Articles Posted in Attorney Richard Ansara

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

A South Florida computer expert starting out his decade-long sentence for a conviction of espionage has just been found guilty again, this time of underage sex trafficking. handcuffs

The Miami-Herald reports defendant was accused and ultimately convicted of exploiting girls who were underage – between 13 and 16 – for sex while he was working in Honduras for the U.S. Department of Defense. The crimes allegedly occurred between 2010 and 2014. Now 36, the former West Palm Beach native faces a minimum mandatory additional 15 years in prison, with the possibility of being handed a life sentence.

In a classic case of “what not to do when you’re facing serious felony charges,” the man represented himself during the Miami-based federal trial, which lasted for a month. The proceedings were marked by bizarre episodes. For example, although defendant was born and raised in the state of New York and spoke fluent English, he demanded the court provide him with a Spanish interpreter to help translate the proceedings.  Continue reading

Spring break in Florida is something of a rite of passage for many college students across the country. They flock here for a brief, sunny respite from the mid-semester doldrums and flood the state’s beaches and bars. welcometomiami

Many communities thrive off this yearly influx of younger visitors. However, state and local police are issuing stern warnings about what is expected of visitors here and what kinds of enforcement actions they can expect.

In particular, police are focused on:

  • Public drinking
  • Drinking and driving
  • Underage consumption of alcohol

Continue reading

Florida Senate committee members unanimously voted on a measure that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences in 118 crimes where such requirements currently exist. Members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee say mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, a holdover from all those “tough-on-crime” initiatives, passed SB 290, which gives judges more discretion in sentencing on non-violent offenses (save for drug trafficking). prison

The decision came as lawmakers noted that thousands of people are being locked up in the state every year for decades-long sentences that are costing taxpayers an inordinate amount of money, ruining lives and doing very little to keep anyone safe in the long-run. In fact, these efforts may be counter-intuitive to public safety because they leave those hemmed up in the system with very few resources or supports once released after spending a much of their life in prison.

Take for example the case of a woman serving a 25-year sentence at the Homestead Correctional Institution for selling less than 40 pills in exchange for $300. Minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines required the judge to impose the maximum penalty of 25 years. She won’t be released until 2023. By then, her incarceration will have cost taxpayers more than $450,000.  Continue reading

Concerns about due process violation have been raised with the increasing use of a form of technology that conducts “probabilistic genotyping” as opposed to the regular DNA testing that has long been used as evidence in criminal cases. science

One example of this offered by ProPublica, a non-profit, Pulitzer prize-winning online publication, was a case out of New York two years ago. Police officers attempted to pull over a vehicle that was operating without headlines. However, they driver and passenger fled on foot. Officers gave chase and then heard a gunshot. Police never actually caught up with the suspects, but they did find a loaded handgun nearby. The car, which had been abandoned, was connected to its owner. Police arrested him, but they couldn’t link him to that gun unless they could secure a DNA match. Unfortunately for them, the DNA that was left on the handgun did not provide a good sample for conventional methods. DNA from at least four or five people was on the weapon. So prosecutors requested an analysis from a company that offers the genotyping software program.

Traditional DNA analysis asks researchers to visually and manually interpret the markers on the sample to determine whether there is a match. This new type of testing runs the information through a computerized algorithm in order to determine the likelihood that a certain individual’s DNA is present in the mixture, when compared to the DNA of a random person. Those who developed the technology insist the results are the best way to remove human bias from the process. However, criticism has arisen about whether this process undermines defendants’ due process. Continue reading