Federal Criminal Defense Resources for Orange County and all of Southern California
by Joseph Abrams
Federal prosecutors use RICO charges to convict as many members as possible of a criminal organization of multiple offenses. Whereas RICO charges were historically used to combat organized crime, federal prosecutors today use RICO charges to prosecute a wide range of common crimes. Moreover, the complexity and breadth of the law can be intimidating to defense attorneys and defendants. This article breaks down the basic elements of a RICO charge, and suggests how they can be effectively challenged.
In any federal criminal case with more than one count of conviction, the court must apply the guidelines’ “grouping” rules to determine a single, combined offense level and sentencing range. The rules are complex and not well-understood by most federal practitioners. This article looks at the key points for federal criminal defense lawyers and defendants to understand to properly apply the grouping rules under the guidelines.
Federal sentencing in white collar crimes has shifted consistently in the direction of harsher sentences. Amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in recent years have resulted in higher sentencing ranges for economic crimes. While federal judges are willing to resist the harshness of the sentencing guidelines in white collar cases, they are often frustrated from doing so because they are not provided with the information they need during sentencing. This article discusses the most important factors that federal criminal defense attorneys should focus on to obtain the most favorable results in white collar criminal cases.
The vast majority of federal criminal cases are resolved pursuant to a formal written plea agreement. In a typical plea agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence and/or the dismissal of some charges. A plea bargain often seems like a good choice because it brings some certainty compared to the unknown risks of a trial. However, many defendants accept a plea bargain without knowing its full impact on their rights and potential sentence. This article discusses what both defendants and defense attorneys most need to know about federal plea bargains.
The Bill of Rights constitute the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. They famously enumerate many of our most cherished civil liberties, including the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to bear arms. But what do the Bill of Rights say in the context of the criminal justice system? This article looks at the four Amendments in the Bill of Rights that speak directly to the protections afforded all criminal defendants.
“Relevant Conduct” is one of the guidelines’ foundational principles that impacts nearly every aspect of guideline application. It is a complex set of rules and definitions that serves as a gatekeeper in determining the extent of a defendant’s conduct that may be considered in applying the guidelines. This article looks at the key points of relevant conduct that are most crucial for federal criminal defense lawyers and defendants to understand.
The First Step Act of 2018 was a major piece of criminal justice reform legislation. It contained reforms relating to sentencing, prison programming, recidivism reduction efforts, and reentry procedures. This article looks at the impact one year later of the five provisions specifically relating to sentencing.
The enactment of federal criminal law began with the ratification of our Constitution in 1788, which contained three criminal prohibitions. Today, after decades of federal regulatory action and the expansion of commerce-based criminal jurisdiction, there are more than 4,500 crimes listed in the federal criminal code. This article looks at how this exponential growth in federal criminal statutes has changed, or not changed, the criminal justice system.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 rendered the then-mandatory Federal Sentencing Guidelines “advisory only,” the guidelines have maintained their importance in federal criminal cases. This article takes a brief look at the history of the guidelines, from their enactment through their application today.