Grand Jury FAQs
1) Can I Have an Attorney Present if I am Subpoenaed to Testify Before a Federal Grand Jury?
While an individual subpoenaed to testify before a Federal Grand Jury is not entitle to have an attorney present in the grand jury room, he may have an attorney available outside and may excuse himself to confer with the attorney before responding to questions.
2) Can Testimony given to a Federal Grand Jury be used in the Subsequent Prosecution of the Person Who Testifies?
While testimony of a witness may be used in a subsequent criminal prosecution, it is typically appropriate to request and receive written assurance from the United States Attorney that a person subpoenaed to testify is not a target of an investigation and that truthful testimony given will not become the basis of a criminal prosecution of the witness.
1) What Constitutes Tax Evasion?
The courts recognize the fact that no taxpayer is obliged to arrange his/her affairs so as to maximize the tax the government receives. Individuals and businesses are entitles to take all lawful steps to minimize their taxes.
A taxpayer may lawfully arrange his/her affairs to minimize taxes by such steps as defining income from one year to the next. (For example, interest on a property sold on 12/31/10 is taxable as part of ’10 income. If the property is sold on 1/1/11, it would be taxable as part of the ’11 income. This is legal to do.) It is lawful to take all available tax deductions. It is also lawful to avoid taxes by making charitable contributions.
Tax evasion, on the other hand, is a crime. Tax evasion typically involves failing to report income, or improperly claiming deductions that are not authorized. Examples of tax evasion include such actions as when a contractor intentionally fails to report the $10,000 cash he receives for building a pool, or when a business owner tries to deduct $100,000 of personal expenses from his business taxes, or when a person falsely claims he/she made charitable contributions, or significantly overestimates the value of property donated to charity. Similarly, if an estate is worth $5 million and the executer files a false tax return, improperly omitting property and claiming the estate is only worth $100,000, thus owing much less in taxes.
2) Suppose I Don’t File Tax Returns?
If you have an obligation to file a return, your failure to do so can also subject you to penalties. There have been some very prominent figures who have failed to file tax returns, including the former Dean of the Harvard Law School.
3) When Should I Get an Attorney?
The sooner you obtain competent legal counsel who is familiar with the tax laws and IRS process, the better. Doing so will help you save money and time.
A number of situations require a tax attorney to be involved: fraud investigation, a lengthy audit, an audit involving legal issues, a large deficiency balance, incomplete or inadequate books and records, inability to pay, not filing returns for a number of years, not owing the taxes, the expiration of the statute of limitations.
4) The IRS is after me and I do not want to talk to them. What can I do?
Avoiding the folks at the IRS will only exacerbate your problem. Retaining a tax professional may be your best option. This way, once the professional is retained and the appropriate documents are filed with the IRS, the IRS is no longer allowed to contact you personally.
5) The IRS official I am working with is uncooperative, arbitrary and unprofessional – impossible to work with. What can I do to avoid this man?
If you are finding yourself jousting with an opinionated, intimating and unfair IRS official, ask to see his manager, or contact an official at IRS Problem Resolution, or hire an outside professional. A tax professional may be a better go between as they are not emotionally involved and they work for you. It is important not to let personal differences stand between you and access to your rights.
White Collar Crimes FAQs:
1) What is White Collar Crime?
White collar crimes typically refer to a type of crime committed by business people, entrepreneurs, public officials and professionals through deception, as opposed to street crimes which tend to involve force and violence. Examples of white collar crimes include embezzlement, bribery, extortion, larceny, fraud (e.g. health care, tax), bankruptcy, telemarketing and mail, insurance, securities and commodities law violations, environmental law violations, price fixing, racketeering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and perjury, and computer fraud.
Depending on whether federal or state law has been violated, white collar crimes can be prosecuted at the federal or state level. Penalties vary, but in some cases cab result in large fines, restitution and jail time.
2) What is Perjury?
Perjury is the “willful and corrupt taking of a false oath in regard to a material matter in a judicial proceeding”. It is sometime called “lying under oath”, that is deliberately telling a lie in a courtroom proceeding after having taken an oath to tell the truth. It is important that the false statement be material to the case at hand, that it could affect the outcome of the case. It is not considered perjury, for example, to lie about your age, unless your age is a key factor in proving the case.
Perjury can be used as a threat. Although it is a very serious crime under state and Federal laws, and while prosecutors often threaten prosecution, the number of actual prosecutions is tiny.
Perjury prosecutions stemming from civil lawsuits are particularly rare. This is because it is difficult to prove that someone is intentionally misstating a material fact, rather than simply testifying honestly from faulty memory.
3) Is Taking the Fifth Amendment under Oath Perjury?
No, if you are taking the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination in a criminal activity. However, the Fifth Amendment is not an umbrella of protection for civil cases.
4) What is Bribery?
Bribery is the “corrupt payment or receipt of anything of value in return for official action”. In most states now, this definition has been extended to include people who are not public officials (for example, athletes). Depending on state law, bribery can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, and in some states even the offering of a bribe can constitute bribery. In some states, too, it is considered a misdemeanor not to report a bribe (or bribe offer).
5) What is Fraud?
Fraud is defined to be “an intentional perversion of truth” or a “false misrepresentation of a matter of fact” which includes another person to “part with some valuable thing, belonging to him or to surrender a legal right”.
In addition to the traditional criminal definition of fraud, there are many regulatory laws that have very specific rules that must be complied with. If you do not follow these rules to the letter, you could be charged with and convicted of fraud.
Federal Securities Laws cover a broad scope of possible types of fraud. Fraud is not limited to the selling of bogus securities. Securities fraud also involves the sale of legitimate securities for illegal purposes. The laws also make insider trading illegal. Insider trading generally refers to the purchasing or selling of securities of a company while in possession of material information that has not been generally disclosed in the marketplace.
6) What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is defined as “the fraudulent conversion of property of another by a person in lawful possession of that property”. Crimes of this nature generally have involved a relationship of trust and confidence, such as an agent, fiduciary, trustee, treasurer or attorney.
7) What if My Records Are Subpoenaed?
If you or your firm, are faced with a potential criminal matter, it is imperative to seek the advice of an attorney experienced in the regulatory area at the earliest stage of the matter. A probe by the government can cast a wide net, especially in the investigative and Grand Jury phase, allowing it to obtain documents and testimony that could effectively seal your fate.