Sample Target Letter | Federal Criminal Case

Target Letter
Target Letter

Target Letter


What is a Target Letter?


In short a target letter is sent to, “a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative federal criminal defendant.” A Federal Criminal Defense Attorney has training in how to respond to such a letter. It is probably best to allow your attorney to respond to the letter. Sometimes the cases are complex and involve defending wire and bank fraud charges. Drug crimes, tax crimes, computer fraud and abuse,  and money laundering are also frequent flyers. These types of investigations are numerous and ongoing in the Middle District of Florida.
Below is the text of a typical target letter sent by Federal Prosecutors prior to seeking indictment of a “target.” A target has been defined as: “a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” United States Attorney’s Manual § 9-11.151. Proceed cautiously if you have received one of these letters.

Sample Target Letter:


Re: Grand Jury Investigation, USAO No. 20XXXXXX
Dear Target:
This letter is to advise you that you are now a target of a Federal Grand Jury investigation in this District involving your activities with others related to [Charges and Activities] fraudulent mortgage transactions, in violation of the conspiracy, wire and bank fraud statutes [Statutes Here] (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 1343 and 1344), as well as other possible violations of federal criminal laws. The United States is prepared to proceed before a Federal Grand Jury to seek charges against you.
Should you desire to discuss the matter with us before we proceed to bring formal charges against you, please have your attorney contact Assistant United States Attorney [Name Here] (813) 555-5555, so that we may schedule an appointment. If you do not have an attorney and would still like to discuss the matter, please contact Special Agent [Name] at (813) 555-5555 to arrange an appointment. If we do not hear from you or your attorney on or before [Deadline Date], we shall assume that you do not wish to discuss the matter and will proceed accordingly.

 

Sincerely,

Assistant United States Attorney

If You have received a letter like this, we can fight for you. 
Get advice from an expert – Call 813-222-2220

 

Is the Lie Detector | Polygraph Admissible in Federal Court?

Lie Detector Polygraph

Judge says OK to Polygraph

Polygraphs & Lie Detectors in Florida Courts


“In law school and on the street everyone knows that lie detectors are not admissible in court. Wrong!”


Polygraph Instrument


A crew member of a ship claimed he did not know drugs were on board the ship. He was indicted in the Middle District of Florida’s Tampa Division. They indict them all, let the jury sort them out indictment charged many aboard with knowing the ship had drugs on board. This is not a rare claim where smugglers tend to minimize the need to know that 10-100 million dollars of cocaine is on board the vessel. Judge says let them use the polygraph. The best way to understand the polygraph case is to read it here.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Court Ruling on Polygraph


“the Court finds the polygraph evidence to be admissible at trial to either impeach or corroborate witness testimony”


Update  – Comments from Lead Defense Counsel

“There were three important lessons learned from this experience: 1) it is important to have the testimony of a qualified scientist, such as Dr. David Raskin, to testify in the Daubert hearing as the polygraph examiners are usually not well-versed enough in the scientific studies supporting the technique; 2) using a highly qualified examiner with extensive prior government experience is also critical, and 3) the relevant questions must be simple enough but carefully constructed so the results of the exam are indisputably meaningful.”

“[I]it helped to submit Dr. Raskin’s declaration in advance of the Daubert hearing so that all of the detailed support for the polygraph’s admissibility was on the record in advance, making the actual hearing go much more smoothly.”

Lead Defense Counsel Contact Information is Christophir A. Kerr, 13801, Walsingham Rd.  #A-154, Largo, FL 33774, 727-492- 2551 .

Facts in Federal Drug Case

“Defendant Angulo-Mosquera, a 53-year old deckhand and cook, was indicted on September 4, 2014 in the Middle District of Florida on charges related to the seizure of 1,700 kilograms of cocaine concealed on board a freighter known as the “Hope II” in August 2014. Defendant Angulo-Mosquera is a Colombian national with no known criminal record in any country. He has never before been in the United States. Defendant Angulo-Mosquera denies any knowledge of the drugs found concealed on the Hope II and any involvement of any kind in the illegal drug trade.”

Is the Lie Detector | Polygraph | Admissible in Federal Court?


Yes. A United States District Judge in Florida’s Middle District, Judge Honeywell ruled in this Order that the court would allow admission of a polygraph performed by a former FBI agent on a defendant at trial. The defendant will testify at trial and has passed a pretrial polygraph.  Here are the relevant questions:

1. Did you know those drugs were on that ship before the Coast Guard boarded the ship? Answer: No.

2. Did you know those drugs were on the Hope II before the Coast Guard boarded that
ship? Answer: No.

3. Did you know those drugs were on that ship before the Coast Guard found them in
August? Answer: No.

Polygraph Case Excerpts:


“Defendant Angulo-Mosquera plans to testify in his own defense at trial and requests that the results of the polygraph examination be admitted into evidence to corroborate his testimony. The Government objects arguing that polygraph examinations are just “one step above” junkscience and are “not suitable for juror consumption.” TR at 46:15-24, 49:16-17. The results of the polygraph examination, if admitted at trial, would be presented through expert witness testimony.”

“[T]the Court held an evidentiary hearing to determine the admissibility of the polygraph evidence and expert testimony regarding same, under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (“Rule 702”) and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). At the hearing, Defendant Angulo-Mosquera presented the testimony of Dr. David C. Raskin, who for 44 years has conducted laboratory and field research on polygraph techniques for the detection of deception, taught university courses about polygraph techniques, trained government and law enforcement polygraph examiners, and published extensively on polygraph techniques, regarding the reliability of polygraph examinations in general and the examination in this case specifically.”

Junk Science Claim


“Defendant Angulo-Mosquera plans to testify in his own defense at trial and requests that the results of the polygraph examination be admitted into evidence to corroborate his testimony. The Government objects arguing that polygraph examinations are just “one step above” junk science and are “not suitable for juror consumption.” TR at 46:15-24, 49:16-17. The results of the polygraph examination, if admitted at trial, would be presented through expert witness testimony.”

“Thus, in determining the admissibility of expert testimony under Rule 702, courts must engage in a rigorous three-part inquiry, determining whether: (1) the expert is qualified to testify competently regarding the matters he intends to address; (2) the methodology by which the expert reaches his conclusions is sufficiently reliable as determined by the sort of inquiry mandated in Daubert; and (3) the testimony assists the trier of fact, through the application of scientific, technical, or specialized expertise, to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.”

“Some factors that bear on this inquiry are: 1) whether the expert’s theories, methods or techniques can be or have been tested; 2) whether the technique, method, or theory has been subject to peer review and publications; 3) whether the known or potential rate of error of the technique when applied is acceptable; and 4) whether the technique, method, or theory has been generally accepted in the scientific community.”

Polygraph Ruling


“Thus, the Court finds the polygraph evidence to be admissible at trial to either impeach or corroborate witness testimony. Further specifics regarding the admission of the polygraph evidence will be determined at the time of trial. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing on Admission of Polygraph Evidence (Doc. 67), construed as a motion to determine the admissibility of the polygraph evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, is GRANTED. The Defendant may present the polygraph evidence, through expert testimony, to corroborate or impeach witness testimony at the trial in this matter.”


Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Reviews DOJ Memo (Video)

Tweets From The Feds

 

US_Attorney_Discovery_Memo tampa federal criminal defense attorney

United States Attorneys improperly concealed evidence – the U.S. Department of Justice ordered prosecutors to turn over information to criminal defense lawyers – here are their marching orders courtesy of a Tampa federal criminal defense attorney

Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Attorney notes that tweets are now discoverable in federal criminal cases. Because the Feds (United States Attorneys) were caught hiding evidence, the DOJ (United States Department of Justice) has written a memo on information to provide criminal defense attorneys. After 3 years, the memo has been released. Potential Sources of Discoverable Information include: Agency Files, Confidential Informant Files, Evidence, Gathered Information, Emails, Tweets, Text Messages, Memoranda, and Notes, etc.

Just obtained an internal memo from the Feds discussing all aspects of what the police and prosecutors must disclose to targets of federal prosecutions, including a warning that some tweets and social media use must be disclosed by Prosecutors in criminal cases. In short: Feds were caught hiding the ball and now must follow the rules in this detailed memo.

“tweets are now discoverable”

The new guidelines come from an investigation of case where United States Attorneys ( not in the Middle District of Florida ) were improperly concealing evidence. The memo may have been the result of prosecutors that improperly with held evidence  in the case of a United States Senator who was convicted by a jury. Days later the Justice Department dropped the charges.  After the Senator’s wrongful conviction, to cure these improprieties, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered prosecutors to draft memos on information to provide criminal defense lawyers – here are their marching orders.

Discover tweets: the Feds have

We initially received a tip from the Federal Defender, Eastern District of California. A complete copy of the United States Department of Justice Discovery Memo is available here. A video including the Attorney General’s statements on the problems with handling of evidence and the solution is included at the bottom of this post.

“The biggest problem is that nobody outside the prosecutor’s office actually knows what those policies are.”

The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) ultimately released 73 individualized manuals for many federal district offices. There are links to the other Florida Federal Districts located at the end of this post. Florida has three districts. They are the Middle District, the Southern District, and the Northern District.

The Point: Feds were caught hiding the ball and now must follow the rules in this memo.

In the State court system, most prosecutors have a “open file” policy that ensures that whatever information is contained in the prosecutor’s file is available to defense attorneys. The lone exception has been state cases where police and prosecutors want to protect the identity of confidential sources. In  police reports these frequently appear as “CS” for confidential source or “CI” for confidential informant.

“written and unwritten statements are discoverable in federal criminal cases”


Discovery  Sources Bullet Points

  • Investigative Agency’s Files
  • Confidential Informant Files
  • Evidence and Information Gathered During Investigation
  • Documents or Evidence Gathered by Civil Attorneys
  • Emails, tweets, text messages, memoranda, notes
  • Personnel and Disciplinary Files
  • Handwritten Notes of Agents
  • Presentence Reports

Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Attorney on Discovery Practices

 

In 20 or so years of Federal Criminal practice in the Tampa Bay area the best course of action considered the fact: “rules for what prosecutors must share and when remained almost entirely secret. . . .” USA Today, filed a Freedom of Information Act request that forced the hand of the Federal Prosecutors to pull back the curtain on what must be provided to defense attorneys under the Constitution and Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

“it took the department nearly three years to release the policies”

“The biggest problem is that nobody outside the prosecutor’s office actually knows what those policies are.” said Timothy O’Toole of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). According to USA Today, “it took the department [U.S. Department of Justice] nearly three years to release the policies from 74 U.S. attorneys’ offices . . . .”


Overview of the Federal Prosecutor Manual

 

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 16 (b)

 

 “Most criminal defense attorneys immediately request that evidence be produced at the initial appearance”

As a starting point, “To trigger the government’s reciprocal discovery rights defined in Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 16 (b), the defendant must request discovery.” says a footnote in the document. The manual defines the scope of persons including law enforcement agencies and staff from whom investigative information should be obtained.  Most criminal defense attorneys immediately request that evidence be produced at the initial appearance or arraignment or detention hearing. The manual puts in writing the types of information available to defend federal criminal defendant by an exhaustive listing of what constitutes “discovery” or “discoverable information.”

Information Helpful to the Defense

 

“regardless of whether the prosecutor believes such information will make the difference between conviction and acquittal”

 The memo specifically instructs Assistant United States Attorneys (Prosecutors) that “[a] prosecutor must disclose information that is inconsistent with any element of any crime charged against the defendant or that establishes a recognized affirmative defense, regardless of whether the prosecutor believes such information will make the difference between conviction and acquittal of the defendant for a charged crime.” USAM 9-5.001 C 1.

Limit Use of Reports in Court

 

 “continue to object to use of the report”

Although the defense may get a report that includes witness statements, the manual reminds prosecutors to limit the use of statements in the reports. Especially when defense attorneys try to use the reports in cross-examination of witnesses in court. The memo states in part, “unless the witness has adopted the memorandum as his statement, AUSAs [Assistant United States Attorneys] should continue to object to use of the report in cross examination as if it were the witness’ statement.” See Page 9 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

Disclose Written and Unwritten Favorable Information

 

 “discussions cannot be avoided by failing to memorialize these events”

Sometimes police try to prevent helpful information from falling into the hands of the defense. To that end, the cops would not write down everything. They would fail to include helpful information in their reports. In a most remarkable requirement, the memo reminds prosecutors that, “[t]he duty to disclose to the defendant the substance of what a witness has said during interviews, debriefings, or informal discussions cannot be avoided by failing to memorialize these events. If any such events occur that are not memorialized in an interview report, the AUSA should determine what the witness said during the session and disclose the content of the witness’ statements to the defense. AUSAs should emphasize to agents the importance of memorializing all impeaching information.” See Page 10 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

The memo also extends prosecutors’ obligation to disclose to preparation of witnesses for trial. “The duty to disclose to the defendant the substance of what a witness has said during a pre-trial preparation session cannot be avoided by failing to memorialize it.” See Page 11 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

Who is Part of the Prosecution Team?

 

 “know which agencies have played a role in the investigation”

To prevent prosecutors from using claims that favorable information was not available to disclose, the memo explicitly describes who is a part of the prosecution’s team. “‘prosecution team’ is defined as  including ‘federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and other government officials participating in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal case against the defendant.’ The AUSA needs to know which agencies have played a role in the investigation and make all reasonable inquiries to ascertain what pertinent case information exists. When identifying members of the prosecution team, AUSAs should err on the side of inclusiveness . . . .” See Page 12 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.


Excerpts from the U.S. Attorney’s Manual

 

Responsibility of AUSA(s)

The responsibility to produce all discoverable information in a criminal case lies with the AUSA(s) assigned to the case. To fulfill this responsibility, AUSAs should consider several matters:

• What & When: What are the policies, rules, statutes and case law that define what must be produced and when must it be produced? (See II. Laws, Rules and Policy Governing the Production of Discoverable
Information (What Must Be Produced and When?))

• Who is part of the prosecution team: AUSAs are obligated to produce information that is within the possession of the prosecution team; thus, defining the scope of the prosecution team is critical. (See III. Who is Part of the Prosecution Team: Gathering and Reviewing Potentially Discoverable Information)

• Where to look: Once the prosecution team has been identified, AUSAs must ensure that all discoverable information is located, reviewed and produced as required, including agency investigative and administrative files, CI files, emails, PSRs, law enforcement Giglio, etc. (See IV. Potential Sources of Discoverable Information)

• How to produce and track: AUSAs must decide in what form to produce the discovery (bates numbered, hard copy, e-copy, available for inspection, redacted, etc), and must keep a detailed record of all discovery produced. (See V. Manner of Production and Recordkeeping) See Page 2 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

Scope of Criminal Discovery in Federal Cases

“For the purposes of this memorandum, “discovery” or “discoverable information” is not limited to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 information, but also includes all information and materials the
government must disclose to the defendant pursuant to the Jencks Act and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 26.2; Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b); Brady, Giglio, USAM 9-5.001 and 9-5.100; any applicable local rules; and the any applicable standing discovery order in a criminal case.” See Page 3 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

Memo Policies Must be Followed

“Deviation from the policy of production of reports of witness interviews requires Criminal Chief or Deputy Criminal Chief approval.” See Page 9 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

Not All Witness Statements are Created Equal

“Be careful not to characterize a witness interview as a Jencks Act statement in discovery letters or court pleadings”

“The Jencks Act defines “witness statements” as … “(1) a written statement made by [a] witness and signed or otherwise adopted or approved by him; (2) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement made by [the] witness and recorded contemporaneously with the making of such oral statement; or (3) a statement, however taken or recorded, or a transcription thereof, if any, made by [a] witness to a grand jury.” 18 U.S.C. § 3500 (e).

“[U]nless the witness has adopted the memorandum as his statement, AUSAs should continue to object to use of the report in cross examination as if it were the witness’ statement.”  See Page 9 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.

Helpful Information Must be Disclosed – Written or Not

“Memorializing Favorable Information and the Duty to Disclose. The duty to disclose to the defendant the substance of what a witness has said during interviews, debriefings, or informal discussions cannot be avoided by failing to memorialize these events. If any such events occur that are not memorialized in an interview report, the AUSA should determine what the witness said during the session and disclose the content of the witness’ statements to the defense. AUSAs should emphasize to agents the importance of memorializing all impeaching information.” See Page 10 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo. (underlining in original).

Witness Interview and Preparation – Continuing Duty to Disclose

“The duty to disclose to the defendant the substance of what a witness has said during a pre-trial preparation session cannot be avoided by failing to memorialize it.” See Page 11 of the Federal Prosecutor’s Memo.


Video – Attorney General Holder on the Discovery Memo

 

 


Other Florida Federal District Court Discovery Manuals

 

Florida – Northern District

Florida – Southern District

Sources:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/03/03/justice-department-discovery-policies-released/24239225/
https://www.justice.gov/dag/memorandum-heads-department-litigating-components-handling-criminal-matters-all-united-states

 


Questions on Tampa Federal Criminal Issues?

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Deportation of Cuban Nationals From United States

Cuba, Deportation, lawful permanent resident, ICE, LPR
Deportation of Cuban Nationals

Deportation of Cuban Nationals From the United States remains an open question for Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys in United States District Courts. One source says, “At this point we do not know how/when the normalization will impact the U.S.’s ability to deport Cuban individuals.  At any rate, those who are in lawful status and not subject to any grounds of deportation (i.e. those who entered, obtained lawful permanent resident status, and do not have crimes that make them deportable) do not need to worry.  The main impact will be on those who either fell out of status and can’t fix their status now (for example, those who were paroled in and then never applied for lawful permanent resident status, and who are not eligible for LPR status due to crimes) and those who already have deportation orders but were released from ICE custody on ICE orders of supervision because they could not be physically deported.”

UPDATE – Deportation of Cuban Nationals


“The notice includes a warning: 

If you do not appear at a hearing, 
you may be ordered deported in your absence.”


 

Notice of Hearing, Cuba, Deportation, ICE, lawful permanent resident, LPR
Sample Notice of Hearing

There is at least one case where the deportation proceedings of a Cuban national was reset to 2019, almost four years after the initial notice from the Immigration Court. A sample Notice of Hearing is included in this article. The notice includes a warning that “If you do not appear at a hearing, you may be ordered deported in your absence.”

Furthermore the source advises, “At this point, I think it’s important to advise Cuban clients that deportation may be a reality soon and that they should be careful to avoid criminal activity and pleading to offenses that will bring them to ICE’s attention/subject them to criminal grounds of deportation.  Basically, after years of not having to face full immigration consequences (physical deportation) of criminal convictions, they will now have to seriously consider those consequences.”
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Wiretaps in Federal Prosecutions | Florida

Wiretaps - An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping

Wiretaps

Wiretaps in Federal Prosecutions

A friend at the Federal Defender’s Office in Florida just sent us this information on Wiretaps in Federal Prosecution and  provided us with a new Congressional Research Service report entitled “Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping.” It is comprehensive and should be useful to anyone with a case in which wiretaps are an issue. Some excerpts are below and a download of the complete document is available below.:

 

“Unless otherwise provided, Title III/ECPA outlaws wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping; possession of wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping equipment; use or disclosure of information obtained through illegal wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping; and disclosure of information secured through court-ordered wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping, in order to obstruct justice, 18 U.S.C. 2511. Elsewhere, federal law proscribes:
  • unlawful access to stored communications, 18 U.S.C. 2701;
  • unlawful use of a pen register or a trap and trace device, 18 U.S.C. 3121; and
  • abuse of eavesdropping and search authority or unlawful disclosures under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. 1809, 1827.”

The report summarizes:

“At the heart of Title III/ECPA lies the prohibition against illegal wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping, 18 U.S.C. 2511(1), that bans:

  • any person from
  • intentionally
  • intercepting, or endeavoring to intercept,
  • wire, oral or electronic communications
  • by using an electronic, mechanical or other device
  • unless the conduct is specifically authorized or expressly not covered, e.g. one of the parties to the conversation has consent to the interception
  • the interception occurs in compliance with a statutorily authorized, (and ordinarily judicially supervised) law enforcement or foreign intelligence gathering interception,
  • the interception occurs as part of providing or regulating communication services,
  • certain radio broadcasts, and in some places, spousal wiretappers.”

The complete report is available here,

Executive Clemency Initiative – Five Possible Requirements

Executive Clemency Initiative, Clemency, Clemency review, Clemency Law, Clemency Lawyers
Executive Clemency Initiative
Five Possible Requirements
Update:  September 25, 2014 – Attorney General Holder Resigns

Our team has begun organization of resources for expediting the clemency petitions to be filed under the new Executive Clemency Initiative. Two Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers and a number of other attorneys and paralegals are standing by in offices near the Coleman Federal Prison in Florida.
We believe most inmates will eventually receive some attention. However, our plan is to quickly gather needed information, and expedite the completion of the case file for federal authorities to review. Remember there are Five Possible Requirements and the initiative is limited.

Five Requirements for Clemency Eligibility


• Are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
• Are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large-scale criminal organizations, gangs, or cartels;
• Have served at least 10 years of their sentence;
• Do not have a significant criminal history;
• Have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and

• Have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.


For More Clemency and Pardon Information Check Here:

 

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    A Tampa Bay, Florida resident benefited from a “presidential pardon this week … Furthermore, “if you are seeking clemency for a state criminal conviction, you …

  • Video – Clemency Attorney Continues Efforts to Free Federal 

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     Rating: 4.9 – ‎Review by Google+

    Apr 21, 2014 – Federal Clemency Lawyer https://www.centrallaw.com/practice-areas/tampa-criminal-attorney/clemency-petitions-pardons/ in Tampa, Florida is …

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    Nov 16, 2011 – A Tampa Bay, Florida resident benefited from a “presidential pardon this week … Furthermore, “if you are seeking clemency for a state criminal …

  • FOX 13 News Tampa Bay – video feed – Tampa Criminal 

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    Apr 1, 2014 – Federal Clemency Lawyer https://www.centrallaw.com/practice-areas/tampa-criminal-attorney/clemency-petitions-pardons/ in Tampa, Florida is ..

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    May 19, 2010 – From: Eric H Holder, Jr. Attorney General. Subject: Department Policy on Charging and Sentencing. The reasoned exercise of prosecutorial …

History of Cell Phone Searches

Cell Phone Search Warrant

Cell Phone Search Warrant, Cell Phone Search, Search and Seizure

Search Warrant
Cell Phone

Cell Phone Search Warrant


Up until quite recently, there were exceptions to the general requirement that police get a Search Warrant for a cell phone. Cell phones have been a window into suspects’ activities, as police used these exceptions to get their hands on information found inside mobile devices. Obtaining a Search Warrant for a cell phone is not that hard to do. You can review a Search Warrant for a Cell Phone here:  Here is an actual iPhone Search Warrant . GPS or Global Positioning Satellite information found in mobile phones has also been used by police.


Up until around 2014, police could and did search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who was arrested. Defense Attorneys would frequently challenge such searches. These searches were frequently based upon “helping” arrested citizens by making sure their property was properly inventoried by the arresting officers for safekeeping by jail personnel or by the evidence unit at the arresting agency’s office. This rationale remains a frequent flier in broad invasive “inventory” searches of automobiles during traffic stops.


Cell Phone Search, Search and Seizure, Search Warrant


Cell Phone Search, Search and Seizure, Search Warrant

Cell Phone Search Warrant

Warrant Required
Mobile Devices
Florida had outlawed warrantless phone searches before the US Supreme Court. That ruling is discussed here. Now prohibited will be mobile device and cell phone searches without a warrant. Before the 2014 United States Supreme Court ruling here was another Court’s Ruling on a Cell Phone Search. Searches Incident to a lawful arrest were previously justified by cops using issues of police officer safety and prevention of destruction of evidence.
Now under Floridalaw, a Motion to Suppress Evidence can be filed pursuant to Rule 3.190(h), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Illegal Search and seizure now applies to cell phones and the Courts may exclude illegally obtained evidence including, photographs, video, text messages, directory and location data, voice mails, and emails.

Case Summary: The US Supreme Court’s ruling is that a properly obtained and issued search warrant is generally required before search of a cell phone. Here is some language from the Court’s ruling.

“Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee’s person. The term “cell phone” is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras,video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.”
“The sum of an individual’s private life can be reconstructed through a thousand photographs labeledwith dates, locations, and descriptions; the same cannot besaid of a photograph or two of loved ones tucked into a wallet.”
“To further complicate the scope of the privacy interests at stake, the data a user views on many modern cell phones may not in fact be stored on the device itself. Treating a cell phone as a container whose contents may be searched incident to an arrest is a bit strained as an initial matter.”
“[T]he search incident to arrest exception does not apply to cell phones . . . .”

Some Excerpts from Florida Cell Phone Search Cases:


“However, we express great concern in permitting the officer to search appellant’s cell phone here where there was no indication the officer had reason to believe the cell phone contained evidence.”
“We are equally concerned that giving officers unbridled discretion to rummage through at will the entire contents of one’s cell phone, even where there is no basis for believing evidence of the crime of arrest will be found on the phone, creates a serious and recurring threat to the privacy of countless individuals.”

 

Blackshades Bogus Busts?

FBI, Informant, FBI, DOJ, Blackshades, cybercrime, cyber,

FBI, Informant, FBI, DOJ, Blackshades

Blackshades Busts

The Blackshades investigation began with an unrelated bust and this week we have reports of Feds spanning the world conducting dozens of interviews. The FBI claims this huge cybercrime bust in Operation Blackshades or the Blackshades Global Takedown . Our forensics team is ready for the fight.


 

One cooperating witness may have oversold the feds on Blackshades resulting in Bogus Busts for those who never used the package or where there is no log data to support the charges. Here are some quotes from the Feds. One commentator agrees with us. “Blackshades is only one of many remote access tools. Dozens are available in the black and gray market, as wall as being marketed more normally to remote workers and worried parents. If purchasing or downloading remote access software is grounds for a search warrant or arrest, the civil liberties implications are worrying.”

 

 “Alex Yucel, as alleged in charging documents, headed the organization that developed and sold the Blackshades remote access tool, or RAT. The Blackshades RAT gave cyber criminals the ability to take over a computer from an unsuspecting victim. Armed with $40, a computer, and access to the Internet, a cyber criminal could use the Blackshades RAT to spy on, steal from, or extort an unsuspecting victim anywhere in the world.”

 

 “The tool allowed cyber criminals to steal passwords and banking credentials; hack into social media accounts; access documents, photos, and other computer files; record all keystrokes; activate webcams; hold a computer for ransom; and use the computer in distributed denial of service [DDoS] attacks.”

Federal Executive Clemency – 10 Questions to Ask

Federal Executive Clemency - 10 Questions to Ask
Federal Executive Clemency
10 Questions to Ask

We spent considerable time last week assembling our team to begin expediting the clemency petitions to be filed under the new Executive Clemency Initiative. Our team includes two Board Certified Criminal trial Lawyers and a number of other attorneys and paralegals. Our sense is that while most inmates will eventually receive some attention, our goal will be to quickly gather needed information, and to expedite the completion of the case file for federal authorities to evaluate. We have collected and listed below the basic information needed to get started and the specific questions we believe will need answers.


Ten Facts Needed for Executive Clemency Review


To begin the process, our clemency attorneys will need the following information:
• Name – first, last, middle
• Date of Birth
• District Court Case Number
• Bureau of Prisons Facility Location and Address
• BOP Register Number
• District where sentenced
• Projected Release Date
• Attorney who represented you at sentencing — please provide name and address if you know it
• Attorney(s) who previously represented you in any appeal, habeas proceeding, sentence reduction proceeding, or application for sentence commutation — please provide name and address if you know it.
• If you currently have an attorney representing you in any aspect of your federal criminal case including an application for sentence commutation, please provide the attorney’s name, address, and any other contact information if you know it.

Ten Important Questions on Executive Clemency


1. For what offense(s) were you convicted for which you are serving your current federal sentence?
2. What sentence did the judge originally impose?
3. When were you originally sentenced?
4. Were you given a longer sentence for possessing or using a weapon?
5. Was your sentence later changed?
6. If you answered yes to Question 5, what is your current sentence?
7. How much time have you served on your current sentence?
8. Are you currently appealing or challenging any part of your conviction or sentence? If you answered yes, is that case pending?
9. Have you been convicted of any other crimes besides the one(s) for which you are serving your current federal sentence?
10. Have you received any incident reports while serving your current sentence?

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