Environmental Crimes Charges: Why You Need an Aggressive Federal Crimes Lawyer
Environmental crimes are serious offenses that can lead to substantial fines and even jail time. If your facing charges, it’s critical to have an experienced federal crimes lawyer on your side. This article will provide an overview of environmental crimes and the reasons why you need a knowledgeable and assertive defense attorney if your facing prosecution.
What are Environmental Crimes?
- Clean Air Act
- Clean Water Act
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
These laws regulate activities like discharging pollution into the air or water, mishandling hazardous waste, and distributing pesticides. Other federal laws related to environmental protection cover issues like wildlife conservation and worker safety.
In addition to federal statutes, states and local governments have their own laws regarding environmental protection. So the same actions could potentially violate federal, state, and local regulations.
- Knowingly dumping toxic chemicals or other hazardous substances
- Intentionally discharging raw sewage or other pollutants into waterways
- Improperly disposing of asbestos or other hazardous waste
- Distributing pesticides without proper licensing or labeling
Why are Environmental Crimes Taken Seriously?
- These crimes endanger public health and ecological resources that belong to the entire community.
- Violations can result in significant environmental damage that is costly to clean up.
- The effects are widespread – pollution doesn’t stay in one place.
- Many violations are committed knowingly or intentionally for financial gain.
- Tough penalties are needed to deter future violations.
Given the seriousness of these crimes, prosecutors often pursue heavy fines and jail time for offenders. Over a 16-year period from 1998 to 2014, federal environmental prosecutions led to nearly 800 years of incarceration and over $825 million in fines and restitution.
Why You Need an Aggressive Federal Crimes Lawyer
If your facing charges for an alleged environmental crime, having an experienced federal defense attorney is critical. Here’s why you need a knowledgeable and assertive lawyer on your side:
Complex Laws and Regulations
Environmental laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels are complex, technical, and frequently changing. An environmental crimes defense lawyer who specializes in federal cases will have an in-depth understanding of the relevant laws and precedents. They can identify potential issues with how the law was applied in your case or deficiencies in the evidence against you.
Sophisticated Investigative Tactics
Federal environmental crimes cases often involve lengthy investigations by agencies like the EPA and use of sophisticated tools like wiretaps. An attorney experienced in federal cases will understand these investigative approaches and know how to counter them.
Federal sentencing guidelines apply for environmental crimes convictions. An aggressive lawyer can argue for the lowest possible sentence under the guidelines and present mitigating factors to the judge. They may also be able to get certain charges dismissed or reduced to lessen your sentencing exposure.
Negotiating with Prosecutors
Prosecutors have broad discretion in negotiating plea deals or even declining to press charges. A knowledgeable federal crimes attorney can present the weaknesses of the government’s case and argue persuasively for declining prosecution or a favorable plea bargain.
If a plea deal can’t be reached, you need a federal lawyer with litigation experience. Environmental crimes cases involve complex procedures and evidentiary standards that are unique to federal court. An attorney experienced in federal trials can build the strongest case in your defense.
Avoiding Collateral Consequences
Beyond fines and jail time, environmental crimes convictions can lead to other substantial penalties like loss of licenses or debarment from government contracts. An attorney can help minimize collateral consequences through careful negotiation or acquittal at trial.
How an Aggressive Lawyer Can Defend You
In building your defense case, an experienced environmental crimes lawyer can:
- Closely analyze the alleged violation to identify any deficiencies in evidence or errors in how the law was applied.
- Raise doubts about whether you actually knew you were violating the law – lack of knowledge can sometimes be a defense.
- Argue the statute of limitations has expired if too much time elapsed before you were charged.
- Challenge whether the agency had authority to bring charges for the alleged violation.
- Dispute the notice you received from regulators before charges were brought.
- Negotiate dismissal of charges in exchange for paying civil fines or penalties.
- Argue for a lower charge or reduced sentence under federal guidelines.
- Present mitigating circumstances to the judge prior to sentencing.
- Develop an alternative theory of what occurred if you believe you are innocent.
- Thoroughly prepare expert witnesses who can rebut the prosecution’s scientific evidence.
- File motions to exclude improperly obtained evidence or unreliable expert testimony.
- Educate the jury on reasonable doubt if the case goes to trial.
When to Call a Lawyer
Don’t wait until your actually charged to consult with a federal environmental crimes attorney. Call as soon as your learn an investigation is underway or regulators raise questions about your activities. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance from the earliest stages of the process. They may even be able to prevent charges from being filed.
Environmental crimes allegations should always be taken seriously. These cases require an aggressive defense lawyer who specializes in the complex laws, regulations, and procedures involved in federal prosecutions. Thorough preparation and skillful negotiation by an experienced attorney provides the best chance at a favorable outcome. Don’t hesitate to call a knowledgeable federal crimes lawyer if your facing environmental violation charges.