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Sacramento Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

California man accused of using the Internet to sell drugs

Technology has revolutionized our world. It has changed the way our economy functions, the way information is dispersed and how we entertain ourselves. But, it has also expanded the ways in which crimes can be committed. Though, many believe that the Internet is only used to commit fraud and identity theft, its utilization far exceeds that, which could spell trouble for California residents.

One California man is learning this first-hand after being taken into custody on federal drug trafficking charges. According to authorities, the 38-year-old man utilized Silk Road and other dark-web sites to promote and sell narcotics.

What to know when facing drug trafficking charges

Whether Californians want to believe it or not, the war on drugs is still being waged. Every day, individuals are slapped with federal drug trafficking charges that carry severe penalties. These penalties can strip an individual of his or her future and freedom. It can also devastate a family. Therefore, those who are facing federal drug crime allegations need to be prepared to fight for their lives. The first way to do this is to know what, exactly, they are facing.

To start with, an individual facing federal drug charges should know what the potential penalties could be. This will allow them to better negotiate a plea deal, if they so desire.

Californian informants in the investigation of federal crimes

Federal investigators have a lot of tools at their disposal, especially as technology has evolved over the years. However, despite the technology at their disposal, many investigators and prosecutors rely on information provided by others. Often, law enforcement agents attempt to get those who are close to a suspect to provide the government with information that could lead to an arrest and prosecution. These individuals are known as criminal informants, and they are used throughout California.

There are guidelines in place to help ensure that the government uses informants that are reliable. When initially assessing an informant's suitability, for example, a federal agent must assess the informant's position within any organization related to the investigation, his or her relationship to the target, the informant's motivation for providing information and the extent to which the provided information can be corroborated. Agents should also analyze a criminal informant's truthfulness, his or her history of substance abuse and whether he or she is related to any law enforcement official.

Environmental crime allegations should not be taken lightly

In nearly every aspect of our lives, our actions are shaped by the law. The way we drive, deal with our anger, and even break up with spouses are molded by the law. The same is true when it comes to disposing of waste. With growing concern about global warming and planetary pollution, the federal government has stepped up its efforts to criminally punish Californians they believe are causing harm to the Earth.

This led to the creation of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department. This section works collaboratively with other agencies to find and prosecutor pollution violators under various federal statutes. To obtain a conviction, the federal prosecutors must show that actual pollution occurred, and that the polluting occurred with intent. With regard to intent, the government must typically show that an individual knowingly polluted or caused the polluting to happen.

Our legal team is competent with white collar crime cases

Last week on this blog, we discussed a case where a former business executive faces white collar crime charges for allegedly altering his company's financial documents. Financial crimes, also known as white collar crimes, encompass a large area of the law. Californians who face such allegations are in for a fight, as aggressive prosecutors look to give a strong voice to those who have lost money. When facing such zealous prosecution, those accused of a financial crime will need to draft and deliver an equally prepared and strong criminal defense.

Preparing an adequate defense is not easy task. A defendant and his or her legal team must closely analyze the allegations, assess the facts and apply the law to the situation. Then, evidence, as well as witnesses, must be discovered and utilized in an attempt to raise doubt as to a defendant's guilt. All of this must be done within the confines of the law and missteps, even improper introduction of evidence or witness testimony, could change the landscape of the case.

California executive accused of falsifying financial documents

Running a business in California can be challenging on many levels. Decisions regarding hiring and firing employees, to expand or contract markets and implement new business practices occur all the time. These decisions can change the dynamic of a business. Another issue that business executives must contend with are those relating to financial matters. Accounting practices, audits and cash handling can all present their own problems, which can seep into the criminal arena and cause an individual to come face-to-face with very serious allegations.

One California business man is learning this firsthand. According to reports, Hector Absi, an executive at Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a biotechnology company that creates and sells eco-friendly pesticides, has been accused of securities fraud.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Over the last couple of decades, technology has become an increasingly important, and oftentimes necessary, part of our lives. Californians spend much of their working and leisure time on their phones, computers and smart gadgets, which connect everyone across the country and the world. However, with access to such a wide network of computers, individuals can find themselves being accused of going where they should not and wind up facing federal criminal charges.

Under a federal law, known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it is illegal to access a computer without having prior authorization and to access a computer in a way that exceeds one's authorization with the intent to obtain protected information and transmit or deliver it to another. Under the Act, it is also against the law to knowingly transmit any type of program that causes damage to a computer that is protected. An individual is also disallowed from using threats against a protected computer to extort money or property from another individual, business or agency.

The federal crime appeals process in California

Losing a case in federal court can be soul-crushing. The penalties imposed can be daunting, to say the least, and the individual's family can be just as disheartened. The loss can seem to suck the hope out of a Californian's life. Nonetheless, he or she should remain strong because he or she may have a second chance to argue his or her position.

Federal cases that are appealed are usually heard, meaning that defendants and their attorneys will have an opportunity to be heard. The time to present one's argument, though, is significantly shorter. It is typically limited to 15 minutes, and the decision of the Court of Appeals, in most instances is final.

The Brady Act and its restrictions on guns

In an attempt to curb gun violence, the federal government has enacted many laws over the years. One pivotal piece of legislation is known as the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act. This law has many components to it, but perhaps most important amongst them are the limitations on who is disallowed from owning or possessing a firearm. For example, Californians who were convicted of a crime and were subsequently sentenced to a year or more in prison cannot own a gun. Doing so would be a federal crime.

The act does not end there, though. In fact, the law is quite wide-reaching. Under the Act, it is against federal law for individuals to import or deal in firearms unless they are licensed. The same holds true for manufacturing. Therefore, those who are considering selling, importing or manufacturing firearms should first ensure that they have the proper licensure.

Our firm challenges evidence in California drug trafficking cases

As was evidenced by the case that was discussed in last week's blog post, federal authorities are still aggressively pursuing Californians they believe are involved in drug trafficking and related offenses. The government typically spends months, sometimes, even years investigating individuals to gather evidence. This means that those who are accused of drug crimes are often up against relatively strong legal arguments and supporting evidence.

When facing criminal allegations, an accused individual is innocent until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, a criminal defendant does not have to prove his innocence. Instead, he or she only needs to raise reasonable doubt as to his or her guilt. This is why challenging specific elements of a crime or particular pieces of evidence is important and, sometimes, successful.