Crime & Punishment

Stethoscopes or Bars: Prosecution of Health Care Professionals Ramps Up

Epidemic: You might have noticed news reports recently of a large number of health care providers being prosecuted in Tennessee and neighboring states for drug crimes. The United States Department of Justice is acting on its belief that doctors and other health care providers are contributing to the opioid crisis.

I have a healthy skepticism when the government calls something an epidemic. But it is hard to argue with the numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concludes that in 2017 there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths in the United States. Think about the human tragedy caused by just one overdose multiplied by 70,000. Even worse, the statistics show an almost 10 percent jump from 2016. Much of this jump is due to use of heroin and synthetic drugs like fentanyl, which are imported unlawfully.

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‘I’m Sorry’: Are Apologies Effective?

I’ve told many clients, “If you are not sorry, don’t apologize.”

Even though acceptance of responsibility is often cited as one of the most important factors at sentencing, I’ve always thought judges hear insincere apologies so often that apologies can do more harm than good. I think it is better to be quiet than insincere.

Apparently, there is research that backs up this hunch, at least in part.  And very thoughtful social scientists have provided framework for evaluating whether an apology will be effective.

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Did You Really Post a Picture of Yourself Committing a Crime?

Authentication of Social Media

Social media provides a fertile source for evidence in criminal cases.  Suspects give prosecutors unbelievable gifts with incriminating, threatening and otherwise unbelievably stupid admissions posted online. On the other hand, defense counsel find impeachment gems on witnesses’ social media accounts — even the portions anyone can view.

Malik Farrad learned the hard way that posting on Facebook is a bad idea.[1] Although Mr. Farrad made significant mistakes that landed him back in prison, his mistakes can teach trial lawyers important lessons about getting social media postings into evidence (or keeping them out) through a study of the Sixth Circuit’s opinion.

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Guilty Minds

Is it possible to be convicted of a criminal offense without meaning to do something wrong? It is.

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Crime & Punishment: Bitcoin Criminals

Crime is changing. Law enforcement has better tools and more information. Investigators solve cases now with DNA, cell phone location, and social media posts. At the same time, crime has become more sophisticated. Drug dealers and thieves have adopted technology designed to make detection impossible. As with crime throughout the ages, though, criminals are still making false assumptions about what can be discovered and are simply making old fashioned mistakes.

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Public Records as Evidence in Criminal Cases

The hearsay exception for public records could win the prize for the most underutilized evidence rule in criminal cases. Rule 803(8) is also a rule where the differences between the state and federal rule could change the outcome. In criminal cases, both the state and federal versions of the rule allow prosecutors and defense counsel to offer a variety of records created by an agency for the truth of the matters asserted in the records.

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