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Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

Healthy competition vs. illegal price-fixing: Where's the line?

It doesn't take an MBA to understand that raising or lowering the price of a product affects a company's competition in the market. Whether it's in response to consumer demand or a competitor's change in its pricing, companies are free to set the prices of their own goods or services. It's one of the main tenets of our free market economy.

But there are limitations to what companies can do when raising or lowering prices. A prime example is price-fixing, in which two or more companies agree to restrict competition by raising, lowering or stabilizing their prices. This business practice is illegal, and those who engage in it can face heavy penalties from the government agencies that enforce antitrust laws.

White collar crime defense requires proactive approach

For many people who are charged with a work-related white collar crime, an arrest doesn't come as a complete surprise. If you've taken a risk by skimming funds from your employer or similar activity, chances are good that you're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This waiting can be an excruciating experience because you don't know what lies ahead. Will you be arrested, and when? Will you go to jail, and for how long? Most important, how can you prepare for whatever lies ahead? 

5 essential qualities of a white collar criminal defense attorney

Have you ever been lost in a maze? Being accused of a white collar crime can feel very much the same. Being confused and in a state of panic, are often normal reactions to the initial shock of learning you are being investigated or charged. 

Even if you've never been charged with a crime before, you might guess that one of the first things you should do is find an attorney. But how do you choose one among the hundreds of lawyers that surface in a Google search? Here are some key points to keep in mind when selecting a criminal defense attorney for your fraud case:

Changes Affecting Federal Cases - More favorable Sentencing

After what seems like decades of a constant ratcheting up of maximum sentences, and an increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, there have been some favorable changes, both in the books and on the way. Each year, amendments are proposed to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Last year, a 2-point decrease in the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses went into effect. This change was retroactive, and , with a Rule 35 sentencing reduction, for cooperation completed after sentencing, a client was released from custody for time served. Others will be released ahead of schedule. This change impacts thousands of persons in custody for federal drug crimes.   

The Internet can be a blessing and a curse for Atlanta residents

Thanks to advancements in technology, we now have the ability to access just about any piece of information we want within seconds. For those who own smartphones, accessing information is even easier than ever and can happen on the go. But while a majority of people across Georgia and the nation enjoy the ease at which they can surf the Internet, such access should be considered both a blessing and a curse.

That's because police and law enforcement agencies can oftentimes access the same information we can with the same amount of ease. From Twitter feeds to Facebook posts, just about anything we put on the Internet may very well be viewed later by a criminal investigator. In many cases, what may seem like an innocuous posting or check-in on your favorite social media site, could be seen as evidence to be used against you in a criminal investigation.

Is it illegal to sell something that is considered a counterfeit?

Most people know that when it comes to brand-name or licensed items, there is often a higher cost associated with these types of goods. From a few dollars to a couple hundred, the increased cost of these items can be a turn off for some consumers, causing them to turn to retailers who appear to be offering the same item, but at a lower price.

Unfortunately, in some cases, these lower-cost items may be what are called counterfeits, meaning they were not manufactured or produced by the item's owner or with their permission. In many cases, counterfeits look exactly like the original good, leaving consumers none the wiser.

A look at the antitrust case against Apple over e-book pricing

As we have said before on our blog, our nation has a myriad of laws. But as we pointed out back in April in one of our posts, many people aren't familiar with many of our laws. One set of laws you might not know about are federal antitrust laws. That's because these laws generally apply to business owners and companies, although many individuals are currently being prosecuted for rigging bids at foreclosure auctions in various states around the U.S. Many of those being prosecuted had no idea that what they were doing violated the law.

In today's post, we'd like to look at federal antitrust laws, particularly the Sherman Act, and see how it applies in real life. We will do this by looking at the recent ruling against Apple Inc. to see why adhering to these laws is so important.

A closer look at money laundering and your bank transactions

At the beginning of the year, around the start of May, we presented readers of our blog with the case of a Georgia business owner who, in 2013, had $950,000 of his assets seized by the IRS because the government thought his small business transactions were an indication of criminal activity. As we explained in the post though, these transactions weren't illegal at all despite the government's insistence.

What this case should have illustrated to our Atlanta readers is that investigators may look at honest business transactions and assume the worst, which can easily lead to criminal investigations and serious charges. Once again, we'd like to highlight this fact by taking a look at how investigators might mistake legitimate business transactions for illegal activities and what residents in Georgia can do to protect their rights.

What are the penalties for writing a bad check in Georgia?

Many of Georgia's laws, as well as some federal laws, are grounded in moral judgments. This means that these laws carry a presumption that a person should have known the difference between right and wrong and therefore shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place.

But as some of our Atlanta readers are well aware, our state and federal government also have what are called statutory laws. These are based less on moral decision and more on policy. It's these laws that can create the most confusion because it can be difficult sometimes to see when you are breaking the law and when you are not.

A look at federal hate crime laws in wake of tragic shooting

From one end of the country to the other, you'd be hard pressed to find a person who did not hear about the tragic deaths of nine people who were killed in a South Carolina church just weeks ago. Called horrific by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department, the tragedy calls to the nation's attention the issue of hate crimes and the penalties involved in committing such a crime.

For those here in Atlanta who don't know, federal law 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(1)(B)(i) makes it illegal to use a firearm to kill another person based on the victim's race, color of their skin, religion or national origin. Such an action can result in imprisonment for life, depending on the circumstances, in addition to steep fines. These elements, which match the South Carolina shooting, are the reason why the accused man in this case could soon face federal charges if the Justice Department decides to take action.

Notable Cases:

  • Dismissal of federal indictment alleging operation of a chop shop and possession of vehicles with altered VIN numbers following successful motion to suppress.
  • Judgment of acquittal for a Georgia resident obtained after a two-week federal trial in fraud and money laundering charges;
  • Acquittal in a month-long federal racketeering prosecution;
  • Acquittal in a two-week trial charging a law enforcement officer with conspiracy to distribute 30 kilograms of cocaine;
  • Acquittal in an aggravated assault case employing battered woman's syndrome defense;
  • Acquittal in a multiple armed robbery prosecution;
  • Felony drug conviction vacated for non-citizen and deportation avoided in Georgia case;
  • Acquittal in a feticide by vehicle prosecution in Fulton County, Georgia;
  • Plea agreements for two years of probation after three-month federal trial on racketeering, fraud, and money laundering charges (Gold Club case);
  • Suppression of evidence and a dismissal of the charges in a number of drug cases;
  • Dismissals of the charges in rape, murder, federal fraud, and various other state and federal cases.
  • Dismissal of Georgia medicaid fraud and other felony charges on behalf of a Georgia pharmacist
  • Probation for an attorney in a federal fraud case in New York despite sentencing guidelines of 51 to 63 months.
  • Probation, with 6 months house arrest, in a federal antitrust case in Atlanta although the government recommended 10 months in custody.
  • Probation in 100 plus kilogram federal cocaine case in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Reversal on appeal of aggravated assault and aggravated battery convictions in Georgia, vacating a 14 year sentence on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.
  • Reversal on appeal of armed robbery conviction in Georgia on basis of failure to grant motion to suppress.
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Nick Lotito Seth Kirschenbaum

Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum
918 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30306

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