In a single recent year, Florida law enforcement agencies received 105,700 reports of domestic violence. More than half of those, 63,200, resulted in an arrest. It’s known to be a relatively under-reported crime, but there are a fair number of cases that go to trial wherein the alleged victim refuses to cooperate or testify. It is a myth that prosecutors cannot move forward on these cases or that they cannot sometimes win them. It often depends on the independent evidence available – and the strategy employed by your Florida domestic violence defense attorney. domestic violence defense lawyer Florida

Let’s consider the case of Baker v. State, an appeal before Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal back in 2007. Defendant had been convicted of felony battery for accusations that he attacked his girlfriend, who had called 911 to report the defendant had bitten her and took her phone “and stuff.” She said she did not require medical attention. A police officer was dispatched, observing and photographing what appeared to be a small bite mark on victim’s arm.

Would this be enough to secure a conviction?  Continue reading

If you regularly tune into the evening news or pick up a daily paper, you could be forgiven for thinking the most common offenses encountered by Broward law enforcement are things like shootouts, sexual assaults and gang crimes. Reality check: One of the most common (if not THE most common) is an offense known as “Driving With a Suspended License.” In Florida, if you are caught driving with a license that is suspended or revoked, it could be considered a serious criminal charge, accompanied by long-term negative consequences for one’s driving privileges and criminal record. But what you also may not know is that prosecutors bear the burden of proof in these cases, and if they cannot prove you knew or should have known your license was suspended, it becomes a relatively minor traffic offense.driving while license suspended

The statute to which we refer – F.S. 322.34 – details the penalty for driving with a suspended license, which requires knowledge of the suspension, revocation or cancellation. It can result in a jail sentence of up to two months, plus a $500 fine. A second offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail. A third or subsequent offense is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison (yes – state prison), and a fine of up to $5,000. If that third offense is committed within a five-year period of the other two, you will be considered a habitual traffic offender, which further results in a driver’s license revocation that lasts 5 years. You might be eligible to obtain a hardship license – but only after one full year elapses from your most recent conviction.

If you’re on probation, you could be in serious trouble for driving with a suspended license. Consider the case of Stringfield v. State, weighed by Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal in August. Defendant was sentenced to 15 years in prison after the court revoked his probation upon finding he broke the law when he drove his motor vehicle while his license was suspended. This may seem like a stunning miscarriage of justice, but it was perfectly legal – except that defendant successfully appealed on the issue of “knowledge.”  Continue reading

It’s been nearly 1.5 years since the City of Miami signed off on an agreement to allow police to issue civil citations for minor misdemeanors like marijuana possession rather than making arrests. Now, The Miami New Times reports the city police chief will be allowing his officers to actually do so.marijuana arrest defense

This delay in implementing the policy has meant that thousands of people – 2,800 – facing minor charges were arrested – and face a permanent criminal record – rather than simply receiving civil citation. Approximately 85 percent of those were for marijuana possession. One of the charges in question – illegally possessing a milk crate – was filed almost exclusively against the homeless.

City Commissioner Ken Russell has been pushing for the city to issue civil citations for some time now, and was reportedly surprised to find the police had yet to put the policy into practice, saying, “I assumed that it had been enacted.” He was anticipating a report on how the first year of it had gone. The former police chief retired earlier this year, and the new police chief said he could not account for why the program was not put into effect previously. He did say that once he took over, it took several months to train police officers on how the new procedures would work. Plus, the department also had to set up an account with the county so those civil citations could be paid, order the paperwork books on which citations would be issued, write the policy and create a radio signal for the violation. Continue reading

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney clients accused of a felony crime – especially one as serious and morally fraught as a sex offense – have told us it feels like the whole world is coming to an end. The reality is arrest is just the beginning of the process. Evidence can be refuted. Witnesses may recant or not be credible. Criminal investigators may do a poor job. There may be lesser crimes to which one can plead that do not have the same stigma or penalty.criminal defense lawyer

Having an skilled criminal defense attorney is imperative. This person will be defending your integrity, your credibility and your civil right to due process and fairness. Because sexual crimes are among the most reviled (and the consequences so steep), it is extremely important that you work with a defense lawyer who has experience and a history of prevailing.

In the state of Florida, sexual battery is described in F.S. 749.011. It’s extensive and there are varying degrees of offense. For example, if you are 18-years-old or older and are accused of sexual battery on a person also older than 18 without that person’s consent, it’s considered a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. However, if the defendant did not use physical force and violence likely to cause physical injury, it’s considered a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison. The offense can be aggravated by a number of circumstances, including the use of a firearm. Continue reading

Many new types of fraud are either born or become big-time in Florida – South Florida in particular. A top agent for the Internal Revenue Service speculated it was a combination of factors: Beautiful weather and beaches a lot of people in general. Older folks – especially vulnerable to almost all kinds of fraud – often retire here. Florida also truly embodies the U.S. “melting pot,” with organized crime sprouting up from all ethnic groups. criminal defense lawyer Florida

The Federal Trade Commission reported earlier this year that Florida is the scam capitol of the country (based on both crime statistics and complaints made directly to the commission) with seniors the primary prey – at least in terms of dollars. Although there were more younger people who reported losing money to fraud, victims over 70 sustained higher median losses.

Whatever the reason, our Fort Lauderdale fraud attorneys know crimes of fraud, often referred to as “white collar crimes,” are often penalized severely, with defendants facing either state or federal charges, the distinction usually being the method of the scam, how much money it involved and whether it affected people in other states.  Continue reading

Eyes may be “windows to the soul,” but could it be said that smartphones contain the “contents of our minds”? That’s what one criminal defense attorney recently argued before a state appellate court, asserting that police investigators executing a search warrant on her smartphone – and prosecutors’ effort to hold her in contempt of court when she refused – were a violation of her 5th Amendment rights. criminal defense attorney

The trial court agreed, and recently, so did the Indiana Court of Appeals, in a split opinion noting smartphones today are “truly as close as modern technology allows us to come to a device that contains all of its owner’s conscious thoughts, and many of his or her unconscious thoughts as well. So when the state seeks to compel a person to unlock a smartphone so that it may search the phone without limitations, the privacy implications are enormous.”

It’s a case that has raised some very interesting questions about how we navigate well-established constitutional protections for those accused of crime. In the case conclusion here, the majority wrote that courts will probably be continually faced with these kinds of issues that deal with the intersection of rapidly-evolving technology and law. Here, compelling a defendant to unlike her iPhone under threat of contempt and imprisonment is an unlawful violation of her Constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. (In other similar cases nationally, it’s the 4th Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure that have been cited.) Revealing a smartphone passcode, the court ruled, and prosecutors failed to meet the requirements of the “foregone conclusion doctrine” by describing with reasonable specificity why the information defendant should be compelled to produce and why. (It should be noted that without a passcode, even cellphone makers like Apple can’t extract data from the device, as the encryption key is tied to the passcode. After 10 failed attempts, the phone locks up and might even erase all contents therein. Continue reading

You may be aware that sealing and expungement is available for certain first-time offenders convicted and adjudicated guilty. Did you also know it’s important for those found NOT guilty to seal and expunge their records too? criminal defense attorney

This specifically involves cases where a defendant reaches a plea deal that involves a judge withholding adjudication, meaning the defendant isn’t formally convicted. However, the arrest will still pop up on a Florida criminal background check, which all but eliminates whatever benefit might have been derived from avoiding conviction in the first place. Florida law – specifically F.S. 943.053 – makes adult criminal history records public (with special restrictions for access) unless those records have been sealed or expunged. This encompasses not just your conviction and/ or case disposition, but your original arrest and charges. That’s why it’s so important after a case outcome wherein adjudication was withheld to determine whether you qualify for expungement or sealing of your record. The benefit of this is you can legally deny/ fail to acknowledge an arrest covered by that record (with exception for those seeking a change in immigration status or certain types of jobs, such as with a law enforcement agency or the Department of Children and Families).

The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney team at The Ansara Law Firm can help you with both. It can be a somewhat confusing process, but markedly less so when you hire a lawyer to help you navigate it. (Note that Florida allows for automatic expungement of certain juvenile records when the minor reaches age 21, though you’ll want to check with an attorney to be certain and determine if other action must be taken.)  Continue reading

Marijuana became legal in Florida for limited medicinal purposes last year, and a number of communities have been decriminalizing possession (or at least giving law enforcement discretion in whether to arrest or issue a civil citation). However, there are strict limitations on how far these laws go, and they won’t necessarily protect you from drug trafficking charges. marijuana criminal defense

You will need to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer to determine what legal strategy will result in the best possible outcome in your case. Decline to give a statement to law enforcement until you have done so.  Continue reading

A South Florida physician was recently convicted in the opioid overdose of a 34-year-old woman, with a jury finding him guilty of charges that included conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute furanylfentanyl resulting in death. Prosecutors alleged the orthopedic surgeon was the source of counterfeit oxycodone pills distributed across South Florida. He’s facing up to life in prison. Florida drug trafficking defense attorney

Prosecuting doctors and other health care providers criminally for the overdose deaths of patients is one of the ways law enforcement and prosecutors are taking a hard line against accused drug offenders. In one study analyzing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s data presented in its Cases Against Doctors report, Florida ranked No. 5 nationally for the most physician arrests (4.3 per 10,000 doctors) and the same for overdose deaths (23.7 per 100,000). More than 70 percent of these doctor drug arrests in Florida involved opioids, including oxycodone and hydrocodone. Alprazolam (also known as Xanax) accounted for 11 percent. Opioids were also cited in 40 percent of fatal drug overdoses nationally in the last two years.

The priorities of drug enforcement in Florida have shifted, from illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin to illegal distribution of controlled medications. This isn’t to say law enforcement won’t arrest still arrest you for possession of marijuana, but our Fort Lauderdale drug arrest attorneys know far more resources have been dedicated in recent years to these deadlier drugs, identified by public health officials as an epidemic.  Continue reading

Police and other law enforcement officers are increasingly asking people to turn over their cell phones, whether in the course of a traffic stop, after a motor vehicle collision or in the course of investigating the crime. A record number of people in America now have smartphones – nearly 80 percent according to Pew Research Center, which further noted among 18-to-29-olds, smart phone ownership exceeded 92 percent.

It should be obvious why investigators want to get their hands on these devices: They are a treasure trove of information and can make their jobs a whole lot easier. It’s hard to imagine even just a few short years ago, cell phones were solely verbal and texting communication devices. Now, they contain scores of sensitive and personal information, including calendars, emails, personal and professional contacts, music files, verification of recent purchases, bank records, public social media engagement (including personal messages) work files, browser history of  recent websites and of course saved photos and videos. This is not information you want – or usually that they never need – to see.

As Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys  at The Ansara Law Firm can explain, the 4th Amendment to criminal defense attorneythe U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. There are numerous reasons why cell phone information should remain private – not the least of which for a potential defendant is the fact that it could give police and prosecutors key evidence against you. But even if you have nothing to hide, it’s generally unwise to simply hand your phone over on request. Plus – you aren’t required to do so unless the officer has a warrant.  Continue reading