| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Crimes

COVID-19 and Getting Out of Prison

Many things are lacking in Florida’s correctional system, but maybe none more glaring right now than there is no mechanism to release non-violent offenders who are at high risk of developing complications due to COVID-19.  Currently, there is no way for an attorney to request judicial screening for a just and humane amendment to a sentence, and no way for even the prison to request a judge review a prison term and determine if release is appropriate.   The Federal government through the First Step Act which allows for compassionate release in certain circumstances.  In fact, Attorney General William Barr has directed the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to review inmate records to determine if they are at a higher risk of developing complications due to COVID-19.  The First Step Acts even allows for an inmate’s attorney to request the sentencing judge to decide if releasing someone from prison and placed on home confinement or supervised release is appropriate. The need for the Florida Legislature to add a provision for compassionate release is clearly seen by reviewing the statistics of the virus.  As of April 12, there are 44 Department of Correction employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 36 inmates have tested positive as well.  While this number may not seem large, we know that this virus is highly contagious, and these numbers will only increase. Inmates who have an underlying medical condition that make them susceptible to complications should have their sentence review by DOC and the sentencing Judges.   The Center for Disease Control has states that certain groups are at a higher risk for severe illness if they contact COVID-19.  These Non-violent inmates with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or pulmonary issues do not all need to be put as risk of developing complications from COVID-19.  The Florida legislature needs to act. I do not envy the situation that our government is in currently.  Speaking specifically about our state inmates this really is a no-win situation.  The prisons were not designed to treat massive amounts of people who may become ill due to a new virus.  The idea of social distancing in a prison setting is laughable. Public perception of releasing inmates is never popular. However, the government is in charge of these human beings, many of them vulnerable. The government owes it to the people they oversee to ensure their health.  To quote Attorney General Barr, “The mission of BOP (Bureau of Prisons) is to administer the lawful punishments that our justice system imposes. Executing that mission imposes on us a profound obligation to protect the health and safety of all inmates.”

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Crimes

Facing Federal Criminal Charges? What You Need to Know

While any criminal offense is serious and can have a lasting impact on your life, federal charges are particularly severe. State (and city and municipal courts in some instances) courts have jurisdiction over most crimes that occur within the state. Jurisdiction means the right of a court to exercise power and control over a person and criminal issue. On the other hand, federal courts have jurisdiction over crimes that are enumerated by the United States Constitution, crimes that involve actions in more than one state, immigration issues, and some other crimes specifically given jurisdiction to the federal courts by statute. Whether you are charged with a state or federal crime will determine in what court your case is heard and what the possible punishments may be. Federal Crimes Some of the most common federal crimes that Floridians may be charged with include: –       Drug crimes; –       Immigration offenses; –       Tax evasion; and –       Possession of unlawful weapons. Seemingly less severe offenses such as “mail fraud” may lead to extremely severe consequences. Mail fraud is a very broad crime that technically means to use the “mail or wire communication” to make false representations to gain a benefit; however, this definition has been expanded to include internet communication, opening up an entire new area of law that has led to thousands of new apprehensions. Similar federal crimes, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, have been utilized more frequently in recent years as well. Federal prosecutors often have more evidence to use against a criminal defendant because of the vast resources available to the United States Attorney’s Office in comparison to state offices. The U.S. Attorney’s Office can utilize the FBI, IRS, and other federal organizations in investigating and building their case against a criminal defendant. Some investigations that ultimately lead to federal charges may have been ongoing for years. Often, when the federal government cannot gather enough evidence to bring one cause of action against a defendant, chances are, during their investigation, they found something else they can ultimately charge the individual with. Another reason federal offenses are so severe is because of the punishments. The federal sentencing guidelines determine minimum and maximum punishments a criminal defendant can be subjected to based on the both the severity of the crime(s) at issue and the defendant’s criminal history. These sentences will also be served out at federal prisons, where the rules, policies, and accommodations are often very different than state-run penitentiaries. Facing Federal Charges? If you or anyone you know in the greater Orlando area is facing federal criminal charges, you need experienced federal crimes defense lawyers on your side to help you navigate a very complex system. At Moses & Rooth, our former prosecution attorneys know how both sides of criminal litigation work and the best way to craft a defense to ensure the best possible outcome given your circumstances. Federal cases are built up over time and can move through the courts more quickly than state-level cases; thus, if you have been charged with a federal offense, it is critical to contact an attorney at our Orlando office as soon as possible.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

The Most Commonly Committed Federal Crimes

When someone is arrested of a crime, they may be charged with a federal crime, as well as a state crime.  If you have been charged with a federal crime it is important to contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to represent you against charges that may hold serious consequences if convicted.  The experienced federal criminal defense attorneys of Moses & Rooth can defend you against the charges and also explain to you why you are being charged with a federal crime. Most Common Federal Crimes According to the United States Sentencing Commission, in 2013 82.3% of all federal cases involved the following: Drug Crimes – Drugs were associated with 31.2% of all federal cases.  The leading drugs were marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Immigration – Tied with drug crimes are immigration violations that also make up 31.2% of all federal cases. Firearm Crimes – Firearm charges were responsible for 10.1% of all federal cases.  Many cases involved a convicted felon illegally possessing a firearm or the possession or use of a firearm in connection with a violent crime or drug trafficking.  Federal statute 18 U.S.C.922 makes it illegal to import, manufacture, deal firearms, to engage in the business of any of these activities involving firearms, or in the course of such business to ship transport, or receive any firearms in interstate or foreign commerce if unlicensed.  The statute also makes it illegal to be an unlicensed importer or manufacturer of ammunition.  It is also illegal to engage in the business of importing or manufacturing ammunition, or in the course of such business, to ship, transport, or receive any ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce. Fraud – Fraud charges made up 9.8% of all federal cases.  Federal fraud crimes can take on many different forms.  Fraud can be committed against banks, by possessing false papers, presenting fraudulent checks, falsifying government documents, aggravated identity theft, computer fraud, concealment of assets, email fraud, as well as, many others.  Under 18U.S.C1001, a person within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of government that: falsifies, conceals, or covers up, by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the it contains any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry has committed fraud under federal law and can be sentenced up to eight years in a federal prison. Other commonly committed federal crimes are non-fraud-related white collar crimes, larceny, and child pornography.  Examples of federal non-fraud-related white collar crimes are federal antitrust violations or federal environmental violations. A federal criminal conviction can hold severe consequences, including prison time in a federal prison.  Many crimes committed may hold state, as well as, federal charges, such as drug crimes, firearm crimes, and fraud charges.  If you have been charged with a federal crime, contact the experienced federal criminal defense attorneys of Moses & Rooth today for an explanation of the charges and options for your defense.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

The Top 10 Common Crimes Committed in Florida

In 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the top 10 most common crimes committed in Florida are drug abuse violations, theft, assault, driving under the influence (DUI), aggravated assault, liquor law violations, burglary, fraud, robbery, and vandalism. If you have been charged with any of these crimes or another let the experienced criminal defense lawyers of Moses & Rooth fight for you. 1. Drug Crimes: In 2013, according to the FBI, drug abuse violations accounted for almost 30% of all arrests (not counting traffic offenses) in Florida. Drug offenses can range from possession to trafficking and many others. Carrying a wide range of fines and periods of incarceration if convicted. 2. Theft: According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), a theft is committed every minute in Florida. Theft is the unauthorized taking or use of another’s property, including larceny, stealing, misappropriation, conversion, and other offenses. The value of the property determines if the theft is a misdemeanor or a felony. 3. Assault: Assault happens when there is a threat of imminent violence even if there is no contact. 4. DUI: In Florida, driving with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08 or higher is illegal. The severity of the penalties are determined by many factors, such as, whether it is a first, second, or third offense, BAL, a minor was present, or any injuries or property damage were sustained. 5. Aggravated Assault: According to the FDLE, an aggravated assault happens every nine minutes in Florida. Aggravated assault is assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill or intent to commit a felony, is classified as a third degree felony, and if convicted you could serve five years in prison and be charged with a $5,000 fine. 6. Liquor Law Violations: A laundry list of activities if committed are against Florida liquor laws, including selling alcohol to a minor or selling alcohol without a permit. 7. Burglary: According to the FDLE, a burglary occurs every three minutes in Florida. A person can be charged with burglary if the person enters or remains in a building with the intent to commit a crime. Burglary is a felony of the first, second, or third degree depending on the circumstances. Defenses include, arguing that the building was open to the public or you had an invitation or license to be there. 8. Fraud: A person can be convicted of fraud under dozens of Florida laws, which carry a wide range of jail time and fines. A criminal defense attorney can explain what law you are charged with breaking and create a plan to defend you. 9. Robbery: According to the FDLE, a robbery happens every 22 minutes. A robbery is when a person takes money or property from another person with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive that person of the money or property by force, violence, assault, or fear. 10. Vandalism: According to the FBI, over 20% of all vandalism is committed by minors. Contact a juvenile defense attorney, if you are under 18 and been charged with a crime or you are the parent of a child charged with a crime. If you have been charged with any of the above crimes or another crime let the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth explain the charges and create a plan for your defense. Contact us today to assure the best possible outcome of your case.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

What are White Collar Crimes?

There is no agreed upon definition of a white collar crime. According to Wex Law Dictionary, sociologist Edwin Sutherland coined the term in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” Wex also states that a white collar crime is generally a nonviolent crime committed in a commercial situation for financial gain. White collar crimes span a wide range of illegal activities, however, the vast majority committed are a type of fraud. Many different federal and state agencies prosecute white collar crimes. If you are being investigated or have been charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), local officials, or another agency, an experienced criminal defense attorney at Moses & Rooth can ensure that you receive the best possible defense. Fraud According to Wex Law Dictionary, fraud is the deliberate deceiving of someone with the intent of causing damage. Generally, the damage involved is financial damage. Fraud takes many different forms and the qualifications for the different types of fraud differ by federal, state and local statutes and may carry a range of consequences if convicted. According to TRAC Reports, in the first ten months of 2013 the Southern District of Florida was fourth in the nation for the greatest number of white collar crime prosecutions per capita. Most Common Types of White Collar Fraud in Florida According to TRAC Reports, in October of 2014, the DOJ reported the ten leading fraud convictions as: Fraud by wire, radio, or television; Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud; Public money, property, records fraud; Mail fraud categorized to be frauds and swindles; Bank fraud; Fraud and false statements; Conspiracy to defraud the government; Conspiracy to commit an offense or to defraud the United States; ID fraud; and Fraud related to access devices. Other Types of Fraud Other types of fraud include: Florida Tax fraud; Florida Insurance fraud; Florida Mortgage fraud; and Many others. Other Types of White Collar Crimes Without an exact definition of white collar crimes it is difficult for agencies to categorize exactly what falls within. There are, however, other offenses than fraud that are generally labeled as a white collar crime. Some other white collar crimes are: Antitrust violations; Environmental violations; Insider trading; Bribery; Kickbacks; Blackmail; Money laundering; and Many others. A wide range of laws exist for the federal government, the state, and local authorities to charge a person with under the category of white collar crimes. Consult a Moses & Rooth attorney today if you are concerned that an activity you are involved with may be an illegal white collar crime. If you are being investigated or have been charged with a crime by the FBI, IRS, SEC, DOJ, the state, or local police, or another agency for a possible white collar crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Moses & Rooth for an explanation of the charges and the best possible defense. Come see us at our Orlando office: Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law   115 Granada Court Orlando, FL 32803 Phone: (407) 377-0150  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Crimes

Accused of federal crimes? Here’s what to expect

If you are facing allegations of federal crimes, you probably have a lot of questions about the legal process upon which you are about to embark. Federal criminal cases are significantly different from federal civil cases, and it is important to understand the distinction between these two. Further, although processes for federal drug crimes and other violations may resemble those held at the state level, there are some important distinctions. Let us address some of those differences to help criminal defendants learn more about their legal rights. First, it is important to remember that criminal proceedings place the burden of proof squarely upon the government. We have all heard of the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra — that is of utmost importance in a federal crime courtroom. In civil cases, the defendant often must prove that the allegations are false. In criminal trials, the government must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt; that is a much stronger standard for evidence. In federal cases, more than 90 percent of defendants choose to plead guilty instead of going to trial. Plea agreements allow federal prosecutors and defense attorneys to negotiate for a more lenient sentence than the one that would be imposed after a criminal trial. Judges typically wait for the results of a comprehensive presentencing report before issuing a sentencing decision. A defendant who pleads not guilty will proceed to a criminal trial. Sentences for federal crimes often include fines, restitution or time in prison. Defendants may also be required to submit to supervision requirements, including drug testing and completing treatment programs. The fact is that no two Florida federal crime cases are the same; defendants need the advice of an experienced team of legal professionals in order to truly comprehend the nature of their alleged violations. Source: United States Courts, “Criminal Cases” Sep. 15, 2014

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Crimes

What is the difference between federal and state courts?

Federal and state courts have different jurisdictions. Jurisdiction can mean either a geographically defined area that a court resides over, or it can mean the laws or legal authority that a court holds for hearing certain types of cases. The geographical definition applies more to state courts. For instance, Florida laws on certain activities and charges, such as robbery, drug charges and traffic violations, among others, may be different than other states. Unless the charge affects a federal law or the U.S. Constitution and the crime occurred in Florida, the case would be heard here in Florida or in whatever state the crime or activity took place. In regards to federal jurisdiction, the second definition would be more appropriate. The case would be heard in a federal court depending on the type of case and the authority it falls under. a) Cases that involve violations against federal laws or the U.S. Constitution would be federal cases. b) Cases where the United States is one of the involved parties would be a federal case. c) Bankruptcy laws are governed under federal jurisdiction, as well as copyright and patent laws, and maritime laws. Therefore, these types of cases are usually heard by a federal court, unless they also involve a state law. d) When there is a conflict between citizens residing in different states, and a sum of money in excess of $75,000 is involved, these cases can be heard in a federal court. They fall under a “diversity jurisdiction” because the parties are in different geographical jurisdictions. Some cases may include both federal or state court jurisdiction. In these cases, parties may be able to decide if they want the case heard in a state or federal court. It is not uncommon to see federal drug crimes or federal sex crime charges. However, crimes that are against a state law only must be heard in a state court and vice versa. A crime that involves a federal law only must be heard in a federal court. Source: Federal Judicial Center, “What the Federal Courts Do” Aug. 14, 2014

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Federal Crimes

Florida man found guilty for tax fraud and identity theft

White collar crimes come in all flavors. One of the more common ones in the last decade has been identity theft. This criminal offense, which has become more prevalent since technology has everyone doing business electronically, can branch off into numerous other crimes. Tax fraud is just one of them. A Florida man from Polk County, Florida, pleaded guilty to identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his part in a tax scheme. The 50-year-old man, along with alleged conspirators, used stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. They used other people’s names, birthdates and Social Security numbers to collect fraudulent tax refunds. The refunds were either electronically deposited to reload-able debit cards or mailed to addresses where they could be retrieved. The fraudulent tax returns were filed between August 2011 and June 2012. The funds were reportedly used for personal benefits. In 2012, a tax fraud investigation was started by federal agents and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. On March 21, 2012, $14,952 was seized from the 50-year-old Lakeland man’s home. A recent ruling on his case included an order to forfeit those funds. Also ordered by the judge is a judgment in the amount $325,886 for funds that they were able to trace back to the fraud scheme. The man was also sentenced to a seven-year term in federal prison. Tax fraud cases can be complex. Those facing these charges will need a good defense in order to poke a hole in the prosecutor’s case. This is especially true when there is a great deal of evidence pointing to illegal activity. Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Polk man sentenced to 7 years for stealing IDs, filing phony tax returns” Kevin P. Connolly, Jun. 09, 2014

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Federal Crimes

New hope for those with life sentences for federal drug crimes

The federal government is currently reviewing the way it applies life sentences to certain convicted drug offenders. For example, numerous individuals are serving a lifetime prison sentence after only being convicted of non-violent federal drug crimes. If reforms are made, some of these individuals could be set free before the completion of their prison terms. One Florida man is 20 years into a double lifetime federal prison sentence. He was convicted of selling LSD and sending it by mail. He was 23 years of age when he was arrested and, without the chance of parole, he did not have any chance for freedom. This 45-year-old man received the same sentence as convicted kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro. According to this man, most individuals do not understand what it means to be in prison. He says that anyone who has spent at least 10 days behind bars understands the difficult life that it means. Now, the current presidential administration is try to resolve overcrowding in federal prisons by letting qualifying non-violent drug crime offenders out early. The president is trying to identify suitable candidates with clean prison records, who can safely be reintroduced back into society. This is an important development, because it means that some individuals who were convicted of federal drug crimes and given lifetime sentences may be eligible for release. Incarcerated individuals from Florida can determine if they will qualify for inclusion in this program by reviewing their prison behavior records, the nature of their conviction and other details relating to their sentence. If successful, this could mean a new life for numerous prisoners who previously had no hope of freedom. Source: inquisitr.com, “Man Gets Same Prison Sentence As Rapist And Kidnapper Ariel Castro For LSD Drug Charge” No author given, Apr. 28, 2014

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Federal Crimes

25 suspects in Florida charged with ID theft and tax fraud

Twenty-five people in Florida were arrested and charged with counts of tax fraud and identify theft in the last few weeks, as authorities worked to crack down on what they say is a crime that has been growing in popularity lately. The crime can keep people who deserve tax returns from getting them, and it can net a lot of fraudulent returns for people who file under names that are not their own. In this case, the total amount of money that was paid out before the Internal Revenue Service realized that tax fraud was taking place was about $9.5 million dollars. All told, though, around $36 million in false claims were submitted. This was the result of thousands of identities being stolen and used for a string of small claims. School workers were even involved in the crime, taking the identities of students and using them to put in the claims. The victims never knew that their identities had been taken, as students trusted the school to keep their information safe. Though they were not all students, it is said that as many as 14,000 identities were taken. It was not stated how many were used to file returns, though the $36 million in claims indicates that many of them were. Filing taxes can be confusing and difficult, and those who are doing it need to make sure that they are doing everything legally. If someone is facing fraud charges for a mistake, they have a right to defend themselves. Even if they were intentional about the fraud, they still deserve a fair trial and a chance to appeal an unfavorable verdict. Source: Miami-Herald, “Feds charge 25 suspects with ID theft, tax fraud in South Florida take-down” Jay Weaver, Apr. 04, 2014

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