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Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

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.

Is there a time limit on charging someone with a crime?

Unless you're an avid follower of criminal law, you're probably like most people across Georgia who only have a vague understanding of the law. There are some laws we learned as adults while there are other laws -- such as those concerning murder and theft -- that were ingrained in us during our early years. But while we might not be able to cite these laws verbatim, most people know that breaking them could lead to criminal charges and serious legal consequences down the road.

But did you know that prosecutors, just like plaintiffs in a personal injury claim, have a set time limit in which they can file charges after an alleged crime? Called a statute of limitations, this window of time ensures that evidence and witnesses' memories do not degrade so much so that a fair verdict cannot be reached. In today's post, we will look at this statute of limitations.

How can lawyers help defend against mail fraud charges?

Federal charges are serious enough as it is, but when those charges are compounded by mail and wire fraud charges, the subsequent punishment can be very harsh. As discussed previously on the Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Blog, mail fraud takes place when mails are used in connection with a criminal case. Wire fraud takes place if telephones or cellphones or computers are used during the commission of a crime. Mail and wire fraud charges often accompany antitrust violations and securities fraud charges.

Prosecutors often try to add conspiracy charges, as well, in multi-defendant mail and wire fraud cases. In these situations, evidentiary rules are also relaxed and hearsay rules that apply to protect the accused from statements made outside the courtroom are no longer applicable. Therefore, out-of-court statements also can be used as evidence.

Understanding the elements of mail fraud

Fraud charges can be either federal or state, but when the charges are related to mail fraud, then federal charges can ensue. Atlanta residents may have heard the tem mail fraud many times but do not completely understand what it is and why it is a federal crime.

First of all, mail fraud takes place when U.S. mail is used in order to further a crime. It does not matter if the alleged scheme originated over the phone, mail or the Internet. Since the alleged scheme uses U.S. mail, it becomes mail fraud. And since it involves a government entity, it becomes a federal charge and is covered in the United States Code-18 U.S.C. 1341 to be exact.

How an Atlanta resident can end up in federal court

Residents of Atlanta may have heard that federal trials are speedier than state trials and also that they are prosecuted more aggressively than at the state level. In some cases these perceptions may be true, but not always. Regardless, federal court can be very intimidating for anyone charged with a crime. If you are accused of federal crimes and learn that your trial is taking place in a federal court, you may be wondering why. This is because the federal court has jurisdiction over the case - in other words, a federal court has the authority to hear that specific case.

Federal courts generally only hear cases in which the United States is a party, the case involves a violation of the Constitution or of US federal law, if the case involves bankruptcy, maritime, patent, or copyright issues, or if the amount involved is more than $75,000 and the parties are citizens of different states. In addition to this, if drugs are brought across state lines or U.S. mail is used to deceive someone, it is a federal offense. If the crime is committed on federal property, a federal court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

What are your rights if accused of a federal crime?

Though people might hear the term 'federal crime' many times, they may not be entirely sure what it means. A federal crime is one that extends beyond state boundaries or has a direct impact on federal interests. Federal crimes are highlighted in Title 18 of the U.S. Code. If an Atlanta resident is charged with a federal crime, he or she may wish to know what rights he or she has.

An accused's rights are outlined in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights and incorporated into the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Federal criminal trials are governed by the Federal Rules. Some of the guarantees provided to an accused are: the right to equal protection under the law, the right to have legal counsel present, right to a jury trial and the right to confront witnesses.

Destroying public mailboxes is a serious federal charge

Many Fulton County residents know that US federal law prohibits a very broad range of conduct, ranging from drug offenses to white collar crime. It can seem that there is a federal law dealing with almost any possible scenario involving the federal government. One of the lesser-known provisions in the U.S. Code forbids destroying public mailboxes.

Did you know that the federal government considers all mailboxes to be federal property? This includes not only the big blue boxes visible on many streets, but also city residential mailboxes and rural area mailboxes too. These are all protected under federal law.

Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum

Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum
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Atlanta, GA 30306

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