Federal Criminal Defense: Guarding against prosecutorial abuse

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Federal Criminal Defense on Thursday, August 23, 2012.

Prosecutorial abuse has been a hot topic in the news in recent months. On August 21, 2012, the New York Times published an editorial article addressing one specific issue related to prosecutorial abuse, which is the Hyde Amendment of 1997. The Hyde Amendment was revolutionary in the world of federal criminal defense. The law allows for judges to award attorney’s fees and court fees to defendants who the court finds were prosecuted on a “vexatious, frivolous, or bad faith” basis.

An example case is that of Dr. Ali Shaygan who was charged with allegedly dispensing drugs outside the scope of his medical practice. The court awarded Dr. Shaygan with attorneys’ and court fees based on the “bad faith” exhibited by the prosecutors. During the course of the case, Dr. Shaygan federal criminal defense lawyer stated that he was going to file a motion to suppress the doctor’s statements. The prosecutors threatened him with negative recourse if he did. After filing the motion, the federal prosecutors increased the doctor’s charges from 23 to 141. The judge found that the government acted in “bad faith.”

Recently, the United State Court of Appeals was addressed with a similar issue in which the prosecution behaved unethically. In a 2-to-1 decision, the court redefined the law, stating that the Hyde Amendment of 1997 only applies to cases in which the prosecution was “clearly unfounded.”

The Hyde amendment acted as a moral safeguard to prevent prosecutorial abuse. However, with the absence of the original legislative intent, federal prosecutors now have fewer boundaries. The current conviction rate at the federal court level is 94 percent. What will it become now?

If you have been charged with a federal crime, consult a federal criminal defense attorney to discuss your options so that you may have the fair trial you deserve.

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