We get hit, and we hit back. It is a primal instinctual reaction. It is a fundamental part of being human. Yet, what does that reaction signify? Most likely, we don’t think deeply about it. Indeed, in the moment, the reaction is sudden, immediate, and done without contemplation. Sentencing Objectives Built Into Our Instinct…Continue Reading What Are The 5 Sentencing Objectives That Justify Criminal Punishment?
Although racial bias is prohibited in the jury selection process, many criminal defendants still find themselves having to challenge the government’s reasons for excluding potential jurors that are of the same race as the defendant. The jury selection process can be one of the most influential aspects of a criminal trial on the outcome, which…Continue Reading Examining Racial Bias in Jury Selection
Scientific evidence can be very persuasive to a jury and has the potential to seriously sway the outcome of a trial. This is why the Supreme Court put standards in place for how a district court must evaluate whether expert testimony and scientific evidence can be admitted at trial. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals…Continue Reading The Daubert Standard and Admitting Expert Witness Testimony
If a defendant is charged with a crime, the government may also bring a criminal forfeiture action to collect the property used in the criminal activity. When the defendant’s actual property is not available, the government can obtain an order for the value of the property instead. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tackled the…Continue Reading Criminal Forfeiture and Substitute Property
Fines and asset forfeiture are common elements of sentencing in cases involving theft or fraud. The government can seize a defendant’s assets that are alleged to have been involved in his criminal activities. However, the court may order that assets be turned back over to the defendant at sentencing. One of the ways that defendants…Continue Reading Eighth Amendment's Prohibition on Excessive Fines
If a criminal defendant is at the point of already being convicted and sentenced to prison time for a federal offense, then a sentence reduction is a positive development. But what happens if the district court disagrees with an appellate court order for a sentence reduction based on the unreasonableness of the original sentence? The…Read More Sentence Reduction: Adopting the Letter, Not the Spirit of the Law
According to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), defendants convicted of crimes in federal court are required to pay their victims criminal restitution for the losses that they suffered. The case of Lagos v. United States involved an issue of interpretation over the act’s language regarding what types of losses would be eligible for restitution.…Continue Reading Supreme Court Narrows Federal Criminal Restitution
Tax evasion is a serious crime that can result in prison time and hefty fines. Defendants convicted of tax-related crimes typically receive a downward variance from the applicable sentencing range according to the Sentencing Guidelines. However, the opposite proved true for a wealthy defendant involved in a high-profile tax case in New York. The Second…Continue Reading Second Circuit Affirms $10 Million Fine for Tax Evasion
A guilty plea does not necessarily mean that a criminal defendant gives up the right to appeal his conviction. If the defendant seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the statute that he pled guilty to violating, he may still have the right to a direct appeal from a district court’s decision. This is the principle…Continue Reading The Effect of a Guilty Plea on an Appeal
The Supreme Court is preparing to decide a complex appeal in Moore v. Texas, which involves a defendant who was convicted of murder and sentenced to execution but claims that he is intellectually disabled. Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in 2002 in Atkins v. Virginia, it is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment to execute…Continue Reading Capital Punishment and the Eighth Amendment
A defendant on trial in a criminal proceeding is entitled to an attorney for his defense. In the event that a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one. This tenet of U.S. criminal law is widely known and has been a basic principle of criminal procedure since the country was founded. The…Continue Reading Does Right to Counsel Begin Before Indictment?
Employees of corporations have varying levels of access to the corporation’s information that the business may consider confidential. One significant source of criminal prosecutions is the use of confidential information by employees for their own personal gain and to the detriment of the company. When does benefiting from confidential business information cross the legal line?…Continue Reading Wire Fraud and Stealing Confidential Business Information
Convictions for crimes involving fraud, embezzlement or theft typically result in the defendants having to pay some amount of money in federal criminal restitution upon sentencing. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the imposition of a federal criminal restitution order in United States v. Johnson over the objections of a defendant who argued…Continue Reading Challenging Federal Criminal Restitution Orders for Tax Related Crimes
One thing about any particular industry, field of study, business, or technology is that the area seems to have its own language. The computer world, for example, seems to have a completely foreign language involving RAM, gigabytes, memory sticks, and USB ports. And what about Twitter? Does anyone remember the times when we had a…Continue Reading Sentencing Meaning: What Does All The Jargon Mean?
What happens when a federal district court imposes a seemingly draconian or arbitrary condition on a defendant’s federal supervised release? Is this condition allowed to stand? The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue in United States v. Mears and provided a necessary refresher on the requirement that any federal supervised release conditions…Continue Reading Reexamining Federal Supervised Release Conditions