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criminal-law Archives

The Trial Penalty: How Federal Judges Can Increase Sentences Using Acquitted Conduct

By Robert G. Stahl Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Federal Crimes, Criminal Law, Sentencing, Fifth Amendment, Trial, Sixth Amendment, Federal Criminal Trial, Sentencing enhancement on Thursday, October 3, 2019

I previously wrote[1] about the ever-declining number of federal criminal trials due to the trial penalty: the additional months or even years added to a sentence after a conviction at trial, as compared to resolving the case by a plea agreement. This article focuses on another factor contributing to the trial penalty:  punishment based upon acquitted conduct.

Tags: Federal Crimes, Criminal Law, Sentencing, Fifth Amendment, Trial, Sixth Amendment, Federal Criminal Trial, Sentencing enhancement

Target Letters and Proffer Agreements

By Robert G. Stahl Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Defense, Federal Crimes, Criminal Investigation, Criminal Defense Process, Criminal Law, Federal Investigation on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

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.”  

Tags: Criminal Defense, Federal Crimes, Criminal Investigation, Criminal Defense Process, Criminal Law, Federal Investigation

Plea Bargaining in the Federal System

By Robert G. Stahl Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Defense, Federal Crimes, Criminal Law, Sentencing, Federal Investigation on Thursday, May 2, 2019

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.

Tags: Criminal Defense, Federal Crimes, Criminal Law, Sentencing, Federal Investigation

Is the NJ Attorney General's moratorium on marijuana prosecutions a "move toward decriminalization?" Probably not.

By Andrew Olesnycky Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Law, New Jersey, Marijuana, Prosecution, Attorney General on Wednesday, July 25, 2018

When New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a memorandum yesterday ordering local prosecutors to temporarily halt marijuana prosecutions in municipal courts until September, news outlets, including the New York Times, called it a possible "step toward decriminalization." Amol Sinha, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey executive director, praised the move, stating that "[b]y directing prosecutors to pause adjudication of marijuana cases, this letter starts that [decriminalization] process." Marijuana trade magazines were even more effusive. 

Tags: Criminal Law, New Jersey, Marijuana, Prosecution, Attorney General

New Jersey Supreme Court curtails criminal harassment statute in State v. Burkert, limiting a common vehicle for domestic violence charges

By Andrew Olesnycky Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Domestic Violence, 1st Amendment, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, New Jersey, Charges, Harassment, Family Law on Friday, February 2, 2018

New Jersey’s criminal harassment statute has long occupied the space in which the messiest family law disputes cross over into the realm of criminal law. Although there are indeed many legitimate cases of harassment that deserve punishment, in recent years New Jersey appellate courts increasingly had noted that the harassment statute too often criminalized “ordinary domestic contretemps” – i.e. the non-violent verbal sparring that accompanies the disintegration of a marriage or romantic relationship. In the view of the courts (and many frustrated family law and criminal attorneys), New Jersey’s harassment statute was too permissive in allowing an angry spouse or romantic partner to file criminal or civil domestic violence charges after being subjected to hurtful or vile insults, even where there had been no actual violence or threat of harm. 

Tags: Domestic Violence, 1st Amendment, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, New Jersey, Charges, Harassment, Family Law

What You Should Ask an Attorney in the First Consultation

By Robert G. Stahl Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Investigation, Criminal Law, Federal Investigation on Friday, January 26, 2018

Facing serious criminal charges, or being told that you are a subject or target of a criminal investigation, can be extremely stressful and unnerving. It is common to feel overwhelmed and uncertain what to ask in your consultation with a criminal defense attorney. Below are some of the major questions a prospective client should ask the attorney.

Tags: Criminal Investigation, Criminal Law, Federal Investigation

ICE Detention Cannot Be Used to Keep Defendants in Jail After Being Granted Bail in Criminal Case

By Laura K. Gasiorowski Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Federal Crimes, DEA, Criminal Investigation, Detention Hearings, Federal Law Enforcement, Immigration, Criminal Law, Federal Investigation on Thursday, January 18, 2018

I’ve posted before about the line of case following United States v. Trujllo-Alvarez, 900 F. Supp. 2d 1167 (D.Or. 2012), which held that ICE could not detain and attempt to remove a non-citizen defendant charged with the federal crime of illegal re-entry, once the defendant has been released under the Bail Reform Act. Trujillo and its progeny affirm that when the Executive Branch decides that it will defer removal and deportation in favor of first proceeding with a federal criminal prosecution, it is obligated to follow all applicable laws governing such prosecution, including, of course, the Bail Reform Act. Once the Secretary of Homeland Security opts for prosecution over deportation, and invokes the jurisdiction of the district court, that court has priority, and administrative deportation proceedings stall until and unless the criminal prosecution concludes or is dismissed. United States v. Blas, Crim. Action No. 13-378, 2013 WL 5317228, at *3 (S.D. Ala. Sept. 20, 2013). In United States v. Galitsa, 17 Cr. 324 (VEC), Judge Caproni followed the Trujillo-Alvarez reasoning, as did Judge Irizzary in United States v. Rosario Ventura, 17-cr-418, in the Eastern District of New York, holding that the Government must either release the defendant under the bond conditions set in the matter and proceed with prosecution, or dismiss the indictment and proceed with removal.

Tags: Federal Crimes, DEA, Criminal Investigation, Detention Hearings, Federal Law Enforcement, Immigration, Criminal Law, Federal Investigation

Search and Seizure - Motor Vehicles

By Robert G. Stahl Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Investigation, Supreme Court, Evidence, Criminal Discovery, Witness, seizure, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Charges, Indictment, Complaint, Travel, Search and Seizure on Thursday, January 11, 2018

The police stop you for an alleged driving infraction – speeding, failure to stay in lane, tinted windows – and while talking with you the officer smells the odor of marijuana. The officer asks you to step out of the car, searches the car and finds drugs. You contact a criminal defense attorney to defend you and explore the possibility of a motion to suppress the search. If you are the driver of a personal vehicle or the owner, you have what is known as an expectation of privacy and “standing” to suppress the search. However, if you are a passenger of the vehicle, or the driver of a rental car that was rented by a friend or family member and you are not listed on the rental agreement, you may lack standing to challenge the search of the vehicle.

Tags: Criminal Investigation, Supreme Court, Evidence, Criminal Discovery, Witness, seizure, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Charges, Indictment, Complaint, Travel, Search and Seizure

Under assault from criminal defense bar and gun rights groups, NJ Attorney General halts enforcement of unconstitutional stun gun laws

By Andrew Olesnycky Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Law, Stun guns, Second Amendment, Self-defense, Constitutional Law, New Jersey on Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Facing legal challenges from both gun rights advocates as well as the criminal defense bar, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino on October 20, 2017 issued a memorandum to prosecutors and police departments halting the enforcement of criminal laws that prohibit the possession, manufacture, and shipment of “electronic arms” such as stun guns and Tasers. The legal challenges to New Jersey’s stun gun laws were triggered by a 2016 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, Caetano v. Massachusetts, in which the Court applied the Second Amendment to strike down a Massachusetts law that prohibited the mere possession of stun guns, even if possessed for self-defense.

Tags: Criminal Law, Stun guns, Second Amendment, Self-defense, Constitutional Law, New Jersey

When An Attorney’s Advice About the “Risk” of Immigration Consequences May Constitute Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

By Laura K. Gasiorowski Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Criminal Defense, Deportation, Non-Citizens, Noncitizens, Immigration, Criminal Law, Guilty Plea, Sentencing, Sentence on Monday, September 25, 2017

Criminal defense attorneys representing non-citizen defendants are obligated to provide advice regarding the immigration consequences of a plea or guilty verdict.  The Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla made it clear that failure to do so constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. 

Tags: Criminal Defense, Deportation, Non-Citizens, Noncitizens, Immigration, Criminal Law, Guilty Plea, Sentencing, Sentence

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