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Federal Crimes Archives

If you violate a site's terms of service, are you a criminal?

The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) could be considered a harsh law by any standards. For the offense of "accessing a computer and obtaining information," you could be sentenced to up to 5 years in federal prison on a first offense.

Study: The FBI's blue jean wear mark analysis is not reliable

Over the last year, the nonprofit investigative newsroom ProPublica has published a series of articles that called into question whether some forensic techniques produce reliable results. One of the techniques questioned is the matching of wear marks along the seams of blue jeans. Now, a leading forensic image analyst and a postdoctoral researcher have published a study finding that the technique produces limited evidence at best.

Federal First Step Act has brought over 2,400 reduced sentences

The federal First Step Act was passed in late 2018 in an effort to reverse course on some overly harsh sentences that had been passed down over the last several decades. It also allowed for the early release of terminally ill people and passed a variety of reforms to the federal prison system.

Federal judge rules the terrorism watch list unconstitutional

There are approximately 1.16 million people labeled "known or suspected terrorists" on the FBI's terrorism watch list. While most of them are from foreign countries, about 4,600 people on the list as of 2017 were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents -- and many of them are completely innocent.

ABA, NACDL urge Congress to fully fund federal First Step Act

The American Bar Association's (ABA's) House of Delegates and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) have just passed a unanimous resolution urging Congress to fully fund the federal First Step Act and to make it retroactive.

Over 1,000 federal prisoners' sentences reduced by First Step Act

As we discussed on this blog last December, the First Step Act was a bipartisan reform law that promised relief for federal defendants and prisoners in several areas. The Act was expected to be especially helpful to minority defendants, as minorities have traditionally been sentenced more harshly than whites for equivalent crimes. The first major overhaul of the federal criminal justice system in decades, the First Step Act was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 21, 2018.

Data: Federal white-collar crime prosecutions hit all-time low

New data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the federal government has been prosecuting fewer white-collar crimes under this administration than it had done previously. Researchers from Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found a 35.7-percent dip in the number of cases filed in January over the same period five years ago.

Report: Federal prosecutors oversold courts on FBI photo analysis

The case involved South Carolina bank robbery. Witnesses were unable to ID the robber and the bank's surveillance video turned out to be too grainy to help. When the FBI finally arrived at a suspect, the man countered that the robber had been his brother. With only low-quality video to go by, how could investigators tell which brother had committed the crime?

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