Articles Posted in Attorney Richard Ansara

If you’re searching for a great criminal defense lawyer, chances are you’re not in a great situation. That can make the process even more stressful. There are numerous important factors you need to consider, and it’s a good idea to make a checklist before reaching out to anyone. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

The very basic checklist is to find a defense lawyer who is licensed to practice in Florida, has the qualities you’re seeking and can offer the attention to your case that it requires. Doing a little research can go a long way. Continue reading

Proving misdemeanor or felony theft in Florida requires proof of intent to deprive the owner of his or her rights to the property. Grand theft, as outlined in F.S. 812.014 is the unlawful taking or using of property valued at more than $300. But as our Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers point out, one’s intent in taking or using that property is key.Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers

That’s why prosecutors in Citrus County recently dropped two grand theft charges against a roofing contractor initially accused of defrauding customers by taking nearly $15,000 in deposits without completing the work he promised. As the prosecutor explained to a reporter from the Citrus County Chronicle, the state attorney’s office would have had to have shown that the defendant took the customers’ down payment and in turn used it all for personal financial gain – not simply for running his business. What the evidence showed, however, was that he used the money to buy materials and contract labor for the jobs, but did not follow through in completing them.

This might tend to show the contractor was a poor business manager, but not that he’d committed theft, as understood by Florida law. Continue reading

Last month, the newly-formed Conviction Review Unit in Broward County convinced a South Florida judge to free a man convicted 16 years ago of robbery and sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors working with the CRU told the Broward County Circuit judge that they likely would be unable to gain a conviction today, given numerous evidentiary issues with the case, including the reliability of witnesses  and an alibi that jurors never had an opportunity to hear.Broward County criminal defense lawyer

An assistant state attorney leading the CRU told the judge it’s not even clear how the defendant was identified as a suspect, given that there was no physical evidence, no witnesses knew him and the only thing that lead police to him was an apparently questionable search through the TRAP program, a previously-used database of prior offender mugshots in a given area.

Broward County has one of the highest rates of false convictions in Florida. The National Registry of Exonerations notes more than 2,500 cases nationally of convicts later found innocent. More than 80 of those are from Florida and nearly a dozen in Broward. Continue reading

The internet has been revolutionary, allowing us to connect with others – locally and across the globe – in real time in a way that’s never before existed in human history. But it’s not been without its complications, at least where application of the law has been concerned – and that includes criminal law.criminal defense lawyer

Although many online interactions and exchanges – however heated – can be safely considered “free speech,” its bounds aren’t limitless. In fact, communications over the internet may in some cases be at higher risk of crossing the criminal threshold because they lack the benefit of context, inflection or familiarity of face-to-face or even phone conversations.

Florida criminal defense attorneys know law enforcement agencies are increasingly keen to solicit and investigate tips of threats made online, particularly in the wake of several mass shootings. Some agencies have said that dozens of potential shootings were stopped by this heightened vigilance in the wake of shootings in Dayton and El Paso.

Still, many of those charged find themselves bewildered that words, images or videos posted to a Facebook page or Instagram account might potentially have them facing jail time. Continue reading

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law was recently tested by a jury, which found the defendant guilty of manslaughter for killing another man following an argument over a parking spot last year.criminal defense lawyer

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers understand the local sheriff’s office didn’t initially arrest the suspect, citing the Stand Your Ground law. The defendant was white and armed, while the man he killed outside a convenience store was black and unarmed, setting off racial tensions. Authorities did arrest the defendant three weeks later when prosecutors decided to charge the defendant with manslaughter.

The defense lawyers intend to appeal, believing the state attorney’s office filed the charges to appease pressure from political activists.

Continue reading

If you are questioned by police in connection with suspicion of a crime, should you talk? What if you’re innocent? Even if you aren’t, won’t it look worse if you refuse to cooperate?Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

As a Fort Lauderdale defense lawyer, we generally assert that where possible, communication with law enforcement in almost any circumstance should be polite – but extremely brief. The exact amount of information to divulge – or not – can be tricky, especially if you are sure they could glean the information elsewhere. If you have any doubt, politely but firmly decline to offer any further information before speaking to an attorney.

The main thing to keep in mind: Information gleaned against your will or without your cooperation might be successfully challenged later by your attorney with a motion to suppress. However, information you offer freely can be much more difficult for your attorney to suppress. Continue reading

Witness testimony is perhaps one of the most powerful – and fallible – types of evidence presented in a Florida criminal trial. One of the most important jobs of a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney is not just to examine the potential weakness in that testimony, but also the competency of each witness. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney

As established in the 1928 Florida Supreme Court case of Crockett v. Cassels, a witness must be competent in order to testify in a trial, meaning he or she must be both capable and qualified. That means, as noted in the 1990 case of Rivet v. State and as outlined in in F.S. 90.603, that one is has both sufficient intellectual capacity to understand the nature and obligation of the oath and the ability to perceive, remember and communicate accurate sensory perceptions to the court. This ability is presumed unless proven otherwise by competent evidence. Witnesses may be disqualified if they are unable to:

  • Communicate to the jury;
  • Understand the duty to tell the truth;
  • Perceive and remember events.

A person’s immaturity (being a child) and mental illness or mental disability won’t necessarily disqualify a witness, but as a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney can explain, courts are required to carefully consider one’s threshold in intellectual ability when weighing whether to allow them to testify. Continue reading

Plea bargains, as Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys can explain, have rapidly become the standard resolution in most criminal cases, both at the state and federal level. The U.S. Supreme Court estimates more than 9 in 10 federal and state criminal cases are resolved by plea bargain. This rise has resulted in the previously uncommon practice of defendants appealing convictions for charges on which they already pleaded guilty. So now many prosecutors insist defendants sign appeal waivers as part of the deal. criminal defense lawyer

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is now reviewing a case that stems from this very issue. The outcome in Garza v. Idaho could well impact how criminal plea bargains are resolved both in federal court and within Florida state courts. It’s one most criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges are watching carefully.

The defendant alleges that his trial lawyer’s counsel was inefficient because when he refused to file an appeal as defendant requested, citing the waiver. The court is being asked whether the defendant needs to prove prejudice in order to establish his lawyer’s counsel was not effective. Back in 2000, the SCOTUS ruled in Roe v. Flores-Ortega that prejudice by an attorney can be presumed if a lawyer doesn’t file an appeal at the behest of a defendant. However, given that the case is almost 20-years-old and didn’t involve an appellate waiver, new questions have bubbled to the surface about whether this standard still fits.  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

Criminal defendants in Florida have the right to a defense attorney in any criminal proceeding. It’s one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (the Sixth Amendment in particular), with the U.S. Supreme Court applying this right to state-level criminal proceedings in the 1963 case of Gideon v. Wainwright. Further, deprivation of a defendant’s right to a criminal defense attorney or denial of a choice of attorney absent good cause should result in the reversal of a criminal conviction, per the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling in U.S. v. Gonzalez-Lopez.criminal defense lawyer

Unfortunately, the government (law enforcement investigators in particular) do not always go to great lengths to fulfill this duty to make counsel available – particularly at key times pre-trial, such as during questioning and interrogation.

That’s reportedly what happened recently in a case, Baskin v. State that resulted in a Florida homicide conviction in Manatee County. According to Sunshine State News, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial for a man convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the death of a woman in Bradenton in 2012. Authorities, in the course of their investigation, reportedly discovered decedent had been romantically involved with defendant and that he was a frequent guest in her apartment, where her body was discovered.  Continue reading

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