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which way the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to swing, especially since Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down and has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.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criminal defense attorneys know many arrests in South Florida begin with traffic stops, and it’s important to confront outdated stereotypes of motorcyclists as scofflaws and gang members.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

Some are crediting the presence of ride share companies like Uber and Lyft (also referred to as transportation network companies, or TNCs) with driving down the number of DUI arrests and crashes in Miami. The City of Miami reported Miami DUI arrests dropped by nearly one-third over the last four years. Miami-Dade Police report DUI arrests are down a stunning 65 percent in the same period. While roughly 1,500 DUI arrests made annually between 2013 and 2015, The Miami Herald reports DUI arrests clocked in just shy of 600 last year.Miami DUI defense attorney

Miami DUI arrest lawyers know that while it’s true many are increasingly relying on ride share services, we nonetheless see a spike of DUI collisions and traffic stops on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, long noted to be one of the booziest of the year. Annually at the end-of-year holidays, the Florida Highway Patrol steps up its, “Drive sober or get pulled over,” campaign, specifically aiming at drivers under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs.

Even if it’s your first drunk driving arrest in Florida – or your first arrest ever – you can expect it will cause you grief personally, professionally and, of course, legally. Limiting your statements to investigating officers is wise until you have spoken with a Miami criminal defense lawyer – a fact you will want to state calmly but firmly to police who try to question you about where you have been, where you’re headed, what alcohol you have consumed or even whether you have. Blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol tests are compulsory under Florida’s implied consent law, and if you do refuse, it will mean an automatic one-year license suspension.  Continue reading

Two years ago, Floridians overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and since then, more than 1000,000 prescriptions for the drug have been written. And yet, Miami drug crime defense lawyers know arrests for recreational use and possession have been soaring statewide. South Florida marijuana defense lawyer

In Sarasota county, for instance, Sarasota Magazine reports arrests for recreational use of the drug shot up by 35 percent in 2017 compared to 2010. Marijuana arrests rates this year suggest the trend is continuing on an upward swing. The county sheriff insists those figures are misleading because marijuana in most cases was a secondary offense, meaning those individuals weren’t directly targeted for recreational marijuana use. There is some evidence to dispute this. But while some areas such as Broward and Miami-Dade have made it more of a civil infraction than a criminal offense, police still have a wide amount of discretion when deciding whether to make an arrest or issue a ticket or warning. Some expect it could take another decade or more before Florida legalizes recreational marijuana.

In the meantime, a first-time arrest for possession of marijuana won’t lead to a criminal conviction, but defendants often are required to go through a diversion program that can cost hundreds of dollars in fines and other costs, probation, substance abuse counseling and community service. Continue reading

In Florida, sex on the beach is typically understood as a cheeky, sugary cocktail with peach schnapps. It’s romanticized in a classic scene in the 1950s film, “From Here to Eternity.” However, having actual sex on a beach in Florida can land you in handcuffs (and not in a good way). As a Fort Lauderdale defense lawyer, it seems an important fact to address because locals and tourists alike continue to run afoul of public indecency and lewd lascivious laws – and prosecutors don’t seem intent to cut them any slack.criminal defense lawyer

Most recently, a married couple from Vermont vacationing on Sanibel Island were arrested by police, who had received complaints the pair were naked on the beach. Officers saw the woman naked in the water, summoned her over to them and gave her a towel. The husband walked up and asked why they could not be naked, as “we are all human.” Officers explained Sanibel is not a nude beach, and it’s against Florida law to be on a public beach with no clothing. Witnesses said they pair may have been having sex. The two were arrested on charges of indecent exposure. F.S. 800.03 states it is unlawful to exhibit one’s sexual organs in public (or on private premises so near as to be seen by those on public property) in a manner that is vulgar or indecent. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. (Mothers breastfeeding babies does not count.)

Although these two were charged with a misdemeanor, Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys have seen prosecutors pursue felony charges for Florida sex on the beach. Continue reading

As Florida juvenile defense attorneys, we have seen an increasing number of criminal cases wherein the contents of one’s smartphone have become exceedingly relevant. It’s not just teens who have become reliant on smartphones of course. The Pew Research Center reports 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind and 77 percent have a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011 when researchers conducted the first survey of smartphone ownership. Juvenile criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale know that because these devices contain a wealth of personal data on each owner, it has raised all sorts of complex legal questions about privacy and evidence collection in the course of a criminal investigation and prosecution.Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense

One question now poised for review by the Florida Supreme Court is whether a defendant’s smartphone passcode – unique to each person and the only way by which content on that device can be accessed – can be compelled by police or prosecutors. Two Florida appellate courts are split on the issue.

However, the tide may turn in favor of personal privacy protection, given the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court that covers Florida), which ruled forced decryption of a smartphone amounted to violation of a defendant’s constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Continue reading

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