Articles Tagged with Fort Lauderdale criminal defense

Last month, the newly-formed Conviction Review Unit in Broward County convinced a South Florida judge to free a man convicted 16 years ago of robbery and sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors working with the CRU told the Broward County Circuit judge that they likely would be unable to gain a conviction today, given numerous evidentiary issues with the case, including the reliability of witnesses  and an alibi that jurors never had an opportunity to hear.Broward County criminal defense lawyer

An assistant state attorney leading the CRU told the judge it’s not even clear how the defendant was identified as a suspect, given that there was no physical evidence, no witnesses knew him and the only thing that lead police to him was an apparently questionable search through the TRAP program, a previously-used database of prior offender mugshots in a given area.

Broward County has one of the highest rates of false convictions in Florida. The National Registry of Exonerations notes more than 2,500 cases nationally of convicts later found innocent. More than 80 of those are from Florida and nearly a dozen in Broward. Continue reading

Narcotics detectives investigating Florida drug crimes in Miami-Dade recently employed a police drone to capture an alleged cocaine sale between a suspect and an undercover informant. According to The Miami Herald, this was a first in a criminal investigation. Its use had to be first approved by a judge in a case against a 31-year-old accused of numerous drug and weapons charges. Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys understand this news comes right as lawmakers in Florida are weighing whether to approve limited expansion of police drone use. Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have increased their purchases and use of drones as the technology has gotten cheaper – even as defense lawyers have raised concerns about civil rights and privacy intrusions.

The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College reports some 900 agencies in the U.S. (most of those law enforcement) purchased the lightweight, unmanned aerial devices in 2018. That number will soon be updated for 2019, and it’s expected to be much higher. Some police agencies anticipate that the use of drones by cops will someday be as ubiquitous as body cameras. But there is legitimate skepticism about the legality of these devices, particularly where agencies have declined to provide information to the public about their drone programs. For instance, police agencies in Southern California won’t release any details of their drone operations, despite one city claiming it has carried out more than 1,000 drone missions in a single year leading to well over 100 arrests.

Some departments have been criticized for flying drones over certain crowds of protesters, raising concerns about government spying. Continue reading

Manslaughter is the killing of another human being without malice aforethought. That means a person may not have intended for the other person to die (unlike homicide/murder), but nonetheless that was the result of one’s conduct, usually reckless or criminally negligent. It can stem from crimes like driving drunk, criminal assault or neglect. In these cases, it is not necessary to prove intent.manslaughter defense lawyer

Recently, several nursing home employees were arrested on charges of manslaughter, pursuant to F.S. 782.07, following the deaths of 12 elderly patients who overheated in sweltering conditions with no air conditioning after Hurricane Irma struck South Florida in 2017.

Manslaughter is considered aggravated when it involves the death of an elderly person or disabled adult due to culpable negligence without lawful justification. Culpable negligence, as noted in Florida Standard Jury Instructions, is defined as a course of conduct that shows reckless disregard for human life or for the safety of individuals exposed to it that displays recklessness or wantonness. Continue reading

Cash bail has long been integrated into the Florida criminal justice system as a means of assuring those released from jail post-arrest/pre-trial show up to court, and that risk to the community is minimized.Fort Lauderdale bail hearing attorney

But criminal justice reform advocates, like those at the ACLU, are calling for an end to the cash bail system, saying it results in disparate outcomes on the basis of income.

Criminal defendants in Florida may be jailed for days, weeks or even months pending trial, and public defenders say many are strong-armed into accepting plea deals on lesser charges – even when they were innocent – just to secure their release from jail.

Who Gets Bail in Florida Criminal Cases?

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He’d just turned 18 and, according to police, was celebrating this milestone with a joyride in a stolen BMW late last month. But in those predawn hours, the teen is accused of using his cell phone and not paying attention to the road, causing him to slam into a sport utility vehicle, killing the other driver, age 39. key

Now, that teenager is facing criminal charges that could lock him up for longer than he’s been alive.

Prosecutors have charged Gregory Holt with a series of charges, including failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving death, failure to render aid, vehicular homicide and driving without a license involving death. The collision occurred Sept. 25th, and a Broward judge recently set bond for the teen in the amount of $175,000. Prosecutors had been asking that he be held for at least $250,000. A passenger with Holt, who was not injured in the crash, was the one who told investigators Holt was using his phone and being inattentive to the road, and may also have been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. The vehicle had allegedly been stolen from a home in Coconut Creek that had been rented through Airbnb for a party that had a turnout of 150 people (unbeknownst to the owner).  Continue reading

A Florida hit-and-run arrest has shocked a local community where the defendant, 37-year-old Jarvis Kendrick, is a well-known leader in the area. He’s regarded as a philanthropic businessman who serves on numerous boards and committees.drivein

Now, Kendrick stands accused of a first-degree felony after authorities say he struck and killed a 74-year-old woman with his pickup truck and left her for dead before concocting an elaborate story to cover his tracks.

Authorities say that had Kendrick simply stopped and rendered aid, as required under F.S. 316.027, he likely would not have faced any charges. Now, he’s looking at a maximum 30 years in prison.  Continue reading

The study of predicting which criminals are more likely to commit future crimes has been one of great interest for many years, and it’s given birth to computerized systems in the U.S. known as “criminal risk assessment tools.” Criminologists say there is a public interest in recognizing which individuals may be more dangerous before it is decided how long their sentence should be and when or whether they should be released. teen1

Prior to the 1970s, these predictions routinely factored race, skin color and nationality. The following decade, as the country was in a midst of a crime wave, lawmakers imposed many mandatory minimum sentences and removed discretion from the hands of prosecutors and judges. That meant there was less important to evaluate individual offenders, but then states started grappling with overflowing prisons and jails. And that’s where criminal risk forecast has swung back into routine use.

As detailed in a recent ProPublica article, dozens of computerized risk assessments are being used nationally – including right here in Broward County. These programs made by for-profit firms weigh dozens of various factors. However, the researchers found that these scores have been cited repeatedly by judges at sentencing hearings, and what’s more, the results tend to be skewed along racial lines. Black defendants are often deemed to have a much higher risk assessment, even when the crimes are similar and the statistics are controlled for other factors.  Continue reading

Three men were arrested in separate instances of alleged street racing in Pembroke Pines over the course of a weekend. All three men are reportedly from Miami-Dade, but the charges stemmed from separate situations, police said. highway5

According to The Sun-Sentinel, street racing has been a problem in the area, particularly on U.S. Highway 27 South, north of the Broward/ Palm Beach County line.

In this case, authorities say the first incident occurred on a Friday night, shortly before 10 p.m. A police officer was traveling on Northwest 172nd Street when a silver Honda and a black Honda went whizzing by. They were both speeding side-by-side, the officer observed. The officer turned around and pulled over the silver vehicle.

As it turned out, the 22-year-old driver, Adrian Alberto Santiago, of Miami, reportedly had a suspended license. He was also wanted on a misdemeanor warrant for possession of marijuana in Broward County. The officer placed him under arrest, at which point Santiago reportedly voluntarily turned over a gram of marijuana that he had hidden in his pocket. He was charged with unlawful race, marijuana possession, violating probation on a grand theft conviction and a third-time violation of driving with a suspended license – a felony. Continue reading

Criminal cases against dozens of people that have been languishing in Broward County’s felony mental health court have been dropped by prosecutors following the publication of “Trapped,” an investigating by The Sun Sentinelhandcuffs2

Reporters learned that people facing minor felony charges in mental health court spent six times as long in the criminal justice system as those whose cases proceeded in regular court. For a system design specifically to avoid this, it was deeply troubling. In fact, it wasn’t just defense attorneys who were concerned. Mental health advocates and even prosecutors agreed something had to be done about mental health court.

The court started out in 2003 with good intentions. The idea was to give them access to treatment in preparation for trial. But in practice, what happened was many were too ill to face the criminal justice system. And while Broward prosecutors had the authority to drop the charges at any point, very few actually did. That meant people were spending years locked up for crimes they had not even been convicted of. Continue reading

A 24-year-old South Florida man stands accused of assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a live alligator into a fast-food restaurant drive-thru window. His father recently spoke out, saying his son is a “nature lover” with a “good heart,” and the ordeal was simply, “a prank.”alligator2

Unfortunately, intent in these matters is of little consequence in the eyes of the criminal justice system. He allegedly willfully tossed the 3.5-foot creature at the unsuspecting fast food workers would, if proven, render his reported lack of harmful intention meaningless.

In fact, it has been our experience that most people accused of criminal conduct had failed to fully grasp the seriousness of their actions under the law. Sometimes this, along with a lack of prior criminal record and other factors, can be asserted as mitigating circumstances to justify a lesser penalty. However, it cannot on its own be grounds to drop the charges entirely.  Continue reading

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