Thursday, May 27, 2010

Understanding the Bail Process

Bail turns out to provide a fair amount of entertainment value if you look at the movies, TV shows and mystery novels around the subject of setting bail and catching those who skip town. There was even a 2004 TV series, Family Bonds, devoted to a New York family running a bail bond service. The greatest fictional criminal defense lawyer of all time, Perry Mason, was brilliant getting his clients released without bail or with a much reduced bail, to the DA’s perpetual consternation!

In real life, bail is not about drama. As the American Bar Association explains, it serves as a tool for allowing defendants to be released from custody until the time of trial. This allows a defendant to continue to work or otherwise lead a normal life. Bail does involve money, but it is not a fine. The idea is to ensure that the defendants will appear for all the pretrial and trial hearings. A defendant “raises bail” and offers it to the court, which returns it to them when the trial is over (minus a processing fee in some cases).
What determines the bail amount?
The amount of bail (also a point in some dramas) is decided by the judge or magistrate, who takes into account the following factors:
· How likely is it that the defendant might flee instead of facing trial?
· What is the severity of the crime?
· What danger might the defendant pose to the community?
The judge may also set conditions on bail. For example, it may be stipulated that the defendant must refrain from having contact with the alleged victim.
Can a person be released without bail?
There are many occasions when a judge may release a defendant on his or her own recognizance. In other words, instead of offering a sum of money as a guarantee of appearing in court, the defendant promises to appear. This is more likely for those defendants who have steady employment, verifiable roots in the community, and/or other circumstances which suggest that the risk of fleeing is very low. An experiencedcriminal attorney can be especially useful to clients at the bail setting step in the trial process.
What is a bail bond?
When a defendant cannot personally come up with the amount of money needed for the bail set by the judge, she or he can arrange for release through a bail bondsperson. The defendant pays the bondsperson something on the order of 10 percent of the sum, and the bondsperson guarantees the rest to the court in the event that the defendant should fail to appear. In many jurisdictions, the courts have made this kind of private service obsolete by releasing defendants upon payment of just 10 percent of the bail to the court.
What does this mean to me?
If you are charged in Florida, you should seek the counsel of a qualified Fort Lauderdale or Miami criminal defense attorney to help you understand and strengthen your options when it comes to bail or release strategies. You owe it to yourself.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have You Been Charged with a White Collar Crime in Florida?

White-collar crimes are those “committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” That original definition by sociologist Edwin Sutherland still holds. Given that occupation affects opportunity, white collar crimes overlap corporate crime. Among them are fraud, bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crime, identity theft, forgery, and more.

If you are charged with a white-collar crime, your reputation is suddenly at risk as your professional and business integrity is questioned. Given the significance for your future, it is important to get the best defense you can from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What to do if you are charged—or think you might be
What you don’t know can be hurting you. When someone is under investigation for these kinds of crimes, it may be sometime before any direct communication from legal authorities is offered. If you suspect that you are being investigated for one of these or related crimes, you should immediately consult a criminal defense lawyer.
What you say or do before being charged can hurt you too. It is all too common for white collar criminal defendants to inadvertently damage their own cases by something they say or do in the early stages of an investigation.
This is why a criminal defense attorney should be consulted before any meeting with law enforcement investigators, even if it seems harmless at first glance. If you are in South Florida, you will want a Miami or Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach criminal attorney.

What an experienced attorney can do for you
What can an attorney do for you either before or after being charged with a white-collar crime? Here is what one respected Miami criminal attorney notes:
  • Deal with law enforcement on your behalf
  • Create an effective defense strategy
  • Assist you BEFORE white collar crime charges are filed
  • Make every effort to resolve your case without a trial
  • Find alternatives to serving prison time, where legally possible
An experienced attorney knows how to negotiate with the local prosecutors and can aim for the following outcomes:
  • Getting the charge(s) against you dropped
  • Arranging a plea agreement in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge and/or agree to cooperate with an ongoing investigation
  • A less harsh punishment
  • A strong, effective defense in court
What Are the Consequences?
Depending on the seriousness of the crime, if you are convicted of a crime, punishments can include probation, fines, performing public service, paying restitution, a prison sentence, and a combination of these. For example, after being charged by the Florida State Attorney General in 2006, a former Lake County car dealer was sentenced to three years in prison and forced to pay $720,000 in restitution for the theft of sales tax, followed by 12 years of probation.
It is clear that it is your best interest to hire the best representation you can get. Rely on a proven successful criminal lawyer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tips on Being Audited

Some people say that being audited is like going past a speed camera. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you won’t be penalized. However, like any of those wonderfully oversimplified analogies, this just isn't the case. Tax law is infinitely more complex that speeding law. There is a clear line in the sand for offences like speeding, but in tax, there is plenty that is open to interpretation. Even if you feel you have done nothing wrong, following our tips for getting audited could keep you out of your Miami criminal attorney's office!
  1. Don't offer more information than you have to
    This is the golden rule for being audited. You don't want to make the auditor suspicious … and even the most well-meaning people will start to sound nervous, and therefore guilty, when there is an auditor going through their intimate financial details!
  2. Only bring what is requested on the original audit notice
    That way you can’t be pressured into providing additional information that may not be legally searchable, simply because it is already there. Leave it at home if it isn’t on the audit notice.
  3. Never ignore the notice
    Being audited is right royal pain. Never ignore the notice though, as easy as it feels to just stick it in the bottom of your pile and forget about it.
  4. Have your records well-organized
    If you need help from an accountant or criminal attorney to do this, get it. Making things as easy as possible for the auditor will definitely endear them to you, and could help them overlook things that are in a gray area.
  5. Only give copies to the auditor
    There aren't any cases where the IRS will need original documents from you … and if you lose a necessary original and a case later comes to court, your criminal lawyer will have a hard time proving your case.
  6. Have your explanations ready for red flags
    Be aware of what will raise suspicions with auditors, search your memory and remember exactly why you did things that way. This applies if you have low income but a lot of deductions, excessive home office deductions, a substantial increase in income, or big meal and entertainment deductions, for example.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney means the difference between freedom and life changing forever. Facing white collar criminal charges or being wrongly accused of a crime can affect your professional reputation, social status, assets, finances and your family for the rest of your life. There is no sense in taking chances with attorneys who claim to be the best and have nothing but your best interest in mind when you have a top Florida criminal defense attorney who has been protecting individual’s rights for years. Serving a vast part of Florida such as Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach you can be sure that your future and the future of your family will be protected. Representing white collar professionals such as bank officers, CEOs, other attorneys, stockbrokers, physicians and other trade professionals -- you hire experience and reliability when you find this Florida law firm.

Do not risk losing your inheritance or your children’s inheritance due to a simple mistake or false accusation. Protect your property and your loved ones if you find yourself in the middle of a criminal charge or false accusation. Your dependable federal criminal defense attorney is available and at your side during any and all hearings as well as the unforeseen obstacles that come up between your charge or accusation and your hearing date. Knowing your attorney is available around the clock to defend you or put your mind at ease when questions arise will allow you to continue to enjoy life while facing your court date instead of worrying while your attorney is vacationing in the sun until your court date. Even if you have been called as a witness before a grand jury you can count on the dependable services of your Florida federal criminal defense attorney to be at your side.
Your future and your children’s future is nothing to risk when it comes to being arrested or falsely accused of a crime you did not commit. You face losing all you have worked so hard to obtain in the blink of an eye including social status and a professional reputation. Do not put all that matters to you on the line by choosing an attorney who is not watching out for your best interests and your future rather personal or professional. On line today you can find the criminal defense attorney you need who takes your case and your personal situation to heart when representing you, your reputation and your family.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Trade Secrets versus Ordinary Patent Law

Trade secrets are a method of protecting highly valuable information, to a much larger degree than a patent. While patent violations are seen as almost a trivial matter by many (although admittedly, not by those whose patent was violated), trade secret violation cases usually get a lot of press and attention. Today we look at trade secret law in depth and criminal lawyers explain the differences between trade secrets and ordinary patents.

Ordinary patents
When an ordinary patent expires, the information it contains becomes the property of the public domain. Ordinary patents are sometimes accessible to the public, and while a particular process or product may be patented, there is nothing to stop a competitor using the information contained therein to set up an alternative process that reaches the same end for a consumer.
Trade secrets
Criminal lawyers that deal with trade secret law have to be familiar with state regulations - trade secrets are a state-by-state matter. If a company is looking to get a piece of information protected by trade secrets law, they will have to demonstrate three things (generally):
  • That the information is not common public knowledge, or common knowledge within the business's industry
  • That the information has demonstrable financial value
  • That the information has been protected and maintained as confidential by its owner.
The first and third requirements are obviously to prevent people becoming criminals after the fact - for example, if the recipe for KFC chicken had been in the public domain in the 1850s, and then Colonel Sanders had sought to protect it with trade secret law, every housewife who passed the recipe onto her neighbour could be considered a trade secrets criminal.
Maintaining a trade secret
By the same token, it is not fair to allow employees easy access to information which holds such a high value, and expect it to be kept entirely confidential. A company with a trade secret should take measures like the following to protect it:
  • Marking any documents that hold the secret as confidential
  • Restrict the copying of confidential documents
  • Requiring employees with access to sign confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements

Criminal lawyers sometimes do not recommend that very valuable information be protected as a trade secret rather than with a patent. When reverse engineering is a possibility by a competitor, a patent may be a wiser choice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Business/Corporation Involvement in White Collar Crime

Many people -- even many people in high positions in business -- aren’t aware that corporations can actually be charged with offenses, just like individual people committing crimes. Criminal lawyers often have to defend businesses, both against civil suits and against criminal suits, although the crimes that each individual person within the business committed, may not have made a large impact by themselves. Today we look at when and why a corporation can be charged with a crime.
What types of charges can be brought against businesses?
Companies and organisaitons can have either criminal or civil charges laid against them. Some examples of common suits that are brought against corporations including violating antitrust laws, engaging in racketeering, failing to keep required records, violating employment law, etc. These civil suits are the most common ones handled by Florida defense lawyers.
However, if the managers of a business are seen to be exceptionally indifferent to the criminal activities of its staff, or to condone them in any way, criminal charges may be brought against the business itself.
How can a business avoid criminal or civil charges?
This question is quite simple for most private citizens -- simply avoid doing anything that you know is illegal, and check on the legality of any new activities you engage in. For a business, it is not so simple. The culpability of a company in a criminal activity or a civil suit depends on what its employees do. Broadly speaking, a business must monitor for illegal activity, respond to allegations or suspicions about it, and cooperate with investigations.
Here are some tips for businesses looking to ensure they don't need their own criminal lawyer for the activities of their employees:
  • Monitor - Monitor all appropriate records -- conduct internal audits of any records that have a legal ramification. For example, financial records, occupational health and safety records, etc, should all be checked internally to uncover problems before the law does.
  • Implement - Appropriate compliance and regulatory mechanisms in a business. Obviously the specific nature of these will vary vastly, but a criminal lawyer or business consultant can help determine them.
  • Listen - for any rumors ore reports of illegal activities by employees and investigate them appropriately. In many cases, managers tend to take a 'not my problem' attitude to reports of criminal wrongdoings by staff. They don't realize the impact it can have on the business itself.
Co-operate - with any investigations by the law that the business didn’t know about beforehand. Further charges could be laid on the business itself if police and prosecutors don't get easy access to required evidence for an individual trial.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Law and You: Federal Environmental Law

Environmental law is one of the last legislative areas where the public and the administrators of the law show a significant difference of opinion in the severity of crimes. Where environmental law infringements can be seen as not really mattering by the general public, the broad view that legislators have of the total impact of all crimes leads them to take quite a dim view of those caught. Today we are exploring the key areas of federal environmental law that people must be aware of, through the eyes of Florida criminal lawyers.
Federal Water Pollution Control Act
This controls the dumping of waste in waterways. While the main focus of the law is on controlling industrial waste, even small agricultural operators are often caught out by this law.
Clean Water Act
This was passed in 1977 as an adjunct to the Water Pollution Control Act. This aims more specifically to protect fish, shellfish and wildlife, by preventing discharge of toxins into the water and stopping major sources of water pollution.
Your car's emission control system is regulated by this piece of legislation, which also controls emissions from all stationary, mobile, and large-area sources. There are quite a lot of proactive measures in this act, as opposed to some other acts which are mostly prohibitive - for example, it promotes employer-sponsored carpooling, use of bicycles etc.
Noise Control Act
Florida criminal attorneys spend a substantial amount of time defending people charged under this act. It aims to reduce or eliminate noise that jeopardizes health and welfare, including from appliances, industrial machines, and vehicles.
Endangered Species Act
This also covers threatened species, which are seen as likely to become endangered at some stage in the future. The law provides a program for their conservation, and occasionally hunters or people keeping certain animals as pets need a criminal lawyer to defend them from charges under it.
Fortunately, the government sees their own actions as subject to environmental control laws also, and all federal projects must comply with the same type of laws that ordinary citizens must. This is regulated by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Law and You: Tax Evasion versus Tax Avoidance

To the person on the street, tax avoidance and tax evasion are one and the same -- it means that you haven't paid the taxes you were supposed to. However, for a small section of the population and their criminal attorneys, the difference is enormous -- it possibly represents the difference between spending some years in jail, and going about your life as usual.
What is tax avoidance?
There are literally thousands of legal ways to avoid paying tax on some of your income. In some cases being able to avoid tax might depend on:
  • What you spent the income on; if it was for business purposes or a charitable donation, you avoid paying tax on that income -- but this is obviously legal
  • The country you derived the income from
  • Transferring assets to another jurisdiction
  • Changing the structure of legal entities
The term "tax mitigation" is sometimes used by criminal attorneys and legislators to avoid the negative connotation of the term "tax avoidance".
What is tax evasion?
The most typical ways that ordinary citizens evade paying tax which they are legally subject to, include:
  • Failing to report income -- being paid in cash
  • Claiming deductions which are not authorized, in the hope they will not be investigated
  • Claiming personal deductions as business expenses, or vice versa
  • Falsely claiming charitable contributions
  • Overestimating the value of property donated to charity
  • Underestimating the value of assets that have been received
Ordinary citizens can sometimes be caught up in tax evasion charges without any knowledge that they were engaging in unethical or illegal conduct -- this most often occurs when an accountant makes illegal deductions or underreports income or assets on the defendants behalf.
Of course, the question of intent factors enormously in the outcome of trials for tax evasion. It may not reduce the likelihood of getting a guilty verdict, but it has definite potential to reduce the sentence or penalty that is imposed. This is where expert Florida criminal lawyers are a necessity if you have been charged with tax evasion.