Oklahoma State Vs. Federal White Collar Crimes

Oklahoma State Vs. Federal White Collar Crimes

There are a great many differences between Federal and State prosecutions, which an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney like our team at Jacqui Ford Law could dwell upon for hours upon hours. However, for the sake of brevity, only a few items will be discussed in this blog.

Everyone has heard the old saying: “The Pen is mightier than the Sword.” If one gives some thought to the saying, it becomes self-evident, especially in a nation that has a very active First Amendment right.

There is a version of the above saying, utilized by Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys: “You can steal more with a Pen than you can with a gun.”

That’s where white collar crime comes in.

What is White Collar Crime in Oklahoma?

When you use the term “white collar crime” everyone thinks of “hot checks” or “bogus checks” or “bounced checks,” but white collar crimes comes in many forms:

  • Embezzlement
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Fraud, both public and private
  • Check kiting schemes
  • Tax evasion and Fraud (note: it is not a crime to avoid taxes, but it is a crime to evade filing and paying your State and Federal taxes)
  • False and fraudulent filing of claims with private employers and Government agencies
  • Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security fraud
  • Workers’ compensation fraud and false claims

The list goes on and on.

What is the difference between State and Federal White Collar Crime?

  1. The first and most important difference between State and Federal white collar crime is the jurisdiction.

    The Federal Government’s jurisdiction over white collar crime is one of limited jurisdiction. Usually, the Federal government does not prosecute “hot checks,” and leaves that to local authorities. The exception is when there is “aggravated identity theft or an organized group conducting fraudulent transactions involving many different banks over state lines.”

    For example, money theft from an FDIC licensed bank by a teller will bring a swift reaction from the Secret Service or the FBI because this is a Federal crime, with virtually exclusive jurisdiction by the federal government. Most importantly, the banks MUST report the theft to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, regardless of the fact that the money was paid back in full and the employee was terminated.

    The same goes for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, The United States Postal Service, and ALL Military institutions. (Very few criminal defense attorneys realize that you can be issued a DUI by a Federal Agent on a lake patrolled by Federal law enforcement. The DUI is handled in Federal Court, just like any other Federal Crime. Many Federal Criminal defense attorneys have appeared in Federal Court with their clients charged with DUI, from a weekend of fun on a lake patrolled by Federal Agents, after driving their boat while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately for them, it really does turn into a “Federal Case.”)

    It is safe to say that Federal law enforcement and prosecutors more often than not will decline to file on a questionable jurisdiction rather than try to stretch the facts to bring a case into federal jurisdiction.

  2. The second difference between State and Federal white collar crime is the treatment of individuals who are convicted of a white collar crime.

    In 1984, the United States Congress passed the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) which attempted to achieve uniform sentences for all individuals convicted of a Federal Crime. Congress felt that there was a massive disparity between sentences across the United States between different Circuits and attempted to create a uniform sentencing regime.

    To date, there have been over 100,000 cases involving the USSG and their sentencing. The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Booker ruled that the USSG was “advisory” and not mandatory, thereby giving United States District Court Judges the ability and discretion to give a sentence that achieved the original purpose of the Federal sentencing regime.

    The USSG created a schedule of “losses” based upon a dollar amount that was then assigned an “enhanced point amount” that increased the sentencing range of a person convicted of a “financial crime.” The dollar amount ranged from “zero to $25,000,000” and enhanced an individual’s sentencing range accordingly.

What else do I need to know about white collar crime in Oklahoma?

As is always the case with schedules and charts, they are subject to interpretation.

An example: an individual was convicted of stealing credit cards, and using those credit cards in the amount of $5000. The District Court added the credit limit of the credit cards and the potential loss and used the scheduling chart to enhance the individual’s prison sentence. In this example, the “actual” loss was $5000, but the credit card had a credit limit of $50,000. The Court increased the “loss” to $50,000 rather than $5000 because it had the potential of having a loss of $50,000, and sentenced the individual according. The Appellate Court agreed.

Under federal law, aggravated identify theft — which involves the actual “stealing of another person’s identity” — carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two (2) years, which is consecutive to the regular sentence a person would receive. Congress felt that if a thief actually stole someone’s identity, then they should be punished more harshly than a common thief that just used the credit card as it was printed.

The system established by the USSG leaves little room for any type of probation for a white collar crime. It is safe to say that all federal white collar crimes WILL result in actual prison time.

Additionally, the USSG virtually eliminated any type of probation or paper time. And while in federal prison, you must serve 85% of the sentence because there is no parole in the Federal system.

Contact Jacqui Ford Law today

If the federal government is after you for any type of white collar crime, you must obtain the professional services of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney, and you must do this as soon as possible.

Contact us today to learn how our team can help.

Jacqui Ford Law Federal Court Victory

On April 23, 2018 we received one of our biggest victories to date, securing a win in Federal Court .

We knew our client was innocent, but it would be the decision of a federal jury to acquit our client of what are considered to be some of the worst crimes on earth– aggravated sexual abuse of a child and abusive sexual contact against his daughter.

In any case involving a child, juries and the courtroom tend to have bias for the child, making it difficult to establish innocence for accused an uphill battle.  But with tremendous preparation and skillful argument in the courtroom we were able to win this case and reunite our client with his family.


How did we become involved?

Back in December 2017, we were asked by Attorney Andrea Wooten to join her in defending her client in federal court. At first we passed on the case, as we were neck-deep in a murder trial.

Andrea called us again in January and at that point, as our attorney Casey Davis says, “We took the case because we knew we had to.”


Trial Preparation Challenges and Fighting the Accusations

The alleged crimes of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and abusive sexual misconduct took place aboard a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. As an off-shores incident, the case was under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and our client was facing a mandatory minimum of thirty years in prison.

Some of the challenge we faced in preparing for the case:

  • Time: Even though we entered the case late, the judge held us to the same deadline as the previous attorney.
  • Collecting witness testimony and talking to investigators: Tracking down witnesses and investigators from a cruise ship was no small feat. We had an expert legal team in Texas handle a lot of the legwork in a short amount of time. We also brought in a world-class expert witness who has dealt with these kinds of cases on both sides.
  • Fighting a paper battle with motions: Prosecutors fought to exclude our expert witness, but the judge denied this claim. We also fought to choose a different venue to try the case. While we were denied, we won a lot of credibility with the judge for this approach.


Game Changers: Voir Dire and Demurrer

While everyone expected us to file a motion of continuance to buy us more time, attorney Casey Davis filed a motion for voir dire, which calls for the judge to individually ask for surveys of the jurors. It was only the second time in sixteen years that the federal judge had granted such a motion.

This made a huge difference because we were able to find out about people’s experiences with sexual abuse in a way they might not normally share. We were able to find out which people might not be in the right mind space to sit in judgement of something like this because they have their own life experience and biases that they can’t set aside. We were able to have those jurors removed from the panel for cause.

After the federal prosecution put its evidence out on the table, Bill Campbell, our second chair and federal court mentor, successfully argued a rule 29 motion for demurrer. This meant that there was no way a rational trier of fact could find our client guilty of count 2 (abusive sexual contact). This left only the first count to deal with.

The judge’s granting of our demurrer was huge for the case. This too has only happened twice in our judge’s tenure on the bench.


Courtroom Strategy: Talking to the Jury

Sexual abuse cases are exponentially more difficult to defend than any other kind of crime. No one is ever able to justify child molestation.

Finding the real story was key to winning this case.

The jurors had to have no doubt in their mind that this person was innocent to feel good about their verdict.

We never went after the young lady making the accusation, and we freed the jury from having to judge her. Instead, we kept the attention on the people who were putting the pressure on her to make these allegations, which turned out to be her mother.

Jacqui Ford skillfully handled the arguments presented before the judge and jury.  

Casey Davis observes:

“The most dreaded position a lawyer can find him or herself in is having to cross-examine a child alleging sexual abuse. It is not only excruciating for the lawyer, but also everyone in the courtroom. Jacqui handled the situation masterfully.”  

Ford revealed herself to be the soft-spoken, big-hearted conversationalist that she is. She set a tone that put the witness and the courtroom at ease.

In that moment of ease, the truth of the case was revealed.


The verdict

After a full day of voir dire and four full days of evidence, the jury returned with the verdict: not guilty.

Our client soon reunited with his whole family with his dignity and reputation intact.

Seeing the case to conclusion in just eighty-four days was a real all-hands-on-deck situation. We credit the process we developed through the Trial Lawyers College, which allowed us to work as team by diligently handling the paperwork and managing the case in the courtroom.

While we put tremendous effort towards this case, it was also a case about the jury. It took twelve people to rationally sit down and do the right thing. We are grateful for the care and consideration the jury took throughout the trial.

Says Jacqui Ford, “I am so grateful to be a trial lawyer. I am so honored to be chosen to be the voice of the innocent. I am inspired by those around me who stand up with courage to fight the government everyday.”


If you or someone you love is facing federal accusations of aggravated sexual abuse, you need a skilled defense attorney. Contact the law offices of Jacqui Ford today.  


Email Search and Seizure Laws Might Be Changing

Today Americans use email to communicate as much as any other communication device. Whether it’s for work or personal use, our schedules and secrets live in our inboxes. It didn’t always use to be like this though. Twenty years ago most people didn’t trust email services enough to use email as a storage system for their personal information. Email search and seizure

It was this kind of thinking that influenced the 1986 Electronic Communication Privacy Act. Under this act law enforcement agencies can access emails that were more than 180 days old using only a subpoena, not a search warrant.

Legislation is now moving through the house that would change this. By requiring a search warrant lawmakers hope to extend the same rules that apply to physical searches to searches that are done in the digital world.

Requiring a search warrant means law enforcement will typically have to show probable cause to search the emails.

Richard Salgado, director of law enforcement at Google, said the current laws “do not reflect the reasonable expectations of privacy of users.”

The proposed law still allows law enforcement agencies to still get emails without a warrant if terrorism is suspected. Lawmakers are trying to find a good balance between people’s right to privacy and law enforcement’s need to protect the public.

So far the bill has received support from both Republicans and Democrats.

Bills like this are necessary to ensure everyday people’s rights are protected. Protection from unlawful search and seizure is guaranteed to every American by the fourth amendment and it’s time this right is updated to meet today’s standards.

If you feel that you have experienced an unlawful search and seizure by law enforcement call an experienced Oklahoma City search and seizure lawyer like Jacqui Ford. Having published articles and taught classes on the topic of search and seizure, Jacqui Ford is well equipped to handle any unlawful search and seizure case.

New Bill Might Reduce Prison Sentences

The corrections system has recently become a hot topic. President Obama visited a federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, back in July and made it a point to start talking about reforming prison sentences and fixing the problems within the American corrections system.

The number of incarcerated Americans has skyrocketed in the past 35 years. There were only 25,000 people in federal prison in 1980, but now there are a staggering 200,000.

There is now a bill in House of Representatives that would give judges the ability to override the mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent drug offenders. Having mandatory minimum sentences have largely been blamed for the overcrowding of the prison system. Lawmakers hope that this bill will relieve some pressure of overcrowding by giving these nonviolent drug offenders a second chance.

This bill would reduce mandatory life sentences for three-time, nonviolent drug offenders to 25 years. A reduced sentence would also be extended to two-time nonviolent drug offenders.

Sentence reductions would apply retroactively, unless the prisoner had been sentenced to more than 13 months of jail time for previous violent felony convictions.

While the bill does give lesser prison sentences to some crimes, it will increase others. Trafficking heroin laced with fentanyl would have a harsher penalty if the bill is approved.

Both sides of the isle seem to be supporting the House bill and there is a similar bill making its way through the Senate. President Obama has also endorsed both the House and Senate bills.

Overcrowding is a huge problem in America that has cost taxpayers far too much. These bills would hopefully eliminate unnecessary prison sentences for people who would be better served by attending other forms of correctional treatment. No matter what happens to federal minimum prison sentences, Oklahoma City criminal defense lawyer Jacqui Ford will be ready to defend her clients.

Experienced Oklahoma City Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys with Jack Dempsey Pointer

Experienced Oklahoma City Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

JDP: And always remember this. In this country, the US Supreme Court has said a man’s home is his castle; you cannot get into that castle without a search warrant.

JF: Now, come on, Jack. If you’re not guilty and you didn’t do anything wrong, only a guilty person wouldn’t let them in and only a guilty person would ask for a lawyer.

JDP: That’s why we have to be very careful in the selection of our jurors, Ms. Ford. Because we don’t want to have a juror on our panel that thinks like that, because in this country, our constitution says you are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of your peers.

JF: So it matters not what the agent at the door says or thinks or threatens; you should exercise those rights so that you can best protect yourself. Read more

Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Lawyers with Jack Dempsey Pointer

Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Lawyers

JDP: Everybody says, “Why does it take so long for the federal government to investigate things?” What you have to remember is these FBI agencies and all of these guys with the alphabet agencies have a specific US Attorney they are assigned to. A case begins with the US Attorney, and the federal agent has to sit down and say, “You need this and this and this, and you need this and this and this. Go out and do this and this and this.” It just takes time. I’ve seen it take as long as 3-4 years. The investigations where they come in and catch a bank teller with a twenty-dollar bill in their hand—that’s the extent of the investigation? No. For instance, on the Oklahoma City side, an Oklahoma City police officer stops someone for speeding, writes a ticket, sees a joint. That investigation is over right then. And then you go to court and it may take 2-3 years to get conclusion. This is just the opposite. The feds will take their time investigating that person. This could be a larger embezzlement than just twenty dollars. They will go to the casinos and see if this person has a player’s card. They have a player’s card? How active were they? You will be shocked that people use those player’s cards like they’re crazy. There’s just a complete history of their gambling history.

JF: And they’re just giving their evidence over to the government. Here it is in a nice little bow.

Read more

Oklahoma City Federal Defense Attorney with Jack Dempsey Pointer

Oklahoma City Federal Defense Attorney

Jacqui Ford: Welcome to Your Best Defense Podcast. My name is Jacqui Ford, and I’m excited to be here with you today. We’re Oklahoma City Federal Defense Attorneygoing to be talking about federal criminal defense and what it means to be charged in federal court, the processes—how they’re different from state court—and why it’s important that, if you’re being investigated for a federal crime, have committed a federal crime, or are charged with a federal crime, you need to find the best Oklahoma City Federal Defense Lawyer you can find. I’m excited today—we have with us my friend and colleague, Mr. Jack Dempsey Pointer. Mr. Pointer has been practicing criminal defense for well over 40 years in the state of Oklahoma. His practice is primarily in the federal courthouse. Jack, thanks for being with us today.

JDP: Thank you very much. I did not bring my chisel so I could show you how I wrote Hammurabi’s Code. Ms. Ford and I have embarked on a journey in federal court that very few people have admitted to that privilege. Of course, she’s a tremendous trial lawyer in Oklahoma City—and civil, in the state court. But in federal court, I felt like she needed a little more experience, and that’s why I have kind of taken her under my rather exhaustive wings. Read more