Last month, the newly-formed Conviction Review Unit in Broward County convinced a South Florida judge to free a man convicted 16 years ago of robbery and sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors working with the CRU told the Broward County Circuit judge that they likely would be unable to gain a conviction today, given numerous evidentiary issues with the case, including the reliability of witnesses  and an alibi that jurors never had an opportunity to hear.Broward County criminal defense lawyer

An assistant state attorney leading the CRU told the judge it’s not even clear how the defendant was identified as a suspect, given that there was no physical evidence, no witnesses knew him and the only thing that lead police to him was an apparently questionable search through the TRAP program, a previously-used database of prior offender mugshots in a given area.

Broward County has one of the highest rates of false convictions in Florida. The National Registry of Exonerations notes more than 2,500 cases nationally of convicts later found innocent. More than 80 of those are from Florida and nearly a dozen in Broward. Continue reading

Can police in Florida legally compel a defendant in a criminal case to unlock their cell phones? Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers understand that question for now remains unresolved, after the defendant reached a plea deal, rendering appeal to the Florida Supreme Court moot. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

As a local NPR affiliate reported, the question arose from a case out of Alachua County, an alleged drug-deal-turned-robbery. One of the victims reportedly recognized one of the defendants whose mask was temporarily removed. Police questioned the defendant (now 22) and seized his cell phone from his vehicle. But it was locked by a passcode.

Police asked asked a judge to compel the defendant provide the passcode. Like many government agencies in recent years, police argued this type of digital encryption, protecting personal information stored in an electronic device like a smartphone or iPad, can impede criminal investigations. Continue reading

Recent reporting by The New York Times reveals that breathalyzer tests, used in almost every police department in America, routinely generate skewed results – even though they’re marketed as being precise to the third decimal. Last year, judges in New Jersey and New Hampshire tossed more than 30,000 breathalyzer test results as evidence in DUI cases due to human error and a lack of government oversight. The same thing has happened thousands of times over across the country after tests showed that improperly-calibrated machines can show blood-alcohol percentage results that are 40 percent too high.Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer

But does that mean drivers suspected of DUI shouldn’t take it?

Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers know the answer to this truly depends on the situation, but you should know two things: Continue reading

Narcotics detectives investigating Florida drug crimes in Miami-Dade recently employed a police drone to capture an alleged cocaine sale between a suspect and an undercover informant. According to The Miami Herald, this was a first in a criminal investigation. Its use had to be first approved by a judge in a case against a 31-year-old accused of numerous drug and weapons charges. Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys understand this news comes right as lawmakers in Florida are weighing whether to approve limited expansion of police drone use. Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have increased their purchases and use of drones as the technology has gotten cheaper – even as defense lawyers have raised concerns about civil rights and privacy intrusions.

The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College reports some 900 agencies in the U.S. (most of those law enforcement) purchased the lightweight, unmanned aerial devices in 2018. That number will soon be updated for 2019, and it’s expected to be much higher. Some police agencies anticipate that the use of drones by cops will someday be as ubiquitous as body cameras. But there is legitimate skepticism about the legality of these devices, particularly where agencies have declined to provide information to the public about their drone programs. For instance, police agencies in Southern California won’t release any details of their drone operations, despite one city claiming it has carried out more than 1,000 drone missions in a single year leading to well over 100 arrests.

Some departments have been criticized for flying drones over certain crowds of protesters, raising concerns about government spying. Continue reading

Super Bowl Sunday, slated for February 2nd in Miami this year, has historically been tied to an uptick in Florida domestic violence arrests. Given that numerous football players themselves have been arrested in high-profile domestic violence incidents, the NFL in recent years has begun devoting valuable Super Bowl commercial air time to promote anti-domestic violence public service announcements.domestic violence arrest

Of course, the Super Bowl itself isn’t responsible for a higher-than-average number of domestic violence arrests anymore than Memorial Day is responsible for a higher-than-average number of DUI arrests. It’s true that emotions are running high for many fans during the game, but alcohol is probably the bigger culprit in many cases.

An Fort Lauderdale domestic violence arrest can come as a shock for those involved, especially if both parties got physically involved. It’s easy to accuse someone in the heat of the moment, but those statements can be difficult to walk back before real damage is done. It should be noted that the alleged victim’s preference of dropping the matter is almost entirely out of their hands by the time police arrive. Police will investigate the matter and take suspects into custody if they believe there is evidence a crime has occurred. Prosecutors are ultimately the ones who decide whether to pursue domestic violence charges. They may take into account the victim’s preference or willingness to cooperate, but that alone won’t dictate whether a case moves forward. In fact, victims can be compelled by subpoena to testify against their will. Continue reading

More than 1,000 inmates in Florida’s prisons are serving time for drug crimes that are either no longer illegal under state law or for which sentencing has been substantially reduced. That’s according to a report by The Tampa Bay Times, where reporters took a hard look at how long-running minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent drug crimes in the Sunshine State have adversely impacted individuals, families and entire communities. Those sentencing guidelines have largely been eased, but as our Broward criminal defense attorneys can explain, the new standards have little impact for someone already convicted, sentenced and serving time. Broward drug crime defense

Some are calling for state lawmakers to address the issue, describing these inmates as in a state of “legal purgatory.”

The problem dates back to the 1990s, when cocaine addiction was wreaking havoc on South Florida communities. At the time, Florida had the highest rate of violent crime in the country. It was the “get tough on crime” era, and lawmakers enacted measures that would impose severe minimum mandatory penalties for repeat violent offenders AND those convicted of drug trafficking. At the time, lawmakers said they were after the drug lords – not people carrying a few ounces of illegal substances for personal use.

What ended up happening, however, was that those who were not drug lords were swept up as well. People with chronic pain and addiction to opiods who had run out of their monthly medication would turn to the streets – and be labeled drug traffickers for the amount they carried. Continue reading

Authorities investigating a Broward County slaying secured a search warrant to access recording history on an Amazon Echo device present at the crime scene. A 43-year-old man has been arrested for the Hallandale Beach homicide of his 32-year-old girlfriend in mid-July. Police want to know whether the popular voice-controlled smart speakers at the home where she died may provide clues as to what happened, the Sun Sentinel reported. Broward criminal defense lawyers

Broward County criminal defense lawyers have been keenly attuned to police and prosecutors’ increasing reliance on evidence derived from new media and technology – from smartphones to drones – in criminal cases.

This is the latest example, and it raises some interesting legal questions about privacy and the extent to which authorities can access the details of conversations that happen in your own home or in personal messages. Continue reading

The internet has been revolutionary, allowing us to connect with others – locally and across the globe – in real time in a way that’s never before existed in human history. But it’s not been without its complications, at least where application of the law has been concerned – and that includes criminal law.criminal defense lawyer

Although many online interactions and exchanges – however heated – can be safely considered “free speech,” its bounds aren’t limitless. In fact, communications over the internet may in some cases be at higher risk of crossing the criminal threshold because they lack the benefit of context, inflection or familiarity of face-to-face or even phone conversations.

Florida criminal defense attorneys know law enforcement agencies are increasingly keen to solicit and investigate tips of threats made online, particularly in the wake of several mass shootings. Some agencies have said that dozens of potential shootings were stopped by this heightened vigilance in the wake of shootings in Dayton and El Paso.

Still, many of those charged find themselves bewildered that words, images or videos posted to a Facebook page or Instagram account might potentially have them facing jail time. Continue reading

The State of Florida allows for no exceptions when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the best-case scenario it’s a mid-level misdemeanor, unless your Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney can help you plead down the charge or possibly succeed in having the case dismissed altogether. DUI Defense lawyer

Intoxicated drivers under age 21 generally don’t face consequences any more serious than those who are of-age, but the definition of “impairment” for underage drivers holds them to a much more stringent standard.

Anyone over 21 is considered to be intoxicated with the blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08, as measured either by a breathalyzer or blood test. But for drivers under 21, a BAC of just 0.02 is enough to be deemed impaired. It should be noted that those with even lower BACs than these can be arrested for DUI in Florida if, per F.S. 316.193, it is established that his/her normal faculties are impaired. Continue reading

Florida passengers en route to California are being arrested after authorities at local airports detect the smell of marijuana on them. California, as most are now aware, is one of the handful of states that now allows the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use. Florida law is much more stringent, allowing sale, use and possession only for medicinal use, as recommended by a physician.Fort Lauderdale civil forfeiture

VICE.com reports on criminal investigations and civil forfeiture actions lead by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s narcotics and money laundering task force that target passengers on their way to California.

While in criminal cases, the burden of proof is on prosecutors to prove one’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil forfeiture action, however, it’s the property owner who has the burden of proof to show the cash or other property to establish that those funds or properties weren’t being used for criminal drug activity. That often deters people from filing counterclaims to retrieve their items. Law enforcement appears to count on the assumption that people won’t pursue retrieval of their property. Continue reading

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