Actor Wesley Snipes has appealed his three-year sentence on tax charges to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the “Blade” trilogy star filed their appeal on the grounds of a provision in the Bill of Rights that says criminal cases must be brought in the judicial district where the crime was committed, according to Forbes.com. Snipes was tried in Ocala, Fla., even though his attorneys argued during his trial and later while appealing his conviction that he had not lived in Florida since he was a child.
Snipes was convicted in February 2008 of three misdemeanor charges of failing to file his federal income tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001, but was acquitted of felony charges (see Snipes Sentenced to Three Years for Tax Charges). He has launched numerous unsuccessful appeals, but began serving his prison sentence late last year (see Wesley Snipes Goes to Jail).
Snipes had complained before the trial that the venue of Ocala, Fla., was a “hotbed of Klan activity.” He said he had lived in New York, New Jersey and California during most of the period in question, but prosecutors noted that he maintained a home in Florida and gave the address there on various forms.
They had also cited many of the tax protestor practices followed by Snipes and his financial advisors, in which he claimed a homestead exemption as a “citizen of the Republic State of Florida.”
Snipes’ attorneys are also arguing that the judge at his trial instructed the jury that they had to accept the Florida venue by the standard of the “preponderance of the evidence” when it should have been established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They want the Supreme Court to rule on the level of evidence needed to establish the proper venue.
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