During the last few years of Attorney Sam’s Takes, I have pointed out many times that cases that used to be handled by civil lawsuits have now entered the criminal justice arena. I have opined that part of the reason for this is that these cases, or at least the prosecution of them, brings headlines and publicity that political prosecutors are looking to get.
No where has this been more noteworthy then in the areas of theft and fraud. Most of the cases that we see have to do with politicians and/or fraud against public agencies. These cases often include wire fraud, insurance fraud, mail fraud, Social Security fraud and so on. I would imagine that since the World Wide Web is our latest “out West” area, as we learn more about it, there will not only be more Internet crimes, but also more prosecutions.
The fact is, fraud took place long before we had an Internet. It was not always prosecuted as a crime however. Often, the matter was resolved by a civil lawsuit.
For example, let’s say I make a deal with someone that I am going to sell them a book of my blogs for which they will pay an insane amount of money. I live in the Boston area and my purchaser lives in Toledo Ohio. I sent him the book and he sends me a check.
The check bounces.
Now, I cannot reach the gentleman no matter what mode of communication I try. What do I do?
In the old days, a civil lawsuit might come out of this scenario. These days, a criminal prosecution could arise. Both would be based on the same set of facts and, although having somewhat different names, be based on the same type of legal theory.
Technically, of course, there is nothing to forbid both from taking place at the same time. In fact, we see this many times in certain types of cases. For example, it will not surprise you to learn that after many criminal vehicular homicide cases Resolve, withere is a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.
I hate to bring up an old canker sore of the legal system, but remember O.J. Simpson? After his prosecution failed, he was sued civilly for wrongful death. The wrongful death lawsuit was clearly going to come whether or not the prosecution succeeded.
As I have told you many times, it is quite easy to be charged with a crime. Often, you simply have to anger the wrong people. I have handled many criminal cases that have arisen out of another kind of court action. I could not begin to estimate how many criminal cases I have defended which are offshoots of a divorce proceeding. It seems almost commonplace to find restringing orders, domestic violence allegations and harassment charges waltzing hand-in-hand down the corridors of justice with ugly divorce proceedings.
It is also not unusual to find allegations of white-collar crimes arise from business disagreements. Perhaps there are negotiations going on. Perhaps there is a civil lawsuit going on. However, it has become apparent to most people that one way to get the upper hand in a fight is to get the state or United States government on your side.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that bringing criminal charges will cost you, as a complainant, absolutely nothing.
You may be wondering why some cases have criminal prosecutions as well as civil lawsuits and other is simply the civil lawsuits. It is a good question. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on who the parties are and who the prosecutors are. It also depends upon The political plans of the main prosecutor in the office.
Does that mean that none of these cases deserve criminal prosecutions? Of course not. Plainly speaking, the words “never” and “always” do not really exist in the criminal justice trenches.
But in order to successfully guide you through the process once criminal type allegations are made against you, your best asset is an experienced criminal defense attorney. I have warned you for many years that, if in this situation, the best thing you can do is hire such an attorney even before any allegations off formalized. By then, it may be too late to do all on your behalf that a defense attorney might have been able to do.
If you are a regular reader to this daily blog, none of what I have told you today is new. But whether or not you are a daily reader, It is a message worth hearing again.
Because, someday, it may be your turn in the hot seat.
In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!