Articles Tagged with criminal defense attorney

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

A well-known South Florida sports caster was arrested for battery on an elderly person, identified as a 70-year-old man. It’s not clear whether the two are related, though defendant had been staying at the home where the elder man resides. criminal defense lawyer

The Palm Beach Post reports authorities were called to do a welfare check. Then an hour later, a woman called 911, identifying the NBA radio host and indicating he was beating an elderly man. Following his first court appearance, at which alleged victim stressed the judge he was not afraid of defendant, the court ordered a mental health evaluation before approving a pre-trial supervised release.

Although this case involves a high-profile defendant, it underscores the increasing incidence of cases filed under F.S. 784.08, assault and battery on an a person 65 or older. It also highlights the fact that not all domestic violence incidents occur between romantic partners or exes. Such crimes can result felony or misdemeanor consequences, depending on the details.  Continue reading

A new Florida law signed by Governor Rick Scott takes aim at opioid trafficking and possession, imposing harsher penalties for those convicted of dealing and using pills, heroin, fentanyl and more. The measure, House Bill 477, enacts new mandatory minimum sentences for opioid users and dealers and establishes new bans on trafficking drugs that include synthetic marijuana and fentanyl.drug defense lawyer

The new law sets mandatory minimum sentences for convicted dealers, which will force judges to lock away drug offenders for extended periods of time with little opportunity for discretion.

All this is despite the growing realization that “tough-on-crime” drug laws simply do not work, and disproportionately affect poverty-stricken and minority communities. Meanwhile, the state will receive $27 million in federal grant money to help pay for its enforcement.  Continue reading

Fingerprint matching has long been considered a critical investigative tool. However, despite its longtime claims of being infallible, the practice started to fall out of favor over the last few years with emerging science indicating that finding a “match” on a fingerprint was more likely to indicate a concordant connection than one that is without a doubt identical. criminal defense lawyer

As noted in a 2014 study published in the journal Public Library of Science, examination of latent fingerprints is often a complex task, even with advanced image processing. In many cases, fingerprints gathered at crime scenes contain less information than those collected under controlled conditions. They can be distorted and might only contain part of the total fingerprint. So despite assertions that fingerprint analysis is “infallible” or has a “zero error rate,” there are many cases in which errors are found and we find that certain assertions of infallibility were implausible.

Despite this, police and prosecutors in South Florida are increasingly relying on fingerprint evidence and analysis in making their cases against criminal defendants in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas. Continue reading

Citizens have certain constitutional rights when it comes to interactions with police and other law enforcement agencies. Those rights do not disappear the moment they get behind the wheel of a car. Still, it is true that motorists don’t necessarily have free reign in police interactions. For example, there is implied consent, which per F.S. 316.1932 allows police to compel drivers to submit to breath alcohol testing upon reasonable suspicion of intoxication. A refusal results in an automatic, year-long driver’s license suspension. Police have the right to temporarily stop drivers in sobriety checkpoints, so long as these operations follow certain legal protocols, such as ensuring vehicles are stopped purely at random. policecar

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, considered a case that raised the question of whether police can retaliate against a citizen for refusing to answer police questions. This is a civil case, as opposed to a criminal one, but it deals with important matters pertinent to those in a traffic stop.

According to court records, plaintiff was pulled over and declined to answer police questions. According to his complaint (and the court assumes these facts to be true at this stage, though they could later be proven incorrect), the sergeant at that point retaliated against this refusal to answer questions by ordering plaintiff out of the vehicle and then putting him face down on the ground.  Continue reading

Throngs of spring breakers and tourists start to flood Florida coasts beginning in March, with spring break hitting its peak around the middle of the month. However, those who came for a week may find they are dealing with our court system for much longer. beachparty

The Sun-Sentinel reported spring breakers kept local law enforcement agencies busy, with offenses ranging from slapping the rear quarter of a police horse and underage drinking.

Fort Lauderdale police issued a warning to both locals and visitors in advance of spring break, insisting there would be a “zero tolerance” policy of enforcing state laws and local ordinances. In many cases, that meant arresting spring breakers, who now may face the expensive possibility of having to return to Florida to face the music in court.  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

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

In a divided and controversial ruling, the Florida Supreme Court upheld a longstanding ban on people openly carrying firearms in public. gun

The court disagreed with passionate arguments by supporters of the Second Amendment, instead ruling 4-2 that the state law doesn’t impede the exercise of the core right to bear arms. Rather, the law only regulates one manner of how a person can bear arms. The court’s decision is an affirmation of the findings by the 4th District Court of Appeal, which in 2015 decided against a man arrested for open carry of a gun in a holster in St. Lucie County.

Defendant in the case, Norman v. Florida, specifically challenged the constitutionality of F.S. 790.053, the state’s open carry law, which has been in effect since 1987. The statute holds that except as otherwise provided, it’s against the law for anyone to openly carry on or about his or her person any gun or electric weapon or other device. In order to be lawfully carrying a gun, one has to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm and the firearm has to be adequately concealed.  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