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New York Criminal Defense Blog

Text messages can be manipulated

If you find yourself facing charges, there's a chance that your text messages could make their way into court as evidence. These days, many people send far more messages than they make actual phone calls. And it's not just texting. They send messages through social media apps like Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

For you, the downside is that this creates a fairly clear "paper" trail. Something said in person may be incredibly debatable. But something that you wrote out in a text message carries a lot more weight with the judge and jury. It can completely define the outcome of the case.

Criminal justice reform in New York

Talk about crime and how to address it is nothing new to people who live in New York. Most people would agree that it is important for lawmakers and law enforcement agencies to work to protect the safety of citizens but that would should be equally balanced by ensuring that the rights of people accused of crimes or even convicted of crimes are properly respected. How to achieve this is where disagreements can come into play at times.

As explained by City and State New York, the state was hoping to make progress on some criminal justice reform by the first part of April in 2019. It seems that may take more time and that might end up being acceptable so long as the progress is made. There are multiple topics being addressed under the large umbrella of criminal justice reform.

What is pink collar crime?

The name may sound sexist, but the title of the CBS show aptly introduces a niche area of law: Pink Collar Crime. You and other New York residents may be interested in learning how traditional white collar crimes committed by women can differ from those attributed to men.

As you may already know, white collar crimes involve people who are placed in a position of trust, financially, by their employers. They may be accountants, bookkeepers, office managers or financial advisors. They can be anyone with knowledge and access to a business’s financial transactions, bank accounts, client information and financial history. White collar crime includes financial fraud, embezzlement and money laundering, as well as Ponzi schemes. As Forbes explains, pink collar crime doesn’t just pertain to white collar crimes that are committed by women, but also the reasons many women commit the crime or their subsequent emotional reactions to it.

What does U.S. Customs and Border Patrol do?

If you are like a lot of people in New York, you may at times get confused between the various federal agencies that may be involved in immigration activities. There is the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement office but there is also the United States Customs and Border Patrol. While these two entities may work together, they are separate and have distinct purposes. Interactions with either may involve or contribute to federal criminal charges.

As explained by the U.S. CBP, their mission is to keep the nation safe from what they refer to as "dangerous people" who might be trying to get into the country. The agency's officers may be part of special response teams, horse patrols or K-9 inspections. The agency oversees not only the 328 direct ports of entry but a variety of preclearance locations as well. They have the authority to apprehend, detain and arrest individuals.

Double jeopardy may impact case in New York State

People in New York may be well aware of the myriad of legal issues that have been plaguing the former campaign chair to the current President. However, they may not always understand some of the legal nuances involved in the cases, including in the recent case involving 16 criminal charges that have been initiated in New York State. 

Similar to the charges the man was recently sentenced for, the new case essentially revolves around an alleged scheme to defraud and involves allegations such as falsifying business records and mortgage fraud according to NBC News. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has a provision for what it calls double jeopardy. This essentially prevents a person from being tried for the same charge twice and prevents them from having multiple sets of consequences for the same charge. 

Removing an embezzlement conviction from your record

A criminal conviction for embezzlement can significantly hinder your opportunities to move with your life after you have completed whatever criminal penalties your convictions forced you to complete. For this reason, many in your same position have come to us here at Sapone & Petrillo, LLP asking if such an offense can be expunged from their public record. While that state of New York certainly does not want to hinder your chances of success following a criminal conviction, it does not provide a means through which an embezzlement conviction (or any criminal conviction, for that matter) to be expunged. However, it does allow your record to be sealed. 

Having a record sealed differs from expungement in that details of a conviction remain on your public record. However, those details cannot be accessed through standard means (e.g., a background check). Thus, your conviction would not appear on a mandatory check that comes with applying for a job or a loan; anyone who wanted to see it would first have to obtain a court order to do so. In fact, you may technically be able to deny that you were ever found guilty of a crime in the first place.  

White collar crime: What happens at your first legal meeting?

You get accused of white collar crime, and the charges are serious. They allege that you have spent years or even decades financially benefiting yourself through illegal means. They're threatening to make you pay through fines, jail time and other ramifications.

Not only do you worry about the outcome in that sense, but you worry about your career. Is this it? You have worked hard for this your entire life. Could a conviction end it all? What will your friends and family think? How will you make a living again and create the life you want?

What is a RICO violation?

If the federal government charges you with having committed a RICO violation in New York, you may wonder exactly what these charges entail. Per the U.S. Department of Justice, RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act that Congress passed back in 1970.

RICO’s initial purpose was to give the feds the power and authority they needed to prosecute Mafia racketeering. During the subsequent decades, however, RICO has been used to prosecute a variety of other alleged crimes, including the following:

  • Counterfeiting
  • Embezzlement
  • Bribery
  • Mail fraud
  • Money laundering

Differences between Ponzi and pyramid schemes

When discussing fraudulent schemes to illegally obtain money from unsuspecting citizens, people in New York may mistakenly use the terms "Ponzi scheme" and "pyramid scheme" interchangeably. The confusion is understandable because both types of schemes function in a basically similar way. Each requires many investors to opt into it, each involves moving ill-gotten money around from person to person, and each inevitably collapses when it becomes too large to sustain itself, leaving only the original instigator with a profit. However, there are some fundamental differences that distinguish the two. 

According to the FBI, a Ponzi scheme involves one "recruiter" who solicits funds from unwitting victims. The initial investors pay into the scheme, and the recruiter keeps the money instead of investing it as he or she promised. Then the recruiter targets a subsequent group of investors, keeping some of the funds solicited for himself or herself while distributing the rest among the initial group of investors, deceiving them into believing that their investments are paying dividends. There are two ways that a Ponzi scheme can come to an end, and neither is good for the investors. Either the recruiter is unable to keep paying dividends to existing investors due to an inability to solicit new ones, or he or she flees with the money before it comes to that point. 

What is mail fraud and why is it a serious crime?

In New York, mail fraud is one of the most common federal charges that the average citizen will face. However, many people may not even be aware that mail-related crimes fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction. However, mail fraud is in fact a very serious deed that can result in you facing harsher penalties than you initially expected.

FindLaw has a page that takes a look at how mail fraud charges can affect a person if they are convicted. First of all, fraud itself is defined as any plan that involves getting assets under "false pretenses". It also includes the exchange, supply, selling, distribution, or use of counterfeits. If a person mails something related to or involved with a fraudulent scheme, they are therefore committing mail fraud. This can include receipts, communications, or contracts from a fraudulent deal.

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