The defense of clients who are or may be under criminal investigation for violation of state and federal tax law has been a significant part of Robert Chicoine’s practice.
Most IRS and state audits involve exposure to additional taxes, interest and sometimes civil penalties. Criminal investigations are an entirely different matter. The potential sanctions are not just the payment of more tax, interest and penalties, but felony convictions, prison time, fines and restitution of unreported taxes. For various reasons, criminal tax investigations often drag on for years. The stake are obviously high. The situation not only requires a lawyer who knows about taxes, but one who has the experience and willingness to defend the client against zealous prosecutors in negotiations or at trial.
Criminal investigations can start from a variety of sources: a referral to the criminal branches of the IRS if a revenue agent uncovers a “firm indication of fraud”; a tip from a disgruntled business partner or “whistle blower”; special IRS projects designed to uncover problem areas of compliance; customer audits which show unreported payments to a taxpayer; or disclosure of financial information which has been produced by banking institutions who have been pressured by the federal government.
With the expansion of globalization, the world of commerce is a smaller place. New laws and treaties have allowed governments’ greater access to information that was once thought to be private or unreachable by international exchanges of information. “Eggshell audits” i.e. seemingly ordinary inquiries that could lead to the discovery of a taxpayer’s hidden efforts to evade taxes, can be particularly troublesome. Often undisclosed transactions are unknown by the accountant who prepared the returns under audit.
A tax conviction requires proof of intentional failure to perform a known obligation. The inability of the government to prove intent is a key defense. Robert Chicoine has obtained favorable results defending clients accused of tax evasion, perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, estate tax fraud, money laundering, failure to file returns, willful failure to pay taxes, currency violations, aiding and abetting, and tax preparer prosecutions. He has handled criminal tax investigations conducted administratively by the IRS and by the grand jury process frequently used by the Department of Justice. He has represented potential witnesses and possible targets of an investigation, as well as actual targets.
We understand that the best result is the case no one has read about; the case that hasn’t been indicted. This is not always possible, so the focus then shifts to obtaining the most favorable plea or an acquittal.
Whether our law firm is engaged at the beginning of a possible investigations or later, after attempts by others to resolve the investigation have failed, we have the commitment, experience, and ability to achieve the best possible result. There is a reason why the Chicoine Law Group has been voted by other lawyers and selected by the U.S. News and World Report as a one of the Best Law Firms in America for white collar criminal defense in the specialty of taxation.