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Criminal Defense Archives

Civil rights groups unite to oppose law enforcement hacking

California residents are likely aware that several high-profile whistleblowers have come forward to expose massive surveillance programs operated by federal agencies such as the National Security Agency, but they may not know that about a technique being used by government agents known as law enforcement hacking. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures, and civil rights advocates claim that law enforcement hacking violates these rights by allowing federal agents to monitor the online activities of thousands of U.S. citizens after obtaining just one search warrant.

The Sixth Amendment right to adequate representation

California residents who are accused of committing crimes have the right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Sixth Amendment also states that all criminal defendants have the right to be represented by an attorney. Attorneys are expected to advocate vigorously on behalf of their clients, and a guilty verdict may be challenged if the performance of the attorney involved may not have met the adequate representation standard.

Reports say representative used charity donations as slush fund

According to allegations, a Florida congresswoman, her chief of staff and the president of the charity One Door for Education Foundation used more than $800,000 raised for the charity as a slush fund. The money was supposed to be used for scholarships and other educational benefits, but instead, the three allegedly spent the money on conferences, luxury boxes for an NFL game and other items. Reportedly, only $1,200 in scholarships was given away.

Sexual assault and the legal process in California

If an individual is charged with a sex crime, he or she has three options to dispute the case. The first option may be to argue that a crime did not occur because the victim was not forced to commit or engage in sexual activity. An individual may also claim that he or she was not aware that a crime was being committed because of insanity or mental defect.

Understanding mens rea in California criminal cases

In California criminal cases, one of the elements the prosecution is generally required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is the defendant's mens rea. This is a Latin term for "guilty mind." While a careless action may have resulted in harm to a person, carelessness generally falls under the civil law rather than under the criminal law.

Record number of overturned convictions in 2015

California readers might find it interesting that a record number of people were freed from American prisons in 2015 after they were exonerated of crimes they did not commit. According to a report issued on Feb. 3 by the University of Michigan Law School's National Registry of Exonerations, 149 people were cleared of their crimes last year after spending an average of 15 years behind bars.

False confessions linked to controversial police tactic

California residents may find it hard to understand why innocent individuals would confess to crimes that they did not commit. Media reports about wrongly convicted individuals being released after lengthy periods of imprisonment often feature accounts of intensive police interrogations that yielded false confessions, and psychologists who have studied the phenomenon have generally concluded that police tactics designed to wear down stubborn suspects are often to blame.

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