We receive many calls over the course of the year from potential clients, telling us they received a “target letter” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office or State Attorney General’s Office and that they are considering whether to go to an interview with law enforcement under a “proffer agreement.”
NY & NJ Criminal Defense Law Blog
Recent statistics show that about 96% of the criminal cases in federal court are resolved through guilty pleas. The number of cases going to trial has dramatically decreased in the past ten years. Thus, today’s criminal defense attorneys must be adept at negotiating the best possible resolution for their clients that choose to plead guilty.
I have written a number of times about modern technology being used in criminal investigations, from cellphone towers tracking our phones, to Alexa and other smart home devices used to record internet searches and conversations, to security cameras used to spy on their homeowners. Recently, the New York Times and other media outlets reported that Google has the ability to track which cellphones are in the area of a crime scene at a particular time. Once law enforcement narrows down which phones they are interested in, they obtain a warrant for the particular cellphone owner’s information.
Anyone facing a federal sentencing knows how difficult and daunting the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines can be for many types of crimes. For financial crimes, the amount of loss, number of victims, complexity of the scheme and the like can quickly ratchet someone with no prior offenses into the 10+ year range. With a system that does not allow for early release on parole, like most states, and that credits a defendant with only 54 days a year good time credit, sentencing in the federal system can be particularly harsh.
In their simplest form, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are digital representations of value that can be traded through an exchange and stored in digital wallets secured by 26-35 character long case sensitive account numbers that require a private key, similar to a password or pin to access. Virtual currency is not legal tender issued or guaranteed by any government. Rather, its value is determined by consensus within a community of users. Since these transactions are done on the internet and through exchanges using cash, wire transfers, or credit cards to a host of web-based businesses, the purchasers’ identities and source of funds are more difficult to uncover.
In many cases, defense attorneys utilize various experts to assist in their defense of a client. Those experts may include private investigators, forensic accountants, psychologists, DNA analysts, accident reconstruction analysis and economists. While experts can provide invaluable assistance in understanding the prosecution’s theory of the case and in analyzing and attacking the government’s evidence, special care must be taken to protect and preserve the attorney-client and work-product privileges.
The federal government has hired 300 additional prosecutors and created the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit and the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team to investigate, uncover, and prosecute the prescribing and dispensing of opioids by healthcare professionals – doctors and pharmacists – as well as street-level sales of opioids and fentanyl. Since January 2018, over 200 doctors have been charged.
Stahl Criminal Defense prides itself on the detailed, exhaustively researched and nuanced sentencing presentations we make in federal and state court matters. Laura Gasiorowski, a member of the firm for 15 years, is especially gifted in working with clients and their families in crafting powerful presentations. With her background in death penalty mitigation, she is well equipped to investigate the client’s social, mental, and educational history and uncover the type of powerful mitigation evidence that often makes the difference. Knowing and understanding the Guidelines is crucial, but in addition to making the right legal arguments a sentencing memo has to individualize the client and present whatever personal characteristics, social history, or circumstances that mitigate culpability.
Recent cases continue to reveal the advancements in technology and how they are used, both properly and improperly, to track our movements, actions and private lives.
First, new cars have increasingly sophisticated technology. Roadside assistance features and other devices track our vehicles’ locations, speed and other relevant activities. Most vehicles are now equipped with Event Data Recorders, also known as a vehicle black box. Local police departments are now equipped to retrieve and analyze the black box data and use it against you in court. As of May 2018, almost all U.S. vehicles come standard with a black box installed.
In the multiple investigations surrounding the Trump presidency and his administration, former National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, pled guilty to lying to the FBI and cooperated with the government. He cooperated ostensibly to earn a “substantial assistance letter” and downward departure motion, which is filed by the government on a defendant’s behalf to seek a sentence below the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines’ range, in this case 0 – 6 months.