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April 2014 Archives

Even a Misdemeanor Can Cause Real Problems

Many people think that a misdemeanor conviction is "no big thing."  In truth, in the federal system, there are very few misdemeanor convictions, usually exclusively obtained through very diligent plea bargaining.  When facing serious felonies with all the potential collateral consequences (beyond prison even), getting a misdemeanor plea bargain is often the very best way out.  We've been able on occasion to negotiate misdemeanor pleas for our clients at Burdick Law, P.C. in federal criminal cases, but it is very rare.

"Why do you need a lawyer if you haven't done anything wrong?"

This is what suspect after suspect is told by most investigators - including federal agents - when they say they want to talk with an attorney before being interviewed.  To make matters worse, federal agents have been employing a long-standing "tradition" of tricking interrogation subjects into making a false statement -- which, though not a single person outside the criminal justice system knows is a five-year felony.  It's under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1001 -- false statements to a federal agent.

NACDL in the Forefront of Clemency Action

I've always been very proud to be a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers ("NACDL") and never more so than these days when the organization is poised to help process huge numbers of clemency applications for non-violent offenders serving Draconian prison sentences.  As the NACDL press release explained:

Government Looks for Basketball-Score Sentences - Again

Now the government is trying to get a federal judge to sentence 3 public officials convicted of corruption to up to 150 years in prison.  The defendants went to trial and were convicted, though they had very fine lawyers.  But what the government is doing is trying to impose a "trial penalty" imprisonment sentence.  The government wants everyone to plead guilty, and to accomplish this, their tactic is to seek absurd sentences so that "the next guy" will be more willing to plead and cooperate, instead of exercising his constitutional right to make the government prove him guilty.