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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

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.

What is insurance fraud and why am I charged with it?

TV courtroom dramas and police shows have a way of making everything clear. By the end of the hour, we understand who did what and why they did it and the consequences they face as a result. However, away from the bright lights and make-up, real people are not always certain at the moment of arrest why they're being arrested, what the charges are and what possible punishments they face if convicted.

It's not unusual, for instance, for a person to ask when they're being taken into custody: what is insurance fraud and why am I being charged with it?

Is banking secrecy a thing of the past?

Pay phones, videotape, paper maps, CDs, typewriters - the list of technologies and once-useful objects rendered obsolete seems to grow every day. Many observers of banking argue that that industry's long-vaunted secrecy is also about to be relegated to the past.

As Orlando foreign bank account holders know, the U.S. Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service have been busy over the past several years, forcing foreign bankers to hand over information about American accounts. For some account holders, it raises the possibility that they will be charged with tax evasion or filing false tax returns

Conventional wisdom on child pornography offenders

Many people believe that, in general, people are typically incapable of changing. The widely held assumption is that once a person commits a crime, they will repeat that mistake endlessly, regardless of consequences.

The reality is that conventional wisdom is sometimes wrong. 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, and once released treated as pariahs because, after all, they will repeat their mistake over and over. This is simply incorrect, as data from the United States Sentencing Commission shows.

House passes proposal to stiffen tax-return fraud penalties

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a crime bill proposed by Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She introduced a bill that would increase penalties for those convicted of tax-return fraud.

Law enforcement officials say that tax-return fraud involves identity theft and the filing of false tax returns. A person's Social Security number is obtained and then used to file a false return and collect a refund check from the federal government.

A look at prescription drug fraud

The news has been filled for the past few years about healthcare reform and many heated arguments for and against it. We are not taking a position on any side of that law, but rather intend to focus in this post on an aspect of healthcare less frequently dealt with by the media: prescription drug fraud.

Let's be clear from the start that when a person has been accused of prescription drug fraud, it is by no means certain that they are guilty of the crime. Our system has a built-in presumption of innocence that puts the burden of proof squarely on the government. That means that in the United States, we believe a person is innocent unless or until proven guilty. 

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.