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Orlando, Florida Criminal Defense Blog

About Mark L Horwitz Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Offices of Mark L Horwitz defends those who are charged with or under investigation for criminal conduct and related civil litigation. For criminal defense, call a lawyer in Orlando, Florida. 407.401.7224. http://www.mlhorwitzlaw.com

Mitigating circumstances: what are they?

It can be difficult at times to understand sentencing in our criminal justice system. One person convicted of a crime might receive a relatively light sentence while another, convicted of the very same crime, pays a much heavier price.

There can be many reasons for disparities in sentencing. Some people accused of crimes agree to cooperate with authorities in exchange for lesser punishments. In some cases, judges consider mitigating circumstances such as a defendant playing a minor role in the commission of the crime; a defendant having no prior criminal record; the defendant accepting responsibility for the crime and being remorseful, and so on.

A call to reform Florida's sex offender registry

Virtually everyone is agreed that Florida has some of the toughest sex offender laws in the nation. While many people might take pride in that distinction, there are others who argue that Florida has gone too far, making sex-offense-related statutes so inflexible and harsh that the laws have become counterproductive.

In Florida, someone who has been convicted of viewing child pornography on their home computer is required to register as a sex offender. Registration is required even though the person never sexually abused a minor, never took a sexually explicit picture of a minor and never paid for obtaining child pornography. The nonpartisan Council of State Governments said in a report that "there is little empirical proof that sex offender registries and notification make communities safer." 

Don't let an honest mistake lead to self-incrimination

No one has to wait to be charged with a crime to seek legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney. In fact, many people wait too long before they begin taking steps to protect themselves, and consequently they may say things that effectively help investigators build a case.

In financial crime investigations, the stakes are high, and without the help of legal counsel, those suspected of violations run the risk of misstating details, forgetting important information and not knowing the law when knowledge of the law counts the most. Unfortunately, honest mistakes can result in criminal charges, which in turn can lead to the loss of a person's rights and freedom.

Bargaining can make a lot of sense in difficult situations

Many of our regular readers will recall the Orlando investment service firm, Capital Blu Management. The company was back in the news a few days ago when a Florida man pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud.

Sometimes people wonder why anyone would plead guilty. What's in it for the accused and what's in it for prosecutors? 

White collar accusations filed against four Florida men

As the countdown to the start of the NFL season continues, Orlando fans are making plans to trek west to Tampa to see games in person or arranging TV viewing parties with friends and family. Americans love football, but even more important, we love our Constitution and the guaranteed rights it describes.

Those two passions intersect in a case recently described by law enforcement officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI and federal prosecutors are charging four men with securities fraud. The men are accused of falsely representing to potential investors that they had green-laser technology that the NFL was about to use.

Separating fact from fiction

We have all seen television courtroom dramas about police and prosecutors closing in on the bad guy. We all know he's bad because we've either watched as he committed the crime or because he betrays himself with verbal missteps.

Real life is not nearly as stylish or compact as TV drama. Fraud investigations can take weeks or months, not 60 minutes. Fashionable hairstyles and clothing are crucial to TV ratings, but irrelevant to effective defense counsel in real life. 

Individuals arrested in South Florida for alleged cyber crimes

FBI agents have lately been targeting perpetrators for alleged cyber crime schemes. Recently agents arrested eight individuals in South Florida and Atlanta who are claimed to have been involved in an international ring. An FBI task force has been said to be working with banking and credit card operations in Florida to eliminate what they claim is a multibillion-dollar issue in the United States.

A number of individuals arrested worked for a call center where they were accused of gaining access to account information and customer IDs. Some of these individuals allegedly sold stolen information to other individuals in an effort to cash-in by fraudulently making a number of cellphone insurance claims. The defendants are charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Sentence recommendation in insider trading matter called severe

A former hedge fund manager for SAC Capital Advisors LP has been accused of taking part in an insider-trading scheme that netted $276 million. By recommending 15 to 20 years in prison, the probation department for the federal government's suggested sentence would be considered one of the most severe in U.S. history when it comes to insider trading.

This individual's attorney is outraged by the sentencing recommendation that was handed down. While pointing out that his client was "less culpable" than a number of other insider-trading defendants recently prosecuted, he mentioned cases where defendants faced with similar charges received sentences of as little as two years. The attorney stated that his client "was convicted of insider trading over the course of at most two weeks based on one piece of information from one tipper about one event."

Business owner charged with defrauding Florida agency

A former owner of a business that contracted out with the Florida Department of Financial Services to audit unclaimed property is now accused of defrauding the state of $117,041.82. It is claimed that the 55-year-old woman remitted unclaimed property funds to herself.

While collecting liabilities owed to the state, this woman's company was allowed to collect fees of up to 15 percent in relation to the dollar amount of the property. One other business her company was collecting from owed the state $117,403. While $17,500 for the 15 percent of the fees was transferred over to the woman's company after the amount owed was collected, it was claimed that more than $99,000 was later transferred to the company's accounts as well.

Credit Suisse Pleads Guilty to U.S. Charges of Conspiracy to Allow U.S. Citizens to Evade Taxes

The latest efforts of the U.S. Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service to pressure foreign banks was seen when Credit Suisse pled guilty to a wide ranging conspiracy to help U.S. taxpayers evade taxes through offshore accounts.  As part of the guilty plea, Credit Suisse will pay $2.6 billion to the federal government and New York financial regulators.

This is just another example of the United States government's pressure on foreign banks to report accounts held by United States citizens and residents. The U.S. government is also pursuing other banks, not only in Switzerland, but in other countries throughout the world.

This latest effort by the U.S. government was publically announced by United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, which underscores the high priority that the U.S. is placing on these efforts to route U.S. account holders with secret offshore accounts.

The U.S. has put a significant effort into forcing Swiss banks to comply with U.S. reporting regulations. In effect, foreign banks are forced to act as policemen to report U.S. taxpayers' foreign accounts. This effort against foreign banks is on-going with no end in sight. Other banks in Switzerland reported as currently under investigation include Julius Baer and Bank Pictet & Cie, as well as others.

The impact upon U.S. citizens holding such accounts can be quite severe. Once U.S. officials learn of an offshore account or beneficial interests in an offshore account, the account holder or beneficiary face investigation and prosecution for tax evasion, false statements on tax returns, as well as failure to disclose the offshore account.

The vigorous efforts of the government to pressure offshore banks into disclosing its U.S. account holders, should alert all those who hold offshore accounts to the importance of entering the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The OVDP allows offshore account holders to avoid criminal prosecution and significantly reduce the amount of civil penalties.

Entry into the OVDP is not permitted if the government has already obtained the account records from the foreign bank. Anyone with an unreported offshore account should act quickly to consult an attorney experienced in criminal tax defense and the OVDP before the foreign bank discloses the account records.