Articles Posted in Federal Criminal Law

Published on:

Foreign citizens and drug importation charges at JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia Airports (federal controlled substance crimes)

American demand for illegal drugs, combined with harsh federal and state laws prohibiting their sale and possession, has created a black market that can be extraordinarily lucrative for illegal drug traffickers. Enticed by the potential to make significant amounts of money very quickly, many foreign citizens make the mistake of attempting to import controlled substances into the United States through New York City’s international airports (JFK and Newark, and to a lesser extent, LaGuardia). Those individuals caught in the act of importing narcotics typically face federal criminal charges like 21 U.S.C. § 952 (importing controlled substances) or 21 U.S.C. § 841 (possessing controlled substances with intent to distribute). Indeed, one study concluded that approximately 75% of those individuals sentenced for federal drug convictions in 2014 were illegal immigrants or foreign citizens.

Published on:

Every year the FBI and federal law enforcement investigates a number of serious crimes that were alleged to have occurred onboard cruise ships. State police occasionally investigate these sorts of crimes, but generally speaking, crimes that occur on the high seas fall under federal jurisdiction (if pursued by American law enforcement at all).

The authority of the FBI to investigate criminal offenses and enforce laws of the United States on cruise ships on the high seas or territorial waters of the United States depends on several factors: The location of the vessel, the nationality of the perpetrator or victim, the ownership of the vessel, the points of embarkation and debarkation, and the country in which the vessel is flagged all play a role in determining whether there is federal authority to enforce the laws of the United States.

The principal law under which the U.S. exercises its Special Maritime and Territorial Jurisdiction is set forth in Section 7 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. This statute provides, in relevant part, that the U.S. has jurisdiction over crimes committed on a ship if:

Published on:

Two indictments were unsealed today in federal court in New Jersey and Brooklyn charging nine individuals with having participated in a unique scheme to profit illegally from stolen insider information. Many of the defendants have connections to the Ukraine, and their names are Vitaly Korchevsky, Vladislav Khalupsky, Leonid Momotok, Alexander Garkusha (Brooklyn) and Ivan Turchynov, Oleksander Ieremenko, Arkadiy Dubovoy, Igor Dubovoy, and Pavel Dubovoy (New Jersey).

In short, it is alleged that this conspiracy included skillful computer hackers and securities traders working together to steal valuable information and then use it to their advantage. More specifically, the alleged computer hackers used brute force attacks and a variety of other computer hacking techniques (such as SQL injections) to access confidential press releases containing financial data for publicly-traded companies prior to the information being made available to the public. Knowledgeable broker-dealers on the team then allegedly used the non-public information to make advantageous “insider” trades ahead of the market during the brief windows of time between the press releases being written and being released to the public. All in all, it is estimated that they were collectively able to profit illegally to the tune of $30 million.

A press release from the federal prosecutors handling the matter is available here. The charges generally include securities fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering. (18 U.S.C. § 1349; 18 u.s.c. § 1343; 15 U.S.C. §§ 78j(b) & 78ff, and 17 C.F.R. § 240. lOb-5; 18 u.s.c. § 371; 18 u.s.c. § 1030; 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(l); 18 U.S.C. § l 956(h); and 18 U.S.C. § 2). Copies of the indictments are accessible here and here via PACER.

Published on:

From time to time, an individual en route to the United States via commercial airplane gets arrested for groping or getting into a fight with another passenger. Because these crimes do not occur on U.S. soil, they generally fall under federal jurisdiction. Specifically, 49 U.S.C. § 46506 confers "special maritime jurisdiction" upon those criminal acts that occur whilst the plane is flying to or over the United States. See 18 U.S.C. § 7.

Unwanted sexual contact with another person on an incoming international airline flight can subject the offender to prosecution pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §2244(b). That charge makes it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison for engaging in unwanted sexual contact.

Published on:

Recently, federal law enforcement authorities announced the arrests of 71 people in the New York City area in connection with an alleged child pornography production and distribution ring.

The federal charges most often applied to the creation, manufacture, possession and distribution of obscene materials involving minors are typically the following: 18 USC § 1466A, 18 USC § 2251, 18 USC § 2252, 18 USC § 2252A. The full language of those charges is available below at the end of the article.

Of course, a conviction for any of these crimes can have serious potential consequences. Serious jail time is a very realistic possibility for anyone convicted of any of these crimes, as is registration as a sex offender in your home state. Careers, reputations and families can be ruined. Enormous civil penalties and fines can also be levied against those convicted of these crimes.

Published on:

In New York, a person arrested for possessing or distributing child pornography can be prosecuted by either the state or federal authorities. As a matter of practice, the accused is most likely to be prosecuted in state court if he is arrested by state police, and in federal court if arrested by federal agents, but in these cases, arrests by state police officers often get referred to federal prosecutors for federal prosecution because the general perception is that sentences for this crime are stricter in the federal system. (Note: federal sentencing determinations are simply too complicated to be summarized in this forum). If you or a loved one needs to discuss representation on a matter such as this one, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Federal charges in New York

There are a number of federal statutes that apply to the possession, manufacture, and transportation of child pornography and/or to the exploitation of children themselves in this context. The applicable charges are mostly found in Chapter 110 of Title 18 of the United States Code, with the following subsections:

Published on:

One of the most common criminal charges in the federal system is a violation of 18 USC 922(g). This chapter makes it illegal for certain persons to possess firearms. Notably, this charge in this subsection does not depend upon the type of firearm possessed, though that factor can affect the potential penalties for the offender.

The statute states the following:

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person-
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien-
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) who is subject to a court order that-
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

Published on:

An experienced New York state and federal criminal defense attorney explains the law in New York state as it relates to blackmail.

Recently, late night talk show host David Letterman went to law enforcement authorities because he claimed that he was the victim of blackmail. Both state and federal law make it illegal to blackmail someone in New York. Under federal law, 18 USC Section 873 (Chapter 41: Extortion and Threats) is specifically named “Blackmail,” and applies to “[w]hoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing…” The charge goes on to say that any such person “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

In New York state law, there is no specific “blackmail” statute, but there are laws against extortion contained in the Penal Law. Penal Law Section 155.05 defines the various methods by which a person can commit larceny under New York state law, and specifically includes several forms of extortion in Subsection (2)(e). That subsection explains the following:

Published on:

An experienced criminal defense attorney explains the federal criminal law that applies to the theft of “major artwork,” in 18 USC 668.

New York City is home to some of the nation’s top museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Museum of Natural History, and more. As you might imagine, stealing from any of those museums can be a serious crime with stiff penalties for the perpetrator. What you might not expect, however, is that such a crime could be prosecuted under federal law and not just the obvious state law.

Section 668 of 18 USC (Chapter 31) explains that a person who (1) steals or obtains by fraud from the care, custody, or control of a museum any object of cultural heritage; or (2) knowing that an object of cultural heritage has been stolen or obtained by fraud, if in fact the object was stolen or obtained from the care, custody, or control of a museum (whether or not that fact is known to the person) receives, conceals, exhibits, or disposes of the object, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

Published on:

Federal law makes it a serious crime for certain prohibited persons to possess or sell firearms. Under federal law, one can also expect to receive a very serious sentence for possessing certain types of illegal firearms or using a firearm in furtherance of some other crime, such as robbery or drug trafficking. Below is a brief summary of some of the relevant statutes.


18 USC § 922(g) & (n). Punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. May receive minimum sentence of 15 years without parole if offender has three or more prior convictions for a felony crime of violence (e.g. burglary, robbery, assault, possession of offensive weapons) and/or drug trafficking felony.