June 2011 Archives

June 30, 2011

Two Washington, DC Suspects Were Arrested on Motor Vehicle Theft and other Charges, after Allegedly Stealing a Scooter.

Red Scooter.jpgAccording to a police news release in Tacoma Park, two Washington, DC men were arrested for motor vehicle theft, malicious destruction of property, conspiracy, and other charges for allegedly stealing a scooter. Police are reporting that after responding to the reported theft, they saw two men on a red scooter that fit the description of the one stolen. The two men attempted to flee on the scooter, and then on foot, until a police K9 was released. The two men quickly surrendered. The two suspects were later identified as Vyron Alexander Cox, and a 16-year old juvenile, also of Washington, DC.

It is not uncommon for Washington, DC criminal defense attorneys to handle cases involving motor vehicle theft charges where the vehicle is not a car. I recently had a felony jury trial in which one of the defendants had a prior conviction for motor vehicle theft for stealing an ATV. The DC Criminal Code defines a motor vehicle basically as having wheels and capable of self-propulsion. A scooter or ATV generally will qualify. While these types of crimes may seem like a joke at the time, they can result in serious felony charges that could cause a lot of trouble later in life. If you have been charged with this or any other type of theft in Washington, DC, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that he can discuss your options, and work toward reducing the extent of any criminal record. It is important to remember than arrest for auto theft is not a conviction.

June 29, 2011

Hammer Used in Two Alleged Robberies in the Washington, DC Metro Area: On Robbery and Assault Charges

hammer.jpgAccording to a recent article in the Washington Post, a restaurant on Rockville Pike was closing for the evening when robbers smashed through a door with a hammer and then allegedly used the hammer to attack employees before stealing the cash. Police believe these are the same men who committed a similar robbery at another restaurant in the Washington, DC metro area six days earlier. In the earlier robbery, both a hammer and a gun were used. The robbers are said to have grabbed the manager and forced the other workers into a freezer. After opening the safe, the manager was also forced into the freezer. Employees were struck in the face and hand with the hammer.

As a Washington, DC robbery lawyer, I would like to discuss the different types of robbery charges and their potential sentences. All robbery crimes involve the use of force or violence to steal (theft) from a person. This includes actual use of force, like punching, or the threat of force. If there was no weapon used, an unarmed robbery charge carries a potential sentence ranging from 2 to 15 years. However, if the defendant has a prior felony conviction, the government can file "repeat papers" which can significantly increase the maximum sentence.

If a weapon is used to commit a robbery, this is called armed robbery, and a conviction could result in a 30-year prison sentence. The weapon could be a gun or knife, but it could also be an everyday object being used as a weapon, like a hammer. These are very serious charges in the District of Columbia. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you have been charged with a robbery. You should always request to speak with a criminal defense attorney before answering any police questions.

June 27, 2011

On Prostitution and Solicitation Charges in Washington, DC

red_light.jpgThere is no question that many people get arrested in Washington, DC each year for crimes involving prostitution. One common scenario is for a man to get arrested when trying to pick up a prostitute who actually turns out to be an undercover vice cop with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). In this case, the charge will normally be solicitation of prostitution. In Washington, DC, a prostitution charge carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine for the first offense. For second and third offenses of solicitation or prostitution, the maximum jail time and fines increase. A third solicitation offense in Washington, DC is punishable for a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who represents people charged with solicitation and prostitution, one of the biggest concerns is not always the potential penalty, but rather the possible embarrassment, employment issues, and whether the charge could affect one's security clearance. While a solicitation of prostitution charge is a misdemeanor in Washington, DC, it is certainly one that many people would not want to have on their criminal record, and this is understandable.

Some of the things your lawyer can discuss with you are the ways in which your case may be resolved without a conviction on your record. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) where you agree to pay some fines, do some community service hours, and stay away from a particular area. If you complete the requirements of the DPA, your attorney will go back to court with you and the government will dismiss the case against you. This is only one example of how your lawyer can assist through this unpleasant experience.

You should speak with your attorney about these concerns. You should hire a lawyer whom you trust and feel comfortable talking to, who will listen to your side of the story, and who will treat you in the respectful and professional manner you deserve. Always remember that an arrest is not a conviction.

June 23, 2011

MPD Officers Arrest Seven People in Connection with Alleged Cocaine Ring: On Washington, DC Drug and Gun Charges

cocaine_bricks.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Times, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) have arrested seven people on drug charges in connection with an alleged cocaine trafficking operation. According to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, of the seven defendants arrested, Sean De Angelo Crawford, Shawn Anthony Lucas, Roscoe Edd Minds, and Joseph Tolbert III, have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The additional defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on felony charges at which point their names will be released. In addition to the approximately 65 pounds of cocaine, police also discovered marijuana and weapons, in including pistols and an assault rifle. It is likely that gun charges will also be filed.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who handles gun and drug charges, I would like to discuss how the involvement of a weapon can be used to increase the maximum penalty for drug offenses. In DC, possession with intent to distribute (PWID) marijuana is a misdemeanor. If you add a gun to the mix, you can be charged with carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL), unregistered firearm, unregistered ammunition, and your drug crime could be charged as carrying a weapon during the commission of a violent crime (PWID marijuana). You could also be charged with PWID while armed. These are major felonies and provide for a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if convicted.

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June 21, 2011

Washington, DC Police Officer Charged with White Collar Crime

writing_check.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, Metropolitan Police (MPD) Sgt. Aisha Hackley was arrested on white collar charges after allegedly sealing $43,000 from an 85 year-old woman she met during a fraud investigation involving a lottery scam. According to reports, Hackley deposited 10 checks from the alleged victim's bank account. Specifically, Hackley was charged with theft.

As a Washington, DC white collar defense attorney, I tend to get contacted by people who been accused of stealing large amounts money. These cases usually result in a felony theft charge or a felony fraud charge. In the District of Columbia, theft is classified as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the amount of money involved. If the property is valued at $1,000 or more, this is a first degree felony DC theft charge punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the value of the stolen property is less than $1, 000, this is a second degree theft charge which is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. What people typically think of as embezzlement will normally be charged as either fraud or theft in Washington, DC.

One of the ways in which white collar crimes are different from violent felonies is that the suspect is often aware of the investigation before any charges are actually filed. Whether you been questioned by an auditor, employer, or the police, it is important to consider hiring an attorney to represent you sooner rather than later. There are steps that can be taken to help that may keep you from spending any significant amount of time in a jail or other pre-trial holding cell such as the Central Cell Block (CCB). It may also be possible in some circumstances to speak with the prosecutor before any charges are formally filed to learn what is going to happen.

June 20, 2011

Man Pleaded Guilty to Assault and Weapons Charges in Washington, DC

22 cal.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, Quinten A. Russell who lives in NE Washington, DC, was charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Russell has admitted to stabbing two women with a black pocket knife outside Club Zone 21. It was reported that Russell initially ran, but was apprehended a short time later by police. Russell had been armed with a pistol and extended magazine.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who handles assault charges and gun charges, I would like to discuss some issues that may arise. In DC, it is illegal to carry a pistol outside of one's home or place of business without a license. Unless you are a member of law enforcement or the military, you cannot get a license. If you are arrested, you can be charged with carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL). This is a 5 year felony in the District of Columbia. If you have been previously convicted of a felony, and are caught with a handgun, you can be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. This is a 10 year felony. If the gun is not registered, you will likely face additional charges such as unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and possibly carrying a dangerous weapon. You can also be charged with having a high-capacity magazine which is a DC gun charge.

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June 8, 2011

On Unemployment Fraud in Washington, DC

money_fan.jpgOne of the more common white collar crime cases I am seeing in Washington, DC involves receiving unemployment benefits from DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) during a time that you are alleged to have been earning other sources of income. The basic scenario is often the same. You are unemployed and apply for unemployment benefits on the DOES website. At some point, you get a job or are receiving income from another source. Rather than terminating your unemployment benefits, you are alleged to have continued filing weekly claims and receiving your unemployment benefits.

Many people in this situation think that if the government ever finds out, they will have to pay a fine. Here is what can really happen to you. After some time of collecting unemployment benefits while working, DOES will send you an audit notice if they discover this problem. By this time, they will have probably spoken to your employer and attached proof of this to the audit notice. At this point you should contact a Washington, DC white collar defense attorney. You should never make a false statement on the audit notice, but you also don't want to admit to anything. Your lawyer can help with this. Depending on the amount, DOES will refer the case to the Office of the Inspector General for DC who will turn the case over the US Attorney and either felony or misdemeanor fraud charges may be brought against you.

It is very important for you to have an attorney to assist you so that you have a better chance of staying out of jail and getting on with the rest of your life.

June 7, 2011

Alcohol-Related Crash in the Washington, DC Metro Area Results in Three Deaths: On DUIs and Alcohol-Related Accidents

flares.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Times, a GMC Yukon collided with a Mazda 3 causing the car to run off the road and into a tree. The driver of the Mazda, Eugene Johnson, passenger, Gwendolyn Demby, and an additional female passenger, whose identity has not been released, were all killed. PGC Police believe that the operator of the Yukon was speeding and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol at the time of the accident. It should be noted that the driver is being held by police but no formal charges have been filed.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who handles DUI charges, I often get calls from people who were involved in an accident prior to being arrested for DUI. If you are arrested for drunk driving, you will be charged with either driving while intoxicate (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), or operating while impaired (OWI), or a combination of all three. In Washington, DC, a DUI means that you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. No specific BAC score is required through a breathalyzer, urine test, or blood test. The officer can testify based on the totality of circumstances such as how you performed on field sobriety tests. A DWI in DC means that you had a BAC score of 0.08 grams per milliliter of blood or higher. The government is not required to prove actual impairment. For both of these charges, the maximum penalty for a first offense is up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine. An OWI means that you were impaired in any way by alcohol. This is easier for the government to prove and has a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail for a first offense.

If you were involved in accident, the situation may become more complicated. The first question is whether you stayed on the scene or drove away. If you are accused of leaving the scene (hit and run), you can be charged with leaving after colliding (LAC) in addition to the DUI. The police determine if there was any property damage (LAC PD) or personal injury. If a person was killed, you can be charged with more serious charges including negligent homicide (involuntary manslaughter) in Washington, DC. It is important to remember that these are only allegations and nothing has been proven. In other words, an arrest for DUI is not a conviction.

June 4, 2011

Washington, DC juvenile charges have involved more serious crimes recently, and there has been a reduction in car theft charges

Juvenile Lock Up.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, auto theft by juveniles is down considerably in the District while robbery, carjacking, burglary, and other violent crimes have seen a sharp increase. "This year, juveniles account for 7 percent of overall arrests in the city -- but about 45 percent of all arrests for robbery and carjacking, and 35 percent of burglary arrests" according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. One major increase has been in the theft of smart phones out of the hand of the owners. Stealing a cell phone or other electronic device out the hand of somebody on the Metro or on the street is considered a robbery in Washington, DC.

As a Washington, DC juvenile defense attorney, I often hear from a parent whose child has never been in any real trouble before and now is facing a major juvenile charge. One of the most important things I can do for these clients is help them navigate through the juvenile justice system, so that they have a better chance of putting this behind them and moving on with the rest of their lives. Despite budget cuts and shift in city policy, there are still programs and services available to help juvenile defendants, but you will not have access to them in many cases if you don't ask. It is important to remember that if your child has been arrested on a juvenile offense in Washington, DC, it does not mean that all hope is lost, there may be a lot that can be done to help move beyond this.

June 1, 2011

Copper Wire Buried Under Washington, DC Becomes a Target for Thieves: On Theft Charges

copper_wire.jpgAccording to a statement by the Washington, DC Department of Transportation, "On at least four occasions in recent weeks, thieves have removed electrical wire from underground conduits along city streets." The Washington Post has reported that thieves may be posing as contractors and actually setting up work zones to provide cover for the theft. The thefts have occurred throughout Washington, DC and involve digging the wire up from a grass median. Half-inch diameter copper wire is valued at approximately $1000 per 1000 feet. This would likely make the crime felony theft in DC.

As a Washington, DC theft lawyer, I would like to discuss felony theft in greater detail. The DC Criminal Code defines theft as wrongfully obtaining or using the property of another with intent to deprive the other of a right to the property or to take the property for his or her own use. "Wrongfully obtains" basically means that you did not have permission to take the property. If the value of stolen property is $1,000 or more, this first degree theft charge is a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the value of Stolen Property is less than $1,000, this second degree theft charge is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

There are many possible defenses to a DC theft charge. One thing your attorney can discuss with you is getting an appraisal of the property. The police sometimes use an estimate much higher than the actual cost of the goods or services so that they will have a stronger case. Requesting an independent appraisal can sometimes help a great deal to improve your situation. This is also true with DC drug charges where the police use estimates of the street value of various controlled substances that may be much higher than the actual cost on the street.