Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys generally advise clients that when interacting with law enforcement, one should be firmly quiet – but generally polite. That last part is more for your benefit than theirs; police officers have a fair amount of discretion, and you risk greater scrutiny and harsher treatment when you’re rude. criminal defense attorney

However, as revealed in a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, you technically do have a right to be rude.

In Cruise-Guylas v. Minard, a federal appeals court held it is within your Constitutional rights to make uncouth gestures at police officers. That doesn’t make it a good idea, and as the appellate court ruled, it may violate The Golden Rule. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it sufficient grounds in itself for a traffic stop.  Continue reading

The hidden cameras used in a South Florida prostitution sting are drumming up nearly as much discussion as news of a billionaire sports team owner’s arrest for solicitation of prostitution. According to reporting and analysis published in The Sun Sentinel, the question is whether allegations of sex trafficking are sufficient to surreptitiously record individuals on private property. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer know such a move is a significant leap in terms of privacy rights – one that was first introduced in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. war on terror and The USA PATRIOT Act. The fact that it has seeped into domestic criminal investigations for is indeed concerning – and legally questionable. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

Hidden Cameras Purportedly Capture Human Trafficking

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has pleaded not guilty to charges of solicitation of prostitution after he was allegedly captured twice on hidden cameras earlier this year entering a day spa in Jupiter that authorities say was a front for a human trafficking ring and soliciting sex.

This practice of placing hidden cameras on private property without the knowledge or consent of owners in order to conduct secret searches are allowed by so-called “sneak-and-peek warrants.”

But legal scholars, along with many South Florida criminal defense lawyers, are skeptical that such practices are legal. One University of Miami law professor who spent a quarter century as a federal public defender said not only had she never seen it used in all those years, she considered it “very, very troubling.” And while human trafficking is indeed a serious criminal issue, that wasn’t the basis on which law enforcement secured the warrant initially – it was basic prostitution, a misdemeanor.

The concern is that there are few limitations for which law enforcement can employ this strategy. This was by no means a case of terrorism or a matter of national security. Continue reading

Florida has allowed possession and sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes since 2014 per the Compassionate Use Act, with expanded qualifying conditions effective in 2017, per the passage of Amendment 2. Miami marijuana defense attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm know many communities, including Broward and Miami-Dade, “decriminalized” the possession of small amounts of marijuana, though departments do still have discretion to issue citations and, in some cases, make arrests.criminal defense attorney

What impact, if any, do Florida’s medical marijuana laws have on vehicle searches predicated on the distinct smell of the drug?

In one case following a Miami marijuana arrest, a man is asserting a novel defense: A motion to suppress evidence found when police searched his truck and discovered a stash of marijuana based on violation of constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure. The Miami Herald reports the argument hinges on the state’s legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, which the attorney says means the odor of marijuana in and of itself is no longer cause for reasonable suspicion of a crime, which would otherwise be the foundation for a lawful search. Continue reading

Florida has allowed medicinal marijuana since the Compassionate Use Act of 2014, expanded effective in 2017. The law allows those with certain medical conditions to secure a doctor’s recommendation for a prescription and purchase certain cannabis extracts, so long as it’s not smoked. Although this is in conflict with the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, the 2018 Farm Bill did effectively legalize hemp (produced from the cannabis plant but with no more than 0.3 percent THC), which in turn should have legalized most CBD products. However, there are some significant restrictions, as can be explained by our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys and further detailed by researchers at The Brookings Institutemarijuana defense lawyer

For instance, any CBD that contains more than 0.3 percent THC (the element in marijuana with psychoactive effects) would be considered non-hemp cannabis, thus having no protection under federal law. Secondly, the Farm Bill allotted for significant shared federal and state regulatory power over hemp production and cultivation. For example, state departments of agriculture and chief law enforcement agencies are responsible for devising a plan for regulation and enforcement of hemp cultivation. Those plans must be submitted to the USDA, and state licensing can only commence once the USDA has granted approval. In states opting not to map their own regulatory plans, the USDA will draft a regulatory program with federal oversight. So essentially, hemp – and thus CBD – are legalized under the Farm Bill, but only if they meet certain criteria; you can’t grow or sell or buy these products the way you can basil or tomatoes.

But confusion persists across the state, with Florida Today reporting small-time vendors are finding themselves facing felony marijuana trafficking charges in Florida for something they thought was legal. For example, a 64-year-old in Melbourne, FL who operates a medical hemp business out of a flea market was targeted by authorities who suspect him of selling illegal cannabis products, tens of thousands of dollars of which they seized in a raid just before the holidays. Those included lollipops and other edibles as well as oils. He has not yet been charged, but authorities have reportedly told him to expect felony charges. The case underscores the fact that what is legal and what is isn’t is somewhat obscured when it comes to hemp/CBD.  Continue reading

Is a sniff a search? It seems that may be a constitutional question for the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices are considering whether to grant review in the case of Edstrom v. Minnesota. The case, as our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys understand it, turns on the issue of whether trained narcotics-sniffing dogs can lawfully be brought to a person’s door to sniff for drugs or whether this requires police to first obtain a warrant. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

The Minnesota Supreme Court held that police do not need a warrant to walk the dog to one’s front door and see if it passes the sniff test. We have no way of knowing which way the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to swing, especially since Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down and has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In several previous cases the court has considered that involved drug-sniffing dogs, the court has generally come down on the side of law enforcement – but one Florida case seemed to flip the script. Continue reading

Citing a sizable increase in motorcycle registrations across the country in recent years, ridership increasingly including women and older Americans, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution condemning motorcycle profiling by law enforcement. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know many arrests in South Florida begin with traffic stops, and it’s important to confront outdated stereotypes of motorcyclists as scofflaws and gang members. Fort Lauderdale motorcycle profiling

Nothing about Senate Res. 154 creates any hard-and-fast laws pertaining to motorcycle riders or motorcycle profiling. However, what it does is urge law enforcement agencies to reconsider their policies with regard to traffic stops involving motorcyclists and adopt training and directives to put a stop to discriminatory practices by patrol officers. Basically, the resolution indicates that people traveling on motorcycles should be treated the same as any other motorist moving through traffic. As reported by The Drive, a recent survey of motorcyclists said that at some point in the last two decades, they felt they had been targeted and profiled by law enforcement at least once for riding a motorcycle.

The VP of Government Relations for the American Motorcyclist Association lauded the resolution as bringing us one step closer to halting the practice of motorcycle profiling. Lawmakers noted that passing a law banning motorcycle profiling would likely be difficult, though they did in 2015 pass a measure that prohibited any federal dollars for the purpose of motorcycle-only checkpoints.

When it comes to domestic violence arrests and prosecutions, the State of Florida does not discriminate or give a pass to those in same-sex relationships. F.S. 741.28 defines domestic violence as any assault, battery, sexual violence, stalking, kidnapping or false imprisonment involving a family or household member by another. The law expressly states this is to be interpreted to include spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, people living together as if they are a family or have in the past or those who have a child together, regardless of whether they were ever married or not. Florida was one of the first states to establish precedence in case law ensuring civil protection orders would be available in LGBTQ relationships.domestic violence defense attorney blog

Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorneys know this is not to say it hasn’t been something with which law enforcement here hasn’t struggled to an extent; The Department of Children and Families has had to expressly identify gay men and lesbian women as a special population with unique needs that may require tailored responses from responding authorities. But despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling the 14th Amendment guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to a legally-recognized marriage in each state, some regions of the country are still grappling with how to align this with narrow criminal statutes that in some cases were written with the intention to delegitimize these relationships. When there is conflict or alleged violence in LGBTQ relationships, it can lead to confusion for all parties about their rights and where things stand.

In South Carolina, one of just three states noted by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence to expressly exclude same-sex couples from obtaining civil protection orders against one another, prosecutors are considering bypassing a series of magistrate rulings dismissing domestic violence charges involving gay and lesbian couples for lack of probable cause. The magistrates, all from the same county, cite state law defining a “couple” as consisting solely of one man and one woman. That state law was struck down as unconstitutional in 2017, and affirmed in a state attorney general’s opinion earlier this year, clarifying prosecutors were permitted to pursue criminal charges for domestic violence involving homosexual couples. Local media reports at least half a dozen domestic violence charge dismissals. However, prosecutors have the option to file indictments directly with state circuit.  Continue reading

As long-time Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys, we’ve encountered plenty of cases where defendants were arrested for drunk driving on America’s birthday (July 4th), around the holiday recognized for Jesus Christ’s birth (Dec. 25th) and of course the birth of each new year (Jan. 1st). Still, there is one holiday that sometimes gets overlooked as one accompanied by a seemingly higher risk of DUI arrest: Your own birthday.Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer

Studies (including one published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology) have shown binge drinking is especially common on one’s 21st birthday, though the research didn’t specifically indicate this directly correlated with an uptick in drunk driving for celebrants. (It should be noted that if you are out celebrating your 21st birthday and are stopped prior to midnight on your actual birth date, the threshold for intoxication is far more stringent, the legal limit being 0.02 blood-alcohol concentration versus 0.08.)

Recently, R&B singer Marcus Cooper, Florida native, member of the hip-hop group Pretty Ricky and reality show cast Love & Hip Hop: Miami, made headlines for a recent birthday DUI arrest in Miami Beach. Vibe Magazine reported a Miami Beach police officer clocked Cooper’s SUV speed at 100 mph in a 45 mph lane around 3:45 a.m. The officer alleged he witnessed the driver, later identified as Cooper, swerving and coming dangerously close to a collision with another vehicle. Interestingly despite this account, the officer officially cited the dark tint on the vehicle’s windows as the reasonable cause for initiating the traffic stop. The singer agreed to undergo a field sobriety test (which, side note, is not required by state law the way chemical alcohol and drug testing is under F.S. 316.1932, Florida’s implied consent statute). The officer reported the singer’s bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and comment that he’d been “partying for his birthday.” Defendant allegedly blew more than twice the legal adult driver alcohol limit of 0.08. The officer further alleged resistance and threats to phone a few famous friends. In an Instagram video (later deleted), Cooper lamented his 38th birthday was ruined and denied the charges, which in addition to DUI include resisting arrest without violence, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.   Continue reading

Florida’s history is rich with pirate lore, but these days, as e-commerce has soared, most coast dwellers in the Sunshine State are more concerned with piracy on their front porches. An analysis by InsuranceQuotes.com reveals 26 million Americans (roughly 8 percent) had online-ordered packages swiped from their front steps in 2017. As Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys, it’s been our experience that alleged thieves in years past were rarely traced. That’s changing. Rather than alter their online shopping habits, consumers are committing themselves to tracking down those suspected of pilfering their packages.Fort Lauderdale theft defense attorney

Methods have included:

  • Installation of motion detectors – 34 percent
  • Installation of security systems – 30 percent
  • Installation of automatic timers – 25 percent
  • Equipping fake packages with a GPS tracker and personal camera and rigging it for a glitter-and-stink-bomb explosion – 1 former NASA engineer/ new YouTube Star.

And while those candid camera have been giving a lot of folks a good chuckle, our Fort Lauderdale package theft defense attorneys want to stress the truth of the matter, which is that the charges one can face for allegedly stealing a package from another’s porch are no laughing matter. Given the uptick in home surveillance use, there is an increased likelihood one will get caught, especially if this was a spree rather than a one-off, you have prior charges and/or are on probation. Continue reading

A local college football player is facing serious consequences – on and off the field – following his Broward County arrest for domestic violence. The 21-year-old running back, a junior at Florida International University, has been investigation since mid-June, when a woman he was dating filed a report with the Broward County s Sheriff’s Office, claiming he’d choked her. The case was disposed of in August.domestic violence defense lawyer Broward

In an odd twist of events, investigators opened a second investigation into the same incident that same month and issued a warrant for his arrest. Based on a report from CBS Miami, that warrant remained active, even while the student continued to attend major games in front of thousands of fans for almost the full season – 11 games – up until his arrest just before Christmas. As a result of the charges, he was not able to play in the Bahamas Bowl, the biggest game of the season.

It’s not clear exactly why it took authorities six months to serve the warrant and make an arrest, such a delay isn’t unheard of.

Digging deeper, this South Florida domestic violence arrest touches on a few issues our criminal defense lawyers feel deserve a closer look.  Continue reading

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