Thankful Client

Being a criminal defense lawyer can be a thankless job some days. Judges don’t like us. Prosecutors don’t like us. Victims don’t like us. Hell, even our client’s don’t like us some days. Client’s can be ungrateful SOBs sometimes.

However, every once in a while. Out of the blue comes a different kind of day.

Today was one of those days.

I have been working on a drug trafficking case for the last year or so. Client was pulled over for a traffic violation. When the cop gets to the drivers side window, the marijuana smoke rolls out and into his face. Having learned something on the street, my client promptly tells the cop that “there ain’t no more weed, we smoked it all.” Needless to say, after arresting him for driving on a revoked license the police find cocaine and oxycodone inside his vehicle.

We were in court this morning prepared to enter a guilty plea or begin a trial. We have spent countless hours discussing the facts of his case. We have discussed trial strategies and plea offers. I prepared and filed a suppression motion in an effort to keep out some of the evidence. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this case and the best way to defend my client.

I have beaten the District Attorney down from her original plea offer of a 20 year sentence. I managed to get her to offer a 20 year sentence with 3 years to serve when my client asked for a split sentence offer. I finally got her to offer a 15 year sentence with 3 years to serve. I have worked hard for my client and listened to his requests and finally got a straight 15 year offer.

Today, on my advice, my client entered a guilty plea and applied for probation. He realized that the facts and law were against him and taking his case to trial would mean a longer sentence. We will be back in court in April to argue for probation before a judge who will listen to my arguments.

He called me this afternoon to tell me thank you. He said that sitting in the courtroom this morning, talking to other people, made him realize what a great job I have been doing for him. Other people were talking about their problems and what their lawyers had been doing for them. It has taken my client over a year, but he understands how hard I have worked for him.

Even though I know that I am good at what I do, it still is nice to hear it from my clients from time to time.

Sitting in my office smiling this afternoon. Thanks.

Guest Blog by Attorney Adam H. Rosenblum

Federal Drug Charges

Facing criminal charges of any kind can be a stressful experience. There are hundreds of thoughts running through your head and quite frankly it can be pretty scary not knowing what may happen to you. If you have been charged with a drug-related offense it is important to recognize that the charges you face can easily be elevated from the state level to a federal offense. Federal drug charges have stricter penalties than state-level charges. The DEA and FBI take an active role in federal charges and will investigate the matter fully to help federal prosecutors obtain a conviction.
In 1970, the federal government passed the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act which outlines federal drug laws. Federal drug charges range from possession, distribution, sale, cultivation, trafficking and manufacturing of various controlled dangerous substances. The severity of the penalties you face will depend on many different factors such as:

• The amount of drugs involved
• Whether you were transporting the drugs across state lines
• The type of drugs involved
• Whether you have any prior criminal or drug-related history
• Whether any person was killed or injured
• Any evidence that will support a conviction such as weapons, large amounts of cash, prepaid cell phones and measuring scales.

What should I do if I am being charged with a drug crime?

Whether on the state or federal level, you should always exercise your right to remain silent and have an attorney present. Remaining silent will protect you from law enforcement agents and the federal prosecutor from gathering information to build a case against you. Remember that anything that you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Do not discuss your case with anyone except your lawyer.

A lawyer will advocate on your behalf, fight for your rights and make sure you are being treated fairly. It is also important that you tell your attorney the full truth about your case. Information you share with your attorney is privileged and it is crucial that your attorney knows all the facts about your case before he begins building your defense. An attorney will examine the evidence the state may have against you and be able to devise a legal strategy to help minimize the damage and in some cases help you avoid a conviction.

Do I Have To Stay In Jail Until My Trial?

There are several factors a judge will have to consider before releasing you on bond while you await your trial. A bond hearing is usually set within a certain amount of time after your arrest. A judge or magistrate will review a report about the charges, your background and criminal history and whether there are any factors that make you a flight risk in not returning to court. Some factors that can weigh in your favor are: having little to no criminal history, solid community and family ties, employment history and being a US Citizen. A judge will usually raise the bond or deny it all together if you have an extensive criminal history or if there was violence in the present crime. Having a lawyer present during a bail hearing is important because a lawyer knows what information to present to the judge in helping you be released before trial.

What Kind of Defenses Do I Have Available To Me?

If you are arrested on federal drug charges it is likely that the DEA, FBI and local police are all working together with the prosecutor’s office (i.e. the U.S. Attorney) in building a strong case against you. An experienced attorney will know how to raise appropriate challenges in court to keep certain evidence or statements from being admitted into evidence against you. Also, attorneys can determine if the government has sufficient evidence to support a conviction or whether the search and seizure violated your constitutional rights. An attorney can analyze all the evidence that is against you and determine whether law enforcement followed all necessary procedures.

What Are Some of the Penalties If I Am Convicted?

Federal offenses carry harsh criminal penalties from heavy fines and significant jail time. A conviction also will be a part of your criminal record which can affect your ability to obtain college loans, decrease future employment opportunities and prevent you from obtaining a professional license. If you are facing federal drug charges you should not delay in hiring an experienced attorney to fight on your behalf.

If you are arrested or being charged with a drug offense, a lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine whether your constitutional rights have been violated. There are many defense strategies that a lawyer can use to help protect your rights.

Author Bio

Adam H. Rosenblum is the principal attorney of The Rosenblum Law Firm who is licensed to practice in both New York and New Jersey. You can visit his website at http://rosenblumlawfirm.com/

Finally

In August 2009, I opened a new file for a young lady who had been charged with a DUI. Little did I know it would take nearly 3 1/2 years to close that file.

I was able to get my client enrolled in a deferred prosecution program that would ultimately result in a dismissal of the DUI case. Little did I know that she was addicted to pain pills and was taking methadone to beat the addiction.

Things quickly went bad. She picked up a second DUI and failed to comply with the terms of her program. A warrant was issued and she ultimately pled guilty to the DUI that I was handling in late 2010. As part of her plea, she was still required to complete a DUI program and complete 10 months of monitoring.

Unfortunately, she relapsed and her addiction to pain pills began to spiral out of control. My client was lucky. She has a loving family and the support of good friends. During 2011 and 2012, she was in and out of drug treatment facilities in Alabama and Florida. She didn’t have a lot of money but she scraped together what was needed.

She has now been clean and sober for over a year. She continues to follow through with meetings and counseling. Her life is drastically different thanks to the support that she received from her family and friends. This is not uncommon but is the exception rather than the rule.

Last night I was able to get the court to terminate her probation and close her file. She was fortunate. The system worked for her. I was proud to give her a hug and send her on to begin the next chapter of her life.

Being Fired Never Felt So Good

I got fired yesterday. You might think that I was upset or disappointed. Honestly, it was the best feeling in the world.

In May of 2012 I was appointed to represent a defendant in federal court charged with Aggravated Identity Theft, Possession of Counterfeit Access Devices (read credit cards), Possession of Access Device Making Equipment, and three counts of aiding and abetting. My appointment resulted following the withdrawal of his first attorney. It was apparent from the first moment I met the defendant that he was going to be difficult to represent. He made it very clear that he was smarter than me, that he knew the law better than me, and that he was going to be in complete control of how his case proceeded.

The defendant was in custody when I was appointed. Within 2 weeks, I was able to convince a Magistrate Judge to release him on bond pending the trial of his case. At this point, he was very happy with my services.

Despite giving a 1 1/2 hour Mirandized custodial interview (read confession) admitting to almost every element of the charges against him, he insisted that he was not guilty and wanted a trial. He demanded that I file a motion to suppress evidence obtained in a Georgia traffic stop 1 month before his arrest, despite video evidence that he consented to the search. I did not file that motion. I did, however, file a Motion in Limine and was able to exclude large portions of the video taped confession from being played during the trial. He was not happy with my services.

After 4 days of trial, the Judge threw out half of the counts on a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal. The jury returned a guilty verdict as to the remaining counts. Now he was really unhappy because apparently his conviction was my fault and had nothing to do with his confession and the significant evidence pointing to his guilt. It was at this point that he started using the term Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.

Following trial, he requested and I filed a Motion to Modify the Conditions of his Bond so he could work. He failed to show up for the hearing and a warrant was issued. He was ultimately arrested and placed into one of our local county jails pending sentencing. This again was my fault.

The defendant was scheduled for sentencing yesterday. He filed a Pro Se motion for appointment of counsel a week ago citing irreconcilable difference. We had a hearing at 8:30 on his motion. He clammed up and told the Magistrate Judge that he wanted to move forward with me as his attorney. When his sentencing hearing began later in the morning, he told the Judge I had not provided him documents necessary for the sentencing. The Judge stopped the proceedings and told me to meet with him to go over the documents that I had mailed to him 3 weeks earlier.

When I got down to the U.S. Marshall’s lockup to meet with him, he again started talking about ineffective assistance of counsel. It was at this moment that he fired me. To say that this was the most difficult client would be an understatement. Others have claimed that I provided ineffective assistance in my representation, but no court has ever agreed with them. Disgruntled defendants are an occupational hazard when you practice criminal defense.

Following a hearing at 3:30 in the afternoon, I was finally relieved of my representation of the defendant. The Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent him and I was free. After putting in well over 100 hours during the defense of his case, I was finally free to close his file for the final time.

Being fired never felt so good.

MIchael P. Hanle
Law Office of Michael P. Hanle