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Wichita Criminal Defense Law Blog

Tax season means opportunities for tax fraud charges

It's tax season again, which can be a big opportunity for serious trouble if you are not careful with your preparations. Tax fraud can lead to serious consequences and be much more costly than any fudging the numbers may have saved you to begin with. If you are concerned that you may be at risk of committing tax fraud, it is always wise to consult with a tax professional and an attorney who is well-versed in defending white-collar crime.

Firstly, it is important to note that you have not committed fraud by simply making a mistake. The United States tax code is enormous and constantly changing, so it is virtually impossible to file a completely error-free return unless you have very simple income. Should the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) find that you've made mistake, you will most likely be asked to pay whatever you should have paid to begin with, or if your mistake charged you too much, you may even be given a credit. Yes, it is possible!

DUI checkpoints present complex problems

You're driving home from the bar or from a friend's place, maybe after a few drinks. You were careful to drink plenty of water and eat some food so as not to drink on an empty stomach and you feel fine to drive, but you may still be technically over the limit. Up ahead, you see traffic slowing to a stop, and the familiar sight of flashing lights. At first, you think there must have been an accident, but as you get closer, you have that sudden sinking feeling — it's a DUI checkpoint.

A number of states do not allow police to perform DUI checkpoints, interpreting them to be a violation of citizens' constitutional rights. However, Kansas does currently allow for police to use the tactic. Many legal experts oppose the practice, claiming that it removes the requirement that an officer have some sort of suspicion that a driver is intoxicated in order to stop them for questioning. However, on a federal level, the Supreme Court has ruled that checkpoints are legal, asserting that the issue of public safety from drunk drivers outweighs the violation of 4th amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

What are my Sixth Amendment rights?

When you are charged with a crime, it is important to ensure that your rights remain protected. One of the most vital tools for protecting your rights is the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees a number of rights to those who face charges. It is important to remember that when you invoke or protect your Sixth Amendment rights, you are doing so not only for yourself, but for countless others. It is crucially important that you do not allow the legal system to violate your rights, for everyone involved.

In broad terms, the Sixth Amendment is where we derive the right to legal counsel during interrogation, trial, sentencing and even appeals. If you have ever seen a T.V. show where someone shouts that they have the right to an attorney, they are invoking the Sixth Amendment. However, the Sixth Amendment has more specific provisions that are good to know. Among other reasons, violations of your Sixth Amendment rights may invalidate the charges against you, in certain circumstances.

A strong legal defense protects all your rights

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, a bill that would have created permanent gun-free zones on public educational campuses failed to make it out of committee to get sent to the State Senate for a vote. The measure was intended to counteract a 2013 bill that will allow concealed weapons to be carried on campuses in Kansas beginning in July. The success and respective failure of these measures speak volumes toward the local climate public opinion regarding gun rights and the potential for violent crimes.

Kansas is an interesting case, politically and socially. While she has long been in the heart of Second Amendment country, the tide turned decidedly to the left in the November elections, when roughly two dozen Republican legislators were voted out for there more liberal counterparts. There was some anticipation among gun control activists that the fresh class of legislators would be enough to move the proposed gun measures through, but this proved to be wishful thinking on their part for the time being.

Drug trafficking versus drug dealing

Drug charges of all kinds are very serious and should be handled with great care. Being convicted of a drug crime can have long-lasting effects, regardless of the nature of the offense. If you are facing drug charges, it is helpful to understand the difference between various kinds of charges, so that you can better build a strong defense and protect your future.

Two of the most commonly confused drug crimes are drug trafficking and drug dealing. While these two charges are very similar, there are some important differences that can have a significant effect in how a judge sentences for one or the other. Drug trafficking generally refers to selling, transporting or importing a significant amount of a controlled substance. Because trafficking generally deals with larger amounts of substances, the sentences are much heavier and can even mean life in prison.

Is adultery illegal?

Despite the turning tide of public opinion toward greater freedoms for consenting adults, some states, including Kansas, still maintain laws that restrict certain behavior that are generally recognized as no one else's business. While it may be objectionable on ethical grounds, adultery is generally understood to be a civil issue that should be resolved between the parties it affects. If you think it is strange that engaging in adultery could have legal consequences beyond providing grounds for divorce and possibly affecting a divorce settlement, think again. You're in Kansas now.

While it is unlikely that the law will be enforced, and the constitutionality of the law has been challenged heavily, Kansas statutes still make adultery a criminal act that can result in a fine of up to $500 and — this is not a joke — up to one month of jail time. Yes, you read that correctly. Fortunately, this law is essentially invalidated by Texas court decision from 2003 that determined states cannot regulate sexual behavior that is non-commercial and existing between consenting adults. Still, it is conceivable that a particularly ambitious judge might be tempted to make an example of someone on ethical grounds.

What constitutes securities fraud?

White collar crimes are a strange and often misunderstood classification. It is one of the few areas in the law where a person can take actions that may result in quite serious legal repercussions and not even know that they are actually breaking the law in some cases. Generally, a white collar crime means that a person or persons has abused privilege or knowledge in order to enrich themselves unfairly, but the lines can easily become blurry. One of the most common and most misunderstood examples of white collar crime is securities fraud.

Securities fraud is the broad umbrella that includes headline favorites such as "insider trading." In general, securities fraud encompasses crimes where someone either uses or withholds specific information for their own gain. If that seems like a very broad umbrella, it certainly is.

Fighting for fair treatment

When you are charged with a crime, it is vitally important that you secure legal representation as soon as possible. Often, the idea of "lawyering up" can seem foreign to those who have not spent time dealing with the criminal justice system. For many of our more fortunate citizens, it is difficult to understand why a strong defense is necessary, when they generally find it easy to avoid trouble with the law. A more in-depth understanding of how you might approach your defense may help you understand why it is so necessary in first place.

Crafting a defense begins with the conversation you have with your attorney. That conversation will generally go one of three ways -- denying guilt, admitting guilt or claiming that the situation is not as it seems. It is crucial for you to be as honest with your attorney as you can be, so that he or she can have the best chance of navigating the justice system on your behalf. If you flatly deny guilt in the charges against you, then it will be necessary to craft a compelling defense for why you are not responsible for the charges. Otherwise, you will automatically face unjust consequences.

Drug charges can have surprisingly harsh consequences

Marijuana use, especially for medical purposes, is seeing greater and greater acceptance throughout the country, both in public opinion and in the eyes of changing laws. However, in places like Kansas, where use remains prohibited, the penalties for being caught with marijuana remain overwhelmingly strict. One Kansas mother is now fighting not only for her freedom, but also for the custody of her child, after Child Services officials removed the child from her home.

The issues arose after her child mentioned her use of various forms of marijuana during a drug-prevention program at his school. State officials took custody of her son, citing an "unsafe environment." The trouble did not end there — the county's district attorney has his sights on the mother, serving her with various drug charges that may carry up to 30 years of jail time.

Understanding accomplice charges

When it comes to being held liable for a crime, often those who did not even commit a direct offense can be prosecuted for the having enabled the crime to take place. In the eyes of the law, those who are viewed as enablers or encouragers are considered accomplices in a crime, and may share as much guilt in the eyes of the court as the individual who actually commits a crime. Courts may consider an individual to be an accomplice if he or she either actively encourages and enables a crime, or even simply fails to prevent it.

There are several components a prosecutor must demonstrate when accusing a person of being an accomplice to a crime. The prosecution must show that the central crime was committed by another person, that the accused accomplice was mentally capable of participating and understanding his or her actions, and that the accused "aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged" the individual who committed the central crime in some way.

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