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Our Offices’ Practice Areas and Legal Definitions
In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately
deceiving another in order to damage them — usually, to obtain property
or services from him or her unjustly. Fraud can be accomplished through
the aid of forged objects. In the criminal law of common law
jurisdictions it may be called “theft by deception,” “larceny by
trick,” “larceny by fraud and deception” or something similar. Fraud
can be committed through many methods including mail, wire, phone and
Domestic violence is any physical, emotional, sexual or other violence
that takes place between people who may be married or not married;
heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.
Domestic violence can be criminal and include physical assault (hitting, pushing and shoving,
etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced
sexual activity), and stalking. Domestic violence charges can have a
serious impact on your life.
Felony Crimes involve drug and narcotics charges, arson, burglary,
armed robbery, murder and/or attempted murder, rape and/or sexual
assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault and battery. A felony
conviction is a serious matter that can result in a substantial state
prison sentence and the potential loss of certain privileges and
Constitutional rights of U.S. citizenship, such as the right to possess
a firearm or the right to vote.
Misdemeanors are more serious than petty offenses, but much less
serious than felonies. Misdemeanors typically result in imposition of
such punishments as a fine or a jail sentence not exceeding a year. If
a jail sentence is imposed, it is served at a local, city or county
jail rather than a state or federal prison (penitentiary). In many
jurisdictions and in certain types of cases defendants who can’t afford
an attorney are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney in a
misdemeanor case. Unlike felonies, misdemeanors are usually handled by
special courts with abbreviated procedures, such as a city court or
Serious Violent Crimes and Murder:
By definition, a violent crime is a behavior by persons, against
persons or property that intentionally threatens, attempts or actually
inflicts physical harm. The seriousness of the injuries to the
victim(s), whether or not guns or other weapons were used and/or
whether or not the alleged perpetrator has a criminal record will
determine the seriousness of the charge. Most violent crimes are
considered felonies and are subject to be considered a “strike” in a
state that has adopted three strikes laws. Violent criminal charges can
include: aggravated assault, arson, assault and battery, domestic
violence, hate crimes, homicide, larceny, rape, manslaughter, mayhem
One of the most serious areas of violent crime is homicide – killing a
person, whether lawfully or unlawfully. Justifiable homicide and
excusable homicide are lawful homicides, while criminal homicide,
negligent homicide, reckless homicide and vehicular homicide are
unlawful homicides. Unlawful homicide comprises the two crimes of
murder and manslaughter.
DUI/Driving Under the Influence:
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and occurs when someone is
operating, or is in actual physical control, of a motor vehicle while
under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance to the
extent that their mental faculties are impaired and/or their blood
alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit. Even for a first
offense, penalties can include license suspension, substantial fines,
community service, mandatory attendance at a state or DMV approved
alcohol program, mandatory overnight incarceration and the required
installation (at the offender’s expense) of a car ignition locking
device. In addition, a DUI conviction stays on a DMV record for several
years, it typically results in higher insurance premiums, and an
offender may become ineligible for credit. A DUI can also
jeopardize your employment opportunities.
However, if someone was injured as a result of the drunken driving
accident, it is possible the defendant will be charged with a felony
(and if the victim dies, the driver may be charged with vehicular
manslaughter). Further, a DUI conviction will likely be raised to a
felony if it is the driver’s fourth DUI offense or the driver has had a
prior felony DUI offense within 10 years of the new charge.
White Collar Crimes:
High-tech professionals, corporate executives and clergy who are
criminally charged for offenses such as corporate theft,
counterfeiting, embezzlement, forgery, hacking, fraud, tax evasion or
bad checks are often referred to as “white collar” offenders and are
prosecuted for white collar crimes. In some cases, first-time offenders
are convicted and sent to prison, even with no prior criminal history.
An arrest and conviction for one of these crimes can have a serious
impact on your life.
An expungement of your record results in the extraction and isolation
of all records on file with any court correctional facility or law
enforcement agency. The records that are expunged include complaints,
warrants, arrests reports, commitments, criminal history records,
fingerprints and your rap sheet.
Contrary to popular belief, your record is not automatically cleared or
expunged with the passage of time. Even if you were never found guilty,
an arrest is not expunged unless a court grants your expungement
petition. State statutes impose application guidelines and waiting
periods for various types of arrests and convictions. The guidelines
provide instruction for what can be expunged and set forth certain
specific types of offenses that cannot. The guidelines also impose
waiting periods that are calculated from the completion of the sentence
imposed by the court.
It is important to note that an expungement does not destroy records;
it extracts and isolates the records. Under most circumstances, once an
expungement has been granted those records cannot be disclosed. A
person who has been granted an expungement can respond that he or she
has no conviction when asked a question about having a criminal record.
Exceptions to this rule include a person seeking a second
a person seeking a conditional discharge, and a person seeking to
obtain employment in law enforcement.
What to bring to a consultation:
- A copy of all papers pertaining to your arrest(s);
- A copy of all court papers pertaining to the disposition of the charge(s) you want expunged; and,
- A copy of any report pertaining to the completion of any probationary or diversionary treatment program.
Delinquency is a legal term for criminal behavior carried out by a
juvenile. Delinquent behavior is divided into two categories: status
offenses and delinquency offenses. Status offenses are those acts which
would not be considered offenses if committed by an adult, such as
school truancy, running away from home, alcohol possession or use, or
curfew violations. Juvenile delinquency offenses involve destruction or
theft of property, commission of violent crimes against persons,
illegal weapon possession, or the possession or sale of illegal drugs.
Juvenile court is unique and should not be treated as if it were adult
court for young clients. While the substantive criminal law is the same
in juvenile and adult court, the procedures and sentencing law are
substantially different. The consequences of a misstep by an attorney
inexperienced in juvenile matters can be devastating. For example,
contrary to what many parents believe, a juvenile conviction is not
removed from a child’s record when he or she turns 18.
Despite the rehabilitative focus of juvenile court, juvenile
convictions are counted as criminal history in future cases. They also
remain on state criminal records databases and may affect a young
person’s ability to enter college; obtain employment, financial aid, a
driver’s license; or join the military. Additionally, juvenile
convictions can result in commitment to a juvenile detention facility
or institution for periods ranging from days to months and even years.
Worse, in some cases, a child may end up being prosecuted in adult
court where the punishment is even more severe.
Appellate and Post Conviction:
In an appeal, an appellate court reviews the record of the pre-trial
and trial proceedings for legal errors. The record includes the court
file, the court reporter’s transcript and the evidence and exhibits
introduced in the trial court. In general, an appellate court does not
consider information that is not contained in the record.
A post-conviction petition is the general name for what is called a
“collateral attack” on a conviction. In federal court, they are called
habeas corpus petitions. By using a post-conviction petition, a
defendant generally can bring evidence before the reviewing court that
was not part of the record on appeal, and in this way raise issues that
would otherwise not be reviewed.
Internet crime is defined as any illegal activity involving one or more
components of the Internet such as Web sites, chat rooms and/or
Internet crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or
fraudulent representations to consumers. These crimes may include, but
are not limited to, advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or
services, computer hacking, phishing, pharming, programming worms, viruses or employment/business opportunity schemes.
Sex crimes include such charges as child abuse, child pornography,
date rape, failure to register (as a sex offender), indecent exposure,
internet porn, lewd conduct, marital rape, molestation, obscenity,
pedophilia, pornography, prostitution, rape, sexual abuse, sexual
assault, sodomy and statutory rape. Many sex crimes are considered
felonies and require convicted defendants to continually register
themselves as publicly recognized sex offenders with the local and
state authorities where they live and work. Charges of sexual
misconduct carry extremely serious penalties and these crimes are
commonly punished more severely than any other crime except murder.
Sexual misconduct is seldom witnessed by anyone other than the accuser
and accused and the risk of conviction of an innocent person is
drastically higher in these cases.
Drugs and Narcotics Charges:
Drugs and narcotics laws have tried to keep up with the changing
perceptions and real dangers of substance abuse. By 1970, over 55
federal drug laws and countless state laws specified a variety of
punitive measures, including life imprisonment and even the death
penalty. To clarify the situation, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse
Prevention and Control Act of 1970 repealed, replaced, or updated all
previous federal laws concerned with narcotics and all other dangerous
Most states have laws that give different treatment to possession of
different categories of drugs (i.e. prescription drugs, marijuana,
crystal methamphetamine), and also make a distinction in the offense
charged as to whether a small amount of the drug was found with the
defendant (personal use) or a larger amount (intent to sell or
distribute, trafficking). A conviction on a drug charge of any
magnitude, even a small amount of marijuana, can seriously affect your
present and future employment chances, your education, your reputation
and your freedom.
Traffic crimes are specifically addressed in state statutes. The
complex body of law that regulates the operation of motor vehicles on
the streets and highways can be difficult to interpret and apply.
Examples of traffic crimes include reckless driving, aggressive
driving, drag racing, and driving with a suspended license.
Driving with a Suspended License:
Driving with a suspended or revoked license is considered a crime, and
can result in heavy fines and possible jail time. At worst, it may be
considered a felony, and the offender could end up in state prison or
with an obligation to perform many hours of community service. The
penalties are typically heaviest if the license suspension or
revocation was the result of a conviction for driving under the
influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI/DWI).
Driver’s License Revocation:
Typically, a driver’s license will not be revoked for one or even two
traffic tickets resulting from a moving violation such as speeding
or running a stoplight or stop sign. However, if the offense is extremely
reckless and/or if the driver has had previous convictions for moving
violations in the past, his or her license may be revoked or suspended.
If the driver is charged with drunk driving, reckless driving, or is
involved in a hit-and-run, the defendant’s license may be suspended for
a year or more.