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Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Schools across the state of Georgia are facing an increase in threats of violence.  It has led schools to step up security.   Each and every threat must be taken seriously.  Some of these threats turn out to be real, so officials have beefed up security everywhere, including for example, Fulton County Schools implementing license plate readers on all of its campuses.

But,what if a threat is simply a result of a prank?  What charges could result from calling in a threat that is not real? Criminal defense attorney Meg Strickler recently commented on NBC 11 Alive News about this very issue.  Calling in a threat to a school can be very disruptive and it will always involve law enforcement.  Teens can thus face charges ranging from misdemeanor to federal charges.  And, the school can also suspend or expel a student for this conduct.

It is a complex situation especially in these times.

As the DOJ states, “Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (persons less than 18 years old).  Images of child pornography are also referred to as child sexual abuse images.  Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, importation, reception, or possession of any image of child pornography.   A violation of federal child pornography laws is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face fines severe statutory penalties.”

Below are the federal statutes that address child pornography.

18 U.S.C. §2252 – Child pornography;

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The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unlawful searches and seizures by the government.  When the government wants to obtain a search warrant, an affidavit must be drafted and application must be made to a U.S. Magistrate judge (in federal matters).  The affidavit can be more than a hundred pages at the minimum in complex cases.  The affidavit will begin with an introduction and the background of the agent (his/her experience).  In this section, statements beginning with “Based on my training and experience” are plentiful.  The next section generally addresses probable cause and sets forth facts that show probable cause has been established to support the issuance of a search warrant and that items listed have a reasonable probability of being found during the search.  Finally, it will detail what needs to be searched and what items the government is seeking.  Law enforcement often request search warrants when seeking documents, electronic devices, money, drugs, paraphernalia, ledgers, photos, receipts etc.  A warrant can be requested for real property, a person, electronically stored information from your phone, iPad, computer, external hard drives, a tracking device on a car, the car itself, and/or other modes of transportation such as a boat.

Once the search warrant is signed by the judge, the search warrant will be executed.  Generally, the government will work to execute the warrant with local law enforcement officials. The search can take hours, and often times, questioning will occur at the same time.  NEVER SPEAK TO LAW ENFORCEMENT at this juncture without a lawyer.  This interview at your home or office is often recorded by body cam, audio, and other video devices.  It can be difficult to get those statements excluded at trial for a variety of reasons.

After the execution of the search warrant, a copy of the search warrant inventory will be left, and it will list out exactly what was seized.  In the case of the execution of the search warrant for Donald Trump, there is a search warrant, sworn affidavit, and application filed, but it is under seal.  Mr. Trump also received a search warrant inventory. Hopefully, these documents will be released to the public sooner than later.

The Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) and the Non-Residential Abuse Program (NRDAP) are offered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) to assist inmates suffering from substance abuse issues.

RDAP consists of 3 intensive phases, totaling over 500-hours of voluntary individual and group treatment, and it is about 9-12 months long. This program offers prisoners to live in a modified prosocial community within the prison, separate from the general population. They split their day in half with vocational, work, or school activities and the other half in treatment/programs. Prisoners must meet specific requirements to be considered for this program, and space is often limited. The prisoner must have at least 24 months remaining in their sentence to complete the program.

Since some inmates may have less than a 24-month sentence, the FBOP also offers a Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NRDAP), where prisoners can participate in 12-24 weeks of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment. This treatment consists of skill-building within communication, rational thinking, and institution adjustment. NRDAP is often offered in a group setting and is more accessible to prisoners because of the less strict qualifications. NRDAP differs from RDAP because offenders may join this program if they have short sentences, are not eligible for RDAP, or awaiting availability.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made recent comments about what he considered to be the Department of Justice’s top priorities for 2022.  Since taking office in March 2021, Garland has tried to combat crime in a tumultuous time.  He has been criticized for his handling of January 6 investigation and has stated it’s the most urgent probe in history.

With all of this going on, the US Attorney’s office increased its prosecutions of individuals of white collar crimes in the year 2021.  White collar charges like fraud, theft, corruption, bribery, environmental crime, tax fraud, health care fraud, procurement fraud, money laundering, PPP loan fraud, etc will continue to get more attention from the Department of Justice.

What does this mean?  It means that investigations of any sort need to be taken seriously and that you should contact a lawyer immediately if any wrongdoing is alleged.

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Health Care Qui Tam cases

What does Qui Tam mean? 

Qui tam is short for the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which roughly translates to “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.”  

The Department of Justice just announced that U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland created COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to enhance enforcement efforts against COVID-19 related fraud.

Cases have included:

  • Offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccination cards

People in Georgia tend to have mixed opinions on polygraph tests-if they even have an opinion at all. One camp purports that the tests are unreliable and easy to beat. Another camp recognizes potential flaws while still understanding that these tests have a lot to offer.

The reality is that they do provide tremendous value in many cases. In fact, they have helped criminal suspects in Georgia avoid charges or have led to charges being dropped.

Official use

If you are facing criminal charges, you are naturally concerned about the potential legal and financial consequences of a conviction. However, as a nurse, even a charge of certain offenses may lead to professional consequences as well.

The state requires that licensed nurses report any convictions that involve a felony offense, controlled substances or irresponsible use of alcohol or drugs to the Georgia Board of Nursing. If charged with such a crime, the board may suspend or revoke your professional license.

1. Felony offenses

When a nurse struggles with substance use, he or she may worry that seeking help will result in career damage. In fact, self-reporting a problem with drugs or alcohol can help protect your ability to practice as a nurse.

Learn how a DUI or drug diversion arrest could impact your Georgia nursing license.

Understanding mandatory reporting requirements

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