What to Do if Accused of Tax Evasion

Individuals, corporations, and trusts have a certain tax liability or amount required to pay. Failure to pay or illegal underpayment of those taxes as well as the misrepresentation of assets to lower expected payment amounts constitutes tax evasion, which is a very serious federal crime. 

In this brief article, a federal criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg discusses the differences between tax evasion and tax avoidance, as well as what to do if you have been accused of tax evasion.

Related: Tax Evasion: How Failing to Pay Taxes Can Lead to Jail Time

What Is the Difference Between Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance?

Tax evasion is a federal crime investigated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To prove tax evasion, prosecutors must determine that failure to pay was intentionally deceitful. This entails taking a look at the taxpayer’s financial situation as a whole to determine if any reportable income was hidden. A few common examples of tax evasion include: 

  • A person or business accepting cash payments for services or goods rendered rather than reporting work and income with traditional accounting methods. 
  • Concealing assets by associating them with another person’s name. 
  • Reporting income under a false or stolen social security number.

You do not need to file a tax return or quarterly tax information to be investigated for tax evasion. The IRS may open an investigation into any individual or business suspected of tax evasion at any time. 

Tax evasion differs from tax avoidance because tax evasion uses illegal means to avoid paying the appropriate taxes, while tax avoidance uses legal means to lower a taxpayer’s obligations. An example is the investment of income into a tax-deferred account like an individual retirement account (IRA) or through charitable giving. The other major difference lies in legality as a whole: tax avoidance is not illegal, while tax evasion is a federal crime. 

Related: Defending Against Tax Crime Allegations

What to Do if Accused of Tax Evasion

Accusations of tax evasion can be terrifying and expensive for both individuals and businesses. If convicted, tax evasion can carry a penalty of up to $250,000 (or more for businesses) and a prison sentence of one to five years. 

If you have been accused of tax evasion, it is vital to contact the best federal criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg. Your attorney will discuss possible defenses, which may include:

  • Proving the underpayment or nonpayment was not intentionally deceitful
  • Proving the income was not taxable
  • Proving that there is no basis for investigation

If you have been arrested and charged with a federal offense, legal representation will help you save valuable time during a long and costly investigation. The attorneys at The Rickman Law Firm have the knowledge and experience needed to fight federal charges from the IRS and other federal agencies. If you have been arrested, received a letter indicating that you are the target of a federal investigation, been contacted by a federal agent, received a Grand Jury subpoena, or have already been sentenced in Federal Court, contact the attorneys at The Rickman Law Firm for a free consultation. 

For a free consultation with a federal criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

What To Do If You are Accused of Having Child Pornography

The accusation of having or distributing child pornography is among the most serious a person may face. There are laws against child pornography at both the state and federal level, and punishment is severe. In this brief article, a child pornography attorney in Tampa discusses what child pornography is and what to do if you have been accused of having, creating, or distributing child pornography. 

What Constitutes Child Pornography?

Under federal law, any visual portrayals of sexually explicit behavior involving a minor are considered child pornography. This includes drawings or animations of minors in a sexually-explicit nature. 

As defined by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, child pornography is “any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct,” including photographs, videos, and computer files, among other forms of content involving a person under the age of 18 engaged in any form of sexual conduct. If you are accused of child pornography, a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa will review all of the applicable statutes and charges that may be associated with it on both the state and federal level. 

Is Sexting a Minor Considered Child Pornography?

In Florida, the age of consent for sexual acts is 18 years old. However, under Florida Statute 943.04354, the “Romeo and Juliet” provision allows a minor who is age 16 or 17 to legally consent to sexual activity with someone between the ages of 16 and 23. Despite the allowance of older minors to engage in sexual activity with adults under 24, if an adult between 18 and 23 engages in sexting with a minor and receives nude or sexual photos, it can be considered possession of child pornography. Federal law considers child pornography anything below the age of 18, regardless of the age of consent in any given state. Additionally, the transmission of sexually explicit images sent between minors may also qualify as child pornography, although it may be punishable by a lesser sentence. 

What are Possible Punishments for Child Pornography?

Having as few as one photo or file of child pornography is a punishable offense. Further, photos that you have deleted from a computer or smartphone may be recovered and used against you in a court of law. If convicted of charges of child pornography, you may be punished on both the state and federal level. Convictions on charges of possession of child pornography when you are in possession of fewer than 10 images is a third-degree felony, which is punishable up to 5 years in prison as well as fines not exceeding $5,000.

If you are convicted of having more than 10 images, you could be charged with a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Any person convicted of child pornography or related sex crimes charges like child molestation or statutory rape must also register in the Florida Sex Offender Database. In the federal system, a first-time offender charged with transmission of child pornography faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in prison. A person convicted of production of child pornography faces a mandatory fifteen years in prison.

What To Do If You Are Accused of Having Child Pornography

If you have been accused or charged with having, distributing, or creating child pornography, you should contact a criminal defense law firm in Tampa right away. There are several defenses that we can utilize to fight your case. 

For a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

When Intoxication Leads to Aggravated Assault

Intoxication, especially in public, may lead you to do things you might not otherwise do. For this reason, intoxication is a common cause of aggravated assault. According to Florida Statutes, an aggravated assault is “an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or with intent to commit a felony.” Aggravated assault is a felony of the third degree with penalties including five years of imprisonment, five years of probation, or a $5,000 fine. 

The Rickman Law Firm believes you are innocent until proven guilty, including cases involving intoxication. In this brief article, an aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg will discuss what constitutes an aggravated assault, why intoxication can play a role, and what to do if you are involved in an aggravated assault. 

What is Aggravated Assault?

As mentioned above, aggravated assault is defined as an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, or with intent to commit a felony. A deadly weapon does not necessarily have to be a knife or a gun. In fact, in Loninger v. State, 846 So. 2d 1192 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), the use of a beer bottle to strike a victim on the head was regarded as the use of a “deadly weapon.” 

Why Can Intoxication Play a Role?

While under the influence of alcohol, your judgment may be impaired, and a bar may be filled with deadly weapons. Heated arguments can quickly become a barroom brawl with weapons, including beer bottles, knives, heavy chairs, and other heavy objects around.

A major issue when intoxication is involved is with positively identifying suspects. If all parties are drunk, you may be accused of being involved in an aggravated assault in which you were not a party to. Further, your judgment may be impaired, and you may not understand that something as simple as a heavy ashtray or a broken beer bottle can constitute a deadly weapon. 

Of course, the best way to avoid being accused or involved in an aggravated assault while intoxicated is to avoid situations where things may go south or where you may feel unsafe. However, that may not always be achievable, which is why it is so important to store the contact information of the best aggravated assault lawyer in St. Petersburg in your phone. 

What To Do if You are Involved in Aggravated Assault

Charges of aggravated assault are sobering. As mentioned above, aggravated assault is a felony of the third degree with penalties including five years of imprisonment, five years of probation, or a $5,000 fine. These penalties do not account for the additional lost wages and lost time spent dealing with aggravated assault charges in court if you do not have the best legal representation available. 

If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault, the attorneys at The Rickman Law Firm have the knowledge, resources, and experience needed to defend you. When defending an aggravated assault charge, the details involved in the case are extremely important. Hiring an experienced aggravated assault lawyer in St. Petersburg who understands the complex laws pertaining to aggravated assault is crucial. If you have been accused of aggravated assault, hiring an attorney that can closely evaluate your case may end up being the difference between serving a prison sentence or being found innocent of a crime.

For a free consultation with an aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

When is Medical Marijuana Use Illegal in Florida?

With the passage of Amendment 2 in the state of Florida in 2016, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes became legal for people with qualifying conditions for specific uses. However, despite the legalization of medical marijuana, you can still be arrested for possession and unauthorized distribution of marijuana, even if you or the person you are selling it to are using it for medical reasons. 

In this brief article, a drug defense attorney in Tampa shares information on who is protected by Amendment 2, and what to do if you are caught using marijuana, no matter the reason, without authorization.  

For Whom is Medical Marijuana Legal?

Approved by Florida voters on November 8, 2016, Amendment 2 added a new section to the Florida Constitution entitled “Medical marijuana production, possession and use.” Amendment 2 was a major step in the legalization of cannabis and protects qualifying patients, caregivers, physicians, and medical marijuana dispensaries and their staff from criminal prosecutions or civil sanctions under Florida law. 

To become a qualified patient, you must be a permanent or seasonal Florida resident, have a physician’s certification from a registered Florida doctor, and have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition (such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, MS, severe anxiety, depression, among others). The patient will then be entered into the medical marijuana use registry to obtain the required ID card. Medical marijuana is still federally illegal but is not often prosecuted on the federal level. Medical marijuana, or cannabis, is not the same as hemp — the distinction is important because hemp is also used medicinally and is legal in all 50 states and at the federal level.

Can You Get Arrested for Medical Marijuana?

Unfortunately, finding a physician who is able to prescribe medicinal marijuana may be difficult, and the process of becoming registered may be time-consuming and costly. Because of the state’s backlog of registrants, it may take weeks or even months to get your medical marijuana card. During that time, many people who are suffering may choose to turn to illegal methods to grow or obtain cannabis. 

Although the need for medical marijuana may be great, without the proper prescription and ID card, you can still be arrested and face fines, probation, and even prison time for possessing or selling marijuana or paraphernalia related to marijuana. Furthermore, there may be restrictions on the type of cannabis allowed even for those with a card. For example, smokable marijuana has been the topic of many legal debates, while edible marijuana products are fully legal for medicinal use. 

What Should You Do If You Are Arrested for Possession of Marijuana?

If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, even if you have a medical marijuana ID card and prescription, it is important to contact a drug defense lawyer in Tampa. The attorneys at The Rickman Law Firm have intimate knowledge of Amendment 2 and can employ a number of ways to defend against accusations of illegal marijuana use. 

For a free consultation with a drug defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

When Sales Tactics Constitute Fraud

In 2019, over 1.7 million cases of fraud were reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), resulting in $232 million returned to consumers through lawsuits. Fraud is considered a white-collar (non-violent and financially motivated) crime and is defined as obtaining property or any other type of value (money, services, etc.) through deceit. Although the word fraud often brings to mind identity theft, there are many other types of fraud that can occur (even if unintentionally). Sometimes, consumers may accuse companies or salespeople of fraud because of specific sales tactics used. 

In this brief article, a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa will discuss two common sales tactics that may garner accusations of fraud. Criminal fraud is a serious crime that can result in excessive fines and even a prison sentence. If you have been accused of fraud, it is important to obtain legal counsel to help you understand your rights. 

Related: 8 Ways You Can Be Accused of Fraud

High-Pressure Sales Tactics

The use of high-pressure sales tactics can constitute fraud. An example of a high-pressure sales tactic is the use of manipulative sales pitches that are designed to rush the buyer into making a decision they may later regret. This specifically may become an issue in selling investment opportunities. 

Any legitimate, lucrative investment will not be marketed as a “limited time offer” that “may be gone tomorrow.” Salespeople use these tactics to place a sense of urgency on their investment opportunity to convince you to enter the scam without properly understanding the investment. If you are in charge of making sales, analyze the claims you are putting forth and understand the ways it may be construed as fraud if part of your tactic requires the assertion that the investment or sale is a limited time offer. 

Bait and Switch

The bait and switch sales tactic lures customers in with the promise of one product, service, or investment opportunity only to be told that it is no longer available in order to upsell a similar, pricier item. Usually, the deal advertised seems too good to be true, or the deal advertised does not exist at all. 

It is legal to advertise something that has limited availability or to provide rain checks; however, offering a teaser rate that doesn’t exist to get clients in the door may legally constitute fraud. For example, let’s say a mortgage broker advertises extremely low interest rates that do not exist in order to entice homebuyers to prequalify for loans only to pressure them into accepting a higher rate. This type of fraud may be present in sales tactics for everything from cars and homes to clothing and games. 

Related: Types of Fraud Cases

What to Do If You Are Accused of Fraud

If you have been accused of a white-collar crime such as fraud, it is important to speak to an attorney right away. A white collar defense attorney in Tampa will fight to protect you from incurring steep fines, a prison sentence, or a permanent mark on your record. They will also explain your rights and advise you on how to best proceed with future sales to avoid further accusations of fraud. 

If you have been accused of sales-related fraud, it is imperative that you consult with a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa from The Rickman Law Firm. 

For a free consultation with a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Everything to Know About The Difference Between Robbery and Burglary

Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably, but the two are very different in the eyes of the law. The key differences between robbery and burglary can determine the severity of sentencing and mean the difference between a fine and a lengthy prison sentence. 

In this brief article, we’ll review the main differences between robbery and burglary and what to do if you stand accused of either. If you have been accused of robbery or burglary, it’s imperative that you contact a robbery defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm to help you understand your rights. 

Related: Under Arrest? Here’s Some Advice

What is Robbery?

The biggest difference between robbery and burglary boils down to one thing: violence. Under Florida Statute 812.13(1), the term “robbery” means “the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.” Robbery charges are felonies that fall under the following classifications:

  • First Degree: Robbery committed with a firearm or any deadly weapon.
  • Second Degree: Robbery committed without a firearm or any deadly weapon. Also called “Strong Arm” robbery. 
  • Sudden Snatching: Taking a person’s property while the victim is aware of the act. For example, stealing a woman’s purse from her person and running. 
  • Home Invasion: Entering someone’s home while occupants are present with the intention and the actual committing of a robbery.
  • Carjacking: Taking a vehicle from someone by force, fear, violence, or assault. Whether or not a firearm or deadly weapon is used, this could lead to a first-degree felony conviction.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Armed Robbery in Florida

What is Burglary?

Burglary is also a serious crime with serious penalties. A key difference between burglary and robbery is that burglary requires the unlawful entering of a dwelling or structure with the intent to commit a criminal offense therein. The possible sentence a person may face and the degree of charge will vary depending on if the location that was burglarized was occupied or not. There are a few different types of burglary: 

  • Burglary of a Dwelling: A dwelling is defined as a building or conveyance of any kind, which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night. Burglary of a Dwelling is a second-degree felony.
  • Burglary of a Structure: A structure is defined as a building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, which has a roof over it, together with the surrounding curtilage. Burglary of a Structure is a second-degree felony.
  • Burglary of a Conveyance: A conveyance is defined as any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car. Burglary of a Conveyance is a third-degree felony.
  • Armed Burglary: Armed burglary is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. A person can be charged with armed burglary in Florida if they arm themselves while they are inside the home (by possessing a weapon that they retrieved from the dwelling or conveyance), were armed when they entered the location, or armed themselves after leaving the location. It should be noted that if the weapon possessed was a firearm, the person accused will face a minimum mandatory sentence under the 10-20-life statue.
  • Burglary with Assault or Battery: Burglary with Assault or Battery is also a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. The difference here is that the suspect must have engaged in the burglary and committed an assault by making an unlawful threat of violence or struck or touched the other person against their will. 

What to Do If You Are Accused of Robbery or Burglary

Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code clarifies the level and severity of robbery and burglary and the penalties that may be inflicted, including up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine up to $10,000 for robbery in the second degree. The punishment for robbery and burglary in the first degree is imprisonment for a term of years to be determined by the judge after reviewing the circumstances of the case. 

If you have been arrested or accused of burglary you could have multiple defenses available to you. It is important to contact a burglary defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm who is skilled in providing defense for robbery, burglary, and other serious crimes. Without a solid defense, you may face fines, probation, or prison time. 

For a free consultation with a burglary defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

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