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Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum
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Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

Has federal law set Americans up for failure? Some say yes

If we asked you to list off as many laws as you could, how many do you think you'd get? Would the number be closer to a few dozen than a few thousand? If so, then you wouldn't be alone. Most people in Georgia only have a general understanding of the law and typically can only list the laws they have encountered in their lifetime.

But you might be shocked to learn that there are hundreds of thousands of laws -- both state and federal -- currently on the books that could easily apply to a majority of our readers, including you. Many of these include regulatory crimes, which is a category that is not only growing but is creating major problems for Americans all over the nation.

Case against Robert Durst escalates as grand jury files charges

Some of our Atlanta readers may be following the case of Robert Durst, the wealthy real estate heir whose family operates the World Trade Center tower in New York. If you're among those following the case, then you too have probably realized the gravity of the case and what is at stake for Durst.

As you may know, he is facing allegations in three jurisdictions that may involve both state and federal courts. Though he's been dealing with these criminal allegations for months, his situation became more precarious recently when a federal grand jury charged him with illegal possession of a handgun, which is a charge that can carry with it a chance of spending more than a decade in prison.

Don't let investigators label you a criminal, get legal help

As many of our Atlanta readers know, criminal investigations can come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be relatively short, spanning only a few hours as is the case with traffic stops or other encounters with the police. Others can be more lengthy, spanning months or even years, such as with state or federal investigations into potential criminal activity.

It's important to note though that no matter how long it took investigators to attempt to put together a case against you, you do have the right to protect yourself against their accusations. Rather than learn the hard way, it's a right you should definitely exert.

Two federal agents face federal charges for actions on Silk Road

With the invention of the Internet, it truly became a small world. The internet has made it possible for people to do business with others as far away as the other side of the world. As with traditional business, it also created a new vehicle for criminal activities deemed illegal by our federal government. Law enforcement efforts have resulted in civil as well as criminal litigation and resulted in the shutdown of sites like Pirate Bay in 2014 and Silk Road in 2013.

Some believe that the Internet creates a level of anonymity, making it easier for people to conduct illegal activities. In some instances, law enforcement agents have used such anonymity in undercover criminal investigations, leading to a variety of arrests and criminal charges. The thought behind these investigations is to "catch" people while they are doing illegal things and hold them accountable for their actions.

Payday lending operations can lead to criminal charges, FTC warns

You've probably all seen a commercial at one time or another for a payday lender. These businesses provide people with small loans at high interest rates. The expectation is that the person will pay back the loan once they receive their next paycheck or risk being accessed a high interest charge. Such businesses are highly restricted here in Georgia, as the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection explains on their website, and violating the law can also lead to misdemeanor criminal charges with the chance of fines and possible jail time as well.

But Georgia is not the only state that has made payday lending operations nearly illegal. Other states have also placed harsh restrictions on lending practices and may also enforce criminal prosecution if these regulations are violated. The federal government has also stepped in on occasion, seeking prosecution against businesses believed to have engaged in deceptive lending practices, failed to adhere to the requirements of the Truth in Lending Act, or used abusive debt collection practices, just to name a few.

Could Hilary Clinton's email scandal lead to criminal charges?

Whether you've been following the story or not on the news, chances are you've heard about the scandal concerning Hilary Clinton's emails. According to an article in the IRJ Review, the former Secretary of State used her "personal email account to conduct official State Department business," a maneuver that has political figures and the media up in arms, so to speak, calling her actions an "egregious violation of the law."

Some people though, which may include some of our Atlanta readers, might be asking how a political figure using their personal email account for business purposes can be a violation of the law. This is especially true if California Senator Dianne Feinstein's statement is correct and Hilary Clinton meant no ill intent by using the account. It certainly begs an important question: could Hilary Clinton's email scandal lead to criminal charges?

When a business owner is accused of illegal business practices

Business owners often work very hard and put their heart and soul into trying to help their business succeed and help it succeed in the right way. Thus, it can be a truly horrifying thing for a business owner when the federal government accuses them of having engaged in illegal business practices.

There are many different types of actions that fall into the category of illegal business practices. Some examples include: bid rigging, price fixing, mail and wire fraud, making unlawful kickbacks and other unlawful practices. Often such actions can be destructive to competition, so it makes sense that the federal government has enforcement mechanisms aimed at preventing such practices. Unfortunately, in their zealousness to crack down on illegal business practices, federal officials can sometimes end up leveling illegal business practice allegations against a business owner for practices that are actually lawful.

IRS promises enforcement of laws this tax season

Even though the month of March just started, we know that many people are already thinking about the month of April and the approaching tax return deadline. But just as filers are thinking about their tax returns, so too is the IRS who, much as it has in previous years, promises more scrutiny on returns this year in an effort to catch criminal activities.

It's worth pointing out to residents here in Georgia that tax crimes are not just limited to tax evasion and tax fraud. In fact, a number of other crimes can be related to tax crimes, meaning a person could face serious federal charges if they are accused and convicted of such crimes. One such crime that can lead to federal charges is identity theft because it can lead to false returns, which the IRS takes very seriously.

Is sending marijuana through the mail considered a crime?

According to a CNN report released this month, Alaska will become the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing the count up to three states that have legalized the use of the drug so far. While some might say that Alaska's decision to legalize marijuana illustrates the changing opinion about the drug, it's important for our Georgia readers to remember one important thing: the drug is still considered illegal here in our state and you can face prosecution if you are caught with it.

Now, we realize that some of our more frequent readers may have friends or family who live in states that have legalized the use of the drug. In some cases, these friends and family members may be tempted to send you some marijuana via the United States Postal Service. If this is the case for you, we suggest you hold that thought because the decision to follow through with this action could mean you or someone you love is breaking federal drug laws.

Fraudulent tax filings put TurboTax customers at risk of scrutiny

TurboTax is warning customers who filed previous tax returns to watch their accounts carefully in the months to come. That's because the company was able to identify an alarming number of fraudulent state-tax filings the company believes was the result of recent data breaches. It's believed that customer information may have been compromised, which was then used to illegally obtain "bogus refunds."

Although TurboTax promises to provide victims with credit monitoring, identity-protection services, and "access to all versions of its software" free of charge, victims may still be worried about other potential issues such as the possibility of an audit from the IRS or even worse still, accusations that some victims filed fraudulent tax returns of their own.

Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum

Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum
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