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Westfield NJ Criminal Defense Law Blog

Cyber-bullying is a crime: what you need to know

Cyber-bullying is a form a bullying that takes place using electronic technology, such through a computer or cell phone. Most commonly, the bullying occurs on social media websites like Facebook, by e-emails, or over text messages. Recently, cyber-bullying became a crime in the state of New Jersey.

Many of us have made comments online that we later regret. So how do you know if you committed the crime of cyber-bullying? 

Federal investigation reveals threat posed by computer hacking

The extent to which Internet crime has evolved was on evident in an announcement by federal prosecutors in New Jersey of the indictment of nine people. According to the indictments, the accused hacked into news service databases to intercept press releases before their publication dates.

The hackers used the information gathered about businesses, including mergers and acquisitions, in this international computer crime. The federal investigation claims that the accused used the information to make stock trades before the general public got wind of the information. The advantage gained in this cyber-crime allowed the nine to amass more than $30 million before the scheme was discovered and shut down.

What are the penalties for embezzlement?

Embezzlement is when a person in a position of trust misappropriates assets entrusted to him or her. The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice does not specifically use the term embezzlement. Rather, embezzlement is defined as theft by failure to make required disposition of property received.  

If you have been accused of embezzlement, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Embezzlement is a very serious crime, and an attorney can help you understand your rights and options.

Due process and the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The "right to a speedy trial" is grounded in the Sixth Amendment. But this amendment provides much more than a requirement that the government not unduly delay a criminal trial. Below we break down the protections that this important part of the Bill of Rights includes.

  • The right to a speedy and public trial. In undemocratic legal systems courts are often used as a tool of political oppression. Holding a person in custody indefinitely "pending trial" is one way that the government can effectively imprison a person without ever having a trial. The Sixth Amendment ensures that in New Jersey and elsewhere in the United States these forms of judicial abuse are proscribed.

Due process: the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

This post is the third in our series covering due process in criminal law actions. In the first two posts we addressed the concept of due process rights generally, and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in particular. In this post we will examine the Fifth Amendment.

Although it is only a single paragraph long, this amendment includes a considerable array of protections for criminal defendants in New Jersey, which are outlined below.

Due process in criminal cases: The 4th Amendment

In an earlier post we introduced the subject of how the concept of due process interacts with the criminal justice system. Although not all of the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution are related to procedural due process, the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments are directly connected to it. We will briefly cover each of these amendments going forward, starting with the 4th Amendment.

The 4th Amendment safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures of persons and property, and except for situations that courts have carved out as exceptions (see below) requires the use of search and arrest warrants based on probable cause. Evidence gathered by the police in violation of the 4th Amendment cannot be used against you; courts have referred to this exclusion as the "fruit of the poisonous tree" rule.

How the federal government defines a hate crime

If you have watched the news in the past few months, you have most likely heard the term “hate crime” being used. This is a phrase that is often used injudiciously to describe any scuffle between people of different races or religions. Yet, the United States government has specific parameters that give a solid definition of “hate crime.”

What separates federal laws apart from many state laws, is that the national statutes specifically focus on physical violence. States may further add to this. For instance, in New Jersey there are laws preventing intimidation of another person based on specific factors. In both state and federal cases, a hate crime is one taken against another person because of their national origin, religion, disability or gender — including their sexual orientation or gender identity.

What is due process in criminal defense?

Sometimes you may hear about "due process" in connection with your rights in the criminal justice system. But what exactly does that mean, and what are its sources of authority? In this and some of our future posts we will address due process generally as well as its core opponents.

The root of due process lies in the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. In addition to the Constitution itself, both federal and state rules of criminal procedure also help to ensure that the due process rights of the accused are respected from the time of arrest through pretrial and trial proceedings and during sentencing if the trial results in a conviction. 

How many federal felonies have you committed today?

The plethora of federal laws and regulations that apply to you is probably not something that you give much thought to on any given day. But perhaps you should, for you might not realize that you may be committing criminal violations practically all the time and not even be aware of it – until someone from the federal government agency accuses you of having committed a crime, at which point it is too late to avoid it.

In the eyes of the law, you can become a federal criminal suspect almost anywhere and at any time. When you are at home, at the office, hiking in the forest, driving your car, sitting at your computer, buying and selling goods, and more. Federal rules, regulations and laws and the agencies in charge of enforcing them can touch upon almost any aspect of your waking moments. The employees who work for these agencies know what to look for in your behaviors; do you?

Union County couple awaiting sentencing on tax fraud charges

Allegations of tax fraud can result in charges of failure to reporting earnings and income with severe penalties and long-term consequences for a person who is convicted. Tax preparers who prepare fraudulent tax returns for their clients may also risk being caught up FBI and state investigations of tax fraud.

That is what appears to have happened to a Union County couple who prepared tax returns for a living. The husband faced allegations of tax fraud for having prepared and filed income tax returns with the IRS on behalf of clients. The government accused him of including information in the tax returns about businesses that did not exist and of inflating and fabricating deductions.