Posts by Damon Chetson

Federal Sentencing Reform: First Steps Act

Donald Trump announced his support for federal sentencing reform earlier this week. What reform and whether he really supports the reform are open questions. Earlier this year the House passed a bill that included only prison reform: laws that govern the treatment of and credit awarded to inmates once they are sentenced by the court.…

Read More

Government’s Motion to Detain Mariia Butina

Last week the Government has charged Mariia Butina with two counts of violating 18 USC 951 which makes it a crime to act as a foreign agent of a government without first registering with the United States Government. Each count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, although in reality the punishment would…

Read More

Supreme Court Cases from the 2017-2018 Term

With the election of Donald Trump, liberals have worried that Supreme the Court would swing against personal liberties and toward a tough-on-crime approach. But the 2017-2018 term proves that sometimes ideologically conservative justices can come out in favor of defendant rights. Indeed, Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, singlehandedly recovered the Confrontation…

Read More

For the People: Bad Acting, Dumb Law

What a terrible show. Also, completely incorrect in almost every aspect of federal criminal law. The pilot episode: There are almost never term-of-years pleas in federal court (as one prosecutor makes the WMD client for “15 years”.) The plea is almost always to a charge, with some recommendations to the court (which it can ignore)…

Read More

Child Pornography Bust in Raleigh

WRAL is reporting a child pornography sting operation throughout the southeast. Eight people in North Carolina face charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. Given the multi-state enforcement of child pornography laws, it’s likely that the federal government is involved and this is part of a larger sting operation I’ve written about past child pornography…

Read More

Victory at Court of Appeals: Duress and DWI

We just won a major appeal at the North Carolina Court of Appeals in a Driving While Impaired case. We’ve had this case from day one, where our client was forced to drive away from a bar where a man had pulled a gun on him. The law provides that in cases where someone is…

Read More

Bill Cosby and 404(b): Uncharged Conduct

The New York Times reports that a Pennsylvania prosecutor retrying him on sexual assault charges wants to introduce allegations of uncharged assaults. At the first trial, ending in a mistrial, the judge excluded such testimony under Rule 404(b). The Times explains: Ordinarily, prosecutors cannot introduce evidence or accusations of prior bad behavior from other cases…

Read More

Manafort and Federal Bail

Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump’s campaign manager from the late fall to the summer, struck a deal yesterday with prosecutors that now lets him off house arrest. Under the terms of that deal, Manafort must post $11.65 million worth of assets in order to be let off house arrest. Under the proposal the…

Read More

Felony Drug Charges Reduced

We recently won a victory for our client by reducing felony drug charges to two misdemeanors with no jail time.  Our client was the victim of a robbery and breaking and entering.  Upon calling the police, our client was questioned about his own possible possession of drugs.  Police suspected that the robbery was drug-related. Our…

Read More

Cooperating with the Feds

Former Trump campaign surrogate, advisor and National Security Advisor (for less than a month) Michael Flynn pled guilty today to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, false statements to a federal agent, a felony. The agreement, worked out between his lawyers and the Government, requires him to cooperate with investigators working for Robert Mueller, the special counsel…

Read More