March 25, 2013
All criminal defendants rely heavily on their attorneys for counsel, court representation, and potential plea-negotiations. Each of these traditional attorney functions present unique challenges. Given that all criminal attorneys perform these basic functions, it might be easy to gloss over the distinction between traditional criminal defense attorneys and white-collar criminal defense attorneys. However, the reality is that most criminal defense attorneys are simply not equipped to handle the complex issues implicated in white-collar cases, and the stakes criminal defendants face are simply too high to make the mistake of retaining the wrong attorney.
What are the stakes?
U.S. District Judge David Hittner recently sentenced Stanford accounting chief Gilbert Lopez and global controller Mark Kuhrt to 20 years of jail time each. The sentencing comes down in the wake of years of controversy surrounding the financial scandals that rocked the economy worldwide, amidst widespread concern amongst victims that white-collar criminals are treated with impunity they do not deserve. In short, the atmosphere does not bode well for the criminal defendant facing a jury of his or her peers, and it falls to the white-collar criminal defendant’s attorney to carry out an effective defense strategy.
The particularities of white-collar defense work
While traditional criminal defense attorneys can build a practice that caters to the vast majority of criminal cases, white-collar criminal defense work is distinct and unique area of law. White-collar criminal defense attorneys are faced with unique complaints and allegations relating to insider trading, securities fraud, and complex financial violations. These legal issues relate to a distinct set of federal and state statutes and case law, each of which requires an expertise not typically found amongst all-purpose criminal attorneys. What white-collar crimes usually have in common, and also renders them distinct from the various unrelated crimes that most criminal attorneys handle is the presence of deceit, and the absence of violence. Furthermore, white-collar crimes often involve actions carried out under the authority and direction of a criminal defendant. Such factual circumstances implicate laws of agency and corporate responsibility that run-of-the-mill criminal attorneys simply do not interact with on a daily basis. While every attorney learns the basics of each area of law when they go to law school, only an attorney that practices a particular area of law on a regular basis can truly provide effective representation. When it comes to criminal cases, there is simply too much at stake to place a criminal defendant’s fate in the hands of an attorney with no experience in the relevant field.
Retain an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney
White-collar criminal defendants may face a more hostile environment today than they have in years, both in the courtroom and in the public eye. It pays to contact and retain an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows the issues implicated in white-collar criminal cases. The reason is simple: when your liberty is at stake, you cannot afford to lose.
December 3, 2012
A driving under the influence charge, also called a DUI or OVI, is a serious criminal offense that is far more than an inconvenience. Even first-time offenders face a mandatory three days in jail or a residential driverâ€™s intervention program. They must content with loss of their driverâ€™s license for a mandatory minimum of six months up to a possible three years. There are also substantial financial costs including fines, court costs, probation costs, driverâ€™s license reinstatement fees, and a hefty increase in auto liability premiums.
A driver with a prior OVI offense faces substantially greater jail time or residential alcohol treatment, heavier fines and loss of driving privileges for five years and more. Ohio law requires that an ignition interlock device be installed on a convicted driverâ€™s vehicles in any case involving either a high-level breath test or multiple offenses. This means the driver must blow into the device before the car will start. These devices are costly, embarrassing, and intrusive.
What Your DUI Attorney Can Do
Your DUI lawyer can advise you on what defenses are available and what your options may be. For example, the following issues may be present in your case:
â€˘ Whether the stop of your car was legally valid
â€˘ Your performance on field sobriety tests
â€˘ The validity of the officerâ€™s opinion of your impairment
â€˘ The credibility and validity of the breath test
Along with improper vehicle stops, how the officer conducts or interprets any field sobriety tests is often incorrect or does not follow protocol. Also, if the officer did not actually see you driving, there are issues of identification and the timing of any drinking in relation to the movement of the vehicle.
Further, a breath test machine must be calibrated correctly. If you have a particular medical condition, it may affect the breath test results as well. There are also multiple issues presently being litigated in regard to the Intoxilyzer 8000, the newest breath testing device being utilized in the state of Ohio.
Many times issues arise that can result in dismissal or mitigation of the offense. In many instances, hiring a skilled and knowledgeable DUI/OVI attorney can result in a favorable resolution of these serious charges.
This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC
June 27, 2012
Due process of law is the constitutional guarantee that any legal proceedings brought against a criminal defendant will be fair. It also ensures the defendant will be given reasonable notice of the charges and proceedings and will have an opportunity to be heard in court before being deprived of life, liberty or property.
Any law a criminal defendant is being charged with violating must be reasonable and not applied arbitrarily. A criminal defense attorney is a guarantor that the constitutional rights of any criminal client are protected.
There is substantive due process and procedural due process. The former creates and regulates rights, while procedural due process includes the right to counsel, a speedy trial and to confront witnesses. Criminal defense attorneys also ensure that certain procedures are followed in coherence with constitutional protections.
Examples of Due Process
The first ten amendments to the US Constitution â€” also known as the Bill of Rights â€” embody the constitutional guarantees that limit the government’s exercise of power against the individual. Due process rights that apply to criminal defendants include:
â€˘ Freedom from self-incrimination
â€˘ Right to counsel in criminal prosecutions
â€˘ Charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt
â€˘ Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
â€˘ Right to a public trial
â€˘ Right to an impartial jury of your peers
Criminal defense attorneys protect the rights of their clients by filing motions to challenge evidence which was illegally obtained; by not allowing prejudicial or irrelevant evidence to be heard or considered; and by holding the government to its burden of proof.
Skilled attorneys attack the credibility of witnesses and cast doubt on other evidence brought against their clients. Attorneys also demand from the state access to exculpatory evidence and any evidence that will be used against their client so that a viable and reasonable defense can be presented.
This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC
June 12, 2012
A party in a civil case who loses at trial or otherwise on the merits on the case has a right to appeal the decision of the court or jury in most instances. This may include final judgments in personal injury cases (including decisions granting summary judgment), employment litigation, business disputes and other matters.
In a criminal court case, a defendant has a right to appeal his or her conviction or sentence unless a valid appellate waiver exists.
Experienced litigators will create a record for appeal by objecting to the introduction of certain evidence or other rulings by the court. Trial lawyers also create a record by presenting pretrial motions regarding evidentiary matters called motions in limine, which seek to exclude certain objectionable or unfairly prejudicial testimony or evidence from the juryâ€™s consideration.
In civil and criminal cases, a common issue for appeal is the instructions given to a jury prior to deliberation. Jury instructions advise the jury of the elements of the law for the particular case; define the burden of proof and which party has to meet it; and what must be proven to support a verdict for a plaintiff or prosecution. In each case, the jury instructions guide the jury in their determination of the outcome.
An appeallate court will not act as a second jury or factfinder, re-considering the evidence presented at trial. Rather, appellate courts review whether the law was followed before the trial court or whether there were harmful errors in the process that resulted in a reversible error. Additional appellate issues which are often raised include:
â€˘ Whether the trial courtâ€™s decisions allowing certain evidence to be heard, or excluded, was harmful error?
â€˘ Whether the jury instructions were appropriate?
â€˘ Whether summary judgment was properly entered?
â€˘ Whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to sustain conviction?
â€˘ Whether the sentence imposed upon a criminal defendant was reasonable?
There are time limits which apply to most appeals that must be met. As such, determining your rights and intention to pursue an appeal should be done as soon as possible following trial or other decision terminating the case.
This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC
October 25, 2010
Bail is a monetary fee that allows a person charged with a crime to be released from jail pending the outcome of their case. In general, non-serious crimes often allow defendants to post bail immediately. However, defendants charged with more serious crimes are detained until a bail hearing is held.
The cost and conditions of bail (also commonly referred to as â€śbondâ€ť) can vary depending on a wide range of factors. Some of those factors include the severity of the alleged crime, the defendantâ€™s criminal history, and ties the defendant has to the community. Once an amount and the terms of bail are determined, the defendant (or someone on that personâ€™s behalf) may pay the bail (or â€śpost the bondâ€ť). Assuming the defendant follows all of the terms of bail, the posted amount will be returned following the completion of the case.
To discuss your specific circumstance, contact one of the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Laufman & Napolitano.
February 4, 2009
It is time for Southwest Ohio to get on board with open discovery.
As stated in this article (http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/02/prosecutor_bill_mason_to_offer.html), prosecutors all over the state are respecting the rights of the accused in their counties and turning over material evidence to defense attorneys early in litigation.Â In the process, defendants’ rights are being protected, costs are lowered, and societal trust in the system rises.
November 13, 2008
The time when individuals are forced to make critical decisions concerning the charges they face in Southwestern Ohio without seeing the evidence against them might be coming to an end.
As reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/11/cuyahoga_judges_approve_open_d.html) judges in Cuyahoga County have approved changes to their local criminal rules calling for “open discovery” between prosecutors and defense counsel.Â Once the changes take effect in 90 days, Cuyahoga County prosecutors will have to provide police reports, statements of defendants and witnesses, names and addresses of witnesses, lab and hospital reports and criminal records of defendants and witnesses within a week of an accused’s initial pretrial hearing.Â Defense counsel will also be required to provide discovery in advance of trial.
This is a significant step in protecting the rights of accused individuals not only in Cuyahoga County, but also in Southwestern Ohio.Â Movements to adopt open discovery rules in counties such as Hamilton County have been resisted.Â Hopefully seeing our neigbors in other counties adopt rules to protect the rights of those accused of crimes will pressure local judges to affect similar reforms.
July 14, 2008
Big Brother is watching. And their power to search you without a warrant may have just gotten broader.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held last week that a challenge to the government’s power to review your private emails without a warrant was not ready to be considered. But, if the Court does not re-address the issues raised, this could be a major blow to civil liberties and your constitutional rights. In this case, the government argued that it is entitled to search private email accounts if it believes there is criminal activity afoot. The government is required to get a warrant within 90 days after the search, which, by the way, it failed to do here.
Choosing the right criminal defense attorney is often one of the most important decisions a person can make when accused of committing a crime. DefendantsÂ often think they do not have the money to hire their own criminal defense attorney, even though they have family and friends whoÂ could help and are never asked. You need a criminal defense attorney who has the experience, dedication and resources to help you defend your case.