Articles Tagged with Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

Florida state lawmakers are mulling drug crime reform, specifically a series of bill that include provisions allowing judges more discretion for sentences that currently require minimum mandatory sentencing and increases of substance abuse treatment funds.drug crime defense attorney

The chances signal a turn away from the hard-line stance so many lawmakers took in the 1980s and 1990s when the so-called “War on Drugs” was in full swing. Those efforts have largely proven ineffective, with many policy leaders agreeing hard-line sentences for low-level drug offenses didn’t lower use and didn’t keep the rest of us safer. In fact, all it did was decimate low-income, minority communities, which were disproportionately on the receiving end of enforcement.

Now, The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports the legislature appears somewhat split on criminal justice reform, with roughly half supporting these changes and half digging in their heels to maintain the status quo. Supporters of the bill say it will help bridge the gap of racial disparities that exist when it comes to enforcement and penalties for these offenses. Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court – for the second time in as many months – ruled the state’s death penalty law is unconstitutional and can’t be applied to prosecutions that are pending. Effectively, that means death penalty murder trials are on hold for now. The ruling was handed down in a one-paragraph order. Some judges, including chief judge John Galluzzo for Brevard and Seminole counties, have held that the guilt phase of these trials may proceed, so long as the sentencing phase is postponed until after state lawmakers have time to rewrite the statute. prison

These judges have defended the decisions saying that while the rulings that have been handed down from the Florida Supreme Court may seem confusing, it’s believed capital murder trials could continue, so long as certain defense rights are defended. Specifically, that means that all 12 members of the jury must unanimously agree to recommend the death penalty, rather than simply a majority or having the judge decide, as has been the case in the past with this state.

However, the most recent order handed down by the state supreme court says that Florida’s death penalty law has been invalidated “as a whole.” The court was very clear in saying it cannot be applied to prosecutions that are pending. Meanwhile, the high court’s ruling last month indicated that the state’s death penalty law was so fundamentally erroneous – and had been that way for so long – that more than half the people on death row are likely entitled to new sentencing hearings. That covers more than 200 inmates who are waiting to die on Florida’s death row.  Continue reading

Florida voters overwhelmingly agreed that medical marijuana should be legal in the Sunshine State – but don’t expect cultivation and possession arrests to drop off any time soon.marijuana plants

Amendment 2, in favor of access to medicinal cannabis for those with certain serious illnesses, received a groundswell of support from the electorate. But it’s also a very short piece of legislation, which means there is a significant amount of power in the hands of the Florida Department of Health to make rules for medical marijuana treatment centers. There is still the need to hammer out procedures for licensing, registration, records, testing, labeling, inspection, security and revocation of registration. Further, a number of cities in South Florida have temporarily banned marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers, arguing officials need time to weigh the effects on the community and set zoning regulations.

In the meantime, don’t expect any breaks when it comes to the prosecution of marijuana-related crimes. Just recently, according to The Sun-Sentinel, a 40-year-old in Deerfield Beach was arrested for growing some 200 marijuana plants inside two residences in the city. Authorities first searched a home on Southeast Eleventh Street and discovered 25 marijuana plants growing in two separate bedrooms. He was arrested at that location. Investigators then went to a residence on Southeast Tenth Street, also owned by defendant, and there discovered an additional 169 marijuana plants, plus 12,000 grams of packaged cannabis and a jar of cannabis oil. He was arrested on charges of manufacturing/ producing cannabis and suspicion of traffic marijuana greater than 25 pounds less than 2,000 pounds. Continue reading

Prosecutors in California who withhold exculpatory evidence or tamper with evidence in a criminal case will now face felony charges themselves. The recent law, signed by that state’s Governor Jerry Brown, allows a penalty of up to three years’ prison time for prosecutors who withhold evidence that defendants could use to exonerate them. Before this law passed, such actions were criminal, but they were only considered misdemeanor crimes. gavel

Officials say the measure was necessary in light of a growing number of cases wherein people have been wrongfully convicted at least in part because prosecutors abused their power and position. The measure follows a high-profile case in Orange County where a prosecutors in a murder case was found to have repeatedly violated defendant’s rights by not turning over key evidence. Although the court overseeing the matter did not find the prosecutor had engaged in willful misconduct, he was nonetheless removed from the case.

There are allegations from the public defender’s office in that region that corrections officers have for years violated inmates’ rights with an illegal jailhouse informant program that prosecutors tried to hide. This involved using the testimony of fellow inmates in exchange for leniency in their pending cases – while not disclosing this deal at trial. A number of high-profile criminal cases have collapsed as a result. Prosecutors are now saying if the law applies to them, it should apply to defense lawyers too.  Continue reading

It’s touted as a smart way to identify alleged thieves, drive down property crimes and return stolen possessions. It’s a spray called SmartWater CSI, and it’s a liquid that glows under ultraviolet light. The liquid is intended for spray on property or intruders, and it leaves a residue that is detectable on people for several weeks and on property for years. keyhole

Since more than two dozen law enforcement agencies in South Florida signed up to use the liquid, 11 say property crimes have taken a nosedive. However, it’s only resulted in half a dozen arrests and in no case has stolen property been recovered and returned to its owner. In fact, a number of law enforcement agencies say it doesn’t seem as if the product actually works.

As criminal defense lawyers, we would have a number of questions as to how a certain piece of property could be traced back to that particular owner or how spray identified on a certain individual could be traced back to the crime scene. Continue reading

In a contentious 5-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court in Utah v. Strieff ruled in favor of a cop who seized drugs after an unlawful stop. It was only after that stop the officer learned the defendant had an outstanding traffic warrant. After making an arrest, the officer searched defendant and found drugs and paraphernalia. Plaintiff argued this evidence should be suppressed under the exclusionary rule. police

However, the majority ruled that although the initial stop was not lawful, which would normally mean any evidence obtained thereafter could not be used against defendant, the court instead chose to apply the attenuation doctrine. This doctrine states that even though the way the evidence was obtained was illegal, such evidence can still be admissible if the connection between the evidence and the illegal method is sufficiently thin or attenuated. The court held that the officer made a good-faith mistake when stopping the defendant, who was leaving a suspected drug house. This was not, the court decided, part of some systematic recurrence of police misconduct and nor would the decision result in the proliferation of dragnet searches for those with outstanding arrest warrants.

Dissenting Justice Sonya Sotomayor, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, had strong words of rebuke for the majority on this issue, saying unlawful police stops, “Corrode all our civil liberties and threaten our lives.”  Continue reading

The state attorney is considering whether to charge a Miami woman with murder after she gunned down a burglar on her property.guncloseup

Florida has one of the strongest “Castle Doctrine” laws on the books, which allow homeowners to use lethal force against those who unlawfully enter their homes. The law does require that in order to threaten or use deadly force, the resident/ homeowner has to believe such force is necessary to either prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to herself or someone else or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

In this case, the 54-year-old homeowner wasn’t at the time of the burglar’s initial entry, but rather was alerted to the break-in by a home security camera. She reportedly returned home and searched the property room-to-room, until she spotted the teen climbing out a window. She told investigators there was a confrontation and she shot him. Further, police were reportedly on their way. Continue reading

Parenting is no easy feat, as any caregiver can attest. However, anytime one assumes the responsibility of caring for a child, failure to provide certain basic services and protection can result in criminal charges – namely, child neglect.stroller1

Unlike child abuse, which involves actively inflicting physical or mental injury on a minor, child neglect in Florida involves a failure or omission to provide children with basic care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health.

Per F.S. 827.03(e), that could mean failure to provide food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine and medical services that a child would need or that a reasonable person would consider essential for that child’s well-being. It could also mean failure to take reasonable steps to protect a child against abuse, neglect or exploitation. Continue reading

A former pain clinic doctor who worked at a facility in Fort Lauderdale was sentenced to four years of probation, following his conviction last fall on a felony drug charge.pills5

Dr. Gerald Klein, 81, had been facing up to five years in prison for his conviction for illegally selling a prescription of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, to a patient at a clinic in West Palm Beach. That patient happened to be Alejandro Pino, who at the time was working as a chef for now-GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

It could have been much worse for the physician, who last year was staring down the possibility of a life sentence on a first-degree murder charge, following the 2009 overdose death of another patient of the so-called “pill mill” where the doctor worked. In January, twin brothers and co-clinic managers received 15 and 20 years, respectively. Continue reading

When a prospective juror in Palm Beach County stated in front of 70 others that a rape case defendant didn’t deserve a fair trail and ought to be “hung outside,” it was opined by the judge to be an attempt to get out of jury duty.gavel1

The judge said it won’t work. It’s possible the juror may face sanctions for his remarks in a courtroom this past July. The comments were made in response to a question by the judge. Still, the judge agreed to grant a defense motion to excuse all 70 prospective jurors, despite objections from prosecutors that it wasn’t necessary.

Now, the judge has ruled the case will continue with another attempt at trial. Attorneys for the defendant, 54-year-old Frederick Lincoln Smart, had argued the trial shouldn’t go forward at all because there was a deadline to hold the trial by no later than Aug. 6th. Smart filed a demand for a speedy trial, which meant there was only 50 days in which to commence the trial under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(b). Continue reading