Restitution and Criminal Punishment in Texas: How Do They Work?
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY EXPLAINS RESTITUTION FOR CRIMINAL LAW CASES
Many crimes carry financial losses. Victims are often the ones forced to endure these financial losses, including the loss of personal property, medical costs after an assault, or lost income. Under the Mandatory Restitution Act of 1996, the courts can determine whether restitution is warranted, and the amount of restitution the criminal defendant must pay to the victim or the victim’s family in criminal law in Texas.
WHAT DOES RESTITUTION CONSIST OF?
Restitution in the criminal justice system refers to the funds that the defendant must pay to the victim for any financial harm caused by their actions. The court has the discretion and authority to force a defendant to pay restitution as part of his or her criminal punishment under criminal law. Some crimes carry a mandatory restitution, but this depends on the state. The high courts have backed the decision to order defendants to pay restitution. In fact, a case in 2010, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state correctly ordered restitution, proves such in criminal law.
Usually, violent felony offenses include restitution, but other cases can involve restitution if there are severe financial losses. Restitution might cover the out-of-pocket costs for the victim under criminal law, including:
Insurance deductibles and copays
Costs related to the criminal law case (e.g., travel, child care, etc.)
Lost or damaged property
Restitution is different from personal injury compensation. A victim will not receive pain and suffering or any form of compensation for his or her emotional distress. Instead, these damages only apply to what the victim physically paid for; usually, a receipt or bill is necessary to show the courts that the amounts are justified under criminal law in Texas.
WILL RESTITUTION BE ORDERED IN MY CRIMINAL LAW CASE?
It is hard to predict what the courts will do, but restitution is more likely in two situations:
The victim has substantial proof of financial losses. If the victim has evidence of financial losses, and he or she can justify every loss claimed, the courts might order restitution to recover those costs.
A violent crime has occurred, and the request for restitution ordered. Sometimes, the courts wait for the prosecution to issue a request for restitution. Other times, the courts offer mandatory restitution in extremely violent cases. For example, the brutal beating of a victim could result in restitution automatically – regardless of whether the prosecution submits a request under criminal law.
FULL VERSUS PARTIAL RESTITUTION
When restitution is ordered, the courts look at the defendant’s ability to pay. Obviously, if the accused has no way to pay the losses, it is hard to force them to do so. So, the court might reduce the amount until the offender can pay in full. Sometimes, the courts will still issue restitution in full but set monthly payments so the offender can pay off the balance in a specific amount of time under criminal law.
You should note that, if you are on probation or parole and have a restitution payment schedule, missing a payment could result in a revocation of your probation or parole. Typically, timely payments are part of your release conditions in criminal law.
CONSULT WITH A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY ABOUT POSSIBLE RESTITUTION
Restitution is ordered upon conviction, and is part of your criminal punishment. Therefore, you may have jail time and other penalties in addition to restitution. To avoid these harsh penalties, speak with a criminal defense attorney.
Are Ponzi Schemes Illegal?
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS DEFENDING WHITE COLLAR CRIME CHARGES
Criminal law made headlines a few years ago when the Vaughan Ponzi scheme was revealed. The plan resulted in millions of settlements for restitution and 278 victims of the real estate scheme. Vaughn received 12 years in prison for his scam, and while his sentence occurred years ago, the fallout is still being handled in the state in criminal law.
Ponzi schemes are widely misunderstood. Some refer to them as pyramid scams, while others consider any investment-like strategy a “Ponzi” scheme.
However, it is important to know the legal differences and what constitutes a Ponzi scheme. After all, a real Ponzi scheme is illegal. But, it is not a state crime. Instead, you are more likely to face federal charges if you were involved in a Ponzi scheme knowingly in criminal law.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A PONZI SCHEME?
A Ponzi scheme is an illegal business where new investors fund payments to earlier investors. It features a trickle-down effect like other businesses, but there are fundamental differences with a Ponzi scheme to note.
New Money Funds Old Money – Ponzi schemes do not have real investments or real income. Instead, they use the money of new investors to pay old investors. However, the funds are never invested themselves. These schemes require constant investments from new participants to thrive. Once the new investors run out, the system collapses.
Offer Little or No Risk Investments – Ponzi schemes typically say there are little to no risk for investing. However, these require high investment amounts and promise outrageous returns that are improbable in even the best markets in criminal law.
Consistent Returns – All investments have odd returns, and they fluctuate with the market. A Ponzi scheme offers their investors consistently high-value and positive returns, regardless of the market, because they are not investing in the real market. Instead, they only take the investments of new participants and pay the old in criminal law.
Not Registered with the SEC – Companies that encourage new investors must be registered with the SEC and state regulatory agencies. A Ponzi scheme is illegal; therefore, it is not registered with the SEC or any governing agency. Most of these businesses have no valid license to operate either in criminal law.
ARE PYRAMID AND PONZI SCHEMES THE SAME?
No. While they are closely related, these two are different in the ways they require payments and how the structure of the scheme works. They both trickle down funds from the top of the investor chain to the bottom but are slightly different.
Note, a multi-level marketing program is not a pyramid scheme or Ponzi scheme. While they act similar, these are typically legitimate. However, there are multi-level marketing frauds out there which are pyramid schemes and not real businesses in criminal law.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT STARTING AN MLM ILLEGALLY
If you plan to start a multi-level marketing program (MLM), you must avoid the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme or pyramid scheme. Certain actions you take could constitute illegal acts, and you could face state or federal level charges in criminal law.
Some methods to avoid include:
Promising easy money, passive income, or high returns regardless of market conditions.
Not offering a real product or service with the investment.
Not documenting revenue from retail sales.
Requiring buy-in to participate. While you can buy products to resell, buying into the company specifically borders on a pyramid scheme and criminal law.
Requiring your investors and participants to recruit more than sell products or services.
We handle white collar crimes and state or federal level offenses. If you have been arrested for a pyramid scheme or another white-collar crime act, speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys today in criminal law.
Can I Receive Immunity for an Exchange in Testimony?
CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS DISCUSS OFFERING TESTIMONY IN EXCHANGE FOR IMMUNITY IN CRIMINAL CASES
It is your Constitutional right to remain silent when police or prosecutors ask information that forces you to self-incriminate yourself in criminal law.
However, you might be asked to provide information that is incriminating in return for immunity. Offering protection is a prosecutor’s way to override your privilege and access information you know, but also protects you against self-incrimination.
Note that in this post, you are only learning about the types of immunity you can receive. By no means does it constitute legal advice, and we do not necessarily suggest taking immunity in exchange for your testimony. Instead, you must always consult with a criminal defense attorney to see if immunity is best for your case and the consequences of testifying in criminal law.
TRANSACTIONAL IMMUNITY: COMPLETE PROTECTION
Out of the two types of immunity from prosecution offered, transactional is the broadest and most complete. Anything mentioned in your testimony becomes protected. That is why transactional immunity is often referred to as “blanket” immunity in criminal law.
Here are a few things to know about transactional immunity:
You cannot be prosecuted for admittance to criminal activity. If during your testimony you must admit to crimes, the prosecution cannot charge you with a crime or any crimes related to the information you say in that statement in criminal law.
Prosecutors can seek evidence elsewhere. While you have broad immunity, do not think that you would not be prosecuted. Prosecutors can learn elsewhere about your actions in a crime, gather evidence, and charge you with that crime later, especially if the crime is unrelated to the events you testify to in criminal law.
Prosecutors rarely offer such generous immunity. Rarely will you see a prosecutor offer this generous form of immunity. They do not want to allow a person to get away with a crime or escape punishment. Therefore, they might provide another type of immunity or no immunity in criminal law.
DERIVATIVE USE IMMUNITY
Also referred to as “use and derivative use” immunity, this is a common form of immunity issued by state prosecutors. If they decide that your testimony is worthwhile, they could extend derivative use immunity, but the scope of this protection is much narrower in criminal law.
The prosecution cannot use your statements or evidence that derives from your statements against you in a prosecution. However, there is more to this form of immunity than meets the eye:
Prosecutors can obtain independent evidence. During your testimony, if you indicate or hint that you played a role in the crime, prosecutors have the right to seek independent evidence. That independence evidence is not produced from your testimony, which gives them the right to prosecute you in criminal law.
Prosecutors might find another witness against you. Immunity for testimony becomes a vicious cycle at times. You not only receive protection, but the prosecution can also find a witness who will testify against you in exchange for immunity in criminal law.
Stipulations always apply. Typically, stipulations apply to all types of immunity. Therefore, it is important to review these stipulations, have them in writing, and have a criminal defense attorney by your side to ensure these stipulations do not increase the likelihood you will be charged with a crime too.
DO NOT ACCEPT IMMUNITY UNTIL YOU SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY
When prosecutors wave immunity in front of you, you might be tempted to take it. They might even tell you that the offer goes away if you speak to an attorney in criminal law.
Never accept an offer of immunity in exchange for your testimony without consulting an attorney. A criminal defense lawyer is better equipped for negotiating such deals and ensuring that you cannot be charged or arrested in the future based on what you testify to in criminal law.
Requirements that Police Must Follow to Execute a Search Warrant
SEARCH WARRANT REQUIREMENTS IN THE USA AND HOW THEY CAN AFFECT YOUR CRIMINAL LAW CASE
Even with a search warrant, law enforcement still has limitations. To understand those limitations, you must first know what a search warrant is, how law enforcement obtains one, and what it allows them to do in criminal law.
WHAT IS A SEARCH WARRANT?
A search warrant is a legal authorization issued by an authority (a judge) that allows police officers to search a particular place for evidence – without the owner or occupant’s consent. To not violate a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, police must obtain a search warrant in criminal law.
HOW DO POLICE OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT?
To get a search warrant, police officers must petition a judge, and the judge must issue the warrant. Law enforcement must show that they have probable cause, which justifies the issuance of a search warrant in criminal law. Sometimes, this means providing evidence or an affidavit to the judge. They must also state where they will search and the items that they seek. This information is then relayed in the search warrant text. If the order lacks specific evidence or areas, then it is not valid.
REQUIREMENTS WHEN EXECUTING A SEARCH WARRANT
Even when law enforcement has the search warrant in hand, and signed by a judge, there are protocols that they must follow. First, there is the knock-and-announce rule. This means that the officers executing the search warrant cannot force their way inside or immediately enter a private residence. Instead, the first officers must knock and announce their identities, as well as their intent. Then, they must wait for a reasonable amount of time for the occupant to answer in criminal law.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE KNOCK AND ANNOUNCE RULE
While officers are required to knock and announce, there are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes, officers will have a no-knock warrant, which means that they can enter the property without announcing intent or presence. These are only issued when there is reasonable suspicion that evidence might be destroyed if the police officers were to announce their identity to the occupants in criminal law.
TIMING OF SEARCHES
Officers are required to time their searches during the day. However, the definition of night can easily be stretched. Typically, states follow the federal rules of criminal law procedure, which means that searches can run from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
EXTENT OF THE SEARCH
With the warrant, police officers only have the authority to search the places and individuals listed in the order. They may only find the evidence sought after, and they can only search in areas where they would reasonably find the evidence. For example, an officer looking for a large rifle cannot justify searching a small jewelry box in criminal law.
While they have limitations on their searches, officers can detain people who they find at the site during the search. If they locate sufficient evidence while searching, they can arrest and search the people who they find – even if those people are not named in the warrant in criminal law.
PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS FROM UNLAWFUL SEARCHES – CONTACT A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TODAY
If the police have searched your home and seized evidence, you have rights. Often, protocols are ignored, but police assume that defendants do not know criminal procedure. To ensure that your rights were not violated, and to receive expert-level defense, contact a criminal defense attorney.