Defending yourself against embezzlement charges

Embezzlement is defined as a white collar crime in which some form of financial fraud takes place.  Typically, this means that when business funds are put under the control of a person and they are then misused for another purpose, the crime of embezzlement has been committed.

Because embezzlement cases can be complicated and involve a significant amount of financial forensic discovery, if you are charged with this type of crime, you will want to make sure you are represented by the best possible and most experienced embezzlement lawyer.

Depending on your situation, there are many possible defenses against a charge of embezzlement.  They can include:

Entrapment.  This is a defense strategy for many types of crimes in which the government compels an otherwise innocent person to commit a crime that they would not have done so otherwise.  The government will usually counter with the argument that you were going to commit the crime anyway.

Insufficient evidence.  Prosecutors must have enough solid evidence to prove that you committed a crime.  Otherwise you can raise the defense centered around reasonable doubt.  Because evidence can be difficult to produce and uncover, this is an often used defense strategy.

Under duress.  If you genuinely believe that some form of harm would come to you or that you would be in danger if you did not commit or participate in an embezzlement scheme, then you may be able to use this strategy.  Duress defenses do not work for the most part when they involve protecting a family member, such as taking money to pay for debts, gambling losses or drug and alcohol addiction.

Insanity or incapacity.  Mental illness claims can be difficult to prove as a means of having charges dismissed, especially when it comes to an insanity plea.  Incapacity defenses may make sense if you can prove that you were not in control of your senses, perhaps due to drugs or medications, and you made a mistake in the handling of money.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

Possible defenses against domestic violence charges

Being charged with a domestic violence crime can be a particularly difficult situation to endure.  In almost all cases, emotions run high, evidence can be conflicting and courts and sentences can be exceptionally harsh.

Domestic violence falls under the broad umbrella of stalking, threatening, abandonment, or damaging property in addition to the primary definition which deals with inflicting some kind of physical injury to a victim.  Domestic violence is also not limited to violence among spouses.  It can include children, parents, or any member of an extended family.  Depending on the circumstances and the severity of charges, a defendant may be facing a felony or a misdemeanor.  Both can have far reaching and serious consequences.

An experienced domestic violence abuse attorney is critical to mounting an appropriate defense against these types of charges.  And often times there’s more to a charge than meets the eye.  That’s because many men and women who are accused of domestic violence may themselves be a victim, actually acting in self-defense which resulted in a violent response.  A strong domestic violence abuse lawyer will not only be able to call out a situation like this, they will know how to put the facts in the best possible light so that you can avoid jail time.

An attorney can also help you mount one of several possible defenses.  In addition to claims of self-defense, an attorney may also be able to claim that false accusations are being made against you.  This is quite common and a trained attorney can spot contradictions that will help prove the allegations were false.  Another defense is that of lack of willful intent.  This means that an accidental shove resulting in an injury may not meet the test of domestic violence because you did not intend to harm your partner.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Dealing with the proliferation of credit card fraud

With the proliferation of e-commerce and an Internet based economy, law enforcement has seen a significant jump in credit card, and related types of crimes in recent years.

In an economy where instant gratification can be the norm, if you’ve tempted fate and committed a crime using credit or debit cards, you will want to have the best possible credit card fraud attorney representing you as soon as you are charged.

Credit card fraud can take on many forms, but law enforcement treats all types with a high degree of seriousness, because every crime of this nature will damage a victim financially, whether it is an individual, a business, or a bank.

It’s important to note that depending on the nature of the crime and the amount of money involved, credit card fraud can either be considered a state level crime or a federal crime, on that could involve the FBI or the Secret Service in some large and extreme cases.

As these types of cases have become more prevalent, so to have the ways in which law enforcement has become more sophisticated in catching cases of credit card fraud.  But law enforcement faces a difficult task, because there are so many ways to commit this type of fraud.  Cards can be forged, lost or stolen.  They can be doctored or a skimming device can be used to steal credit card information.  Cloned merchant sites can be set up.  Data hacks and identity thefts can also lead to extensive cases of credit card fraud as well.

There are some types of defenses that can be employed in credit card fraud cases, but the best chance you have of keeping your freedom rests with doing your homework to find the best possible defense attorney to protect you.  The common goal is to get a dismissal or help you to negotiate a reduction in any charges from a felony to a misdemeanor as a way of avoiding jail time.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

What you need to know about drug trafficking charges

One of the most serious drug charges you can face is drug trafficking.  Federal laws provide extremely tough penalties for selling, transporting and importing a wide range of illegal substances including marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and other similar drugs.

You can also be charged with drug trafficking even if the drugs in your possession are legal in Arizona.  If you possess large quantities of prescription drugs such as sleeping pills, painkillers, hydrocodone drugs and opiates, you may be subject to arrest as well.

A much more serious charge than drug possession, drug trafficking charges can be applied even if law enforcement officials think that you intended to sell any drugs found in your possession.  Much of this will depend on the quantity of drugs and cash in your possession when you’re arrested.

Most drugs are defined as controlled substances, meaning that their use and distribution falls under the purveyance of state and federal laws.  Controlled substances are further defined by being placed in various levels or schedules.  For example, marijuana is often classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.  Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance and so forth.  These classifications are determined by the Controlled Substances Act.  The reason this is important is because penalties are often times determined not only by the quantity of a drug but by also what schedule it falls under.

For the most part, drug possession will be considered a state level crime, while trafficking and distribution charges are considered a federal level crime.  It’s important to note this because in most cases federal drug crimes will result in more harsh penalties, up to and including life in prison.  Depending on the crime, drug trafficking convictions can be governed by pre-determined and mandatory minimum sentences, leaving the courts little discretion in many cases.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Drive-by shooting defenses and strategies

In Arizona, a drive-by shooting crime is considered a Class 2 felony and is considered a highly dangerous offense because of the use of a deadly weapon.  This type of crime is punishable by a minimum of 7 years in prison and up to 21 years in prison for a first offense.  If a person has a previous history of dangerous felony crime convictions, then prison sentences bump up to a minimum of 14 years in prison up to 28 years in prison.

Needless to say, being charged with a drive-by shooting crime is a serious offense.  Fortunately, a drive-by shooting lawyer does have several possible defense strategies they can use when defending a client.

The most common of these is the misidentification of a suspect.  In drive-by shootings there are often multiple occupants in a vehicle, and the police may not always be able to accurately identify who actually pulled the trigger.  Even when witnesses come forward, there are ways to challenge their stories in such a way as to raise reasonable doubt.  Many times, in a strong cross-examination during a trial, a witness may cave in or otherwise have doubts cast upon their ability to accurately identify a shooter.

Also, sometimes the police use gun residue found on a defendant’s hands as a way to help them make their case.  A defense attorney can always counter this possible evidence if they can show that the gun was handed off to an individual after a shooting incident.  Residue can be left behind on anyone’s hand who touches the gun.

At other times, as part of a plea bargaining negotiation, if may be possible to get prosecutors to agree to lesser charges such as Misconduct Involving a Weapon or the Unlawful Discharge of a Weapon which are less severe charges than can result in lesser punishments.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Defining the different types of homicide

Homicide encompasses the broad category of killing another human being.  Typically, homicide is divided into either intentional killings or non-intentional killings.  Regardless of the type of homicide, a conviction of this type of crime will carry severe punishments, up to and including life-long prison terms.  If you are charged with a homicide, it is imperative that you seek out an experienced homicide lawyer immediately to represent your interests.

Intentional killings.  Although exact definitions will vary from state to state, an intentional killing is defined as murder.  There are two types of murder.  The first, and more serious is first-degree murder which is defined a malicious and pre-meditated with the intent to deliberately kill another person.  In addition, any murder committed in the course of another felony, such as armed robbery, is also classified as a first-degree murder.  Second-degree murder is said to take place when there is an intent to kill another person, but without premeditation.  Second-degree murder takes place when another person is killed in the course of a person wanting to kill a completely different person.

Non-intentional killings.  These are also known as manslaughter crimes.  Manslaughter can either be charged as voluntary or involuntary, depending on the circumstances.  Voluntary manslaughter often takes place out of acts of passion or if a person is provoked.  Being provoked means that a person may be confronted physically and reacts in such a way that causes another person’s death.  Juries have the difficult job in trying to determine if a defendant used the right amount of force to defend themselves or if they used too much force in response after they were attacked.  Involuntary manslaughter takes place when a person kills another unintentionally, but through their reckless or negligent actions.  In many cases, drunk driving resulting in a person being killed has been considered a form of involuntary manslaughter, although this definition will vary from state to state.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

The numerous benefits of hiring a skilled murder defense lawyer

Few crimes stir passions as much as the crime of murder.  It is sensationalized daily in the media.  It can be horrific by it’s details. And ultimately, it can decide the fate of not only the victim, but the defendant as well.

If you are charged with the crime of murder, make no mistake about it, you are in serious trouble and you need the help of a highly skilled and seasoned murder defense lawyer.  A strong legal defense team can not only make the difference of whether or not you go free, but ultimately if you are put to death if found guilty in certain circumstances.

Due to the high profile nature of a murder case, there may be public outcry for a conviction, causing the police, judge and prosecutors to be extremely aggressive in their pursuit of a guilty verdict.  That can lead to many forms of intimidation and cause mistakes in a defense strategy unless you have top notch representation.

Another important skill a murder defense lawyer can bring to the table is the ability to be a strong negotiator on your behalf.  If there is a strong likelihood of conviction, then it may be in your best interests to avoid a trial and seek a plea bargain which may still result in a prison term, but with less of a penalty than might be the case in a trial.  An attorney may be able to use this to your advantage especially in cases where surviving relatives or friends would be too emotionally distraught to want to testify in a high profile environment.

In other cases where you may be able to claim self defense, a strong attorney will be able to use years of experience to independently investigate your case, find holes in the prosecution’s story, and craft an alternative version of the facts that may lead to an acquittal.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Possible defenses against an assault charge

Did you know that in most states, you don’t even have to actually strike a person to be charged with the crime of assault?  In most instances, just the act of threatening someone or to put them in immediate fear of being hit is enough to meet the standard for being charged.

A more serious charge of aggravated assault may take place when a person attempts to seriously injure another, or they cause an injury through the use of a deadly weapon.  In addition to facing criminal charges, if you commit assault, you may also be facing civil penalties as well, as you could be sued by a person who suffers an injury based on your actions.

While the crime of simple assault may seem straightforward to some people, an assault case is rarely, if ever, quite so simple.  That’s why no matter how small the crime appears to be, it just makes good sense to retain the services of a seasoned assault lawyer.

A lawyer may be able to employ several possible defenses on your behalf, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Some of the more common defenses of an assault case are:

Self defense.  To be able to use this as a defense strategy, it must be shown that a person perceived that there was a threat of harm against them, and that it was real and justified, and that they did not provoke their attacker nor did they have a reasonable chance of escaping the situation.

Defending others.  The same standards apply as in a straight self defense situation, except that your actions are in defense of another person instead of yourself.

Defending your property.  If someone illegally invades your property, you may be able to claim that you used a reasonable amount of force to defend your home and, in some cases, your personal property.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

How to choose the right criminal attorney

Once you have been charged with a crime you’re probably going to be facing one of the most stressful situations you have ever encountered in your life.  Unless you are a repeat offender, you will encounter a system that is imposing and unforgiving.  You will not understand much of the mechanisms of the court system and that will lead to a certain amount of intimidation and fear.

With all these factors in mind, it is imperative that you hire the best possible criminal defense attorney for your situation.  If you are not diligent in finding the right criminal defense attorney, a bad situation could become even worse.

Here are some things to consider as you begin the process of finding a good fit.

First, you will not want to hire a rookie fresh out of law school.  The best way to defend you is for a lawyer to apply years of experience gained in the legal system.  Armed with this knowledge they can make the best possible defense on your behalf and for your criminal situation.  The experience of defense counsel should and needs to match your particular case as closely as possible.  An attorney with 20 years of experience in white collar crimes is not going to be the best fit for someone facing drunk driving or aggravated assault charges.  Many lawyers are generalists, but many others also practice law in narrowly defined areas of the court system.

Next, find a lawyer who knows the court system where your case is pending.  Laws may be the same throughout a state, but personalities, particulars and preferences can often times influence the outcome of a case.  Use known tendencies to your advantage to give you the best possible chance of acquittal.

Finally, you must have some sort of positive chemistry with your attorney.  You will be forming a close knit team to try and win your case and that pretty much demands a certain level of trust in working together.  When interviewing possible attorneys, if you don’t sense that they are personable and sympathetic to your issues, it may be best to move on to someone else.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Bank fraud can take many forms

As identity theft becomes more prevalent, the rise in the number of fraud crimes against banks continues to rise as well.

Bank fraud occurs when a person deliberately uses illegal means to acquire money or assets from a bank or any other financial institution, and the perpetrator keeps the crime a secret.  Conversely, bank fraud can also take place when someone poses as a bank and attempts to get money from depositors.

Bank fraud encompasses many types of white collar crimes, some of which include:

  • Impersonation
  • Stolen Checks
  • Accounting Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Forgery
  • Fraudulent Loans
  • Internet Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Identity Theft
  • ATM Theft
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Wire Fraud
  • Tax Evasion

Although banks employ their own fraud investigators, local law enforcement agencies are generally involved when a crime has been committed.  In some instances, the U.S. Secret Service may also become involved since they are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the U.S. banking system.

Bank fraud is a federal crime because banks are protected by federal statutes.  As such, penalties can be particularly harsh, with fines up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 30 years.

Banks are highly motivated to press charges in cases like these, but they are even more motivated to recover their assets, which can create a negotiating point between a bank fraud attorney representing a defendant and the banking institution.

A defense attorney may also be able to use a couple of other defensestrategies as well.

In some instances, a defendant may be able to use entrapment as a defense, claiming that they had no intent to steal funds from the bank.

A defendant may also claim a lack of knowledge or understanding regarding the source and nature of the stolen funds.

And finally, although it is rare, a defendant can sometimes claim mental incompetence or insanity as a defense.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.