Failure to remain at the scene of a crash in Florida is not merely a minor traffic offense. It can result in high-level felony charges accompanied by severe penalties. It’s an offense for which defendants would do well to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer – the sooner the better. Making any statement to a law enforcement officer, insurance agent or other third party before talking to your lawyer could put your freedom and your future in jeopardy.Police Lights

A Florida hit-and-run arrest was recently made in Hillsborough County (near Tampa) after an insurance agent contacted the Florida Highway Patrol after a customer reported damage to his vehicle.

According to Fox 13, a 56-year-old man from Clearwater was arrested at his home the day after a crash that killed 17-year-old Ashley Perdomo. Investigators say she had just left her shift that night at the El Unico Supermarket. As she crossed the street, investigators say a vehicle driven by Nikolaos Konstantinou struck her around 8 p.m. Konstantinou reportedly failed to stop.  Continue reading

In Florida, you may be entitled to have your juvenile record sealed or expunged, depending on the circumstances in your case. Typically, this is a one-time deal, unless a judge determines a subsequent arrest is related directly to the arrest that was already sealed or expunged. Although there are some cases that can be expunged automatically and without the aid of an attorney, it is best to discuss your legal options with a lawyer.Handcuffs

You want to make sure it’s done right because a juvenile record can affect:

  • Where you live;
  • Where your family is allowed to live;
  • Where you can go to school;
  • Where you can apply for a job;
  • Whether you can obtain financial aid for college;
  • If you/ your family are eligible for welfare assistance.

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In 2001, a Broward County boy became the youngest ever in American to be sentenced to life in prison. That was 15 years ago.


Recently, a number of those who were involved in the Lionel Tate case, including the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney, convened as part of a panel before the Broward County Crime Commission’s conference on juvenile and adolescent violence. They were there to discuss the landmark case, which involved a 12-year-old boy who in 1999 killed a 6-year-old girl whom his mother had been babysitting. He was reportedly attempting to imitate the pro-wrestling moves that he had seen on television.

An appellate court overturned Tate’s murder conviction in 2004, finding it wasn’t clear he had understood the charges. That led to a plea deal in which he agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 10 years probation. Those who were involved in the criminal case say they lacked clear guidelines for how they were supposed to handle matters like this. They had never before faced this type of circumstance, and the courts didn’t offer much guidance.  Continue reading

Prosecutors in California who withhold exculpatory evidence or tamper with evidence in a criminal case will now face felony charges themselves. The recent law, signed by that state’s Governor Jerry Brown, allows a penalty of up to three years’ prison time for prosecutors who withhold evidence that defendants could use to exonerate them. Before this law passed, such actions were criminal, but they were only considered misdemeanor crimes. gavel

Officials say the measure was necessary in light of a growing number of cases wherein people have been wrongfully convicted at least in part because prosecutors abused their power and position. The measure follows a high-profile case in Orange County where a prosecutors in a murder case was found to have repeatedly violated defendant’s rights by not turning over key evidence. Although the court overseeing the matter did not find the prosecutor had engaged in willful misconduct, he was nonetheless removed from the case.

There are allegations from the public defender’s office in that region that corrections officers have for years violated inmates’ rights with an illegal jailhouse informant program that prosecutors tried to hide. This involved using the testimony of fellow inmates in exchange for leniency in their pending cases – while not disclosing this deal at trial. A number of high-profile criminal cases have collapsed as a result. Prosecutors are now saying if the law applies to them, it should apply to defense lawyers too.  Continue reading

A South Florida domestic violence arrest recently led to a reportedly huge break in a 26-year-old cold case.handcuffs1

Joseph Zieler, 54, was arrested in August for allegedly shooting his adult son with an rifle. His was not seriously hurt, but Zeiler was facing a felony charge nonetheless. Because this was a violent felony charge, Zieler’s DNA was entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System). Lab workers reported a “hit” – on a double homicide/ sexual assault that occurred in Cape Coral way back in 1990.

According to The News-Press, police believe Zeiler, who was 25 and lived in the area at the time, killed 11-year-old Robin Cornell and 32-year-old Lisa Story, at their home in Cape Coral. Story was the roommate and friend of Robin’s mother, Jan Cornell. Continue reading

An interesting legal debate has cropped up in Palm Beach County over a Facebook “like.” computer1

CBS 12 reports the defendant, Paul Maida, who has been linked to a deadly DUI accident in Boca Raton, has had his bond revoked for “liking” a post on his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page. The judge had ordered him not to have “contact” with his ex-girlfriend.

That woman is reportedly a key witness in the state’s case against Maida, who is accused of striking a 66-year-old bicyclist in April 2014 on Yamato Road. Maida is accused of fleeing the scene, which carries it’s own penalty in fatal crashes of a minimum mandatory 4 years in prison if convicted. Investigators say Maida eventually drove back to the scene of the crash, but only after switching seats with his girlfriend, who was reportedly not impaired.  Continue reading

Florida State University football team’s strength & conditioning coach was suspended for a month without pay following his Florida DUI arrest in Tallahassee, following a blow-out party with crew members of the “Showtime” network.whiskey

According to The Tallahassee Democrat, Coach Vic Viloria spent the evening drinking whiskey on the Florida State campus, first at his office and then, after deeming that “inappropriate,” fearing other employees might see, moving to the Showtime crew’s trailer. Although he initially planned to “sleep it off” in his office (a wiser choice), he chose to drive home early on a recent Saturday morning. However, he did not make it home before he was stopped by police. The FSU team and its season is the focus of Showtime’s latest series, “A Season With,” which debuted this month. Viloria said he was given a bottle of whiskey by the crew to celebrate the closing of the preseason camp. He reportedly opened the bottle in his office and shared it with three Showtime crew members.

The case is illustrative of the fact that a Florida DUI arrest can impact multiple areas of your life. Obviously for someone with a high-profile position like Viloria, the impact is severe. In this case, the 30-day suspension handed down by the university represents one-third of the team’s regular season schedule, which spans a total of 12 games. The suspension began Sept. 2 and will last through Oct. 1.  Continue reading

It’s estimated that more than 2,000 people die every year in domestic violence incidents in the U.S. Of those who die, more than 70 percent are women and in more than half of all cases, it’s a firearm that is used to carry out the crime.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Although the issue of availability of firearms is a controversial one in this U.S., but there is little denying the fact that the link between firearms and fatal domestic violence is strong. Just living in a state with a higher rate of gun ownership increases a female’s risk of suffering a fatal gunshot wound in a domestic violence, according to Boston University researchers. That study, released in January, indicated that for every 10 percent increase in gun ownership in a state, there was a 10.2 percent increase in gun-related murders of females.

Additionally, while firearms aren’t necessarily the fuel in domestic violence incidents, their presence does increase the lethality of an attack and also increases the number of victims (i.e., children, grandparents, friends, strangers, etc.). This phenomenon was chronicled recently in a comprehensive article by The Trace. Another thing the presence of a firearm does – whether it’s lethal or even fired – is increase the severity of the charges and the possible punishment. Continue reading

Police in Fort Lauderdale recently made a targeted effort to take down an alleged drug trafficking ring in South Middle River near downtown. They launched a six month undercover investigation, dubbed “Operation Bad Karma,” in which they ultimately made 22 arrests, aided by the U.S. Marshals Office and the Broward State Attorney’s Office.handcuffs1

Chief Frank Adderley said the goal was to reduce the proliferation of crack cocaine in these neighborhoods by arresting those responsible for its sale and distribution. Police suspect the group responsible for dealing crack cocaine in the region was also tied to an uptick in violence in the area over the last 12 months, including a handful of murders.

Residents in the area say they have been complaining for more than a year about open-air drug sales as well as violence connected to those engaged in the drug dealing. Police said the hope was that if they could get a handle on the drug activity, they would curb any further escalation of violence. The effort really got underway with fervor in January, when the bodies of two murder victims were found on the very same property where a man had been killed just three months earlier. Continue reading

Three years ago, Florida legislators passed a controversial bill that affected almost every kind of court case in the system – including criminal cases. The change involved the standard to which expert witnesses are held in court. Their expert qualifications, their methodology, their testimony – all of this came under greater scrutiny when justices did away with the previous “Frye Standard” and instead adopted the “Daubert Standard,” which is used in federal courts and in most other states. gavel21

This was largely deemed a positive move for two groups: Criminal and corporate civil defendants. However, personal injury lawyers and some state attorneys have taken issue with it. The Florida Bar is the group that has asked the Florida Supreme Court to consider reverting back to the Frye Standard.

The Frye standard asks the judge to consider whether to allow expert witness testimony into evidence based only on whether the it represents principles that are considered generally accepted in that particular field. The Daubert standard, meanwhile, requires judges to use a more stringent standard. Judges are asked to allow the expert witness testimony only if it’s based on sufficient facts or data, if it’s the product of reliable methods and principles and the expert witness has applied the methods and principles of the case correctly. Often, this requires something of a mini-trial before the trial. Continue reading