The Marshall project launched last weekend. Though it sounds like a cross between a country/rock band and a plan to rebuild Europe, it’s actually a journalism non-profit focusing on criminal justice. Their first pieces examined federal habeas corpus petitions, those are a key way that federal courts review state criminal convictions. A 1996 law puts significant limits on habeas petitions including a one year filing deadline. The Marshall project notes that the deadline caused some death row prisoners to miss the cut off and and to die without a federal court reviewing their case. But the deadline is not the real problem, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision shows how even those who file on time are destined to lose on habeas review. [Read more…]
Maine Federal Criminal Defense Articles
As a federal drug trafficking defense attorney, I see the damage caused by harsh drug sentencing guidelines. Reductions in those guidelines have been approved and are set to take effect this fall. In Maine, federal courts are already using the reduced drug distribution guidelines. But will these reduced federal drug sentences be applied retroactively? The U.S. Sentencing Commission held a hearing Tuesday, June 10, 2014 to consider that very issue. At the hearing, the U.S. Department of Justice came out in support of some limited retroactivity.
The so called “Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013” was voted through the Senate Judiciary Committee on 1/30/14. You can read the text of the bill here. If it becomes law, the act will make some important changes to Federal Drug Trafficking sentencing by:
Citizens can generally refuse to talk to police or prosecutors, but the United State’s Attorney has figured a way around that. Federal prosecutors can serve people with a grand jury witness subpoena, a court order forcing them to appear in court to truthfully answer questions. This process is a way for prosecutors to build a case against their main targets, but it’s also one of the ways that people loosely connected to criminal activity end up charged with Federal crimes. The grand jury process is secret, confusing, and dangerous. A criminal defense attorney who understands that process can help limit the witnesses’ risk, and might even be able to secure the witness immunity. [Read more…]
I have written before about how Maine laws define drug trafficking. When that trafficking involves a large amount of drugs, or some other aggravating factor, the crime is elevated to “Aggravated Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs.” That charge forces the judge to impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence but also increases the maximum sentence for the crime. This article discusses how the law works, the sentences involved and the facts the prosecution can allege to enhance drug trafficking to the aggravated crime. There is also a bit of information about Federal drug trafficking charges. Use the links below to navigate to a particular section of the article: [Read more…]
Many people understand that felons can’t possess guns because they are subject to a federal firearms prohibition. What most do not realize is that federal gun laws make it a crime for many others, even those with no criminal convictions, to possess firearms. This article will address these issues and explain who is prohibited from doing what. You can use the links below to jump to a specific section of the article. [Read more…]
You might be surprised to learn that in Maine, many Drug Trafficking cases are charged where no one was actually caught selling drugs. One common scenario is that police search a person or vehicle, often after using drug dogs to get probable cause, they then find drugs that they believe were intended for trafficking. The case is then submitted to the Prosecutor and, in York, Cumberland, Androscoggin, and most other Southern Maine Counties, these cases will be approved for Felony Drug Trafficking Charges. Click this link for information about Drug Possession Charges.