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Florida_taxpayers.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense attorneys have learned that a Palm Beach County man has pleaded guilty to filing false personal income tax returns. The United States Attorney’s Office announced the plead on Friday.

The man owns a tax preparation and bookkeeping service and was indicted on three counts after he admitted to filing false personal tax returns with the IRS. The false tax returns understated his income between 2004 and 2006, saving him $77,000. As part of his plea agreement, the defendant has agreed to cooperate with the IRS and file amended tax returns for the period in question.

He is scheduled for sentencing on July 23 and faces up to nine years in prison (three years per count).

Source: Palm Beach County man pleads guilty to filing false income tax returns, South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 23, 2010 Continue reading

surveillance_camera_FL.jpgTwo recent Broward County murder cases use surveillance camera videos as evidence. In one case, a 63-year-old Coral Springs man is charged with bludgeoning his wife to death and shoving an automobile containing her body into a lake. A 62-year-old Pompano Beach man faces similar murder charges. Both men were caught on tape by surveillance cameras at nearby businesses.

According to an article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, there are now more than 2 million video cameras in spaces around the country, not including ATMs. These cameras can be used by police as powerful law enforcement tools for identifying suspects, discouraging property crimes, and spurring confessions.

Privacy advocates worry about the growing use of these cameras, but the trend is likely to continue in the future. In fact, governments like the city of Fort Lauderdale are now strategically setting up networks of surveillance cameras to monitor the city for possible crimes.

Source: Surveillance video is latest crime-fighting tool, South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 12, 2010 Continue reading

prescription_drugs.jpgAccording to a report from Florida’s medical examiners, deaths from illegal drugs on the decline, while fatal overdoses from prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Deaths from cocaine overdose went down 23% in 2008, while deaths from the painkiller oxycodone increased by 33%.

Prescription drugs accounted for three quarters of the drugs found in overdose victims. Oxycodone is reportedly the most popular drug in the black-market pill trade supplied by pill clinics, although many drug-related deaths involve dangerous drug interactions. The office of Broward County’s medical examiner detected oxydocone in 171 overdose deaths in 2008.

New laws on prescription drug monitoring went into effect last week, but the prescription database designed to detect addicts getting drugs from multiple doctors is not expected to be operational until late 2011.

Source: Prescription drug overdose deaths soar, Merced Sun Star, April 10, 2010 Continue reading

medical-marijuana-FL.jpgEach year on April 20, marijuana legalization advocates gather to celebrate 4/20, the annual celebration and mass civil disobedience inspired by “420” (insider slang for smoking cannabis). In Northern California, several hundred people gathered outside of a IGrow, a 15,000-square-foot cultivation equipment emporium, to observe “420 Eve.”

Revelers lit up joints inside a stretch Hummer parked outside the superstore and explored booths with pot-related merchandise like pipe-shaped lollipops. The store also has a doctor working three days a week to evaluate people who might be candidates for medical marijuana.

The celebratory vibe is felt elsewhere in the country, as four cable television channels present programming around 420 and pot-smoking culture.

Source: Pot smokers out, proud for 4/20 high holiday, Palm Beach Post, April 20, 2010 Continue reading

bank_robbery.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense lawyers have heard that two men accused of trying to rob a Hazleton bar were arrested last Wednesday night. Police were called to the M & T Bank last Monday after the attempted bank robbery. One of the suspects actually did rob the same bank earlier in April, escaping with about $3,600, according to police.

Contrary to what every criminal defense attorney would advise, the suspect chatted candidly with reporters, saying “just another day in the neighborhood, that’s all it is.” He even told the judge that he is currently on parole for armed robbery, has a long list of prior convictions, and doesn’t mind going back to prison.

Remember, anything you say to police or reporters can be used against you, so it’s often best to exercise your Miranda rights and remain silent if you have been arrested or charged with a crime.

Source: Attempted Bank Robbery Suspects Behind Bars, South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 14, 2010 Continue reading

Our South Florida attorneys have learned that due to budget cuts, Palm Beach County will be closing its five driver’s license offices over the next year. The Delray Beach office will close June 30. Several other closings are planned throughout the state of Florida to assist with the worsening budgetary issues. The state anticipates a $100 million budget shortfall for 2011.

Although local tax collection offices are supposed to take over the driver’s license renewal and issuing duties, Palm Beach County officials say they don’t have the space in their Delray Beach satellite office, which already shares space with the property appraiser.

According to the county, the Delray Beach driver’s license office processed more than 86,000 transactions last year. A new office is proposed for Lantana and would Palm Beach County’s only full-service driver’s license office.

Source: Palm Beach County considers alternatives to Delray drivers license office, South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 15, 2010 Continue reading

license_plate.jpgLast year, the legislature voted to increase the fee on specialty auto-license plates from $14 to $33, and charities which depend on tag revenues for funding are feeling the pinch as sales go into freefall.

Florida has 114 varieties of tags honoring a variety of causes, including universities, breast cancer research, wildflowers, and endangered animals. Sales of those auto tags have decreased by 64 percent compared to last year, according to officials.

Specialty tags originated in Florida and debuted on January 1, 1987 to raise money for a Challenger Space Shuttle memorial. According to a Florida senate report, sales have generated nearly $436 million in income for charities since the program started. Specialty license plates represent almost 9% of tags on personal vehicles in the state.

Source: Florida specialty auto tag sales plummet, South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 16, 2010
Photo courtesy of tome213
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With almost a month left for candidates to file to run for circuit or county judge in Broward County, this election is already showing signs of being unusually interesting race.

Traditionally, Broward County lawyers have shied away from running against an incumbent judge for fear of committing career suicide, but so far 12 sitting Broward judges have challengers. In the past two and a half decades, only 17 incumbent judges have faced challengers and only six have been defeated.

According to an article in The South Florida Sun Sentinel, this shift may be due to several factors, among them a courthouse gossip blog that eggs on lawyers to run for judge as well as the allure of a government salary and pension amidst a difficult financial climate. The salary of circuit judges is just over $145,000, while county judges earn $137,020 annually.

In the past few years, headlines have also painted an unflattering picture of several Broward judges, including one judge who was caught smoking marijuana in a Hollywood park and another who is accused of having inappropriate relations with the prosecutor in a death-penalty trial. We’ll be watching with interest to see how this plays out.

Source: 12 Broward judges facing challengers in unprecedented judicial election, South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 30, 2010 Continue reading

Florida_crime.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense attorneys have learned that Florida’s crime rate dropped by more 6% last year compared to 2008. Violent crime fell by almost 11%, according to statistics released earlier this week.

This trend played out across South Florida, including Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties. However, a spokesman for the Broward County Sherriff’s Office said that while the county’s 3% drop is encouraging, domestic violence continues to be an issue for the county. In fact, two recent cases involve men who were arrested in connection with their wives’ murders.

Governor Charlie Crist said on Wednesday that crime in Florida has dropped to the lowest level in 39 years. He added that this reflects well on law enforcement officers.

Source: Broward County crime drops, South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 7, 2010 Continue reading

FL_drug_law.jpgLast month, Florida lawmakers approved a new bill that will make it more difficult to sell carburetor pipes, chillums, and chillers in the state. Ironically, most members of the House Finance and Tax Council aren’t sure exactly what these items are, but they approved the bill 16-0.

“Head shops” claim they are selling paraphernalia to smoke tobacco, but lawmakers say those items are actually used to inhale marijuana and crack. The bill (HB 187) will prohibit Florida retailers from selling pipes, including those made of metal, wood, acrylic, ceramic, glass, stone, or plastic, unless at least three quarters of their sales are tobacco.

It’s also interesting to note that while the federal government bans the importation of drug paraphernalia, the state of Florida allows their sale once they’re in the state.

Source: ‘Head shops’ the target of bill limiting the sale of pipes to tobacco shops, Palm Beach Post, March 11, 2010.
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