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Justice head hearing could affect California criminal defense

The confirmation hearing for the potential new attorney general has left some defense representatives concerned. Criminal defense advocates are expressing dismay at Jeff Sessions' comments about cracking down on white collar crime, an area where he says the current administration has not been consistent with enforcement. Instead of holding an individual accountable for white collar crime, the Obama administration has urged holding the corporate entity responsible. This could change things for California defendants and others throughout the nation.

Sessions' confirmation hearing occurred in July. He indicated in official statements that officers of corporations should be held accountable for criminal charges - what he terms "severe punishment" - instead of the entire corporation bearing that burden. Sessions believes that the corporation stockholders are largely unaware of ongoing malfeasance within the organizations.

In addition, a Sessions Department of Justice could be more prone to enforcing laws such as federal drug laws, which could have an effect on those accused of drug crimes in California. The state recently legalized recreational marijuana, joining several other jurisdictions. A change in the political climate could lead to increased enforcement for this industry, which has recently been permitted to exist without much harassment.

No matter what, we are going to experience some changes in enforcement of federal crimes and other charges with the exchange of the political administrations. Criminal defendants can learn more about the ways in which these philosophical changes may affect their individual cases by consulting a qualified attorney. All defendants should have the right to a fair, unbiased trial that protects their legal rights. A criminal defense attorney can help make sure that white collar crime and drug crime defendants get the representation they deserve.

Source: The Daily Signal, "How a Jeff Sessions Justice Department Can Change Course on Crime," John-Michael Seibler, Jan. 13, 2017

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