Please Note: Izquerido Law Firm remains open and available to serve you and meet your criminal defense, DUI defense and Federal Crimes attorney needs during the COVID-19 crisis. We can meet with clients, existing or new, in person, over the phone or with your preferred video-chat application. Please call our office at 305-707-7345 to discuss your options.
Get Answers to Common Questions Now
Our clients have many of the same fears and concerns. To get started, we’ve compiled answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about Federal, Florida DUI and criminal law, covering a wide range of topics to help each client understand the potential implications and options of many legal situations.
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What is securities fraud?
You probably didn’t even know you were being investigated for a crime, and now you have been arrested and charged with securities fraud. What does that mean, and what should you do about it? Federal defense attorney Danny Izquierdo explains here.
Securities Fraud Is an Umbrella Term for Many Crimes
Facing charges for federal financial crimes, like money laundering and securities fraud, can be scary and confusing. There is a misconception that these crimes always involve millions of dollars and high-powered criminals. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how much or how little money is involved. If you knowingly cheat someone out of money, you could be facing federal charges.
A “security” in this context is any investment vehicle—such as stocks, bonds, options, banknotes, or derivatives. If you knowingly use a phony investment opportunity to cheat someone out of money, you could be charged with securities fraud. Some examples of this crime include:
If you obtain or share non-public information about a company in order to make money on the stock exchange, you could be charged with insider trading.
Duping people into investing in a non-existent company and paying earlier investors with money from newer investors is what’s known as a Ponzi scheme.
Advance fee scams.
Requiring investors to pay an up-front fee or tax and then never delivering on the investment is a form of securities fraud.
High-yield investment fraud.
Promising high rates of return with little up-front investment, particularly when you are not actually investing the money, is a common form of fraud.
There is always risk in investing, and sometimes a legitimate investment vehicle loses investors’ money. That is not fraud—that’s bad luck. However, when someone knowingly defrauds a person who believes they are investing in a legitimate opportunity—that is fraud.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
I was charged with email phishing. What does that mean?
You might be trying to build your business by sending emails to lots of people, but if you ask for the wrong kind of information, you could be accused of a form of internet fraud and identity theft known as phishing. Because the fraud uses the internet and has the potential for inter-state crime, it is often pursued as a federal charge. Federal fraud charges should always be taken seriously. If you have been charged with internet phishing, contact our experienced Miami federal defense attorney to represent you.
What Is Illegal About Email Marketing?
It is perfectly legal to email people to try to solicit business. Think of all the emails you get from businesses every day with special deals, sales, and free offers. People might find it annoying, but there is nothing illegal about it. What pushes internet marketing across the line to become illegal phishing, however, is the content of the email and what it is asking the recipient to do. The following are illegal:
- Forging an email to make it appear as if it is coming from another sender, such as a government entity or a bank
- Asking the recipient to divulge sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and bank account information
- Directing the recipient to a phony website to collect sensitive information
If you were charged with phishing, you will need to hire a defense attorney who understands the seriousness of the charge.
Defending Phishing Charges
The key to any fraud charge is intent. The prosecutor has to prove that you intended to defraud when you sent the emails. They will also have to prove that you actually sent the emails. Defense approaches we will consider include:
Proving the emails were not sent by you.
There is always an electronic trail that computer forensics experts can follow to figure out the origin of an email. If the prosecutor’s expert is wrong and the phishing emails were not sent by you, our experts will prove it.
Proving you had no intent to defraud.
You might have asked email recipients for information, not knowing it was illegal to do so. If a recipient misunderstood the email and later regretted a purchase, they might go to the police to accuse you of fraud, but those charges should not stand.
Showing the evidence against you was obtained illegally.
Law enforcement officers have to follow certain protocols when investigating a suspicion of fraud, even when it involves computers. If your rights were violated during the investigation, the evidence cannot be used against you.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
What is federal mortgage fraud?
Any form of intentional misrepresentation or deception for gain is considered fraud, and it is illegal. Where mortgages are concerned, fraud can be committed by individuals in obtaining a single mortgage, or by an organization in the form of predatory lending, foreclosure rescue scams, and mortgage reduction scams. While the FBI tends to focus on the fraud committed against borrowers by institutions and their employees, you could be charged with mortgage fraud as an individual as well. We take a look at how consumers get caught up in mortgage fraud to help you avoid unknowingly committing a serious crime.
Lying on an Application Is Fraud
You probably already know that it’s not right to lie on a mortgage application, but maybe you just need to tweak some numbers to make sure you qualify. You know you’ll be able to make payments, so what’s the harm? You might even be encouraged by your real estate agent or loan officer to fudge some numbers. After all, everyone benefits when the sale goes through. However, when you knowingly lie on an application, you are committing fraud, even if no one else is harmed by the crime. You could also face federal charges for forgery.
The more common form of individual mortgage fraud—one that is more frequently pursued by the FBI—is fraud through identity theft. If you attempt to obtain financing using someone else’s financial information, you are committing mortgage fraud. This is a serious offense.
Defending Mortgage Fraud Charges
Federal prosecutors have to prove that you intentionally set out to defraud the mortgage lender in order to make fraud charges stick. If you did not commit fraud intentionally—perhaps you made a mistake or were given misinformation—we will build a case to prove that. If others were involved in coercing you to commit fraud, that could be your defense.
Under federal law, mortgage fraud can result in up to 30 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines. It is important that you take these charges seriously and that you hire the best federal defense attorney you can afford.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
What is aggravated identity theft?
If you are suspected of committing a crime using a stolen identity, you could be charged with aggravated identity theft in addition to the initial charge. If the felony you are accused of is a federal offense, you will face the charges in federal court and will need a defense attorney who is admitted to that court to defend you. Attorney Danny Izquierdo accepts federal criminal cases in the Miami area and will provide a free case evaluation if you are charged with aggravated identity theft.
The Feds Are Cracking Down on Identity Theft
There is no doubt that identity theft is a serious crime costing consumers billions of dollars every year. While the act of stealing a person’s identity is a crime in itself, if you use that identity to commit a federal felony, you will face additional penalties under the charge of aggravated identity theft. Examples of the kinds of crime the FBI typically pursues under this charge include:
A person who uses a stolen identity to enter the United States illegally or who sells stolen identities to people wishing to enter the country illegally can be charged with aggravated identity theft in addition to the immigration crime.
Theft of government benefits.
Using the identity of another person—including a deceased person—to collect Social Security, Veterans, or other government benefits is a federal crime that could also incur an aggravated identity theft charge on top of it.
Acts of domestic terrorism—often bombings and shootings that target specific groups of people in defiance of the government—are often committed using the anonymity of a stolen identity.
Federal prosecutors can choose to add a charge of aggravated identity theft to any crime committed using another person’s identity. Defendants will face charges for the crime they committed as well as the identity theft charge. Conviction of aggravated identity theft carries a sentence of two years—or five years for a terrorist act—to be served after the sentence for the felony is served.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
What is forgery?
Forgery is the crime of making, altering, using, or possessing false writing in order to commit fraud. There are many types of forgery, from signing someone else’s name on an official document to falsifying a passport or driver’s license. If the forgery involves money or federal documents or is intended to defraud the federal government, then the crime will be charged by federal law enforcement officers.
Proving the Crime of Forgery
In order for the government to make its case for forgery, it will have to prove the following:
The document was legally significant.
Signing someone else’s name to a letter of complaint you send to an individual or business would not constitute forgery because the letter is not a legal document. However, government-issued documents such as passports, military discharge papers, immigration documents, and the like, would be considered legally significant.
The writing is “false.”
Creating a document to look like a standard legal document is an example of false writing, but so is materially altering a legitimate document. For example, deleting, adding, or changing portions of a document that results in a change to the legal rights or obligations represented in the document would be considered forgery.
The document was altered with the intent to defraud.
To be charged with fraud, the defendant must have intended to defraud the federal government with the document. A person who has unknowingly signed or received a forged document should not be charged because they did not intend to commit fraud with it.
A federal criminal defense attorney will examine these elements in order to build the best case for a defendant. The federal crime of forgery carries significant penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and steep fines, so it is important to launch an aggressive defense.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
Am I eligible for the federal pretrial release program?
What is typically known as “getting out on bail” in state criminal cases is often called “pretrial release” in federal cases. Whether you will be granted a release in your federal case will depend on a number of factors. The first and probably most important thing you can do to increase your chances of being released until your trial is to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. When you work with the Izquierdo Law Firm in Miami, you can be sure that we will do everything we can to get you released.
What the Courts Will Consider When Granting a Release
Federal courts are generally in favor of pretrial release, particularly for first-time and nonviolent offenders. In order to have you held in jail until your trial, a federal prosecutor will have the burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence that you:
- Are likely to flee
- Are a danger to the community
- Have a criminal history
- Are most likely guilty, based on the weight of the evidence against you
- Violated probation or parole
In Florida, most defendants in federal drug cases are considered to be a danger to the community and are unlikely to be granted pretrial release. If the prosecutor argues that you should be held in jail, your defense attorney will have to counter the evidence presented at the detention hearing. If he is unsuccessful, you will be held in federal prison until your trial.
Conditions of a Federal Pretrial Release Program
If you are granted a release, it is up to the judge in your case to set the conditions. The terms of your release can include any or all of the following:
- Executing a bond
- Being supervised by a third-party custodian, which could be a family member
- Looking for or retaining a job
- Not traveling outside the local area
- Wearing a GPS monitor
- Submitting to regular drug testing
- Complying with any other conditions the judge imposes
If you violate any of the conditions set for you, your release will be revoked, and you will be sent to prison to await trial.
Hire the Best Federal Defense Attorney You Can Afford
Attorney Danny Izquierdo understands the importance of obtaining a pretrial release and will do all he can to fight for your freedom. It can take months for your trial to be scheduled, and sitting in prison is the worst place you could be while you wait. If you are arrested and charged with a federal crime in the Miami area, contact Danny as soon as possible as for a free case evaluation. He will also explain your chances of getting a pretrial release.
Could I be charged with terrorism for spreading COVID-19?
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has turned our world upside down, leaving us with a great deal of uncertainty about so many things. As a criminal defense law firm, we are expecting even more confusion about individuals’ rights, enforcement of executive orders, and prosecution of federal crimes related to the crisis. For example, in a recent memo to federal law enforcement agencies and U.S. attorneys, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen said that individuals who intentionally spread the coronavirus could be charged with terrorism. What could this mean to the average American? We take a look.
What Is the Charge?
Apparently, a reaction to white supremacist groups who have encouraged their members who become infected to spread the virus, Rosen said that the “purposeful exposure or infection of others with COVID-19” could be prosecuted under federal terrorism statutes. He further explained that the virus "appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent,’” which is included in the statute’s definition of a weapon of mass destruction.
How Could it Be Applied?
Because the coronavirus is so highly contagious and easily spread, it is not outside the realm of possibility that someone would intentionally and maliciously try to get someone else sick. In fact, several states have already charged individuals with terrorism for deliberately coughing on people and licking packages in a store. While prosecuting these kinds of actions may make sense, where will federal agents draw the line? If a person who knows they have the virus goes to the grocery store, could he be arrested and charged with terrorism? What if a person with the virus touches another person? We simply don’t know yet how “purposeful exposure” will be interpreted by federal law enforcement officers and U.S. attorneys.
What Should You Do If You Are Charged?
If you or a family member is arrested on COVID-19-related federal charges, talk to a federal defense attorney as soon as possible. Federal terrorism convictions carry severe penalties, including long prison sentences and the death penalty. So much is unknown about this virus and how the courts will handle these charges, but one thing is certain—you have a right to be represented by an attorney if you are charged. Izquierdo Law Firm remains open and available to serve you during this time. Call us to arrange a video chat to discuss your case.
What should I do if federal agents come to my Miami home with a search warrant?
An unexpected visit to your Miami home from FBI or DEA agents is not usually a welcome surprise. Whether you were aware of a federal investigation involving you or not, understanding your rights and obligations when agents come to your home or office is key to avoiding more trouble than you may already be in.
Do They Have a Warrant to Search Your Home?
When you answer a knock on the door and find federal agents standing there, the first thing you should do is confirm that they are who they say they are and find out why they are there. You are well within your rights to ask to see identification if it is not offered. Also, ask for a business card—your attorney will need this later. If they do not have a search warrant and are just there to gather information, step outside and close the door. Be calm, polite, and respectful, but do not answer any questions beyond identifying yourself. You have a right to refuse to answer questions without an attorney present, and you would be smart to exercise this right at this time.
If the agents do have a warrant to search your home, you will be obligated to allow them to enter. However, you should take the following steps to protect yourself:
- Read the warrant and understand the parameters. Agents cannot overstep what is covered in the warrant. Does it cover the whole house or just your home office? Does it include computers and other electronic devices?
- Do not interfere with the search or allow family members to interfere or you could be charged with obstruction of justice. Remain calm, keep your hands visible, and do not make sudden movements or leave the room without permission.
- If the agents have an arrest warrant, be cooperative and follow their instructions.
- Ask permission to call your attorney before the search. If they do not grant permission, wait until the search has been completed.
If you do not already have a federal criminal defense attorney representing you, now is the time to find one.
Contact Danny Izquierdo as Soon as Possible If You've Been Presented With A Federal Search Warrant
If you live in the Miami area, contact Izquierdo Law Firm immediately if you have been served with a federal search warrant. You can schedule our free 4-Point Case Evaluation and Defense Strategy Session by calling (305) 707-7345. In this day and age, even innocent people need a strong defense attorney. Do not take chances with your freedom. Call us as soon as possible.
When do I need to hire a lawyer if I’m facing federal charges?
When faced with a federal investigation—or even after they are arrested—people have a lot of reasons for not calling an attorney right away. Often, they are so sure that their innocence is clear, and the charges will be dropped, they think they don’t need an attorney. Sometimes, people think hiring an attorney will make them look guilty. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong. The reality is, the earlier in the process you call a federal defense attorney, the better off you will be.
How Do You Know When You Need an Attorney?
As soon as you know—or even suspect—that you are the target of a federal investigation, you should talk to an attorney. Working with a federal defense attorney from the very beginning could save you a world of trouble, including:
Saying Or Doing The Wrong Thing
When you are under investigation for a federal crime, the smart move is to have an attorney speak for you, even if you are completely innocent. Without legal advice, you could say something that hurts your defense without realizing it.
Going To Jail
If you are charged with a violent crime or serious drug offense, you may be denied bond and held in pretrial detention. You do not want to go to a detention hearing without legal representation. In some cases, your defense attorney may be able to get you released on bond.
Giving Up Your Rights
Defendants who are not aware of their legal rights often give them up inadvertently. An experienced federal defense attorney will understand your rights and do everything he can to protect them throughout the criminal process.
When you are facing federal charges—whether it’s a white collar crime or a drug offense—the odds are stacked against you. An investigation and arrest should be taken very seriously. Hiring the best attorney you can afford as soon as possible is the best way to protect your rights and get a shot at a fair trial. If you are facing a criminal charge in federal court, we should talk.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
How much does it cost to hire a federal criminal defense attorney?
What is the price of freedom? You may be willing to pay anything to avoid federal prison, but you have to be smart about hiring the best federal defense attorney you can afford. We take a look at what you can expect to pay an attorney when you have been charged with a federal criminal offense in Florida.
If You Can’t Afford an Attorney, One Will Be Provided for You
You should have been informed of this right at the time of your arrest, but what does it mean? If you meet the income qualifications established by the jurisdiction in which you have been charged, you will get a court-appointed attorney at no charge to you. Federal public defenders are often some of the most qualified attorneys in a district, and will definitely be better than the cheap, inexperienced lawyer your brother-in-law finds for you. If your income does not qualify for free assistance, you will have to shop around for an attorney you can afford. Some factors that will affect the cost of an attorney include the following:
Complexity of the Case
If your attorney hires investigators and experts to support your defense, you can expect to pay more. Likewise, the more time a case takes to resolve, the more expensive it is going to be.
Skill and Experience of the Attorney
In other words, you get what you pay for. However, you can’t assume that just because an attorney is expensive, he is good. You still need to do your research and ask important questions to find the best attorney for you.
Whether the Case Goes to Trial
If your case goes to trial, the attorney and his team will be putting in many additional hours, and you will have to pay for those hours.
The bottom line is, you should hire the best attorney you can afford, and you will have to put in some time to find the right match for you.
We Are Always Up Front About Our Fees
At the Izquierdo Law Firm, we won’t quote a fee until we look at the unique facts and circumstances of your case and determine what stage of the proceedings your case is in. We try to be fair when quoting fees and take into account how much time will be required, given the nature and circumstances of your case.
Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?