Articles Tagged with Fort Lauderdale defense attorney

Florida lawmakers are considering a pre-arrest diversion program – something many counties and judicial circuits already offer – that would be uniform throughout the state. HB 1197 and companion bill SB 1392 would create two separate pre-arrest diversion programs in each judicial circuit in Florida.criminal defense attorney

The measure calls for a diversion program for adults and another for juveniles. The basic goal is to offer certain misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to complete community service, drug treatment and other requirements in lieu of sending their case down the criminal justice pipeline. Those who fail to successfully complete the diversion program requirements would be adjudicated through the typical process. However, those who are successful would have the opportunity to avoid a criminal record entirely, and could have record of their arrest sealed or expunged.

The bill would grandfather in existing diversion programs, so long as it was operational before the measure passed and new programs will be allowed so long as the state attorney determines it will be in compliance with the state law. Supporters of the measure say that while many circuits do already have such programs, the lack of consistency is problematic. Introducing a uniform framework with specific guidelines for law enforcement and prosecutors will streamline the process.  Continue reading

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, many states adopted severe drug sentencing policies that resulted in packed prisons across the nation. Corrections costs were driven to near bankruptcy and communities, families and individuals’ lives were torn apart – all for drug offenses that were often non-violent and usually related to a cycle of relentless addiction. driving

As states have begun moving away from these types of policies, including minimum mandatory sentencing, it may also be time to explore whether the forms of punishment meted out are truly necessary and effective. One of those is the driver’s license suspension. Usually, people would loose their driver’s license for a period of time if they were arrested or convicted of an offense like drunk driving or reckless driving. However, they would usually have it returned after a certain time frame and completion of various requirements, such as paying fines and completing driver’s education classes. This ability to regain one’s license is important because in our modern society, one needs to have the ability to get to work, provide for their families and address their medical needs. The thinking goes we should only revoke the privilege when the individual has proven a threat to others on the road. But this kind of reasonable consideration was tossed aside when the War on Drugs came along.

Drug offenders started being denied all kinds of public services, and in the 1990s, Congress threatened to slash federal highway funds to states that didn’t revoke licenses of people convicted of drug offenses. So of course, some did, though a fair number also opted out when they learned how harmful these suspensions were and also how much it cost to oversee the process.  Continue reading

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

The high-profile murder-for-hire plot case of Dalia Dippolito is slated for a second jury trial before the end of the year, now that the Florida Supreme Court has refused to hear a request from defendant to toss out the charges.sad

In the matter of Dippolito v. Florida, justices gave no explanation for the denial, saying only it was denied upon review. A circuit judge had denied her dismissal request earlier this year. Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal rejected her request without even holding a hearing.

The bizarre case out of Boynton Beach has raised all sorts of issues about entrapment and whether the alleged plot was ever real to begin with. According to ABC News, Dippolito is accused of concocting a scheme to kill her former husband when they were just newlyweds. She reportedly, with the help of a friend, helped to hire a “hit man,” who was actually an undercover detective, to kill her husband. Continue reading

Florida State University football team’s strength & conditioning coach was suspended for a month without pay following his Florida DUI arrest in Tallahassee, following a blow-out party with crew members of the “Showtime” network.whiskey

According to The Tallahassee Democrat, Coach Vic Viloria spent the evening drinking whiskey on the Florida State campus, first at his office and then, after deeming that “inappropriate,” fearing other employees might see, moving to the Showtime crew’s trailer. Although he initially planned to “sleep it off” in his office (a wiser choice), he chose to drive home early on a recent Saturday morning. However, he did not make it home before he was stopped by police. The FSU team and its season is the focus of Showtime’s latest series, “A Season With,” which debuted this month. Viloria said he was given a bottle of whiskey by the crew to celebrate the closing of the preseason camp. He reportedly opened the bottle in his office and shared it with three Showtime crew members.

The case is illustrative of the fact that a Florida DUI arrest can impact multiple areas of your life. Obviously for someone with a high-profile position like Viloria, the impact is severe. In this case, the 30-day suspension handed down by the university represents one-third of the team’s regular season schedule, which spans a total of 12 games. The suspension began Sept. 2 and will last through Oct. 1.  Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court has sided with state prosecutors over a criminal defendant in a due process dispute that created conflict between Florida appellate courts. fire1

In the case of Patterson v. Florida, the state high court sided with the 1st District Court of Appeals, which found no due process violation in a case where testimony was admitted from state experts who physically examined evidence prior to its destruction, where a defense expert didn’t have the same opportunity. The 1st DCA had ruled it was only a due process violation if the destruction of evidence happened in bad faith. However, the 4th DCA, when faced with the same issue in Lancaster v. State, a 1984 case, the court had ruled that where destroyed evidence was potentially useful to the defense, this is a due process violation, regardless of whether the destruction was in bad faith.

The state high court in reaching this conclusion relied on the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court case of Arizona v. Youngblood, which held the state’s loss or destruction of evidence that’s potentially useful to the defense violates due process only when done in bad faith. In the Patterson case, the court ruled there was no due process violation because there was no evidence of bad faith.  Continue reading

Drivers in states where marijuana is legal cannot be pulled over in other states by cops who make assumptions based on solely on the origin of the license plate. That’s according to a ruling by federal justices with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit. marijuana2

Mind you, this ruling – Vasquez v. Lewis and Jimerson – is technically only applicable in the Tenth Circuit, which covers the six states of Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, plus those portions of the Yellowstone National Park extending into Montana and Idaho. However, given that this is not an issue that has arisen at this level in other jurisdictions, it’s likely to have set a clear precedent on the constitutionality of such practices. Some have referred to policing in this manner as, “license plate profiling.”

It’s not as major of a problem here in Florida because not many other nearby states have allowed legal marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. But that’s not to say someone traveling from Washington or Colorado might not get the side eye from law enforcement here. Based on the reasoning of the 10th Circuit, this is wrong.  Continue reading

There have been a number of recent high-profile cases of theft of motor vehicles in South Florida in recent weeks, with defendants in each case facing serious penalties.

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Still, it’s important to note that grand theft auto and carjacking, while both major crimes, are inherently different, which means the approach of prosecutors and defense attorneys will be different as well.

Grand theft auto, as codified in F.S. 812.014, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum five of $5,000. It’s on par with theft of a firearm or commercially-farmed animal or a controlled substance. The offense may be bumped up to a second-degree felony if the vehicle involved costs more than $20,000 (but less than $100,000), in which case the penalty is increased to a possible 15 years maximum in prison. Carjacking, meanwhile, is codified in F.S. 812.133is a life felony if a firearm is used; Otherwise, it’s considered a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Carjacking is the act of taking a motor vehicle either by force, violence, assault or putting in fear.  Continue reading

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people sentenced to life in prison as minors deserve to have their cases reviewed to determine whether there is any chance they may in fact be eligible for parole. gavel1

Now, the effect of that retroactive split 6-3 decision is that courts are beginning to take on these sentencing reviews of decades-old cases.

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys know this type of situation requires a legal team with extensive experience. Even though the entire case isn’t being retried, many of the considerations that will need to be weighed will involve delving into decades-old circumstances. We would look to see how we might counter any aggravating factors raised by the prosecution and how to effectively present any mitigating circumstances that may serve to lower the final sentencing.  Continue reading

A U.S. Army sergeant is facing serious felony charges after the 26-year-old reportedly showed up at an agreed-upon location with lubricant, candy, condoms and cash for what he thought would be an encounter with two young girls, ages 12 and 14.computer1

Instead, was greeted by agents with both the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He apparently did not realize he had been communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Alexis Kirk Torres was reportedly in the process of transferring from Hawaii to a new base for a different assignment. However, he now faces charges of soliciting or enticing underage children to engage in a commercial sex act. Continue reading