Articles Posted in Attorney Richard Ansara

Hazing, which years ago may have been considered little more than a normal rite of passage in some school-age circles, is now considered a felony offense in Florida. criminal defense attorney

F.S. 1006.63 states that hazing can be any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for numerous purposes, including (but not limited to) initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a post-secondary institution.

That’s what is charged against nine college students at Florida State University, accused of hazing a 20-year-old fraternity pledge to the point he suffered fatal alcohol poisoning. His BAC at the time of death was 0.447. To put that into perspective, the threshold for intoxication for drivers is 0.08. The fraternity brothers, aged 20 to 22, are charged with college hazing causing injury or death, a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Continue reading

The grand jury system is one that is often confusing for Florida criminal defendants. It is not as public as a trial, and the defense doesn’t have the same opportunity to present its case as it would in an actual trial.criminal defense lawyer

As noted by The Florida Bar, the grand jury system was formed as a kind of shield from unjust prosecution by determining whether there is sufficient evidence to indict the defendant and also to serve as an investigating body with subpoena power. They will have between 15 and 21 people, and at least 12 need to concur in order to obtain an indictment. An indictment is the initiation of the criminal prosecution, but it’s not required in all cases. In Florida, the involvement of a grand jury is only required when a person is being tried for a capital offense (i.e., one that could result in a death penalty sentence), but they are also sometimes used in cases that are high-profile or controversial. If your case is going before a grand jury, you be in contact with the best criminal defense attorney you can find.

The process isn’t perfect, as recent events out of Tallahassee show, and having an experienced legal advocate on your side is imperative. As The Tallahassee Democrat reported, defense attorneys were highly critical of the procedures (or rather, the apparent lack thereof) when 80 Florida State students were packed into a third floor waiting room over the course of two days and more than 20 hours total while waiting for the possibility that they may be called to testify before the grand jury.  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

The state attorney’s office announced in a recent memorandum they would not press charges against Miami Dolphins NFL player Jarvis Landry for an alleged incident of domestic violence in Broward County last spring.domestic violence

The football player had been under investigation since the alleged incident in April.

The decision by the state attorney several months later underscores how these types of investigations work, and why it’s to your advantage to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Continue reading

Everyone loves a good selfie. A Miami man known to his friends as “Cuban Harry” was no different. With more than 36,000 followers on Instagram, he was enmeshed in the South Florida hip-hop scene, and regularly posted about his exploits.criminal defense

Pictures showed him flashing gold grills, body tattoos, blowing out smoke and aiming guns. One of his most popular poses, though, was with his hands clasped around a cup of what he called, “Purple Drank.” Celebrated by Southern rappers, the liquid is a type of brewed cough syrup and other substances.

But now, say prosecutors, he is facing criminal charges for more than simply sipping on the drink. He is accused of manufacturing and distributing it illegally. Some of his customers were rappers, others just regulars in the scene. Prosecutors alleged defendant rounded up a gang of young men who would rob stores for the ingredients necessary to make the drink. Continue reading

While monster Hurricane Irma threatens the Florida peninsula after battering the Bahamas, Floridians everywhere are making plans either to evacuate or hunker down. Those who choose to stay (or are unable to leave) may have only one option from this Category 5 behemoth – a designated shelter. warrant defense

As our criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale understand it, one Florida sheriff has made the controversial decision to announce deputies would be checking IDs at the door, and not only would sexual offenders be denied access, but anyone with a warrant would be arrested on site.

The Polk County Sheriff announced days ahead of the storm that anyone who shows up at a hurricane shelter with an active warrant will be “escorted to the safe and secure shelter called Polk County Jail.” It should be noted the deputies have no way of knowing the underlying purpose of the warrant – whether it’s a violent felony offense or a non-violent misdemeanor.  Continue reading

We all know the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to own weapons. However, that freedom is not without restriction, and it’s important to understand how state law may restrict your rights. criminal defense

It’s common in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach for gun owners to keep their firearms in the vehicle.

You should know that keeping your firearm in your vehicle is as legal as keeping it in your house – so long as it isn’t concealed.  Continue reading

Although many parents worry about how they will help their teens avoid the pitfalls and perils of underage drinking, some parents view it as better to embrace it. “If I can oversee it, I can control it and protect them,” the thinking goes. criminal defense lawyer

This is erroneous on several fronts. There is of course the civil liability that can be imposed if you knowingly allow a teen to imbibe on your property – particularly if you supply the alcohol – and that teen later drives and is involved in a crash. Although there is technically no social host liability law, F.S. 768.125 holds that a person who sells or furnishes alcohol to someone who is not of lawful drinking age can be liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from intoxication of that minor.

Beyond that, adults who allow minors to drink or furnish them with alcohol could face charges for child abuse and/ or neglect, as one Florida mother recently discovered.  Continue reading

Over the last several decades, the American criminal justice system has relied increasingly on forensic testing to definitively identify suspects, nail down timelines and prove or disprove theories about what happened and who was involved. justice

However, there is an increasing amount of data showing that some of these methods are not as bullet-proof as they were previously held out by prosecutors and the scientific community to be. In 2015, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalists at ProPublica detailed the great deal of faulty forensics that had been reported in previous years.

On one hand, the emergence of DNA analysis became a powerful prosectuorial tool – but also one that was valuable for defendants, resulting in the revelation of scores of wrongful convictions. Recently, the Washington Post reported on a substantial study by the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers that found 26 out of 28 examiners in the FBI’s forensic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in more than 200 criminal cases during the 1980s and 1990s. Continue reading

Florida’s death penalty has been the source of intense scrutiny over the last year. handcuffs

Last year, the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Hurst v. State struck down the prior capital sentencing statute allowing judges to impose the death penalty if a majority of jurors recommended death or to override a jury’s recommendation for a life sentence. Meanwhile, a separate decision in Perry v. State tossed an amended version of the statue, which gave judges the authority to impose the death penalty if 10 or more jurors recommended it. The state supreme court noted that it must be jurors who make that final decision and that determination must be unanimous, per the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Ring v. Arizona. Non-unanimous cases accounted for 20 percent of all Florida death sentences, and were disproportionately represented in exonerations of death row inmates. Also last year, the state legislature passed S.B. 280 which eliminated non-unanimous jury recommendations for the death penalty. That was signed and approved by the governor last month.

This brings us to the conflict regarding Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who has outright stated a refusal to seek the death penalty. The issue arose initially in a high-profile case in which Ayala asserted she did not plan to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a police officer. She further stated she did not plan to seek the death penalty for anyone else either. Scott subsequently removed her from the police killing case – and then also from 21 other first-degree murder cases.  Continue reading