The Advice-of-Accountant Defense in Federal Court


In the federal case of the United States versus Theresa Kottwitz, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge erred when he refused to give a jury instruction on Kottwitz' good-faith reliance on the advice of her accountant in a tax fraud prosecution. The Court of Appeals stated that a criminal defendant bears an extremely low threshold to justify the good-faith-reliance jury instruction and does not need to prove good faith. Whether the defendant fully disclosed the relevant facts, or failed to disclose all relevant facts, or concealed information from her adviser, and relied in good faith on her adviser, are matters for the jury to determine, not the judge.

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