legal mind the “what if?” Acquittal, double jeopardy or another trial
around double jeopardy if Chapo is acquitted. The only way to avoid double
jeopardy is to charge him with a different crime that has different facts or
different elements. One way is to charge him in state courts because state laws
often require proof of different elements to convict for the same actions that
are violations of federal law. To obtain federal jurisdiction over a defendant,
a federal prosecutor must show that (1) the defendant violated federal law, or,
(2) the defendant crossed state lines in the commission of a crime defined
under state law.
For example, we were
able to convict a fuel distributor in federal court when we proved he loaded
his trucks in New Mexico and delivered gas in AZ or TX to avoid NM fuel tax, a
violation of state law. The fact that he did it the other way (load in TX and deliver
in NM) to avoid TX fuel tax added to the charges. I initiated and supervised
that investigation from NM and convinced the other states to join us and got
the FBI and the federal prosecutor to take the case. What gave the feds
jurisdiction was the fact the distributor crossed state lines to violate state
laws. NM Governor Johnson had to sign almost 200 letters of appreciation for
every member of the investigation team.
cases pending in other jurisdictions (actually, other judicial districts) or in
state courts in case this prosecution failed. That is still true; the other
cases will allege different facts and different violations, some of them
violations of state law. Chapo has no realistic chance of going free anytime
cut a deal because his lawyers know that even if he is acquitted in this case,
he will likely spend years in court for different charges. Also, there is the
continuing problem of paying his lawyers. Even if he is acquitted, forfeiture
laws have different evidentiary requirements. I don’t think Chapo can use his
money even after acquittal. I can see how the feds would make a case for money
laundering if Chapo ever managed to get money into his lawyers’ hands.
the parties started plea negotiations? Simple answer: neither side has anything
to lose if they wait until the verdict is in. Even if Chapo is acquitted, the
feds will not enter negotiations until the verdict is in. In that event, Chapo
would be taken into custody immediately on the other charges I suspect the feds
have pending. Likewise, for the defense, an acquittal would strengthen their
position in negotiating a favorable deal for pending charges. Simply stated, a
verdict either way will most clearly define the parties’ bargaining positions.
Best way not to waste time and money.
believe Chapo will be acquitted, I think both sides have already planned for
either eventuality. I also think Chapo waited too long to turn snitch. His
information is stale by now.