Ricardo Penn and Jamaal Williams were arrested in Wellington, Florida and are now facing federal charges for conspiracy, mail theft, unauthorized use of access devices and aggravated identity theft. Dorian Jerrell Cawley has also been named as a third co-defendant, but has yet to be arrested. It is unknown if bond has been set.
If convicted on all four charges, Penn and Williams could be sentenced up to 22 years in federal prison.
It is unknown if either Penn or Williams have retained the help of a defense lawyer. Regardless, both would greatly benefit by having legal counsel. If they hire a defense attorney, that person could review every detail of their case to determine if there is any lack of evidence, a conflict in the evidence, or inherent defense.
Remember, to obtain a conviction, prosecutors must prove each and every allegation contained in the indictment beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.
This is a daunting task and presents an experienced defense lawyer with opportunity to defend the accused. For instance, identification of the accused persons as the offenders is an essential aspect of any criminal case.
In this situation, prosecutors must prove unequivocally that Ricardo Penn and Jamaal Williams actually stole mail, actually engaged in a conspiracy, and actually used access devices (such as credit card readers or other electronic devices) without authorization, and actually committed identity theft. Often times, these cases are based on weak circumstantial evidence and cannot be proven effectively at trial.
When it comes to unauthorized use of access devices, I can tell you that this case will rely heavily on electronic evidence. Depending on the type of device in question and how often it was allegedly used, will depend on the type and scope of electronic evidence involved.
This is an important aspect of this case because most attorneys, prosecutors included, do not understand electronic evidence. To properly defend someone accused of a crime that is premised on electronic evidence, a defense lawyer must be technically savvy and have a good understanding of the issues such evidence brings to the courtroom.
Many times, a defense lawyer is able to challenge many of the assumptions made by the prosecution and show that their conclusions are not based on observed facts or verified claims.
To determine if Penn or Williams have a valid defense, their criminal lawyer will have to do a full case analysis and possibly retain the services of a forensic computer expert.
However, the prosecution’s case may fall apart when civilian witnesses fail to provide testimony. In many cases that involve credit card fraud, the prosecution’s case ultimately comes down to the testimony of a store clerk or credit card company employee. Getting these people to testify is no easy task.
While their statements may look good on paper, they often times fall apart in court, especially in trial.
Before taking any steps forward in their case, Ricardo Penn and Jamaal Williams should hire a defense attorney to review their case and determine what defenses they have, if any. By doing so, a criminal lawyer will be able to tell them what their options are and whether they have a case that is winnable at trial. If so, taking a plea bargain may not be in their best interests.
In the alternative, if their cases is not winnable at trial or if the risk of losing is too great, Penn and Williams would benefit by hiring a defense lawyer to negotiate the best possible plea bargain available with prosecutors.