Cigarette and Tobacco Product Tax Crimes
White Collar, Grand Larceny and Tax crimes come in a variety of schemes. One such fraudulent set of offenses involves tax crimes centered on cigarette and tobacco products. Codified not in the New York Penal Law, but the New York State Tax Law Section 1814, these crimes range from misdemeanor offenses to felonies.
For example, if you willfully attempt to evade a tax imposed on ten thousand cigarettes or more, twenty-two thousand cigars or more, or four hundred pounds of tobacco or more, then you would run afoul of New York State Tax Law 1814(a). No trifle matter, this offense certainly would require a call to your New York criminal lawyer or tax fraud attorney because upon conviction of this class “E” felony you would face up to four years in a New York State prison.
Whether a misdemeanor or felony, know that New York State Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax crimes generally range from unclassified misdemeanors to class “D” felonies. While the former are punishable by as much as a year in jail and the latter seven years in a state prison, it is rare to find a person or group of people to be solely charged with a Tax Fraud crime. Instead, prosecutors routinely will find means to arrest, charge and indict alleged tax avoiders with other crimes including varying degrees of Money Laundering, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny and even the class “B” felony of Enterprise Corruption. This last offenses is New York State’s version of the Federal RICO statute and is punishable by as much as twenty five years in prison upon conviction.
- Enterprise Corruption: New York Penal Law 460.20
- Money Laundering: New York Penal Law Article 470
- Grand Larceny: New York Penal Law Article 155
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument: New York Penal Law Article 170
While it may seem quite harsh that you could face all of these crimes and significant incarceration for merely falsifying stamps, avoiding taxes and illegally selling cigarettes and related products, the reality is that law enforcement is quick to protect the state from those who are depleting it of tax revenues. Be neither naive nor ignorant to this fact if and when the police, District Attorney or Attorney General execute search warrants at your home or place of business and are pursuing an indictment in criminal courts.
Common Cigarette and Tobacco Product Crimes
NYS Tax Law 1814(b): Any unlicensed person who willfully possesses or transports unstamped or unlawfully stamped packages of cigarettes subject to taxing for the purpose of sale is guilty of a misdemeanor. If a court previously convicted you of this crime, then the offense is a class “E” felony.
NYS Tax Law 1814(c)(1): Any unlicensed person who willfully possesses or transports at least ten thousand unstamped or unlawfully stamped packages of cigarettes or willfully sells or offers to sell the same is guilty of a class “E” felony.
NYS Tax Law 1814(c)(2): Any unlicensed person who willfully possesses or transports at least thirty thousand unstamped or unlawfully stamped packages of cigarettes or willfully sells or offers to sell the same is guilty of a class “D” felony.
NYS Tax Law 1814(g): Any person who falsely or fraudulently makes, alters or counterfeits a stamp prescribed by the tax commission or even causes or procures such a stamp to be made is guilty of a class “E” felony. Additionally, even if that person did not possess the fake stamp, it is also a class “E” felony to knowingly and willfully possess any cigarettes in packages bearing the counterfeited stamp. Lastly, it is a class “E” felony to knowingly and willfully possess the device that creates these fraudulent stamp.
Beyond the New York State tax offenses and crimes listed above, there are countless more relating to other actions and activities that deal with both cigarettes and just about every other taxable event. In fact, New York State has enacted laws and legislation to facilitate prosecutions and the disgorgement of monies it believes were wrongfully kept or not remitted. For example, New York State Tax Law 1814(d) allows a Grand Jury, trial jury or judge to presume that possession or transportation at any one time of at least five thousand unstamped or unlawfully stamped cigarette packages is proof that the cigarettes were possessed or transported for the purpose of sale and are subject to being taxed. Similarly, possession of four hundred unstamped or unlawfully stamped cigarette packages may not be presumptive evidence that they were possessed for sale, but is proof that the stamps are subject to New York State taxes. Simply, New York State wants what money it believes it is entitled to and those who attempt to or in fact horde these dollars and avoid payment will be prosecuted and punished.
If nothing else, upon reading this brief introductory to Cigarette and Tobacco Product Tax Crimes you should recognize the gravity of this offense as well as the crimes routinely prosecuted alongside NY State Article 1814. Do not merely look at these crimes as those only involving cigarettes. To do so would be as ignorant as the mistake that landed you in handcuffs before a judge. Instead, take the time to examine the allegations and evidence, review the applicable statutes and criminal exposure, and identify the defense that will provide you with the greatest chance to resolve your criminal case in an acceptable manner.
Call the New York Tobacco and Cigarette Tax Crime Lawyers and Former Manhattan Prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.