Articles Tagged with Fort Lauderdale criminal defense

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

Authorities in Weston are tracking down leads trying to find a suspected light-fingered woman with a penchant for long skirts. securitycamera

According to the Sun Sentinel, the woman first appeared on law enforcement radar last year, when she reportedly heisted some $1,000 up or into her flowing, floral skirt. Now, almost exactly a year later, the same woman – accompanied by the same man – reportedly returned to the same store. This time, she had on a different skirt, but the technique was the same. The value of the goods taken this time, police say, was $400.

The dollar amounts are important in these situations because when it comes to Florida theft cases, the severity of the charge will depend on the amount stolen.  Continue reading

The case is packed with so many odd twists and turns, it sounds like some kind of made-for-television movie. And strangely, that’s what the defendant says she was trying to do: Act the part of the villain so she could score a reality television show. The alleged victim was even in on it, she said.lipstick

But the Boynton Beach police who arrested her for allegedly paying a hit man to kill her now-ex husband say the plan was real. Meanwhile, the police were filming a “COPS” episode of the whole investigation, and even staged a fake murder scene as part of the case.

Dalia Dippolito was charged and later convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder with a firearm and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Then the conviction was overturned two years ago based on improper jury selection. Now, Dippolito’s defense lawyers are arguing the charges should be dropped, presenting testimony from her one-time friend-turned-police-informant Mohamed Shihadeh says he was pressured by police to set up Dippolito.  Continue reading

Fort Lauderdale police detectives say two teen suspects channeled their inner Grinch recently when they broke into a home on Northwest 17th Avenue and made off with a pillowcase stuffed with Christmas gifts. christmasgifts

Authorities say the two, 19-year-old Qwavon Jones and a 16-year-old who was not named due to his age, were caught after neighbors called police to report they heard glass shattering at a home nearby. Police arrived quickly thereafter, allegedly spotting the two as they ran and hopped a fence while holding the pillowcase. After a brief foot chase, the two were apprehended. Authorities later surmised the two gained entry to the home by smashing a rear window and climbing inside.

South Florida Sun Sentinel reports the two were charged with grand theft, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and resisting an officer without violence. Investigators say they discovered not only unwrapped gifts inside the pillowcase, including purses and shoes, but also a myriad of jewelry and rings inside the pockets of each. The homeowner later identified the items as belonging to him. In total, the value of the items was placed at $2,000. Continue reading

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