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Defending Liberty, Protecting Freedom, and Fighting for Justice when it Matters Most

Orlando, Florida Criminal Defense Blog

Offshore accounts: changes in the voluntary disclosure program

It's been more than five years now since the IRS first offered a limited amnesty program for U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts. The program has actually consisted of several closely related programs with similar acronyms.

In this post, we will discuss how the program has evolved and call attention to the role it can serve in avoiding possible criminal prosecution.

Can government seize your house, your car and your business?

The brief answer to the question above is “yes.” Yes, the state of Florida, or even a county sheriff or local police department can walk into a home or business and seize cash, property and other assets that the state says is connected to proceeds from organized criminal activity.

The FBI has this power as well. You might have heard of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known by its acronym: RICO. This racketeering law can enable the FBI and state and local law enforcement agencies to seize private property and assets – in some cases, even if no crime has been proven in our legal system.  

Federal authorities continue crackdown on child porn in Florida

During this past fiscal year, federal prosecutors brought a record number of child exploitation charges against defendants in the Middle District of Florida, which includes Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Ocala, and Fort Myers. Most of these cases did not involve allegations of direct sexual contact with a minor; rather, most cases involved charges of possessing, receiving or distributing child pornography by use of a computer.

Through an ongoing Justice Department initiative, federal prosecutors brought 127 child exploitation cases in the Middle District last year. The year before that, 104 cases were prosecuted. The year before that, there were 82 federal child exploitation cases. The numbers suggest a trend: federal and local authorities plan to continue their crackdown on child pornography in Florida. The crackdown appears to be targeting those who view child pornography and less effort is being put on finding those who sexually abuse children and make the child pornography. 

Effective defense counsel is the result of hard work, not magic

The old saying is that a friend in need is a friend indeed. When a person is in trouble, they find out quickly who their real friends are and which people were mere acquaintances. An example of this can be found in the story of a 70-year-old man sentenced to seven years in prison after he was unable to pay more than $1 million in back taxes.

A friend of his stepped forward and paid authorities $300,000 of the money owed in the tax fraud case. The 70-year-old, who had spent about seven weeks in incarceration, was then allowed to return home and ordered to continue making payments. A prosecutor scoffed at the arrangement, saying the $300,000 “magically” appeared after a new attorney began working for the man.

When prosecutors misinterpret honest mistakes

To say that our nation’s healthcare system is complicated is to understate the obvious. But as confusing as it is to the average consumer, it is much more complex on the other side of the industry, where healthcare providers must daily wade through labyrinths of codes, regulations, rules, laws and bureaucratic busywork.

Mistakes are common in the healthcare maze. Patients, physicians, insurers, government bureaucrats and others make errors as they try to navigate systems set up for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is perhaps inevitable that healthcare providers and their staffs misinterpret complicated and sometimes contradictory billing codes and are assumed to have attempted to overbill agencies or private insurance companies for services provided.

Florida jury rejects tax cheat claims against former banker

While much of Florida media has been understandably focused on Tuesday's election, some important news has flown under the radar. Among those items is a case that was heard about 200 miles south of Orlando.

In the case, a former banker was found not guilty in a federal court of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. The former Swiss banker was accused of helping American citizens unlawfully conceal $20 billion in foreign accounts.

Middle-class Americans caught up in IRS dragnet

The Internal Revenue Service is widely known and feared for its zealous pursuit of taxpayers who are suspected of committing tax crimes. However, the reality is that many people who have never broken the law are completely shocked to find that they are being investigated by the IRS. Another disconcerting reality: the IRS can seize your bank account even if no criminal complaint is ever filed against you.

This troubling practice has become more frequent in recent years, as the federal government has increasingly used an asset forfeiture law to go after individual taxpayers and small business owners. The law is meant to be used to seize cash from terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminals, but innocent, everyday Americans have been caught up in the dragnet. Once the IRS seizes your bank account through civil asset forfeiture, the burden is placed on you to get your money back.

Facing fear of the IRS head-on

Just a phone call from the Internal Revenue Service is enough to generate anxiety in a person. And when the IRS call includes threats of prison and large fines, the anxiety can quickly turn to fear.

You have probably seen the many articles in Orlando news media and national outlets about a scam in which people pretend to be IRS agents. They issue loud threats and can sometimes wring Social Security numbers and credit card information from unsuspecting taxpayers. The widespread success of the scam demonstrates the fear Americans have of the agency.

Revisiting the 'wisdom' of harsh sentencing in child porn cases

Regular readers will recall a recent blog we posted on the subject of often-flawed conventional wisdom. You might remember this passage: "Take for example people who are convicted of possessing child pornography without ever having any improper sexual contact with a minor. Conventional wisdom says these people should be locked up for years..."

We recently read a Florida newspaper article about a judge south of Orlando who apparently not only hews to conventional wisdom, but also uses it in his harsh sentencing of child pornography offenders.

How our Orlando criminal defense law firm can help you

It is undeniably difficult for a person to face the entire Florida state or federal criminal justice system. But when you are charged by the state with a crime, that is essentially what you must do. Fortunately, you do not have to do it alone.

The Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A. stands ready to help Orlando area clients accused of insurance fraud (a subject we covered in a recent post), embezzlement, offshore banking offenses and other white collar crimes, as well as drug crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes and more.

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Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
17 East Pine Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Phone: 407-401-7224
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