as laws prohibiting rape, sexual contact with minors, and public exposure. But some laws are so unique and so inexplicable that they are worth review.
Gambling is restricted in America, though its popularity is increasing. Laws regarding gambling are important not only for those involved with gaming operations, like casinos, bingo, or poker tournaments, but also for the average person who wants to know whether he can legally start a betting pool among his friends or at his office, has an idea for a new business model involving some form of chance, or if he can legally participate in an online poker tournament.
Every year, thousands of people are arrested on drug possession charges. Many of these charges relate to very small amounts of controlled substances in a person's car or on their person. These cases are an enormous percentage of the criminal court dockets of every state, leading to almost routine behavior of drug possession defendants and sentencing. But, it is possible to fight these types of charges and obtain a more favorable outcome.
On Monday, September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis opened fire in the Washington Naval Shipyard, killing 12 naval and civilian personnel before he was ultimately killed himself by law enforcement. However, much to the surprise of the general public, the weapon that Alexis used to kill 12 innocent people was legal, since when he purchased it, Alexis had no record of either a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
Millions of Americans engage in creating fantasy football teams. It can be a fun way to add an extra layer of enjoyment to the season and, for some, to add an extra investment in the fan's favorite players and teams. While most fans only worry about who they will start on their fantasy team on Sunday, if their league has an entry fee or awards prizes, they may be engaging in illegal activity.
In recent years, incidences of public nudity have increased. In some instances, this is innocent fun, like ritual moonings in Orange County, California, and worldwide naked bike riding events.
On February 20, 2011, a teenage driver was sending a text message when he accidentally swerved across the middle line and killed the driver of a vehicle heading in the opposite direction. The incident was clearly an accident, but was the teen's action of composing text messages while driving so wanton and reckless that it could amount to criminal homicide?
America's largest banking institution is facing charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for a practice of hiring the children of foreign officials. The case will test how broadly the federal law can be applied to practices as common as hiring an influential person's children in order to gain a small advantage in negotiations.
We are all familiar with the idea of individuals committing crimes and facing the consequences of those actions. But, what happens if a corporation commits a crime? Who is responsible?
On a Saturday night in September, 2013, an emotionally disturbed man ran through Times Square in New York City mimicking the action of firing a gun at police. Believing in the heat of the moment that they may actually be under fire, the officers responded with actual bullets, hitting two innocent bystanders. Just a few months earlier, nine bystanders were hit by police bullets during a shootout with a disgruntled man who shot a former coworker in the financial district.
In September, 2013, a man from Missouri was charged with child sex trafficking in the case of a developmentally delayed girl from Massachusetts who disappeared a few days before week and was later found safe in Rhode Island. Cases such as these raise a number of questions, including which state has jurisdiction, which laws apply, and what can be done.
It seems like the headlines are constantly filled with new stories of politicians quite literally caught with their pants down in scandals with prostitutes. This often raises the question of why we do not treat prostitution in the same was as pornography. Why is sex for money okay in one setting and not another?
Those with sick and elderly loved ones forced to live out the end of their lives in pain have often wondered why physician assisted suicide is illegal and what laws prevent it. The answer is a mix of politics, historic legal precedent, and the black letter of the law.
On September 12, 2013, a New York City driver reportedly hit the accelerator instead of the brake as he pulled into a parking space. The result: he ran over 5 teenagers standing on the sidewalk. Fortunately, none of the teens was seriously injured. But, to the shock of many, officials announced they did not intend to press charges in what they considered a purely accidental incident.
George Zimmerman: Domestic Violence Raises Questions About Use of Violence and Florida Stand Your Ground Law
On September 9, 2013, George Zimmerman, infamous after his slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and subsequent acquittal, made headlines again over a domestic violence dispute. Shellie Zimmerman, George Zimmerman's wife, told a 911 operator that her husband George "was going to shoot" her and her father at their Florida home. So, would she have had the right to shoot George Zimmerman had he threatened violence?
We all know the dangers of intoxication or drug use before getting behind the wheel of a car, but when else can intoxication be against the law? It might surprise you to know that there are ways to commit DUI without even being in a car. In fact, there are many laws affecting intoxication and being aware of some of the more unusual ones could be the difference between a fun night out and a legal nightmare.
For those who have either been injured by a hit and run driver, or those who have lost a loved one, it is clear that hit and run accidents can turn an already unpleasant event into a truly horrible one. For those who caused the accident then fled the scene, usually in a panic, the consequences can be severe.
Much has been made over the last few years about a push to legalize marijuana. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making it the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 19 more states, and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws, for a total of 20 states and the District of Columbia with public medical marijuana programs.
Gun laws are largely a matter of state law. Although certain federal laws regulate some guns, like automatic weapons, states are generally able to control the issuance of concealed weapons permits.
Many have questions regarding whether it is legal to carry a knife (or a particular type of knife) in their location. There is a good reason: laws vary widely from state-to-state and from municipality to municipality. As a general rule, most states will allow the carrying of small utility knives, but even then they can only be carried in certain places. Following is a quick primer on common knife carrying laws.
Sadly, the news is constantly filled with reports of various sex crimes, like rape, teachers having sex with underage students, and child pornography rings. Another frequent story is that of the sex offender or predator who offends again and hurts somebody. But what is the truth behind sex offenders and predators? Which crimes will result in registration? How can you find out about sex offenders near you? Just how big of a threat do these people pose?
In our modern digital age, even having a mug shot, let alone a conviction, can create difficult and embarrassing circumstances. Employers may be unwilling to hire, potential romantic partners may be hesitant to even meet, and landlords may not be willing to rent to you. So what can you do about getting a conviction expunged from your record?
Both DUI and DWI have made their way into our common speech, but often we forget exactly what they mean. Moreover, there is often confusion over the distinction between a DUI or a DWI that can be enhanced by the variations between differing jurisdictions.
Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft that involves an unauthorized use of someone's credit card information for the purpose of charging purchases to the account or removing funds from it. State and federal laws both come into play with relation to credit card fraud, as may your agreements with your credit or debit card issuer.
In criminal prosecutions, one often hears various drugs referred to by different schedules. But what are the schedules, which drugs are on them, and what do they mean?
You have been stopped, either in a car, in a public place, or walking down the street, and an officer asks you to do something you do not think you should have to do. This would probably be a request to search your person or vehicle. So, when an officer asks you to empty your pockets, allow a search of your car, or for some other consent to search, how do you say “no” without bringing on more suspicion and a possible arrest?
A common topic on spy shows and mobster movies, money laundering may be an unclear concept for many. What is it? Is it illegal? If so, why? What are the elements of this crime?
Few sex crimes bring more negative connotations to mind than those related to child pornography. In our computer age where information, images, and videos can be rapidly and easily accessed, this has become a growing area of concern. Although search engines have become better at filtering out inappropriate materials, it is still possible to occasionally come into contact with these matters, either intentionally or not.
By far, one of the most common class of crimes to pass through the American legal system is the drug case. Whether possession or distribution, drug cases have gotten a lot of attention from both the media and legislators since the 1980's and the beginning of the “War on Drugs.” However, these laws are changing for some substances, like marijuana, so it is important to get a basic understanding of the state of the law related to controlled substances.
It is a difficult topic to discuss or even think about, but rape is a real part of every civilization. Although improvements have been made in the legal system, prosecution of a rapist can still be a drawn out and painful process, and often the victims of rape have no idea what to expect. This article will discuss what rape is and what a victim should expect from the prosecution of the crime.
Computer crime is one of the fastest-growing types of illegal activity, both in the U.S. and abroad. Indeed, much of the computer crime Americans face is from foreign sources, making regulation of these activities by police authorities exceedingly difficult. While the Internet links people together like never before, it also provides endless opportunity to criminals seeking to exploit the vulnerabilities and trusting nature of others.
As many judges are fond of saying, ours are courts of law, not courts of justice. “Justice” is an often subjective term that fails to take into consideration the best practices for society at large. Laws are generally intended to create the best outcome for all people in all situations. But, what happens when the best intentions go awry?
Arson is the malicious burning of the dwelling of another. Some states also include other places and things in the scope of items that can be burned and constitute arson, such as cars, businesses, churches, etc. In any event, arson is usually considered a second degree felony and is very serious.
Child abuse is never acceptable. Of course, what constitutes child support and what is discipline may sometimes be a gray zone. While the government stays out of our personal relationships in most instances, when it comes to child abuse and domestic violence there can be serious legal consequences. Thus, it is important to know what type of behavior is considered abusive and against the law, and the legal consequences those accused of abuse may face.
In most states, crimes are classified in one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Sometimes, there are also a third class of crimes called petty crimes or violations, and are usually punished by a fine with no jail time (these often include traffic infractions). Understanding the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor can be critical in understanding charges against a person, terms of plea agreements, and potential punishments.
Prostitution is one of those legal issues that creates an intense debate and will likely remain an issue in America for years to come.
RICO stands for the “Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” Act. It was a groundbreaking piece of legislation passed in the United States in 1970 with the goal of financially crippling the Mafia. However, it has evolved to have a variety of applications today against many organizations aside from the Mafia.
Juvenile crimes are the fastest growing area of criminal activity in America. Juvenile crimes are considered those crimes committed by people who are under the age of eighteen. Juvenile offenders, or “juvenile delinquents,” as they are sometimes referred to, are usually handled differently than adult offenders, but an increasing trend toward harsher sentencing may erode this distinction in the near future.
Extradition refers to the transfer of an accused criminal by one state or nation to another. The recent Snowden case has brought this issue to the forefront again, as the American government has expressed its desire to regain jurisdiction over Edward Snowden for leaking top-secret information about American intelligence gathering efforts.
A Texas City man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a drunk driving accident that occurred in 2011.
California domestic violence law has changed a lot over the years. The author explains how things have changed as well as the influences that spurred changes.
You have been pulled over but you are not sure why. You do not think you did anything wrong, but you get a ticket anyway. How do you fight it?
Homicide is the taking of a human life. Every state in the US has its own unique classifications of homicide, but these classifications generally fall into three general categories. Those general categories are murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide.
Have you ever heard someone talk about larceny and wondered why they called a theft by that name? What about robbery? How about fraud or embezzlement? What's really the difference between all these different types of theft? It can be an important question if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges or have been the victim of a crime. Following is a description of eight (8) different types of theft and what their respective elements include.
The majority of enterprises nowadays rely on information technology as an essential tool for meeting their business objectives as well as safeguarding their intellectual property, financial information and the Company’s reputation, amongst others. Concurrently, critical digital assets are being targeted and the potential impacting businesses has never been greater.
Anyone who has ever had to rely on the testimony of others, whether in a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding, has probably felt the cold knife of panic and disgust slice through their gut as someone testified in a manner they considered untruthful. Of course, many people can have many different interpretations of the same event, including some that seem wildly different than your recollection, simply because they had a different perspective.
How often do we hear the compound term “assault and battery” thrown around in courtroom television dramas or the nightly news? Were you aware that assault and battery are actually two different things? That they can have both civil and criminal implications? So what exactly is the difference between them, and why is this distinction important?
When thinking of shoplifting, you may think of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables who stole bread for his starving sister and was imprisoned for five years. But not everybody who shoplifts steals food because they're hungry. It doesn't matter what was shoplifted, or who did the shoplifting, it is still a crime, and is the most common type of theft happening today in the United States.
Regardless of where you live, driving under the influence is a serious offense with serious consequences, but California drunk driving laws can be especially confusing and difficult to maneuver. The best way to approach them is to work with a lawyer that is well versed in what the laws are and what they mean for you.
One very often used tool in the law enforcement tool box is the power to intimidate citizens into voluntarily giving up their rights, usually without even realizing they are doing it.
This is a step-by-step guide as to what you should do if you get pulled over for a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or a DWI (Driving While Impaired). This is not a substitute for using common sense and avoiding behavior that might put you in jeopardy of being stopped for a DUI or a DWI. It is also not a substitute for getting assistance from a qualified, competent attorney. When in doubt, contact your lawyer.