Felony convictions against a man accused of killing two while driving drunk were reversed recently by an appellate court in Illinois, which ruled the DUI testing after his arrest was unconstitutional. DUI defense lawyer

Although this issue takes place outside of Florida, it’s one motorists in the Sunshine State have had to grapple with as well. It was a very similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 with Missouri v. McNeely. That was a landmark case in which the court ruled that when it comes to drunk driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in one’s blood stream is not sufficient grounds to argue exigent circumstances in every case that would justify conducting a blood test absent a warrant. In other words, there may be some cases in which a warrantless blood draw is justified, but it has to be based on more than just the fact that alcohol quickly leaves the body.

Even with that instruction, courts across the country continue to grapple with these questions, trying to balance the scales between the rights of the accused and gathering all pertinent information in these serious felony cases.  Continue reading

Is it possible for your vehicle to be a deadly weapon? Although it might seem a straightforward question, given the fact that a vehicle could in fact be deadly if it’s used to run another person over, the answer isn’t clear when it comes to Florida law. The state appellate courts have reached different conclusions on this front, and the Florida Supreme Court is slated to issue a ruling on one such case, meaning it could settle the issue. criminal defense lawyer

The distinction between vehicle and deadly weapon is significant because it holds the possibility of an additional 15 years to one’s prison sentence if convicted of using a deadly weapon against another person.

In 2004, justices with the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a motor vehicle isn’t something that can be commonly considered an instrument for use in combat against another individual. Based on that ruling, a South Florida appellate court last year ruled that a 30-year sentence on a manslaughter charge imposed on a Fort Myers man for repeatedly running over a woman in 2008 should be reduced to 15 years. (However, he’ll still probably serve 30 years, given that he was also given 30 years for leaving the scene of a deadly accident.)  Continue reading

Facing down a criminal conviction can be incredibly unnerving, but fleeing can leave you in even bigger trouble than before you started. That’s because failure to appear is a charge in and of itself that can have serious consequences, even if you are ultimately found not guilty of the original crimes. handcuff-300x114

This was seen recently in a case involving a Bahamian man who reportedly fled the country while awaiting sentencing for his DUI manslaughter conviction in 2000 following a crash that resulted in the death of a 44-year-old married mother of two. He was fighting his conviction first in Palm Beach County courts and then in his native country, but he lost his appeal in 2003 and was ordered to report to Palm Beach County to serve his sentence, according to the Palm Beach Post. Instead, he allegedly cut off his ankle bracelet and fled. He was arrested by authorities in the Bahamas and after exhausting all appeals, was extradited. Now in addition to the DUI manslaughter conviction, he is facing two failure to appear charges.

F.S. 843.15 outlines failure of defendant on bail to appear. The law says that anyone who is released pursuant to F.S. Chapter 903 and who willfully fails to appear before any court or judicial officer as required incurs a forfeiture of any security that was promised or given as a condition of release. If he or she was released in connection with a felony charge or while awaiting sentence or pending appellate court review after conviction, it’s considered a third-degree felony, meaning it’s punishable by up to five years in prison. That’s on top of the original sentence. Continue reading

A Florida woman who allegedly rode her horse slowly down a busy highway while intoxicated was arrested for DUI recently. Although Florida is practically infamous for it’s bizarre news, even this seemed a bit over-the-top. Plus, it raises a number of questions about the scenarios in which F.S. 316.193, Florida’s drunk driving law, can be applied. DUI Defense attorney

The law allows penalties for those who “are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state” and are also either under the influence of alcohol to the extent his or her normal faculties are impaired OR the individual has a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeds 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. But is a horse a vehicle? What about a motorized wheelchair or shopping cart or lawn mower or bicycle?

Florida residents have been arrested for DUI for operation of each of these scenarios. And while there is legal precedent that could support a conviction, our experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys recognize there may be ample opportunity to fight for either a reduction of charges, if not an outright dismissal, in these non-conventional DUI arrests.  Continue reading

The majority of criminal defense cases that aren’t dismissed or result in acquittal are resolved through plea deals. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports two-thirds of felony defendants in the U.S. are eventually convicted and 95 percent of those convictions occur through plea bargains.DUI defense attorney

Criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale know that doesn’t necessarily mean these defendants are getting a raw deal. In many cases, these plea deals are agreements to plead guilty to far lesser offenses, resulting in fewer penalties than defendant may have been facing initially. Still, where there is ever an opportunity to fight for dismissal or acquittal, our attorneys won’t hesitate to do so. Plea bargain agreements are only for cases where the weight of the evidence is clearly against the defendant and the attorney is confident that negotiation with the prosecutor can result in an advantageous outcome for defendant, considering the circumstances.

That said, defendants must be prepared to abide by the terms of the plea bargain, or else risk the possibility that the maximum penalty could still be imposed. Even during the plea bargain negotiation process, defendants need to be mindful of their conduct. The Miami Herald reports one case recently where a plea deal following a serious DUI crash fell apart after defendant’s drug test was returned positive – a violation of her conditions for release from jail pending trial. Continue reading

The Federal Trade Commission released a report earlier this year revealing Florida ranks No. 1 for complaints of fraud, and No. 2 for identity theft – the No. 1 fraudulent practice. From January through December last year, there were 270,000 complaints of fraud, amounting to 1,306 complaints of fraud per 100,000 population. fraud defense lawyer

So it’s no real surprise that our criminal defense attorneys are handling an increasing number of cases involving defendants accused of some type of fraud. As the FTC notes, the most common categories of fraud were:

Debt collection fraud;

  • Imposter scams;
  • Identity theft;
  • Phone & mobile fraud;
  • Bank and lending fraud.

These offenses can be charged at either the federal or state level, though they are more often federal cases because of the fact that many extend across state lines. Such was the case out of Fort Lauderdale involving four men accused of mail fraud. The Sun Sentinel reports the men were accused of participating in a sweepstakes mail fraud scheme that conned more than 100,000 people out of $25 million. Continue reading

A Palm Beach County man accused of DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal bicycle accident received a sentence of 12 years behind bars, following his conviction on the latter charge this summer. He’d been acquitted of DUI manslaughter, the Palm Beach Post reported. DUI defense attorney

This case was in the headlines for a number of reasons, most obviously because it involved the death of a 65-year-old bicyclist. However, there was more to it. Initially, the defendant’s girlfriend, who had been in the passenger seat, agreed to tell officers at the scene that she had been the one driving. The pair reportedly made the decision due to the fact her boyfriend had a prior conviction for driving with a suspended license, and they knew whatever sentence was to be received was harsh. She spent more than a year on house arrest before providing prosecutors with evidence – both emails and text messages shared between the pair – that indicated his alleged guilt.

The DUI manslaughter charge was a difficult one to prove from the outset because responding officers never tested defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration at the scene of the crash, given that they did not believe him to be the driver. However, a change in Florida law pursuant to hit-and-run crashes means drivers who flee the scene of a deadly crash, per F.S. 316.027, face the same minimum mandatory sentence – four years – as someone convicted of DUI manslaughter, per F.S. 316.193. The change in law was meant to serve as an incentive to possibly impaired drivers to remain at the scene of serious crashes and render aid, as required by law.  Continue reading

A new report co-published by the Florida Times Union and journalism non-profit ProPublica revealed strong evidence that the sheriff’s office in Jacksonville has been racially profiling people of color for pedestrian citations. While such tickets might seem a minor annoyance, the disproportionate way in which they are reportedly being doled out raises serious concerns that the department could be disparately deploying justice. If it’s happening with pedestrian tickets, it’s not an enormous leap of logic to suppose it may be happening when it comes to other offenses too.traffic ticket attorney

Our traffic ticket defense lawyers know that a simple allegation of racial discrimination won’t necessarily stand up as a defense in court. While it could be grounds to file a civil rights lawsuit, in criminal or traffic courts, the main issue will be the reasonable suspicion to stop the individual and the strength of evidence of a crime or violation.

As far as these citations, Florida has a wide range of 28 different statutes pedestrians are required to follow. There are prohibitions on everything from jaywalking to crossing the street against a red light. Local ordinance in Jacksonville also allows ticketing for crossing the street at anything other than a right angle, crossing at a yellow light or not walking on the left side of the road that lacks a sidewalk. The sheriff’s office insists it must vigorously enforce these provisions because Florida has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the country. That is true, of course, but the journalists discovered the laws aren’t being applied unilaterally. Continue reading

The U.S. Department of Justice, as well as the FBI, made an official acknowledgement that almost every examiner in the FBI’s elite forensic unit provided testimony that was inherently flawed in nearly all trials wherein they offered evidence against defendants in criminal cases for more than 20 years prior to 2000. criminal defense attorney

The Washington Post reported that specifically, of the 28 examiners who worked for the microscopic hair comparison unit, all but two overstated the forensic matches of the evidence in a manner that bolstered prosecutors more than 95 percent of the time – and that is just of the nearly 270 trials that have so far been reviewed by the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer. Within those cases, 32 inmates were sent to death row and 14 have either already been executed or they died in prison. Although the DOJ was quick to point out that this doesn’t mean there weren’t grounds for defendant to be convicted, but federal and state prosecutors in almost every state and D.C. are being issued notifications so they can determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were exonerated prior to the review.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know this is huge, not only for these defendants who may be involved, but because juries often give great weight to the evidence and testimony presented by forensic experts. And yet, this isn’t the first time these scientific methods have been called into question. It requires a great deal of skill and experience to challenge this kind of evidence, but findings like this give us even more tools to do so. Continue reading

Following a DUI arrest, the primary goal of our DUI defense attorneys is to find ways to challenge the charge outright, in hopes of a dismissal or not guilty verdict. However, when the chances of that are slim, we may adjust our strategy to negotiate with prosecutors to amend the charge from DUI to the less serious offense of reckless driving. DUI Defense Attorney

This is precisely what golf pro Tiger Woods did after his Florida DUI arrest in Palm Beach County earlier this year. Authorities arrested him after he was found passed out at the wheel of his vehicle. He was accused of intoxication with prescription drugs and marijuana. There was no alcohol in his system. He would later release a statement saying he was attempting to self-medical to relieve pain from a previous back surgery and insomnia.

By pleading down to reckless driving, F.S. 316.192, as opposed to DUI, F.S. 316.193, defendants can first of all avoid many of the consequences that accompany the more serious charge. Continue reading