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Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
Sophisticated defense from
a former federal prosecutor

Criminal Defense Blog

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.

Orlando now one step closer to marijuana decriminalization measure

Attitudes toward marijuana have evolved considerably in recent years, with increasing numbers of people supporting use of the drug for medicinal and recreational purposes, and more state and local governments passing decriminalization measures.

Indeed, both Volusia County and Tampa passed such measures last month, joining the ever-growing list of places in the Sunshine State where those found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana won't be taken into custody. 

Are you familiar with microcap stock fraud?

While terms like pyramid scheme and Ponzi scheme are familiar to most people thanks to certain financial scandals over the last 30 years and the extensive media coverage they engendered, it's important to understand that there other types of fraudulent activity that fall within the ambit of securities fraud.

In today's post, we'll start exploring one of the more interesting yet esoteric types of securities fraud investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and enforced by the Justice Department: microcap stock fraud.

How much do you know about Florida's sex crime registry? -- IV

In today's post, we'll add another chapter to our ongoing examination of Florida's sex crime registry, which due to its draconian nature all but ensures that those men and women who have paid their debt to society will never truly be free to start a new chapter in their lives.

Specifically, we'll spend some time discussing the types of offenses that qualify a person for classification as a sexual offender as opposed to a sexual predator, and the limitations on freedom faced by those who fall under either category.  

SCOTUS: Seizure of untainted assets violates Fifth, Sixth Amendments

The Supreme Court of the United States made headlines earlier this week in Luis v. United States, a fascinating case examining whether the federal government's practice of seizing the assets of a defendant -- both tainted and untainted -- violates their constitutional rights.

The case in question involves a Miami woman who was indicted for banking and Medicare fraud back in October 2012, with federal officials alleging that she relied on kickbacks and other illicit practices to help her home nursing company fraudulently secure $45 million.    

A closer look at the appellate process here in Florida -- III

Over the last few weeks, our blog has been taking an in-depth look at Florida's appellate court system, whose judges are tasked with reviewing the decisions of the state's lower courts in order to determine whether harmful legal errors have occurred.

Our purpose in doing this has been to help clarify what can understandably seem like an arcane process to those outside of legal circles and, perhaps more significantly, to drive home the point to those convicted of felony-level offenses that they have not run out of options.

Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
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