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Billionaire spends millions on criminal defense, calls for change

The thought that people can become over-criminalized is one that many of Maryland readers might have had at one point or another. Some of our readers might be surprised to know that Charles Koch, the billionaire behind Koch Petroleum Group, agrees with that thought. If fact, Koch agrees with it so much that one of his current undertakings is pushing for a criminal justice system that is more fair than the one currently used across the country.

Taking a step back in time, let's get some background on why Koch feels that way. Back in 1995, he was the chief executive officer of his flourishing company. A federal grand jury then indicted the company on environmental crimes. All told, the company was facing 97 felony charges. Eventually, most of the charges were dropped; however, the company spent tens of millions of dollars paying legal fees. The company also paid a settlement of $10 million for the one charge that remained after the others were dropped.

Koch now says that there are too many laws and too many prosecutions of offenders who aren't violent. He says that politicians wanting to take a stand against crime have enacted needless laws. He also mentioned that public defenders are having their funding cut, which is leading to the rights of poor defendants being taken away.

Over the past decade, he has taken a stand against the system by making contributions to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. His involvement isn't stopping there. Koch says that he plans to push key issues relating to the problem.

The sentiment that there are issues in the criminal justice system is one that many people agree with. Under the current system, defendants need to present their defense in a way that has the biggest impact. This can prove tricky unless they have someone on their side that has ample experience fighting against criminal charges.

Source: NewsMax, "Charles Koch: Justice System Unfair to Poor" Greg Richter, Dec. 28, 2014

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