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Federal Agents Raid Los Angeles Casino for Allegedly Laundering Money, Again

An ongoing investigation against the Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens, a city in Los Angeles, resulted in federal agents raiding the casino and closing the gambling floor this week. Since the warrant issued for the raid by a federal district court judge was filed under seal, there are only a few details about the investigation. However, this same casino was found, after a 1991 investigation, to have been built using drug money. Although numerous gamblers speculated that the raid was a result of rigged gaming tables, unnamed media sources clarified that the casino is under investigation for money laundering. Casino patrons holding stacks of chips will be pleased to know that the casino reopened this week after investigators finished their search. However, there may be some more legal trouble in their future, depending on what the search discovered. What is Money Laundering? The crime of money laundering occurs when a person exchanges illegally obtained money, such as the proceeds from the sale of drugs, stolen goods, or other criminal activities, for "clean" money. Many financial institutions are regulated in such a way that certain transactions are monitored for suspicious activity. However, businesses that operate with modest, or even sometimes large amounts of cash can sometimes fly under the radar of authorities, as we learned in Breaking Bad. Penalties for Money Laundering Money laundering is a relatively common type of white collar crime. Depending on whether charges are brought by federal or state authorities, the penalties for money laundering can vary. State laws tend to mirror federal laws, but vary from state to state. Typically, the penalties will increase with the amount of money laundered as well as the number of transactions. While one-off offenses can result in only misdemeanor charges, simple fines and short jail sentences, multiple money laundering transactions can lead to multiple offenses and felony jail sentences of several years. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How Stacks of Cash Get People Arrested (FindLaw Blotter) Founder of For-Profit College Gets Prison Time (FindLaw Blotter) Feds Punish NY Corruption: Sheldon Silver Sentenced to 12 Years (FindLaw Blotter)
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Federal Court: Civil Rights Act Protects Gay, Lesbian Workers From Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Because it was enacted in 1964, many have wondered whether gay and lesbian workers were also protected under the law. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question this week, ruling that Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The court reasoned that the statute's ban on sex discrimination also prohibited sexual orientation discrimination because, among other reasons, the discrimination is based on outdated gender stereotypes. Here's a look: Stereotypical Discrimination The plaintiff in the case, Kimberly Hively, contends that she was passed over for full-time employment at Ivy Tech Community College because she is lesbian. Her central claim, as it pertains to Title VII, is that this discrimination was based on her sex or gender -- that, had she been a man, she would not have been discriminated against for being sexually attracted to women. And the majority found it persuasive: Viewed through the lens of the gender non-conformity line of cases, Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype (at least as understood in a place such as modern America, which views heterosexuality as the norm and other forms of sexuality as exceptional): she is not heterosexual ... Hively's claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing. The employers in those cases were policing the boundaries of what jobs or behaviors they found acceptable for a woman (or in some cases, for a man). Essentially, Hivey was still discriminated against based on her sex in that she did not conform to stereotypes about female sexual orientation. A Definitive Decision? The court's decision is groundbreaking. Until now, the majority of courts interpreting Title VII have held that it did not cover discrimination based solely on sexual orientation. While the Second Circuit found that sexual-orientation discrimination wasn't explicitly prohibited by Title VII, it recently found that gay workers who were subject to gender stereotyping still had the right bring sex discrimination claims. The Supreme Court has yet to decide the issue, but may need to soon, giving the disagreement between circuits. For now, the Seventh Circuit's ruling applies only to its own jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Related Resources: Find Employment Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Seventh Circuit Holds That Title VII Forbids Anti-Gay Job Discrimination (The Washington Post) LGBT Worker Protections Missing in Mississippi and Most States (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Signs of Employment Discrimination (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Connecticut May Soon Employ Deadly Police Drones

A Connecticut bill that originally focused on simply banning all weaponized drones recently had a controversial exemption carved out that's garnering national attention. That controversial legal exemption to the ban on weaponized drones would only apply to law enforcement agencies, allowing only police in the state to use weaponized drones. While it may seem logical to only allow police to use weaponized drones, if the bill passes, it would be the first law in the nation that actually authorizes police to use drones equipped with lethal weapons. North Dakota passed a law in 2015 that permits law enforcement to use drones equipped with non-lethal weapons like tear gas or pepper spray, and other law enforcement agencies use drones for surveillance purposes. Standard Drone Protocol If the bill passes, the state's law enforcement training council will be required to devise a standard operating procedure for when and how law enforcement can use weaponized drones. The bill itself contains some regulations regarding drone use, but leaves the specifics on training and use to be determined by the council. This type of regulatory framework will allow some leeway in how law enforcement use drones as the technology advances over time. Proponents have rallied their support around the contention that allowing law enforcement the right to use weaponized drones could help stop a terrorist attack, or other serious threat. However, there are equally strong contentions that allowing the use of drones will result in civil rights violations against certain segments of the population, as well as misuse by police. Police Drones While there have been plenty of other concerns raised about law enforcement's use of drones, particularly when it comes to surveillance and searches, equipping drones with weapons is a new frontier for policing. Although there is clearly a benefit to sending in a robot over a human in a situation where gunfire is likely to be exchanged, anyone who's seen RoboCop or any other similar fictional work involving robotic police, is aware of the ethical dilemma that can be expected when the human element is removed from policing. Related Resources: N.D. Farmer Convicted in 1st Domestic Drone Case (FindLaw Blotter) No First Amendment Right to Drone Surveillance, Conn. Court Holds (FindLaw's Technologist) Who's Afraid of Domestic Drone Strikes? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Drone Operator Attacked: Are They the New 'Glassholes'? (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
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College Students Arrested Allegedly Selling Xanax to Undercover Officers

Four college students at DePaul University in Chicago have been arrested for selling over 100 Xanax pills to undercover officers. The sales occurred on four separate occasions, for various quantities and prices, over the last few weeks. While Xanax is commonly used to help individuals with serious anxiety or other mental health issues, the drug is also sought after by recreational users. Despite the fact that it is legally available to individuals with a prescription, an individual cannot legally distribute or sell Xanax, or any other prescription drug for that matter, to any other person. Unfortunately for both legal and illegal Xanax users, the drug is reportedly highly addictive, which can lead to severe dependency issues. Selling Prescription Drugs Is Illegal Although individuals can legally purchase prescription drugs if their doctor provides a prescription, without the prescription, it is illegal to buy, or even possess, prescription drugs. This is because prescription drugs are considered controlled substances, similar to the traditionally illegal drugs, like cocaine or heroin. As such, they're regulated by the federal government, as well as state law. Like most state and federal drug laws, penalties for possession and illegal sale of prescription drugs will vary depending on the type and quantity of the drugs involved, as well as the circumstances surrounding the sourcing of the drugs. For instance, if an individual is discovered manufacturing an illegal prescription drug, they could be facing much more severe penalties than for simply possessing, or buying, an illegal prescription. Penalties for Selling Prescription Drugs Since prescription drugs can be legally obtained via a prescription, many times individuals will steal prescription pads in order to get their supply from a legal drug store. However, doing so can result in serious related criminal charges for fraud, or even conspiracy. Also, doctors who are found to be complicit in prescription drug schemes can face censure and serious penalties from medical licensing boards, in addition to serious criminal charges related to drug dealing. For first-time possession offenders, frequently the penalties will not be severe, or rise beyond the level of a misdemeanor. The penalty may not even include any jail time, unless there are extenuating circumstances, like a stolen prescription pad. For first-time distribution offenders, penalties usually will include jail time, and are likely to be charged as a felony. Related Resources: Hit with a drug charge? Have the charges reviewed free. (Consumer Injury - Criminal) If Roommate Sells Drugs, Can You Get Arrested? (FindLaw Blotter) Ice Cream Truck Driver Sold Oxycodone Pills from His Truck (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Drug Trafficking/Distribution (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Federal Criminal Prosecutions Fall to 20 Year Low

According to new research released by the PEW research center, federal criminal prosecutions are on the decline. The new numbers show that federal criminal prosecutions have been on a consistent decline since 2011, and have even fallen to a 20 year low. Much of this is credited to the visionary approach implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder to not prosecute every federal crime, but to focus on those where there is a substantial federal interest. Since 2011, there has been an approximate 25 percent reduction in new federal criminal cases. Federal prosecutors have gone from charging over 100,000 new cases a year, to charging about 77,000. The most common type of federal crimes that get prosecuted involve drug charges. Despite the recent trend among states to legalize marijuana, there are many other types of illegal drugs, and federal drug charges still account for the majority of federal prosecutions. However, over the past 5 years, there has been nearly a 25 percent reduction in drug prosecutions alone. Federal Crimes Prosecuted Less Most criminal prosecutions are handled by state and local prosecutors. However, when an individual violates federal criminal laws, such as those related to drugs, guns, or financial crimes, federal prosecutors can bring criminal charges in the federal court system. Also, deportation cases are also considered to be federal criminal prosecutions. Although violent crimes make up only a very small percentage of federal criminal prosecutions, that does not mean violent criminals get a pass. Typically, violent crimes are prosecuted by the states. According to the PEW research center, over half of all state prisoners have been sentenced due to violent crimes, compared to less than 10% of federal inmates. The only area where federal prosecutions were noted to have increased involved a small increase in prosecutions for gun and violent crimes. Looking Forward Although the newly appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is taking a strong stance and wants to increase federal criminal prosecutions for drug and gun crimes, he will have to do so with a shrinking budget as the DOJ is one of the many agencies that has impending budget cuts. Related Resources: Daylight Savings Time Could Reduce Crime Rates (FindLaw Blotter) 10 States With the Highest Rates of Violent Crime (FindLaw Blotter) Gang Membership Up, Violent Crime Rate Down (FindLaw Blotter) What Is a Special Prosecutor? How Does It Relate to Recusal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Can You Sue Your Parents for Child Abuse?

Technically, the law permits a child to sue their parents as a result of child abuse. There are no special rules preventing this type of lawsuit. However, what a child considers to be abuse may not actually be legally considered abuse. Parents are generally permitted to punish their children, which can include depriving children of luxuries such as video games, computers, internet access, a car, dating, seeing friends, or even dessert. A parent can make a child sit in the corner, go to their room, do chores, or worse, babysit their siblings. Depending on the manner in which it is done, even corporal punishment or spankings can be okay in the eyes of the law (so long as they are not excessive) . Why Children Sue Parents Even though it seems rather out of character for a child to sue their parents, it happens. Most frequently, like all lawsuits, it’s about money. Recently, the Canning family’s case in New Jersey made national headlines.The 18-year-old daughter, still in high school, was suing her parents after moving out over disagreements over the house rules. However, the legal complaint that was filed alleged all sorts of objectionable, questionable, and downright deplorable parenting, ranging from crude comments to irresponsible boozing. The matter did not make it very far, particularly after the judge denied the child’s request for an emergency child support order of $650 per week. When to Sue? In every state, the statute of limitations for a minor’s legal claims do not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority. That means that if a state provides a two year statute of limitations on a particular claim, and a child is injured at age 12, they will have 2 years to file their claim after they turn 18 years old. Even if an adult child is suing a parent as a result of sexual abuse, or rape, there will likely be a short statute of limitations of no more than a few years after the child turns 18. Worthwhile to Sue? Regardless of whether the law supports an abused child’s case for damages against their parents, a prospective plaintiff may want to think twice before filing suit. Even assuming that the case is winnable, whether or not a judgment can be collected from a defendant is a wholly different issue. If a parent was convicted of a criminal act related to the abuse, or is presently incarcerated, there is a strong likelihood that any judgment a plaintiff secures won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.To find out if it’s worth your time to pursue a legal claim, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Student Suing Parents Loses 1st Round, but Case Isn’t Over (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) Son Sues Mom, Pop for Overtime at Family Biz (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) Homeless Man Sues Parents for Not Loving Him Enough (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)
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Cristina Arguedas Presented with 2017 White Collar Criminal Defense Award

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Stetson University College of Law presented Cristina C. Arguedas with the 2017 White Collar Criminal Defense Award this last weekend.  It was an honor to be there and witness both the presentation and her acceptance of the award. Cris Arguedas was awarded this prestigious honor for her work in the FedEx case.  The successful defense of FedEx can only be described as a hero’s tale.  The irony that this defense was spearheaded by a woman and a small team isn’t lost on me. It’s amazing when you really consider the consequences of this win.  Not only is this one of the few times that a corporation has dared to take on the United States Government in a criminal prosecution.  But to consider that the herculean task of defending a corporate case of this size and magnitude was accomplished without an army of lawyers – which is typical in a corporate white collar case – not only speaks volumes about Arguedas but of the importance of mounting a defense at all.  More often than not the army of lawyers aren’t challenging the Government or forcing the Government to trial, but rather are working their way to a negotiated settlement.  It really doesn’t matter how many lawyers are representing a corporation if the evidence remains untested. As I have said before, it is easy to champion a winning theory in a conference room; it is a far different thing to champion it in the courtroom.  And that is exactly what Arguedas did in the FedEx case. The case completely imploded within days after the trial started. I am personally proud that this historical victory was led by one of our sisters in the field.  I have previously shared how much I admire Arguedas – and I am not alone.  She is without question one of the legends in the field.  Barry Pollack, President of NACDL, presented the award and gave a wonderful speech in which he imagined that legends in the field would have their own trading cards that we could collect, with trial victories and stats on the back. Since Arguedas was inducted into the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2010 with Penny Cooper – another legend – his analogy was more than appropriate. As would be expected from Cris Arguedas, she accepted the award with grace and humility.  She didn’t take the opportunity to bask in the limelight but rather spoke passionately about the dangerous landscape of corporate criminal prosecutions, which has amounted to nothing short of Government bullying of Corporate America.  She shared with us the amount of pressure that she shouldered to fight against the baseless charges that she confronted in the FedEx case and the amount of painstaking preparation that went into the defense.  Indeed, the trial judge took the unusual step of concluding, on the record at the time of dismissing the charges, that FedEx was “factually innocent.” Arguedas’ acceptance speech was emblematic of everything that makes her great.  She is a true defender in every fiber of her being.  She is a fierce advocate.  The takeaway is that it does not take an army to fight an injustice lobbed by the Government.  Rather, it takes the spirit of a lion and the courage to strike back in defense. It’s that simple. The post Cristina Arguedas Presented with 2017 White Collar Criminal Defense Award appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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#USImmigrationLaw: What Can a Notario Do and Not Do?

A notario, or notary public, is not a lawyer and cannot practice law in the United States. Confusion about what a notary public can do in the US is common for many immigrants, however, because in some other countries, notaries can act as attorneys. Not so here. But some notary publics take advantage of immigrants, leading them to believe that a notary can advise them on the law. Do not hire a notary to handle your immigration matter -- for that you need a lawyer. Here is what a notary can and cannot do for you. Community Resources A notary can help with immigration matters but only to a limited degree. Probably the person has been in the community, or at least the country, for some time, and knows where to go for help. As such, a notario may be able to direct people to the appropriate resources, such as lawyers or immigration clinics, or a notary can offer translation services and assist in filling out forms. But remember, the notary is not a lawyer. In the US, lawyers must complete three years of legal education after college or university and pass an extensive exam that covers many areas of the law. This training enables a lawyer to understand the system, its principles and the language of the law, and to take responsibility for people's important legal matters. Becoming a notary requires a license but it is much less difficult to obtain than a law license and much more limited in what it allows the notary to do -- practicing law is not included. Here, a notary can witness and sign documents for official purposes. A Helping Hand So if you do know a notary public and trust that person, consider asking them to recommend an attorney or to accompany you to any meetings as a translator if necessary. But do not put your case in a notary's hands. If the notary charges less money than a lawyer -- and they usually do, but not always -- it is because they have not invested in any legal training and are not qualified to work as a legal representative. Do not be a victim of someone else's schemes when what you need is help making your dreams com true. Consult with qualified counsel. Talk to a Lawyer If you're applying for an immigration benefit, or just considering it, talk to a lawyer. Many immigration attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to talk about your situation. Get reliable help from an expert. Related Resources: Find Immigration Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Helping a Family Member Get Legal Status (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Getting a Green Card (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Becoming a US Citizen (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Can the President Bypass Congress on Gun Control?

Gun control advocates have long sought to close the so-called gun show loophole that allows people to buy firearms without submitting to the same background check requirements imposed on licensed dealers. But congressional attempts at passing such legislation have thus far been fruitless. So President Barack Obama may decide to take matters into his own hands. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Obama administration is considering the use of an executive order to expand background checks on gun sales. How do these orders work? And can the president really pass gun control laws without congressional approval? Going Solo It's no secret that Obama wants stricter gun controls. The president pushed for expanded background checks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting three years ago, but that legislation died in the Senate. He tried again after the Umpqua Community College shooting in October, but measures for more background checks and bans on sales to people on the government's anti-terrorist "no fly" list both failed. Now the White House is looking to circumvent the legislature altogether. According to reports, officials have been working on an executive order that would use existing laws to require all (or nearly all) gun purchases to be cleared by the same background check system.While the order has not been finalized, Obama is said to be looking at expanding license requirements by defining what it means to be "in the business" of dealing guns -- those deemed in the business are required to perform background checks while those that aren't don't. If occasional sellers like those at gun shows are required to obtain a license to sell firearms it would also expand background check requirements. Chief Executive Order Leaving to one side the question of whether tougher gun control laws will lead to fewer shooting deaths (even though evidence suggests that they do), the issue becomes whether this exercise of presidential power is even legal. An executive order is a policy statement that interprets and directs the implementation of existing federal statutes, congressional provisions, or treaties. Executive orders aren't so much new laws as they are changing or clarifying the policy on existing laws, and generally aren't used without some congressional approval. And executive orders are still subject to judicial review for constitutionality. Hence Obama's delay in formally announcing or implementing an executive order on gun control. Despite his desire to make it more difficult for violent people to purchase firearms, drafting an order that will accomplish that and appease enough congresspeople to be successfully implemented may prove as politically intractable as the legislature. Related Resources: Obama Looks to Expand Background Checks for Gun Sales (Time) Obama's Gun Proposals Target Mental Health Too (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Will Obama's Executive Order on Student Loans Pay Off for You? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Obama's Executive Order on Immigration: 5 Things You Should Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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What If I Can’t Pay My Student Loans?

The accumulated student loan debt for all Americans is nearly $1.3 trillion, and rising by the second. And these aren't just people seeking advanced degrees like law and medicine -- some 40 million Americans have some student debt. For many of those who owe money for their education, making payments on those loans is difficult, if not impossible. So what can you do if you can't pay your student loans? Repayment and Settlement Options If you're able to pay some, but not all of your monthly payment amount, you can try restructuring your payments. There are two mains options to help ease your monthly payments:Income-Based Repayment: Some lenders will permit income-based repayments or graduated repayment plans. Income-based repayment (IBR) has been offered since 2009 for federal student loans. The plan is designed to keep loan payments affordable, even if you don't make a substantial income. Monthly loan payments are based upon your income and family size. In general, you should expect to pay 15 percent of your income. The good news is that, under IBR, your loans will be forgiven after 20 or 25 years if you consistently make your payments on time.Settling Your Debts: If your debts are truly out of control, you can try settling with the lender. However, settling student loan debt is notoriously difficult. If you legitimately cannot afford to make payments on your student loans, your options become much more limited. What About Deferment or Forbearance? A deferment on your student loan payments allows you to stop making payments for a specific amount of time, provided you can qualify. A lender may grant a deferment if you can show: Economic hardship. You will need to prove that your income is not sufficient to make payments. Unemployment. You will need to prove your unemployment and/or your search for a job. Re-enrollment in School. You will need to prove your acceptance and continued enrollment in a qualifying educational program. One benefit to a deferment, depending on the type of loan you have, is that it will stop interest from accruing on the unpaid balance during the time you can't make payments. (Although not every loan or lender offers this option.) A forbearance is similar to a deferment, only interest will normally continue to accrue during a forbearance, so your loan balance will be higher when you come out of the forbearance. Forbearances are limited to certain amounts of time and require proof of an inability to meet your loan payments. But a forbearance may be easier to obtain than deferments because they are not always dependant on the type of student loans you have or covered by the rules that apply to deferments. Both deferments and forbearances require you to file applications with your lender, and your eligibility and benefits under deferments and forbearances will vary depending on your loan. Bankruptcy Isn't Much of a Bailout Here's the biggest problem with federal student loans: most student loans can't be discharged through bankruptcy. This means that, in most cases, even if you file for bankruptcy, you'll still owe your student loan debt. In fact, the only way to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy is to prove that making the loan payments is an undue hardship, a legal standard that is almost impossible to meet. To Default, or Not to Default? The latest information regarding defaulting on your student loans has been confusing at best. It was generally understood that defaulting on federal student loans would produce disastrous consequences: hijacked tax returns, garnished wages, federal lawsuits, and even revoked professional licenses. Conventional wisdom said that all these horrors awaited those with the temerity to stop paying their loans back. But there are stories out there, like urban myths or legends, of people defaulting and turning out fine. These tales include people who ignored the robocalls and potential lawsuits and credit score demolition long enough to have the debt wiped away and their credit restored. One of these fables was recently printed in the New York Times. And of course the obvious backlash followed, noting the extraordinary collection powers of the federal government and the permanence of federal debt. With all of the certainty in this case falling on the side of creditors, those with student loan debt probably shouldn't consider defaulting on that debt as a viable option. Before taking any action on your student loans, you may want to consult with an experienced student loan relief and bankruptcy attorney in your area. Related Resources: Browse Bankruptcy Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory) The FindLaw Guide to Student Loan Debt (PDF from FindLaw) Legal How-To: Getting Student Loans Forgiven (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Will Obama's Executive Order on Student Loans Pay Off for You? ...
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