Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The State of Florida can now be liable for up to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim, effective Oct. 1, 2011. That’s up from the $100,000 and $200,000 caps that had been in existence for lawsuits against the state, its agencies or political subdivisions.

While the increase is welcome news to victims of governmental negligence, the new caps may still be woefully inadequate when it comes to compensating a victim for a personal injury, wrongful death, or other injuries caused by t. Suing the State of Florida is a complex process, which includes extensive pre-suit requirements and as such; Government liability claims in Florida require an experienced law firm. As these relatively modest caps indicate, identifying other entities that may be liable for damages can be critical when it comes to securing a victim adequate compensation in the wake of a serious injury or fatal accident. The sovereign immunity limits in Florida apply to schools, police departments, counties, and many other offices and agencies under state jurisdiction.1232540_statue_of_wisdom

Florida Statute 768.28 sets the still relatively low damage caps, which were previously unchanged for nearly three decades. Lawmakers contend the caps have deterred claims against the state as there is also 25 percent cap on attorney fees which provide for a maximum fee of $25,000 (or $50,000 under the new cap). While that may sound adequate to some, bringing a serious personal injury, auto accident, or wrongful death lawsuit to trial can cost a law firm hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whether in Fort Myers, Naples, or Fort Lauderdale, finding a firm with the resources to properly handle your case is an important consideration when choosing an attorney. Injured claimants must also consider that their lawyer will only get paid if they are successful in making a recovery on behalf of a client.

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Cases throughout Florida may end up coming unraveled if judges take note of what courts in Miami and Manatee County have done recently with drug cases that have been ruled unconstitutional, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

Cases of drug possession and drug sales may be dropped after Judge Mary Scriven, of the U.S. Middle District of Florida, ruled that Florida’s drug possession statute is unconstitutional because it lacks the element of intent — opponents argue that violates due process because it puts the legal burden on the defendant. Three circuit court judges have now asked the Florida Supreme Court to address the constitutionality question of Florida Statutes Section 893.13.

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A Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who is familiar with recent case law can often use evolving law to a client’s advantage. These precedent setting cases typically start at the trial-court level when a defendant and experienced lawyer see a legal issue that permits them to fight the charges.

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With the recent announcement of a not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, many onlookers are left to wonder how and why a case that seemed like a slam dunk could result in Casey Anthony walking free.

The backlash was seen not only in emotional crowds outside the courtroom, and across various broadcast channels, but with the advent of the internet and real-time sharing, many shared their opinions through Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts.

As referenced in the Palm Beach Post, the case was referred to as “the social media trial of the century.” Amy Singer, jury consultant for Anthony’s defense team, went on to say that at one point “over one million people were blogging about the trial, not including the thousands more who were either tweeting, texting, or discussing the case in online chat rooms.”twitter_kim-300x112

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For the most of us, the possibility of getting a DUI increases during the holidays.

The holidays are a time when we attempt to leave work at work and spend some quality time with the ones we love. The holidays also include parties and a drink or two with old friends.

I8 Tips for Avoiding a DUI over the Holiday Seasonn this post I wanted to pass on a few tips from the trenches during my experience as a prosecutor and now Florida DUI Defense Lawyer.

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In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed can’t be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In the 6-3 majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment, forbids such sentences. The state must give youths “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

Fort Lauderdale Florida Juvenile Crime LawyerThe case, Graham v. Florida, involved Terrance Graham, who in 2003 robbed a Jacksonville restaurant at age 16 with an accomplice. Sentenced to probation, Graham was arrested a year later for a home invasion robbery and sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for violating probation. The case was argued before the high court in November 2009.

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Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, say victorious supporters of Florida House Bill 187, the so-called “Bong Bill.” Their theory: fewer available smoking implements mean less firing up.

The new law, which passed the state Senate (SB 366) and House in April during the 2010 Legislative Session, went into effect July 1 and bans the sale of most “smoking devices” by businesses that don’t derive at least 75 percent of their income from tobacco sales, or make more than 25 percent from selling the prohibited items. Violators could be sentenced to a year in jail.

Fort Lauderdale Marijuana Defense Lawyer Speaks on Florida's New Bong LawThe second time was the charm for main bill sponsor Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, who also brought up the proposal in the House last year. Rouson said he championed the bill, which will also raise the tax on pipes and other paraphernalia, as a means of curbing drug use.

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In courtrooms around the state, it has long been the practice that juveniles were to be shackled by the wrists and ankles with belly chains, chained to furniture or chained to each other when they were brought to appear before a judge.

In this 6-1 opinion, The Florida Court stated,  that this process was “repugnant, degrading, humiliating and contrary to the primary purposes of the juvenile justice system.”

One of the primary goals oFort Lauderdale Juvenile Defense Lawyerf the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation and many have argued that this process actually harms the child and can have long lasting psychological consequences.

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I received a call the other day from a friend who told me that I should write a blog post about the recent Tiger Woods auto accident issue. I was trying to think of what to write and figured that the issue may be a little overexposed, when it came to me. Tiger’s recent “run in” with law gives me the perfect opportunity to point out the importance of the Fifth and even more important Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The Fifth Amendment reads in part that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”. In layman’s terms means that you don’t have to talk to law enforcement if the answers to the questions could incriminate you. In Tiger’s case he didn’t make any statements and further he was a no-show at the FHP station (a few times) when he was asked to come in for a physical examination and questioning. Clearly, the Florida Highway Patrol didn’t have much in the way of incriminating evidence (other than for a traffic ticket); but were hoping that Tiger would come in and give them their case on a silver platter. Also, the police wanted to see his injuries and determine if they were “Serious Bodily Injuries” and would thus warrant greater punishment in the State of Florida.

While Tiger’s no-show at the FHP station might have been rude, it just might have saved him his driver’s license or better yet, his clean criminal record. In Florida if a driver is found to be at-fault for causing an auto accident and the injuries are determined to be “Serious”; he or she is at risk of losing their license for a period of 1 year.

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Last week Broward County Court Judge Lee Jay Seidman concluded a four-day hearing by ruling that the accuracy of many breath tests using the Intoxilyzer 8000 has been “fatally compromised.”

The Intoxilyzer 8000 is the most recent version of a device that is designed to detect the percentage of alcohol in the breath of a suspect who has been arrested upon suspicion of drunk driving; this device is commonly referred to as a breathalyzer. Pursuant to Florida law these machines must be periodically inspected and certified for accuracy by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Previous to this ruling F.D.L.E. inspector, Sandra Vegia, testified that during her inspections of the Intoxilyzer she would commonly cut off the power to the device if it did not meet specifications and then conduct the inspection a second time with the hopes of receiving a passing score.

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Starting this morning (3/16/09), Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and state troopers will be conducting a ticket blitz in western Broward County.

Squads will be on Interstates 75 and 595 and on the Sawgrass Expressway from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, the officers will patrol those highways from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The joint operation, which targets aggressive motorists and violators of the “Move Over” law and seatbelt requirement, will continue for four days, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike Jachles.

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