Former Federal Prosecutors · Atlanta, Georgia
Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum
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Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

A look at the antitrust case against Apple over e-book pricing

As we have said before on our blog, our nation has a myriad of laws. But as we pointed out back in April in one of our posts, many people aren't familiar with many of our laws. One set of laws you might not know about are federal antitrust laws. That's because these laws generally apply to business owners and companies, although many individuals are currently being prosecuted for rigging bids at foreclosure auctions in various states around the U.S. Many of those being prosecuted had no idea that what they were doing violated the law.

In today's post, we'd like to look at federal antitrust laws, particularly the Sherman Act, and see how it applies in real life. We will do this by looking at the recent ruling against Apple Inc. to see why adhering to these laws is so important.

A closer look at money laundering and your bank transactions

At the beginning of the year, around the start of May, we presented readers of our blog with the case of a Georgia business owner who, in 2013, had $950,000 of his assets seized by the IRS because the government thought his small business transactions were an indication of criminal activity. As we explained in the post though, these transactions weren't illegal at all despite the government's insistence.

What this case should have illustrated to our Atlanta readers is that investigators may look at honest business transactions and assume the worst, which can easily lead to criminal investigations and serious charges. Once again, we'd like to highlight this fact by taking a look at how investigators might mistake legitimate business transactions for illegal activities and what residents in Georgia can do to protect their rights.

What are the penalties for writing a bad check in Georgia?

Many of Georgia's laws, as well as some federal laws, are grounded in moral judgments. This means that these laws carry a presumption that a person should have known the difference between right and wrong and therefore shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place.

But as some of our Atlanta readers are well aware, our state and federal government also have what are called statutory laws. These are based less on moral decision and more on policy. It's these laws that can create the most confusion because it can be difficult sometimes to see when you are breaking the law and when you are not.

A look at federal hate crime laws in wake of tragic shooting

From one end of the country to the other, you'd be hard pressed to find a person who did not hear about the tragic deaths of nine people who were killed in a South Carolina church just weeks ago. Called horrific by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department, the tragedy calls to the nation's attention the issue of hate crimes and the penalties involved in committing such a crime.

For those here in Atlanta who don't know, federal law 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(1)(B)(i) makes it illegal to use a firearm to kill another person based on the victim's race, color of their skin, religion or national origin. Such an action can result in imprisonment for life, depending on the circumstances, in addition to steep fines. These elements, which match the South Carolina shooting, are the reason why the accused man in this case could soon face federal charges if the Justice Department decides to take action.

When blowing the whistle constitutes a crime

Here in the United States, federal laws -- called whistleblower protection laws -- guard employees from adverse employment after they report unsafe working conditions or other violations of state and federal laws. These protections are much appreciated by employees all across the nation as they encourage employees to speak up and take civil action against employers who are believed to be breaking the law.

Though this may be true in most cases, protection may not be afforded to an employee who steals information intended to back up their whistleblower claim. Our readers here in Georgia may know this all too well from the Edward Snowden case two years ago. While some believed that he was a whistleblower and should have been afforded protections under federal law, his theft of information made his actions illegal, much to the chagrin of some people.

What is civil forfeiture?

If you're a fan of comedian John Oliver, you may watch his show on HBO called "Last Week Tonight." If you do, then you may have seen the episode in which he talks about civil forfeiture. Per his style, Oliver explains this aspect of the law using humor. For some, this is done purely for entertainment purposes. But for others, his use of humor is a way of getting us to realize the incredible burden civil forfeiture places on people all over the country.

For those of our Atlanta readers who'd rather learn about the law in a different way, in today's post, we're going to look at what civil forfeiture is and how it's changed over time. By talking about civil forfeiture, we hope to highlight one of the many burdens anyone could face because of a criminal investigation, and we stress the need to obtain a good criminal defense attorney to assist in navigating through these minefields.

How seemingly innocent actions may lead to criminal charges

People make mistakes. It's a fact of life that we are taught at an early age and continue to keep in mind as we age. But as some of our more frequent readers know, sometimes it's the simple mistakes that can lead to the biggest consequences.

Take for example an individual who writes down the personal information of customers with the intent of reentering it into a company database when he has been trained on the technology. Over time though, the employee misplaces the handwritten information, which is later found by police who assume that it is evidence of intent to commit identity fraud. Could such a mistake really be construed as criminal activity?

Should Fulton County police approve the use of body cameras?

From misdemeanors to felonies, petty crimes to violent crimes, defendants are encouraged to seek legal representation, not only to present the best defense possible, but also to learn of options that sometimes exist, such as diversion programs that lead to charges being dismissed or alternatives such as drug court.. This is because most people have a minimal understanding of the law and may not know how it applies to their situation. With an attorney's help, a defendant has a better chance of having their case resolved favorably.

In the end though, criminal trials often contain one major element: it's the prosecutor's word against the defendant's. Though it's been an issue for the criminal justice system from its inception, it was hoped that advancements in technology, like digital video and audio recorders, would improve, if not remedy this issue by giving the courts better proof of what really happened.

If your extra income putting you at risk of criminal charges?

Most people are familiar with the phrase "tax evasion" and know that if they intentionally try to avoid their true tax liability, then they could be charged with committing a crime. But if you're like most people in this country, you probably think of CEOs or large corporations as the guilty parties in tax evasion cases. While this may be true on occasion, it's worth pointing out that anyone can be accused of this crime.

Anyone who fails to report their true income could be accused of committing tax evasion. Here in the United States, this crime is considered a felony with the possibility of up to a $100,000 fine for an individual and $500,000 for corporations. Imprisonment is also a possibility of up to five years.

Gathering evidence works both ways in an embezzlement case

Imagine for a moment that you are a small business owner. In the last few months, business has been really good, which has caused you to make more deposits than you normally do. You've also needed to hire some more help to deal with your financial transactions.

One day though, everything changes. Federal investigators come unannounced to your establishment and present you with a warrant. They accuse you of embezzlement or other financial crimes and demand to see your financial records. You oblige -- after all, you know this is a mistake. But armed with this alleged evidence, investigators press criminal charges and you soon find yourself facing an area of the law you know very little about.

Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum

Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum
918 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30306

Phone: 404-688-2000
Fax: 404-872-1622
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