Monthly Archives: December 2013

Prison Medical Care Assistance

Prison_MedicalDo You Have A Loved One Who is Incarcerated In The Bureau of Prisons And In Need of Prison Medical Care? 

If you are suffering from a serious medical problem and if the Bureau of Prisons is neglecting to provide you with the medical care which you so desperately need, NLPA can assist your attorney in pursuing a court order that the Bureau of Prisons provide the proper medical care or a medical furlough so you can receive private medical treatment “on the street” from your own physician.

There are two ways in which a federal prison inmate can obtain medical treatment:

Administrative Application For Medical Furlough – Pursuant to Bureau of Prisons Program Statement 5280.4, the Attorney General of the United States has delegated the authority to grant furloughs under Title 18 United States Code Section 4082(c) to the Director, Bureau of Prisons (28CFR0.96)d. Title 18 USC 4082 applies to inmates whose offenses occurred before November 1, 1987. For inmates whose offenses occurred on or after November 1, 1987 the statutory authority for furloughs is found in Title 18 USC Section 3662 of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. The authority to approve furloughs in the Bureau of Prisons institutions is delegated to the Warden or the Acting Warden. Pursuant to BOP Program Statement 5280.4 the Warden may approve a furlough for purposes of obtaining necessary medical, surgical, psychiatric or dental treatment not otherwise available.

 Court Ordered Medical Treatment –

 (a) Court Ordered Medical Treatment – if the BOP either fails or refuses efforts administratively to receive proper medical care, the next step is to have counsel file a motion in court asking the court to order the prison to provide you with proper medical care.

 (b) Motion for Medical Furlough – If the prison fails to comply with the court’s order to provide you with medical care, it is possible to obtain a medical furlough as the result of the order of a federal court. This usually must be done, after an inmate has exhausted his administrative remedies and the Bureau of Prisons has decided to deny a furlough. However, in the case of a life threatening condition, it is possible to ask the court to allow you to bypass the administrative remedy process.

If you would like to know more about Prison Medical Care and how NLPA may be able to assist your attorney with your case, contact our office today.

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NLPA Case Evaluations and Case Study Research Services

Case_Study_ResearchHave you been convicted of a crime you did not commit or are you considering having case study research completed in an attempt to seek further relief in your case?

 If you have ever been convicted of criminal charges and/or imprisoned, the entire process can be overwhelming on you and your loved ones. There may be a lot of confusion your case, how the legal system works, the penalties involved, or you may be wondering what you can do with your case at this point. Hiring a criminal defense team who has the confidence and experience to aggressively represent your interests is essential to your case. At National Legal Professional Associates, we have the experience and dedication necessary to bring your case to a successful conclusion. 

NLPA can assist in the preparation of a case evaluation that will outline for you, your attorney, and your family potential issues that we believe could be raised in a post-conviction motion to assist you in pursuing post-conviction relief. The case evaluation will include personalized case study research concerning the issues that apply as well as a factual statement of your case, a review of the sentencing guidelines, a summary of procedural sentencing defects, possible ineffective assistance of counsel, and a complete review of the entire transcript of the legal proceedings in your case. The case evaluation would address not only court action available in attempting to reduce the sentence you received or overturning your conviction but, it would also address potential alternative remedies that may be available to you such as Expunging, Sealing or Overturning prior convictions, Pardon or Clemency applications, and New Rules of Evidence that may be available for out of time situations.

If you are interested in learning more about Case Evaluations and case study research, contact NLPA today!

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Post Conviction Relief Assistance

gavelHave you been convicted of a crime?  Are you in need of Post Conviction Relief Assistance?

Oftentimes when an appeal is denied, defendants and attorneys feel that there are no other options available to help a defendant. This is not the case. Post-Conviction Motions enable a defendant to raise new issues not raised in the appeal such as Ineffective Assistance of Counsel and Newly Discovered Evidence. Post-Conviction Relief Motions are critical avenues to present new information or information that was not able to be presented on appeal. Researching a case to identify each of these potential issues requires a significant amount of time and experience and can make or break your attempt to receive relief in your case.

Many times post-conviction motions have specific filing deadlines. Deadlines for State and Federal post-conviction motions vary and NLPA is well-versed in all jurisdictions. If you’re not certain of the avenue to pursue in seeking post conviction relief, NLPA also offers case evaluation services through licensed counsel. A case evaluation is a detailed analysis will help to identify not only potential issues that may be available for use in a post-conviction relief motion but it can also outline any deadlines that may exist and the recommended avenue of relief in each case.  NLPA can prepare this case evaluation for counsel licensed in your jurisdiction to receive and review with you.

NLPA’s researchers work through each case with a “fine-toothed comb” to review every possible avenue for counsel that can be used in pursuing relief in the case.

Our researchers can assist counsel in preparing a thoroughly researched motion to pursue relief in your case. Our post conviction relief service includes not only the preparation of the opening motion for counsel, but also preparing any replies to the government’s opposition as well as objections to reports and recommendation and, if necessary assisting counsel to prepare for evidentiary hearings.

If you are in need of assistance, contact us today for more information.

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Expunging Convictions

expunging_convictionsHave you ever been convicted of a crime and wondered about Expunging Convictions?

Although generally reserved for individuals who have not been convicted of a crime, certain states permit offenders to apply for expungements after a specific amount of time has passed from the completion of their sentences, provided they were not convicted of a crime that fell under a list of certain enumerated crimes. While there is no uniform process known as expungement, it is commonly accepted that the purpose of expungement is to conceal criminal records from the public.

Expungements are based on the premise those with criminal records an individual will have trouble reingrating into society and may face barriers from participating in public life unless they have a legitimate means of being able to honestly deny that they have ever been charged with a crime or possessed a criminal record.  As a result, most states permit individuals who have had their records expunged to answer in the negative if asked whether they have been arrested or charged of a crime.

In states where expungement is granted after a conviction, the severity of the crime will play a determinative role in whether or not expungement is possible. States which prohibit the expungement of convictions (before a pardon is obtained) will often contain restrictions depending on the process taken to complete the case without a conviction.

The practical effects of expungement remain questionable when considering the number of people who can still access criminal records even after they have been expunged.

Although guidelines are state dependent, typically all records on file within a court, correctional facility or law enforcement agency concerning a person’s apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of a crime can be expunged.

While thirty-nine state codes contain provisions relating to the procedures for DNA samples and profiles of individuals in these circumstances, the burden is often placed on the individual to petition the court for the expungement of these records from state data banks.

For additional information about expunging convictions and how NLPA may be able to assist your counsel with your case, contact us today.

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Legal Research Service – Prison Overcrowding

prison overcrowding

Department of Justice Policy Regarding §851 Enhancements and Mandatory Minimum Sentences

In an effort to reduce federal prison overcrowding and to address flaws in federal sentencing structure, the Obama administration, via Attorney General Eric Holder has announced drastic changes in the federal government’s policies toward criminal defendants. In light of the decision issued in Alleyne v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2151; 186 L. Ed. 2d 314 (June 17, 2013), federal prosecutors have been instructed by the Attorney General to seek increased statutory mandatory minimum sentences against “serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers.” Such increased sentences are not to be sought against certain “nonviolent low-level drug offenders.” Prosecutors have been advised to reserve the enhanced sentences for recidivists under 21 U.S.C. § 851 for serious offenders, as such sentences for low-level offenders “do not promote public safety, deterrence, or rehabilitation” and represent an increasing strain on the federal criminal justice budget.

Specifically, if individuals charged with being involved with controlled substances under Title 21 of the United States Code meet the following criteria, prosecutors have been instructed not to charge the individuals with increased drug types and quantities that would increase statutory minimum sentences:

– The individuals’s relevant conduct does not involve the use of violence, the threat of use of violence, the possession of a firearm, the trafficking of drugs to minors, or death or serious bodily injury to any person;

– The individuals is not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor in a criminal organization;

– The individual does not have significant ties to a large-scale drug trafficking organization or gang;

– The individual does not have a significant criminal history, with fewer then three criminal history points being a rough guide for this measure.

The government has also stated that it would seek to expand the compassionate release program by revising eligibility criteria to include “elderly inmates who did not commit violent crimes and who have served significant portions of their sentences.” 

Importantly, these policies are not changes in federal law. Only with the enactment of legislation by Congress codifying these policy changes will these policies become law. The Attorney General has stated that the Department of Justice would aid Congress in this pursuit. Specifically, the Attorney General mentioned two bills that the Obama administration hoped to “refine and advance.” One is the Justice Safety Valve Act (S. 619). The bill would give federal courts discretion to depart below a statutory minimum sentence when circumstances warrant.

The other bill is S. 1410, the Smart Sentencing Act. This legislation would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, expand slightly the existing drug safety valve, and apply retroactively the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity.

NLPA will continue to monitor the government’s efforts at reforming the criminal justice system. As of yet, the above changes in policy do not have the effect of law. However, with continued argument in the federal courts for such change, as has been advocated by NLPA since its founding more than two decades ago, federal courts and lawmakers will be forced to heed the clarion call for justice and fairness in the criminal justice system.

If you would like additional information about the legal research service provided by NLPA, contact us today.  NLPA offers affordable legal help for our services as well as a number of different financing options and payment plans.

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USCIS and the Deportation Process

immigrationHas the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services lodged a Detainer Against You?  Do you need help understanding the Deportation Process?

If, USCIS has lodged a detainer against you, this means that while you are serving your sentence you would not be eligible to serve your sentence at a federal prison camp.  It also means that while serving your sentence you will not be eligible for furloughs to visit your family or to be placed in a halfway house placement which could normally get you out of prison much earlier than otherwise would be the case. Lastly, and probably most importantly, it also means that when you do complete the serving of your sentence you will be turned over to USCIS to be deported to your home country, or possibly another country of your choice.

On April 24, 1996, the Anti-Terrorism Bill was signed into law. One of the positive provisions of this bill is that it established for the first time a procedure that enables a foreign national who is serving a term of confinement to be able to be deported to his home country prior to the completion of his sentence of imprisonment.

There are specific procedures involved with applying to the Justice Department as well as your home country for the processing of the application for deportation. NLPA has great expertise in this area and we would be very happy to provide legal services assist your counsel in the preparation of the documentation that needs to be submitted to the Justice Department as well as your home country.

An additional option which may be available to you to be able to return to your home country before the completion of your sentence is to be transferred to your home country pursuant to a Transfer Treaty with the United States.  If your home country is one of those listed in the Treaty, NLPA can assist in requesting an early deportation to your home country. Not only would we file an application pursuant to the revised provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act but we also would file an application for your early deportation pursuant to the Transfer Treaty with your country.

To obtain more information about the Immigration and Nationality Act,  participating countries of the Transfer Treaty or the the Deportation Process, please contact NLPA today.

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Lawyer Assistance – DNA Testing

Lawyer AssistanceLawyer Assistance – How to Use DNA Testing to Obtain a New Trial

NLPA is often contacted by defendants and their attorneys in cases where the defendant has been convicted despite a presentation of all available evidence. The case of State of Florida v. Cheydrick Britt, case number 02-CF-15542 (13th Cir. 2002) demonstrates how NLPA can assist counsel in the preparation of research that can hold the prosecution to its burden to provide all available discovery and to have relevant scientific testing performed on such evidence.

Mr. Britt was charged with three sexual offenses by the grand jury for Hillsborough County, Florida in 2002. Mr. Britt proceeded to a jury trial in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court in May 2004. During trial, testimony was presented that a rape kit was prepared by law enforcement officials, with the kit containing two smears, pubic hair combings, vaginal swabs, possible hairs collected from vaginal swabs, additional swabs, saliva sample, the victim’s panties, and possible hair collected from the panties. However, this evidence was not tested for DNA.

NLPA was hired to provide lawyer assistance to Mr. Britt’s attorney, Charles A. Murray, Esq., to force the state of Florida to test the rape kit for DNA evidence. Accordingly, NLPA aided in the preparation of a post-conviction motion for DNA testing pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.853. The motion was granted, and the rape kit evidence was tested for DNA. The results of the testing called into question the propriety of Mr. Britt’s convictions, forcing the trial court to vacate his convictions and sentences in 2013 and order that a new trial be had, should the government wish to continue prosecution.

Critical to the success of the request for DNA testing was to demonstrate that testing would likely uncover evidence that Mr. Britt did not commit the crimes at issue. By reviewing every page of the trial transcript, NLPA discovered that a witness for the prosecution stated that the victim’s mother could not be excluded as a DNA donor to a sock and the victim’s bed sheet, which were tested in this matter.

Mr. Murray greatly appreciated the lawyer assistance provided by NLPA which resulted in the court ordering a new trial for Mr. Britt.  If your client is innocent and wants a new trial, please contact NLPA.

The bottom line is that just because an individual is convicted does not mean that the individual was properly convicted and that all attempts to obtain justice must cease. Instead, by carefully reviewing all evidence and every action that has occurred in a case, possible means of challenging wrongful convictions will often come to light. NLPA has been at the forefront of attacking unjust convictions. Should your clients find themselves in similar situations to Mr. Britt, NLPA stands ready to assist you in the research and preparation of any motions and/or research necessary to assist you in the vigorous defense of your clients.

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California Three Strikes Law – Senate Bill 9

judge

California Three Strikes Law Amended

Relief at last is available for many California defendants who are serving life sentences under the Three Strikes Law. Recently, California enacted Senate Bill 9 into law, whereby criminal defendants who were under age eighteen at the time of their crime and who were sentenced to life in prison without parole can ask the sentencing court to review their cases and consider permitting parole after serving twenty-five years in prison. Election Night 2012 provided another sentencing reform breakthrough in California with the passage of Proposition 36.

Proposition 36 serves to reform the draconian “Three Strikes” law. The California Three Strikes Law required judges to sentence third-time offenders who have committed two previous violent or serious felonies to twenty-five to life prison terms for the commission of any third felony, regardless of the severity of the third felony. Although twenty-four other states possess Three Strikes laws, only California’s law permitted the third strike to be for any type of felony. However, with the passage of Proposition 36, a life sentence can only be issued for a third felony when the third felony conviction is considered “serious or violent.” Offenders who were sentenced to life, despite the fact that their third felony was not serious or violent, can now seek sentence modification.

However, contrary to the rhetoric of those opposed to Proposition 36, the amended sentencing law will not lead to “property crimes going up all over the state, and in very short order.” The amended law continues to impose a life sentence penalty if the third strike conviction was for “certain non-serious, non-violent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession” and for third strike felonies that are “non-serious, non-violent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.” Clearly, defendants deemed dangerous will not be loosed upon society.

In practical terms, the amended law will permit the approximately 3,000 convicted felons who were, as of November 2012 serving life terms under the Three Strikes law whose third strike conviction was for a nonviolent crime, to be eligible to petition the court for a reduced sentence. It has been estimated that these reduced sentences could save California, and its taxpayers, between $150 and $200 million per year.

If you would like to learn more about the Amended California Three Strikes Law and the legal services provided by NLPA, contact us today.

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Brief Writing – Appeal Preparation

legalbriefIf you’re not sure how to appeal your case, we can help!  NLPA provides top-notch appeal research for counsel to file with the appropriate court of appeals. NLPA offers assistance in both state and federal court of appeals at any appellate stage. Whether you are on direct appeal or an appeal to the Supreme Court, we can help.

Our appeal brief writing service includes the preparation of a detailed opening brief as well as any responses to the government reply briefs. NLPA has assisted counsel in thousands of appeals over the past two decades. If you did not receive the outcome you were hoping for at your sentencing and if you want to know how to appeal, we are here to help. NLPA has an excellent background in helping counsel fight cases in the court of appeals.

NLPA is well-versed in the various levels of appeal in both the state and federal jurisdictions. No matter which court of appeals you are entering, we are provide a team effort to your arguments and make sure no stone is left unturned in defending your case.

NLPA offers a wide variety of payment options and finance plans. For additional information about our affordable legal help, contact us today.

 

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NLPA Provides Legal Services for Sentencing

Often, NLPA is contacted by attorneys who represent federal criminal defendants who are in need of sentencing assistance, given the wide array of arguments that can be made in favor of sentences below what is called for by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The case of United States v. Tarsha Brooks, case number 2:06-cr-00126-JES-DNF-1 (M.D. Fla) demonstrates how NLPA can assist counsel in the preparation of multi-faceted sentencing research that challenges the Guideline recommended sentence at sentencing, and also after a sentence has been issued.

Brooks’ family hired NLPA to provide legal services to assist his counsel, Charles Murray, with research and argument drafting in an effort to persuade the court to sentence him to the lowest possible term of confinement.

In staying abreast of relevant sentencing law, NLPA was at the forefront of conducting research once the Fair Sentencing Act was enacted.

The Fair Sentencing Act replaced the 100 to 1 crack to powder cocaine sentencing ratio with an 18 to 1 ratio (28 grams will trigger a 5 year mandatory minimum and 280 grams will trigger a ten year mandatory minimum) under 21 U.S.C. ‘841.

Although the law was not specifically stated to be retroactively applicable, NLPA assisted in the preparation of a motion for reduced sentence in Mr. Brooks’ case. The district court agreed with NLPA’s position, and reduced Mr. Brooks’ sentence from 140 months incarceration to 120 months incarceration saving Mr. Brooks’ 20 months in prison.

Mr. Brooks also assisted in obtaining justice. Mr. Brooks provided substantial assistance to law enforcement officials in the investigation of criminal activity. As a result, the government filed a motion for reduced sentence pursuant to U.S.S.G. ‘5K1.1 and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b) on Mr. Brooks’ behalf. Mr. Brooks’ total offense level was reduced to 21 and his Criminal History Category was reduced to V, resulting in a Guideline range of incarceration of between 84 and 105 months. On September 12, 2013, Mr. Brooks’ sentence was reduced to 84 months incarceration, which represented a sentence over 100 months less than the original Guidelines recommended sentence in Mr. Brooks’ case.

The bottom line is that just because an individual faces an overwhelming Guideline sentence does not mean that all attempts at securing a lesser sentence must be abandoned in deference to the Probation Office or the federal prosecutor. For more information about the legal assistance that NLPA can provide to your counsel, contact us today.

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