Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
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basically I just want to get an opinion of what I might expect and how to handle it. Pretty much I am being accused (no charges pressed) of "deceptive business practice". Essentially I have a cop who is saying that I "mislead" people into entering a contract with me which basically said that in exchange for allowing me to use their credit accounts with a promise to pay them back I would give them free goods or major discounts. One lady that I owed a product too called her brother and he told her it sounded like a scam and she called the cops and thats how they got involved. I will let you know I have already hired a criminal defense attorney and will of course take his advice, however, I'm just trying to get a sense of whats going on. Pretty much through my discussions with my attorney he says that people would have to perjure themselves to "build a case" because they all have product with no evidence of paying for it. Anyway, after this happened, i contacted the credit company that was using for the bridge loans and told them what happened and they informed me that I couldn't use the accounts in that matter so we agreed to 0 out the accounts and remove the tradelines from the customers' credit reports. that has been done and I have documentation that the accounts no longer have balances, the tradelines are removed and I am fully liable to the credit company to pay back the money used. My question is what are they going to try to go after me for when there was obviously no intent to defraud the customer and I did everything I could to protect the customer. no damages were done financially to the customer or to their credit and I have taken full responsibilty for setting up the accounts and not knowing that it was a contractual violation. There's not much more I can do, the customers are completely protected at this point. What is a prosecutor going to try to come after me with? Do you think the case might be dropped?
Also they took my computers as part of a search and seizure (from the business)....I don't know whats on all the computers because I didn't use all of them. Are they going to look for stuff specific to the case or are they going to look at everything. Say one of my employees had illicit conversations or looked at porn or something...does that become a problem for me?
lastly, with no criminal history and with me basically already resolving all the financial aspects of the problem and no customers getting hurt by it, what are the chances of a favorable plea?
I would suggest that you have created a rather unusual situation. I mention this as I doubt that the prosecuting attorney has handled such a case in the past. Meaning, it would be difficult to prosecute as it is rather novel.
As to what the prosecutor would "come after" you with, he would likely create a paper trail of the transaction that you conducted. While it's hindsight, I would suggest that a prosecution would likely have been completely thwarted by having written contracts giving you explicit permission to conduct these transactions.
As to the computers, it sounds like law enforcement would consider them to have been under your control. As such, you would be deemed responsible for anything on the computers. If there was something unlawful, such as pornography, it is reasonably foreseeable that you might be prosecuted accordingly. Having said that, if other people had easy access to the computers, it would be relatively easy to argue that the items could not be conclusively linked to you.
As to the ability to obtain a "favorable plea", this depends hugely on your criminal history. As you have stated that you have no criminal history, I would suggest that it is quite likely that you would be given an offer of probation with no incarceration.
Please let me know if anything requires clarification.
Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.
Do you think the prosecutor would take into account the fact that I basically already cleared everything up and that I did everything possible to protect the customers (shown by my actions to make sure they weren't held liable for anything) into consideration and decide not to persue the case because its hard to "prosecute a victimless case"? Also in regards XXXXX XXXXX computers, when they do computer forensics, do they go on a witch hunt or do they typically focus on finding evidence pertinant to the case?
As to everything being "cleared up", yes, this is certainly relevant. When I was a prosecuting attorney, the more important factors to me were the charge, the defendant's criminal history and the desires of the victims. If the "victims" here have been fully compensated, that goes a long way towards obtaining a favorable result.
As to a forensic search of a computer, I wouldn't characterize it as either looking solely for evidence of the charged crime OR a witch hunt. Instead, I would characterize it as a thorough search of the contents of the computer. As to pornography specifically, such files are typically easy to find. First, assuming it's video, they take up a lot of the space on the drive. Second, the file names are XXXXX XXXXX that will catch your attention. In short, they are easy to spot even when not actually looking for them.
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