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Will I have difficulty finding employment if I plead guilty/withhold adjudication for failure to file sales tax?

Lakeland, FL |

Last week I plead guilty to a charge of failure to file six consecutive sales tax returns. The court added withhold adjudication which to my understanding is that I am able to have my record sealed and expunged after I complete the required probation which was set for 18 months (one time reporting). I have no criminal record before all this. I would like to go back to school and gain employment in the medical field. Does anyone know if they have heard of difficulties being hired in situations similar to mine? I was told that I would likely just have a no contest and one year probation, however once I got in court, the horses changed in the middle of the race and was told that the prosecutor's supervisor couldn't allow anything other than a guilty plea for the charge.

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

I need to be brutally honest here. I have been practicing for over 22 years and in that time, I have heard my share of stories of theft, fraud and tax evasion charges impeding someones ability to get work. I hope you will not get convicted. If you avoid a conviction, you may be able to seal your record after probation is over if it is in fact a State criminal case. I wish you the best of luck! I know you are in a tough situation and my answer may not be what you want to hear.

Please be advised that answering your questions does not establish an attorney-client relationship with myself or my firm. 407-588-6714 bill@thelawman.net

Asker

Posted

Honesty is what I'm looking for. I was not convicted. It is my understanding that an adjudicated withheld is not a conviction. I only wish the Dept of Revenue went after the customers who didn't pay us to get their share (approx. $300,000)...but in the state of Florida once you generate an invoice, you are still responsible for the tax...even if the invoice was not paid...sigh. I hate to think that this issue will prevent me from obtaining employment in the future...even after probation is over and sealing and expungement.

William David Umansky

William David Umansky

Posted

I read you loud and clear. I wish you luck. we all make mistakes and i am a big proponent of second chances!

Asker

Posted

I just wish all this was based on a case by case basis and not lumping me into a category with so many others. Unfortunately this situation makes me feel like I can't win for losing. It's a crap shoot if I go to school for nursing, go for the application process to get a license only to find out there's no guarantees I can get a license, let alone employment! If it's sealed and expunged, you'd think that would make a difference. I'm finding out it doesn't matter, especially in certain jobs.

Posted

I would recommend that you call the school that you plan on attending, as well as the licensing board's office (if you plan to study for a license) and ask this question of them. You want to avoid the situation where you're going to school for a field (and paying lots of money or taking out lots of student loans) in which you'll never be able to obtain a license in due to a prior record.

Please be advised that my answer to this question is based on limited facts and offered solely for informational purposes. My answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. Maria E. Castagliuolo can be contacted at 727-698-3634. If my answer was helpful, please select Best Answer or Helpful. Thank you!

Asker

Posted

That's exactly what I was thinking. I don't want to waste my time or theirs. Others have also told me that the school will tell you it's no problem at all whether they know it or not just because they want you there at their school.

Maria E Castagliuolo

Maria E Castagliuolo

Posted

Good luck!

Asker

Posted

If adjudication is withheld can I get the case sealed and expunged or only sealed? That's what I am hearing.

Asker

Posted

I just spoke to the Dept of Health for the state of Florida and the lady at the licensure department indicated that a level 2 screening would show the record even after it's been sealed and expunged and that she can not pre-qualify anyone. Upon sending in my application (after school) it would be reviewed and dealt with on a case by case basis. So basically, finding out whether I will get hired anywhere that requires a medical license is a crap shoot.

Posted

If you receive a withhold of adjudication and you have no other criminal history you can have your record sealed from public records. Good Luck!

Asker

Posted

I am hearing that you can get it sealed but not expunged (because its a withhold adjudication) because it's a trade off. What's the difference in the two terms? How does this benefit me later on when I want to find employment if I can't do both?

Colleen M. Glenn

Colleen M. Glenn

Posted

You can seal a case that has a withhold of adjudication. You can expunge a case that has been dropped. The big difference is that the expungement "undoes" the arrest thereby putting you in the same position you were in pre-arrest, whereas the sealing, seals it from the public's view

Asker

Posted

Can both a seal and expungement be done for a 3rd degree felony...no criminal record prior? I am also finding out that any job in the medical field that requires a license requires you to give information about the case even after it's been sealed and expunged. Do you know if this is true? Also, employers lately are not caring whether it's withhold or conviction. They seem to deep six an application even if there's an arrest record. What's the point of withhold adjudication if you are going to get turned down at every turn? My goal is to get back into school and start a new career.

Asker

Posted

The Dept of Health for the State of Florida just told me that only after I apply for the license can they tell me whether it would be accepted or not. She said it's required that they do a level 2 screening which even after a seal and expungement, would still show on my record.

Posted

The answer to your question, I'm sorry to say is yes, you will likely have a problem. Not because your prospective employers will find your sealed record, but because the FL Department of Business and Professional Regulation will have access to your records. When you try to get a license in the medical field, this issue will come up and your initial application will likely be denied. If you try to open another business in Florida, then your DR-1 business application to the FL DOR will be initially denied because of this as well. Any major job you apply for will ask whether you have every been convicted of a felony and you will have the dilemma of how to answer.

What I really can't believe is that your situation rose to the level that you ended up before a judge on this issue. Normally, all you have to do is file the back returns during the FL DOR investigation and the failure to file returns issue will go away. Not paying the tax may still be an issue, but it is very rare for a failure to file returns charge to end up as the sole issue before a judge. My practice area is Florida sales and use tax controversy and I do criminal representation on sales and use tax matters as well. Lakeland is one of the much more conservative areas of the state and sales tax charges are taken very seriously.

If you have any other questions, then feel free to give me a call. My office is only about 25 minutes from Lakeland. www.FloridaSalesTax.com 813-367-2134.

Warm regards,

James Sutton, CPA, Esq.

Asker

Posted

Essentially, my husband and I feel that the first attorney we had working on our case (before he went AWOL) who was originally hired by us to collect from past customers of ours for non-payment, was very lax in communicating and handling our case with the investigator that took on our criminal case. There was a period of time of about 4 to 5 months after the investigator contacted us and our attorney that nothing was done on our end because we had the attorney and thought he was "taking care of it". The fact that my charge for the failure to file is a withhold adjudication should help my situation. I was hoping that sealing and expunging after my probation is complete will help also but I am finding that employers these days, especially those in the medical field who do level 2 background checks will not care what the circumstances are or our lack of criminal past before all this. I believe all this has more to do with the fact that the state of Florida has seen a decrease in revenue in the past several years and whatever would never have been an issue 15-20 years ago, the state is making one now...especially to those that are self-employed. Now we are faced with penalties and interest that we have to still pay on the principal of $77,500. That part I have been told by the investigator with the Dept of Revenue is civil, but my fear is that it will turn into a criminal matter at some point if we can't pay it. Also, I found out that there were two months (Nov and Dec) in 2011 that were not included in the criminal case. Feels like it is an ace in the hole for later on. Ugh.

Posted

Many people plead guilty or no contest because it is the expedient thing to do figuring, well, I can get this record sealed. Unfortunately, they didn't read the sealing statute, which provides, among lots of other things, that some agencies, law schools, the cops, and others can always see your record no matter what you do. So if it's a professional license you're interested in, chances are the state licensing agency will be able to see your record. So even a sealing may not help you in this situation.

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