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Common Myths About Federal Conspiracy Cases

DC federal conspiracy lawyer David Benowitz answers questions about common myths about conspiracy cases, and the value of seeking experienced legal counsel.

What are the most common questions that you are asked by defendants in conspiracy cases?

David Benowitz: In conspiracy cases and other cases, the first thing that people want to know is what is going to happen to them and whether they are going to jail. They want to know whether they are going to jail right away and what is going to happen at the end of the case, meaning whether they are going to be found guilty or not guilty. They want to know what, if any, evidence the government has and why are they being charged. Those are the basic questions people ask.

How do you go about answering those?

David Benowitz: I tell them that no one can promise you what’s going to happen, particularly on day one without having all the information. I say, “look, I’m going to get all the information. We’re going to go through it together, we’re going to see what the government has, if anything. We’re going to talk about it, we’re going to do all our investigation, and then we’re going to come up with a plan. We’re going to talk about what the risks are and what the potential rewards are with this plan and together, we’re going to work on a solution to this problem.”

What are common misconceptions about conspiracy cases?

David Benowitz: The most common misconception is regarding what it takes to become involve in a conspiracy. People think that because they were doing something on their own so that means they weren’t involved in a conspiracy. They don’t realize in certain situations, particularly in drug cases, that the law of conspiracy casts a really wide net. You might think you’re not doing anything or that you’re playing such a small role in something that you’re not part of a conspiracy, but the law casts a really wide net in this context. That is probably the most common misconception.

Why is it important to hire an attorney with experience defending conspiracy cases?

David Benowitz: It is important to hire an attorney with experience defending conspiracy cases because the way the cases are prosecuted is different than other cases. There are lots of different types of evidence that are used and it is important to hire someone who knows or has experience dealing with these types of issues. Certain issues come up and the answers to certain questions are not intuitive, so it’s important to know how to handle those issues.

Why is it important to hire an attorney with experience in federal court?

David Benowitz: Primarily because besides the fact that the government’s collection methods are a little bit different, the sentencing guideline issues are so much more complicated than in most state court systems. It is really important to retain someone who has a lot of experience dealing with federal cases.

What makes you qualified to defend conspiracy cases?

David Benowitz: I have a lot of criminal defense experience. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. I’ve handled many conspiracy cases and the thing that I’ve learned is that hard work equals better results. I could never guarantee what result that would be, but I can guarantee you that I will to outwork a prosecutor. That is very important in these cases. What it often  comes down to is whether you can outwork the other side to get the best results and that’s what I do.

What has prepared you for defending conspiracy cases?

David Benowitz: My experience doing criminal cases in general has prepared me as well as my experience as an investigator; I did that before I became a lawyer. I was a criminal defense investigator handling different types of cases and that served me very well. I’m also very interested in the types of issues that come up in conspiracy cases. I make it a point to understand them, to constantly be learning and trying to get more information to help my clients.

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