Prosecutors Misusing The Law – Who will stop them?

By December 5, 2014 May 4th, 2015 Criminal Defense Detroit MI

Prosecutors Misusing The Law – Who will stop them?

Michigan Defense Attorney will Fight to Stop the Misuse of Law by Police and Prosecutors

In 2002, Congress passed a law known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which is designed to discourage people from engaging in the sort of evidence-destruction frenzy that took place in the waning days of Enron and other corporate scandals. Now the federal government is using this law to prosecute a commercial fisherman accused of destroying undersized fish he caught in the Gulf of Mexico.  Why is this important to you? Because if the United States Attorney’s Office gets away with warping criminal statutes to prosecute unintended conduct, the flood gate can open to any innocent person’s wrongful prosecution. Cases like this cause many to ask, “prosecutors misusing the law – who will stop them?”

The United States Supreme Court is deciding whether to accept the fisherman John L. Yates’ appeal from the lower federal courts that determined the statutes did apply to fish.

Yates was busted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for having 72 undersized red groupers on his board, and was issued a ticket. When he returned to port, there were only 69 fish on board. He was accused of throwing three of the undersized fish overboard – an act which the United States Attorney claims is the same as “shredding evidence.” A jury found him guilty of two felony criminal counts of knowingly destroying, concealing and covering up undersized fish with the intent to impede the investigation and proper catching of red grouper under the legal minimum in violation of the anti-shredding statute. No shredder needed be involved!!!

Yates’ conviction was upheld by the 11th circuit and he was sentenced to supervised release (a federal form of probation). The trial court even had doubts that the throwing away of fish is a falsification of a record. Yates argued that “tangible object” is vague that no one could have notice of what would put them in jeopardy of violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Supreme Court has said that due process requires a person have “fair notice” their behavior would be a criminal violation before they can be convicted.

This is an interesting case for the Supreme Court to determine statutory interpretation and how far the government can go is using a statute designed to prohibit one form of criminal conduct but using it in an unintended manner.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney – Shutting Down Frivolous Prosecutions

Federal and State prosecutors are very creative and crafty when it comes to using our criminal laws to prosecute a person when the law, on its face, does not even appear to apply to the facts of the prosecution. They enjoy trying new angles in which to start prosecutions and gain convictions. You need a law firm that will protect you and counteract the all too frequent shenanigans of the prosecutor’s office. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are vastly experienced in dealing with anything, and everything, a federal and state prosecutor can throw at you. If you are dealing with a possible criminal charge, or actually charged with a crime, the lawyers at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience in handling defenses of all criminal matters, state and federal.

If you are asking yourself, “Prosecutors Misusing The Law – Who will stop them?”, please contact us at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will contact you.


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