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Thermal Imaging by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Helicopters to Bust Suspected Marijuana Grow Houses on the Rise

Thermal Imaging by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Helicopters to Bust Suspected Marijuana Grow Houses on the RiseAs a practicing Palm Beach County Criminal lawyer, I have the opportunity to read search warrant affidavits on a regular basis. Recently, some affidavits that I have read, show an increase use of thermal imaging, by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s helicopters, to detect suspected marijuana grow houses. The use of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s helicopter can view the home through a thermal imager, a passive, non-intrusive device that measures heat in the infrared range. A thermal imager detects minute differences in temperature on the surface of objects and displays that information visually. The deputy sheriff can then determine though their training and expertise, whether or not the residency is emitting an inordinate amount of heat through its roof, floors or walls; with this information they can conclude that it is consistent with an indoor growing operation. As most growers and law enforcement officers known, growing marijuana under a […]
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Willful Blindness, What is It?

Willful Blindness, What is It?Many times a day throughout Florida, law enforcement officers stop a vehicle for no apparent reason, let alone for violating the traffic laws of this state, and end up searching the vehicle because the officer smelt “burning marijuana.” The search of the vehicle will end up yielding illegal narcotics, drugs, a weapon, or some other form of contraband and inevitably the driver of the vehicle will be handcuffed and taken to jail. Many times the driver will sit down with their criminal defense lawyer and say, “the drugs were not mine.” “I did not even know there were drugs in the car.” What the criminal defendant is actually saying is a valid defense in Florida; it is the defense of not having “knowledge and possession” which are the two key elements or ingredients that the prosecutor must prove to show the driver’s guilt. The Florida courts have always reasoned that […]
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Arrests in Palm Beach County for Prostitution

Arrests in Palm Beach County for ProstitutionIn Florida, the crime of prostitution is punishable by a Misdemeanor and up to a Felony. Florida General Statute 796.07 defines Prostitution and its related applicable terms as follows: (a) “Prostitution” means the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses. (b) “Lewdness” means any indecent or obscene act. (c) “Assignation” means the making of any appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement. (d) “Sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; or the handling or fondling of the sexual organ of another for the purpose of masturbation; however, the term does not include acts done for bona fide medical purposes. Further, in Florida, it is unlawful to own a place of […]
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Florida DCF Investigations into the Exploitation of the Elderly

Florida DCF Investigations into the Exploitation of the ElderlyIn Florida, especially in South and Central Florida, the elderly have a dense population throughout our communities. We often read in the local paper or watch the nightly news with astonishment, when the coverage is about a story regarding an elderly person being swindled out of money, real property like a home or being duped out of home improvements, by an unscrupulous repair man or company. Florida General Statute 825.103, specifically articulates the legislature’s intent in attempting to keep the elderly safe from different forms of exploitation. In Florida,  a person is guilty of the exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult when: (1) that person either stands in a position of trust and confidence, or has a business relationship, with the elderly person or disabled adult and knowingly, by deception or intimidation, obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s funds, […]
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Involuntary Intoxication versus Voluntary Intoxication as a Defense in Florida

Involuntary Intoxication versus Voluntary Intoxication as a Defense in FloridaAs a practicing criminal defense lawyer, clients who are charged with crimes walk into the office and many times tell me that they were “drunk” or “high” when they committed the crime. In Florida, under Fl. Stat. 775.051, voluntary intoxication resulting from the consumption, injection, or other use of alcohol or other controlled substance as described in chapter 893, is not a defense to any offense proscribed by law. Evidence of a defendant’s voluntary intoxication is not admissible to show that the defendant lacked the specific intent to commit an offense and is not admissible to show that the defendant was insane at the time of the offense, except when the consumption, injection, or use of a controlled substance under chapter 893 was pursuant to a lawful prescription issued to the defendant by a practitioner as defined in 893. So in Florida, if the defendant voluntarily consumes alcohol or illegal drugs […]
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Florida’s Bail and Pre-Trail Release Process

Florida’s Bail and Pre-Trail Release ProcessIn Florida, most criminal defendants or those accused of a crime have a right to bail or pre-trial release as matter of law. See Florida General Statute 893. Those accused of crimes in Florida that do not have a right to bail or pre-trial release are those individuals facing crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment or those defendants that the state seeks to file a motion for pretrial detention. Overall, the vast majority of criminal defendants in Florida are released on bail or pre-trial release after being arrested. The conditions of the pretrial release or bail can differ greatly from accused to accused. The First Appearance Judge is the one who sets the conditions of bail or pretrial release for those facing criminal charges in Florida. The first purpose of bail or pre-trial release in Florida is to ensure that the accused will appear in all of their court […]
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Marijuana Grow House Charges and Probable Cause

Marijuana Grow House Charges and Probable CauseMarijuana grow house busts are on the rise throughout Palm Beach County, Florida as recently shown with several arrest of Lantana residents Raul Contreras Gonzalez, Luis Acosta and Victor Perez. Why such a spike in grow house busts by local, state and federal agents of those allegedly growing, cultivating and trafficking in weed throughout Palm Beach County, FL? One of the biggest reasons for the recent busts comes from the Palm Beach County Sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, who has made it his goal to have his deputies arrest all users, possessors and traffickers in marijuana. Another reason is the government’s role in not being able to tax illegal weed, in what it calls their crack down on drug policies. Because with every arrest for marijuana, comes a jail cell ran by the Palm Beach County Sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, and the funding that follows that arrest through federal “weed and seed” grants; […]
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Expert Witness Controversy in Florida Criminal Trials

Expert Witness Controversy in Florida Criminal TrialsThe Florida Appellate Courts and the Florida Supreme Court have tightened the screw on many Circuit and County Court judges, along with ill-advised Assistant State Attorneys, when the issue is brought to their attention that prosecutors are relying on expert witnesses that are neither listed in their discovery as experts nor do not qualify as experts. This issue of non-experts testifying falsely through their testimony at trial, with the Judge’s blessing who declared them as experts in the first place, allows in many instances the prosecutor to prove their case in chief that many times they would not otherwise be able to show. Again, the normal matriculation from Assistant State Attorney to judge is the major reason why these horrible errors occur; that allow a departure from the essential foundation of justice. Through the last two years or so, the Florida criminal courtrooms have witnessed way-ward judges, allowing almost any […]
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Miranda Warnings and DUI Arrests

Miranda Warnings and DUI ArrestsThe routine DUI stop in Palm Beach County, Florida results in the suspected driver being asked many questions. The driver may not have had the privilege of Miranda, the driver’s right to a lawyer before answering any of the police officer’s questions. Is this okay? Is this legal? What other obstacles am I facing as a suspected DUI driver in Palm Beach County, Florida? As the suspected DUI driver, can I get information and the field sobriety tests that I provided to law enforcement suppressed or thrown out? How does this work? The leading case on the issue of suppressing what a driver tells a investigating police officer, who elicits information from the suspected dui driver without the protection of one’s Miranda warnings, comes from the U.S. Supreme court decision in Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582 (1990). The U.S. Supreme court reasoned that a criminal defendant, later expanded to […]
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Probation in Florida and Its Consequences

Probation in Florida and Its ConsequencesMany individuals arrested in Florida eventually face the criminal courts. The criminal courts have four main players: (i) criminal defendant; (ii) criminal defense attorney; (iii) prosecutor and (iv) judge. The criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor will inevitably speak to each other about a “resolution” of the criminal defendant’s case. This process is called the plea negotiation. During the plea negotiation the criminal defense attorney will discuss with the prosecutor the strengths of the criminal defendant’s case; the good character evidence of the criminal defendant; the applicable motions like suppression, dismissal or in limine motions that may be persuasive to tip the scales in favor of the defendant. The prosecutor on the other hand will tell the criminal defense attorney the wishes of the victim; the amount of restitution owed; the impact the crime had on the community; the lack of remorse the defendant has shown and the strengths of […]
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