What Are the Different Types of Criminal Law Cases?

Criminal law covers all offenses by an individual against the State. A crime is always against the State, and when a criminal is punished, it is a retribution for the State. There are several types of criminal law cases that are tried in the courts. These crimes are generally categorized into General Offenses, DUI/Traffic Offenses, Sex Offenses, White Collar Crimes, and other miscellaneous offenses that can be tried in courts.

General offenses include aggravated assault, kidnapping, manslaughter, robbery, murder, embezzlement, false statements, perjury, resisting arrest, theft, among other crimes that fall under general offenses. Crimes that fall under traffic/DUI are drag racing, aggravated driving, aggravated DUI, driving on suspended license, endangerment, reckless driving, extreme DUI, and misdemeanor DUI among others.

Sex offenses are those committed against the chastity of the person. Whether you are a man or a woman, so long as you were offended in some way in relation to your person, pertaining to your gender, the act itself can still be considered as a sex offense. This includes sex abuse, molestation of a child, sex assault, public sexual indecency, computer crimes, failure to register as a sex offender, and public misconduct with a minor.

White collar crimes are those that are considered as environmental crimes, fraudulent schemes, extortion, money laundering, professional licensing issues, regulatory crimes, and racketeering.

Even with the diversity of crimes that are adjudicated daily, once you are charged with any of these crimes, or you happen to be a victim, you should seek out the counsel of a good lawyer to defend you and your rights in the proper court of law. While it is true that anyone can file a criminal case in the courts, it is imperative for you to seek the advice of a good criminal lawyer. If you were the victim, and you happen to find yourself terribly abused, you always have the option to seek redress in court. And, if you are the one arrested because of a criminal charge, you are also entitled to equal protection by the court since you are still presumed innocent until the court has convicted you of the crime being charged.

Crimes against the person per se, such as murder, vehicular manslaughter, assault, and rape usually involve a greater degree of punishment since life was directly inflicted upon. Although in rape, depending on the circumstances, life may have not been taken but the injury caused is always for a lifetime. More often, these cases capture the public interest than petty crimes such as shoplifting or drug possession. On the other hand, robbery, perjury, and computer crimes are adjudged based on the degree of damage that the criminals have caused either against the person or the property.

Mafia and the Law of RICO

One of the American Government’s most important tool in the fight against the Mafia and organized crime in general is RICO. RICO isn’t a military wing or special police branch . It is a law – the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1961-1968. It was passed in the year 1970 specifically with the intentions to help fight the Mafia. It does this by enabling prosecutors and the law to go after entire organizations instead of just individuals.

Racketeering is making money through an unlawful enterprise. Almost any crime falls under racketeering. Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes-27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes-within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced up to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, all the cash earned through the racket has to be forfeited and is confiscated by the government. It provides for extended penalties for criminal acts performed — for example, bribing a union leader, killing an uncooperative business owner and extorting money, all of them add up to racketeering. Furthermore, members of the Mafia may be prosecuted for racketeering even if they weren’t specifically involved in individual crimes. This removed one of the most common and basic defense tactics of Mafia Dons. They used to send low-level soldiers and new-recruits to commit the actual crimes so they themselves could never be prosecuted.

Under the law, racketeering activity means:

1. Any violation of state statutes against gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act);

2. Any act of bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire, and several other offenses covered under the Federal criminal code (Title 18);

3. Embezzlement of union funds;

4. Bankruptcy or securities fraud;

5. Drug trafficking;

6. Money laundering and related offenses;

7. Bringing in, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country (if the action was for financial gain);

8. Acts of terrorism.

RICO was the biggest blow to the Mafia and caused it immense damage. In many cases, the threat of a RICO indictment forced defendant Mafia members to plead guilty to lesser charges because the seizure of assets would have made it difficult to pay for a lawyer. Despite its harsh provisions, a RICO-related charge is comparatively much easier to prove in court, as it focuses on patterns of behavior as opposed to criminal acts.

Do Laws Apply to the Internet?

Last week, I was giving much thought to a Social Media topic that would do more than just fulfill an obligation to myself to publish a new post each week. Sure, I could share some useful tips for businesses looking to leverage the full power of Social Media Marketing. After all, most business executives are interested in learning how to increase sales revenue through the use of the latest and greatest online strategies and tactics. I also wonder how many business owners are fully aware of the irreparable damage they may be doing to our society by using Social Media, inappropriately and – in some ways – distastefully.

I ask corporate CEOs to carefully consider the following questions. If Twitter controlled the life support function for hospitalized people, should an insurance company manipulate its functions to put some terminal people out of their misery to reduce costs? If Facebook allowed your real estate company to put a family out of their home so that you could buy it cheap, would you ever exercise that option? If Social Media were a gun, would you point it at a stranger and pull the trigger if it benefited you in any way? These are valid questions for those allowing profit and loss statements to obscure matters of common decency.

You may be reviled by the shear mention of such thoughts, but apparently, there are a growing number of employers, who are willing to force strangers to open up their private lives for hiring consideration scrutiny. If you as a business leader are able to reconcile such an action; you probably think it is fine to invade a person’s right to privacy simply to satisfy one company’s curiosity about what he or she does during their own spare time. Are you saying that a business entity is entitled to own one’s personal life along with the work he or she provides during paid work hours? Exactly where does this right come from? It’s not in the Constitution.

Since When Did We Need to Invade Personal Privacy Rights to Consider Someone for a Job?

It used to be that employers carefully screened resumes, thoroughly interviewed candidates, and professionally conducted criminal background checks and drug screens to determine the suitability of job applicants for hire. Most trained human resources professionals also relied on their gut to determine who got hired and who did not. Is all this no longer enough to make an educated employee selection? Whatever happened to an employer’s right to discharge unsatisfactory employees during his or her initial period of employment, “At Will”? Is this not enough of a failsafe mechanism to insure and protect quality performance in the workplace? It has been such for many past decades. What has changed?

Yes, there are many individuals, who place their lives online for public view – without placing any viewing restrictions. This is a free choice that some people exercise. In these cases, employers are welcome to see what the user has deemed public information with no special permissions. However, no one really has the right (except – perhaps – for legal authorities) to see restricted information that is locked away from public scrutiny by password protection. No employer or anyone else has the right to make unlocking their personal information an absolute condition of employment.

Credit Scores Were Intended for Car Buying and Not Job Getting

What is going on in human resources these days? These are some of the same people that have also had the chutzpah to request credit checks on all those applying for jobs including even those not being considered for positions involving collection and disbursement of company funds. Credit checking used to be reserved for bondable employees, period. That made perfect sense to avoid embezzlement and company theft of funds. Checking everybody’s credit does not make any sense. Not when you consider that many unemployed people have fallen behind and must have a job in order to feed their families.

Here is the dilemma. We don’t place people in double jeopardy in the American court system, so why are we punishing people twice by denying them a living by making them unemployed and then keeping them from a new job offer because they are already the economic victims of unemployment? Some companies are placing recruiting ads that say “currently unemployed people need not apply.” This is all cruel and unusual punishment. What has inspired such a total lack of regard for our fellow Americans, just want to collect a fair wage for a fair day’s work? Why all these new hoops to jump through?

America is Fighting Back with a Loud and Strong “It is None of Your Business”

Fortunately, the American people are not sheep and are fighting back. California lawmakers have voted to block employers from using consumer credit reports when they are deciding whether to hire workers for most jobs. They have stopped the use of credit checks in hiring, except for managers, law enforcement, financial jobs and certain other positions that handle valuable items or information.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza of Artesia, says credit checks often are inaccurate and hurt minority and female job seekers. Opponents say they are a useful tool for employers assessing the integrity of job candidates.

A credit report is not a good indicator of a person’s trustworthiness or work ethic,” says Mendoza.

“Consider the condition of the economy and the negative effect these circumstances can have on a person’s credit – a credit report is an unfair lens through which to view job applicants,” he says. “Preventing someone from becoming gainfully employed due to a poor credit history is shameful,” says Mendoza.

No, You May Not See My Personal Information

Regarding this newest attack on personal privacy, it was Facebook firing the first shots in a battle that promises to end in the US courts. In a blog dated March 23, 2012, Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, responded to recent news reports of employers “seeking to gain inappropriate access” to the social media profiles of job applicants and employees. She also said that Facebook would “take action to protect the privacy and security” of users and consider “initiating legal action” where appropriate.

Those anti-employer sentiments were also summed up by members of Congress, recently.

“Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries – why should they be able to ask them for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?” asked New York Senator, Charles Schumer.

“In an age where more and more of our personal information – and our private social interactions – are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence. Before this disturbing practice becomes widespread, we must have an immediate investigation into whether the practice violates federal law – I’m confident the investigation will show it does. Facebook agrees, and I’m sure most Americans agree, that employers have no business asking for your Facebook password,” says Schumer.

Employers: You Won’t Sell to People You Have Taught to Despise You

No. A line must be drawn in the sand now regarding privacy. Employers are looking to take a mile since the Web may have it to give. In doing this, they are not only attacking our civil liberties; they are hurting themselves in the long run. If they limit people’s freedoms in social Media, they are also limiting peoples trust in this medium and discouraging its use. If business people want to get more conversions (sales) from Social Media Marketing, they need to show more respect for the trust and integrity that Social Networking must develop in order to make doing business over the Web viable and profitable.

Law Enforcers and Public Records

Aside from being public servants who are tasked to protect the general public, did you also know that the police departments can likewise be a good source of a lot of useful information? Yes, they could be. If you will visit the local law enforcement offices in your area, you can actually access a lot of public records from them that you could use in many situations.

For example, let’s say that you are someone who has a new business and you are looking forward to dealing with a lot of people for future expansion. You will surely need to encounter a lot of different individuals to do that such as employees, clients, suppliers and even prospective business partners. In order for you to determine the reliability and trustworthiness of people you deal with, you should use public records for your references too.

There are actually a lot of records that you can use. For example, you can check court records, arrest records and criminal records to see if any person in consideration really has an unquestionable character. You could check the mentioned public records so you could be aware of any wrong doings that a person may have done in the past. This isn’t about being suspicious all the time and being paranoid about the people that you will need to deal with but this activity is being done by many people so they could make wise decisions.

You would surely not want to do business dealings with someone who has been arrested in the past for embezzlement charges. That could really be risky for you. Aside from that, you surely wouldn’t want to be being close to someone, much less work with a person who is a registered sex offender. You and those other people would constantly be in danger and you will feel nervous about it all the time. Through those public records, it will be possible to that have criminal records.

These days, you wouldn’t have to go to the actual police department offices when you want to obtain access to those documents. You can actually go to the online websites that offer people with access to the records you need. What you will need to do is to look for public records sites since there are a lot of them out there. You might even choose between free sites and paid providers.

Safeguard Your Nonprofit’s Mission – How to Protect Against Fraud

Fraud is a word that conjures up many images in your mind. Maybe your definition of fraud is someone lying to you, stealing from you or conspiring against you while pretending to help you. All of these are true…and it can happen to your nonprofit if you do not know how to protect it.

Those who seek to harm or defraud you can come from both inside and outside your nonprofit. Either can be devastating to the health of your organization, both financially and psychologically. Let’s take a look at both scenarios and I’ll give you some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Outsiders. For anyone who has not been victimized by an outsider, it can seem like a remote concern. “Surely we can spot a scam,” you tell yourself. Ask any victim of Bernie Madoff how easy it is to be taken. Just among our clientele at The Foundation Group, we have a Florida nonprofit that invested its entire endowment in a sure-thing Madoff fund. It’s all gone…every penny. Granted, this one was hard to spot. Madoff made off for many years right under the noses of regulators! But it doesn’t take a Bernie Madoff to cause severe damage to your organization.

I once had an acquaintance (considered a friend at the time) who seemed to have a real heart for charity. He was a former NFL player with the Pittsburgh Steelers and had a great life story. He frequently spoke before civic groups, churches and other community groups. He was an ordained minister. Seemed like he knew everyone. I even remember seeing him on television counseling with families who lost loved ones on 9/11. Turns out, he was a complete fraud. He never wore a Steeler’s jersey for even a day…or any other jersey for that matter. He was a felon, previously convicted of check kiting. Worse, he used his fake persona and clergy credentials to ingratiate himself with organizations with the ultimate aim of stealing money. More than once he pocketed money he got from an organization that trusted him to help them with fundraising events. He even went so far as to con a mentally-challenged couple (who had inherited a small fortune) into letting him “manage” their assets. He cleaned them out! The law finally caught up with this charlatan, but not until a lot of people were hurt.

The point is this: If in doubt, check them out! In fact, check them out even if you do not see any red flags. The man I knew seemed like the real deal. But a simple check into his story would have blown his cover. Nobody bothered.

Insiders. Getting ripped off by an insider really hurts. It is the ultimate betrayal for a nonprofit. And, just like with an outsider, it can happen under the radar and not be seen until huge damage is done.

The most common form of insider fraud is direct embezzlement. We have uncovered it multiple times with clients. Several years ago, we were hired by a Nashville historic site to review their books. The board had concern that mistakes had been made by their recently departed secretary/bookkeeper. Turns out, the only mistake this person made was employing an amateurish method of stealing money. It took us about 30 minutes to discover what she had done. It took weeks to assess the full amount of the damage…nearly $70,000!

One way to prevent insider fraud is fairly simple: do a background check. It takes a little time, but is not difficult nor is it expensive. The other thing you simply MUST do is institute internal checks and balances. The fact is, the lady I mentioned would have checked out clean. She had no criminal record and had a great resume. But, if this organization had a system of overseeing her handling of the money, something as simple as someone else reconciling the books every month, this could have been prevented. Such internal controls protect not only the organization, but also the integrity of those who work honestly for the organization. The last thing you want is a good person falsely blamed for something.

Will you be able to stop all possible fraud? Probably not. But by using your good sense, and instituting reasonable procedures, you can dramatically limit your risk. In this era of tight organizational budgets, you can little afford to let down your guard.