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Should I cooperate with the Feds in Jacksonville?


No, you should not. I wrote about this subject, generally, back in June of 2014, where I discussed the pros and cons of cooperating with prosecutors in order to get a better deal. Based on my recent experience, however, I am now firmly of the opinion, as a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, that cooperation, or informing on your friends and co-defendants in order to get a better deal, is a waste of time and counterproductive in in Jacksonville.

Is it legal for doctors to pay referral fees for patients?


No, it is not. Referral fees are illegal and are prosecuted by the federal government as kickbacks, especially if government medical insurance (Medicare and Medicaid) is used. Consider the case of U.S. v. Babaria, decided on December 31, 2014 by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Dr. Babaria, a radiologist, owned a business that provided diagnostic testing, including MRI's, CT scans and ultrasounds. From 2008 through 2011, he paid other physicians to refer their patients to his facility for diagnostic testing. He then billed Medicare and Medicaid for the testing procedures he performed. There was no evidence that he falsified patient records, billed for testing that was not medically necessary or otherwise compromised patient care. In other words, Dr. Babaria did everything right...except he paid the doctors who referred their patients to him referral fees. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I have represented doctors and those involved in the health care field with these types of issues.

Are more government agencies using undercover operations?


Yes, they are. In a front page article in "The New York Times", dated November 16, 2014, the federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors and ministers to ferret out wrongdoing. At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover cops dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protesters to look for suspicious activity. At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants, drug dealers or yacht buyers. At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have seen undercover cops used in many different situations.

Can I be prosecuted for just for talking about having sex with a minor over the internet?


Yes, you can. The prosecution of those looking to have sex with a minor over the internet has exploded in recent years. These cases are easy to prosecute: police officers pose as underage minors (or the minor's parents) and get people to make incriminating statements. Then, they arrest them; the prison sentences are long. And the entire crime is a complete fiction, since there was no possibility for the minors or those seeking them out to actually meet, because the 'minors' are actually police officers. But how can someone be prosecuted for attempting to commit a crime which could actually never come to pass? As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have seen it happen.

Is it a crime to be untruthful to federal agents who questioned you?


Yes, it is, and in the federal system, you can be charged with the crime of "knowingly and willfully" giving false statements in any matter under federal jurisdiction. This means that federal agents investigating a crime can knock on your door, interview you, not give you Miranda warnings and prosecute you for making an inaccurate or false statement under 18 United States Code 1001. You can be charged with making false statements and no other offense. I have represented people this has happened to as a Jacksonville criminal lawyer.

Can I get my federal drug sentence reduced?


Yes, you can get your federal drug sentence reduced. The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently lowered the offense levels for drug crimes by two levels and made the new law retroactive. That means those convicted and sentenced in the federal system for drug crimes can now apply to have their sentences reduced by about 25 months. This will apply to more than 46,000 inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons will notify inmates of their eligibility to apply for a sentence reduction. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I have begun the process of helping clients get their federal drug crime sentences reduced. Why is this being done? In large part, to ease the burden of overcrowding of the prison system and to reduce costs. Will all of those serving a sentence for possessing or distributing drugs automatically have their sentences reduced? No. First, a federal inmate must apply for a reduction. Then, the inmates probation officer will re-calculate the inmates current sentencing guidelines as if the new law applied. The application will then come before a judge for review, to decide whether the applicant would be a danger to the community and to determine whether the applicant deserves a sentence reduction. The applicant's lawyer and the prosecutor will also be involved in the process. No one can be released before November 1, 2015.

Can I get my charges dismissed based on outrageous government conduct?


Yes, it's possible, to get your charges dismissed, especially if you're in federal court. Reverse sting operations are all the rage these days (think police posing as underage girls on- line in order to get people to agree to meet with them for sex). The police are always coming up with ingenious ways to ensnare people who normally wouldn't be inclined to commit crimes. Of course, sometimes they go too far. As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I have witnessed the various police agencies engage in what I believed to be outrageous government conduct.

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