Law Firm Ratings and Related Information

Before engaging the services of a law firm, it is necessary to know its background and performance record. To do this, you have to find out the ratings of the firm about its legal ability and standards.

Law firms are rated based on their ability and general ethical standards. There are rating boards across the country which conduct and evaluate law firms based on confidential opinions of members of the bar and the Judiciary. The ratings are given on a five-year interval, usually after a lawyer has been admitted to the bar.

The two components of the ratings system are:

o Legal Ability – This component is graded in three ways: C (good to high), B (high to very high) and C (very high to preeminent)

o The General Ethical Standard Ratings denotes ‘adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria related to the discharge of legal responsibilities’. The general recommendation rating of a law firm must be a “V” which it must first receive in order to gain the legal ability rating.

Ratings Classification

The ratings are typically described as follows:

o CV Rating – An excellent first rating, a statement of the firm’s above average ability and high ethical standard

o BV Rating – Means an exemplary reputation and well-established practice, also indicates that law firm is in mid-career, with a significant client base and high professional standard

o AV Rating – The firm has reached the height of professional excellence, indicates long years of law practice with the highest level of skill and integrity

The Importance of the Rating System

The rating system on lawyers and their firms are conducted to help you determine which lawyer or legal entity is worth hiring. The rating will also show you the level of competence and experience of a law firm as seen on the classification grade. Nevertheless being un-rated does not mean a law firm has no credibility. Many competent and reputable law firms in the country remain unrated or choose not to participate in the ratings. In researching about a firm’s credentials, peers, colleagues and former clients are still the best sources of real information.

Important Characteristics of a Reputable Legal Firms

For a law firm to be respectable, the following characteristics must be observed:

o Professional – Lawyers of a firm must show a high level of professionalism by treating each client with their full attention and support

o Experience – Lawyers must meet stringent practice area qualifications and must be dedicated to the practice of one area of law

o Good Standing – Lawyers must be of good record in the bar associations where they belong and must have no record of disciplinary action against them.

o Respected – The lawyer and the firm he represents must be respected by the community and his peers

Finding a reputable law firm is very much like looking for the right lawyer. Look for the firm that will suit your needs. However, when it comes to choosing the right firm, you should look at afirm’s experience and reputation. These are the two important factors to be considered when selecting a firm that will handle your legal needs.

More information about law firm ratings and information by consulting with California law firm

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Felony Violent Crimes Incur Serious Penalties

If you are presently facing felony charges, you are probably very concerned about what types of criminal consequences you are facing and whether or not you will be sent to jail or prison. Any criminal conviction can have life-lasting consequences for the accused. However, if you are facing a violent crime charge, your worries are incredibly valid and you have a lot to worry about.

How would a felony conviction affect your life? You would lose your job, you could lose your home and in some cases you can lose your spouse and your children. Depending on the nature of the crime, you could spend anywhere from a number of years to life in prison. You could be literally removed from society, forced to live the next several years behind bars.

It is extremely important that if you are arrested for a felony violent crime, you exercise your right to remain silent. Even if you are innocent of the charges against you, anything you say can and will be used against you in court. It is crucial that you hire an experienced attorney at the onset of an investigation if you want the best chances to avoid a criminal conviction.

Although all crimes are illegal acts in the eyes of the law, violent crimes are considered the worst of the worst with murder topping the list. The crimes that are classified as felony violent crimes in Colorado include: child abuse, sexual assault, rape, felony assault, felony assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, attempted murder and murder.

In the state of Colorado, these types of crimes are arranged into six different Classes with Class 1 being the most severe. A Class 6 offense is punishable by 1 year to 18 months in prison, a fine up to $100,000 and 1 year of parole. A Class 5 offense is punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison, up to $100,000 in fines, and 3 years of parole.

If you are convicted of a Class 4 offense, you can be sent to prison for anywhere from 2 to 8 years, you can be fined up to $500,000, and 3 years parole. Class 3 offenses are punishable by 4 to 16 years in prison, up to $750,000 in fines, and 5 years parole. Class 2 offenses can include from 8 to 24 years in prison, up to $1 million in fines, and 5 years parole. A Class 1 felony is the most serious of all and is punishable by life without the possibility of parole or the death sentence.

If law enforcement has built a substantial case against you, this is probably the most crucial and potentially life-threatening experience you will ever have in your life. It is absolutely essential that you retain the services of a highly experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney. Even in the best established and high profile criminal cases, a skillful lawyer may be able to gradually weaken the prosecution’s case against a defendant. Only a knowledgeable attorney will have the tools and experience to search for errors made by law enforcement, weaknesses in witness testimony and any other evidence that may exonerate you. Your future and your freedom are worth fighting for; don’t hesitate to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer today.

White Collar Crime and Prosecution

White-collar crime is skyrocketing! Tough economic times and the advent of hi-tech computer technology coupled with Wall Street fraud is proving tough times for all Americans. Who are the white-collar criminals? What is White-collar crime? How do these individuals arrive at a position of trust? What is law enforcement doing? Who will be affected next? Will you be next?

A white collar crime is many times defined as a non-violent crime involving deception and/or trickery, typically committed by a business person, public official, or someone of high stature, trust, or authority. Evidence in a white collar crime usually involves a paper trail of evidence that investigators use to prosecute the case. Although this definition may be true, it is hotly contested within the community of experts that try to define “White-Collar Crime”. Many experts feel there are three main characteristics that categorize a white-collar criminal. Some experts believe that white-collar crime should be defined by the high socioeconomic status and/or occupation of trust that the offender has. Others believe that white-collar crime should be defined by the type of offense committed i.e., fraud, counterfeiting, forgery, embezzlement, bribery, larceny, price fixing, racketeering, computer fraud, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Mixed in with these offenses is the increasingly popular securities fraud as typified by the recent cases of Bernard Madoff and New Jersey fund manager James Nicholson. Madoff allegedly confessed to his employees that he perpetuated a massive fraud scheme which could cost investors an unbelievable amount in excess of $50 billion. Forty-two year old James Nicholson is accused of defrauding his investors of as much as $900 million since 2004. Finally there are those that confine the definition of white-collar crime to strictly economic crimes or corporate crimes.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines white-collar crime only in terms of the offense. The Bureau has defined white-collar crime as “. . . those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence. Individuals and organizations commit these acts to obtain money, property, or services; to avoid the payment or loss of money or services; or to secure personal or business advantage.” (USDOJ, 1989, p. 3.)

In the years 1997 through 1999, white-collar crime accounted for less than 4.0 percent of the incidents reported to the FBI. The majority of those offenses were frauds, counterfeiting, and forgery. Currently, one in three American families is a victim of white-collar crime, yet very few are actually reported. Of those reported only 21% made it into the hands of a law enforcement agency. This translates into less than eight percent of all white-collar crimes reaching the proper authorities. These are very unsettling statistics for both consumers and businesses alike. The growth of the information age and the world wide use of the Internet have significantly changed the manner in which economic crimes are committed, the frequency of their commission, and the difficulty in the apprehension of the persons responsible. White-collar crime has certainly invaded our new, high-tech society. Statistics show that white-collar crime has skyrocketed from a national cost in 1970 of $5,000,000,000 to a staggering $100,000,000,000 in 1990. With all the advances in technology and the Internet since 1990, experts predict an exponential growth of white-collar crime in the future.

In an effort to combat this rapid rise in white-collar Internet crime, law enforcement officials including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Postal Inspection Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Customs officials have stepped up their efforts in fighting these crimes. Special units such as the National White Collar Crime Center, Internet Fraud Complaint Center, National Cybercrime Training Partnership, and the Coalition for the Prevention of Economic Crime have been formed to specifically fight white-collar crime.

This has certainly stepped up the investigation and prosecution of white-collar crimes and white-collar criminals. White-collar crimes can be prosecuted both at the state and federal level, depending on whether a state or federal law was broken. If convicted, these crimes usually result in long prison sentences, large fines, and restitution to the victims of the crime. Many times the restitution is so large that it never gets paid back. The days of a slap on the wrist, probation, a trip to Club Fed, and/or home confinement are over for white-collar defendants. New laws, stiffer penalties, and more vigorous prosecution of white-collar crimes all combine for longer sentences and higher security designations for white-collar criminals.

Due to current prison overcrowding and the large number of white-collar defendants being incarcerated, white-collar defendants are finding it more and more difficult to be designated close to their families and to be designated to a lower security federal prison. More and more white-collar defendants are being designated to geographically removed federal prisons far from their homes and families. Many white-collar defendants are also being designated to a higher security level federal prison.

Most white-collar offenders are ordinary people who got into financial difficulty and who saw their way out of it through illegal and fraudulent measures. Unfortunately, it used to be only the small fish that get caught and sentenced to a long federal prison term of incarceration, not the big fish that got away. The big fish used to be able to insulate themselves from the crime. There are so many people working at the small fish level that upper management can structure and direct the company so that the small fish are actually the individuals receiving the pressure to break the law, many times unknowingly. Upper management didn’t even have to get their hands dirty. This all combined for more and more white-collar small fish criminals being investigated, prosecuted, and sentenced to long terms of incarceration in federal prisons. But the current trend is changing all this. Federal prosecutors, in a large part due to public outrage, are now going for the big fish as well as the small fish. Enron, Martha Stewart, Bernard Madoff, James Nicholson, and the current economic crisis in banking, foreclosures, and Wall Street securities fraud have played a major role in this change. Now, when it comes to conviction and sentencing, the higher the socioeconomic status of the offender, the stiffer the sentence juries vote for. Thus both the small fish and big fish white-collar criminals are receiving harsher, stiffer, and longer federal prison sentences.