Shemaria Law Offices

Beverly Hills Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

What is the legal meaning of a conspiracy?

With all of the talk about conspiracy and collusion in the news recently, now is a good time to review the legal meaning of conspiracy. This is a term that can come up in a lot of federal prosecutions involving white-collar crime, drug trafficking or any other alleged criminal enterprise that involves two or more defendants.

Lawyers often talk about criminal charges in terms of elements. To sustain a certain charge, the prosecutors need to show that all the elements of that charge are satisfied.

DOJ data: White collar prosecutions recently reached all-time low

According to data obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, federal prosecutors may be spending less time on white collar offenses. The information was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

“White-collar prosecutions since President Trump assumed office generally have been lower than in previous administrations,” said the researchers.

Federal tax fraud versus federal tax negligence

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that about 17% of taxpayers do not fully comply with the tax code. Yet the IRS only prosecutes a very small percentage of taxpayers, and less than 1% per year are convicted. Most people know that the IRS can be very aggressive about pursuing those it believes to be underpaying taxes, so how can this be? The answer is that the IRS recognizes a difference between income tax fraud and income tax negligence.

The federal income tax code is a very long and complex document, and the IRS understands this. Sometimes taxpayers will make errors in computing their tax obligations. The policy of the IRS is to assume that these taxpayers made an honest mistake instead of a willful evasion of the tax code. Absent any indication of fraud, the IRS will treat the error as a mistake attributable to negligence. Still, these mistakes can be expensive. The IRS may charge a penalty of 20% of the underpayment to discourage tax negligence.

DOJ data: White collar prosecutions recently reached all-time low

According to data obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, federal prosecutors may be spending less time on white collar offenses. The information was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

"White-collar prosecutions since President Trump assumed office generally have been lower than in previous administrations," said the researchers.

9th Circuit Says Feds May Not Prosecute State-Legal Medical Marijuana Suppliers - The Appeals Court Rules that Congress has Forbidden such Interference

Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled that a spending rider approved by Congress in 2014 and 2015 prohibits the Justice Department from prosecuting marijuana suppliers who "fully comply" with state laws allowing medical use of the plant. The DOJ had argued that the rider, which says the department may not use appropriated money to "prevent" states from "implementing" their medical marijuana laws, applies only to litigation against the states themselves, not to prosecution of individuals who provide cannabis to patients. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit unanimously rejected that interpretation, saying federal marijuana defendants are entitled to evidentiary hearings at which they can try to show their actions were authorized by state law.

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