The Criminal Defense Blog


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Tyler Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlo D'Angelo

An officer's decision to detain a person must be based on more than just a hunch, according to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio. In that case, the Court held that the officer must have a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity." This means that the officer must be able to offer "some minimal level of objective justification for making the stop."

In United States v. Sokolow, the Supreme Court reiterated that an officer must have some objective manifestation that the person stopped is, or is about to be, engaged in criminal activity. This objective manifestation must be based on a totality of the circumstances and raise a suspicion that the particular individual being stopped is engaged in wrongdoing.

In evaluating whether reasonable particularized suspicion exists to conduct a Terry stop, two elements must be satisfied. First, the assessment must be based on a totality of the circumstances. Second, the circumstances together must raise a suspicion that the particular individual being stopped is engaged in wrongdoing.

Tyler Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlo D'Angelo 

The entrapment defense is a legal principle that can protect individuals who have been charged with a crime that they would not have committed if not for the actions of the government or law enforcement officials. This defense has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court in a number of cases, including Jacobson v. United States and Glover v. United States.

In Jacobson, the Supreme Court stated that the entrapment defense protects an "otherwise law-abiding citizen who, if left to his own devices, likely would have never run afoul of the law." This means that the entrapment defense is designed to protect individuals who are not predisposed to committing a crime, but who are induced to do so by the government or law enforcement officials.

The entrapment defense has two key elements: government inducement and a lack of predisposition on the part of the defendant to engage in the criminal conduct. This means that in order for the entrapment defense to be successful, the defendant must be able to demonstrate that the government or law enforcement officials induced them to commit the crime, and that they were not predisposed to committing the crime on their own.

When a government informant buys drugs from a defendant, the defendant can show inducement by pointing to "evidence of reluctance" to sell the drugs or the informant's use of "persuasive overtures," beyond those "ordinarily present in a drug transaction." This means that if the defendant can demonstrate that they were hesitant to sell drugs or that the government informant used tactics beyond what is typically used in a drug transaction, they may be able to prove government inducement.

However, even if the defendant is able to prove government inducement, the government can rebut by demonstrating that the defendant was nevertheless predisposed to commit the crime. This means that if the government can show that the defendant was willing and able to commit the crime on their own, even without government intervention, the entrapment defense may not be successful.

In conclusion, the entrapment defense can be a powerful tool for individuals who have been charged with a crime that they would not have committed if not for the actions of the government or law enforcement officials. However, the success of this defense depends on the ability of the defendant to prove government inducement and a lack of predisposition on their part.

This blog post is strictly for infomrational purpose only and should in no way be considered legal advice. If you have a specific legal question about the entrapment defense, you should seek out the advice of a criminal defense attonrey. 

Tyler Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlo D'Angelo 

On March 2, 2023, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivered Remarks at American Bar Association National Institute on White Collar Crime and crypto crime remains an enforcement priority for the DOJ. Lisa Monaco delivered Remarks at American Bar Association National Institute on White Collar Crime

"And we’re doubling down on the successful strategies we have deployed to attack cyber and crypto crime, to harness all tools across government to pursue prevention, deterrence and accountability."

"Now, since I returned to the department, I’ve also looked for ways to expand the resources available to the department’s prosecutors to address the evolution of corporate crime."

"And last year, we stood up the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) and the FBI’s Virtual Asset Unit (VAU)."

"Now, these investments have already been paying off — whether you look at the over $5 billion in cryptocurrency recovered last year or the prosecutions we have brought against dozens of crypto criminals."

Tyler Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlo D'Angelo 

Wire fraud is a serious crime under federal law that occurs when someone uses electronic communication to carry out a fraudulent scheme. Wire fraud can involve a wide range of fraudulent activities, such as phishing scams, investment fraud, and internet auction fraud. The use of electronic communication in carrying out these schemes can include emails, phone calls, faxes, or other forms of communication.

Federal law criminalizes wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, which states that anyone who "having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of interstate or foreign commerce" is guilty of a crime. This statute covers a wide range of fraudulent activities, including those that occur across state or international borders.

To prove wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, the government must establish two elements. The first element is a "scheme to defraud," which refers to a plan or course of action designed to deceive others for financial gain. The scheme must be intentional and fraudulent, meaning that the defendant must have intended to deceive the victim. The second element is the use of wire communications to further the scheme. This means that the defendant must have used electronic communication, such as email or phone calls, to carry out or advance the fraudulent scheme.

It is important to note that the scheme referenced in the first element of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 must be designed to deprive the alleged victim of money or property. This means that the scheme must involve a plan to obtain something of value from the victim through fraudulent means. The victim can be an individual, a company, or a government agency.

Wire fraud is a serious offense that can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. In addition, a conviction for wire fraud can have long-lasting consequences, such as damage to one's reputation and difficulty finding employment. If you are facing charges for wire fraud, it is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and options for defending against these charges.

Tyler Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlo D'Angelo 

Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute is a serious offense that carries severe penalties under federal law. To convict a defendant for this offense, the government must prove three elements: knowledge, possession, and intent to distribute. In this blog post, we will discuss these elements and their importance in the conviction of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Element 1: Knowledge

The first element of the offense is knowledge. The government must prove that the defendant knew that they were in possession of methamphetamine. This means that the defendant was aware of the presence of methamphetamine and knew that it was a controlled substance. Knowledge can be established by showing that the defendant was found in close proximity to the drugs, had control over the drugs, or made statements indicating knowledge of the drugs.

Element 2: Possession

The second element of the offense is possession. The government must prove that the defendant had actual or constructive possession of the methamphetamine. Actual possession means that the defendant physically held or controlled the drugs. Constructive possession means that the defendant had the ability to exercise control over the drugs, even if they were not physically present. For example, if the drugs were found in a vehicle that the defendant was driving, the government may argue that the defendant had constructive possession of the drugs.

Element 3: Intent to Distribute

The third element of the offense is intent to distribute. The government must prove that the defendant possessed the methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. Intent can be established by showing that the defendant had a large quantity of drugs, drug paraphernalia, or other evidence indicating that the drugs were intended for distribution. Additionally, evidence of the defendant's involvement in drug transactions or conversations related to drug distribution can be used to support an intent to distribute charge.

Tyler Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlo D'Angelo 

Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is a serious offense that carries severe penalties under federal law. The government must prove that the firearm was possessed in a manner that advanced or furthered the drug trafficking offense. This requirement is outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).

To support a conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, the government must demonstrate that the possession of the firearm advanced or helped to further the drug trafficking offense. This can be established by showing that the firearm was used to protect drugs or drug proceeds, intimidate others, or to facilitate the distribution or sale of drugs.

For example, if an individual is caught with a firearm and a large quantity of drugs, the government may argue that the firearm was used to protect the drugs and facilitate their distribution. In another scenario, if an individual is caught with a firearm and cash that is suspected to be drug proceeds, the government may argue that the firearm was used to protect the cash.

It is important to note that the possession of a firearm does not need to be the only evidence presented to support a conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Other evidence, such as drug paraphernalia, witness testimony, or surveillance footage, may also be used to establish the connection between the firearm and the drug trafficking offense.

The penalties for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime are severe. A conviction for this offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed for the underlying drug trafficking offense. Additionally, a fine may be imposed up to $250,000.


It was recently reported that a judge in Colombia conducted a metaverse court hearing. I watched some of that hearing on YouTube. If I closed my eyes, I felt like I was in a typical Zoom court proceeding. But when I opened my eyes, I was looking at a virtual representation of a judge presiding over a virtual courtroom full of virtual lawyers and litigants.  Colombian Metaverse Court Hearing 

Prior to COVID-19, courts permitted remote hearings under very limited circumstances. That changed with the pandemic. The total shutdown of the justice system triggered by COVID-19 caused a massive backlog of civil and criminal cases. Judges were therefore forced to find alternative ways to preside over cases.

This urgent need to conduct the court’s business, while in the midst of a global pandemic, most certainly accelerated the mass adoption by judges of Zoom and other video conferencing services. In an effort to keep the court’s functioning during the pandemic, hearings were scheduled on virtual dockets and the lawyers, parties, and witnesses were provided links and instructions on how to appear remotely. But these remote hearings presented new challenges. All involved in the process had to adapt to the muting and unmuting of mics, camera settings for video feeds and dropped parties due to spotty internet connections.

Although this process works well for moving dockets and conducting court hearings, it is not well suited for jury trials. Although some courts experimented with conducting jury trials remotely, these remote trials created additional challenges and concerns. Having juries appear remotely to hear cases is simply not the same as being present for a live in-person trial. Lawyers are unable to pick up on subtle visual cues or potential juror bias during the jury selection and trial proceedings. Moreover, jurors are unable to fully assess the credibility of witness testimony on a video screen as well as they could if that witness were testifying in open court.  Another problem with virtual trials is that lawyers are limited in how effectively they can question testifying witnesses. There is simply no way to pick up on in-person verbal and non-verbal cues via a remote video feed.

While it may be possible to overcome these issues in a civil trial—especially with the consent of the parties—virtual criminal trials raise additional concerns.   In a virtual criminal jury trial, there are also significant fundamental constitutional rights at stake. Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a defendant has right to be “present” at trial and the right to “confront” the prosecution’s witnesses. These rights are obviously significantly curtailed in a virtual jury trial. Although there are rare exceptional circumstances when virtual testimony might be allowed in a criminal trial, a totally virtual criminal trial may very likely trigger a denial of the defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

I do believe courts will continue to hold virtual hearings to address procedural matters in criminal cases, but I am unsure whether we will ever see virtual criminal trials involving cases where a person’s freedom is at stake. There are simply too many constitutional issues that would likely come up on appeal if the defendant is convicted.

My dear friend and colleague in the #Web3 world, Ira Rothken, posted that he and a team of lawyers recently filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the United States challenging whether remove witness testimony via the “metaverse” may violate a defendant’s Sixth Amendment constitutional right to confront her accuser.Ira Rothken Twitter Post

As bullish as I am on the future of Web3 technology, I think there are still many challenges that must be overcome before courts adopt metaverse trials and hearings. While on the surface, there may not appear to be any difference between a Zoom-like virtual court hearing and a metaverse AR/VR court hearing, I do see some potential distinctions worth discussing.

One critical difference is that on a Zoom-like hearing, the court can at least see the face of the testifying witnesses. If a witness is testifying through a digital avatar—even an avatar that looks strikingly similar to the witness—that raises issues over the true identity of the person testifying.  I suppose in theory, a soul-bound token could securely confirm that the avatar testifying on the virtual witness stand is in-fact that same individual in real life, but we are a long way off from mainstream adoption of that sort of on-chain proof of identity protocol. 

Testimony through a VR Avatar also makes it impossible for the court and the lawyers to weigh the credibility of the witness through observable social cues such as facial expressions and body language. As difficult as it is in Zoom-like virtual court hearings to read body language and visual cues, it would impossible to observe and evaluate those behaviors on a 2D virtual witness. As good as AR avatars might someday become at replicating facial and body language, they will never replace the subtle perceptions we make during human-to-human interactions.

My initial feeling after watching the Colombian metaverse trial is that courtroom virtual avatars don’t evoke the same emotional response as what we experience in-person court proceedings. Try this thought experiment: Watch this clip of the reading of the guilty verdict in the now infamous Alex Murdaugh murder trial. Take note of the emotions you feel as you witness the verdict being read and Murdaugh’s reaction to the guilty verdict. Now, close your eyes and play the clip again. This time, imagine how your eye would perceive the same experience if the courtroom was filed with computer generated avatars. Would you feel the same emotional response? Probably not. That’s the potential danger of metaverse jury trials. Could a metavrse trial sanitize, and even dehumanize, the raw and emotional drama of in-person court proceedings? And if so, would that impact the fairness of trials? Murdaugh Jury Verdict

The 2D avatars in the Colombian metaverse trial simply don’t lend any substance to the hearing. I couldn’t sense any of the social cues that I would normally rely up in making tactical changes to my arguments in court. As I watched the Colombian court hearing, I couldn’t help but wonder if the judge seem to agree with counsel’s argument or did she raise a brow? Did the opposing party fidget in her seat as the lawyer put on his case? Did opposing counsel tip their hand about the strength of their case?  Yes, digital mouths were moving and arms and hands were waving about in that virtual Colombian courtroom, but was any of it comprehensible on a human level? In my opinion, it was not.  

As I litigator, I have made it my life’s work to passionately advocate on behalf of my clients. I feel like advocating through a digital avatar takes something raw and emotionally vital away from that experience. It feels artificial, because well, it is artificial.

I recently gave and interview with CoinTelegraph discussing the good, the bad and the future of metaverse court dockets. Although I think there is a possible future use-case for virtual metaverse hearings, I don’t see metaverse jury trials happening anytime soon. There are simply too many potential points of failure in the process that the tech must still overcome. Only when the immersive metaverse experience is indistinguishable from an IRL court hearing, will we see judges consider approving the adoption of this technology. CoinTelegraph Article 

Even if the AR/VR technology reaches that fully immersive level, I still think trial lawyers will have concerns that jurors who are sitting behind virtual avatars might be potentially bored at having to look at a screen all day. How would the parties know if a juror fell asleep during the trial? Lawyers will also be concerned that jurors are multi-tasking during critical stages of the case. Even more alarming, lawyers will worry that the jurors might be sitting at home and doing real-time independent computer research instead of paying attention to the evidence coming from the witnesses stand. That’s a definite no-no in an IRL jury trial and could be a deal-breaker for the adoption of remote metaverse jury trials. These concerns coupled with the lack of an ability for lawyers and jurors to truly assess the credibility of witness testimony from behind the mask of a virtual avatar, also make the prospect of metaverse trials unlikely to happen in the near future.

Could advancements in VR and AR immersive technologies change all this? Of course. As a lawyer and technologist I am all in favor of innovation that will advance the legal profession forward. But that innovation cannot come at the expense of a fair trial. While I can easily foresee a future where small claims, traffic tickets and other informal court proceedings and procedural matters might be conducted in virtual metaverse courtrooms, I think that future will largely depend on the mass adoption of AR/VR by the general public. It will be of no use to hold metaverse court proceedings if the tools necessary to participate in the process are not universally available and adopted by the masses. When lawyers, judges and the public are all comfortable putting on an AR/VR headset and jumping into metaverse worlds, then maybe, just maybe we will see metaverse hearings start to show up on court dockets.  Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blogpost

The Secondary Marketplace for "stolen NFTs just got a little more complicated with Blur's recent announcement that they have enabled trading of previously "flagged" NFTs. Here’s a link to the full conversation that’s available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

LexLine Episode 126


The recent announcement by Blur that it has removed all third-party “flag restrictions” on NFTs is coming at a time when we are seeing a tremendous surge in NFT collateralized loans on digital asset liquidity platforms. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer 

This begs the question, what are the legal implications for traders and decentralized lending platforms when it comes to collateralizing loans with “flagged” NFTs. Digital asset lending services allow traders to collateralize cryptocurrency loans with NFTs they hold in their wallets. A simple wallet transaction is often all that is necessary for a borrower to obtain a loan on an NFT. 

Collateralizing any loan with property that one knows, or has reason to believe is stolen, presents risk to both the borrower and the lender. If for example, the lender discovers that the property is stolen, they could pursue civil or criminal legal action against the borrower. Could the lender also take action to recover damages against the borrow? And if so, how would legal action impact the pending loan and ownership rights to the underlying digital asset? 

An additional question to consider in this hypothetical scenario is what, if any, “know your customer” (“KYC”) information did the lender collect from the borrower at the time the loan was processed? If the lender failed comply with applicable KYC laws, then they may have a difficult time brining legal action against an “anon” borrower who knowingly obtained the loan on a stolen “flagged” NFT. 

Exactly what legal risks this sort of a digial asset loan possess to both the borrower and the lender will no-doubt continue to be hotly debated in the space. This is especially the case as the decentralized world of finance continues to evolve and confront enforcement and regulatory challenges. 

As always, this blog-post is strictly for information purposes only and should in no way be considered legal or financial advice. 


There has been an ongoing controversy brewing between marketplaces about how to deal with the problem of stolen NFTs. Through social engineering and phishing scams, bad actors can easily trick a user into signing a fraudulent contract link that instantly transfers their NFTs to a scammer’s wallet. Scammers then typically resell those stolen NFTs on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea, LooksRare and Blur. Given the immutable nature of blockchain transactions, there is nothing that can done to reverse the original theft of these NFTs. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer

As I’ve previously discussed, the resale of flagged NFTs comes with its own unique set of risks. Knowingly selling stolen “flagged” NFTs can potentially expose traders to criminal prosecution and/or civil lability. In response to this problem, OpenSea attempted to stop the resale of stolen NFTs to secondary buyers by way of a flagging mechanism. Basically, if an NFT holder filed a written report with OpenSea that the NFT was stolen, then OpenSea would flag that NFT and prevent any further resale of the token. The problem of course was that without an immediate freeze of the NFT, these stolen tokens would be bought and sold several times over before being flagged. This created a scenario in which bona fide purchasers were innocently buying NFTs, without any knowledge they were previously stolen, and then getting stuck holding “flagged” NFTs in their wallets.

Many digital asset purest in the space who follow the notion that “code is law” pushed back against OpenSea’s flagging policy and questioned whether NFTs lost to such scams can even be considered “stolen” in the first place. They argued that if a user is tricked or defrauded into signing a bad contract transaction, that they are to blame for losing the NFT to a scammer and that nothing can, or should, be done to reverse or flag these transactions. But the code is law defense does nothing in the IRL judicial system to shield those who transact in stolen NFTs from possible civil liability and/or criminal prosecution.

In the early days of OpenSea’s response to the stolen NFT issue, a problem very quickly emerged. Other marketplaces such as LooksRare declined to also flag NFTs reported stolen on OpenSea. This caused a great deal of confusion in the market because traders shopping  for NFTs on LooksRare were forced to have to cross-reference the token ID on OpenSea to confirm if the NFT was flagged as stolen. This lack of conformity among marketplaces resulted in a great many innocent buyers getting stuck with flagged NFTs. Ultimately, LooksRare partially changed its policy on flagged and NFTs. LooksRare agreed to add a “not currently tradeable on OpenSea” label to flagged NFTs on its marketplace. Despite this disclaimer, LooksRare still allowed traders to freely buy and sell these OpenSea “flagged” NFTs on its marketplace.

OpenSea then further updated its “flagging” policy. NFTs that were formally reported as “stolen” to law enforcement would thereafter be immediately flagged and removed from the marketplace pending further investigation of the reported theft. Here’s a link to my previous blog post discussing OpenSea’s updated flagged NFT policy statement. DeFi Defense Lawyer Blog

In the absence of a consistent and uniform policy, NFT traders continued to use LooksRare, and other trading platforms, to trade NFTs that were blocked and flagged on OpenSea. This exploit resulted in essentially two floor prices for NFT projects--floor price for unflagged NFTs and a lower floor price for flagged NFTs within the same collection. Predictably, traders arbitraged this floor price disparity to reap gains.

Yesterday, the NFT trading marketplace Blur announced that “Blur and @LooksRare will no longer show third party flags in the UI by default.” Blur maintains that “flags hurt end users more than they help.” Blur added that “flags can still be enabled in the View Settings on the collection page if desired.” “They won’t show as flagged by default. If you want to see the flags, you can still enable them in the view settings.” Although presently “flagged items sill cannot sell into bids on Blur regardless of whether they are turned on in the View Settings or not” the marketplace did hint this might change “in the near future” and that accepting bids on flagged NFTs is “definitely on the table.”  Blur Tweet 1

Later the same day, Blur updated its position on “flagged NFTs stated that “The price difference between NFTs with and without third party flags has disappeared. As a result, third party flag restrictions will be removed from Blur bids in 6 hours at 5:30PM PT, 8:30PM ET, 9:30AM HKG.” Blur Tweet 2

It will be interesting to see what ,if anything, OpenSea does in response to Blur’s recent announcement. In the meantime, NFT traders continue to navigate a patchwork of inconsistent policies as trading platforms continue to grapple with the dilemma of to “Flag or Flag Not?”

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