texas criminal defense

Police Gain Greater Access to Phone Records with No Search Warrant Required

Should Federal agents be allowed to access a phone caller’s location without a warrant?

A Cincinnati-based federal appeals court recently said yes with their latest ruling on the topic of protecting the privacy of data which is transmitted by one’s personal device.Phone Records

The records in question, obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), were that of two men located near multiple robberies when they occurred.

Timothy Carpenter and Timothy Sanders were found guilty of being involved in nine armed robberies but argued that their phone records should have been dismissed as evidence.

Why did they argue this?

  • The phone records were obtained without a search warrant.
  • The Fourth Amendment should have protected the FBI’s access to their phone records.

Unfortunately, the court ruled against them.

In a 2-1 panel, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision stated that collecting this information did not require a search warrant and was not categorized as a “search”.

Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote, “Cell-site data—like mailing addresses, phone numbers, and IP addresses—are information that facilitate personal communications, rather than part of the content of those communications themselves.”

Carpenter’s lawyer continues to focuses on the next step. In these situations, it’s crucial to secure a criminal defense lawyer who is willing to fight till the end and be the client’s voice in the courtroom.

Carpenter’s lawyer will either ask the Sixth Court to rehear the case or head to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What’s the Supreme Court’s record when it comes to privacy?

Recently, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of privacy. However, Judge Kethledge wrote that his decision was based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Smith V. Maryland. The Smith V. Maryland ruling stated that when a person dials a number on their landline, they are willingly releasing that information to phone companies and therefore, it’s not protected by the Fourth Amendment.

While landlines and cellphones are different, Judge Kethledge saw this as a solid reference for his decision.

What’s next?

This controversy will continue to be disputed as similar cases appear and questions continue to be asked.

Is this fair? Should the FBI be able to access this information? If police have access to this type of data, especially this much, shouldn’t they have to have a search warrant?

In this case, police had extensive amounts of information. They had months of data from more than 1,000 different locations. Carpenter was sentenced to more than 116 years in prison and Sanders was sentenced to approximately 14 years in prison.

To schedule a free consultation, please call Corso Law Group at (480) 471- 4616.

Reducing Sentences Leads to Possible Criminal Defense Changes

Reducing sentences has been a common topic lately in the United States. Recently, a judge rethought a sentence that had a profound impact on an inmate named Francois Holloway.

Holloway was released from prison three years earlier than expected thanks to U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York.

Although federal trial judges don’t commonly possess extraordinary power when it comes to sentencing decisions as prosecutors rely on set in stone minimum punishment laws, typically new evidence or excessive legal error are the only ways a reduction on their part is possible.

However, judges can create a sense of public or personal pressure that causes prosecutors to rethink their sentencing decisions. When these types of situations occur, such as Holloway’s sentence reduction, it reveals attitudes continue to change in these types of circumstances, looking at the criminal justice system and its policies in a new light.

Holloway was sentenced to 57 years in prison in 1996 for being a part of armed carjackings, but Judge Gleeson who had put Holloway away, attempted to work with prosecutors for years in order to reduce Holloway’s sentence, before he was released early.

Which kind of cases does this deal typically happen to though? Thus far, these types of reductions have occurred for those who fought against sentencing that seemed underserved compared to the crime they committed.

In most cases, the defendant at hand decided against a plea deal and then lost during their trial. As a result, they were given a much more extensive prison sentence than if they were to have pleaded guilty.

These types of cases and this shift in the criminal justice system might be more common as 2016 approaches. Instead of focusing on a prison sentence, one might look towards court ordered rehabilitation if the consequence seems fitting for the crime.

However, not everyone agrees on this. In the same article, “Don Mihalek, vice president of law enforcement relations at the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said that after the-fact reductions send the wrong message,” according to Joe Palazzo, author of the article “Judges Rethink Sentences.”

Said Mihalek: “Every criminal has their day in court, and that’s the bottom line.”

Violent Crimes on Game Day: Are Football Games Dangerous?

How safe is it to be a fan at a football game? With emotions running high due to team loyalties, tense rivalries and alcohol consumption before and during the game, what seems like a fun sporting event can end in serious legal trouble.

Recently, three San Francisco 49ers fans were charged with felony assault for brutally beating a Minnesota Vikings fan after a Monday night game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

In 2014, Arizona police arrested two men on assault charges, and stadium security removed several others involved in the two fights that took place in the upper decks of the Cardinals stadium in Glendale.

While these incidents sometimes fly under the radar of stadium security, who can be overwhelmed by 70,000 screaming fans, others are taking notice.

An investigative report on stadium crimes by Seattle news station, KIRO-TV, reviewed approximately 10,000 incidents over two-and-a half seasons, finding hundreds of felony and misdemeanor crimes had occurred during this time.

KIRO-TV also revealed that the National Football League (NFL) keeps a detailed crime record for each stadium on game day, but doesn’t always share this record with police in hopes of protecting certain teams.

The NFL is reacting to growing awareness of violent fan crimes by facilitating communication between each franchise and local law enforcement and stadium security to focus on crowd safety, The Arizona Republic reports.

Currently, most NFL teams have a hotline fans can text to notify stadium officials of concerns and problems during a game, but is this enough to keep thousands of fans in line during a heated game?

Next time you’re watching your favorite team, be aware of escalating arguments, potential fights and drunk drivers.

Our attorneys know from experience that assault and DUI are common charges in Arizona after a big game or event.

Three Reasons Corso Law Group Attorneys Appreciate and Respect Our Clients

When most people hear the word criminal, a negative visual comes to mind. At Corso Law Group, we defend these criminals each and every day. Recently, I spoke with with Kevin Price of The Price of Business and discussed why I became a criminal defense attorney.

During the interview, I explained Corso Law Group’s view on how we treat our clients and why helping criminals through their situations instead of conviction has brought great benefits to everyone. Here are 3 reasons our attorneys at Corso Law Group respect our “criminals”.

1) We know they’re not bad people, they’re just in a tough position

At Corso Law Group, we believe that we represent the person, not just the client. With the wide variety of cases we defend we understand that certain situations occur without notice and definitely without intention. That’s why it’s our job to analyze and understand the client’s situation fully and from there, provide them with beneficial and smart advice. We seek to find out every piece of the puzzle through truly getting to know and understand the client.

2) We want to keep the family involved

When I was explaining to Mr. Price my reasoning behind becoming a criminal defense attorney, I placed a heavy emphasis on the families of the clients we defend. It has and always will be important to Corso Law Group that we include the family or those closest to our client in the process. This is because we know that typically, our client is not the only person experiencing trouble or confusion during this time.

3) Conviction shouldn’t be the first resort

With the shocking statistics Mr. Price was discussing, as criminal defense attorneys we want to help our clients avoid the worst case scenario. Although dependent upon each case, we never want our clients to feel trapped by the law. That’s why our job is both seek the truth and bring it to light.

A criminal defense attorney’s version of a criminal and society’s version are completely different. At Corso Law Group, we want to understand your story and help you fight to defend your rights.

For more information about who we are a firm, visit our reviews page today https://corsolawgroup.com/corso-law-group-reviews/.

Please note: Attorney Christopher P. Corso is solely licensed to practice law in the state of Arizona. A criminal defense attorney solely licensed to practice law in the state of Texas will handle your Texas legal matter.

You Ask, We Answer: 6 FAQ’s Concerning Criminal Defense Cases

When facing a legal situation where a criminal defense attorney is necessary, we understand that it can be confusing and difficult.

Preparing yourself before hand and knowing the full extent of the situation is an important factor. Here are a variety of frequently asked questions I receive from potential clients and people I speak to concerning criminal defense cases

1) How do I know if I need to hire a lawyer?

If you have been charged with a crime, you need to hire a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if the charge is for a misdemeanor or a felony, the expertise and advice of an attorney is the smartest route to take. In regards to criminal charges, a criminal defense attorney can help you to asses the situation you’re in, decide upon the most effective and efficient path to take and provide advice and tools in regards to your protection of the law.

2) How does bail work?

Your bail is a specific amount of money deposited to the court in order to secure that you will attend your court hearing. Typically, the posted bail amount is done so by a bail bond company. More importantly, a criminal defense lawyer can help their client significantly during this time period. Your attorney may have the ability to lower or waive the bail fee through negotiating with the bail bondsman on your behalf.

3) Should I be in contact with the police to try and explain my side of the story?

Absolutely not. Although we understand you just want to get across your point, it’s always safe to not say anything because legally anything you say to a police officer can be used against you in court or in a future arrest. It is always best when being questioned that you direct all questions to your attorney.

4) How much does hiring a criminal defense attorney cost?

It depends upon the law firm and your attorney. At Corso Law Group, we pride ourselves on being fair in all aspects of our careers and maintaining our focus on what the client needs. Before deciding on a firm and paying important costs, our advice is that you make sure your criminal defense attorney is not without these crucial traits.

5) How long does a criminal defense case take?

While the length of a criminal case depends on the internal matters, typically they can take anywhere from a few months to much longer. We understand that this is a difficult time for our clients, and although these are not processes that can be rushed, they are definitely processes that require great detail and focus. It is always beneficial to the client that each step is taken properly in order to create a successful outcome.

6) What is a preliminary hearing?

The preliminary hearing is described as the “trail before the trial”. This is where your attorney will be able to analyze and fully examine the case.  If your criminal defense lawyer handles the preliminary hearing successfully, it can result in a significantly positive outcome.

Please note: Attorney Christopher P. Corso is solely licensed to practice law in the state of Arizona. A criminal defense attorney solely licensed to practice law in the state of Texas will handle your Texas legal matter.

Don’t Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer Without These 4 Traits

What should you look for when hiring a criminal defense lawyer?  Don’t hire anyone unless they have these four traits:

Experience as a Prosecutor
Your criminal defense lawyer should be well experienced in Prosecuting. It’s crucial for them to know what happens on the other side, so they are better equipped to secure you the best deal possible.

Communicates Consistently With You From Day One
Depending on the type of attorney, communication with their client may not be one their top concerns. This is not okay. It’s imperative that your criminal defense lawyer is in constant contact with you about every aspect of your case.

Focuses and Actively Seeks The Best Options For You
You should expect the best deal from your criminal defense attorney and they should provide it. This is both a personality and business trait you must assess from the beginning. No matter what type of result the outcome has your attorney, they should be entirely set on creating the legal options for you.

Includes and Works With Your Family
A good attorney will act like your family and friends are important to you but a great attorney will strive to include their options and feelings in the decisions that he or she is helping you to make.

Fugitive Turns Himself in After 40 Years on the Run

After escaping from police custody three times and living on the lam for nearly 40 years, Clarence David Moore, 66, turned himself in to police.

With three successful prison breaks and a secret life under the alias of Ronnie T. Dickinson, why would Moore want to turn himself over to the authorities after all these years?

“I think he was tired of running. He’s at a point in his life and medically that he’s got to have help,” said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton.

When police arrived at his home last month in Frankfort, Kentucky, Moore was in a hospital bed.

Among other health issues, he suffered a stroke last year that left his right side paralyzed, and because he didn’t have a legitimate Social Security Number, wasn’t able to get the medical help he needed.

As police entered the home, Moore began crying when he saw the deputies, “He said, ‘I just want to get this behind me. I want to be done,'” Melton recalled.

Moore was first convicted in 1967 in North Carolina of larceny. He was sentenced to up to seven years in prison, but escaped while working with a road crew in the area. He was captured again in 1971, but fled the following year and was on the run until he was found in Texas in 1975. His final escape was from Henderson County prison on August 6, 1976.

A woman who lives with Moore answered the door when police arrived, but like Moore, has declined to comment.

Neighbors, Jim Clark and Richard Colyer, both knew him as well, but as his alias, Ronnie Dickinson. Both said they had no idea of Moore’s past.

“He was a nice neighbor. He was a very compassionate person. He didn’t have any hatred in his heart toward anyone,” Clark said, and Colyer described Moore as a private person who moved to the neighborhood a few years ago.

Moore was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, then to jail where he’s in custody.

FBI Reviews Thousands of Criminal Cases Involving Flawed Hair Forensics

After discovering that flawed testimonies were made by most FBI examiners in almost all trials offering hair forensics as evidence against defendants for the past several decades, the Justice Department and FBI formally acknowledged this error and have begun a long list of reviews.

The Washington Post reports that legal analysts have suspected problems with forensic techniques based on patterns for decades. Hair and bite mark comparisons have been criticized because the examiner is left to make a subjective call on whether the patterns match.

To put the gravity of this admission into perspective, the FBI has identified 2,500 cases so far that reported hair matches, with 342 completed reviews by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project.

Of the 342, there were 268 cases that used hair forensics to convict defendants, and 257 of these cases included wrongful testimonies from examiners.

In fact, 26 of 28 of these examiners gave exaggerated testimonies favoring prosecutors. That is 95 percent of cases in which forensics were inaccurately used against defendants from 1986 to 2000.

While there could be other evidence involved in these trials that lead to guilty convictions, this large of an error by the FBI could mean hundreds of others have been wrongly convicted or sentenced to death.

It’s likely that the 2,500 under review are just a fraction of the countless other cases that have suffered the same injustices because not all state records from decades ago are available, and some police and prosecutors aren’t answering requests for more information.

In addition, it’s possible that even more cases have been misguided by the same style of testimony. The FBI’s examiners under review have taught 500 to 1,000 other crime lab analysts nationwide their methods.

As a result, several states including New York, North Carolina and Texas have started reviewing cases involving hair forensics, and at least 15 others are expected to do the same.

Uber and Breathometer Join Forces to Help Prevent Drunk Driving

Would knowing your blood alcohol content help you make the right decision to call a cab or hail an Uber at the end of the night?

Breathometer, a portable breathalyzer that works on smartphones, has partnered with Uber to further prevent drunk driving by offering users safe, convenient alternatives to getting behind the wheel when intoxicated.

Simply blow into one of the Breathometer devices, which can be wireless or attached to the headphone jack, and the app shows the person’s current blood alcohol content.

If BAC levels are at .04 percent or higher, Breathometer provides a list of nearby restaurants, hotels and transportation options that can be contacted directly form the app.

Now partnered with Uber, an app that connects people to drivers in the area, Breathometer offers the company’s services first on the list of transportation options, and the Uber app automatically opens when selected on Breathometer.

Since the partnership began earlier this year, Uber has been selected 54 percent more frequently than the other options Breathometer offers, with approximately 1,700 Uber rides so far.

After recording BAC levels, Breathometer has the option to store this information so that over time, the app gets to know how much alcohol it takes for an individual to become intoxicated, how long it takes to sober up and more.

In the future, Breathometer founder and CEO Charles Yim has plans to expand the app even more, so that it offers users additional services, such as helpful resources for battling alcohol abuse.

The partnership between the Uber and Breathometer, and each of their respective partnerships with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Fathers Against Drunk Driving, demonstrates a serious effort to prevent alcohol-related accidents.

Why a Public Defender Isn’t Enough

Gideon’s Law states that under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every state has an obligation to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent those defendants who can’t afford to hire a private attorney.

However, many people have a misunderstanding of the public defense system and do not realize that choosing a public defender over a private attorney can be very hurtful to the outcome of their case resulting in a higher chance of being convicted as well as more severe punishment during sentencing.

Anyone who is in need of a defense lawyer should consider every aspect of using the public defense system. There are some serious issues plaguing the system including the fact that public defense lawyers are given hundreds upon hundreds of cases over the course of a year. This only allows lawyers enough time to spend 2 hours or less on each case.

In some cases a public defender technically has only minutes to spend on each assigned case and is given more than 800 cases annually. More than half of the countries legal systems also prevent public defenders from refusing to take on additional new cases.

With such minimal amount of time dedicated to each client, many defendants are simply encouraged to enter a guilty plea for the sake of resolving the case even if they might have otherwise had a relatively high chance of successfully fighting the charges against them.

Another large issue with the public defense system is a severe lack of funding. The result is that defenders do not have the necessary means to access certain resources that could make or break a case such as legal research, investigators and field experts.

More importantly, due to the problems with funding, those who are under the impression that they will save loads of money by using a public defender may be disappointed after finding themselves having to pay high amounts of court fees.

According to NPR, there has been a huge growth in the use of court fines and fees to finance the criminal justice system and other state programs. An NPR survey found that 43 states require defendants to pay fees in order to have a public defender represent them in court.

With a private attorney, there is no need to be concerned about those issues that are all too common in the public defense system. Opting to hire a private attorney gives the defendant a greater fighting chance of winning their case and saves him/her from having to worry about whether or not they are receiving the best representation in court.

Private attorneys have the education, time and resources to spend working each client’s case and will fight to get the best outcome possible in court.