Articles Posted in Arrests

nigth-at-hyper-1455387On January 25, 2016, Trump signed two draconian executive orders targeting documented and undocumented immigrants in the United States. There has been much attention regarding the executive orders barring refugees and any citizens’ entry of seven predominately Muslim countries. However, the impact on the criminal justice system regarding immigrants currently in the United States has received far less attention.

The Supreme Court case Padilla v. Kentucky placed an affirmative obligation on criminal defense attorneys to advise immigrant clients about potential immigration consequences for entering into guilty pleas. That seminal case created significant overlap between criminal defense and immigration law. Trump’s recent Executive Orders and their likely impact on the criminal justice system further blur the line between criminal defense and immigration law.

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Scrofano Law PC, a premiere criminal defense and civil rights firm in Washington, DC, will be offering pro bono representation to any peaceful protesters arrested during inauguration weekend.

CONTACT US AT 1-866-701-5450 or 202-765-3175

MENTION INAUGURATION PROTESTS

With several large-scale events and planned protests coinciding with Donald Trump’s inauguration weekend, we believe defending the First Amendment is BIGLY important.

As such, we are putting out some helpful information to protesters and offering our services free of charge to anyone arrested for conducting peaceful protest activities that weekend.

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For family members and loved ones of those arrested can experience intense anxiety, fear, and stress.  First and foremost, when someone in DC gets arrested, the police will not likely give accurate information as to where they will take the person.  If the police have told you that the person will be taken to Central Cellblock, you can call and find out if that is correct.

Central Cellblock is located next to DC Superior Court at the Metropolitan Police Headquarters.

The contact information for Central Cellblock is:

300 Indiana Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: (202) 727-4222
Fax: (202) 727-2230

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Owner and founding attorney Joseph Scrofano discusses what qualities to look for when hiring an attorney. Many people think there is a single best criminal defense or DUI attorney out there. However, there is no single best criminal defense attorney. Its important to hire someone you are comfortable with who will fight aggressively to protect your rights and get you a good result based on the facts of your case. Experience in the court you are getting charged in is another factor to consider when looking for the right criminal defense or DUI attorney. At Scrofano Law PC, we abide by three core principles: honesty, commitment, and creativity.

We are always honest with our clients. 100 percent of the time. No exceptions. We will never try to convince you to plead guilty when its not in your interest to do so. We will never try to scare you into taking a deal. We are committed to your case. Whether it requires dragging out the case over a year and filing every possible non-frivolous motion, we will do it. Finally, we do not provide a standard approach to each case. Each case is different and we look for creative, outside the box solutions to the problems you face. If you are someone you know is under investigation or charged with a crime, crime contact Scrofano Law PC today for a full case evaluation.

Owner and founding attorney, Joseph Scrofano discusses how the firm bills clients with flat fees. When you are under investigation or facing a criminal charge, uncertainty is everywhere. Its uncertain whether you may go to jail or lose your license or be put on probation. At Scrofano Law PC, whether it’s a DUI case or a serious felony, we charge flat fee billing. In a case evaluation, each attorney will go over the facts of your case and determine a fee based on a number of variables, including, among other things, the complexity of the case and the likelihood the case will go to trial.

Once the fee is set, you will never be billed again for the same matter. If you have questions about your case, our attorneys will take the time needed to make sure you understand all your options whether in person, over the phone, over email, or even over text message. The amount of time you spend with your attorney will not increase the bill. At Scrofano Law PC, we want you to have certainty in a very uncertain time for you. If you are someone you know is under investigation or facing a criminal charge, contact Scrofano Law PC for a full case evaluation.

handcuffs-1156821-mIn the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) makes numerous arrests for solicitation of prostitution through sting operations. Sting operations
commonly involve undercover officers attempting to exchange sexual favors for money or vice versa. Due to the undercover nature of MPD’s sting operations, many people arrested for solicitation attempt to assert an entrapment defense. However, entrapment is a difficult defense to assert in a DC Solicitation case.

Under DC Solicitation laws, you must assert an entrapment defense for it to apply in your solicitation case. A person is entrapped if law enforcement officials induced a person to commit a crime which she or he would not otherwise have committed. To assert an entrapment defense, you must first make a showing that MPD induced you to engage in the solicitation of prostitution. This rule means that you have to present some evidence to show that the police coerced, threatened, or fraudulently persuaded you to commit a crime.

Showing inducement can be challenging though because undercover officers are allowed to use fake names, false appearances, and decoys—among other tactics—to legally persuade you to engage in solicitation of prostitution. Officers are also permitted to initiate discussions about solicitation and exchange money involved in the crime. Furthermore, a mere request by a law enforcement official to engage in criminal activity, standing alone, is not an inducement. Unfortunately, the police rarely record the sting operations, which leaves the only evidence of the crime as the undercover officer’s recantation of what the parties supposedly said.

Once a defendant makes an inducement showing, the government must then prove that the defendant was ready and willing to engage in the solicitation of prostitution. To determine whether a defendant was ready and willing to engage in the solicitation of prostitution, the fact-finder can consider evidence such as the defendant’s prior similar conduct, the defendant’s reputation or character, the defendant’s acceptance to do the crime, or other circumstantial evidence. This means that the government can argue that going to a hotel in response to an online ad can show intent to engage in the crime of solicitation.

Usually, evidence of your past conduct and your character is not admissible in court but by asserting an entrapment defense you permit the government to introduce such evidence. This fact is another reason why asserting an entrapment defense can be problematic because evidence about a defendant’s past conduct or character may be more harmful to the case. Depending on the individual’s background, this issue may or may not be a problem for asserting an entrapment defense. Because the entrapment defense is difficult, often times its better to seek diversion or try and get the case dismissed on a discovery issue or otherwise.

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There are a lot of important qualities to look for when hiring a criminal defense lawyer.  You want an attorney who truly cares about their clients.  Its important for a criminal defense lawyer to have a strong and aggressive personality.  Trust me, the government will literally run you over in a criminal case and not think twice about it if you let it.  You absolutely want someone who is strong and willing to fight.

However, in my opinion, the most important thing to look for is an attorney who will be completely honest with his clients.  For example, in the District of Columbia Superior Court almost all first offenders can get probation in DUI cases so long as nothing in the arrest triggers mandatory minimum jail time (for example, a breath score above .20 triggers mandatory minimum jail).  If you walk into a DC DUI lawyer’s office having blown a .14 as a first offender with no other criminal history, no car accident, or other aggravating circumstances and he or she tells you that you could be facing serious jail time, walk out.

Its that simple: walk out.  That DC criminal defense attorney uses knowledge of the criminal justice system to manipulate clients.  What do I mean by that?  If you are a first-offender and get arrested, you have absolutely no idea what to expect.  You go to a lawyer expecting to find out what could happen to you.  You want to know what the worst case scenario is, what the best case scenario, even what are some of the middle case scenarios.  An honest DC DUI lawyer will tell you straight up.  In this hypo, the likely worst case is you get convicted, one year supervised probation, alcohol classes, fines, loss of license, and higher insurance premiums—not significant jail time.

night-life-2-1438558-3-mUsing a fake ID to get into a bar, while certainly not advisable, is as common for college students as sleeping through Friday morning classes.  In the District of Columbia, like most places, using a fake id is a crime.  The DC City Council has passed laws that, to some extent, recognize how common a scenario using a fake ID to get alcohol is.  For a first offense, the law provides for a diversion program where, if successfully completed, can result in the person arrested getting their case dismissed and their record expunged.

The offense is typically referred to as an ABC violation.  If caught with a fake ID by law enforcement in DC, you will be arrested and booked for this crime.  You will be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.  Fortunately, they do not prosecute these crimes as aggressively as DUI offenses.  However, and what will be the subject of a future posting, a DUI arrest for an underage drinking is treated much differently than an ABC violation.

After being arrested for an ABC violation, you will likely be released from the police station after a few hours with a citation to return to court on a specific date.  If you fail to appear on that date, the Court can issue a warrant for your arrest.  Before going to the citation date, I cannot stress the importance of contacting a DC underage drinking lawyer.  Your lawyer can help explain to you what to expect in the process and negotiate a diversion agreement with the prosecutor. The typical diversion agreement involves doing community service and paying a fine in exchange for dismissal of the case.

Once dismissed, you have to wait six months to have your record expunged.  Once the six months expires, your DC underage drinking lawyer can file a motion on your behalf to have the arrest expunged.  You can expect the expungement process to take a few months but in the end you will get out of the situation without having a criminal record.

The diversion program and six month expungement are codified in the DC Code.  However, this program applies to first offenders.  If you get caught using a fake ID a second time, all bets are off.  In that case, you would be prosecuted like any other misdemeanor and would have to either plead guilty or take your case to trial.  In addition, diversion applies where someone uses a real ID that belongs to an older person who looks like them (like an older sibling).  Where the ID is actually forged from some type of computer program or otherwise, there could be serious implications under federal law where the DC diversion program does not apply.  Finally, police often notify the arrestee’s university and the university may take disciplinary action as well.  While the law is set up so that the arrest does not destroy your future, any arrest is a serious matter.

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DC Gun Lawyer

A common, unfortunate scenario that often occurs in the District of Columbia goes something like this:

Average out-of-state, law abiding citizen with no prior criminal record travels through or to the nation’s capital. We will call him John.  John commits one of the hundreds of possible District of Columbia traffic infractions while driving.  And this traffic infraction could involve something as innocuous as hanging something from the rear view mirror or having window tint that is too dark.  One of the dozens of law enforcement agencies that has jurisdiction in the District pulls the person over.  We will call him Officer Friendly.  Officer Friendly either asks Johns: “Do you have any weapons in the vehicle” or John, accustomed to the laws of his home state, voluntarily announces to Officer Friendly that he has a firearm in the vehicle.  John then tries to show Officer Friendly his home state concealed carry permit for his lawfully registered firearm.  In John’s mind, all of this is no big deal.

What John does not know is that his life is about to change forever.  Officer Friendly places John under arrest for “carrying a pistol,” which in the District of Columbia is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  It is likely when John sees a judge for presentment after arrest, he gets held in jail for at least three days because of the felony charge.  The Court may order pretrial release conditions like drug testing or reporting to the Pretrial Services Agency.  And now John has a serious criminal matter hanging over his head.

Within a few weeks the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will indict John through its Rapid Indictment Process (or “RIP”).  The indictment will come down with at least three charges: carrying a pistol, which is a felony, and unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition (if the gun has bullets), which are both misdemeanors.  John’s total criminal exposure will be seven years in jail.

To John, the whole situation is absurd, and he wonders if the government will just drop the whole thing.

The sad thing is the government will not just drop it.  Even worse, in that scenario, there is virtually no basis to challenge Officer Friendly’s actions.  No illegal search; no custodial interrogation; no violation of constitutional rights.  John simply thought he was doing nothing wrong so he unknowingly admitted guilt to the officer.  The best John can hope for is to find an experienced DC gun lawyer who can convince the prosecutor or her supervisor to offer him a misdemeanor plea.  In some extremely rare circumstances, the government may offer a type of diversion where if successfully jumps through some hoops, the case will be dismissed.

Fortunately, many of the judges in DC Superior Court have more common sense then the prosecutors and their supervisors.  If John’s DC gun lawyer can get him a misdemeanor plea agreement, the judge will likely impose a very easy sentence.  The sentence could be as little as a small fine or a short period of unsupervised probation.  However, John’s criminal record won’t be eligible for expungement for eight years and his life is forever changed.

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file291260895708In August of 2012, the District of Columbia City Council amended the city’s DUI laws to include increased maximum penalties, increased mandatory minimums, and a whole host of other changes.  One important change that’s not talked about a lot is the change to the city’s hit and run laws.  Most people think if you are involved in an accident its okay just to leave a note with your information (if you hit a parked car by accident) or to exchange information on the scene.

DC’s current hit and run laws require when you are involved in an accident, you must not only stop and exchange information but also call the police and wait for the police to arrive on scene.  That means if you stop and exchange information, that is not enough.  You could exchange insurance information, leave the scene, and later be charged with leaving after colliding.  Leaving after colliding is a misdemeanor traffic offense that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days and/or a $500.00 fine (if property damage occurs) or 180 days and/or a $1,000.00 fine (if personal injury occurs).

The Attorney General’s Office prosecutes DC leaving after colliding charges aggressively.  If, as I have blogged about before, the OAG treats DUI’s like murder cases, leaving after colliding (or “LAC”) are their armed robberies.  The OAG does not typically offer diversion in LAC cases although they will do under some limited circumstances.