Legal Blog


Could I Be Prosecuted for Using Facebook at Work? Supreme Court to Decide.

In April 2020, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Van Buren v. United States. This case raises questions about what constitutes criminal “computer misuse” under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a). The petitioner, Mr. Van Buren, was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a) after accepting a loan in exchange for personal records obtained through a police database. As a police officer, Mr. Van Buren had permission to access the database for work related purposes. In his petition for certiorari, he argues that because he had permission to use the database, his misuse did not rise to a criminal level. The question for … Read More »



Sentence Reductions Under the First Step Act

In 2018, Congress passed the reformative First Step Act, commonly called the FSA. One of the FSA’s reforms allows certain inmates to receive greater reductions for good behavior than was previously possible. This posts examines the FSA’s changes to earned time credit.

Background

For many decades, inmates showing progress towards rehabilitation could serve part of their sentences outside of prison on parole. However, in 1987, Congress eliminated parole. With parole abolished, the only sentence reduction available for most inmates was a modest 15% for good behavior. This reduction, defined as “good time credit,” reduce 15% of a prison sentence. That’s … Read More »



Getting out of Prison on Compassionate Release

In 2018, Congress expanded the so-called “compassionate release” statute to allow inmates to petition their sentencing judges for reductions based on extraordinary circumstances. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the amended compassionate release statute probably saved the lives of many vulnerable inmates that judges saw fit to release. This post gives a summary of the provisions of this important law.

Background of Compassionate Release

Prior to 1987, inmates serving federal sentences could apply for and receive parole based on good behavior. After Congress eliminated parole, all inmates had to serve their entire sentences minus a modest reduction of up to 15% for … Read More »



Can I raise an entrapment defense to my federal criminal charge?

The “entrapment defense” is a legal concept that many people have at least a passing familiarity with. At the same time, there is much confusion about what this defense actually consists of. The entrapment defense, while potentially powerful, is much narrower than many people realize. Here we discuss the history of this defense and its practical applications.

The Origins of the Entrapment Defense

Prior to 1932 there was confusion in the federal courts about whether the so-called entrapment defense existed at all. If a person voluntarily commits a criminal act, some judges wondered, why should it matter if government agents … Read More »



Superlawyers 2020

Attorneys Charles Burnham and Eugene Gorokhov have been named to SuperLawyers for Washington, DC.. The award is limited to the top 5% of lawyers in a jurisdiction. Thank you!



A Novel Criminal Offense for the Novel Coronavirus: Hoarding and Price Gouging Under the Defense Production Act

Hoarding or charging excessive prices for precious medical supplies during a public health emergency can earn you social opprobrium but did you know it could send you to prison as well?

In our capitalist society, we don’t normally think of such things as charging inflated prices as criminal matters – your customers will punish you themselves by going to the competition. However, when the merchandise in question is medical supplies desperately needed for the fight against coronavirus, the normal rules do not apply.

A Brooklyn pharmacist recently became acquainted with this fact when NYPD officers and federal agents armed with … Read More »



The Ins and Outs of Misdemeanors in Federal Court

We often think of federal criminal prosecutions as the most serious of all cases but are there federal misdemeanors as well? The answer is yes, misdemeanors are routinely prosecuted in U.S. District Courts alongside the major felonies. Federal prosecutors have hundreds of potential misdemeanor charges in their arsenal – everything from familiar offenses like theft to arcane and little known offenses such as Unlawful Importation of Honeybees. In this post we discuss how misdemeanors are prosecuted in U.S. District Courts.

What is a federal misdemeanor?

A federal misdemeanor is either an offense that violates federal law or an offense committed … Read More »



Frequently Asked Questions About Time Theft For Federal Employees and Contractors

FAQ: Time Theft for Federal Government Employees and Contractors

Lying about having jury duty or the flu to get out of work could result in losing a federal civil service job but did you know it could send you to prison as well? In some cases, falsifying your work records can be a federal crime carrying significant penalties. This post discusses time theft – what it is, how to avoid it, and what to do if you are accused of committing it.

A sample timecard.

What is time theft?

Time theft, “time and attendance fraud,” or “time card … Read More »



Eugene Gorokhov and Ziran Zhang secure reversal for client on appeal in the Fourth Circuit

Eugene Gorokhov and Ziran Zhang represented a client convicted of firearms offenses on appeal in the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit reversed the client’s sentence based on an argument that the government’s sentencing recommendation was a breach of the plea agreement, and the district court failed to consider non-frivolous sentencing arguments by the defense.

The opinion may be accessed here.



Charles Burnham speaks on CNN regarding Maria Butina prosecution

On April 25, 2019, Charles Burnham was quoted on a CNN.com article describing the case against Maria Butina.

Mr. Burnham was quoted as stating: “I think if I was Miss Butina’s defense team or I was the judge, a legitimate question to ask is how is it fair she spends two years in prison when an American citizen, who was arguably a co-conspirator, gets no time at all.”

The full article may be accessed here.