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June 2019 Archives

Texas Police Can Use Civil Asset Forfeiture to Seize Property and Money

Civil asset forfeiture is the seizure of property by local or state law enforcement if it is suspected that the property was used in committing a crime, even if the property owner was never charged or convicted of a crime. This practice is a popular way to raise revenue for law enforcement agencies; however, it has been the subject of widespread criticism and outcry for reform. Even small amounts of cash on a person do not escape seizure. If the property owner does not dispute the seizure in court - which is what happens in most cases - he will automatically lose the property. If one were to fight the seizure in court, it would result in costly litigation. Because the standard of proof to forfeit property in Texas is preponderance of the evidence, the burden is on the property owner to prove the property was not connected to criminal activity.

Gamble v. United States: Dual-Sovereignty Doctrine is Upheld

On June 17, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Gamble v. United States, refused to overturn the longstanding dual-sovereignty doctrine, an exception to the Constitution's double jeopardy clause, which allows a state to prosecute a defendant under state law even if the federal government has prosecuted the defendant for the same offense under federal law. The 7-2 ruling rejected a challenge to the dual-sovereignty doctrine by Terance Gamble, an Alabama man who was convicted and sentenced in state and federal prosecutions for the same offense - felon in possession of a firearm. Under both state and federal law, a felon may not possess a firearm.

The role of the grand jury in your case

You may be well aware of your rights when it comes to defending yourself against criminal allegations. Among others, you have the right to an attorney, the right to face your accuser and the right to examine the evidence against you. However, there are certain phases of the criminal process when it may seem that the system is violating your rights.

DOJ Publishes New Guidance on Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division recently released a guidance document entitled "The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs," an updated version of the guidance the DOJ's Fraud Section had released in February 2017. The 2019 guidance "seeks to better harmonize the guidance with other Department guidance and standards while providing additional context to the multifactor analysis of a company's compliance program," and was compiled with the input from various DOJ components, including the Office of the Assistant General, Fraud Section, and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.

States struggle to pinpoint charges in college admissions scandal

Outrage rippled across the country this month when news broke that wealthy, and in some cases, famous, parents were allegedly bribing school officials to admit their children into prestigious universities. Many of these parents are now facing criminal charges, but prosecutors in several states are struggling to pin down a strategy that will lead to convictions of conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud.

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If you or your company is under investigation, charged or indicted for federal or state crimes, or you want to ensure future compliance, contact Hilder & Associates, P.C., for more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Houston white collar criminal defense lawyer.

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