A Career in Criminal Law

A good criminal lawyer can make the difference in a client losing a business or car license, losing assets, or even preventing jail time. A criminal lawyer is expected to be skilled in negotiation and presenting facts on his client in a favorable light. They will often be presented with difficult cases requiring a great deal of skill in presenting facts in a way that benefits the client. If this kind of career interests you and you wish to know more how to pursue this career, then read on.

Job description

A criminal lawyer is expected to defend clients charged with criminal offenses. This can cover a wide range of criminal offenses such as domestic violence, sex offenses, violent crimes, drug crimes, embezzlement, fraud, theft, and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). A criminal lawyer can of course specialize in one area and become drug offence solicitors, traffic lawyers or sex offence lawyers, but in general they must be able to handle a diverse spectrum of criminal offenses. A criminal lawyer will be required to handle bail bond hearings, trial hearings, parole and probation hearings, and present plea bargains. They will need to be skilled at building a defense and creating a case strategy, and be able to argue motions, and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to lessen the charges.

Skills required

It is essential for a criminal lawyer to possess strong negotiation skills. They will be required to have excellent oral and writing ability, and strong research and investigative skills. They must be able to stay calm and think logically, and have the ability to think on their feet and change tactics quickly if necessary. They must have an in-depth understanding of criminal law and an ability to navigate the criminal justice system. They must also possess excellent interpersonal skills in order to help build a strong client-attorney relationship.

Qualifications required

To pursue a career in criminal law you will be required to obtain a law degree and pass the bar examination. There are generally two routes you can take to become qualified. The first route is via a four-year degree in criminal law or criminal justice. This will include coursework which covers topics such as criminology, investigative techniques, corrections, rehabilitation, and psychology. The other route a student can take is via an associate degree. An associate degree program in criminal justice or law enforcement will require you to have basic college-level qualifications such as English composition, criminal justice, criminal procedure, psychology and various electives. Work out which route would suit you best then make enquiries about courses available. Note that many universities offer online criminal law programs, so if there are no courses available to you locally or you have other commitments, an online course may be the most suitable option for you. As for course fees, if you cannot afford to pay for this yourself, you can apply for a government grant or government assisted loan. Enquire with the university how to go about applying for a government grant or assisted loan.

Examples of White Collar Crimes and Wire Or Mail Fraud

The term “white collar crime” describes a variety of conduct. The term was first used by Edwin Sutherland when he addressed the American Sociological Society in 1939. Dr. Sutherland presented the position that corruption among affluent business and government officials caused as much harm to society as what is commonly referred to as “street” or “blue collar” crime. Thus, society should take action to identify and punish individuals involved in such conduct.

Perhaps “white collar crime” is best defined as property crimes associated with business that do not result in physical injury to any person. This broad definition can apply to complex investment schemes such as those publicized in the Enron scandal, or insider trading allegations such as those brought against Martha Stewart. The definition can also apply to more direct criminal activity such as telemarketing schemes, Internet fraud, and embezzlement.

Some examples of “white collar crimes” are: access device fraud, bank fraud, blackmail, bribery, cellular phone fraud, computer/Internet fraud, counterfeiting and forgery (not only currency but also certificates, documents of authenticity, licensing documents, identity, contractual agreements, etc.), credit card fraud, futures speculation schemes, copyright infringements, embezzlement, environmental regulation violations, extortion, fraud involving the health care industry, insider trading, insurance fraud, investment schemes, money laundering, securities fraud, tax fraud and evasion, telemarketing schemes, fraud involving illegal attainment of government services or benefits, bait and switch schemes, price fixing, false advertising, improper weights and measures for marketable goods, etc. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the conduct that could be characterized as “white collar crime.

Often, subjects of investigations of “white collar crimes” are accused of committing wire or mail fraud, obstruction of justice, or for making false statements to federal investigators. Wire and mail fraud prosecutions are very common in the arena of “white collar crime.” The difference between wire or mail fraud is that with wire fraud, the defendant used the “wires” (i.e., phones, fax, radio, etc.) to further the scheme to defraud, whereas with mail fraud, the defendant uses the United States Postal Service. See 18 U.S.C. yy 1341, 1343. The wire and mail fraud charges are very serious charges. The two carry a statutory maximum penalty of twenty (20) years imprisonment!

You may wonder why you or your company may be charged with wire or mail fraud for conduct that is more specifically addressed in other statutes. Especially in light of the fact that in today’s marketplace, businesses of all types are highly regulated. Perhaps it was explained best in a Second Circuit case from New York: “To federal prosecutors of white collar crime, the mail fraud statute is our Stradivarius, our Colt 45, our Louisville Slugger, our Cuisinart–and our true love. We may flirt with RICO, show off with 10b-5, and call the conspiracy law ‘darling,’ but we always come home to the virtues of 18 U.S.C. y 1341, with its simplicity, adaptability, and comfortable familiarity.”

United States v. Pisani, 773 F.2d 397, 409 (2nd Cir. 1985) (citing Rakoff, The Federal Mail Fraud Statute (Part 1), 18 Duq.L.Rev. 771, 771 (1980)) (footnotes omitted).

In other words, due to the simplicity of the wire and mail fraud statutes and because of the fact that oftentimes prosecutors are unable to identify violations of more specific statutes, the prosecutors simply rely on their “sweetheart” statutes, Mail or Wire Fraud. The prosecutors twist the facts in an attempt to satisfy the elements of the Mail or Wire Fraud statutes.

If you have been charged with Mail or Wire Fraud, or conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud (which carries the same penalty as Mail or Wire Fraud), you are facing very serious charges. The author HIGHLY recommends that you obtain COMPETENT legal counsel IMMEDIATELY. If you anticipate that you may face Mail or Fraud charges, or conspiracy to commit Mail or Wire Fraud charges, the author recommends that you obtain COMPETENT legal counsel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you are aware that you or your company is being investigated as a result of your business activities, the author recommends that you obtain COMPETENT legal counsel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Competent legal counsel is very important from the moment that you realize you may be the subject of an investigation for any conduct that may constitute “white collar crime.” Often, legitimate business people find themselves prosecuted for unintentionally making false statements to investigators (just ask Martha Stewart), or for other unintentional actions that can be construed as an attempt to obstruct justice. The risk of such prosecution necessitates the acquisition of legal counsel as soon as possible.

Understanding Business Or Personal Embezzlement

Every year countless individuals and companies find themselves in a quandary that is the direct result of embezzlement. The truth is, any company or person that deals with large sums of money on a day-to-day basis does in fact run the risk of such money being stolen or having it improperly used. If you are a business owner this can result in a loss of revenue for your company and could end up tarnishing your reputation.

The moment you discover that such a theft has taken place, you must immediately contact a professional lawyer in order to ensure that you are capable of getting back that which was stolen from you. If you neglect to do this, you are simply opening the doors for future thefts to take place.

What Exactly Is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is easy to understand. In short, embezzlement occurs when an individual who has access to funds or property that is not their own, steals from the funds and attempts to pass off the remaining revenue as the only revenue there was from the onset. A person who is involved in embezzlement generally does it over a prolonged period of time. They steal small amounts of money so that it is not noticed by the company or individual that this money or property actually belongs to.

Regardless of the nature or specifics of such an event this is a crime that is punishable under the law.

What To Do If I Discover Embezzlement?

If at any time you believe that money is being laundered from your company or you notice discrepancies in accounting, you must report these findings to a superior. If you believe that your superior is involved in the laundering then you will of course want to take the matter to a person who oversees your immediate superior.

You can also contact a lawyer or the authorities in order to ensure that the matter is taken care of quickly and effectively according to the law. You cannot sit idly by and let a person get away with this type of crime. Even if you are unsure whether or not a crime has taken place, it is better to make your case upfront so that your conscience is free and so that you can’t be held accountable for knowing that a crime did in fact exist.

If you have been accused of embezzlement you will want to immediately seek out and obtain the services of a professional lawyer who specializes in this type of crime. It is very important that you have an expert on your side so that you can be certain that your life and well-being are protected effectively and professionally.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Are Attorneys Above The Law

If you have ever been in the regrettable situation where you need the assistance of a good attorney, then you know how much of a blessing they can be. It is possible that your marriage is falling to pieces, and you have children that your visitation rights you need resolved; or maybe you have been injured in an accident, and need to make assistance making a claim against the party that is at fault. No matter what your need, the right attorney can help make the entire procedure much easier.

Nevertheless, regardless of all the good work many attorneys do, there are a large number of attorneys who operate on the other side of the fence. These are the ones who will rip their clients off, ignore and break the law themselves in order to enrich their own lives.

These same attorneys will use suspicious moral practices to get questionable results, all of which directly affects you.
“Quis Custodes Ipsos Custodiet”, by the poet Juvenal, which means “Who Shall Watch The Watchers Themselves”, is an old Latin saying that sums up this situation perfectly – It is extremely apt in these situations, for if we cannot trust our protectors to actually protect us, what can we do? Who punishes the attorneys when they break the law?

Terrifying Statistics

Even though you may believe that attorneys who break the law are in the minority, the number of incidents that have been brought to the public’s notice is on the rise. Some of the most recent examples of this are:

o In 2001, a total of ELEVEN attorneys in Tennessee were still practicing law, even though there was a list of charges against them which included bank fraud, perjury, and even one attorney who was to blame for his failure to deliver evidence, which caused an innocent man to be kept in prison for four years on a rape charge.

o This year in Warren, Ohio an attorney was charged with fraud, including deceiving an elderly woman out of over $80,000

o Also this year, two attorneys in Boise, Idaho, were convicted of shocking financial dealings relating to real estate purchases at University Place

Yet, in spite of these findings, and the guilty parties acknowledging their criminal behavior, they are still permitted to work and practice law. Why is this, and what can you do about it if it affects you?

The Censure Debacle

While a child is growing up, and if they do something wrong, we as parents would punish them – this is how we have all learned right from wrong. The same in goes in our adult life – we all know that if we break the law, we will get punished. Depending on what it is we have done wrong or accused of, the punishment can vary – from an official warning for something minor, to losing your driving license for a road traffic offense, to spending time in jail embezzlement or something even more serious. There are even times when someone has spent time incarcerated when actually innocent.

However, the same set of laws do not seem to apply to attorneys. When they do something unlawful, as a rule, it does not look as if it affects their job too much, because they are still permitted to practice law. Still yet, if they are punished in a more serious manner, you can bet your bottom dollar it will not be anywhere near as severe as how we would be dealt with for the same crime.

The rationale for this is something attorneys love to fall back on, and that something is censure, a convenient scheme of publicly scolding someone without really doing anything official. Sure, when you hear that an attorney has been “publicly censured”, it might look and sound good on paper, but in fact it is anything but. The only thing that happens is that a public official, or if someone of prominence does receive a warning, it is like being a slapped on the wrist, and told not to be naughty again. Not exactly inductive to making someone alter his or her ways. However, it is not just this that is at fault here.

The Old School Tie Network

When any kind of law is broken, if it goes to court then it is normally attorneys who will work to see that the correct type of penalty is laid down out by the judges. However, if it is an attorney who is on trial (although this in itself can be hard to achieve, thanks to the censure procedure), then you can just about ensure that an old friend or colleague from law school will take their case.

As if that is not bad enough, you will find that the attorney is probably a friend of the judge that is hearing the case, which does not provoke confidence that the case is going to be heard fairly or with impunity. It is this kind of “all for one, one for all” attitude that has seen public faith in attorneys lapse to an unprecedented low, which is a particular embarrassment for the good attorneys that do their job well and look out for the people that matter – their clients.

If you have been a victim of malpractice by an attorney, there are ways that you can bring them to justice, and not just leave them to go the normal route of censure and favors from friends getting them off the hook.

Taking The Law Into Your Hands

One avenue that you can take to see the offending attorney brought to justice is by way of the state governing boards that are supposed to be responsible for attorneys being able to operate in a particular state or county. Unfortunately, this can be a tremendously costly and is usually a very long-drawn out process, which is not always successful, because the attorney can appeal it and generally the accuser is unaware and unable to speak out against them again. While the appeal is going on, they are allowed to continue to practice law…ergo the attorney gets away with it.

Another way you might consider is to use another attorney, which may sound bizarre as you are bringing a case against another attorney. However, just like any job and vocation, there are some exceptional attorneys who would like nothing better than to successfully charge and prosecute someone who is blighting their business and good name in such a negative manner.

If you are unsure of where you should start, there is usually a lawyer referral service in your town or you can go online and do a search with Google, Yahoo or MSN where you will find lists of firms in your city that would be more than willing to take this type of case on.

Another option is to go to the local and national press. People hate to think of those intended to protect our rights as operating in an criminal manner, and they like it even less when it is an attorney who is using the law to further enrich their own way of life. For that reason, you should take all your facts and dates to the press, who would love to chase these lawbreaking attorneys down for you.

No matter what you decide to do, please do not just sit and hope that the attorney will be found out without your help – that is why there are so many bad ones on the loose in the first place.

Fraud Schemes – 6 Main Types Of Occupational Fraud

Occupational Fraud: The use of one’s occupation for personal enrichment through the deliberate misuse or misapplication of the employing organization’s resources or assets.
-The key to occupational fraud is that the activity:

a. Is clandestine

b. Violates the employee’s fiduciary duties to the organization

c. Is committed for the purpose of direct or indirect financial benefit to the employee

1. Employee Embezzlement

-Most common type of occupational fraud (more than 80% of frauds)

-Employees deceive their employer by taking company assets.

-Cash most targeted asset, taken 90% of the time

Occupational Fraud can be either direct or indirect

-Direct Fraud: employee steals company cash, inventory, tools, supplies, or other assets, or establishes dummy companies and have employers pay for goods that are not actually delivered Does not use a 3rd party, the money goes straight to perpetrator’s pockets.

-Indirect Fraud: employees take bribes or kickbacks from vendors, customers, or others outside the company to allow for lower sales prices, higher purchase prices, nondelivery of goods, or the delivery of inferior goods. Usually payment to employees is made by organizations that deal with the perpetrator’s employer, not the employer itself.

2. Management Fraud

-Usually fraud by top management’s deceptive manipulation of financial statements

3. Investment Fraud

-Closely related to management fraud

-Fraudulent and usually worthless investments are sold to unsuspecting investors.

-Charles Ponzi is father of investment scams

-In 2000, more than $5 billion lost from telemarketing fraud

-Recent mutual fund frauds were investment scams using market timing and late trading

-Illegal market timing is an investment technique that involves short term in-and-out trading of mutual fund shares. This technique has caused losses to long term mutual fund investors of approximately $5 billion per year.

-Late trading allowed selected investors to purchase mutual funds after 4 pm using that days Net Asset Value (NAV) rather than the next day’s NAV that is required under law. Investors would capitalize on positive earnings news and then were allowed to immediately reap the benefit of the stocks upward movement the following day.

4. Vendor Fraud – 2 types

a. Fraud perpetrated by vendors acting alone

b. Fraud perpetrated through collusion between buyers and vendors

Usually results in either overcharge for purchased goods,
shipment of inferior goods, or nonshipment of goods even though
payment is made

5. Customer Fraud

-Customers either do not pay full price for goods purchased, they get something for nothing, or they deceive organizations into giving them something they should not have.

6. Miscellaneous Fraud

-Fraud that doesn’t fit into first five types and may have been committed for reasons other than financial gain