Articles Tagged with Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

The internet has been revolutionary, allowing us to connect with others – locally and across the globe – in real time in a way that’s never before existed in human history. But it’s not been without its complications, at least where application of the law has been concerned – and that includes criminal law.criminal defense lawyer

Although many online interactions and exchanges – however heated – can be safely considered “free speech,” its bounds aren’t limitless. In fact, communications over the internet may in some cases be at higher risk of crossing the criminal threshold because they lack the benefit of context, inflection or familiarity of face-to-face or even phone conversations.

Florida criminal defense attorneys know law enforcement agencies are increasingly keen to solicit and investigate tips of threats made online, particularly in the wake of several mass shootings. Some agencies have said that dozens of potential shootings were stopped by this heightened vigilance in the wake of shootings in Dayton and El Paso.

Still, many of those charged find themselves bewildered that words, images or videos posted to a Facebook page or Instagram account might potentially have them facing jail time. 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

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

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

Is a sniff a search? It seems that may be a constitutional question for the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices are considering whether to grant review in the case of Edstrom v. Minnesota. The case, as our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys understand it, turns on the issue of whether trained narcotics-sniffing dogs can lawfully be brought to a person’s door to sniff for drugs or whether this requires police to first obtain a warrant. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

The Minnesota Supreme Court held that police do not need a warrant to walk the dog to one’s front door and see if it passes the sniff test. We have no way of knowing which way the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to swing, especially since Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down and has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In several previous cases the court has considered that involved drug-sniffing dogs, the court has generally come down on the side of law enforcement – but one Florida case seemed to flip the script. Continue reading

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