Articles Posted in Criminal Defense Attorney

We all know the legal world takes a bit more time than most to catch up to technological trends. Sometimes, this is a good thing; developing policy, procedure, and law on the basis of brand new tech that we still don’t fully understand the long-term implications of could have major unintended consequences. Sometimes, it’s perhaps less positive – particularly when we’re relying on standards and technology that’s been rendered obsolete or even archaic by current standards. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

Recently, it was announced by the Florida Bar Association that the Board of Governors would be considering a proposed rule amendment that would compel judges to use remote technology in non-evidentiary hearings that last 30 minutes or less – unless they can show good cause why an in-person meeting is necessary.

What does this mean for defendants in Florida criminal cases? Mostly this is a win for everyone.

Some of the anticipated outcomes include: Continue reading

With the signature of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 3rd, 2023, Florida strengthened its citizens Second Amendment rights by allowing individuals to carry a concealed firearm (starting July 1st) without requiring purchase of a concealed carry permit. The measure makes Florida the 26th state to decriminalize concealed carry of a firearm without a permit or any requirement for special training. Fort Lauderdale firearm charges defense lawyer

This is a big deal because current law makes carrying a concealed firearm without a permit could be as serious as a third-degree felony. A conviction for this offense carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. That’s a serious weapons charge which could substantially impact one’s life for the worse. Until now, obtaining a Florida concealed carry permit previously required four hours of classroom time, firearm instruction, and passing a reasonable test. Those without a permit were required to keep their lawful firearms in a locked container. Concealed carry permits allowed individuals to keep their gun under their clothing, filing cabinet, or vehicle glove compartment.

In order for these new protections to apply, the law requires that the individual:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be at least 21 years of age or older.
  • Have no disqualifying felony convictions or convictions for any crime relating to violence or drug abuse and no conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence offenses.

The state *may* also deny these protections to individuals on the basis of a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, commitment to a mental institution, or dishonorable discharge from the military.

And although the law doesn’t technically take effect until July 1st, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers understand there will not be legal penalties imposed on individuals between now and then for carrying a concealed firearm in public – so long as they aren’t in a prohibited area. Continue reading

Most people don’t give their trash a second thought once they’ve brought it to the curb. However, the contents of that garbage can be life-altering for suspects in criminal cases. As our Broward criminal defense lawyers can explain, so-called “trash pulls” are an increasingly common means for police and prosecutors to obtain incriminating evidence in cases – ranging from drug offenses to sex crimes to identity theft to murder. The practice is particularly popular with narcotics squads and sex crimes divisions. Broward criminal defense lawyer

Evidence obtained from discarded trash bags can be used to obtain a search warrant into your home, your office, and your person. DNA gleaned from the contents of one’s trash – on cigarette butts, bottle tops, plasticware – can be tested and used to make a case. Seeds, stems, or traces of cocaine can be used to justify a search warrant where the cops may have otherwise had clearly insufficient evidence.

Knowing that your garbage may be the target of police attention isn’t something at the forefront everyone’s mind, but it’s something to be mindful of if you know you’re the subject of a criminal investigation.

Isn’t Going Through Someone’s Trash an Invasion of Privacy?

The main question that arises in “trash pull” cases is whether digging through someone’s refuse is a violation of privacy. However, the courts have ruled time and again that there isn’t a reasonable expectation of privacy.

For example, in the 1981 case of Stone v. State, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal held that a defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when he placed items in a sealed, opaque trash container on his own property. In that case, police got a tip that the defendant was dealing cocaine. A police detective rode along with garbage collectors one day, and took custody of several twist-tied garbage bags from the suspect’s home that were otherwise headed for the landfill. When the contents of those bags were later examined, police found controlled substances residue. Those findings formed the basis of a search warrant, during which time police found further evidence to base a drug trafficking arrest. The defense argued the evidence gleaned from the garbage was inadmissible because it was unlawfully obtained. But the court held that items in a garbage bin set to be gathered and discarded by garbage collectors is considered abandoned property. Abandoned property is that which one intends to forever part with. When a person abandons their property, there is no reasonable expectation that it will remain private. Continue reading

Broward criminal defense attorneyIf you’re arrested in Broward County, you might qualify for a Florida criminal case outcome that involves “withholding adjudication.” As a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer can explain, this is a type of case outcome that isn’t a conviction – but it isn’t an acquittal or dismissal either. If you’re likely to be convicted, a judge’s decision to withhold adjudication can be a preferrable outcome. However, if you’re innocent and/or there’s strong evidence supporting your defense, it may not be in your best interest to agree to an outcome of withholding adjudication.

It’s really important if prosecutors offer a plea deal in a criminal case that involves withholding adjudication that you confer first with an experienced South Florida criminal defense attorney who can explain how this is likely to play out in your case, and whether it’s wise given the unique circumstances of your situation. There are many scenarios for which fighting the charges or agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge is actually your best option.

What Does It Mean to Withhold Adjudication?

Essentially, withholding adjudication is a means of suppressing judgment. Per F.S. 948.01, judges in Florida are empowered to withhold adjudication for certain offenses and certain defendants. A person whose case ends in the judge withholding adjudication will face some sanctions (which will include probation), but not a formal conviction (unless they violate certain terms of the agreement).

This option is generally extended in cases involving:

  • First-time offenders.
  • Individuals not likely to re-offend.
  • Victims who were not seriously injured.
  • Those NOT facing first-degree felony, life felony, or capital felony charges.
  • Defendant is NOT facing a third-degree domestic violence charge – unless the prosecutor has made a special request OR the court finds there are mitigating circumstances (per F.S. 775.08435).
  • Defendant is NOT facing a DUI charge.

Although adjudication withheld can technically be granted for those facing second-degree felonies and third-degree felonies, it’s generally unlikely unless there are mitigating circumstances and the defendant has no history of prior offenses.

Adjudication withheld does NOT mean that the charges have been dropped (i.e., a nolle prosequi). Only the state attorney’s office can do that. Furthermore, while it’s technically a means to avoid conviction, some out-of-state commercial and government organizations may not recognize a “withhold” issued in Florida. Instead, they view it akin to conviction. As to whether you’re required to disclose these cases in paperwork for employment, financial assistance, housing, etc., it depends on how the question is asked. If the question is, “Have you ever been arrested or charged with a criminal offense?” your answer may still need to be “Yes.” If the question is whether you’ve been convicted, you can safely answer “no,” at least where this specific charge is concerned.

It’s also worth pointing out that if the case for which you’re seeking to have adjudication withheld involves a civil traffic violation that you’re hoping won’t show up on your commercial driver’s license record: No dice. Federal law – specifically 49 CFR 384.226 – prohibits this.

Benefits to Adjudication Withheld in Florida

All that said, having a criminal conviction “withheld” can be a best-case-scenario alternative outcome in cases where there’s strong evidence to support conviction. Our Broward criminal defense attorney team will try to do all we can to advocate for adjudication withheld in cases where it makes good sense to do so. Continue reading

Broward criminal defense lawyerAs Broward criminal defense lawyers, we have successfully handled a broad range of Florida criminal case types – from serious felonies to minor misdemeanors. There is no single defense strategy that’s going to work in every situation. That said, there are some approaches more commonly employed than others. If you’re arrested in Fort Lauderdale on a misdemeanor charge, it’s important to seek out a defense attorney who can discuss those that might work best given the facts and realities of your case. Note: Not every misdemeanor defendant is entitled to an attorney (even if you can’t afford one), despite the potential consequences of conviction being substantial and long-lasting. Hiring a defense lawyer – even for seemingly minor issues – is the best way to lessen the blow this whole episode will have on your life long-term.

What Prosecutors Must Prove in Florida Misdemeanors

The exact criteria of what must be established to secure a conviction in a Florida misdemeanor case depends on the charge. Yet in all cases, prosecutors are tasked with showing guilt of the crime alleged beyond a reasonable doubt – which is the highest proof burden their is in Florida law.

As a criminal defendant, one is entitled to the presumption of innocence. However, without an experienced criminal defense lawyer to advocate on their behalf, odds of that person walking away with zero consequences or a slap on the wrist aren’t great.

It’s unlikely your case will go to trial, simply because most these days don’t. Roughly 90 percent of criminal convictions are secured via plea bargains. Prosecutors routinely offer plea bargains to defendants. However, just because it’s a lesser charge than what you initially faced or the consequences are less than the max doesn’t mean that a guilty or no contest plea is wise or in your best interest. You’re far better off if you have a defense attorney who can push back on the prosecution’s case. We can help explain the long-term impact of certain types of convictions, and whether the state’s case is all that strong to start (prosecutors are unlikely to cop to case weaknesses without prodding from the defense). If you’re inclined to accept a plea bargain, it’s still best to have a defense lawyer who can fully assess the particulars and actively negotiate terms most favorable to you.

Criminal Defense Strategies in Broward Misdemeanor Cases

Generally speaking, the goal of a Broward criminal defense attorney is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, arguing things like lack of evidence, lack of intention/willful violation, or a legal justification for the action. Exactly how we do that will depend on the charge and specific facts.

That said, here are some of the most common defenses we use in Broward misdemeanor cases: Continue reading

Artificial intelligence (also known as AI) has long been the subject of futuristic dystopian novels, with films like “Blade Runner” hyping the potential for this type of technology to bolster a nefarious police state. So it’s not surprising that the introduction of AI technology in criminal justice has been controversial. As our Broward criminal defense lawyers can explain, AI (specifically, facial recognition software) has been primarily utilized by police and prosecutors. Recently, however, it was used to exonerate a defendant accused of Florida vehicular homicide.Broward criminal defense lawyers

According to news reports and court records, the case began with a fatal car crash in Fort Myers six years ago. According to the defendant, he was the front seat passenger of a Mustang driven by his drunk, distraught friend, who sped recklessly at 100 m.p.h. on a street with a speed limit of 35 m.p.h. The defendant said he was terrified, begging his friend to slow down. They struck a curb, careened out-of-control, slammed into a light pole and then three palm trees before finally stopping against the side of a tree. The defendant blacked out. When he came to, his friend, the driver, was gone. The windshield had shattered. He was stuck, his seat belt jammed. And the car was on fire. He was dazed when an unknown man jumped into action, forcing open the driver side door and getting him out of the burning car.

He didn’t get the name of the man who pulled him from the car. When police arrived, they spoke briefly to the Good Samaritan – an interaction caught on the officers’ body cameras – who affirmed he’d pulled the defendant from the passenger seat. However, the officers didn’t get the name of that man either, perhaps being distracted by the fact that the defendant’s friend was dead nearby (which is not an excuse, especially as it almost led to a serious miscarriage of justice). Later, despite the defendant’s fervent insistence that he hadn’t been driving, prosecutors charged him with vehicular homicide for the death of his friend – a charge that could have landed him in prison for 15 years. They said there was conflicting evidence about who was driving; an accident reconstructionist presented evidence that the burns on his body weren’t consistent with being in the passenger seat. Prosecutors indicated the information provided to police by a nameless man on body cameras wasn’t enough, especially if he couldn’t be identified and called to testify.

But the nameless man didn’t stay nameless. The defendant was ultimately exonerated because of him, after an AI company with a facial recognition database of billions of faces granted his criminal defense lawyers access to that system. Through this, defense lawyers were able to identify that Good Samaritan – who confirmed he was there on scene, and that the defendant was indeed the one stuck in the passenger seat when he arrived. With his testimony, the prosecution dropped the case.

But use of this system to find him was only employed after years – hundreds of hours – trying to locate that man through fliers, social media, tattoo parlors inquiries, internet searches, etc. Local law enforcement reportedly ran a few cursory searches through the AI database early on as well, trying to find that witness, but didn’t have a paid account with the company, and thus didn’t pursue it further.

Still, not all criminal defense lawyers – or civil rights attorneys – are on board with the proliferation of this new technology.

How AI May Be Problematic for Both Criminal Defense and Civil Rights

Continue reading

Any Florida DUI arrest carries the potential for hefty fines, driving restrictions, possible jail time – to say nothing of the impact it could have on your job, your personal relationships, and your reputation. Even so, the law – and to some extent, society – tends to treat first-time DUI offenders who haven’t hurt anyone as being largely redeemable – so long as you pay your dues, learn from your mistakes, and avoid making them again. However, if you’re arrested for a Florida DUI and it’s your second or subsequent offense, the consequences are suddenly a whole lot steeper. If you’re accused of being a repeat DUI offender is strongly advised to hire a good DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Florida drunk driving defense

As our Broward DUI defense lawyers can explain, Floridians report a higher-than-average percentage of adult drivers who admit to driving after drinking too much. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports more than 29,000 drivers were arrested for DUI offenses in the Sunshine State in 2020 – down slightly from nearly 34,000 in 2019.

It’s estimated 1 in 3 people arrested for DUI in Florida is a “repeat offender” with prior offenses on their record. There are more than 113,000 people in Florida with at least 3 DUIs on their record. There are nearly 12,000 with five or more prior DUI arrests. Some of these individuals still retain their driving rights (though usually with limitations such as to-and-from work and with mandatory ignition interlock devices on their vehicles). Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports at least 300,000 motor vehicle trips every single day in this country involve an impaired driver. Of those, about 4,000 are arrested. Those with prior

The penalties for driving under the influence in Florida increase with every prior offense.

Consequences for Conviction of DUI in Florida – 1,st 2nd, 3rd+ Time Around

If you’ve had prior DUI convictions and are arrested again, you may think you “know the drill.” But you need to be prepared for police and prosecutors to take your case much more seriously. Sentencing guidelines will skew in favor of jail time and stiff fines.

As outlined in F.S. 316.193, penalties for DUI are as follows: Continue reading

Most folks know that misdemeanors are “minor” offenses (at least in comparison to the more serious felony tier of crimes). However, that doesn’t mean the impact on your life will be minor.

In fact, you can face heavy fines, jail time, and reverberating effects in other areas of your life that have the potential to plague you for years to come.Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

If you are arrested for a misdemeanor offense in Broward County, it’s important to invest in legal counsel. Our primary goal is usually for our client to walk away without a conviction, but even when that’s not possible, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help negotiate the charges down to a lesser offense, fight for reduced penalties, and soften the impact on your daily life.

Florida Misdemeanor Penalties

Under the umbrella of misdemeanors, there are two tiers of severity:

  • First-degree misdemeanors. The maximum penalties for 1st degree misdemeanors in Florida are punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.
  • Second-degree misdemeanors. The maximum penalties for 2nd degree misdemeanors in Florida are punishable by a maximum 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.

(There are also non-criminal violations that are typically issued via citation that carry possible fines and other penalties, but usually no jail time.)

Penalty schedules for misdemeanor and felony offenses are laid out in F.S. 775.082 and schedules are spelled out in F.S. 775.083.

But it’s possible your penalties could even exceed this if certain enhancements apply. This could happen because of aggravating circumstances (you used a gun, the alleged victim was a minor, etc.), you have prior convictions, etc. In some cases, first-degree misdemeanors can be leveled up to third-degree felonies – meaning all of the sudden, you’re facing the possibility of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

In addition to this, judges can require completion of costly diversion programs, community service, house arrest, substance abuse treatment and monitoring, loss of driver’s license, etc. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the offense, a misdemeanor charge or conviction can have a ripple effect on your life – in a pending divorce case, child custody issue, an immigration matter, or with your professional license. You could also be kicked out of school, be disqualified for certain loans, and passed over by certain landlords.

All of this is why hiring a Broward criminal defense lawyer to represent you with your misdemeanor is imperative. The State of Florida does provide you with legal counsel if you cannot afford one yourself – but only if you are facing the possibility of jail time. And while there are many dedicated, experienced lawyers working for the public defender’s office, the amount of time and resources they dedicate to your case is likely to be less than what a private lawyer can devote. When we’re talking about your future, that’s not something you want to skimp on. Continue reading

Florida domestic violence cases are typically handled at the state level by local police and state attorneys’ offices. However, as our Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers can explain, there are some circumstances under which one can be charged federally.domestic violence criminal defense Fort Lauderdale

Some circumstances under which Florida domestic violence may be pursued by federal authorities include:

  • Crossing a state line to physically injure an intimate partner. An intimate partner can be someone like a spouse, former spouse, someone with whom you share a child, or a person who lives or used to live with you.
  • Crossing a state line to stalk or harass an intimate partner.
  • Crossing a state line to violate a qualifying protection order.

As noted by the U.S. Department of Justice, these are all federal crimes that fall under the regulations of the Violence Against Women Act. One may also be found guilty of a federal crime under the Gun Control Act if they possess a firearm or ammunition while subject to a qualifying protection order OR they possess a firearm/ammunition after conviction of a qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

All federal domestic violence crimes are felonies. Some may be more serious than others if there are aggravating circumstances (i.e., a deadly weapon or minor involved). But if your domestic violence case is being handled by federal authorities, you should take note that you’re facing very serious charges and consequences. It is imperative that you hire an experienced Fort Lauderdale defense lawyer who has a track record of successfully defending other clients accused of the same offenses in the same jurisdiction.

Recently, a Florida woman was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison for a conviction of interstate domestic violence involving both a weapon and a minor. Continue reading

Florida law imposes minimum mandatory sentences for certain serious or violent offenses. However, even someone who is convicted of a less serious offense may face severe penalties – if they had a prior conviction. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney

In fact, the state legislature imposes several categories of sentencing enhancements for repeat offenders, which include:

  • Habitual felony offender
  • Habitual violent felony offender
  • Violent career criminal
  • Prison releasee reoffender

As our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys can explain, anyone previously convicted of a crime who now stands newly accused must take the potential consequences seriously. Investing in quality legal representation is an imperative when the stakes are so high for your freedom and future. Continue reading

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