White Collar Criminal Defense – State Versus Federal Prosecutions

October 31, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

jeremy@texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

“White collar” crime typically refers to allegations about business related wrongdoings – frequently with accounting or other executive level indiscretions.

Both state and federal authorities police white collar cases.

Examples of white collar charges can be:

What is the Difference Between State and Federal Prosecution for White Collar Cases?

Sometimes it’s as simple as jurisdiction.  The federal government has jurisdiction over Medicare fraud and federal income tax evasion.  Other times, the criminal enforcement over-laps and either could prosecute if they wanted though they generally coordinate so as to not waste resources.

Why Does the Federal Government Prosecute Some Cases and Not Others?

The federal government tends to focus more on cases of higher financial value.  They also frequently prosecute cases where there are more potential guilty parties and co-conspirators.  You might see a state level prosecution with 3, 4 or 5 people involved in a white-collar conspiracy.  It’s not uncommon, though, to see the US Attorneys prosecution a crime ring with 20 suspects or more.

Differences in Investigation Resources and Capacity

The federal government is a very well oiled machine in terms of investigation and case work-up on pretty much every level.  The US attorney typically works hand-in-hand with agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, homeland security and any other federal agency you can think of such as the SEC and IRS.

State level investigations can be excellent as well – but there is more of a hit and miss chance.  The state of Texas does have a State Securities prosecution team, for example, as well as the Texas Rangers.  At the same time, a smaller police agency officer or detective with far less training may try to put together a white collar case and not really have the best idea of what they’re doing.  Federal investigators can and often do help out state agencies – but state agencies might not always ask even when they should.

Differences in Trial

It’s far more likely in federal court – if you opt to have a trial – to be on trial with whatever co-defendants have not already plead guilty.  This could mean being on trial at the same time with the same jury as everyone else charged in the same conspiracy.

You can be put on trial with someone else in State Court – but it is less frequent and the rules make it easier for you to split the cases apart.

The rules of trial from State and Federal Court aren’t perfectly and completely aligned, but they are very similar.  The differences are a completely different topic which could probably be the subject of an entire law school class.  The differences, though, are pretty technical and can be somewhat minute.

Differences in White Collar Punishment: State vs. Federal

State level punishment can differ drastically from federal punishment.  Federal punishment tends to be dictated by the federal sentencing guidelines and will ultimately be decided by a judge.  Texas state courts give a defendant the option of having a judge or jury impose sentencing – and the sentencing is encompasses a far broader range of possible jail – and in many instances probation too.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 

 


How do I Get the Prosecutor to Drop Assault Charges Against My Spouse?

October 30, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.texasdefensefirm.com

A domestic violence or family assault charge is essentially a lawsuit between the State of Texas and the accused.  The complaining witness is exactly that — a witness.  Witnesses in a case really have no standing to independently decide whether a prosecution goes forward.

So the short answer to the original question is this:  you can’t make them do anything.

“Pressing Charges”

People assume there is an implied power they have to “press charges” against another person.  Maybe for theft or – as I’m discussing today — assault.  I’m sure some police agencies might use the term with a victim asking them if they want to “press charges” kind of as cop-out (bad pun) of making a hard decision whether to arrest someone they really don’t want to arrest in the first place.  “You don’t want to press charges, do you?”

The term “pressing charges” doesn’t really have any meaning in a courtroom in Texas, though.  If a complaining witness, spouse, or victim uses the term telling the judge or prosecutor they want to “drop charges” or something to this effect, the Court has no power to do anything with this information… and it’s not binding on the prosecutor either.

What the Prosecutor or Police Really Hear when you Tell Them You Want to Drop Charges

Most prosecutors and police are big believers in what is known as the Duluth Model of domestic violence.  This is where we get the term “Cycle of Violence.”

The Duluth Model is a theory which suggests domestic violence follows a pattern.  First there is an explosive outburst followed by apologies and calming down, then with normalcy where everyone ignores the dysfunction followed by rising tensions and then resulting again in an explosive outburst.

Law enforcement is likely to think you’re merely in the clutches of the cycle of violence when you tell them you “don’t want to press charges.”

The Duluth model has some major issues – but this doesn’t mean the authorities aren’t big believers in it.

So Should I NOT Ask the Prosecutor or Police to Drop the Charges if Doing So is Pointless?

This is the part of the blog where I inform you I can’t tell you what to do or what not to do (especially not being your lawyer and also through a one-sized fits all blog and not knowing any specific facts of your case).

There is also nothing wrong with talking to the prosector in these instances either.  They really do want to help you.  They may just see your problem differently than you do.  It’s not inappropriate for you to contact an attorney first if you feel the need.  Your spouse’s lawyer probably shouldn’t be advising you on this topic as it probably constitutes a conflict of interest.

It’s important to be honest with prosecutors or police if you do speak with them after an arrest for domestic abuse or assault has been made where you are consider the victim or complaining witness.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 


Podcast: Marijuana Legalization

October 29, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.texasdefensefirm.com

I’ve been doing a podcast this fall and I’m calling it simply, “The Lawyer Show.”  Every Thursday I interview another lawyer from a different area of law for an hour and mainly I do a lot of listening.  The episode on cannabis and legalization of marijuana was as fascinating as it gets.

A few weeks ago, I talked with California corporate lawyer Josh Schneiderman – and believe it or not — he advises and represents companies in the cannabis industry in California.  I learned a ton about how marijuana legalization might look and work in Texas.

It’s been nothing short of stunning for me to see the shift in attitudes in Texas since the time I was a prosecutor here.  It’s still a criminal offense – but for how long is anyone’s guess.  Enjoy the interview.

 

 

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.


How Do I Find Out if I Have A Warrant Out For My Arrest?

October 28, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

Here is the link to search for warrants in Collin County.  Here is the link for warrants in Dallas County.  Tarrant County wants you to contact the individual municipality where the warrant originated.  Denton County also makes you contact them for warrant info.

There is a database for warrants nation-wide, but unfortunately it’s not public.  Checking for warrants can be a pain-staking process if you suspect you have a warrant for your arrest but aren’t sure.  The counties which make you call them to inquire doubtlessly do it in an effort to draw folks who have a warrant into their spider-web.  My guess is it backfires because many people are too scared to call.

The vast, vast majority of arrest warrants are for mundane purposes such as traffic tickets or probation revocations (I love my readers, but I don’t do traffic tickets – so please don’t call me for those!).  Most warrants simply sit there unless or until someone gets pulled over or has some other type of benign law enforcement contact which results in them being run for warrants.

Can Warrants Be Hidden on Purpose?

Yes.  Law enforcement can issue warrants and have them be sealed.  They might do it if there is an on-going investigation of a conspiracy they don’t want to spoil – and then they arrest everyone at once.  The FBI, DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies do this frequently.  Another reason could be they want to arrest someone in person for whatever reason.

Pocket Warrants

Police can also get an arrest warrant but not enter into the national or local databases.  We might see these in cases like sexual assault or injury to a child.

They keep it in their “pocket” in an effort to arrest and immediately interview a suspect.  Think of it this way — if they have a murder suspect and they get a warrant from a judge — if they enter it into the national database, they risk having someone from another agency arrest the suspect at 3 a.m.  This could give the suspect several hours to “lawyer up” and not participate in an interview or interrogation.  The pocket warrant allows the officer to pick the exact time, place, and manner of arrest.

What Should I Do if I Have a Warrant for My Arrest?

You have to turn yourself in.  Most people don’t like hearing this.  Warrants don’t go away on their own and it’s very rare to be able to get a warrant thrown out before arrest.  Most judges and prosecutors have policies in place they won’t even deal with you unless the warrant is taken care of first.  And here’s what I tell my clients — if they don’t take care of the warrant on their own terms, then the warrant will be executed against them at the worst possible time.  Maybe while they are on a dream date.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 


Defending Federal Bank Fraud Charges

October 27, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

jeremy@texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

What is Bank Fraud?

Bank Fraud can be committed a number of different ways.  Because banks are federally regulated – the federal government can typically step in and prosecute if they wish over state authorities.

Some common scenarios where bank fraud is accused are:

  • Utilizing false or sham companies for the purposes of banking;
  • Illegally accessing and breaching bank computer networks;
  • Illegally accessing bank customer data;
  • Identity theft;
  • Taking bank funds through other illegal means;

What is the Punishment for Different Types of Bank Fraud?

Like most federal penalties – there is an extremely broad range of punishment and typically the lynchpin question is how much money is involved.  18 U.S.C. 1344 is the primary bank fraud statute and it provides for punishment up to 30 years of prison and a fine not to exceed $1m.  But what is more important to evaluating the severity of a bank fraud case is the punishment range on the federal sentencing guidelines.  The single biggest factor is the amount of the intended loss to the financial institution.  Other factors include the role the individual had in the scheme, if any.

Additionally, bank fraud cases can also be accompanied by a host of other federal criminal charges such as money laundering and income tax evasion.

Time is Critical

With all federal prosecutions – time is crucial.  There is no substitute in federal cases for having an immediate and open dialogue with federal prosecutors and investigators.  It can be the difference between being alleged to be the center of a conspiracy, an outside player in a conspiracy – or even making sure the government knows you’re not part of a conspiracy at all.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.