Sigma Alpha Epsilon latest scandal

On March 9, 2015, The University of Oklahoma gave Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house 24 hours to move out after a nine-second video was released yesterday on Twitter. According to CNN News, the video shows students on a bus, clapping, shouting, and chanting. “There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.”  This video has caused so much controversy that the president of the University of Oklahoma, David Boren, permanently cut all affiliation with the fraternity.  But, this is not the first time that Sigma Alpha Epsilon has had problems.  Several other incidents with chapters and members have been brought to the attention of the headquarters staff and leaders.  SAE has had to work very hard to change after a recent string of member’s deaths. The deaths have been blamed on the hazing of the new recruits.  The SAE website lists more than 130 chapters cited or suspended for health and safety incidents since 2010. At least 30 of those incidents involved hazing and about a dozen more involved alcohol.

SAE has been labeled as the “nation’s deadliest fraternity”.  Many universities have turned down SAE’s attempts to open new chapters and 12 fraternities had to close in 18 months due to hazing incidents. In 2011, the mother of George Desdunes, a sophomore at Cornell University, filed a lawsuit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for $25 million.  The fraternity pledges bound her son’s ankles and wrists and forced him to drink alcohol in a hazing ritual on the night of his death.  Desdunes mother filed the wrongful death lawsuit alleging kidnapping and that her son was forced to drink alcohol and take other substances while being quizzed by the fraternity.  The kidnapping were part of a long standing fraternity ritual that was authorized by the SAE chapter officers and members.  According to the lawsuit, Desdunes was left on a couch in the fraternity house where he lived, and he was found by the housekeeper the next morning. Desdunes had a blood alcohol content of 0.409% which is more than five times the legal limit. The lawsuit cites at least three other alcohol related deaths of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members or pledges.

After numerous incidents, SAE maintains a stringent policy and guideline for its chapters as a part of a risk management program.  The policy affirms zero-tolerance for actions that do not comply with the regulations. Members are expected to adhere to our fraternity policies and to uphold behavior consistent with our creed, the true gentlemen.  According to the Greenville News an official with the fraternity stated that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, which has operated at Furman University for 147 years, has also been suspended by the chapter’s national organization due to hazing.

The traditional hazing rituals that SAE chapters abide by are very dangerous and the members do not realize how serious their actions are. Hazing is any action or situation, with or without the consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic health or safety of a student. In 2008, University of Maine study concluded that 55 percent of students who join fraternities, sororities, sports teams or other student groups experience hazing. Alcohol is often the not-so-secret ingredient that turns pledging into hazing. Four of five fraternity and sorority members in this country are binge drinkers. A 2000 Harvard University study estimates that 80 percent of hazing deaths have involved alcohol.

The family of students who have died due to hazing are devastated that they lost a loved one and all they want is justice for what happened. Our South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer will guide you and help you through this very tough time. Of course no amount of money will bring your loved one back but it will make others realize the dangers of hazing. The Mace firm has wrongful death attorneys who have passed the bar in South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Contact us today for a free consultation at (843) 839-2900 or online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Ton Marijuana Drug Bust in California

The second largest weed bust in the history of the U.S. was made last week at a U.S. border crossing.  In 2013, the first shipment crossed into Southern California from Mexico weighing about 35,265 pounds equivalent to 17.6 tons. According to CNN news the second drug bust was brought in by a truck labeled “Mattresses and Cushions”.  The truck crossed the border from Mexico to California at Otay Mesa in San Diego. When the United States Customs and Border Patrol police officer x-rayed the cargo bay and he saw objects that did not look right. When the officer opened the cargo doors what he saw left him shocked. There was weed wrapped into plastic packages from the floor to the ceiling. A total of 1,296 packages weighing 31,598 pounds, which has a street value of $18.96 million.

According to the DEA, Federal investigations and prosecutions usually involve hundreds of pounds of marijuana. The Southwest Border Initiative has been in operation since 1994. SWBI is a cooperative effort based law enforcement agency that combats substantial threat posed by Mexico-based trafficking groups that operate along the border.  The DEA’s belief is that the only way to successfully beat any organized crime would be to syndicate strong cases against leadership and their command and control functions. For example, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was the head of the Sinaloa Cartel until his arrest in 2014. El Chapo was the number one supplier of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines to the U.S.  Guzman was one of the richest and most powerful men in the world according to Forbes.

News Week published an article where an important figure in the Sinaloa cartel working indirectly for the boss El Chapo became an informant. Many do it to spare their lives because they all know that if they don’t end up in prison they will eventually end up dead. After many attempts to capture Guzman the help of an informant was what made it possible to capture the world’s most powerful drug dealer. But, even in jail Guzman still manages to run his empire. There are still many individuals in charge of trafficking drugs from country to country and from city to city.

Illegal Drug sales is classified as the act of selling or commercially distributing illegal drugs or controlled substances. Drug trafficking is defined as the selling, manufacturing, growing, delivering, or possessing more than a certain amount of a controlled substance. The amount of the substance that needs to be involved in order to label it a trafficking charge depends on the substance. Drug trafficking is considered to be the most severe and punishable offense with regard to the illegal sale of drugs.

In the United States, the suppliers for methamphetamines are traditionally independent groups or perhaps even motorcycle gangs. The smuggling of methamphetamine is mainly controlled by the same major organizations that dominate the production and distribution of illicit drugs form Mexico into the United States. These organizations have groups working for them in approximately every state. Therefore, every single person involved can also be charged with possession, distribution or manufacturing any controlled substances according to the amount in possession.

In the event that you are charged with a drug trafficking offense, we encourage you to consult with one of The Mace Firm federal defense lawyers. Our lawyers are experienced in representing clients in Federal and state court. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call one of the experienced Myrtle Beach federal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm. Our criminal defense attorneys in Myrtle Beach are ready to speak with you about your case.

Weeks later the murder trial continues for Aaron Hernandez

Federal criminal lawyer discusses the murder trial of the New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez. For months Hernandez has been under investigation for orchestrating the death of Odin Lloyd a semi-pro football player. According to Fox Sports, on the evening of June 16, 2013, Hernandez and his two associates Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace drove to the Dorchester section of Boston and picked up Odin Lloyd in a silver Nissan Altima at 2:33 am.

Minutes after Lloyd was picked up he quickly texted his sister, Olivia Thibou, to make sure she knew who he was with just in case something bad happened. At approximately 3:23 am the cameras of an industrial park caught the silver Nissan Altima enter a secluded area surrounded by woods and mounds of dirt, gravel and asphalt. Minutes later an employee of a nearby business was sitting in his truck, on a lunch break, and what he heard was described as three gunshots and then a car door slamming, the Nissan then left the area. According to the Hernandez’s home surveillance cameras, the Nissan Altima arrived at Hernandez’s home at 3:30 am, Hernandez was driving, Wallace was in the front passenger seat, and Ortiz was in the rear driver’s-side seat. Where was Lloyd?

Lloyd’s body was discovered that next morning by a jogger and immediately the jogger called 911. Responding officers concluded that Lloyd had been shot several times, and they found five .45-caliber shell casings, two sets of keys to a black Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island plates, a phone and a driver’s license identifying the man as Odin L. Lloyd. Detectives contacted Enterprise Rent-A-Car at T.F. Green Airport outside Providence, R.I., and learned that the black Chevrolet Suburban was rented to Hernandez. The detectives ran a computer check on Hernandez’s driver’s license and discovered that his home is about 1.2 miles from the murder scene. At around 10:30 am the detectives from North Attleboro Police Department arrive at Hernandez’s home, Hernandez was then questioned about the black suburban and he told them that he let his friend Odin use it. They began trying to question him and he quickly went inside locked the door behind him and called his Criminal defense attorney. Days later the investigation continued and more and more evidence pointed to Hernandez.

On June 26, 2013, Hernandez was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd. After months of multiple investigations a grand jury indicted Hernandez on one count of murder and on five weapons charges. The murder charge and one of the weapons counts are based on the killing of Lloyd; the other four weapons charges are the result of the rifle, magazine and ammunition found during a search of Hernandez’s house on June 22, 2014. The murder trial began on January 29, 2015, with both the prosecution and defense laying out their opening arguments before the jury in Fall River.  Prosecutors have not said who pulled the trigger but said Hernandez orchestrated the killing. Ortiz and Wallace have pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.  As the trial continues more and more evidence is being presented and people are testifying in court, but they still cannot prove who shot Odin Lloyd. According to U.S. News, Defense attorney Michael Fee’s opening statement was that Hernandez is an innocent man. “Aaron never had a chance,” Fee said. “They locked on Aaron and they targeted him.” He said the evidence would show that Hernandez did not kill Lloyd and did not ask anyone to do so. He said authorities could offer no motive for the killing.

 

When caught in situations such as these, it is always good to have a criminal defense attorney defending your rights. Our criminal defense attorneys have the legal knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that your case will be defended properly. You will need someone who is experienced in the federal and or state court system. Our criminal defense attorneys have been defending companies and individuals in federal and or state court for many years. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please call The Mace Firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.

 

Criminal Defense lawyer discuss murder charges

On Dec 19, 2014, Delani Franklin Simmons, a 22 year old man showed up to the Summerville Medical Center with a gunshot wound. Upon his arrival, an investigation began, Simmmons was later charged in connection with the murder of Earnes Richmond and Shaquille Sanders, who were shot around 10:30p.m. on the same night Simmons went to the hospital, in a garage on Brailsford Boulevard in Summerville, South Carolina.

Simmons is now being charged with double homicide.

Three other men were also wounded that day in a shooting on Mason Street in Lincolnville, South Carolina. The Summerville County Sheriff’s Department is now investigating whether Simmons had anything to do with those shootings.

In situations like Simmons’s, he needs to hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer to handle his case.  One defense that Simmons could have is an alibi. If Simmons has a strong, clear and proven alibi, the attorney could possibly prove that Simmons was uninvolved in the crime that took place. Other common defenses are self-defense or insanity. Another very common defense is simply denying the charges. When the charge is denied by the suspect, defense lawyers can use alibis or witness statements to support the denial.

 

Sometimes, a criminal defense attorney may suggest, with the judge’s knowledge and permission, to negotiate a plea. Plea bargaining is used to lighten caseloads for courts. An example of this would be a suspect exchanging a guilty plea for a recommended sentence by the prosecutor. There are many opinions surrounding this widely-used practice. Those in opposition of plea bargaining feel that it puts the responsibility of determining guilt on the prosecutor instead of on the judge and/or jury. They may also feel that plea bargaining allows those who are guilty of a crime to receive lighter sentences.

 

If you were charged with a crime, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. Myrtle Beach attorneys at The Mace Firm spend a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, and several other areas.

 

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach attorney. The Myrtle Beach criminal attorneys at The Mace Firm are ready to speak with you about your case. Call The Mace Firm to schedule your free criminal consultation.

Myrtle Beach Attorneys Discuss Horry County Murder Cases

On Monday, the couple being accused of kidnapping and murdering Heather Elvis was denied bond following a two-hour hearing. The prosecution revealed additional evidence to the judge, including a timeline of events from the night Heather was last seen, text messages between Heather and the suspects, and video surveillance evidence from multiple locations in the areas near the suspects’ home. Their criminal defense attorneys tried to poke holes in the evidence so they could try to secure bond for each suspect. The pair will remain incarcerated until they reach the next phase in the process. One factor in this case continues to work against the prosecution: the body of Ms. Elvis is still missing.

Another murder case in Horry County is also missing that key piece of evidence. The case of Angie Pipkin is almost as mysterious as the Elvis case. Pipkin, however, was a bit older than Elvis. According to the arrest warrant in her case, Angie was allegedly hit and killed, then dismembered by a man she knew. That man is named Randy Robinson. At this time in the investigation, her remains are believed to have been dumped into the Pee Dee River. Even with key evidence missing, both cases have suspects in custody. Robinson was taken into custody related to Pipkin’s disappearance after his home was searched on March 6. Officials charged him with murder after they searched the residence, stating that “a homicide had taken place” at the location. Robinson was also charged with obstruction of justice because he provided police with misleading or false information during their initial investigation and search for the woman.

Some may wonder what happens in cases like these when officials have named a murder suspect without first discovering a body. In these types of cases, to prove a murder occurred without a body to point to, the prosecution must present witnesses to reveal patterns and routines of the victim. Any abrupt stop to those patters and routines would show that the victim likely did not intentionally disappear.

To expand on that, some will also be wondering the types of defenses that can be argued in cases like these. One defense could be an alibi. If any of the suspects have a strong, clear and proven alibi, they could prove they were uninvolved in the crime that took place. Other common defenses are self-defense and insanity. Another very common defense is simply denying the charges. When the charge is denied by the suspect, defense lawyers can use alibis or witness statements to support it.

Sometimes, a criminal defense attorney may suggest, at the judge’s knowledge and permission, to negotiate a plea. Plea bargaining is used to lighten case loads for courts. An example of this would be a suspect exchanging a guilty plea for a recommended sentence by the prosecutor. There are many opinions surrounding this widely-used practice. Those in opposition of plea bargaining feel that it puts the responsibility of determining guilt on the prosecutor instead of on the judge and jury. They may also feel that plea bargaining allows those who are guilty of a crime to get off with lighter sentences.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. Myrtle Beach attorneys at The Mace Firm spend a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. The Myrtle Beach attorneys at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

Can You be a Student and a Criminal?

What if the person next to you in your college biology class was an ex-criminal? Often times, colleges are unaware of criminal backgrounds of applicants. To help with this issue, some college applications require the prospective student to admit their criminal background; however, a group at Princeton University has decided that they no longer feel the question is appropriate. Some students feel that allowing individuals with criminal pasts would provide campuses with diversity and a new perspective. Some students rightfully feel that the background checks are an invasion of their privacy, some feel that the background checks are a necessary safety precaution.

According to a group of students who are pushing for the question to be removed stated that “individuals with past involvement with the justice system would bring distinct perspectives to Princeton. Approximately one-quarter of U.S. adults have a criminal record. On college campuses, a lack of interaction with this stigmatized population fosters deep misunderstandings about the nature of the criminal justice system and those affected by it. We believe that by eliminating questions related to past involvement with the justice system, Princeton can open the door to increased diversity of experience and perspective among the student body without compromising its academic quality or moral character.” Furthermore, the group feels that there is a lack of concrete evidence that shows those who have a criminal history are more likely to commit a crime.

The difficulties go beyond the application level, too. In fact, being involved in a crime can hinder a student’s chances of being eligible for federal financial aid if they were involved in a drug crime. Further, even if a student is awarded financial aid from the federal government, it can be taken away if the student is ever charged with a crime involving drugs. According to the federal financial aid website, drugs are not the only factor that could keep a student from receiving aid. They could have also been convicted of a forcible or non-forcible offense.

Criminal charges can be confusing and scary. Anyone convicted of a crime in state or federal court should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in their area to help make sense of it all.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at The Mace Firm spend a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. A South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Defense Attorney on Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial

Oscar Pistorius was well known for his struggle with fibular hemimelia as an Olympic medalist.  Pistorius was born without a fibula in both legs and prior to turning one year old, he had both legs amputated between his knees and ankles. Even with such a severe disability, he went on to become a great athlete by using a J-shaped carbon-fiber prosthesis in place of feet and ankles. He even set a disability sports world record in the 400 meter race. In the 2012 Summer Olympics, he was the first amputee runner to compete in an Olympic Games and was described by Time magazine as “the definition of global inspiration.” Pistorious seemed to have it all going for him, until the morning of Valentine’s Day in 2013 when he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Early that morning, Pistorious heard some noise coming from a bathroom in his home. He alleges that he thought his girlfriend Reeva was still in bed and the noise must be coming from an intruder. Pistorious then allegedly put on his prosthetic legs and found his firearm and made his way towards the bathroom where he believed the intruder was hiding. He fired his weapon at the locked bathroom door four times. Three of the bullets hit Reeva; Pistorious claims he didn’t know Reeva was the one in the bathroom. However, according to the prosecution, Pistorious did know who was in that bathroom and that Reeva’s murder was actually premeditated.

The trial for this case commenced yesterday in Pretoria.  Scheduled to testify at the hearing on Tuesday is the neighbor of Pistorious at the time of the incident. The neighbor testified that she heard screams coming from Reeva as she was being shot by her boyfriend. The neighbor’s story completely contradicts the story told by the suspect.  Pistorious, with his criminal defense attorney backing him, pleaded not guilty to all the charges he is facing including all the firearms charges and the murder charge.

During the trial, Pistorious’ lead criminal defense attorney will likely attempt to portray their client as a young man in love whose character is under attack. During the first few days of his trial, his defense team has made attempts to show that the witnesses may have tailored their testimonies to match each others. In addition to that, the defense team If their defense strategies are ineffective and the suspect is found to have intended to kill that day, Pistorious could face a minimum 25-year sentence. He already faces a minimum of 15 years with his admission at the bail hearing in 2013 to culpable homicide. Culpable homicide is the equivalent to manslaughter.  His trial is scheduled to last about three weeks, but could go longer since there are more than 100 witnesses waiting to be called by either side.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense attorney who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at The Mace Firm spend a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. A South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

NY Knicks Point Guard Arrested on Gun Charges

In the midst of his ninth NBA season, New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton is definitely in the spotlight.  However, the attention isn’t because he’s such a great athlete and basketball player, it’s because he has found himself in a heap of trouble with the law, and with his wife of less than two years.  Keep in mind that New York has some of the country’s most strict gun-control laws, and the point guard was found to be in possession of a highly illegal fire arm and ammunition: the high powered, semi automatic handgun FNH 5.7 28mm. Although Felton’s wife knew the weapon was in their home in Manhattan, she no longer felt safe with it being there after her husband held onto it during arguments. According to police, Felton was holding a firearm, but not pointing it, during four separate occasions in which he was having an argument with his wife. The couple is currently going through a divorce, with Felton’s wife alleging that Mr. Felton has been continuously unfaithful to her during their marriage.

This past Monday, Felton’s wife and her attorney took the handgun to the police station, telling authorities the illegal weapon belonged to the Knicks player.  On Tuesday, Felton was arrested on two felony weapons charges: third degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm The prosecutors for the case declined to file a second-degree felony weapons charge and opted for two lesser felonies against Felton because they lacked the evidence required to support the second-degree charge. The second-degree charge involves having intent to use the firearm against someone else and has a mandatory 3.5 year prison term for those convicted. The move by the prosecution is likely the reason Felton still has a job.  In fact, he was still practicing with the Knicks the day after his arrest and played against the Miami Heat on Thursday evening.

If we take a look back, New York’s gun laws are tough for everyone, even celebrities who seem to have large enough bank accounts to keep them out of jail.  In 2008, football star Plaxico Burress violated the strict firearm law when he brought an unregistered gun into a nightclub, then accidentally shot himself with it.  Burress ended up serving 20 months in jail.  Burress even offered up some advice for Felton, stating to ESPN that “you just need to be smarter, make better decisions and be knowledgeable about the laws in cities and different states if you do want to be a gun owner to prevent situations like this.”  Burress went further, stating that he “didn’t even know that [he] couldn’t carry the weapons in New York City at that time. If [he] would have known then, [the] situation would have never happened.”

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense attorney who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at The Mace Firm spend a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. A South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

Drug-Makers Have Criminal Records

Retail stores all over the nation offer various types of supplements for consumers to purchase.  From natural sleep aids to diet pills, there is likely a supplement for every ailment.  What makes these supplements different than the ones you can obtain by seeing your doctor is that they are not closely regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In fact, the FDA’s budget only allows for about 1,000 tests per year on the supplement industry.  This can prove very dangerous because consumers tend to trust the companies who make and sell the supplement products and have no idea that what they’re taking may be harmful.  Furthermore, the people responsible for manufacturing the supplements have been found to have extensive rap sheets, including charges involving crack cocaine, Ecstacy, steroids and human growth hormone, along with fraud, theft, money laundering and other offenses.

For instance, one type of supplement tested by the FDA is Dr. Larry’s Tranquility pills.  The pills promised consumers a restful night’s sleep using all-natural ingredients.  When tested, the FDA found that the pills contained two powerful prescription medications: an anti-psychotic and an anti-depressant/sleep aid.  The person responsible for making the drug is Larry LeGunn; he is not a licensed doctor and has a criminal record.  LeGunn used to work as a chiropractor, but was forced to give up his license when he was charged with grand theft and insurance fraud.

Another man is Jeffrey Bolanos who operates a supplement production company, Beamonstar Products.  His rap sheet includes an arrest for possession of crack cocaine and possession of methamphetamines.  His business, however, seemed to be a bit more successful with awards earned for a sexual enhancement supplement it created.  That is until the FDA tested the supplements and found that they contained amounts of a popular prescription erectile dysfunction drug.  Even more disturbing, one of the supplements that contained the prescription drug was labeled for sale to female consumers.

Next on the list is a man named Barry Nevins.  Nevins runs a website called DrBarrysVitamins.com.  The issue here is that Nevins is not an actual doctor and he is not supposed to represent himself as one over the Internet.  Despite this agreement he has with prosecutors, Nevins’ website still says that “Dr. Barry” is a “leading formulator, developer and manufacturer of natural pharmaceuticals.”  One of his products called Virility Max was sold to consumers as a natural remedy product, but when tested by the FDA the supplement was found to have traces of a compound similar to Viagra.

Companies like the ones mentioned here have been under the microscope for years.  Investigations have revealed that almost 15% of the companies were run by people who have hefty criminal backgrounds.  Luckily, due to the investigations, dangerous products have been removed from the market.  In fact, over the past 6 years, the FDA has removed more than 450 supplements from the market because they were found to have been tainted with dangerous drugs.

Most, if not all, of the supplement makers have said that their past actions have nothing to do with the supplements they make.  They have also blamed suppliers for sneaking dangerous drugs into their products, saying that they had no idea they were selling tainted products.  The danger in this practice lies with the end-user.  Consumers buy these supplements with false hopes and could end up having severe side effects like stroke, liver damage or death.  These aren’t exactly the effects that the end-user was looking for when they purchase a “natural” supplement.

The FDA has a tough road ahead for regulating supplements like vitamins, minerals, protein powders and herbal blends–all of which are for sale to the public and assumed safe by those who ingest them.  For any action to be taken by the FDA, the agency must show that the product is absolutely unsafe.  Only then can they take steps to restrict the use of the supplement or seek to have it removed from the market entirely.  This is different than prescription medications because supplements are not required to prove safety or effectiveness before being sold to the public.  It must be noted that “any person who markets a supplement that violates the law can be found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense attorney who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at The Mace Firm spend a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. A South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

Hazing Death Ruled Homicide

South Carolina criminal lawyer discusses hazing deaths and criminal charges.  We have all heard of hazing rituals that are performed by fraternities and sororities as part of an initiation process for new or prospective members.  Sometimes, hazing rituals are focused on the younger people of a group instead of new people in a group.  19-year-old Michael Deng was a college freshman in the fall of 2013.  He did all the things college freshman do, including deciding to attempt membership to a fraternity.  Deng and all the other pledges to Pi Delta Psi were subject to various forms of hazing.  One of those rituals proved to be fatal for Deng and his death has recently been ruled a homicide.

This particular hazing ritual called for pledges to be blindfolded then they would each carry a 20-pound sack of sand for a specific distance while being tackled by fraternity members.  During the ritual, someone tackled Deng and caused him to fall over, hitting his head on the way to the ground.  At that point, Deng was allegedly carried inside the fraternity house because he had lost consciousness.  No one tried to call 911 or any other emergency help line.  Rather than calling for help, the fraternity members moved Deng by a fire, changed his clothes and researched his symptoms on the internet.  About an hour later, when Deng was still unresponsive, three of the fraternity members took him to the hospital.  When Deng arrived, he was in critical condition and needed to be put on life support.  Deng passed away about a day later on Monday from head injuries and blunt force trauma.  At this point, police are trying to figure out who was at the house at the time of Deng’s fall.  Following the incident, some members left the house before police could arrive to ask questions.  Police are still looking for those individuals.

This is definitely not the first time criminal charges have stemmed from a hazing death.  One older fraternity member was fatally hazed by younger members of his fraternity in 2011.  Allegedly, the student had been blindfolded and bound by the wrists and feet, then he was made to take numerous shots of vodka and eat very little.  He was left in the library to sober up after the ritual, but he never woke up.  His mother has filed a wrongful death suit naming the fraternity in her son’s death.

Hazing among fraternities and sororities has become pretty common.  One study revealed that 55% of students who join fraternities, sororities or sports teams experience some form of hazing.  Not surprisingly, it has also been estimated that nearly 80% of hazing deaths involve the consumption of alcohol.  To try to stop hazing, some colleges even put a stop to pledging to fraternities and sororities for a period of time to investigate hazing claims.  Further, some schools have adopted a zero-tolerance policy regarding hazing of any kind.  Wrongful death lawyers have even made careers out of representing people who wish to sue fraternities involved in hazing cases.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense attorney who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. A South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. A South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

Amanda Knox Guilty Verdict Reinstated

Criminal defense attorneys for Amanda Knox have a tough road ahead after the Italian court has reinstated the guilty verdict in her case.  Along with reinstating the verdict, the court increased her prison sentence to 28.5 years.  Over two years ago, the Italian court found that Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were not guilty in the murder of Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher.  Knox was sent back to the United States following the verdict, and she expected to be able to move on with her life.  However, she knew that there was a chance that the court would order a third trial in the case.

Defense lawyers for Knox plan to appeal to Italy’s highest court, but they know that the appeals process could take a very long time to complete.  And then there is the notion of double jeopardy since she is being retried after an acquittal.  But Knox’s criminal defense attorneys dismiss that notion because her acquittal had never been finalized by the Italian court system.  A new prosecutor has been assigned to the trail and is arguing that the violence which lead to the murder stemmed from tension between the two females.  According to the prosecutor, Knox and Kercher were having arguments about cleanliness, and the “final spat” was triggered by an un-flushed toilet by a man named Rudy Guede.  Guede was actually convicted in a separate trial for this murder, but was found to have not acted alone.  He is serving a 16 year sentence.  Whether or not Knox will be extradited to Italy will be up to the US State Department.

Whether or not the US public believes Knox’s story of her innocence is up in the air.  Below are some interesting facts surrounding the crime:

1. Amanda lied about Kercher’s door-locking habits.  When postal police went to the home regarding a found mobile phone, Amanda and Raffaele showed the officer around the home.  The mobile phone had been found in a backyard and it belonged to Kercher; there had allegedly been a burglary earlier that day.  When the officer got to Kercher’s room, he noted that the door was locked; but Amanda assured him that Kercher always locks her door.  However, when another flatmate arrives at the home to find Kercher’s door locked, she panics and demands the door be forced open.  It was later learned that Amanda and Raffaele had attempted several times to gain access to the locked room before calling an emergency phone number.  It is unclear if those calls were made before or after the postal officer had visited the home.

2.  Based on evidence, the calls appear to have been made after the officer left the home.  The calls were allegedly made by Raffaele to inform authorities of the burglary and to let them know that Amanda had seen some blood in the home.

3.  The knife which was found in Raffaele’s apartment contained DNA from two people:  DNA from Kercher on the blade and DNA from Knox on the handle.  In addition to that, Knox’s blood was also found mixed with Kercher’s blood at the scene.

4.  Raffaele’s DNA was found on Kercher’s bra hook.  This evidence was found during a second search of the crime scene.

5.  In the small bathroom right near Kercher’s room, four drops of Kercher’s blood was found along with one drop of Amanda’s.  No DNA from Raffaele was found in this location.

6.  The burglary appears to be staged because there is glass on top of items strewn about the room.  This is an indication that the broken window allegedly used by the intruder as an entry point was broken after the room was ransacked.

7.  There was a pillow found under Kercher’s body with a bloody shoe print.  The prosecution and the defense disagree with who that shoe print belongs to.  One side says the shoe mark is from the same size shoe as Knox, but the other side contents that the print came from a larger shoe likely worn by a male.

8.  Guede’s DNA was found on Kercher’s hand bag, on Kercher’s sweatshirt and inside her vagina.

The Italian court feels they have the right person behind bars for this crime, but evidence is pointing to a second or third attacker.  It will be up to the criminal defense team of Amanda Knox to prove her innocence, once again.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense attorney who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. A Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call a criminal defense attorney to schedule your free consultation.

Need to Hire a Federal Criminal Attorney?

It is true: each and every year, thousands of American people who appear to be upstanding and responsible end up serving time in federal prison.  Why?  Simply because they are unaware that they are in violation of federal law.  This happens much more often than we care to ponder.  In fact, federal law is criminalizing entire categories of activities which normal people would never suspect would send them to the big house.  Furthermore, under the new laws, the government has the authority to secure convictions without having the proof that the accused intended to commit a crime.  This burden of proof was once the protection against wrongful conviction. This overcriminalization has serious consequences in the real world, specifically regarding tax-payer dollars being used to put people in prison who never intended to break any law or who violated federal laws that should not be considered crimes. Then, the challenge for individuals and businesses who are trying to do the right thing, but have a hard time figuring out which conduct is legal, which conduct is in violation of federal law and then applying their interpretation of those laws. One slip up could mean losing everything from personal property to their own freedom.

The example of small-time inventor Krister Evertson comes to mind.  Evertson had never even received a traffic ticket before a SWAT vehicle ran him off the road in Alaska near where his mother was living.  Unbeknownst to him, Evertson was committing a federal crime by (legally) selling sodium, an element he was using to make clean-energy fuel cells.  According to his arrest records, Evertson failed to label the sodium he sold with a federally mandated safety sticker prior to mailing the package.  Even though Evertson had no criminal record, federal agents tore his mother’s home apart in search of “evidence” against him.  As his case moved forward, Evertson’s federal criminal attorney was able to show the jury that the charges against him were frivolous.  The jury ended up acquitting Evertson of all the charges.  However, this was not the end of the line for Evertson and the feds.

Two years after his initial arrest, Evertson was charged with a new crime related to his fuel cell materials.  Evertson stored his materials securely in Idaho so he could move to Alaska to care for his elderly mother.  According to the feds, while Evertson was in jail when they arrested him the first time, he had “abandoned” the fuel cell materials.  Federal lawmakers had added a provision to the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act which made it a crime to abandon hazardous waste.  The trial judge in this case noted that prosecutors were not required to prove that Evertson intended to abandon the materials or prove that the materials were, in fact, waste.  All the while, Evertson knew that he never intended to abandon the materials and that the materials were valuable and had been stored properly to facilitate future use.  With the law being so broad, the second jury Evertson was put in front of convicted him and he spent nearly two years in federal prison.

But, what about the judicial process in a criminal case? Isn’t it true that the standard of proof in a criminal trial is “beyond a reasonable doubt”? This would mean that the evidence against a defendant is so strong that there is no reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. That standard doesn’t seem to exist in the case of Evertson. All the more reason to have an experienced federal criminal attorney on your side.

A good federal criminal attorney will help level the playing field between you and the government if you’re facing federal charges. Once you find out that you are being investigated, call a criminal defense attorney in your area who handles federal cases. The federal defense attorney will make it their first goal to prevent charges being brought against you if no charges have been filed. It is very important to speak with a federal criminal attorney rather than a state criminal attorney because court procedures and defense strategies will differ tremendously between the two. Also keep in mind that federal charges can be filed for minor offenses; the offense does not have to be extremely serious to bring about federal charges.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a federal criminal attorney who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges. The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach federal criminal attorney. A federal criminal attorney at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Welfare Fraud Charge for “Octomom”

38 year old mother of 14, Nadya Suleman, also known to the public as “Octomom,” is being charged with welfare fraud.  Prosecutors in Los Angeles are charging her with welfare fraud after she allegedly earned $30,000 from appearances and working while she was receiving public assistance. She now faces two counts of perjury by false application and one count of aid by misrepresentation.  If Sulemon is convicted of the crimes, she could be incarcerated for more than five years if her criminal defense attorney does not properly argue her case.

In January 2013, Sulemon applied for welfare in Lancaster, California.  When she filled out her application, Sulemon “failed to disclose that she was also getting checks for personal appearances and residuals from videos.”

Public assistance like welfare or food stamps were put in place to help those who are needy.  However, many people have been caught taking advantage of these types of programs, just like Sulemon.  When someone attempts to defraud a public assistance agency, they are intentionally misrepresenting, concealing or withholding particular information in order to receive or get an increase in public assistance benefits.  When this happens, DSS has a few options for how they will handle the issue.  First, they may simply disqualify you from every receiving any type of benefit in the future.  Next, if you have been receiving benefits due to a false application, DSS can make you re-pay anything you had been paid.  Finally, DSS may decide to contact the district attorney in order to criminally prosecute you.  DSS will likely investigate any suspicion of fraud and have their special investigation division (SID) contact you.  They may also speak with your neighbors, employer or other people who may have information about you.

For those cases that do not warrant criminal prosecution, but have still raised red flags at DSS, the applicant will be charged with intentional program violation and a hearing will be scheduled.  This would be considered civil fraud as opposed to criminal fraud.  At the hearing, the issue at hand will be whether or not you intentionally misrepresented yourself in order to receive benefits.  DSS will have to prove to the judge with clear and convincing evidence that you are guilty of the intentional program violation.  Their burden of proof is rather heavy in assistance program fraud matters, so if there was no actual wrongdoing on behalf of the applicant, their benefits will not be discontinued.  If the person fails to show up to their hearing, their benefits will be stopped.  Another way this happens is if the applicant signs a waiver of the hearing.  The waiver basically states that you accept that your benefits will be discontinued without having to admit to committing an intentional program violation.   The waiver will not prevent any future criminal prosecution though, nor will attending the hearing.

The following is a list of fraudulent welfare program violations which can be reported:

1) Unreported income;

2) Hidden assets like bank accounts or property;

3) Unreported changes in household composition.  For example, someone either moving out of or into the home where benefits are being paid;

4) False parental custody;

5) Unreported changes in costs of shelter or falsified shelter costs, and

6) SNAP benefit trafficking.  In other words, trading EBT cards (food stamps) for cash, drugs, etc.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the industries most victimized by fraud are the banking and financial sector, government and public administration, and manufacturing.  In fact, even when companies discover fraud has taken place, 40 – 50% of them never recover the losses.  The ACFE also reported that, although fraud can occur on all levels of a company’s hierarchy, it is usually managers and executives who end up committing the fraudulent schemes.  When welfare fraud in each state is examined, it is difficult to find data on any real numbers to show the extent of welfare fraud and the subsequent losses from those schemes.  In fact, numerous reports from inspector generals have noted that improper payments to recipients were categorized as “eligibility and payment calculation errors” or “documentation errors,” as opposed to intentional violations by the benefit recipients.  This would lead some to argue that, in order to combat fraud schemes, the actual perpetrator should be targeted rather than the beneficiary.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire criminal defense attorneys who completely understand all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges.  The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal defense attorneys all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal attorney. Criminal defense attorneys at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Charges for Ex-Cops and Authorities

In New York City, criminal defense lawyers should being to prepare their arguments for a newly-discovered scheme involving former police officers, firefighters and city workers.  Allegedly, over 100 former workers have been fraudulently collecting disability pay for several years.  Some of the workers claimed severe mental illness, but were observed behaving normally and leading normal lives.  By lying about their mental conditions, the workers were able to collect thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits per year.  Among those accused of the scheme are 72 former police officers, 8 former firefighters, 5 former correction officers and an officer from the Nassau County Police Department.  However, prosecutors for this case revealed that there are hundreds more and that they have only just begun to release indictments.  Surprisingly, all of those who were defrauding the system received help from two attorneys and two police officers, who accepted cash payments for their assistance.  One of the attorney/ringleaders is Raymond Lavallee, who is a Korean War veteran who attended law school on the GI Bill.  After working for the FBI and the prosecutor’s office, he opened his own private law practice.  Earlier this week, Lavallee and his criminal defense lawyer entered a plea of not guilty for his part in the scheme.  According to court documents, Lavallee “would receive thousands in cash payments from successful applicants.”  Sometimes the applicants would leave Lavallee’s payment on park benches near his office.

The four “ringleaders” allegedly taught applicants how to show that they were mentally scarred so they could collect $30,000 to $50,000 in benefits per year.  The applicants were also taught to claim “that they could not cope with other people or were so mentally disabled that they could not even prepare a meal on their own.  They were told to appear [messy] in their interviews” and claim to be sleep deprived. They had been trained on how to fail memory tests and fake panic attacks.  The ringleaders knew that if the applicant claimed to be unable to leave their home to find employment due to these mental disabilities, their application would be less likely to be denied.

Prosecutors in the case claim that the applications for disability benefits were all “strikingly similar,” using matching phrases like, “I don’t have interest in anything” and “I am unable to perform any type of work activity in or out of the house.”  They also claimed that they could not use a computer or have any type of social interaction, when in fact, some even had personal Facebook or other social media pages.

Keep in mind that the people who made these claims were observed doing things like flying helicopters, working as a martial arts instructor, jet skiing, shopping and even working other jobs.  Some even claimed that they were disabled due to 9/11, yet investigations proved that they were nowhere near ground zero on the day of the attack.  In a statement made this week, current NY Police Commissioner said that “the retired members of the NYPD indicted in this case have disgraced all first responders who perished during the search-and-rescue efforts on September 11, 2001, and those who subsequently died from 9/11-related illness, by exploiting their involvements that tragic day for personal gain.”

For committing the disability fraud, the ringleaders in this case are to be charged with first and second degree grand larceny and second degree attempted larceny.  For the other defendants, who were all recipients of disability payments, each will be charged with second degree grand larceny in addition to second degree grand larceny.  It is unclear at this time how many of those defendants have retained a criminal defense lawyer.  This scheme is the largest yet to be revealed since the Social Security disability system started in the late 1980’s; defendants are estimated to have bilked the federal government out of $400 million.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges.  The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal defense lawyers all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston,  Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal attorney. Criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm are ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Defense Lawyers and Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a new, technology-driven way to gather information.  It is necessary for criminal defense lawyers to be aware of the new ways authorities are catching criminals.  Crowdsourcing is used when information is needed and can be obtained easier by asking help from online communities.  The term stems from a term we are all more familiar with: outsourcing.  The difference with crowdsourcing is that the source of what is needed and obtained is an “unidentified public” rather than a “specific, named group.”  The term was actually coined more than seven years ago, but more recently, the FBI has begun to use the tactic to fight crime or find people of interest.  The “crowd,” in other words the users, will submit their solutions to an entity which has presented a problem.  Once the users’ solutions have been submitted, they become owned by the entity which first revealed the issue.  The main benefit of using this tactic is the ability to obtain a large amount of solutions or ideas at a next-to-nothing cost.  Plus, users are more apt to share information via the Web because they feel more comfortable and feel they are less likely to be judged or scrutinized.  Also, less time can be spent on communicating and more time on the projects at hand.

To put this tactic to work, the FBI uses it to help them catch child molesters, and have seen some success by doing so.   This week, the FBI posted and unidentified child molester, named “John Doe 27,” on their news blog.  The post included three blurry photos of the man and noted that he has engaged in inappropriate behavior with children on the internet.  Since the post was made a few days ago and the crowdsourcing tactic employed, there has been thousands of tweets about the case, which will potentially help the FBI figure out who Doe really is and lead to his capture.  This is not the first time the FBI has used this strategy successfully; they have made arrests in several cases over the past year.  Even a human rights group got involved to help catch child predators: one group placed an ad as bait for predators who were wanting to contact children via webcam.  That group captured over 1,000 child molesters within three months, simply by use of crowdsourcing.

Some even view crowdsourcing as a new-age police-tip line; however, this strategy is on a much larger scale than old fashioned phone calls to a tip line.  In some instances, the FBI stated that they have received over 300,000 tips per minute.  Once the tips are received, they must be reviewed so that innocent people do not come under fire and so any false alarms may be removed.   The FBI wants to make it clear that, by participating in crowdsourcing, users are supposed to provide the information and that is where it should stop.  From that point on, the user must trust that any further legal work or computer investigating will be handled by professionals in the agency.

As another example of using crowdsourcing to catch criminals, a small Pennsylvania town decided to use the popular website Pintrest.  A newspaper in the town created a board on Pintrest labeled “Wanted by Police” and they pinned photos of the criminals in that town who are wanted on that board so that internet users could see and share.  With the use of that strategy, the town saw a 57% increase in arrests made.  They even said that using crowdsourcing to catch the criminals was “very enjoyable” because the public was able to help them do their work.

Even state agencies are using the strategy to catch criminals.  The NYPD has launched a unit on social media in an attempt to track criminals on Facebook and Twitter.  Further north in Canada, crowdsourcing helped authorities catch those who were responsible for millions in damage after an NHL team lost the championship in 2011.  Canadian authorities used several image processing techniques that allowed them to see riot participants in high resolution.  Viewing the images in high resolution and being able to use facial-recognition technology are the reasons authorities were able to arrest the people responsible for the damage during the riot.

Technology is changing each day, so we know that authorities and criminals alike will try anything to achieve their ultimate goal.  To continue to have crowdsourcing as a viable strategy to counteract crime, “police and members of our society will need to organize themselves as an effective countermeasure.”  In the end, it seems that it all depends on which group can mobilize a larger crowd: the criminals or the authorities.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges.  The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal defense lawyers all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal attorney. A criminal defense lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Defends Texas Boy Charged with Manslaughter

Some of us have never heard the term “affluenza” until this week when a young Texas man appeared before a judge at his sentencing hearing.  Ethan Couch is 16 years old and apparently suffers from affluenza – growing up with wealthy parents who let children get away with anything and everything.  In other words, affluenza could also be defined as being too rich to know the difference between right and wrong.  This condition actually saved him from serving a 20-year prison sentence for a serious mistake he made on June 15th.  That night, Couch and some of his friends stole some beer from a local WalMart store.  After consuming the alcohol, Couch drove his pickup truck to another location with his friends in tow.  Just up the road, a woman had broken down in her vehicle.  Two people who lived nearby were at the woman’s aid, along with another passerby.  This is when Couch’s pickup truck slammed into the four people, killing all of them.  Additionally, Couch injured two of his friends that were along for the ride that night.  One can no longer move or talk due to the severity of the injuries he sustained.  According to Couch’s criminal defense lawyer, he judge “fashioned a sentence that could have him under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years.”  Couch ended up being charged with 4 counts of manslaughter by intoxication and 2 counts of assault by intoxication causing bodily injury.  At his sentencing, he was ordered to 10 years probation and no prison time.  As a part of his sentence, Couch was ordered to an in-patient rehab center near Newport Beach.  His family will spend the yearly fee of $450,000 to have him stay there.  Additionally, should Couch violate his probation terms, he could face up to 10 years in jail.

Sentencing guidelines for this type of crime in Texas call for fines up to $10,000 and between 2 and 20 years in a state prison.  The lenient sentence handed down could be due to Couch’s criminal defense lawyer calling upon psychologist Dick Miller to testify at the hearing.  The doctor revealed many things about Couch and his family life that may have swayed the judge’s opinion of him.  For instance, it was revealed that Couch’s parents were so lax in their discipline that they allowed the boy to start driving at age 13.  They also gave Couch no punishment when he was 15 years old, and police officers found him inside a  parked vehicle with a passed-out and naked 14 year old girl.  The doctor completed his testimony by saying that Couch was “emotionally flat and needed years of therapy.”  The doctor clearly holds that defendants fare better through rehabilitation services rather than jail-time.

In the same county one month after this deadly accident occurred, a 19 year old pleaded guilty to the same crime, intoxication manslaughter.  His carelessness ended up claiming the lives of 3 people.  Instead of probation, that young man was sentenced to 8 years in prison and he will have to serve at least 6 of those years before he will be eligible for parole.  Furthermore, the same judge who presided over Couch’s case has handed down heavy sentences including ten years for a punch that killed a stranger and ten years for robberies at a Halloween party which lead to one injury.  Clearly, Couch’s sentence is extremely lax compared to sentences given to others for similar crimes.

However, as most criminal defense lawyers are aware, despite how “clear-cut” a case may seem to onlookers, there is always the possibility that weak arguments are made against a defendant or the state prosecutors may make mistakes.  Especially when handling cases related to driving while intoxicated, authorities are required to follow certain and specific protocols.  If they do not follow these standards, any case against the defendant may hold less water in court.  This is another reason why each and every case should require careful and meticulous review by the criminal defense lawyer who is handling it.  Another challenge in defending this type of case is being able to convince a jury to look beyond the fact that lives have been lost and focus on the facts of the case to determine the fate of a defendant.

For those charged with this type of case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with the charges.  The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Defense Lawyers Defend Cyber Criminals

As more and more people all over the world discover ways to fool victims using a computer, criminal defense lawyers should brush up on their knowledge of cyber crimes. Cyber crimes can be categorized in three different ways according to the Department of Justice.  They are 1) the computer as a target, 2) the computer as a weapon and 3) the computer as an accessory.

The first category is using the computer as a target.  One example of this is the use of computer viruses to knowingly attack other computer users.  This method of attack has become increasingly worrisome.  One incident stands out in our minds, which occurred in 2000.  That year, a Filipino computer student released a virus called the “love” worm.  The virus spread by targets opening email attachments from an unknown sender.  Targets would receive the email with the heading “ILOVEYOU,” then open the attachment titled “love letter.”  The attachment contained a virus which ended up crippling email systems at the Pentagon, CIA and British Parliament.  The virus cost companies and government agencies $15 billion to remove.

The second category is using the computer as a weapon.  This is when a person uses a computer to commit a crime that we see in the real world, such as fraud or gambling illegally.  One example is the use of spyware to gather information about another computer user.  This would be considered a simple type of computer fraud if it is used with malicious intent to harm others physically or financially.  Another example would be investment schemes that are set up via the Internet with the intent to take and use someone’s money for reasons other than which the victim agreed to.

Also in 2000, a 15 year old Canadian boy went online under the name “MafiaBoy” in order to launch an attack on some of the most-visited sites on the Web.  He succeeded in doing so and made international headlines; he even prompted an emergency security meeting at the White House.  The boy did not receive any prison time for his crime which ended up causing $1.2 billion in global economic damages.

The third category is using the computer as an accessory.  This is when a person uses the computer as a way to file or store illegal or stolen information.  When this type of cyber crime is committed, authorities have the ability to charge them with more than one crime, which may lead to a stiffer penalty for the acts.

Theft via the internet is something that is happening quite often.  Lots of times, the person committing that crime may not know they are doing something illegal.  It is this issue that makes understanding intellectual property necessary.  Stealing intellectual property is just as illegal as stealing real property.  For instance, we know that taking a CD or DVD from a store without permission is wrong.  What is not as widely known is that taking music from the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner is just as wrong.

It is important to know that cyber crimes may be pursued in criminal and civil courts.  This means that once the criminal matter has been resolved, victims may sue for damages in civil court.  Also keep in mind that one does not need an actual computer to be charged with a cyber crime since smartphones and tablets have become increasingly popular among users.  Entering a computer system illegally and with ill intent will cause destruction on several levels and will come with severe consequences.  Almost all industries rely on computers in today’s world, which makes having a computer security policy in place essential.

For those who are behind the cyber crime schemes, once they are apprehended their charges could be pretty severe.  The charges could include money laundering, bank fraud, passport fraud, and identity theft.  Not only will they be facing fines and/or prison time, they will likely need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer. A federal criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our federal criminal attorneys to schedule your free consultation.