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New York Criminal Defense Blog

When an identity theft charge threatens a reputation

A growing problem across the nation, identity theft is a crime that has taken on many meanings. For those found guilty of identity theft, just one wrongful accusation can result in years of fines and negative repercussions. New York is one of many states that is significantly more vulnerable to such crimes, but is also one that applies serious penalties.

Repercussions to this type of white collar crime may be valid, but as for those falsely accused, gray areas can arise. The New York City Bar's website lists options one can consider when falsely accused of a crime, stating that a person who spreads the false information could be responsible for paying damages to the falsely accused. The two types of defamation -- libel, which is in written form, and slander, which refers to orally published defamation -- help clarify the statements. However, the elements in each carry the same meaning. Plaintiffs in these incidents must prove that, first and foremost, the defendant made a false statement that he or she knew to be incorrect. False statements must also be specific, as vague statements cannot trace to a particular person. There must also be proof that the defendant shared the false information with one-third party who is not the target and, lastly, the statement must have damaged a person's character. 

Laws on cyber-insider trading not always clear

It is not all that uncommon for people in New York to hear reports about a person, often a corporate executive of a company, being accused of some form of embezzlement, insider trading or other white collar crime. This is not because the people are likely criminals or in search of some easy way of making money. It may be due in part to the fact that the roles these people hold provide them insight into certain information and that the laws on what is and what is not legal here are not completely black and white.

Even when it comes to hacking into products or computer systems, the legality of such an action may differ based upon what is done after the actual hack occurs. If, for example, a person is able to successfully break into a system that controls a medical device designed to essentially keep a person alive, they may or may not be on the verge of an illegal act. After hacking in, if the hacker then disables an active device that results in harm to or the death of a person, criminal charges may come into play. 

Is insider trading actually legal?

When business-minded individuals in New York look into the stock market, they're met with a whole world of possibilities. Unfortunately, you're also going to run into a lot of laws dictating what can and can't be done when it comes to buying or selling your stocks. Insider trading is known as an illegal move, but did you know that there's actually a legitimate form of insider trading, too?

According to the United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), insider trading can actually refer to both legal and illegal conduct in the stock market. Generally speaking, it's the latter that comes to mind. However, there is also legal insider trading that you can take part in. In this scenario, stock within your own company is bought and sold by employees, directors, or officers of the company itself. Though they must report these trades to the SEC, the act is not illegal.

Copyright infringement and criminal charges

Many people in New York might not associated copyrights and criminal charges but it is important to know that the two can in fact be linked. Among the many examples of this is one that involves alleged illegal distribution of two Hollywood blockbuster films earlier in the century. As explained by the United States Department of Justice, four different individuals were charged with federal crimes involving copyright infringement and conspiracy.

Copyrights are granted to individuals or multiple persons for the creation of original creative works. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, these works might include novels, movies, music, sculptures, paintings and more. While the person or persons who hold a copyright are granted exclusive rights to their works, the law does recognize some references or uses thereof for select purposes.

Governor proposes research for legal pot

Most New York residents likely know that over the last few years, a handlful of states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation that has allows marijuana to be used for recreational purposes within their jurisdictions. While the trend started in the western part of the country, neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts have followed suit and there are rumblings that New Jersey may also legalize recreational pot.

It is important to know that any state-specific marijuana law does not supercede federal laws and there remain strict regulations around transporting marijuana across state lines via any form of transportation including land, water or air. To date, the state of New York has held firmly to its stance against legalizing pot for non-medicinal purposes. Even the laws in New York that allow marijuana to be used as part of a medical therapy or treatment protocol, the use is limited. Currently there are estimated to be more than 40,000 people allowed to use pot medicinally in New York.

Understanding possession with intent to distribute

Receiving any kind of drug charge is very serious, but possession with intent to distribute is a particularly concerning charge that regularly results in serious jail time. It is well known that drug charges receive some of the harshest sentencing handed down to any non-violent crime, often placing convicts behind bars for years at a time and altering the course of their lives irrevocably.

No matter what kind of drug charge you receive, be mindful to build as strong a defense as you can to fight these charges. If you do receive a conviction, finding work, housing or certain kinds of insurance may prove impossible, even after you serve the time in your sentence. An experienced attorney can help you examine your circumstances to assess defense options and do everything available within the law to protect your rights and future.

Reporting of cryptocurrency gains not consistent

When residents in New York hear reports about people being charged with tax evasion or other forms of white collar crime, it can be all too easy to assume that a person was consciously trying to do something wrong. This, however, is not necessarily the case. Many tax and investment laws and guidelines can be complex and lead to difficulty in knowing what really needs to be done when. In addition, many loopholes in the tax code essentially help people reduce their tax liability.

Crytocurrencies are one area where the laws are anything but black and white. For example, Bitcoin which is globally the most common of these currencies is not considered actual legal money in this country. Therefore, people who would normally and accurately report capital gains or losses on their tax returns might logically omit any gains associated with Bitcoin given that it is not currently a legal tender.

The difference between tax fraud and negligence

New York residents, like all other citizens of the country, are required to pay yearly taxes to the government. However, everyone is human and sometimes people make mistakes. In these situations, it's important to be able to differentiate between tax fraud and tax negligence.

FindLaw states simply that not all violations of tax law are considered tax fraud. If a person has been charged with tax fraud in some form, then it implies that the IRS has assumed that their actions were committed intentionally, and that they had the idea to evade payment in taking those actions.

Sentencing set for April for alleged mail fraud activity

People in New York who are arrested for any type of crime should always be aware of the many steps that may be involved in a criminal process. First and foremost, being arrested does not mean that a person will be found guilty of the offense for which they were originally charged. Even if a guilty verdict is received or a guilty plea entered voluntarily, variances in sentences as well as appeal processes may still impact the ultimate outcome of a case.

One woman from Dunkirk today is learning how this process works as she will be sentenced in early April after recently entering into a plea agreement with prosecutors for her alleged involvement in a mail fraud case. Reports suggest that the woman was one of three people who used multiple post office boxes under a potentially false business name to lure small businesses into giving them money for a fake scam. The trio are said to have advertised the ability to help debt-laden companies reduce their financial burden. In total, more than $1 million was said to have been illegally obtained this way.

Is it a crime to vandalize mailboxes?

Generally speaking, New York residents like you may associate mailbox vandalism with harmless high school pranks. The stereotypical image is one of unruly teens taking bats to mailboxes as they drive past, knocking them over or denting the metal. But did you know that not only is this illegal, it's also a federal offense?

That's right. As stated by Postal Inspectors, all mailboxes are federal property. This means that they're protected under federal law. Vandalizing a mailbox in any way is more than just a property crime. It's a property crime against the federal government. Accordingly, the penalties for vandalizing a mailbox can be steep. For example, you may face up to 3 years in prison for any act of vandalism. You could also face a fine of up to $250,000, increasing in price as the severity of the crime rises.

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