All posts by Matthew Ladd

About Matthew Ladd

Federal Criminal Attorney practicing in Miami-Dade County with our office in Coral Gables. Matthew Ladd is a former prosecutor with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. He is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and received his bachelor's degree from Marshall University.

Coerced Confessions w/ Matt Ladd, Maggie Arias, Jeff Weiner, and Joe Stone

Lies. Truth. Some people live it, some people tell it, and some people mix both into one and don’t do either very well.

When it comes to the criminal justice system, it’s been said that there are three sides to every story: His, hers, and the truth.

No matter which category you fall into, there’s one thing you should never do: if you’re on the other side of the interrogation table, don’t talk. Not a single word, other than, “Lawyer.”

Remember, you have the right to remain silent. It’s your constitutional guarantee, and if you don’t use it, you could lose its benefit.

Confessions are not always accurate or truthful, but when coerced, the accused become their own worst enemy and the presumption of innocence is out the window.

When there is injustice for one, there is injustice for all. Welcome to Felony Miami. Let’s air it out.

Federal Money Laundering

The pattern jury instruction for the 11th Circuit (Miami) requires intent to lauder. Below is the exact instruction and some notes. If you are charged with Money Laundering get advice from an experienced lawyer.
O74.1
Money Laundering:
Promoting Unlawful Activity
18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i)
It’s a Federal crime to knowingly engage in certain kinds of financial transactions commonly known as money laundering.
The Defendant can be found guilty of this crime only if all the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt:
(1) the Defendant knowingly conducted or tried to conduct, a financial transaction;
(2) the Defendant knew that the money or property involved in the transaction were the proceeds of some kind of unlawful activity;
(3) the money or property did come from an unlawful activity, specifically [describe the specified unlawful activity alleged in
the indictment]; and
(4) the Defendant was involved in the financial transaction with the intent to promote the carrying on of that specified unlawful activity.
To “conduct a transaction” means to start or finish a transaction, or to participate in a transaction at any point.
A “transaction” means a purchase, sale, loan, promise, gift, transfer, delivery, or other disposition of money or property.
[A transaction with a financial institution also includes a deposit, withdrawal, transfer between accounts,
exchange of currency, loan, extension of credit, use of a safe deposit box, or purchase or sale of any stock, bond, certificate of deposit, or other monetary instrument.]
A “financial transaction” means –
[a transaction that in any way or to any degree affects interstate or foreign commerce by sending or moving money by wire or other means.]
or
[a transaction that in any way or to any degree affects interstate or foreign commerce by involving one or more “monetary instruments.” The phrase “monetary instruments” includes coins or currency of any country, travelers or personal checks, bank checks or money orders, or investment securities or negotiable instruments in a form that allows ownership to transfer on delivery.]
or
[a transaction that in any way or to any degree affects interstate or foreign commerce by involving the transfer of title to any real property, vehicle, vessel, or aircraft.]
or
[a transaction involving the use of a financial institution that is involved in interstate or foreign commerce, or whose activities affect interstate or foreign commerce, in any way or degree. The phrase “financial institution: includes [give appropriate reference from 31 U.S.C. § 5312(a)(2) or the regulations promulgated under it]].
“Interstate or foreign commerce” means trade and other business activity between people or businesses in at least two states or between people or businesses in the United States and people or businesses outside the United States.
To “know that the money or property involved in the transaction came from some kind of unlawful activity” is to know that the money or property came from an activity that’s a felony under state, federal, or foreign law.
The term “proceeds” means any property derived from or obtained or retained, directly or indirectly, through some form of unlawful activity, including the gross receipts of the activity.
The term “specified unlawful activity” means [describe the specified unlawful activity listed in subsection (c)(7) of the statute and alleged in the indictment].
The term “with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity” means that the Defendant must have [conducted] [attempted to conduct] the financial transaction for the purpose of making easier or helping to bring about the “specified unlawful activity” as just defined.

ANNOTATIONS AND COMMENTS
18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1) provides:
Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity – –
(A)(i) with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful
activity [shall be guilty of an offense against the United States]. Maximum Penalty: Twenty (20) years imprisonment and applicable fine. In United States v. Cancelliere, 69 F.3d 1116 (11th Cir. 1995), the Court held that although proof of willfulness is not a statutory element of money laundering, where the indictment expressly charged willfulness, the District Court erred in not giving the usual instruction on willfulness (Basic Instruction 9.1A).
The term “proceeds” in 18 U.S.C. § 1956 was expressly defined by the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (“FERA”), Pub. L. No. 111-21, effective May 20, 2009. The FERA expanded the concept of monetary proceeds, for purposes of enforcing prohibitions against money laundering, to include gross receipts. See 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(9).
The FERA was a direct response to United States v. Santos, 128 S. Ct. 2020 (2008). In
Santos, a plurality of the U.S. Supreme Court held that the definition of the term “proceeds” in 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) refers to “profits” rather than “receipts” when applied to a prosecution arising from an illegal stand-alone gambling operation. Until the FERA, the definition of “proceeds” in the money laundering statute remained unclear. The Eleventh Circuit has construed the fragmented Santos opinion narrowly. In United States v. Demarest, 570 F.3d 1232 (11th Cir. 2009), a case in which the trial took place prior to the FERA’s enactment, the Court noted:
Santos has limited precedential value… The narrow holding in [the case], at most, was that the gross receipts of an unlicensed gambling operation were not ‘proceeds’ undersection 1956…Id. at 1242.

Source: Miami Herald

Marijuana Possession is Hardly a Crime Anymore, but Since It’s the Cops Choice You Can Still Be Charged

Source

Miami-Dade County has passed an ordinance that gives police officers the option of issuing a $100 citation (like a parking ticket) for small amounts of marijuana possession.  As long as you possess less than 20 grams (about 36 joints depending on the size) you could have the bitter sweet luck of getting a ticket for $100 instead of a criminal charge.  The thinking is that it can save a lot of kids from getting rap sheets and the also free up police to focus on more serious crimes.

But depending on the officer’s mood (and most likely what you do to influence the officer’s mood being respectful vs. being disrespectful) will likely determine if you get the citation vs. getting arrested.  The law on the books says that possession is a first-degree misdemeanor which means the charge carries a maximum one-year in jail and up to a $1000 fine.  Also, if you are convicted (and only 2% of people are) you could lose your license for two years.

Marijuana laws may be becoming a little less harsh but are still serious if you have prior offenses in your criminal record, possess at or near schools, or sell it.  If you know someone that has been charged, it’s a good idea to call an experienced criminal lawyer right away.

Sexual Assault & What You Can Do About It

Weinstein, Sheen, Franken, and now Charile Rose. Treating women right is a hot topic in the news. Ever wonder why Bill Cosby is facing criminal charges others end up paying settlements?

I’ve won cases involving rape and child molestation in both civil and criminal courts and during university investigations. Sexual assault is as serious as it sounds. First, there is a horrible accusation. Next, it needs to be verified or somehow corroborated. Then with the evidence available, a criminal case may be put together if the facts can convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. If memories fade or there isn’t enough evidence to convince a jury that consent was lacking, then all that may be left is a civil suit to try and recover something from someone that contributed to the assault. Just because the evidence doesn’t support a criminal case doesn’t mean the victim is out of options.

First and foremost, sexual assault in Florida is known as “Sexual Battery” and/or “Lewd or Lascivious Battery”. The crime is characterized by the degree of the touching- exactly what touched what and how exactly if there was penetration. The offense is further characterized by the victim. Was she (or he) under 12 or over 65. Was the victim forced or unaware? Was a weapon involved? Did the act cause great bodily harm or pain, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement?

Sexual battery requires that the accused (1) penetrated or has contact with the sexual organ of the victim (including the anus) or mouth of the victim, (2) without the victim’s consent. Lewd and Lascivious Battery is pretty much the same as sexual battery but consent isn’t the issue, the age of the victim is.
An important distinction is that the age of consent is technically 18 in Florida. However, if two teenagers engage in consensual intercourse, so long as one is 16 years-old or older and the other is 24 or younger then they should be protected by the State’s Romeo and Juliet Law (Fla. Stat. 794.05).

What exactly is “consent”?  It’s defined as an “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission”. Consent does not mean the failure of the victim to offer physical resistance to the offense either.

The criminal case hinges on the state’s ability to prove the elements of touching and a lack of consent for a sexual battery beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt. For a lewd and lascivious, the state needs to prove the touching and that the act occurred when the parties were within the necessary age ranges beyond a reasonable doubt.
With most of the cases making news today involving the celebrities in Hollywood, reporters, and politicians its very likely that the time allowed to bring the suit has passed or there isn’t sufficient evidence to corroborate the allegation. Assuming there’s still time to bring charges (and there are a lot of factors to determine if a criminal case can be brought beyond the usual time-limits) then the next issue goes to corroboration to enhance the believability of the accusation. Did the victim mention the attack to someone shortly after it happened? Or is the report delayed by weeks, months, or years? The more time passes the more a jury is going to wonder what took so long to speak up. Memories fade, “the when, where, -why, who-else-saw-something” all get harder to prove with the certainty required.

In addition to the testimony as evidence, what about fluid samples, hair collections, evidence of struggle like blood, scars, bruising, the perpetrators skin under nails, broken bones, and the location where the struggle took place to corroborate the allegation, etc? All that evidence helps a jury know that they are making the right decision. If they don’t have it, the jury is left to wonder why.

Assuming there is a party that bears some responsibility for the assault, and that party (or those parties) have the ability to compensate the victim, it may be possible to get a money judgment against them. In a civil lawsuit, the victim doesn’t have to prove the attack beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury only needs to be convinced that it is more likely than not that it happened. If a condominium complex allowed someone on the property that they should have known was a threat, or even a nursing home, school, after-school activity, employer, etc., the organization could be a contributing cause to the battery.
Maybe they failed to provide adequate security, hired without doing the necessary background or supervision, or didn’t supervise the staff that was doing thing they should have been able to prevent. All of those things could be negligence if whatever they did or didn’t do wasn’t reasonable. If a jury agrees, it could be a big judgment to compensate for the sexual assault.

Every case is different and speaking to a lawyer who has successfully won in both criminal and civil court is a good place to start to see if you have a claim.

Nothing contained herein should be considered formal legal advice or the formation of the attorney-client relationship. Call us for more information or to schedule an appointment. 305-665-3978.

You Don’t Need A Florida License, unless…

My phone has been ringing off the hook with people that have been charged for not having a Florida Driver’s License. It seems that police are mistakenly charging people with the criminal offense even when they don’t need a license.

If you are visiting Florida from another state or from another country your driver’s license issued out-of-state (or in the other country) will work just fine to allow you to drive here.

However, Florida requires that you get a Florida Driver’s License if you work in Florida or have kids enrolled in school here. If you are married to someone who works here or who has children enrolled in school here, you will need one too.

Florida Law allows thirty days from the start of work or from when they enrolled their kids in school to get licensed.

If you are charged and get a Florida License, then the State generally dismisses the charge because of your compliance. If you go back to your out-of-state/ country home and don’t come to court, you will probably get a warrant and could be arrested next time you come to Florida or possibly in any state.

Failure to have a Florida License when required is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail and up to a $500 fine.

If you hire an attorney, it is possible to resolve the matter and explain that you aren’t required to have a Florida Driver’s License. If you have been wrongfully charged, call us, 305-665-3978.

I’ve included Florida statute 322.031 for your reference.

Even Superman Needs a Will

Summertime is around the corner which makes right now a great time to plan for the unthinkable. The end is one of the few certainties in life for everyone, even the Man of Steel. You’ve probably already invested an hour looking for the cheapest flights or finding the right hotel. But have you invested any time thinking about what your family’s vacation might be like if you weren’t alive this summer?

No one likes to consider what happens should they pass unexpectedly.

Who will take care of your share of the rent or mortgage?

How will your spouse keep up with paying all the funeral expenses, credit card
bills, car payments, Florida pre-paid payments?

If both you and your spouse die, who will take care of your kids? How will
whoever ends up with them pay for their expenses?

If you think that your life is expensive now, just wait and see how expensive your death is for your survivors. Planning for the inevitable is probably the most important thing that you do for your family before you travel.

Getting the right advice is essential and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Internet forms are better than nothing, but nothing beats getting the right advice. A consultation takes less time than your flight search, and acting now before you travel is the responsible thing to do.

Bundles are a great way to get the essentials without spending all the vacation money. Before you travel this summer you should have a working knowledge of what you have (or should have) when it comes to your will, a living will, a health care surrogate and medical directive, power of attorney in the event of incapacity, term life insurance (at least), disability insurance, guardianship of your children, and assess the pros and cons of establishing your assets in a trust.

Growing families should have the ability to add children to their estate plan and work to avoid having whatever assets they have protected from costly probate fees and taxes.

You might already have your reservations you may even be packed, but ask yourself, or your spouse before you hit the road this summer, are you really ready?

This entry shall not be construed as formal legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship. Matthew E. Ladd, Esq. is an attorney in Coral Gables, FL who practices in the areas of State and Federal Civil and Criminal Litigation and estate planning.

DUI Suspended License DUI Suspension

YOU JUST GOT A DUI IN FLORIDA, HOW WILL YOU GET TO WORK ON MONDAY?

MIAMI- by: Matthew E. Ladd, Esq., 305-665-3978

You wake up at TGK. You smell awful. Your car has been impounded. You hope that your phone has enough battery to call someone to pick you up. You start looking at the paperwork the officer gave you after he decided that you were DUI last night. There’s a bunch of fine print about a review hearing. You read something that seems to relate to if you blew into the breathalyzer or not. You don’t pay any attention to it. It’s fine print and you don’t even think you should be in this situation. All you want to do is sleep, and hope that when you wake up this nightmare will be over.

You pass out only to wake back up. You are still living the nightmare, only now, it’s been two days since you were pulled over. You are convinced that you need to call a lawyer because you aren’t sure if you are allowed to drive to work. You Google DUI lawyers or get a number from someone recommended to you. You make the call and figure out that you are allowed to drive to work tomorrow, but within 10 days of the arrest, your license will be suspended for six months.

The clock is ticking and you learn the time to act is now before its too late. Florida Law has a special process that will allow you to get a license to do drive to work, school, church, the doctor, and the law has even been interpreted to allow driving to the grocery store. The law explicitly allows “[A]ny driving necessary to maintain a livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on the job driving, driving for educations purposes, and driving for church or for medical purposes”. The terms “necessary,” “livelihood,” “educational,” and “medical” may be up for debate, but at least you know that you can get to work and back.

Getting this special “business purposes only” license requires you to take advantage of a new law passed in 2013. Fla. Stat. 322.271(2)(b) allows for the driver to request a waiver of the formal suspension review hearing (with limited exceptions) and obtain the business purposes only license. A strict condition of taking advantage of this process is to apply within 10 days of being charged.

The alternative of going through the quick waiver process is a formal administrative hearing. If you are found to have refused to blow into the machine or determined to have been driving under the influence of alcohol in violation of law then you won’t be eligible for a hardship license for 30 days if you blew and 90 days if you refused! Of course if you win, you won’t have any suspension, but you take a big risk. After the 30 or 90 days is up, the hearing officer will determine if you are allowed to have the business purposes only license, a more limited kind for “employment purposes only,” or possibly no hardship license at all.

A condition to getting a hardship license is signing up for DUI school. Two common providers that will allow you to register online is Metro Traffic School https://www.metrotrafficschool.com/dui-school.html and the Advocate Programhttps://payment.advocateprogram.com/Dui/DuiOnlineRegistration. The classes generally require a $50 down payment.

If you plan to take advantage of the waiver program and get a business purposes only license register for the DUI class before you go to the DMV and take the proof of your enrollment with $25. You will be one step closer to getting back on the road and your life back on track.

For more information related to how to get to work after your DUI call Matthew E. Ladd, Esq., 305-665-3978 or in the event it’s a weekend call the emergency line at 305-984-4649.

Nothing contained herein should be considered as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship. The article is written merely for general information purposes and may or may not apply to your specific situation. Exceptions exist in all circumstances and the above matter involves discretion exercised by officials.

Here’s the FAQ publised on the FLDHSMV webpage regarding the hardship license.
Hardship for Refusal Suspension
Added: September 9, 2013 / Updated: December 23, 2014
How do I get a hardship license with a Refusal to Submit to a Breath,Urine or Blood test suspension?
First offense is a one year suspension. You will be suspended as of the arrest date for one year for the first offense and 18 months for any consecutive offenses. If you have a valid driver license, you will be given a 10-day permit on the date of arrest. No hardship license is permitted if you have refused to submit 2 or more times.
First Time DUBAL or Refusal Suspension: Effective July 1, 2013

Effective July 1, 2013, the Administrative Suspension Waiver Law went into effect – Florida Statute 322.2615 (1)(b)3 and 322.271(7).

The purpose of the waiver is for you to have the opportunity to “waive” your option for a formal or informal hearing. You cannot “change your mind” once you have been approved for the waiver.

Eligibility for the waiver:
1. It’s your first Dubal or Refusal (in state or out of state).
2. Have not had a prior Refusal, Dubal, Reckless driving conviction (DUI that was reduced to a reckless) or prior DUI conviction in Florida or out of state.
3. Must apply for and have the review for the waiver within 10 days of the offense with the Administrative Review office. Click here to find a list of counties in Florida. Select your county and then scroll until you see “Under Suspension – need driver license for work” to find the Administrative Review office for that county.
4. When you contact the Administrative Review office you will be required to complete an application/affidavit for waiver and it must be witnessed by a hearing officer. If the waiver review is by telephone, application/affidavit can be witnessed by another adult.
5. If you are granted authority for the waiver, then you are immediately issued a “BPO” Business Purposes Only driver license until you appear in court for the DUI.
6. There is a $25.00 fee for the Waiver with proof of DUI school enrollment. All major credit cards accepted.

You must provide proof of enrollment in an approved DUI School to the Administrative Review office where you live for consideration for a hardship license. If given approval to reinstate early for hardship, you must pay a reinstatement fee and any applicable license fee. Failure to complete the course within 90 days after reinstatement will result in cancellation of your driver license by the department until the course is completed. If referred, treatment is required. Failure to complete treatment may result in cancellation of your driver license.
Here’s the Administrative Rule:

15A-1.019 Reinstatement; Hardship.
Any driver whose driver’s license has been suspended, revoked, or cancelled for any reason, other than those that are statutorily prohibited, and habitual offenders during the first year of their five year revocation, may apply immediately to the Department for the modification of the order or the reinstatement of a license pursuant to Section 322.271, F.S., as follows:
(1) Furnish the Department with a completed Application for Administrative Hearing (form HSMV-78306, Revised 12/13, http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-04157, and herein incorporated by reference), obtained from a Department office, and the following:
(a) Driver’s license, if in applicant’s possession.
(b) A list of all arrests for traffic violations in this and any other state.
(c) Proof of driver improvement school requirements as provided in Section 322.271, F.S.
(2) If, after the hearing, the Department modifies its suspension, revocation or cancellation order or reinstates the use of the applicant’s driver’s license, such use will be for employment or business purposes only as defined in Section 322.271, F.S. for the remaining period of the original suspension or revocation.
(3) If, after the hearing, the Department affirms its original order, no further hearing shall be held, except that another hearing shall be granted by the Department if proof of new evidence is submitted.
(4) A violation of the restrictions imposed on the use of a reinstated license shall cause the license to be automatically suspended or revoked for the remainder of the period of the original suspension or revocation.
Rulemaking Authority 322.02 FS. Law Implemented 318.15, 322.16, 322.245, 322.271, 322.28, 322.282 FS. History–New 11-20-75, Formerly 15A-1.19, Amended 12-22-92, 6-3-14.

Domestic Violence

Fighting Over Fighting with Stalking Injunctions and Injunctions for Protection from Domestic, Dating, or Repeat Violence

It’s an all too common scenario. Neighbors or a couple get mad at each other. They fight. The cops are called. They don’t know who to arrest. Sometimes they arrest everyone involved. Sometimes they arrest just one person. Sometimes they don’t arrest anyone. In almost every case, the police will advise the parties that they have the option of pursuing an injunction for protection.

Injunctions for protection are civil judgments that give the police the ability to arrest the target if they violate any one of the many terms specified, including coming within 100 feet of the person that the injunction is supposed to protect. Injunctions are generally imposed on a temporary basis if a judge determines that the allegations warrant the immediate protection. A hearing is held after notice is given to the person who is the alleged aggressor after about a month. Evidence from both parties is allowed and a judge will decide the outcome. A judge can order that the injunction should stay in place for a few months, forever, or not impose it at all and dismiss the case. An important consideration is to decide if the allegations are being pursed by DCF or the State Attorney. Defending the injunction could jeopardize your standing in future cases.

Injunctions can be an effective tool in domestic cases to keep hot tempers from further boiling over into additional domestic violence incidents by keeping the parties at a safe distance. They also help get the State Attorney and DCF involved.

However, when it comes to neighbors, it gets a little trickier. It is unlikely that a judge would force someone to move out of their home in a non-domestic violence case. The more reasonable approach is for a judge to impose a smaller zone of restriction between the parties and to advise the aggressor to stay as far away from the other person as they can.

I’ve recently handled a few cases where the people seeking the injunction made really outrageous allegations. Fortunately, we won and the judge agreed with my clients and determined that there wasn’t a sound basis to impose the restrictions.

The take-away: steer clear of problem neighbors, and even sometimes that won’t be enough. Rather than subject yourself to the potential violations that can get charged as crimes, fight it! You can’t win it if you aren’t willing to fight it!

For an aggressive defense of civil stalking or domestic violence injunctions, call Matthew E. Ladd at 305-665-3978.

Nothing contained herein should be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Consult an attorney if you are faced with the issues discussed herein.

Domestic Violence

Resolving Probation Violations With Rehab

Probation violations like testing positive on a drug test can mean that the defendant is exposed to being sentenced to substantial prison time.   For example, if the reason for the probation was a third degree felony, the maximum exposure is five years in prison.  If the underlying crime was a second degree felony, the maximum exposure is 15 years (first degree felonies carry a maximum prison sentence of 30 years).  The defendant is entitled to credit for the time served, but oftentimes substantial prison time is still in play.

The hardest part about defending a probation violation is that the standard for the government to prove the violation is really low.  They don’t have to prove that the violation occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.  The government only has to show that sufficient evidence exists to find the defendant in violation.  The violations are usually pretty easy to prove and that means quick action to defend against them is usually vital.

Surprisingly, all hope is not necessarily lost.   If drug or alcohol addiction is a factor, the violation may present itself to be an opportunity to intervene and provide rehabilitation services to the defendant.  Rehabilitation is always a win-win if the government is willing to give the client a second chance.   The court can also sentence the client to more probation or modify the current probation to drug offender probation.  Clients are wise to consider that drug treatment is a great alternative to jail and prison time and could be the saving grace to preventing future offenses.  For more information on defending probation violations in Miami, Broward, Monroe or Palm Beach, call Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew E. Ladd, Esq., 305-665-3978.

Domestic Violence

Navigating the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Crimes charged in Federal Court are subject to the onerous Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  Each crime is designated with an offense level that determines how many years in prison are in play for a minimal sentence.  Recent precedent gives the sentencing judge wide discretion in determining how much time should be served even when there are minimum mandatory sentences involved.

Crimes charged in Federal Court are subject to the onerous Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  Each crime is designated with an offense level that determines how many years in prison are in play for a minimal sentence.  Recent precedent gives the sentencing judge wide discretion in determining how much time should be served even when there are minimum mandatory sentences involved. 

In addition to the base offense level, there are factors that could increase or even decrease the guideline sentencing suggestion.  For example, if a gun was used or if someone was seriously injured, a typical drug case could be enhanced with a higher offense level.  The range of things that can increase a base offense level can be something as simple as obstructing the investigation to the fact that a private plane was used to import drugs. 

It’s also possible to decrease the offense level by doing anything from writing a letter of apology and taking responsibility for the offense, to showing that the role played in the offense was “minor” or even “minimal” in relation to the entire offense and the role played by others.  Someone who did not plan or orchestrate the crime should work for a reduction relative to the organizer.       

It’s also really important to know what kind of charge to accept before the plea agreement.  Accepting a charge like “importation” of drugs rather than to “conspiracy to import” may preclude the availability of arguing for mitigating role reductions.  The simple reason being is that if the offense charged is importation, and the person charged carried the drugs into the country, it is a lot harder to say he only had a minor role in the importation.   

However, if the offense is “conspiracy to import”, and the role was carrying the drugs into the country, the ability to argue that the importation was simply a minor or minimal part in relation to the entire conspiracy and relative to the role of others involved, it could shave off a few years of prison.   

Figuring out what is available and what is actually worth pursuing takes an experienced attorney to navigate through the Federal Code.  It seems overwhelming when faced with minimum mandatory sentences and maximum life sentences, but oftentimes, something can done to help reduce the total amount of prison time before sentencing. 

For more information on how to shave years off a sentence prior to sentencing call Coral Gables Federal Criminal Attorney Matthew E. Ladd for a free consultation, 305-665-3978.