Monday, July 23, 2012

Identity Fraud: Georgia's Fastest Growing Crime

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other news reports, reported cases of identity fraud and theft are sky-rocketing in the State of Georgia, and elsewhere.  For instance, according to reports, the number of reported identity fraud cases doubled in Fulton and Cobb Counties during the past year alone.

As a former federal prosecutor, (currently, I am an Augusta, GA criminal defense lawyer with my sons), I tried to make identity fraud a prosecutorial priority. Also, although I was unable to get my bosses to follow though, as a former AUSA, I had also advocated the establishment of an identity theft  task force.  Fortunately, in federal court, penalties are serious enough to "get the attention" of identity thieves. However, on the state level, identity thieves often receive probationary sentences, at least for their first offenses.

Another problem with combating identity theft and fraud also exists in the State of Georgia. It involves law enforcement budget problems. I'll bet you didn't know that, just a couple of years ago, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, (GBI), was forced to eliminate its identity fraud unit, following state budgetary cutbacks.

As a result, sadly, just when the identity fraud rate is escalating across this state, Georgia law enforcement has been rendered less capable of dealing with it.  What do you think should be done?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How Do You Find A Good, Experienced Criminal Lawyer?

In this blog about white collar crime, we generally try to give you good, interesting information about various hot topics in criminal law.  I also try, from time to time, to entertain you with some of my "war stories" from the court room. But we also try to give you some practical ideas and information about our criminal justice system for you to discuss with your own criminal lawyer.

Today, I want to focus on that last category -- and a topic which has become a pet peeve for me.  The topic is: How do you find a good, experienced criminal defense lawyer? Put another way, if you are in trouble with the law, should you simply call around and find the dirt cheapest lawyer out there!? That part is the part which bothers me!

As Augusta, Georgia criminal lawyers, (including over 26 years as a former state and federal prosecutor), every single day, we receive telephone calls and email inquiries from people all over Georgia who are looking for a criminal defense attorney. And sometimes, it seems that all some callers care about, (even if they have money), is hiring the cheapest criminal lawyer they can find. In my opinion, as a trial attorney who has seen both the best and the worst which the bar has to offer, that is a lousy approach!

Here are a few suggestions about finding the best criminal lawyer for your criminal case. First of all, we recommend that you talk with family and friends about their recommendations. Did Lawyer Smith really get Uncle Clem out of trouble? 

We also suggest that you actually make appointments and meet with several prospective attorneys. And ask them good, tough questions about their experience, including how many criminal cases, and what kind of criminal cases, they have tried. But that is just a start. The point is that, when your life and freedom are on the line, you should do your research and focus on finding the best, most experienced criminal lawyer -- and not just the cheapest lawyer -- which you can afford! 

Trust me, all criminal lawyers, just like all plumbers, barbers, or doctors, are NOT just alike. Many are experienced and competent; others are not. So, do your research. But please, please, please don't simply look for the cheapest lawyer you can find!