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hartford criminal defense lawyerDNA contains a wealth of information about a person, and due to modern technology, this information can be used for a variety of beneficial purposes. Genetic information can provide information about a person’s health and ensure that they receive the proper medical treatments, and it can be used to establish family connections and provide details about a person’s roots. DNA is also playing an increasingly important role in criminal investigations. Unfortunately, many people do not realize how information stored in genetic databases may be used against them or others, and criminal justice advocates are questioning how storing and sharing this data may affect people’s rights.

DNA Databases Used in Criminal Investigations

Genetic information is being used in more and more criminal cases. Evidence gathered at a crime scene may be compared to DNA information in a variety of genetic databases to identify potential suspects. While this practice has led to some high-profile arrests, such as the identification of the “Golden State Killer,” it has also led privacy advocates to raise concerns. 

In many cases, investigators have used data from public databases of genetic information created by genealogy services such as Ancestry or 23andMe. However, many people who submit DNA to these services do not realize that their information may be turned over to law enforcement and used in criminal investigations. Some cases have used genetic data submitted by a suspect’s distant relatives, putting a person’s privacy at risk even if they were never aware that details about their family and their DNA had been made available to others.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_2087573356.jpgMinors who are charged with criminal offenses will often struggle to protect their rights during the legal process. In many cases, prosecutors will seek harsh sentences, and if a person is convicted, they may be required to spend significant time in prison, and they may also experience multiple types of collateral consequences after being released. Advocates for criminal justice reform are working to address the practices followed by prosecutors, and one issue that has been highlighted recently involves life sentences for minors who are tried as adults for violent crimes.

Prosecutors Recommend Limits on Life Sentences for Juveniles

Recently, a coalition of prosecutors who work at the federal, state, and local levels suggested that the United States should limit the use of life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders. The group urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to review cases where prosecutors seek these types of sentences and only allow these harsh penalties in cases where a juvenile offender is incapable of rehabilitation. It also suggested that for all other juvenile offenders, sentences should be limited to no more than 30 years.

This proposal is based on psychological research that has shown that young people are less likely to fully understand the consequences of their actions. Minors whose brains are still developing may commit criminal offenses without realizing the effects that their actions may have on themselves or others, and they may be swayed into participating in crimes due to peer pressure. Since most young people are capable of change, they will often be able to participate in rehabilitation programs that will help them avoid criminal activity in the future, while also serving as a positive example for others. It is important to give young people the chance to better themselves, address their past mistakes, and become positive members of society.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_84312832.jpgOver the past decade, advocates for criminal justice reform have worked to highlight problems in the justice system, and some government officials have begun to implement progressive policies meant to address these issues. Unfortunately, the rates of violent crime have increased over the past couple of years, and this may affect efforts to reform the justice system. As more people become concerned about violence, they have begun to elect prosecutors and other officials who promote “tough on crime” policies. This may make it more difficult for those who are facing criminal charges to receive fair treatment and avoid serious penalties.

Concerns About Crime and Lenient Policies

In recent years, people throughout the United States have been made aware of inequities in the justice system. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the abuses that police officers often commit against minorities and people of color. Organizations such as the ACLU have worked to educate people about the uphill battle that many people face when they are charged with crimes, the lengthy sentences that apply even for low-level offenses, and the collateral consequences that can affect people’s lives when they are convicted. As a result, several states have begun to make reforms, such as by reducing or eliminating cash bail or limiting the types of cases where minors may be charged as adults. Some prosecutors have also made efforts to address these issues, such as by pursuing shorter sentences or limiting prosecutions for non-violent offenses.

Unfortunately, these efforts may encounter obstacles due to recent trends in criminal activity. The rates of murder and other violent crimes have increased significantly over the past few years. There are many possible reasons for this increase, including difficulties that people have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and increases in the number of firearms purchased. However, even though progressive policies may not be directly related to the number of crimes that are being committed, some people believe that officials who are soft on crime may be responsible. As a result, prosecutors throughout the country are facing challenges such as recalls or efforts by voters to elect officials who are tougher on crime.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_701337022.jpgU.S. government officials regularly take action to address multiple types of federal crimes and pursue charges against those who are accused of violating the law. Fraud is a key issue that is addressed by federal investigators and prosecutors, and a recent report from the Department of Justice has highlighted the types of cases that are being pursued. The Justice Department’s Fraud Section is continuing to focus on prosecuting white collar crimes and other financial crimes, and it is likely to take legal action against individuals and businesses who are accused of committing fraud or related offenses. By understanding the types of cases the DOJ regularly addresses, those who may face accusations of fraud or other white collar crimes can be sure they are prepared to defend themselves against federal charges.

Types of Fraud Addressed by the DOJ

The DOJ Fraud Section has units that investigate and prosecute multiple different types of cases. These units include:

  • Market Integrity and Major Frauds (MIMF) Unit - This unit addresses fraud related to securities, investments, banking and financial instruments, and it works in conjunction with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate multiple types of fraud schemes and financial crimes. It often pursues charges against those who are accused of offenses such as mortgage fraud, bank fraud, or consumer fraud. In recent years, it has focused more and more on fraud involving cryptocurrency. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also addressed fraud related to government benefits under the CARES Act, including loans received through the Paycheck Protection Program.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1519929965.jpgPeople throughout the United States were shocked by the events of January 6, 2021. Protestors who believed that former president Donald Trump had not lost the election in 2020 engaged in violent and destructive behavior as they stormed the U.S. Capitol building. Since those events, many people who participated in the riot have been arrested and charged with crimes. Because the riot involved the destruction of government property, many of the protestors are facing federal criminal charges. However, some have been troubled by what seem to be lenient sentences for people who attempted a violent overthrow of our country’s democratic processes.

Federal Judge Questions Plea Deals in Capital Riot Cases

While more than 100 people have been charged with and convicted of crimes related to actions they took in the January 6 riots, many people have been troubled by what seems to be lenient treatment for these defendants. Recently, U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell questioned whether the way the Department of Justice is pursuing charges in these cases is causing confusion for the American public about the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

During a sentencing hearing, Judge Howell questioned federal prosecutors about the DOJ’s handling of these cases and whether the charges they pursued were appropriate based on the actions that protestors took during the riot. In this case, the DOJ had offered a defendant a plea deal in which they would be charged with “parading, demonstrating, or picketing,” which is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum sentence of six months in prison. Based on these charges, the defendant was sentenced to 14 days in prison and three years of probation. When addressing this case, the judge noted that many defendants who participated in the riots were able to make similar plea bargains that allowed them to receive low-level misdemeanor convictions rather than more serious charges.

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