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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.

Is it illegal to buy a house for someone else?

There are a lot of people here in Atlanta who would do anything for their parents, especially considering how much our parents give to us over our lifetimes. For some people, this need to payback their parents for their generosity came to a head when the housing market burst and parents all over the state started losing their homes to foreclosure.

In order to recoup some of this lost investment, some children wanted to help their parents out by purchasing homes for them. But while this might seem like an incredibly sweet idea, people considering this should stop before they act because it could be considered fraud in some cases. Let's take a look.

What really constitutes entrapment?

In the 1999 film "Entrapment," starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jones' character convinces Connery, an aged thief, to help her steal an expensive piece of art. Because of the title of the movie, and the shenanigans that ensued, a lot of people across the nation probably believed that this was an example of entrapment. There are some who may still believe this to this day.

Like with most things in Hollywood though, the creators of this movie took some creative license with the story, including what entrapment actually is in accordance with the law. This might leave you asking today's question: what really constitutes entrapment? Let's take a look at the law and an example that might clarify the legalese.

How bank account activity could lead to a legal mess with the IRS

Did you know that if a business or an individual frequently deposits cash in amounts close to but below $10,000, a financial institution has the right to alert the IRS? If you didn't, you're not alone. Many people across the nation, including some here in Georgia, may not know that the Bank Secrecy Act gives financial institutions this power, nor do many realize that this report of cash flow could lead to criminal accusations from the federal government as well.

For those who don't know, the Bank Secrecy Act is designed to alert the federal government to potential illegal operations. If the IRS believes that the cash flow could be connected to illegal activity, civil asset forfeiture laws give the agency the right to seize assets in an account. But here is where things can get incredibly challenging for those suspected of committing a crime.

A look at election crimes that can lead to federal charges

Most people have heard of voter fraud and election fraud.  While most people can't name the specific laws applicable to elections, or know where they might be found in the criminal code, just about everyone knows that misrepresentation at the voting booth or during the course of a campaign can lead to some serious charges. Did you know that there are other actions that could also be considered election crimes? If not, then you may want to continue reading today's post because we describe a number of things that the Federal Bureau of Investigation considers criminal activities that may lead to serious federal charges and litigation as well.

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.

Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum

Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum
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Atlanta, GA 30306

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