Articles Posted in Criminal Defense Attorney

Narcotics detectives investigating Florida drug crimes in Miami-Dade recently employed a police drone to capture an alleged cocaine sale between a suspect and an undercover informant. According to The Miami Herald, this was a first in a criminal investigation. Its use had to be first approved by a judge in a case against a 31-year-old accused of numerous drug and weapons charges. Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys understand this news comes right as lawmakers in Florida are weighing whether to approve limited expansion of police drone use. Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have increased their purchases and use of drones as the technology has gotten cheaper – even as defense lawyers have raised concerns about civil rights and privacy intrusions.

The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College reports some 900 agencies in the U.S. (most of those law enforcement) purchased the lightweight, unmanned aerial devices in 2018. That number will soon be updated for 2019, and it’s expected to be much higher. Some police agencies anticipate that the use of drones by cops will someday be as ubiquitous as body cameras. But there is legitimate skepticism about the legality of these devices, particularly where agencies have declined to provide information to the public about their drone programs. For instance, police agencies in Southern California won’t release any details of their drone operations, despite one city claiming it has carried out more than 1,000 drone missions in a single year leading to well over 100 arrests.

Some departments have been criticized for flying drones over certain crowds of protesters, raising concerns about government spying. Continue reading

Authorities investigating a Broward County slaying secured a search warrant to access recording history on an Amazon Echo device present at the crime scene. A 43-year-old man has been arrested for the Hallandale Beach homicide of his 32-year-old girlfriend in mid-July. Police want to know whether the popular voice-controlled smart speakers at the home where she died may provide clues as to what happened, the Sun Sentinel reported. Broward criminal defense lawyers

Broward County criminal defense lawyers have been keenly attuned to police and prosecutors’ increasing reliance on evidence derived from new media and technology – from smartphones to drones – in criminal cases.

This is the latest example, and it raises some interesting legal questions about privacy and the extent to which authorities can access the details of conversations that happen in your own home or in personal messages. Continue reading

With the proliferation of smart phones – each containing a great deal of personal information. In some cases, that information can be incriminating. Courts across the U.S. have been attempting to find common legal ground on the issue of whether persons should be compelled to reveal their cell phone passcodes if it could unlock potentially self-incriminating information.criminal defense attorney

This summer, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys wrote about the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court ruled attorneys can subpoena private social media posts where they are pertinent to a criminal case.

Now, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal has sided with a criminal defendant who fought against being fought to comply with an order requiring him to supply prosecutors with his cell phone password. This is welcome news for Florida defense lawyers, but it does conflict with a previous state appellate court ruling, making the issue ripe to be heard by the Florida Supreme Court. Continue reading

An appellate judge for the Fourth District Court of Appeal says he sees a recurring problem in Florida criminal cases when it comes to hearsay. Specifically, it’s being confused with the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and therefore subject to being weighted more heavily by case law standards rather than Florida Statute.criminal defense lawyer

The problem, said the judge, is that courts are veering further and further from legislators’ intent in these interpretations.

What is Hearsay in Florida Criminal Case? 

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know hearsay is one of the most misunderstood criminal laws in its application. Some mistakenly think prosecutors can’t pursue charges based on he said/she said evidence. In fact, the state can pursue charges on nothing but verbal testimony, but there are specific definitions and exceptions. Continue reading

In an unprecedented move that not only greatly concerns criminal defense lawyers but also prosecutors and free speech advocates, the California Supreme Court in a gang-related murder trial has ruled that attorneys can subpoena private social media posts pertinent to the case.criminal defense lawyer

Interestingly, the request for production of those records came from the defense team.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all subject to the order. Facebook’s public relations team issued a statement saying the company was weighing legal options, but believes federal law bars any order mandating the platforms turn over private content of alleged crime victims to defendants and defense lawyers. The Fortune 500 company’s goal, it says, is to protect the privacy interests of its customers. So the company may be slow to comply – or it might not comply at all, though the latter could set off an intense legal battle with potential to reach the U.S. Supreme Court and have extensive implications.

The court’s decision lifted a previous stay imposed by the appellate court on the San Francisco trial court’s order, which high court justices cited as providing compelling enough reason to justify access to the private messages. This is the very first time that an order like this has been imposed in California. Continue reading

Cannabidiol oil, better known as CBD, is touted in Florida stores as a means to alleviate anxiety and depression. But a dose of it with a little too much THC could have you feeling a different kind of anxious – in a South Florida jail cell.Fort Lauderdale CBD arrest

Criminal defense attorneys in Palm Beach know this probably has a lot of folks confused. After all, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized commercial hemp and the CBD that is derived from it. Hemp is used to make a wide range of goods and products, from textiles to soap. CBD is a derivative of hemp which is a type of cannabis, but unlike it’s cousin marijuana, hemp has little-to-no THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol). This is the psychoactive extract of the drug, meaning that’s what makes a person feel that euphoric high.

But while federal the latest Farm Bill removed commercial hemp and CBD from the list of federally-controlled substances, there are two things to keep in mind:

  • The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) still prohibits CBD for use in food, beverage and cosmetics products. (Many business owners are flouting this rule, and currently do so at their own risk.)
  • State marijuana laws are a patchwork, and not every state allows CBD oil. In Florida, you could still run into trouble with CBD if it contains any trace amount of THC (the federal limit 0.03 percent) and you don’t have a doctor-recommended state-issued marijuana patient card.

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Police call it a “modern-day neighborhood watch,”  a proliferating network of surveillance cameras affixed to the doorbells of private residences. Florida criminal defense lawyers are increasingly wary, citing concerns about privacy – especially because police from here to Houston have been “gifting” these devices to homeowners – using taxpayer money – with the caveat that they must turn these devices over to police upon request (something Amazon – the company that acquired the firm for $1 billion last year – said it will be “cracking down on”).criminal defense lawyer

This was at least the case in Houston, and criminal defense attorneys recognize that it raises the question of possible violations of citizens’ Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizures. If any arrests were made based on footage police demanded an unwilling homeowner fork over, it’s plausible that evidence could be suppressed.

CNet reports more than 50 local police departments have been partnering with the manufacturer of these “smart doorbells” to give them away free, cheaply or with a $3-a-month “subscription service” that allows police to tap into these feeds whenever they want. In some neighborhoods, police can tune in to watch – and record – what’s happening in real time on surveillance footage. Continue reading

It’s summertime, school’s out (or soon-to-be) and throughout South Florida, teens and young adults are celebrating – fairly often with substances they aren’t legally allowed to have or consume (namely, alcohol).Fort Lauderdale lawyer underage alcohol

As Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys can explain, these scenarios can result in several different criminal charges:

  • Unlawful possession of alcohol by a person under age 21, per F.S. 562.111.
  • Unlawfully selling, serving or giving alcohol to a person under age 21, per F.S. 562.11.
  • Open house party where host knows or should know alcohol will be served to minors, per F.S. 856.015.

There are also potential civil consequences if the minor becomes impaired and somehow hurts themselves or is involved in an underage DUI car accident that injures themselves or others. Those cases will be handled by the civil justice system, separate from any criminal charges. Continue reading

Cash bail has long been integrated into the Florida criminal justice system as a means of assuring those released from jail post-arrest/pre-trial show up to court, and that risk to the community is minimized.Fort Lauderdale bail hearing attorney

But criminal justice reform advocates, like those at the ACLU, are calling for an end to the cash bail system, saying it results in disparate outcomes on the basis of income.

Criminal defendants in Florida may be jailed for days, weeks or even months pending trial, and public defenders say many are strong-armed into accepting plea deals on lesser charges – even when they were innocent – just to secure their release from jail.

Who Gets Bail in Florida Criminal Cases?

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The intense media spotlight of the vigorous Florida criminal defense case being mounted following the Boca Raton prostitution arrest of billionaire NFL team owner Robert Kraft has revealed some interesting facts about South Florida police use of secret surveillance cameras. One of the main takeaways for those facing criminal charges in Florida is that in the few instances the legal bases for these cameras are challenged, those challenges are often successful.criminal defense lawyer

The Sun-Sentinel reported that while use of so-called sneak-and-peek or delayed-notice warrants have increased over the last decade (more in criminal drug cases than prostitution busts), it’s not something judges see every day or more than maybe a few times a month. However, when there were solicitation of prostitution charges involving these types of warrants, it was only with rare exception that prosecutors didn’t drop the charge after defendants successfully finished minimal penalties (i.e., paying small fines, completing community service).

Further, very few of those defendants even sought a motion to suppress evidence garnered as a result of these warrants – despite their questionable legality. For instance, in the Boca Raton cases, only one other defendant besides Kraft has challenged the warrant – and in that case, prosecutors dropped the charge before there was ever a hearing on that issue. Continue reading