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Getting to the finish line when facing criminal fraud charges

When St. Louis residents are accused of wrongdoing by others, they often want to fight to defend themselves immediately and clear their name against the accusations. These feelings are often present when criminal charges are brought against an individual, and the individual frequently wants the charges dismissed immediately.

In reality, the criminal justice system can be a marathon at times instead of a sprint, as cases take time to develop. For instance, each side has an opportunity to investigate the matter, including the defendant, who can use this time to develop an effective defense to the charges and pick holes in the prosecution's case. While cases may not always proceed as quickly as some would like, justice can be achieved at the end of the day, when the truth comes out and the charges are tested by the evidence.

This is not to say that protections do not exist for those accused of criminal wrongdoing. For example, under the Speedy Trial Act and the Sixth Amendment, individuals have a right to be brought to trial within a set period of time. If they are not, the government can face sanctions, including dismissal of the charges.

Federal charges of fraud, money laundering and other charges were recently dismissed against one man after prosecutors failed to satisfy the Speedy Trial Act. The judge in the case, which was brought five years ago, dismissed the charges after concluding prosecutors had engaged in a pattern of neglect and dilatory conduct.

Prosecutors had originally accused the man of operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme. However, prosecutors failed to meet the requirements of the Speedy Trial Act, which requires that a case be brought to trial within 70 days, unless certain exemptions are met. The judge also found the government engaged in misconduct, including violating the man's constitutional rights by interviewing him without his attorney present. Other evidence the prosecutors had hoped to use against the man was thrown out as confidential communications between the man and his attorneys.

The case illustrates how defendants may find relief if prosecutors do not meet their obligations, including obligations to bring the defendant to trial within a set period of time, as well as upholding a person's constitutional rights when proceeding in the investigation. At the end of the day, while cases can take time to develop, if prosecutors fail to meet their obligations, or if prosecutors cannot satisfy their high burden of proof, the charges against a person may be dismissed.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Rick Koerber walks on $48 million Ponzi scheme charges," Tom Harvey, Aug. 14, 2014

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Rick Koerber walks on $48 million Ponzi scheme charges," Tom Harvey, Aug. 14, 2014

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Frank, Juengel & Radefeld,
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St. Louis, MO 63105

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