Crime & Punishment

‘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.

read more »

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.

read more »

Guilty Minds

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

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »