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.