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Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
Sophisticated defense from
a former federal prosecutor
rightAttorney Mark Horwitz is Board
Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar

Criminal Defense Blog

Is the IRS changing its approach to civil asset forfeiture?

Multiple states, including Florida, have recently taken steps to either eliminate or restrict the universally reviled practice of civil asset forfeiture, which essentially provides law enforcement officials with carte blanche to confiscate any property that they believe is connected to a crime regardless of whether an arrest has been made, charges leveled or a conviction handed down.

Despite this progress at the state level, the practice has continued largely unabated among federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, which ironically enough introduced a policy designed to curtail its use just two years ago. 

Will discoveries in Panama Papers finally spur the DOJ to take action?

Our blog spent some time a few months back discussing the release of the Panama Papers, meaning the massive leak of files from the Panamanian-based law firm Mossack Fonseca to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.  

These files, which are still being painstakingly scrutinized by media outlets around the globe, have shed light on strategies employed by Mossack Fonseca on behalf of the world's rich and powerful. Indeed, The New York Times recently completed its own analysis of the number of U.S.-based clients utilizing these services and its findings were truly fascinating.

Officials starting to see value of non-punitive approach to Rx drug crisis

In a post recently, our blog relayed some of the shocking findings of a report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission outlining the number of drug-related fatalities across the state's 67 counties. Indeed, the report found that the situation is particularly dire here in Orange County, where abuse of prescription opioids and heroin continues to take an immense toll on public health.  

As truly disconcerting as this, the good news is that officials at both the state and federal level have recently taken steps to help combat the opioid and heroin epidemic that are decidedly non-punitive. 

Orange County leads the state in fatal heroin and fentanyl overdoses

Twice a year, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission releases a comprehensive report outlining the number of drug-related fatalities across the state on a county-by-county basis. While this report garnered relatively few headlines in the not-so-distant past, this has changed in recent years given our state's well-documented and persistent problems with prescription opioids and heroin.

As it turns out, the latest version of the report, released just a few weeks ago, reveals that these problems are particularly acute here in Orange County and that those struggling with opioid addiction are now turning to an even more dangerous drug.

Are you familiar with microcap stock fraud? - II

A few weeks back, our blog began discussing how it's important to understand that the types of fraudulent financial activities investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and enforced by the Justice Department go beyond just household names like pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes.

To that end, we started exploring microcap stock fraud, an incredibly interesting yet somewhat abstruse type of securities fraud involving companies with small operations and limited assets (i.e., a low market capitalization) whose stocks are inexpensive and traded in smaller quantities.

Orlando City Council approves marijuana decriminalization measure

In a post last month, we began discussing how Orlando was inching ever closer to having a marijuana decriminalization measure on its books, following the lead of places like Tampa and Volusia County. 

In recent developments, Orlando officially joined the ranks of these municipalities when the City Council voted 4-3 to approve a measure allowing police officers to hand out citations to those caught with marijuana. Indeed, the city is now the first in Central Florida to adopt such a progressive stance.

Has Florida finally taken decisive action against civil forfeiture?

Last week, our blog discussed the much maligned and widely employed law enforcement practice of civil forfeiture, which essentially provides local and state law enforcement officials in the majority of states with the authority to confiscate property that they believe is connected to a crime -- regardless of whether the person to whom it belongs was convicted, charged or even arrested.

We also discussed how several states are now taking steps to eradicate the practice altogether -- most recently Nebraska -- or, at least, restrict it to some degree. In fact, most people might not realize that Florida actually took just such an action last month.

Another state has now chosen to eliminate civil forfeiture

Of all the surprises the justice system holds for the uninitiated, none is perhaps greater than the concept of civil forfeiture, which gives law enforcement officials carte blanche to seize and retain property that they believe is connected to a crime -- no matter how tenuous this connection actually is.

Indeed, law enforcement in the majority of the states have the ability to hold onto property they believe is connected to illegal activity regardless of whether the person to whom it belongs was convicted, charged or even arrested. Further muddying the waters, of course, is the fact that law enforcement agencies actually get to keep a portion of the property forfeited.

Reports: DOJ is already investigating the Panama Papers for criminal activity

In a month filled with headline-grabbing news stories both here and abroad, the one that has perhaps generated the most discussion -- at least among legal circles -- was the release of the Panama Papers.

That's because this colossal -- and still ongoing -- leak of files from the Central American-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, long recognized for its work as a corporate service provider, to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has put the spotlight on the largely secretive world of offshore accounts.

Bringing Litigation Against the U.S. Government: a Case Study

In September of 2014, the United States sued my client, DM, filing an 89 page complaint seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting Mr. M from engaging in the tax return preparation business and also seeking disgorgement of $11 million which represented the gross receipts of the tax return preparation companies that the government associated with Mr. M.

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