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What Are the Rules on Searching Cars in a Federal Case?

This issue comes up all the time where someone’s car is being searched, and then the police or agents find something illegal, and then they’re charged at the federal level, and that person is saying, I don’t understand how or why the police/feds can search my car. A lot of times, what I see is that it’s not the feds that are searching the car.  The feds are investigating it or brought into the investigation post-search. So, now, the person said the police illegally stopped me, or the police illegally searched me, and I don’t think the federal government should...

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What is a Motion for Reconsideration of Bail in Federal Court?

Let’s review a motion for reconsideration of bail if you’ve been detained in a federal criminal case.  If someone makes their initial appearance in front of a magistrate judge in a federal criminal court and the government argues that the judge should detain that person, and the judge agrees and detains the person, all is not lost. There is still a possibility to file a motion for reconsideration with that judge, or a motion can be filed with the district judge assigned to the case. Depending on what type of evidence to be used for the motion of reconsideration of...

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Can Federal Agents Stop Someone During an Investigation?

We are sometimes asked if federal agents are allowed to stop somebody when they are conducting a criminal investigation? The answer to this question, in general, is no.  The feds nor the state can stop anybody for no reason whatsoever.  They’re going to have to have what’s called probable cause. They’re going to have to have some information that someone is doing something criminal.  It will have to be valid information. Otherwise, the stop can be illegal, and the evidence seized from the stop, whether drugs or any fraudulent activity, for example, can be suppressed and not used against the...

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Can I Get Out of Custody While My Federal Case is Pending?

Were you arrested for a federal criminal case? Is it possible to stay out of custody while your case proceeds through the court? This is a big question on many people’s minds because either they have been arrested or they’re thinking they’re going to get arrested or a family member and trying to figure out how to get their loved one out of custody. Some people who do know how bail works at the state level don’t realize it’s an entirely different scenario at the federal level. Most people are not familiar with the process where the United States Department...

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Characteristics of the Best Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

I’ve been doing this now for almost 30 years, handling matters at the federal level all over the country.  I think I have a pretty good feel for those attorneys who I would consider among the best. Of course, I am including myself in there, so a lot of the things I am touching upon, I believe I possess the superior skills as it relates to them. I think the first thing, believe it or not, is really getting a feel for your client, what their hopes are, how is life is set up and what it is going to...

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Federal Sentencing for RICO Act Violations

Are You Looking at a Long Federal Prison Sentence if You’re Involved in a RICO Case? Organized crime in the United States is generally described as a criminal enterprise with members engaging in illegal activity for financial gain. The federal RICO Act was first used by prosecutors to go after mob leaders, but has evolved into a powerful tool against fraud, extortion, and drug cartels. The Organized Crime Control Act includes the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law that allows prosecutors to file charges against the members within of the organization. Racketeering is a term used to describe members...

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Seizure of Home Computers in a Child Pornography Investigation

What Should I Do After the Feds Search My Home and Take My Computers in a Child Pornography Investigation? If anyone is found possessing, producing, selling or distributing any material depicting a child under 18 in a sexual manner, they could face federal charges of child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2252. The subsections of 18 U.S.C. § 2252 describe different categories of conduct covered by the statute. For example, it’s a federal crime to knowingly transport child porn using interstate commerce, by computer or mail, visual depictions of a minor who is engaged in sexually explicit conduct. These subsections...

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Are Federal Courts in Los Angeles Open During the Coronavirus?

For the most part, judges in federal court, at least across the criminal courts, are really trying to prevent litigants from coming into their courtroom. They are mostly seeing video and WebEx type appearances, meaning that all parties will appear on video. Nobody is really going into the courtroom. The one exception that I see in the criminal court at 255 East Temple Street on the third floor, which is pretty much the initial appearance or arraignment court, post-indictment arraignment. Video Court Appearances A lot of times they actually have the defendants there in the building, but they’re doing video...

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Do You Have to Personally Appear in Federal Criminal Court?

When it comes to federal criminal cases, over the last 27 years, I would answer that question yes, absolutely.  There’s no way you can phone in your appearance in a federal criminal case. Now, with the Coronavirus, that’s pretty much the only way the federal courts are doing business.  I’ve had a number of sentencings where my client wanted to appear in person. Basically, it was very clear to me that they were not going to allow that to happen.  One, we refused to sign the stipulation to continue it, so the court continued it on its own motion. Video...

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Traits the Best Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Have in Common

I’ve been doing federal criminal defense now for the past 27 years, and I think one of the most powerful traits that the best criminal defense attorneys has is a well-rounded background as it relates to defending federal criminal cases. That means: understanding how prosecutors deal with cases, understanding how judges deal with cases, and understanding what it takes for a defense attorney to be successful in a federal case. Whether the case is going to trial or whether the case is going to be resolved by way of a plea agreement.  This takes time, experience and a certain type of...

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