Menu
X

Category Archives: Criminal Law

The system of legal rules that define what conduct is classified as Criminal law. Learn how the government may prosecute that commit crimes violation of a law.


image

5 Ways to Get the Best Criminal Appeal Attorney

The FBI annual compilation report on crimes reported a 3.9% increase in the number of violent crimes in the US in 2015. Ever since the numbers of criminal cases have been on the rise, and this has led to an increased need for criminal appeal attorneys. Such experts play a notable role in criminal cases and will help you to get justice for your case. Nonetheless, getting the right criminal appeal lawyer can be daunting. You’ll get a variety, but you need someone to fight for a favorable verdict. How can you get the best criminal appeal attorney?

Read on for more

1. Face to face interviews

Visit different criminal appeal lawyers and ask all the questions that you may have concerning your case. Confirm whether you need to pay consultation fees before setting an appointment. However, a casual conversation with attorneys on your list may not give you the right information.

Probe further and have a way of assessing the lawyers that you interview. How can you go about this? Ask the right questions, and these are, for instance, the qualifications and the years of experience. The best lawyer has all the necessary certifications and has experience handling criminal cases for an extended period.

Moreover, ask about the success rate and any specialized knowledge and qualifications that they may have. Also, enquire if the attorney will handle your case or will delegate to junior lawyers. Lastly, research more about each of the lawyers interviewed to get more information.

2. Recommendations from loved ones

Satisfied clients are always willing to recommend their lawyers to others. If you’re seeking the most suitable attorney for your criminal case, why not ask around for recommendations? You may be surprised by the number of qualified lawyers you’ll get. However, there are various questions to ask the lawyer to ascertain whether they are suitable for your case. Know the aspects to look out for when hiring a criminal attorney for your case.

3. Referrals by other attorneys

You probably have worked with a lawyer in the past, if you trust them, ask them for recommendations. People in the same careers interact in different forums, and you’re likely to get a good lawyer from another attorney. Your lawyer may be an expert in other fields but can recommend the most suitable person who can help you out.

4. Online searches

There are several resources online that can help you find the best attorney. Search online and be sure to come up with a list of reputed criminal attorneys. Can I get the best criminal lawyer near me? Yes, of course, you’ll get a variety of the top appellate lawyers from different parts of the world. But searching by location or city will make it easier.

Don’t select an attorney solely on recommendations, study their website and research about their capabilities to determine if they are the right fit for your case. Additionally, find out their years of expertise and go for one with the right experience handling criminal cases. You can as well search lawyers.com, it’s a good site, and will help you to get the best attorneys near you.

5. Check with the state’s bar association

An attorney must register and become a member of the state bar association to practice as a lawyer in their state of residence. The state bar association will furnish you with the right information on hiring the right lawyer for your case.

The bottom line

It’s critical to hire the right appeal attorney for your case. Engaging a professional will save time on tedious court processes and enhances your likelihood of winning the case. Once you locate the best criminal appeal attorney, ask about their expertise, certifications, experience, and this will help you pick the right person for your needs.

image
2 weeks ago Criminal Law

Improving the Criminal Justice System Through The First Step Act

The First Step Act, signed into law in December 2018, has since reduced the federal prison population and shortened prison sentences of almost 2,500 people who were imprisoned for drug-related offenses. This reform act has also released 4,700 prisoners for good behavior, most of whom were also imprisoned for drug charges. However, while the First Step Act exists to reform the federal criminal justice system, President Trump’s Justice Department is limiting who can benefit from this act.

Recently, some individuals who were released under the act have been sent back to jail, while others have simply been denied any reduced sentencing. In comparison to previous presidents, Trump has been slower when it comes to granting mercy to people in the prison system. Thus far, Trump has approved 24 pardons. By comparison, Former President Barack Obama issued 1700 during his first two terms.

Moreover, the commutations granted by Trump have mostly had connections to the White House or have held celebrity influence. As a result, there are still 13,000 people who applied to be pardoned and are waiting for a verdict.

Coinciding with these small steps toward prison reform, it is clear that more needs to be done throughout the reform process. A clear example is found in recent prisoner, Joel Francisco, who was serving a life sentence for selling crack cocaine. After being set free, he stabbed a man to death at a hookah bar last October.

From the evidence, it would appear that Francisco had been rehabilitated. He had studied conflict management and drug abuse, earning certificates for both. He also studied 360 hours of culinary arts classes, as well as resume writing and job interview preparation. After his release, however, Francisco was quick to break the law again. He was caught trying to break into an ex-girlfriend’s house in July of 2019, where he was arrested. She was sympathetic, however, telling authorities she believes Francisco should have been rehabilitated for his mental health before his release.

At the hearing, the nephew of the victim wrote a letter to the House Judiciary Committee that was read aloud. In his letter, he asked politicians to continue reforming prisons, but also stated that people need to be held accountable for their actions. He said that there should be more steps put in place before someone is set free, and that prisoners should be more readily prepared for re-entry into society.

His sentiments coincide with many critiques of the prison reform system, with many in particular stating that the mental health of prisoners needs to be looked at more closely to reduce recidivism. Additionally, some people believe that prisoners should have additional support past their early release.

Currently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) performs a risk and needs assessment to determine an inmate’s potential for recidivism. Based on the increase in former prisoners committing another offense, it might be beneficial for the Attorney General to revise the current assessment used by the BOP when it comes to determining which programs should be mandatory for inmates to take.

Furthermore, there are incentives put in place for inmates to perform good deeds while in prison. People can earn 54 days of good time for each year they serve their sentence. This “good time credit” will go toward their early release, or toward moving the prisoner to home confinement or a residential reentry center.

In order to actually reduce recidivism and integrate prior inmates into society, the BOP should continue programs and assign productive activities to inmates who were released early. The Government Accountability Office will evaluate the risk and needs assessment every 2 years to determine if changes need to be made. The Administration may also be able to continue recidivism programs outside of prison to help inmates enter back into society. This may be our best hope to ensure that people can take advantage of their second chance.

“A key purpose of a prison sentence should always be rehabilitation.  I believe that those who have served time should receive adequate programming, treatment, and reentry plans. It is critical that we are helping incarcerated men and women successfully reintegrate into society by preparing them mentally and socially for the next steps.” says criminal defense Attorney Jo-Anna Nieves of The Nieves Law Firm.

image
1 month ago Criminal Law

Challenges to Federal Firearm Definition May Affect AR-15 Criminal Charges

In recent years, judges have made decisions that may have a large impact on gun enforcement and regulations across the country. These decisions may change the current legal definition of the term firearm by excluding components used in the manufacturing and assembly of popular firearms, such as the lower receiver used in AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles.

While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and other government officials have tried enforcing firearm charges for AR-15 related cases, recent court actions may challenge the ATF’s and similar administrator’s ability to press charges against individuals for AR-15 possession and manufacturing in some cases.

This may have larger implications on firearm enforcement across the country as there are an estimated 17 million AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles in circulation within the United States. Additionally, some experts speculate that other firearm components may fall in the same category that the AR-15 does. This issue may prompt legislative action from government officials to change the law regarding the definition of a firearm.

Check out the details in the following

Technical Aspects of the AR-15

The National Firearms Act defines a firearm as a weapon that is designed to fire or can be readily made to fire automatically. Included in the definition of a firearm is the frame or receiver of the gun, which include the parts of a firearm that can contain a hammer, firing mechanism, bolt, or breechblock. This definition encompasses many different guns that are available to American consumers.

However, the current definition of a gun runs into complications with an AR-15 style rifle. The receiver of an AR-15 is split into two separate parts, with some critical components of the gun being contained in the upper receiver of the frame. This includes the bolt carrier, breechblock, and the ejection port cover. While the lower receiver of an AR-15 contains critical gun components such as a trigger, hammer, and gun magazine slot, it cannot fire a bullet on its own.

Legal Implications of the AR-15 and Gun Regulation

Federal regulation and the ATF’s definition of a gun has presented challenges to prosecutors and law enforcement officials pressing AR-15 related charges. “Due to the design of an AR-15, its components are different from the federal definition of a gun. As a result, some AR-15 cases are being dismissed by judges,” said Attorney Douglas Leifert of Leifert & Leifert.

In 2019, federal authorities dismissed charges against Joseph Roh, a man charged for illegally manufacturing AR-15 style firearms in south Los Angeles. After Roh’s arrest, a US District Court Judge in the case issued a tentative order which determined that the ATF improperly classified AR-15 style lower receivers as a firearm in Roh’s case. The judge went on to describe regulations on the manufacturing of firearm receivers as unconstitutionally vague. As a result, the judge concluded that Roh did not break the law for manufacturing AR-15 style lower receivers.

While Roh may not have broken gun manufacturing law, the judge in the case reasoned that he may have illegally sold already completed AR-15 style rifles. This factor contributed to a deal prosecutors made with Roh that sought to drop charges against him under certain circumstances to keep the judge’s temporary order from becoming permanent. If made permanent, the temporary order could become case law which could be then used in future cases, complicating firearm regulation and enforcement.

Larger Gun Legislations Implication Highlighted by the AR-15

The recent legal challenges centered around the AR-15 highlight the larger topic of ghost guns. Ghost guns are unserialized and unlicensed firearms that may be assembled by an individual rather than a firearm manufacturer. Many ghost guns are assembled from kits that can be purchased online and require minimal assembly to create a functioning firearm. Since federal definitions of a gun may not include some gun kits, a background check and other regulations may not be required to purchase them.

Legislative Response

There have been several attempts from administrative bodies to bring awareness and change to the laws regarding the legal definition of a gun. In 2016, Loretta E. Lynch, the former Attorney General, wrote a letter to Paul Ryan bringing attention to the issue and included the ATF’s desire to change the definition of a gun. More recently, H.R. bill 1266, titled the Ghost Guns are Guns Act, was introduced in 2019. The Ghost Guns are Guns Act seeks to change United States Code to include the phrase “any combination of parts designed or intended for use in converting any device into a firearm or from which a firearm may be readily assembled” in the definition of a firearm. The act may give the ATF and other law enforcement officials more control in the regulation of firearm components across the country.

image
1 month ago Criminal Law

What You Should Know if You’re Studying Criminal Law

As a law student, things are far from being simple. With so many law areas that you have to take into account, it may be hard for you to decide what you should pursue – for a better future, better pay, or to simply do what you like!

For example, almost every area of the law comes with different things that you should know about while studying it. As such, a Bronx criminal lawyer will know everything about criminal law but little about other particular areas.

As such, in the following lines, we’ll tell you some of the things that you should know if you’re currently studying or want to study criminal law – so that you’re fully prepared for the future!

Knowing the Law

No matter what job you want to pursue with your criminal law degree, it is important to know all of the law aspects that come with it. This is not only the responsibility of lawyers or paralegals – it’s the responsibility of every criminal law student.

Therefore, you’ll have to become well-versed in correctional law, tort law, the law of evidence, constitutional law, the basics of criminal law, and criminal law itself.

Knowing More than the Law

Obviously, knowing the law is sometimes not enough – depending on the career that you want to pursue. As such, you’ll need a set of extra skills that will complement your criminal law/justice skills, especially when you’re working in the field.

To name a few, we talk about public speaking, critical thinking, and the much-requested nowadays multi-tasking. To acquire such skills, you may even have to take some additional classes while studying criminal law – such as Statistics, Criminal Procedures, Criminal Investigation, Methods of Research, and so on.

Having Some Experience

Studying criminal law may not be enough to secure you a position – either a higher-paid one or the one that you really want. If you want to ensure yourself such a position, you have to start working on it early on.

For this, you need to build yourself an exceptional resume, with the help of good grades, internships, externships, projects, voluntary work, and so on. You have to show proof that you are willing to take on every responsibility the field of criminal law comes with!

Criminal Law Jobs

Last but not least, we’ll talk about the careers that you can choose once you finish studying criminal law. While most people think that law schools produce only paralegals and lawyers, they give us many other valuable members for our society, such as:

  • Police Officers
  • Customs Officials
  • Fire Investigators
  • Corrections Managers
  • Lawyers
  • FBI Agents
  • Private Investigators
  • Paralegals
  • Judges
  • Forensic Psychologists
  • Criminologists

As you can see, you are definitely not limited to being a criminal lawyer!

The Bottom Line

In the end, you should keep in mind that studying criminal law means a bit more than just studying it.

You have to be fully aware of what you’re studying, while also being determined to learn a variety of other skills that will help you in the future! Naturally, this implies a lot of hard work and dedication!

image
3 months ago Criminal Law

The Main Types of Criminal Cases Explained: A Detailed Guide

A crime is defined as an act that is wrongful and punishable under the law.

There’s never a good time to be in trouble with the law. About 75% of people that are convicted of felony charges end up in jail. There are consequences of having a criminal record. It can impact your ability to get a job or even an apartment.

Being a suspect or arrested for a crime can be a traumatic experience and you want to make sure that you have an understanding of your rights under the law.

Knowing the types of criminal cases is a great starting point. You can then understand the differences between different trials and laws.

Read on to discover the types of offenses, criminal cases, and how you can win your court case.

The Common Types of Offenses

Let’s start with the main types of criminal offenses. These are often tried in different types of courts.

Drug Offenses

Drug offenses can be state or federal crimes, depending on where the crime was committed. There are different levels of drug crimes, according to the type of drug.

A drug like cocaine is considered a Schedule I drug in the federal code, which carries the most severe penalties.

Drugs can lead to other types of criminal behaviors. About one-fifth of criminals in the prison system are there because they committed crimes to get money to buy drugs.

Alcohol-Related Criminal Offenses

Alcohol crimes are an interesting category of crimes because they can be very minor or incredibly severe.

At one end, you have a minor crime like public drunkenness. Assuming that you didn’t get into a bar fight and were just drunk and loud, you would get hit with a misdemeanor.

On the other hand, a case where you were driving under the influence of alcohol and killed someone would carry severe punishments. You would be charged with a felony and likely manslaughter.

Other offenses involving alcohol may relate to local liquor ordinances, like open bottle laws or having a beer in a public park. These are usually treated as misdemeanors as long as no one else is harmed by your actions.

Disorderly Conduct

Different cities and states have a variety of laws that describe what disorderly conduct is. These can be noise violations or loitering.

Disorderly conduct can be described as a situation where you bother other people or put them in harm’s way.

Financial Crimes

About 36% of businesses and 25% of households are victims of white-collar crime. These are crimes where actions are taken due to deception or non-violent coercion.

White-collar crimes are usually thought of as financial crimes. They’re not committed by some fancy Wall Street broker, though.

It could be someone trying to get you to click on an email to give them your bank account password or Social Security number.

Another example of white-collar crime is someone calling and posing as an IRS agent threatening to arrest you if you don’t pay a bogus bill.

Cybercrimes, intentional tax evasion, blackmail, embezzlement, and money laundering are all examples of financial crimes. Why does tax evasion have to be intentional? People do make mistakes on their taxes. The IRS and federal prosecutors should show that the tax evasion was willful and intentional for it to be a severe financial crime.

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes if physical force or the threat of force is used against another person or another person’s property.

Murder and manslaughter are often the first things you think of when you think of violent crimes. Rape and robbery are also violent crimes.

Juvenile Crimes

Minors are held to another criminal standard because they may not fully understand the differences between right and wrong.

Minors also don’t have the maturity or decision-making skills that adults do, so they are held to a different standard. Plus, a minor with a criminal record may have no other choice but to be a criminal for life.

If they are tried and they have a criminal record, they won’t be able to get into college or get a good job.

Juvenile crimes like shoplifting, minor drug possession, and trespassing are usually dismissed in court. The minor may have to attend a community volunteer program.

There are cases with severe crimes where a minor is tried as an adult. These cases usually involve violent crimes or if the minor has shown a pattern of repeated offenses.

Inchoate Crimes

Inchoate crimes are crimes that aren’t completed. The criminal had the intention to commit the crime or assisted in committing a crime in any way.

The intention to commit a crime isn’t enough. A person has to take a step towards committing the crime. An example would be a failed robbery or failed murder attempt.

Conspiracy to commit a crime with another person is another example of an inchoate crime. Same with aiding and abetting.

The Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors

Now that you know the types of criminal cases, the next step is to learn the classifications of criminal cases. These usually fall under felonies and misdemeanors.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are further categorized by many states. You probably heard of the term petty crime.

A petty crime is a type of misdemeanor that breaks the criminal code, but doesn’t harm anyone else or someone’s property. Classic examples of petty crimes are parking violations and traffic tickets.

In these cases, you’re hit with a minor fine and pay it. If you don’t pay those fines, your case could escalate further.

There are also gross misdemeanors. Gross misdemeanors are a step up from petty crimes. They’re also not as severe as a felony case. These types of criminal cases could result in a fine, some jail time, or both.

Examples of gross misdemeanors are some thefts, property crimes, some assault cases, and DUIs.

Felonies

Felony cases are much more severe and they are tried by different degrees. Most state and federal laws define the classes of felonies by the amount of time served in prison.

A first degree or class a felony is can be punishable by the death penalty or a life sentence. Second-degree felonies carry a 25 year or more sentence.

Third-degree felonies have a prison sentence of 10-25 years, while a fourth-degree case carries a sentence of 5-10 years.

Finally, a fifth-degree or class e felony is defined by its 1-4 year sentence.

The types of crimes that are associated with felony charges are rape, murder, arson, kidnapping, manslaughter, and arson.

Jurisdiction of Criminal Cases

If you’re being charged with a crime, you’re going to hear one word a lot. That word is jurisdiction.

What does jurisdiction mean? It refers to who has the authority to pursue your case and prosecute you for criminal offenses.

There are a few levels of jurisdiction, such as municipal, county, state, and federal.

A good example of jurisdiction is a traffic violation. The municipality where you were caught speeding has jurisdiction over your case.

Federal cases are fewer, but they can be severe. These cases involve federal laws or cases between entities in different states where the amount of damages is more than $75,000.

Federal cases can also involve foreign governments, and issues between states and state governments.

If your case is in federal court, you will need a good federal criminal defense attorney. Very few cases go to federal court. Of the cases that do end up in court, most are found guilty.

Other Types of Criminal Jurisdictions

As your case winds its way through the legal system, you may find that the case changes jurisdictions. A municipal case could end up at the state supreme court.

It depends on your type of criminal case and the original jurisdiction of the case. The original jurisdiction means that it’s the first court to hear your case.

A case that has exclusive jurisdiction means that one court has the right to oversee the case while another does not. For example, a drug offense that occurred on federal property, such as a federal park, would be punishable according to federal laws, not state laws.

Cases that have concurrent jurisdiction mean that federal or state courts could oversee that case. An example is if a crime occurred on both federal property and within a state’s borders.

In a concurrent case, federal and state prosecutors will review the case together and make a decision as to who has jurisdiction to prosecute the case first.

The Appeals Process and Appellate Jurisdiction

A case that is brought to court to appeal a previous ruling is in an appellate jurisdiction. The appellate process will differ between state and federal cases.

The state appeals process will vary by state laws. In Pennsylvania, your criminal case may begin in Magisterial Court, which is a type of district court in each county.

The Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over many different types of cases, including some misdemeanors. It can hear appeals cases from Magisterial Court cases.

Cases then proceed from the Court of Common Pleas to the State Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court. From there, cases make their way to the State Supreme Court.

In federal cases, a case usually begins district court. If you lose your case, there it will move to the federal circuit court.

The federal circuit court has appellate jurisdiction over the district court. If you lose your case at the circuit level, you could appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which has appellate jurisdiction over the circuit courts.

The district courts and circuit courts are divided into geographic territories. You can see on this map that the 9th Circuit Court covers almost the western third of the United States, while the 3rd Circuit Court has appellate jurisdiction over district courts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Grand Juries vs. Trial Juries

If you’ve watched enough law and order over the years, you’ll have heard all about grand juries and putting a case before a jury.

A grand jury and trial jury are not the same things.

Grand juries are convened to review evidence in criminal cases to determine if there is enough there to bring charges against a person or persons.

Only two states, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, don’t use grand juries to file criminal charges in state cases. Despite the fact that most states can legally use grand juries, most don’t.

Grand juries are most common at the federal level. That’s because grand juries are secret. Prosecutors lead the case and take juries thorough the evidence.

The defendant, their attorney, and a judge are not in attendance.

A trial jury is a group of 12 people, selected by both attorneys, who hear evidence presented by the prosecutor and defense.

The trial itself is overseen by a judge. At the conclusion of the presentation of evidence, the jury will deliberate the evidence and agree on a result.

The Types of Criminal Cases

The criminal system in the United States is complicated. You need to know the different types of criminal cases, the jurisdiction they fall under, and what kind of trial you can expect.

All of those details give you the knowledge to help your case. You still need to hire a good attorney who can guide your case and win. Your knowledge of basic criminal law can help your attorney prepare a much stronger defense.

That’s why understanding the basics of the types of criminal cases is so powerful. Be sure to visit this site again for more in-depth legal content.

image
5 months ago Criminal Law

Should I Represent Myself in A Criminal Case?

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” In general, it is almost never in your best interest to represent yourself in a criminal case. Criminal law is robust, complex, and confusing for the average person. Representing yourself can leave you vulnerable to making mistakes. While making an error in many other aspects of life is understandable and can be potentially remedied, mistakes in your own criminal defense could leave you in an undesirable situation. Though you have the right to self-representation, it is not usually in your best interest to take advantage of it. Each phase of mounting a criminal defense can be difficult to navigate alone. Unfortunately, the courts will hold you accountable to the same rules that an attorney must abide by. The difference is, they know them. Learn more below about the perils of self-representation and why you should work with an experienced criminal defense attorney if charged with a crime.

Reasons Why Some Decide to Represent Themself

Though it is not recommended (in any situation involving a criminal charge), some defendants still choose to represent themselves. Typically cited reasons that defendants give for representing themselves include:

  • Lack of overall trust for the justice system and desire to make a statement
  • Defendant doesn’t believe that the severity of the punishment will warrant the cost of an attorney
  • The defendant may plead guilty to an offense that has an unwavering and strictly followed punishment guideline
  • The client believes that they are more competent than an attorney

It is important to note that though the aforementioned reasons for defendants choosing to represent themself have some level of merit, they will typically not outweigh the benefits of working with an attorney.

Why Working With an Attorney is in Your Best Interest

Fortunately, the law has provisions in place so that anyone being charged with a criminal offense has the right to an attorney. Even if you cannot afford one, you can have a criminal defense lawyer appointed to you. It is in your best interest to take advantage of that opportunity. If you are faced with criminal charges, then your freedom could be hanging in the balance. A mistake like missed handled evidence, incorrect or lacking motons, etc. can be the difference between having your charges reduced/dropped and being faced with a criminal record. The consequences of even minor charges on your record can have a reverberating effect on many areas of your life to include your finances, ability to drive, loss of freedom, difficulty finding career opportunities, etc If you choose to represent yourself, ensure that you are well aware of the potential consequences of doing so.

Finding The Right Criminal Defense Attorney

Not only is it important to work with a criminal defense attorney, but it is also just as important to hire the right attorney for your specific needs. While court-appointed attorneys have the same education and experience as private attorneys, their typical workload is far heavier. This can cause your lawyer to not give your case as much attention as a private attorney would be able to. However, if you are faced with a decision of working with a court-appointed attorney or representing yourself, it is recommended that you choose the former. When searching for your attorney be sure to inquire of their trial record, experience with your specific issues, as well as fee structure. Lawyer Parikh advises only signing a contract after you feel comfortable and have an understanding of what to expect from your attorney and what they will expect from you.

image

How Your Criminal Record Affects Job Opportunities

For people with criminal records, there are many policies and laws that may get in the way of you gaining employment.

Unfortunately, the consequences of a criminal conviction are not over after sentencing. You’ll have to take steps to make yourself eligible for certain employment opportunities. If you want to move on from your past and build your life, this article should help you.

Why Employers Do Criminal Record Searches

According to a 2010 survey by The Society Of Human Resource Management, 92 percent of employers have conducted a criminal background check on some of their applicants.

Why? Mainly because they are conducive to safety in the workplace. 

Background checks protect company property and protect the elderly and handicapped from being exploited financially and by sexual predators. A lot of employers also conduct background checks to protect themselves from civil liability. 

Companies that work with children must make sure they are not going to hire someone who has a conviction for criminal sexual conduct

If a child is victimized by a predator, and the company that hired the predator did not do a background check, the parents of the child will likely file a lawsuit. 

Banks will not want to hire a person who has been convicted of embezzlement. 

Do you want to work in law enforcement?

Individuals who want to work in police, security, or as a corrections officer need to know that these government employers are required by law not hire people who certain convictions on their record. 

What Companies Can Check

If you have a criminal conviction on your record, you will be relieved to know that there is no national database a company or person can check for a felony conviction. However, most states make criminal convictions available to the public. 

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system gives anyone who conducts a search through this database access to the records found in federal courts. PACER allows an employer to view any case, be it criminal or civil, that a person has been involved within federal courts. 

According to Paul Stephens, who is the director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse:

“Under federal law, criminal convictions are reportable indefinitely, unless your state provides otherwise.” 

There are some protections given at the state level when it comes to employers checking criminal background histories. Several states only allow employers to look back five years for a criminal conviction. Other states allow employers to only consider misdemeanor convictions when it comes to employment. 

If you were charged with a crime but not convicted, federal law under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows employers to examine arrest records going back seven years. Thankfully, several states do not allow their employers to consider cases where a person was arrested but not convicted. 

Your potential employer is allowed to check your driving record at your local DMV. Your driving record will enable a company to access any speeding tickets, moving violations, or drunk driving convictions you may have gotten. 

There is a liberalization movement across the country when it comes to denying employers the ability to consider a person’s criminal background as part of their hiring process. Numerous states are passing laws that make it illegal for a company to ask if you have a prior conviction or arrest on their record. 

Just recently, the federal government passed a law called The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Acts of 2019. This law was part of the National Defense Authorization Act. 

Under this law:

  1. Federal agencies (the executive, legislative, and judicial branches) and contractors with federal connections such as federal defense and civilian contractors are not allowed to seek information on conviction and arrest history until a job offer has been issued to the applicant.
  2. People who are seeking a job in law enforcement that have access to classified or national security are exempted from this newly passed law. 
  3. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will issue regulations implementing aspects of this law. 
  4. The OPM will adopt procedures for private contractors and applicants, which will allow for complaints to be filed that alleged violations of the law.
  5. The penalties will be escalating but can only be imposed after there has been an initial written warning. If the violation is severe enough, federal agencies are allowed to suspend payment to the contractor. They will not issue the payment until the employer has made the changes required to get them into compliance with federal law.
  6. After two years from the signing of the law, federal agencies will be able to use all the tools necessary to enforce these regulations.

How Your Background Can Affect Your Job Hunt

Employers will take positive factors into consideration when looking at your criminal background history. 

These mitigating factors are:

  • How severe the crime was.
  • When the crime happened
  • What type of job you are looking for.

If you got caught smoking marijuana, a company will probably not hold that against you. While getting caught stealing from a previous employer will look bad, the fact that this crime took place over 20 years ago when you were a teenager will also be taken into account.

Crimes that are related to the job you are applying for are the ones that will very likely be used to disqualify someone from the job. If you are looking for an accountant job and have a prior conviction for embezzlement on your criminal record, it is very unlikely you will get the job. 

Anyone that is worried about what is going to show up on their background should run a criminal background check on yourself before you submit an application. 

In Michigan, a person can find this information by searching ICHAT

Problems With Criminal Background Checks

Always check for any information that is not accurate in your report. The companies that complete background checks make a lot of mistakes. 

Here are a few common mistakes to look out for:

  • Reporting an arrest but then not reporting that the charges were dropped.
  • Showing convictions that were sealed or have been expunged.
  • Listing a single criminal charge numerous times.
  • Listing a misdemeanor conviction as a felony and mistaking people with similar names. 

When it comes to explaining to your potential employer about your criminal background, give an explanation that is brief. Clearly describe what happened and how you have changed from this experience and what you learned from it. Tell your potential employer that you want to be a positive force to society and how this job is such an opportunity for you. 

Legal Protections for Applicants

Applicants can find legal protections from two laws: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

FCRA demands that agencies that report information to consumers must follow various guidelines. Arrest records must not include any information that is more than seven years old. However, if the job pays over $75,000 a year a company may go back further than seven years. Records that deal with convictions are not limited by FCRA.

Reporting agencies must take steps to provide information that is accurate. This means the need to update the information on a regular basis. FCRA also requires employers who use a third party to conduct a background check to the written permission of the applicant. If the employer plans to refuse employment based on the information gathered during the check, they must provide a copy of the report and information about how to dispute the report. 

If your report has an error, you need to report that error directly to the company that did the background check. If they refuse to fix the mistake, you can file a complaint with the FTC at FTC.gov. Or you can call at 1-877-382-4357. 

image
7 months ago Criminal Law , Laws

10 Best Tips to Choose Good Criminal Lawyers

Do you know what to look for in a lawyer should you ever need one?

No one knows what life can throw at us, so when you’re in a legal bind a lawyer can be a real help. But with so many firms and individuals out there, it can be hard to know what lawyer pick.

Don’t worry! Read on for 10 tips for choosing good criminal lawyers.

1. Pick a Lawyer That’s Responsive

Time is of the essence when it comes to facing criminal charges. If time is being wasted, you might as well throw the towel in on the case. You need a criminal lawyer who will get to work straight away.

When you contact them, they should be quick to reply. You should expect their legal team to arrange a meeting within 1 working day. Make sure they’re quick at answer emails and phone calls. This suggests that they’ll be just as on the ball when it comes to your defense.

2. Make Sure They Specialize in Criminal Law

Make sure the lawyer you’re considering specializes in criminal law. This doesn’t mean it has to be the only law they practice, just the one they’ve selected as a specification. If you can’t find anything about criminal law on their website, look for someone else.

If you want the best job done possible, you need someone who regularly defends criminal cases. This ensures they are up to date with current nuances. They’ll have all the recent, relevant information to win your case.

3. Are They Experienced in the Local Courts?

As we’ve seen, up to date information is key here. Local connections and relationships can be a huge help when defending criminal cases. Be sure to pick a lawyer that knows the ins and outs of your local court system, like criminal defense attorney Matthew Meyer.

Each court will have its own way of doing things, and each judge will too. By knowing each court and judge’s individual methods, it could be a huge advantage to winning your case.

4. Conduct a Background Check

Before committing to hiring, check with the lawyer disciplinary agency that your chosen lawyer is in good standing. Get references and see what others have to say. This is key especially if you’ve found them via the internet.

Also, look for any peer reviews. Peer reviews will give you an unbiased look at a lawyer’s ethical standards and professional abilities. They come from evaluations of other members of the bar and the judiciary so you can trust their opinions.

5. Ask Other Lawyers

Skill and reputation are important to lawyers – so they’re all likely to know of each others’. Ask another lawyer about who you’re considering. They might have insight that you won’t see in any reviews online.
Things they could reveal include their:

  • Ethics/personal beliefs
  • Personality/demeanor
  • Practice habits
  • Reputation
  • Competency
  • Success rates/reliability

6. Do They Know the Basics Off By Heart?

A good criminal lawyer should know the basics of common crimes off by heart. This doesn’t mean they need to be a walking legal encyclopedia though. What you should expect is a quick explanation of possible outcomes for your charges.

They should know what they’re supposed to ask you in order to check if any nuances apply. The best criminal lawyers will have a level of familiarity with the criminal justice system and its laws.

7. Their Fee Structure Should be Simple and Clear

A good lawyer will make it clear how they take payment and will give you a likely fee structure. This should include a list of services and their fees along with a total of what your defense will cost.

Going for the cheapest isn’t always the best option. You should ask what their quote includes. Always make sure your lawyer is up to the task of providing a vigorous and thorough defense. You can’t afford not to!

8. See Their Enthusiasm

You want to make sure your chosen lawyer will mount a thorough investigation. They should only go to trial when it’s the best time to. They should also only encourage you to take a plea deal if it’s in your best interests. Any good lawyer will put you first and be able to back up their decisions to you.

One way to check this is to gauge their enthusiasm. You should always pick someone with experience. But the number of years doesn’t mean everything. Make sure there is sincere interest in their field. And they must show genuine eagerness and drive to defend you.

9. Take an Office Tour

Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about a lawyer but the state of their office. Ask for a brief office tour that takes you out of the conference room or the office you met them in. Check the office is:

  • Neat
  • Tidy
  • Efficient
  • Organized
  • Well-run

Also, consider what sort of support staff they have and if they’re friendly and helpful. Are the offices local and easy for you to get to? Does it seem understaffed and empty?
You should watch out for:

  • Disorganization and disarray
  • Empty offices and cubicles
  • Unhappy, discontent staff members

These warning signs suggest a lack of ethics and professionality which will likely spill over into your defense.

10. They Are Happy to Take Direction From You

At the end of the day, your criminal charges are yours to defend. No one else’s. This means the big decisions should be up to you to make. Your lawyer should control things like choosing witnesses to call and filing any motions.

Big decisions include whether you want to plead guilty or take your case to trial. Your lawyer needs to take time to understand your goals and opinions. These priorities should be then taken into account as they guide and help you put together a plan of defense.

Good Criminal Lawyers are Easy to Find When You Know How

So there you have it! If you’re even in a legal bind, you’ll know what to look for in good criminal lawyers.

Make sure they have the basics down, and they specialize in criminal law. Check reviews and gauge their enthusiasm to make sure you know they’ll do their best work. And ultimately, make sure they’re putting your interests first.

If you found this article helpful, check out our other blog posts.

image
9 months ago Criminal Law

Crime Lawyer: 5 Key Reasons to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Are you in trouble with the law?

You can be like Joe Pesci in “My Cousin Vinny,” or you can hire a criminal defense attorney. Even if you’re innocent, it’s wise to have an attorney by your side.

Read on for the top reasons a crime lawyer is necessary for your defense.

1. Know Your Rights

More people are representing themselves in court in recent years, and that may come at a price. You may think you can do a fine job representing yourself in court because you did nothing wrong. That may be true, but you don’t know your legal rights.

You also don’t know what investigators and attorneys can ask you in court or during an investigation.

You may answer a question that seems harmless, but it gets you in deep trouble. Plus, it turns out to violate your rights.

You never want to answer questions without an attorney, whether you’re innocent or guilty.

2. Verify Witnesses

If your case goes to trial, you must have witnesses come to your defense. Some witnesses with the best intentions could wind up hurting your case rather than helping it.

You want to have witnesses that will help your case, whether they are forensic experts or people who are character witnesses. An attorney will determine which witnesses are worth putting on the stand.

3. Jury Selection

For serious charges, you may have to face a jury. You have rights during the jury selection process and you want to make sure you have a fair and impartial jury.

A criminal defense attorney knows what type of jury members will be fair and impartial. That will help your case.

4. Negotiating Skills

You need a criminal defense attorney that has incredible negotiating skills. Most criminal charges don’t go to trial. They’re usually settled before they are tried in court.

The advantage here is that you don’t have the costs of a trial, which can add up in attorney fees. An attorney can fight for the best deal. That can mean a reduced sentence and a fair agreement for you.

Without a crime lawyer, you may assume that you have no choice but to accept what’s given. That would be a big mistake that can have dire consequences.

5. Time and Money

You can represent yourself, and in the worst-case scenario, you wind up in jail. That has a massive impact on your life and your family.

A criminal defense lawyer will fight for your rights and do everything possible to keep you out of jail. If you do have to go to jail, they’ll fight for a reduced sentence.

Don’t Try to Be a TV Lawyer. Get a Crime Lawyer.

Your life is at the mercy of the law. If you’re implicated in a crime, your life is at the mercy of the law. You don’t want to play the hero and try to talk your way out of it. You certainly don’t want to come across like you watched too many legal TV shows.

You’ll only hurt yourself and your family in the long run. Hire a crime lawyer instead. You know that your rights will be protected, and you’ll get a fair trial or plea deal.

Check out this blog often for more legal articles.

image
10 months ago Criminal Law , Laws

Are You Facing Conspiracy Charges? Here Are 5 Thing You Need to Consider

Did you know that just planning a crime is a crime in itself? That’s right; you could face conspiracy charges for planning to commit a crime with somebody else.

These charges are a bit more complicated than the criminal charges we are all familiar with. If you’re facing conspiracy charges, the best thing you can do is talk with an experienced attorney.

Here are five things to consider about your conspiracy charges while you look for legal representation.

1. There Are Three Elements to Prove

For the prosecutor to successfully charge you with conspiracy, they must prove three elements.

  1. To conspire, there needs to be an agreement between at least two people.
  2. The people involved must agree to and intend to commit a criminal act.
  3. At least one person performed an overt act in furtherance of the agreed-upon crime.

While these elements may seem simple, there are several subtleties to them. For example, an overt act can be something as small as buying a tool that will help with a planned burglary.

2. You’re Charged with the Crime and the Conspiracy

When you face criminal charges, you’re charged with both the crime and the conspiracy to commit the crime. These are two separate charges with different elements to prove.

Prosecutors often use this strategy because it enables them to bring in more evidence that they wouldn’t normally get to introduce.

3. You Can Be Found Guilty Alone

While the elements of conspiracy require there to be more than one person, this doesn’t apply to those involved being found guilty. Just because your co-conspirators are found not guilty, doesn’t mean that you will be too.

You and your attorney need to prepare a solid defense even though others involved have been found not guilty.

4. You Don’t Need to Commit the Crime

It isn’t the successful completion of the crime that makes a conspiracy illegal. In fact, you don’t even need to do the crime to be charged with conspiracy.

5. You Need the Right Defense

For most crimes, a solid defense is claiming that you didn’t do it. But when it comes to conspiracy, this can be a difficult thing to prove.  You can click here to learn more about how the right team can help you create the most effective defense for your criminal conspiracy charges.

Three of the most common defense strategies are abandonment, withdrawal, and entrapment. These defenses may sound similar to the defenses or other crimes, but they are a bit more complicated for conspiracy.

To prove withdrawal, you need to show three things. You need to show that you took action to abandon the conspiracy.

That you communicated your abandonment to your co-conspirators in a timely manner. Finally, that you abandoned before the completion of the plan.

Defend Yourself Against Conspiracy Charges

If you’re currently facing conspiracy charges, the best thing you can do is seek experienced legal counsel. A knowledgeable lawyer will explain the legal process and the charges that you currently face. With their help, you’ll be able to craft an effective defense.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog to get legal tips and advice right to your inbox.

Newsletter
Location

© Copyright 2019 Halt Law Directory | Connecting Attorneys with Clients in Need. All rights reserved.