Articles Tagged with Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney

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

There are many scenarios wherein panicked people “toss the drugs” – when they are being chased by police, when law enforcement is at their door, when they fear they are about to be searched. What we are obliged to inform you as criminal defense attorneys is that if you make any attempt to tamper with evidence under Florida law (which is essentially what “tossing the drugs” is in these scenarios), you would be facing a third-degree felony charge (up to five years in prison) for this alone, per F.S. 918.13.drug possession defense Florida

It really is often a bad idea, and you’ll likely never hear an ethical Broward criminal defense attorney give you the green light to “toss the drugs,” – whether for yourself or a loved one.

However, the outcome of a 1999 case of Stanton v. State, wherein a conviction for cocaine possession was overturned, is worth a mention in this context.  Continue reading

People in the U.S. have a number of Constitutional rights that ensure (among other things) due process as they go about their lives. One of those, as outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. It has long been established that warrants are generally required to initiate a non-consensual search of one’s person or property. However, there is an automobile exception that allows warrantless searches if the vehicle is traveling on a public road and the law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion of a crime. criminal defense attorney Fort Lauderdale

Now, in what’s being hailed a win for privacy rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has just handed down an 8-1 decision holding police are not allowed to search the area around a private home absent a warrant – even if they believe they’ve seen stolen property on site. A motorcycle in a driveway was was started this particular case.

Officers at a county police agency in Virginia say they attempted to initiate a traffic stop of a motorcycle rider on two different occasions, but both times, the driver evaded. Police were able to learn from those encounters that the motorcycle in question was stolen. A suspect was identified, based on Facebook photos the suspect had posted of the motorcycle in question, which was parked at suspect’s girlfriend’s home. An officer went to that location, where a motorcycle was spotted – covered by a tarp – in the driveway. The officer – who did not have a warrant and was not invited onto the property – removed the tarp. Based on the information he gathered, he identified the bike as stolen and arrested the suspect – who claimed he purchased the motorcycle without a title. He was charged with receiving stolen property. Continue reading

A recent decision by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals makes it clear that police have the right to stop you for license plate framing that obstructs ANY portion of the words on the plate. That means police have yet one more reason to initiate traffic stops (which can lead to additional charges).criminal defense attorney

In Florida v. Pena, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Assistant Attorney General Christina Dominguez argued for the state, citing in particular the statute F.S. 316.605(1), which states that license plates must keep plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the front or rear “all letters, numerals, printing, writing and other identification marks upon the plates regarding the word ‘Florida,’ the registration decal and the alphanumeric designation.”

Defendant in this case alleged the Miami traffic stop was illegal – and the trial court agreed, meaning any other evidence gleaned thereafter would be inadmissible. However, the 3rd DCA reversed.  Continue reading

The U.S. Department of Justice, as well as the FBI, made an official acknowledgement that almost every examiner in the FBI’s elite forensic unit provided testimony that was inherently flawed in nearly all trials wherein they offered evidence against defendants in criminal cases for more than 20 years prior to 2000. criminal defense attorney

The Washington Post reported that specifically, of the 28 examiners who worked for the microscopic hair comparison unit, all but two overstated the forensic matches of the evidence in a manner that bolstered prosecutors more than 95 percent of the time – and that is just of the nearly 270 trials that have so far been reviewed by the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer. Within those cases, 32 inmates were sent to death row and 14 have either already been executed or they died in prison. Although the DOJ was quick to point out that this doesn’t mean there weren’t grounds for defendant to be convicted, but federal and state prosecutors in almost every state and D.C. are being issued notifications so they can determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were exonerated prior to the review.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know this is huge, not only for these defendants who may be involved, but because juries often give great weight to the evidence and testimony presented by forensic experts. And yet, this isn’t the first time these scientific methods have been called into question. It requires a great deal of skill and experience to challenge this kind of evidence, but findings like this give us even more tools to do so. 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

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

One boy is a ninth-grader who is just 15. Another is a 16-year-old girl and another just turned 18. All three are facing charge that could put them behind bars for many years.self

Detectives say the teens are involved in nearly a dozen cases of alleged assault, battery, carjacking and robbery in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Dania Beach and Aventura. According to The Sun-Sentinel, the teens robbed at least five women at their homes or at local shopping centers. Authorities say the women were robbed, punched and in some instances pepper-sprayed while the teens snatched what they could from the alleged victims. Most occurred in supermarket parking lots, though there was one case outside of a restaurant and another in a woman’s driveway. In one case, a woman’s vehicle was reportedly stolen from her property just hours after she was attacked at a nearby grocery store.

At a detention hearing, a Broward judge denied the youngest defendant the chance to be confined at home. He will instead be housed at a juvenile facility until prosecutors decide whether to direct file on a felony charge of robbery. The 18-year-old defendant faces 10 felony charges so far (including carjacking, robbery by sudden snatching and aggravated battery on an elderly person, who was 73). The 16-year-old is also facing numerous charges.  Continue reading

Concerns about due process violation have been raised with the increasing use of a form of technology that conducts “probabilistic genotyping” as opposed to the regular DNA testing that has long been used as evidence in criminal cases. science

One example of this offered by ProPublica, a non-profit, Pulitzer prize-winning online publication, was a case out of New York two years ago. Police officers attempted to pull over a vehicle that was operating without headlines. However, they driver and passenger fled on foot. Officers gave chase and then heard a gunshot. Police never actually caught up with the suspects, but they did find a loaded handgun nearby. The car, which had been abandoned, was connected to its owner. Police arrested him, but they couldn’t link him to that gun unless they could secure a DNA match. Unfortunately for them, the DNA that was left on the handgun did not provide a good sample for conventional methods. DNA from at least four or five people was on the weapon. So prosecutors requested an analysis from a company that offers the genotyping software program.

Traditional DNA analysis asks researchers to visually and manually interpret the markers on the sample to determine whether there is a match. This new type of testing runs the information through a computerized algorithm in order to determine the likelihood that a certain individual’s DNA is present in the mixture, when compared to the DNA of a random person. Those who developed the technology insist the results are the best way to remove human bias from the process. However, criticism has arisen about whether this process undermines defendants’ due process. Continue reading

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