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H. STATE VS. FEDERAL CHARGES
In some cases you will be facing state charges with the possibility
of the Feds "picking them up." You may even be able
to nudge the Feds into indicting you. This is a tough decision.
With the state you will do considerably less time, but will face
a tougher crowd and conditions in prison. Granted Federal Prisons
can be violent too, but generally as a non-violent white collar
criminal you will eventually be placed into an environment with
other low security inmates. More on this later.
Until you are sentenced, you will remain as a "pretrial
inmate" in general population with other inmates. Some of
the other inmates will be predatorial but the Feds do not tolerate
much nonsense. If someone acts up, they'll get thrown in the hole.
If they continue to pose a threat to the inmate population, they
will be left in segregation (the hole). Occasionally inmates that
are at risk or that have been threatened will be placed in segregation.
This isn't really to protect the inmate. It is to pr otect the
prison from a lawsuit should the inmate get injured.
Naturally when you are first arrested the suits will want
to talk to you. First at your residence and, if you appear to
be talkative, they will take you back to their offices for an
extended chat and a cup of coffee. My advice at this point is
tried and true and we've all heard it before: remain silent and
ask to speak with an attorney. Regardless of what the situation
is, or how you plan to proceed, there is nothing you can say that
will help you. Nothing. Even if you know that you are going to
cooperate, this is not the time.
This is obviously a controversial subject, but the fact of
the matter is roughly 80% of all defendants eventually confess
and implicate others. This trend stems from the extremely long
sentences the Feds are handing out these days. Not many people
want to do 10 to 20 years to save their buddies' hides when they
could be doing 3 to 5. This is a decision each individual needs
to make. My only advice would be to save your close friends and
family. Anyone else is fair game. In the prison system the blacks
have a saying "Getting down first." It's no secret that
the first defendant in a conspiracy is usually going to get the
best deal. I've even seen situations where the big fish turned
in all his little fish and eceived 40% off his sentence.
Incidently, being debriefed or interrogated by the Feds can
be an ordeal in itself. I would -highly- reccommend reading up
on interrogation techniques ahead of time. Once you know their
methods it will be all quite transparent to you and the debriefing
goes much more smoothly.
When you make a deal with the government you're making a deal
with the devil himself. If you make any mistakes they will renege
on the deal and you'll get nothing. On some occasions the government
will trick you into thinking they want you to cooperate when they
are not really interested in anything you have to say. They just
want you to plead guilty. When you sign the cooperation agreement
there are no set promises as to how much of a sentence reduction
you will receive. That is to be decided after your testimony,
etc. and at the time of sentencing. It's entirely up to the judge.
However, the prosecution makes the recommendation and the judge
generally goes along with it. In fact, if the prosecution does
not motion the court for your "downward departure" the
courts' hands are tied and you get no break.
As you can see, cooperating is a tricky business. Most people,
particularly those who have never spent a day in jail, will tell
you not to cooperate. "Don't snitch." This is a noble
stance to take. However, in some situations it is just plain stupid.
Saving someone's ass who would easily do the same to you is a
tough call. It's something that needs careful consideration. Like
I said, save your friends then do what you have to do to get out
of prison and on with your life.
I'm happy to say that I was able to avoid involving my good
friends and a former employer in the massive investigation that
surrounded my case. It wasn't easy. I had to walk a fine line.
Many of you probably know that I (Agent Steal) went to work for
the FBI after I was arrested. I was responsible for teaching several
agents about hacking and the culture. What many of you don't know
is that I had close FBI ties prior to my arrest. I was involved
in hacking for over 15 years and had worked as a comp uter security
consultant. That is why I was given that opportunity. It is unlikely
however, that we will see many more of these types of arrangements
in the future. Our relationship ran afoul, mostly due to their
passive negligence and lack of experience in dealing with hackers.
The government in general now has their own resources, experience,
and undercover agents within the community. They no longer need
hackers to show them the ropes or the latest security hole.
Nevertheless, if you are in the position to tell the Feds
something they don't know and help them build a case against someone,
you may qualify for a sentence reduction. The typical range is
20% to 70%. Usually it's around 35% to 50%. Sometimes you may
find yourself at the end of the prosecutorial food chain and the
government will not let you cooperate. Kevin Mitnick would be
a good example of this. Even if he wanted to roll over, I doubt
it would get him much. He's just too big of a fish, too much media.
My final advice in this matter is get the deal in writing before
you start cooperating.
The Feds also like it when you "come clean" and
accept responsibility. There is a provision in the Sentencing
Guidelines, 3E1.1, that knocks a little bit of time off if you
confess to your crime, plead guilty and show remorse. If you go
to trial, typically you will not qualify for this "acceptance
of responsibility" and your sentence will be longer.
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