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Category Archives: Criminal Defense

Why Black Jurors Matter

Why Black Jurors Matter

In America’s criminal courtrooms, it is no secret that prosecutors, whether it be Assistant State Attorneys prosecuting for the State of Florida or Assistant United States Attorneys prosecuting for the Federal Government, will use peremptory challenges to strike “black, brown and yellow skinned” people from sitting on criminal juries. Having picked tens of juries, through my years of criminal trial practice, it still amazes me at the amount angst prosecutors demonstrate at the sight of “black, brown and yellow skinned” people on jury venires. Governmental striking of people from jury panels, because of their skin color is a very important body of law that must be strictly adhered too, if justice is to prevail for the accused. Furthermore, for the community to feel they are properly represented and their voices… […]

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Florida Trend Shows Misuse of Contempt Charges

In Florida, trial judges use “contempt” proceedings when they feel aggrieved. The contempt proceeding, when used by wayward judges, shocks the conscience of the local bar association, the local citizens, and even the local judiciary as a whole. Bad judges are everywhere, but certain areas in Florida seem to tolerate more egregious judges than other areas of the state. While a broad brush should not be used to paint certain areas of the state to show the “bad” judges; it is fair to say that certain counties, mostly the smaller sized ones, have more pathetic jurist than others. Take, for instance, a judge in Indian River County, who recently placed a child in custody for simply answering a question. In A.W. (child) v. State of Florida, Indian River County Circuit… […]

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Are the Rights of the Accused Being Diminished by a Weak Judiciary Through the Mob Mentality of Protesting and Petition Signing on the Likes of Facebook and other Social Media Sites?

Are the Rights of the Accused Being Diminished by a Weak Judiciary Through the Mob Mentality of Protesting and Petition Signing on the Likes of Facebook and other Social Media Sites?

There are very few judicial actions, other than criminal trials, that stir the social media crowds. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and local newspaper blogs are froth with petitions to “bring” justice to the accused, when certain special interest groups get involved in the criminal process. Over the past eight to ten years, the courts have seen an increase in petitions signed by online “registrants or guests” to bring swift and exact justice, against citizens charged with committing certain criminal acts that their group believes is so repulsive that Due Process of Law should take a side step to the protestors demands. But what does the U.S. and Florida Constitutions have to say about these issues? The issues of protesting and petitions in the criminal justice arenas are not new,… […]

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The Art of the Plea Deal

The Art of the Plea Deal

Criminal defendants, those charged with a criminal offense, have no right to a plea deal with the prosecutor acting on behalf of the State of Florida. The right to a jury trial is guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.  The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” Nowhere… […]

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Florida Criminal Sentencing and Departures: Part II the Appeal

Florida Criminal Sentencing and Departures: Part II the Appeal

In the first part of this blog, Florida Criminal Sentencing and Departures, we learned the laws and policies at the trial court level, as it relates to trial judges departing from the Florida criminal sentencing guidelines. The second part of the blog will now discuss the appellate process and how the appeals courts review the departed sentence from the lower court. If the lower court, also known as the sentencing court, downward departs on a criminal sentence the State of Florida through the Office of the State Attorney, for the county in which the crime occurred, will likely appeal the lower court’s ruling to depart to the District Court of Appeals. The principle behind this appeal is set out in the separation of powers of the Florida and United States… […]

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Florida Criminal Sentencing and Departures

Florida Criminal Sentencing and Departures

Under Florida law the sentencing guidelines and laws are in place to provide uniformity of sentence. This uniformity was born out when political activists argued that certain races in Florida were being treated differently under the previous criminal sentencing scheme, because of race or skin color. Basically, black activists argued for “Florida Sentencing Guidelines” that would provide equal sentences for all races of people, touting what they believed was disparaging sentences that blacks faced for crack cocaine possession versus whites for powder cocaine possession. Since the sentencing guidelines have been enacted in Florida, at the behest of the activists, sentencing judges have a very difficult time meting out a sentence below the guidelines. Experienced criminal defense attorneys have crafted ways to persuade trial judges to go below the guidelines, but… […]

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I Committed a Crime, but I Had No Choice

I Committed a Crime, but I Had No Choice

Sometimes in life, we have to make tough decisions. Deciding between two evils is never easy to do. Taking the life of a person or animal is not what most people inspire to do when they awake in the morning. But what happens when you are put into a position to kill or be killed? To protect your children, family, friends or a stranger from an inherit evil that you did not cause is what Criminal Defense Lawyers call a Necessity Defense. The Necessity Defense, also known as the choice of two evils doctrine, exists when a defendant commits a criminal act, when he reasonably believed that a danger or emergency existed that he did not intentionally cause and that the threatened harm is real, imminent, and impending. If the… […]

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Judges Usurping the Providence of the Jury

You or a loved one has been arrested. You pled not guilty. You want to go to trial for the criminal charges you are facing. You have prepared your case for trial. The trial has now begun. The trial goes smoothly and the Judge is charging the Jury. Charging the jury means that the Judge is instructing the jurors on the laws of your case. During jury instructions, the Judge states: “you cannot find for or against; guilty or not guilty; because you like or dislike the Defendant or the Government.” This charging of the jury is inconsistent with Florida Law; and according to West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine this charge by the Judge to the Jury is Unconstitutional. The Florida Constitution and U.S. Constitution allow… […]

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Being Investigated for a Crime

Being Investigated for a Crime

When you or a loved one is being investigated for a crime or criminal wrong doing, the first thing you need to do is call an attorney. Experienced criminal defense attorneys know how law enforcement officer investigate crimes through interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence and tracking the criminal target. Today more than ever, in the high tech society we live, law enforcement officers are able to gather evidence against the criminal target, quicker and more persuasively than ever before. If the crime you are being investigated for is one of a sexual nature; like sexual battery, lewd and lascivious battery, rape, sexual abuse of a minor or any other sex crime in Florida, there are certain things you must know. First, law enforcement officials will immediately interview the alleged victim or… […]

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Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Be The Difference Between Your Freedom and Incarceration

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Be The Difference Between Your Freedom and Incarceration

You often hear the phrase you pay for what you get. That could never be more truthful then when hiring a lawyer. When hiring a lawyer, make sure you understand that you can ask questions like; how many criminal cases have you had in your career? How many times have you actually gone to trial? Have you written appellate briefs? These questions are important because it shows whether or not you are hiring experience and this experience pays off. Take for example the difference between a properly written motion to suppress and State of Florida v. Christine Christmas. In State v. Christmas, the defendant was stopped for traffic violations for faulty equipment in Broward County, Florida. While the law enforcement officer was writing the traffic citations, the officer called for… […]

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