The crime that I see the federal government investigating and prosecuting a lot is these robbery crimes where people are following their victims around, either jewelers or other victims with cash from banks and then they will do some sort of a distraction maneuver. For example, they'll pop their tire.
The person comes out to change it, they run in, grab the jewelry, grab the money or maybe the person comes from the bank, they follow the person from the bank and if the person leaves the money in the car, they break the car window and take the money or they just come and threaten and strong arm and use a weapon to take the money from the person.
Also, if they're high profile criminals they will follow around jewelers, for example, in teams to try to wait until the jeweler leaves the jewels they're carrying with them and then they will distract the person or they'll just grab the jewels and run.
Robbery Distraction Crews
So, a lot of these distraction robbery crews are getting away with hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on if they get lucky and grab jewels worth that much. The feds even have a difficult time trying to catch these people because a lot of time that they're engaging in are innocent actions.
They're just walking into a bank and looking at somebody. They're driving behind somebody and following them. So, to actually catch them in the act the way the feds are investigating these cases is, they will figure out who they think is involved in these robbery distraction crimes and then they will follow them around and surveil them.
They will watch them, videotape them, take notes on what they're doing — and then hope to catch them in the act of a distraction robbery, and eventually put all the pieces together. Sometimes this can take months, even years, for the feds to be able to prove these cases and catch these individuals.
Usually they're going to use a conspiracy theory to try to prosecute the people that are involved in these distraction robberies because there's usually more than one and not everybody does the exact same thing.
One person, their job may only be the look-out during the distraction robbery. Another person may be just involved with finding someone or a location to rob and then giving that intel to other people who actually commit the robbery. Another person may just be a driver, driving the people around who are committing the robbery.
Conspiracy to Commit Robbery
Once everybody gets arrested, of course they're going to say, I didn't do this. I didn't do that. The feds are going to say well, if you agree with a group of people to commit these distraction robberies and you play a part in that robbery with the goal of stealing somebody's property, and you agree to be involved in that conspiracy, then we're going to convict each of you as though each one of you did every single act of the conspiracy.
That's the conspiracy law related to these distraction robberies and it really allows the government to cast a pretty big net in trying to catch people involved in these distraction robberies.
Another big issue in these cases is restitution. In other words, what the federal prosecutors usually try to do in these federal criminal cases when they file the distraction robbery against an individual is, they will try to make each individual in the indictment responsible for all the restitution in the case.
Some people have the argument, wait a minute. I wasn't even involved in any part of a particular robbery. Why should I be held accountable for that? That is a good argument and that's something that we argue in these federal cases. Ultimately, it will be up to the judge to decide whether or not a particular person is responsible for a particular robbery; and therefore, responsible for the restitution.
But just like the conspiracy net in these robbery cases can grab defendants who only do certain things like follow somebody, it can also cause restitution to be initiated against each defendant under the same theory that they're all agreeing to commit robberies and they're all part of a crew that is committing these robberies.
So, you would have to show — in order to escape responsibility for restitution in one of these distraction robberies that you had nothing to do with a particular robbery and didn't even know that the robbery was going to occur, and the you can start to mount this argument.
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