Dealing with a criminal accusation is a difficult place to be. If the charges are upheld, they could forever taint an individual's reputation in the community and business world. Finding a job can be seriously hindered as a person's record is considered to be a public record and employers are able to access the information about their criminal history. When your future is on the line, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to advice you and represent you throughout the case. Each case will be slightly different, depending on the nature of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the event. One of the most important differences is whether or not the crime in question is a federal offense or a state offense.
The question of federal versus state is directly connected to the concept of jurisdiction. This concept essentially describes the extent or area of authority that belongs to an institution. The federal government has jurisdiction over a certain amount or types of crimes and the individual state governments have jurisdiction over certain crimes. Often, if a crime is considered to be a federal violation, the ramifications are much more severe and serious. One such crime that is considered a federal offense is tax evasion.
Tax evasion is simply an effort to avoid paying taxes through illegal means. Such an act can be done by an individual, a corporation, a trust, or other similar organization. At first glance this act may seem very minor in nature. After all, some people just honestly forget to file their federal tax return. Life can become busy and overwhelming at times and it is easy to overlook this process. Forgetting to file a tax return once or twice is not necessarily a serious issue. In fact, it is only considered a misdemeanor with minimal consequences. However, if such an act is done consistently over a period of years, it may indicate that the evasion was done intentionally as a scheme to purposefully avoid taxes.
There is also the possibility that a person or corporation will commit tax evasion by intentionally misrepresenting their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This could happen because a person does not want the government to be aware of where the money is coming from—such as if they are engaged in illegal activity. It could also happen when a company does not want to pay the full amount of taxes they are subject to. Often this form of evasion will be done by reporting that income is lower than it actually is, exaggerating deductions or hiding money outside of the United States.
Section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code lays the ground for proving guilt in such a case. There are a number of elements that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order for guilt to be established. The first aspect that must be proved is that an unpaid tax liability does in fact exist. There must be evidence that taxes that should have been paid were not. Then the government will have to prove that the defendant was intentional in their evasion. It is not enough for the act to be passive. As mentioned beforehand, forgetting to file a tax return is nothing more than a misdemeanor. It must be shown that the taxpayer was proactive and willful. If these elements are proved, guilt may be established. The punishment for such a crime includes a fine, jail time, or both. The fine cannot exceed $100,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation. Jail time cannot exceed 5 years.
If you have been charged with tax evasion, do not take these allegations lightly! It is important that you have a strong defense. Often the effects of these types of charges do not simply go away once the fine is paid. The best way to make sure that your future is not adversely affected by a federal offense is fighting back now. Remember: It is the responsibility of the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any tax returns that were not filed were purposefully ignored. This can be hard to prove when you have a solid defense. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A. we would like to provide that solid defense. Our goal is to defend your freedom and protect your rights throughout the criminal trial. Our legal team has more than 35 years of combined experience. These years have taught us how best to approach cases involving federal crimes. We will fight with all of our resources to see a successful outcome.