I just got word that all charges were dismissed against my client in a federal criminal case I have been working on for several years. It feels good for several reasons, some obvious, others are more subtle.
One of the main reasons the dismissal feels so good is that I am virtually certain that my client did not commit a crime in the first place. She was previously married to and had children with one of the other people charged in the case. Her ex-husband was connected to some properties where investigators located evidence of criminal activity. There were only two ways that my client was involved in the overall case. The first was that her ex-husband (or someone working with him) hid other evidence of criminal activity in her back yard that investigators located with a search warrant. Second, investigators got a warrant for her bank records, and a search of her accounts showed that she had significant savings even though she worked a low-paying job. My staff and I were able to go back and demonstrate that the accounts grew to these large balances because she saved like we are all supposed to do: a little bit at a time and never spending lots of money. Even if the case had gone to trial, I feel confident we would have been able to convince the jury that the money was from her hard work and not from someone else’s criminal acts.
Another reason the dismissal feels good is the way we won. Early on, I realized that the investigators greatly overplayed their hands when applying for the search warrants at the home and for her bank accounts. This is a highly complex area of the law, but after 37 years I have learned a thing or two, and my experience told me we had very good arguments. After six days of hearings and hundreds of pages of briefing, we got the Judge to agree. He ruled that the search warrants were “bad”, and that any evidence they obtained through those bad warrants was so tainted that the evidence could not be used in court. In technical terms, the Judge granted our Motion to Suppress. After these rulings, the prosecutor basically had no evidence left to use against my client!
Perhaps the best reason I feel good about this dismissal is that it demonstrates that the system does sometimes work properly. The prosecutors believed they had enough evidence to show that my client was so close to criminal activity that she likely was part of it. I was able to show their suspicions were untrue, and that they had gone too far in obtaining what little evidence they did have. The Court heard the evidence and agreed. I do feel bad that my client lost money and probably lots of sleep over this case, but in the end the right result was reached.