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Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

What exactly is wire fraud?

The term "wire fraud" suggests that a very clear means of communication is being used to perpetrate the crime in question. But the way the law tends to be applied is a whole lot broader than that and it's something that some Georgia readers might wonder about.

What might surprise readers most is that the term didn't even get codified into law until very recently. At first glance, one might think that wire fraud might refer to actions conducted over telegraph or telephone wires. But according to study produced in 2011 by the Congressional Research Service, wire fraud became a matter of statute only in 1952. It reflected an extension of the mail fraud statute dating back to the 19th century. 

State law vs. federal law: which one wins?

As everyone knows, marijuana is considered a controlled substance by the federal government and is therefore considered illegal to possess, sell or distribute in the United States. But as we all know, states have the right to create their own laws, which are applicable within their defined borders. States like Washington and Colorado have taken advantage of this fact and have made marijuana legal within their jurisdictions.

As many of our Atlanta readers probably realize, this creates a conflict of interest between state and federal law. While one law allows the perceived illegal activity, the other does not. Though Georgians don't have to worry about the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws at this time, there is no reason to believe this will always be the case. Criminal laws are constantly changing, forbidding certain actions or substances while permitting others.

The Internet can be a blessing and a curse for Atlanta residents

Thanks to advancements in technology, we now have the ability to access just about any piece of information we want within seconds. For those who own smartphones, accessing information is even easier than ever and can happen on the go. But while a majority of people across Georgia and the nation enjoy the ease at which they can surf the Internet, such access should be considered both a blessing and a curse.

That's because police and law enforcement agencies can oftentimes access the same information we can with the same amount of ease. From Twitter feeds to Facebook posts, just about anything we put on the Internet may very well be viewed later by a criminal investigator. In many cases, what may seem like an innocuous posting or check-in on your favorite social media site, could be seen as evidence to be used against you in a criminal investigation.

Is it illegal to sell something that is considered a counterfeit?

Most people know that when it comes to brand-name or licensed items, there is often a higher cost associated with these types of goods. From a few dollars to a couple hundred, the increased cost of these items can be a turn off for some consumers, causing them to turn to retailers who appear to be offering the same item, but at a lower price.

Unfortunately, in some cases, these lower-cost items may be what are called counterfeits, meaning they were not manufactured or produced by the item's owner or with their permission. In many cases, counterfeits look exactly like the original good, leaving consumers none the wiser.

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.

Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum

Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum
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Atlanta, GA 30306

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