December 2010 Archives

December 30, 2010

The Controversial Full Body Scanners Now Used at Washington-Reagan National Airport and the Fourth Amendment

Tech_millimeter_wave.jpgThere have many been many recent news stories about the controversy surrounding the use of new full body scanners at Washington-Reagan National Airport. If you haven't flown recently, upon arriving at security, the United States Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) assigns passengers to one of several lines. Some of these lines lead to standard metal detectors and others lead to a full body scanner as pictured alongside this post. These scanners, actually called a millimeter wave scanner or backscatter x-ray scanner, are glass booths with a probe that can see through your clothing and present an image to a TSA agent. Passengers and civil rights groups have complained about the invasion of privacy of what amounts to basically taking nude photos travelers. While people are upset to some extent, most Americans are willing to allow an intrusion into their privacy if it can prevent another 9/11. The TSA has claims that you can opt-out of being subjected to a full body scanner in and instead receive a pat frisk. A pat frisk is the physical search of your person by an officer in a similar manner to when a suspect is arrested to make sure they have no drugs, guns or other weapons before taken into custody. At the airport, it is done to make sure the passenger does not have any contraband that could be used in a hijacking.

As a criminal defense lawyer in Washington, DC, I don't expect to get too many calls from suspected terrorists, being stopped by TSA carrying plastic explosives. What now seems likely, is people being arrested for possession of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, that was detected by the full body scanners. According to recent reports, the machines are not as good as detecting explosives molded to a person's body, or hidden a body cavity, as the TSA had hoped, but they are very good at finding a small plastic bag of marijuana, or a glassine baggie of heroine in a passenger's underwear.

Continue reading "The Controversial Full Body Scanners Now Used at Washington-Reagan National Airport and the Fourth Amendment" »

December 29, 2010

As Seen in Real Life: A Closer Look at Crime Scene Investigation Techniques Seen on TV

744629_self_portrait.jpgThe other night while flipping through the channels, I came upon the new ABC show, Detroit 1-8-7, and decided to give it a shot. The show is not bad and being a Soprano's fan, I like the cast. One of the things that I always enjoy seeing is the crime scene investigations and forensic techniques shown on TV.

In this episode, the police took a painting made by the suspect and compared the blue paint used to spray-paint the word "fraud" on the murder victim's car. They told the suspect that they had their crime lab analyze the paint and matched the two samples. This was "proof" that the suspect committed the homicide because his paint was found on the car. He quickly confessed.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer, I thought it might be interesting to talk about how this would happen in real life. First, the sparsely-funded DC Metro Police Department would send the sample to their crime lab, where it could take weeks or even months to get a result. Contrary to what they show on TV, the police do not have gas chromatography mass-spectrometry equipment in every station. They may have it a central crime lab or even contract with a private commercial lab. The analysis that is eventually performed might tell them the brand of paint used, which would narrow it down to the massive quantity of cans sold by Krylon or Rust-Oleum for example. It is not very plausible that they could narrow it down a specific can or even the store the sold it.

What is true about the show is that the police absolutely could tell the suspect that they had done this analysis and use many deceptive techniques to get a murder confession. The police can and often do lie to suspects being interrogated, so don't believe anything they tell you when you're in the box or charged with a crime in Washington, DC.

December 27, 2010

The Vehicle Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (Car Breathalyzer) in Washington, DC

interlock.jpgWashington, DC law permits a Superior Court judge to order a Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or Operating Under Influence (OUI) offender to install a Vehicle Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) in his or her car as condition of their sentence or probation.

The BAIID is essentially a breathalyzer device that is installed in the dash of a car that requires the driver to "blow" a clean test before starting the ignition. If the BAIID detects alcohol in the driver's breath, the car will not start and the results may be reported to the District of Columbia Probation Department, which could result in a probation revocation. After the driver blows a clean reading and starts the vehicle, they will be required to blow into the device again at random intervals or when the car comes to a stop to make sure they did not have a sober person take the test and then let them drive drunk. This is called the "rolling retest" or a "blow and go" feature. The manufacturers of BAIIDs also include features to prevent faking the breathalyzer--by using a hair dryer, for example. One safety feature requires the driver to hum while blowing into the device. While the device is not 100% fool proof, it is not a good idea to trick the test, because most attempts to tamper with results will be reported to the court. It should be noted that the driver convicted of a DWI is required to pay for the installation, rental, and monitoring, of the device(s) in every vehicle they own.

While the BAIID is an inconvenience and can be financially costly to DUI or DWI defendants, they may allow driving privileges that would otherwise not be permitted, and Washington, DC DUI lawyers can petition the court to allow a more reasonable payment schedule.

December 23, 2010

Best Wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year

Thumbnail image for 1244412_christmas_background_2.jpgDear clients and friends,

At the close of the first calendar year of operation, I would like to thank everyone for the continuing support and advice you have all given me from the time I first decided to hang my own shingle as a criminal defense lawyer in Washington, DC. As I have been reflecting on all that has happened in the past year, I would like to share a few of my thoughts.

When you first tell people you are planning on starting a private criminal defense firm in a major city like Washington, DC, you often get strange looks from people wondering how a small firm can possibly compete with the many giant law firms that are headquartered throughout the District of Columbia. The answer to this question is that I am not competing with them. I am happy to serve individual clients who could never even so much as afford a consultation at one of those firms. I am happy to be in the trenches fighting for my client's rights at the Criminal Division of the DC Superior Court or fighting for the right's of a parent at DC Public School hearing. It is with the support of all of you that I am able to do this.

I would also like thank some fellow lawyers in the communities who have shared their time and advice on running a small firm in Washington, DC. Lawyers like Jamison Koehler, Matt Kaiser, and Lisa Goldblatt, who have taken time from their busy days to share their experiences and advice with me.

Once again, I would like to extend my best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a prosperous new year.

December 22, 2010

Washington, DC Firefighter Faces Criminal Fraud Charges for Alleged Theft from DCFD

545391_first_aid_kit.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, DCFD employee, Natalie Overton-Williams, has been arrested on felony fraud charges for allegedly stealing $3,160 from the District of Columbia government. The US Attorney's Office (USAO) claims that when Overton-Williams contracted CPR training to several non-profit organizations as part of her job duties, she created fraudulent invoices on official letterhead requesting that all checks be made payable to her and not the Washington, DC government. According to the USAO, she deposited these checks in her own account until one of the non-profits called her supervisors to question this practice. An investigation was conducted by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General, during which Overton-Williams supposedly admitted receiving the checks for teaching CPR classes for her business, "Basic Life Support Services," and that she taught all classes after-hours in her own time.


Washington, DC criminal lawyers, who defend theft, embezzlement, and other white collar charges often face prosecutors who believe they have enough evidence to get an easy win and are quick to make statements to the press--which serves to get the public angry and aids them in getting the defendant to plead guilty. A look at the comments sections of the Washington Post website shows dozens of posts about how guilty she is. While it may seem to a defendant that all hope is lost, it is important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction. There is a lot of time between your first appearance in court and a criminal trial. Public outrage will die down as people move on to whatever sound bite next grabs their attention and this story will be forgotten.


To a defendant charged with a theft crime in the Washington, DC area, this "story" may never be forgotten. Being convicted of a white collar crime can follow you for the rest of your life. It is important to have a defense attorney who will review all the facts and conduct a proper investigation that allows the defendant's side of the story to be heard. There may be a perfectly legitimate explanation for what happened. It may turn out that she acted unethically by using department letterhead to gain business but this does not necessarily make it a white collar crime. We will probably never hear about the eventual outcome of this case because after the shock value is lost, we are talking about the alleged theft of $3,160 from a department that reported $15.4 million in spending for this fiscal year.

December 21, 2010

Update on Death in DC9 Case: Ruled a Homicide (Sort of)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1102203_question_mark_1.jpgFor those who have been following my recent blog posts, you have seen my stories about the closing and later reopening of the DC9 nightclub in Washington, DC. To recap the story, Ali Ahmed Mohammed allegedly threw a brick though the DC9 night club window. Police alleged that the owner of the club and other employees beat Mohammed to death in what DC Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier called a "savage" use of "vigilante justice." The club staff was originally charged with Aggravated Assault. The DC Alcohol Control Board ordered the nightclub closed but allowed it reopen after the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia (USAO) dismissed all charges. The criminal charges were dismissed because the cause of death could not be confirmed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (ME) as consistent with a violent assault. The ME continued to investigate the death and the USAO said they could re-file charges if the ME's report determined this to be a homicide.

Earlier this week, the ME completed their findings and announced that the death was ruled a homicide. Specifically, Mohammed died as a result of "excited delirium associated with arrhythmogenic cardiac anomalies, alcohol intoxication and physical exertion with restraint manner." Ok, so what does that mean, and how is it a homicide much less a case of "vigilante justice" that led to the violent murder of Mohammed? As a criminal defense lawyer in the District Columbia, I anxiously await the USAO's answer to this question.

December 20, 2010

Anything You Tweet Can Be Used Against You in a Court of Law: How Social Media like Twitter and Facebook Are Affecting Criminal Defense

985516___network__.jpgIt seems like everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, blogs, or other similar social media applications these days. It's a great way to connect with old friends and stay in touch. It's also becoming a great tool for prosecutors in criminal cases. This may come as a surprise, but people like to brag about their criminal activities on these sites. In the old days, prosecutors had to send investigators in hopes of finding out if a suspect was in a gang and who his fellow gang members were. Now, it's common for gangs (known as "Street Crews" in Washington, DC) to post tagged photos on the Internet. This is making the government's job much easier.

Another trend is the use of applications like Foursquare or Places on smart phones to announce your location. Some stores have a program where you get a discount for using Foursquare. This explains the many posts announcing why people "have arrived at Starbucks on 14th and K streets in NW Washington, DC." While people seem to like this application, the US Attorney's Office seems to love it. Here is a recent example:

Prosecutor: Mr. Jones, you testified that you were with the defendant at the AMC theatre in Silver Spring, MD at 9:30pm on November 15, 2009, correct?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Prosecutor: You own an iphone, correct?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Prosecutor: And you sometimes use the Foursquare program to announce your current location, correct?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Prosecutor: And, at 9:15pm on November 15, 2009, you used Foursquare to announce you were at the Caps game at the Verizon Center correct?

Mr. Jones: Uh.

While Twitter and these location applications can be used to destroy an alibi defense, there's a lot more they can do to a criminal case. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, a DWI/DUI defendant involved in an accident was going to be offered a lighter sentence until the prosecutor found his Facebook posts about him drinking and discussing the fun he was having. If this isn't enough reason to think before you post, I have saved the best (or worst) for last. A suspect allegedly broke into a home in Washington, DC and before stealing a laptop, used it to take his own picture holding the owner's money and clothes, and posted on the owner's Facebook wall. I don't think this will look good to a jury.

In light of all this new technology, as a Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer, I now have to ask all my clients if they have a Facebook or Twitter account when I do the initial interview. You can't remove the posts because they are always in an archive, but at least there won't be any surprises.

December 16, 2010

A Look at the "Double Jeopardy" Clause (Part Two)

Thumbnail image for 564px-Bill_of_Rights_Pg1of1_AC.jpgIn the first part of this post, I discussed the "same offense" and "dual sovereignty" exceptions to the Double Jeopardy clause of the Bill of Rights. The other issue that people seem to have difficulty with is the fact that a defendant can be acquitted of criminal charges and then sued in civil court for the same incident. A famous of example of this is the O.J. Simpson case. As you probably remember, Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nichole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman but later sued by the Goldman family for wrongful death under negligence. Many people seemed to think this was unfair and that Simpson was being subjected to Double Jeopardy.

The reason the Double Jeopardy did not apply is because there is a different standard of proof in criminal and civil cases. In a criminal case in Washington, DC, and the rest of the nation, a jury must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While there is no mathematical formula to determine what a "reasonable doubt" is, it is generally considered to mean that jury knows to a moral certainty that the defendant is guilty of the offense. In a civil case, the standard of proof is "by a preponderance of the evidence." This is basically legal jargon that means more likely than not that the defendant is liable. This does not mean that 51 percent likelihood is enough, but it is far less than the reasonable doubt standard in a criminal case. On many levels this makes sense--if a defendant is charged with Assault and is acquitted at trial because there was some doubt, the alleged victim may still wish to pursue civil charges against the defendant, because there is a much lower standard of proof.

As a criminal defense lawyer in the District of Columbia, your main focus is the criminal charges pending against your client but, potential civil cases may influence the criminal case. A defendant may wish to take their chances at trial rather than pleading guilty to a lesser charge, because that guilty plea may be used against them in the civil trial.

December 14, 2010

TMZ Catches Miley Cyrus Smoking Salvia from a Bong

miley+cyrus.jpgAccording to recent TMZ story, former Disney child star, Miley Cyrus, was seen smoking Salvia from a bong. Salvia, or salvia divinorum, is an herb native to parts of Mexico that has been used in the religious ceremonies of Mazatec Shamans to induce hallucinogenic visions. While its religious use dates back centuries, its recreational use in the United States began in the mid 1990s. It is legal in most US states and is primarily sold over the internet. The drug is normally smoked in the same manner as marijuana.

Unlike marijuana which is a scheduled control substance in Washington, DC, Salvia is still legal to possess, but legislators are working on making the possession of salvia a drug crime throughout the US. An attempt to add Salvia to the US Controlled Substance Act was defeated but many states are considering making it illegal if they have not already done so.

Many criminal defense attorneys believe that it is likely that with more attention being brought to the use of Salvia as a recreational drug, it will eventually become an illegal narcotic in Washington, DC.

December 13, 2010

A Look at the "Double Jeopardy" Clause (Part One)

450px-Statue_of_Themis_edited.jpgAs a criminal defense attorney in Washington, DC, I am often asked if what happens on TV and the movies happens in real life. Double Jeopardy deserves a closer look.

In case you aren't familiar with what I'm referring to, I think the movie aptly titled Double Jeopardy best sums up the common misconception. In the movie, Ashley Judd's character is convicted of murdering her husband in the state of Washington. She is in prison when she learns that she was set up by her still-living husband in order to gain access to a $2,000,000 insurance policy. She is informed by a "jailhouse attorney" that the Double Jeopardy clause of the Bill of Rights prevents her from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. She is told that she can murder him in public and there isn't anything the government can do about it. After being released on parole, she follows the trail to New Orleans where she confronts her husband.

While these facts make for an okay thriller, there are some major inaccuracies. The concept of Double Jeopardy comes from the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution which states in part:

"[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb;"

The first problem with the movie scenario is that the killing of her husband in Washington, and the later killing of him in Louisiana would probably be considered separate offenses.
While it seems simple enough on its face, the US Supreme Court has added another issue when it interpreted the text as meaning that no person can be tried twice for the same offense by the same "sovereign." The Supreme Court further decided that a sovereign is a US State or the federal government. This means that one state can prosecute a defendant, and then another state, or the federal government, can prosecute the defendant again for the same crime, so long as they have jurisdiction. The Timothy McVeigh case is a good example of this separate sovereign requirement. McVeigh was charged by the US Attorney with the Oklahoma City bombing and the associated murders. They got a guilty verdict but did not get the death penalty. The state of Oklahoma later tried and convicted McVeigh of the same crime, and he received the death penalty. The state of Oklahoma and the US Government are separate sovereigns, so the Double Jeopardy Clause does not apply. Going back to the movie example, the state of Louisiana is a separate state from Washington, so the Double Jeopardy clause does not apply.

In the next part of this post, I will discuss the second question that arises in the context of Double Jeopardy, which involves different standards of proof in civil and criminal trials.

December 11, 2010

Gun Control Laws in the District of Columbia

609608__45_bullets.jpgI read an interesting article today in the American Bar Association Journal about gun control laws in the US. It is not surprising that the article focused on the District of Columbia. Washington, DC has what is considered to the toughest gun laws in the nation. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, up until the Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller, you were not even allowed to have a loaded gun in your home for protection. The DC law required the gun to be stored unloaded in a locked case, and the ammunition locked in a separate case. After the Heller case, the law was changed by the DC City Counsel to allow residents to have a loaded handgun stored in your home. You must register the gun and the ammunition and are allowed to own the caliber of ammunition for the gun you own. If you are found with even one bullet designed for a gun you are not registered to own, you can be charged with a gun crime.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer who handles gun charges, I thought it might be helpful to talk about some of the many gun laws.

1. Possession of an Unregistered Firearm - Possession of an unregistered firearm can result in a one year sentence and a $1,000 fine. Transferring a firearm to someone you know not to be eligible to register a gun can result in a 10 year sentence and a $10,000 fine.


2. Carrying a Pistol Without a License (CPWL) - There is no lawful way to carry a gun in Washington, DC. Carry permits are not issued to anyone who is not a law enforcement officer or military. If you have a registered weapon, it must be transported with a trigger lock or other locking mechanism and be unloaded. Ammunition must be kept in a separate locked case and you can only carry it in this manner when you are going to shooting range or other lawful recreational activity. If you are arrested for carrying a gun without a license, it may result in a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.


3. Unlawful Possession of Ammunition - As I mentioned above, in the District of Columbia, unless you are a licensed firearms dealer, you can only possess ammunition for the type of firearm that you are lawfully registered to own. Possession of unlawful ammunition is a crime and can result in a fine of $1,000 and a year in prison. It is also illegal to own what is considered a "large capacity ammunition feeding device," which means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

I chose to highlight these three major gun laws because they are the ones most likely to catch someone off guard that has no idea they are in violation of the Washington, DC gun laws. There are many other gun crimes, but they are generally involved in the commission of a major felony, so I will address those in a later post.

December 8, 2010

Could U.S. Hopes for Gold in 2014 Be Dashed by a DUI Charge?

Thumbnail image for 800px-Army_Bobsleigh_on_a_wall.jpgThe 2010 Winter Olympic Games this past winter really seemed to catch the interest of those in Washington, DC. I don't think it's that Americans really care too much about the events, but rather they love seeing the U.S. win. For those two weeks, our athletes were the pride of the nation. With the exception of the few professionals who compete in the games, these athletes don't expect a lifetime of endorsement deals and big paydays. One of my favorite radio hosts is Mike Wise of the Washington Post. I think he put it best when he said: the Olympic athletes are our two-week heroes, and we all love them until they are put back in the drawer for another four years until they can be dusted off for the next Olympics.

This past Olympics, Bobsledding became our new favorite sport. Steve Holcomb led his team of US Army soldiers to gold in Vancouver, and we all cheered. It's no surprise that bobsledding has never exactly been considered America's pastime. After the games, Steve Holcomb faded into obscurity with the rest of our athletes. That is until he got arrested for a DUI.

According to a story on ESPN, Holcomb was pulled over on October 22, 2009, for making an illegal U-turn on state Route 224 outside Park City, Utah. He was administered a breathalyzer and blew a 0.19, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. He was charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI). What makes matters worse is that Canada now refuses to give him a Visa to enter the country so that he can compete in the World Cup, because he has pending charges. His DUI trial is set for March 17, 2011. Let's hope his DUI defense attorney can get his drunk driving charges dismissed, or America might have to find a new hero in 2014.

Drunk driving laws are essentially the same in all states because of a national mandate that tied the 0.08 breath test limit to a state's eligibility to get highway funding. In Washington, DC, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) requires the government to prove, through the use of blood or urine tests, that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per deciliter of blood. The government is not required to prove that the driver was actually suffering any type of impairment.

December 6, 2010

Washington, DC Police Make an Arrest in What Appears to Be a Random Assault Allegedly Committed by a Juvenile Offender

According to a story by NBC Washington169403_central_phoenix_corridor.jpg, a woman was walking home with her groceries when she was assaulted on the 1300 bock Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast Washington, DC in November. She was punched in the face by a group of teenagers, and suffered a broken jaw. According to statements, the attack appears to completely random and there is no information if her attackers took anything from her.

There are a lot of reasons why a juvenile may commit crimes, and there are theories ranging from social conditions to mental health to even gang initiations. In other words, nobody really knows why there has been an increase in juvenile crimes in Washington, DC. What we do know is that if a juvenile defendant is to have any real chance at moving beyond their current situation, they need a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile justice system. As I have discussed in previous posts, the most important this is to help juvenile defendants gain access to rehabilitation and keep them out of District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation (DYRS) Custody.

Continue reading "Washington, DC Police Make an Arrest in What Appears to Be a Random Assault Allegedly Committed by a Juvenile Offender " »

December 3, 2010

DC Metro Area Woman Throws Two-Year-Old Granddaughter Several Stories to Her Death From Mall Parking Structure: Defense Lawyers Take a Close Look at Her Mental Health

TYSONS_s160x195.jpgIn case you haven't watched the news or opened a newspaper in the Washington, DC area for the past few days, 50-year-old Carmela Dela Rosa, was arrested on a First Degree Murder charge for throwing her two-year-old granddaughter, Angelyn Ogdoc, off a mall parking garage. The child was responsive when rushed to the hospital but later took a turn for the worse and died from this tragic incident. Dela Rosa was initially charged with various degrees of Assault charges, but the charges were amended after her granddaughter's death. As is often the case in these horrific situations, neighbors had no clue she was capable of committing such an act, and they, like other residents of the DC Metro area, were taken by surprise.

It should come as no surprise that Dela Rosa's criminal defense lawyer is looking into her mental health history. According to statements by the police, there is a low-quality video of the incident as well as statements from the family. The only possible defense in a case like this is to look at the mental state of the defendant. Is there any way to explain her actions? In the US legal system, most crimes require a guilty mind in addition to guilty actions. The reason for this is that we don't like to punish people for an accident that could have happened to anyone. Instead, crimes generally require at least some intention to harm others. "Mens rea" is the legal term for a guilty mind.

A common form of the insanity defense dates back to England in 1843 in the case of Daniel M'Naghten, a Scottish woodworker, who shot and killed a British civil servant. The defense contended that M'Naghten was under paranoid delusions that did not allow him to know that shooting the civil servant was legally wrong. M'Naghten was found not guilty by reason of mental defect and transferred to a "State Criminal Lunatic Asylum" where he eventually died. This case was the basis for the insanity defense that is used today in most common law jurisdictions. The US Supreme Court has held that a defendant is entitled to raise the insanity defense. While this offers a way to explain what at first seems unexplainable, it is still a very hard argument to make to a jury. Jurors are typically under the impression that a not guilty verdict based on insanity means that the defendant gets to go free. In reality, they are transferred to a mental health detention center where they may remain for the rest of their lives.

December 1, 2010

Follow Up to Washington, DC Criminal Lawyer Blog Post Discussing the Closing of DC9 Night Club Despite Aggravated Assault Charges Being Dropped

1097247_open_sign.jpgOn November 17, 2010, I published a blog post discussing the Washington, DC Alcohol Board's vote to not allow reopening of DC9 night club after aggravated assault charges were dropped against five club employees. To refresh your memory on the earlier post, I described how Ali Ahmed Mohammed was said to have thrown a brick through the window of the DC9 night club located on Ninth and U Streets in Northwest Washington, DC after being denied admission. The police accused five DC9 employees of beating Mohammed to death in retaliation for the incident. Police charged the employees with the offense of Aggravated Assault, but the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia later dropped the charges, because the Medical Examiner's report could not confirm that the alleged victim was beaten to death.

According to a new story in the Washington Post, the Washington, DC Alcohol Board has now voted to allow the reopening of DC9 under the condition that the five employees are not allowed to return to work. The medical examiner's office is still investigating the cause of death and the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia has stressed that they can file second degree murder charges if it is confirmed that that Mohammed was beaten to death.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney, it does not surprise me that even though the cause of death could not be confirmed, the police and the DC Metropolitan Police continue to stand by their earlier statements that that the five employees are "savages" and that this was a case of "vigilante justice." Unfortunately many cases are tried in the court of public opinion through the use of sound bites instead of in court with the use of admissible evidence.