Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”
You have probably heard about “Operation Varsity Blues,” the college admissions scandal that is rocking the nation. Evidence of parents cheating, lying, and bribing their children’s ways into top-level schools around the country has taken the news cycle by storm. The public’s interest in the scandal lies partly with who stands accused of these criminal acts. There are many notable celebrities wrapped up in the scandal. One such celebrity is Lori Loughlin, who played the loveable Aunt Becky in the popular sitcom Full House.
Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”
In a deeply troubling case, federal prosecutors were forced to drop child pornography charges against one man after the FBI investigators refused to reveal the source of the information being used to implicate him. The case is unusual in many ways, one of which is that the FBI was allowed to commit a terrible crime in an attempt to capture other criminals. It now seems like the sacrifice was for nothing, as the man (and many others) may have their charges dropped.
Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?
On average, American professionals commit several crimes per day, according to lawyer Harvey Silverglate. He wrote a book on the subject titled Three Felonies a Day. Silverglate and many others—including the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys—think Americans have to contend with too many criminal laws, so many in fact that most Americans are unaware of what, exactly, is illegal.
At common law, in order to be found guilty of a crime, a prosecutor had to demonstrate that a person possessed both a guilty mind—that is, he or she intended to commit the crime—and that the person did indeed commit the crime. American criminal law developed out of the British common law system, which in turn developed out of the Roman Civil Law system. The Romans called the guilty act “Actus reus” and the guilty mind “Mens rea.” A prosecutor needed to prove both to convict.
At the time of the founding of the United States, the federal government was vested by the Constitution of the United States with certain limited powers. The power to police common-law crimes was reserved to the states. The states employed the common law in order to provide and maintain order, and over time, states passed criminal codes or statutes—written laws—that superseded, replaced or were in addition to common-law crimes.
Eventually the federal government got into the act of policing crimes. The Congress passed laws creating certain agencies—the Federal Bureau of Investigators, the Drug-Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms—and gave to these agencies the authority to arrest, prosecute and imprison people for violating new federal criminal statutes.
J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”
Tech industry insiders are guffawing at new cybersecurity initiatives unveiled by the Obama administration. According to insiders familiar with the proposals, new cybersecurity-targeted criminal laws will make criminals of us all.
According to Paul Wagenseil of Tom’s Guide US, the proposed changes to the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would “make many commonplace security research practices—and media reporting on those practices—federal crimes.”
Nate Cardozo, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, California, told researchers and intellectual property professionals at a Washington, D.C. conference that sharing passwords for online accounts or even sharing an HBO “GO” password with a friend could constitute felonies under the proposed legislation. HBO—short for “Home Box Office”—is a cable-television based distributor of movies and entertainment programs.
In sum, the proposals “broaden the definition of computer crime and stiffen penalties for existing crimes,” with maximum penalties for violations being pushed from ten years to twenty years.
J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”
In May 2012, Officer John Snyder pulled over 40-year-old David Khoury after he spotted the man driving erratically down a busy stretch of Torresdale Avenue in Holmesberg, Pennsylvania. When he approached the car, Snyder said, he spotted a gun lying on a floor mat. Khoury admitted he did not have a license to carry the unloaded Glock .40-caliber pistol. The Louisville, Kentucky native was booked on felony weapons charges and released on a $50,000 bond.
In 2010, an unnamed campaign donor gave $1,000 to the reelection campaign of Judge Joseph Waters, Jr. Judge Waters told the donor to get in touch with him if any of the donor’s “people” ran “into a problem.” After Khoury’s arrest, the donor called Waters and told him about Khoury’s felony weapon charge problem. Khoury, the donor said, was the cousin of a business associate.
Judge Waters determined that Khoury’s case was set to be heard by another Judge, Dawn Segal. He called Judge Segal and told her to help Khoury, identifying the man as a personal friend. Judge Segal reduced Khoury’s charge to a misdemeanor. When Khoury failed to appear for trial, the charge was dropped because court staff could not locate his address. Prosecutors and defense lawyers who worked on Khoury’s case could barely remember the man.