What The Appointment Of Jess Sessions Might Mean For Corporate Criminal Law

One of the biggest reasons people feared a Trump administration is because, being a businessman himself, some Americans worry that he will give special favors to corporations. Since the Attorney General is responsible for prosecuting corporate crimes, many are wondering how Jess Sessions’ appointment might affect corporate prosecutions in the future. Many civil liberties and civil rights groups are in direct opposition to a Sessions’ appointment for significant reasons.

Flashback to when George W. Bush nominated John Ashcroft: many worried that Ashcroft would be more lenient on corporate indiscretions and crime, but that didn’t happen. In fact, he was responsible for one of the highest number of criminal prosecutions in history. With Ashcroft in charge during such scandals as Worldcom, Enron and watching the dot-com burst, the Department of Justice indicted many high-profile offenders during the George W. Bush Administration. Big corporate heads like Arthur Andersen went bust, thanks to Ashcroft’s diligence.

So, should corporate America be happy or not about Sessions’ appointment? Many who know his record believe that they should expect the same from Sessions as they did from Ashcroft — swift and severe punishment for crimes. The Department of Justice consists of very few politicians. It is made almost wholly from career prosecutors, which is unlikely to change. So, although Sessions will have some effect, it is likely to be limited.

Sessions is probably going to enhance the Department of Justice’s enforcement of immigration laws, which means that corporations may face stiffer and harsher punishments when they decide to employ undocumented help. Senator Sessions also has a good record when it comes to white-collar crimes. He has consistently favored a more aggressive approach to enforcing the law. So civil liberties organizations should have their fears calmed, but corporate America may have to be on their toes.

Sessions worked for the Department of Justice for 14 years as an Assistant US Attorney in Alabama, and 12 years as a US Attorney. It is hard to tell from his experience if he will be tough on corporate crime, because very few corporations resided in his district.

He is slated as taking a major role in the Savings and Loan fraud prosecution, however, which occurred when he was a US Attorney. His handling of the situation proved that he took criminal law seriously, regardless of whether it was white-collar crime or not. “A crime is a crime,” in Sessions’ own words.

When BP had the oil spill, Sessions is on record as stating that they should be held liable for what was their responsibility. He went on to say that there is no such thing as being too big to fail. That means that he is unlikely to be swayed by the economic impact that the fall of a corporation could have in relation to their criminal activity prosecution. Crime needs to be punished when it is committed, no matter who the defendant is or what type of influence they have.

Sessions believes the whole notion of “too big to fail” is fundamentally dangerous. If the courts prosecute according to shareholders and stakes, then there is no honesty or realism in criminal law. If a corporation is defrauding people, then they are hurting everyone.

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Is a Failure to Appear a Crime?

Criminal court dates are mandatory. When a person is facing criminal charges, or is involved in a criminal proceeding, they are legally obligated to show up for all court hearings. Missing a court date is referred to as a “failure to appear” or “FTA”, and it is a crime punishable by law. Forgetting or neglecting to appear for court is not like missing a doctor’s appointment. A person will face serious criminal charges in addition to the ones they were already charged with prior to missing their court date.

Without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, those charged with FTA will likely be sentenced to the maximum penalties decreed by their state. Depending on where they live and their criminal history, these penalties will vary. Continue reading to learn more about FTAs and what to expect if you are facing a similar charge in your town.

Bench Warrants

If a person misses a mandatory court hearing, they will be issued a bench warrant. This is a type of arrest warrant that demands a person’s presence on the judge’s bench. When a person has a bench warrant, they can be arrested and taken into custody at any time, whether during a routine traffic stop or at their front door. They can post bail and be released from police custody in most cases, but they will have to sit in jail for at least a few hours.

A person must face the judge once again, not only for their past matters, but for new criminal charges as a result of missing their court date. That means a separate set of penalties on top of the ones they were facing with their original charges. However, the severity of penalties for a FTA generally depends on the seriousness of the original crime a person was charged with. Penalties also vary by state. Look below for an example of misdemeanor crimes and felony crimes.

In Indiana…

Misdemeanor Crimes – A Failure to Appear charge will be penalized as a Class A Misdemeanor if the original crime was a misdemeanor. Class A Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $5,000 in fines.

Felony Crimes – FTAs charges are penalized as Level 6 Felonies if the original criminal charge was a felony offense. Level 6 felonies are punishable by 6 months to 3 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Sometimes they can be reduced to Class A Misdemeanors for first-time offenders.

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Types of Defenses Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Use

This lawyer defends their client in court who has been charged with a criminal activity that can range from a misdemeanor to a felony. If convicted their client could pay a fine, do community service, serve years in prison, or even receive the death penalty. It is the job of the criminal defense lawyer to either get their client acquitted or get them the lightest sentence possible. To accomplish this, criminal defense lawyers can use several defenses.

Affirmative criminal defense

Some criminal defense lawyers will attempt to minimize the prosecution’s evidence by showing it is not true. In this defense the lawyer, along with their client produce evidence in support of the defense. For example, if the defendant is charged with first-degree murder, which means that the client planned the murder before happened, they may choose to provide an alibi witness. This is someone who testifies that the defendant could not have committed the crime and gives them an alibi for the time the murder was committed.

Insanity defense

This defense that was made popular by movies and television shows. Unfortunately, it is a defense that is not frequently used or often successful. When criminal defense lawyers use this defense it states that their client did commit the crime but did not know what they did was wrong. To use this defense successfully the client will need to have a serious defect or mental illness at the time the crime was done. It can be risky to rely on this defense because the client is admitting to the crime but if the jury does not believe the client is insane they can find you the client guilty and hand-downs a harder sentence than they may have if they had not used this defense.

Coercion and Duress

This is an affirmative criminal defense lawyers used that states that their client was forced to commit the crime due to being threatened with unlawful force. The force does not actually have to happen.. Just the threat can be enough to satisfy this form of defense. This threat does not have to be against their client. It could be against someone else like a family member. This defense cannot be invoked if their client’s reckless actions put them in the situation that caused duress.

General criminal defenses

• Self defense-this states that their client’s actions would be considered criminal if the act was not necessary to defend themselves
• Status of limitations-this is when criminal defense lawyers states that the amount of time the prosecution has to charge their client with the crime has elapsed so the charges have to be dropped.
• Consent-it acknowledges you did commit the crime but the victim consented to it.

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