Articles Posted in Criminal Defense Attorney

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

In both federal and state criminal cases and even some civil case, the law (thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court decision 55 years ago in Gideon v. Wainwright) affords defendants the right to representation by a criminal defense attorney – even for misdemeanors. It is only when the individual is unable to afford a defense lawyer that one is appointed for the defendant (i.e., a public defender). The question of whether one can afford a lawyer is answered by determining one’s “indigent” status.Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney

The question of one’s indigent status is one many of us don’t give a second thought to, but it’s made front-page headlines of late because of the recent high-profile case of the questionable indigent status of accused Parkland school shooter Nicholas Cruz. The 20-year-old is accused of carrying out one of the deadliest mass school shootings in U.S. history, killing 17 students and teachers. He has reportedly confessed and faces the death penalty.

Initially, he was appointed a Florida public defender after being deemed indigent. However, Law.com now reports he is anticipating a $432,000 life insurance policy payout following the recent death of his mother. His Broward defense attorney is now seeking to be removed from the case, arguing state law prohibits service of public defenders for defendants with financial means to higher a private Florida criminal defense attorney. The lawyer, with 40 years of experience, pointed out the defendant is now wealthier than most of those serving on his defense team and he has never had a client with access to as much money as Cruz. The average public defender in Broward County earns about $62,000.  Continue reading

The saying goes that one man’s trash is the next man’s treasure, basically meaning that we all place different value on material goods. But in the case of a South Florida defense attorney, it’s more likely to refer to the fact that you’re literal trash may be the treasure of a prosecutor seeking to put you behind bars. South Florida defense attorney

With the proliferation of DNA evidence as key to prosecutions, digging through a suspect’s trash has become a growing source of evidence for many state and federal attorneys. Generally speaking, unlike the contents of your home or even a DNA test of your own bodily fluids, once your trash is carried to the garbage for disposal, it becomes fair game for law enforcement authorities to access – without a warrant. As established in the 1978 federal case of U.S. v. Crowell by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy per the Fourth Amendment for the garbage you place outside for collection. In fact, so-called “trash pulls” have become a veritable treasure trove for some narcotics units in Florida. In some cases, it even becomes the basis for securing a search warrant on your actual home.

However, it’s not unheard of for police agencies to get too hasty in their quest to gather evidence sufficient for probable cause to secure a warrant to fail to obtain adequate evidence prior to requesting that warrant. For example, simply finding cocaine residue or marijuana seeds in the bottom of a trash bin may in fact be insufficient, thus leading to an affidavit that is deficient for the warrant that is ultimately signed. Based on the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, that could mean everything that is found thereafter is inadmissible (if your criminal defense lawyer files a motion to suppress) – and may result in an entire case being tossed.  Continue reading

If you are accused of a crime in Fort Lauderdale, you are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial. That means that criminal cases can be successfully dismissed if there are prosecutorial delays that violate a defendant’s due process right to a speedy trial. But what is the exact period of time that triggers a violation of this due process right? Your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney should closely examine the facts of your case to ascertain whether a motion to dismiss under a due process argument makes sense.Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney

Generally, your criminal defense attorney will need to prove one’s defense is compromised by the delay and the prosecutor had not good reason justifying the delay OR that the prosecution has been delayed beyond specified limits.

There are two basic types of speedy trial rights for Florida criminal defendants.

  • Statutory speedy trial. These are afforded according to Rule 3.191 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. These require one’s trial takes place within a very specific time window – 90 days for a misdemeanor and 175 days for a felony.
  • State/federal constitutional protection under the Sixth Amendment. These provide for a speedy trial even if your statutory remedy er state law has been waived, effectively mandating due process protections.

Your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense team may well advise you NOT to seek a speedy trial; that may not be in your best interests, particularly in complex felony cases where the stakes are high, testimony is conflicting, discovery is extensive and expert witness testimony is warranted. However, if your case has sat on the back burner for an extended period of time, your defense lawyer may be wise to file a motion to dismiss due to a delay by the prosecution. This is not as uncommon as one might think, particularly in cases involving extensive delays in processing laboratory work.  Continue reading

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