Many times, your probation may carry with it certain conditions. One common condition is to require that you be at home during certain hours of the day. When you have conditions like that, you can expect curfew checks by your probation officer. If your probation officer makes a check and can’t find you, you may be charged with a technical violation of your probation and have your probation revoked. This, of course, is a very serious thing that should motivate you to obtain skilled legal counsel from an experienced Tampa Bay probation violation attorney. Just because your probation officer came to you home but didn’t find you, that doesn’t always mean that you violated the conditions of your probation. Sometimes, the state’s evidence is simply not enough to uphold a finding of a violation, and your knowledgeable attorney can help you make that case.

For example, take K.E., a Tampa teenager who had been sentenced to one year of imprisonment and three years’ probation. The probation included several specific obligations, including that K.E. be at home from 10 pm to 6 am every day.

In April 2019, K.E.’s probation officer performed a curfew check at 5 am. She twice knocked on the home’s front door and called inside, but no one answered. After 10 minutes, she left. Five days later, the officer returned. This time, it was 5:30 in the morning. The front door was ajar, and she could see a man sleeping on the couch, whom she did not recognize to be K.E. She knocked and called inside, but the man on the couch remained asleep and no one answered the door.

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For many of us, Mom warned of the dangers of hanging around the “wrong crowd.” While associating with people with “checkered” pasts may have the potential to impact you negatively in some ways, simply being around people with legal issues is not, by itself, usually against the law. If you’ve found yourself arrested and charged based largely upon your having been at the wrong place at the wrong time around the wrong people, you need quality legal representation. You need an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney working for you to get the acquittal or dismissal that you deserve.

D.T.’s case was an example of a man in that kind of situation. Here’s what happened: Polk County detectives, one June morning, approached a Lakeland house that, they believed, contained the suspect in a Walmart robbery from the night before.

Eventually, everyone exited the house and one detective did a “pat-down” search of each occupant. The detective found a gun in D.T.’s pants. Because D.T. had a criminal past, the state charged him with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. For a person in a position like D.T., this was more than a minor crime. A conviction could mean D.T. doing anywhere from three years to 15 years in prison.

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Any time you are facing criminal charges and the prosecution’s case relies very heavily on the testimony of one person, one potentially very effective – and successful — defense is to give the jury persuasive reasons to decide that the state’s witness is lying and should not be believed. When that happens, that evidence may be enough to convince the jury that your testimony is more credible than the state’s witness’s testimony. To do that, though, you need to amass the right kind of proof and you need to know how to argue for its admissibility. This is one area among many where a skilled Pinellas County criminal defense attorney can help you to present a complete picture and a vigorous defense presentation to the jury.

Those persuasive reasons why a prosecution witness might be lying are called evidence of the witness’s “bias.” Witness bias was the key issue in one St. Petersburg man’s criminal case recently. The man, B.P., was a homeowner who rented space in his house to a tenant, J.L. One night, the pair visited a jazz club together. On the way home, the two had an argument that became heated and J.L. ended up out of the van and on the ground. B.P. said J.L. fell out of the van, but J.L. said B.P. pushed her. After J.L.’s exit from the van, B.P. ran over her arm and went home. A jury eventually convicted B.P. of aggravated battery.

B.P.’s legal team succeeded in getting the conviction overturned on appeal. The accused man’s successful appeal is a useful reminder of how helpful witness bias evidence can be, especially in cases where the majority of the state’s evidence is witness testimony. In B.P.’s case, his legal team prepared to introduce evidence that J.L. only agreed to cooperate with the prosecution and to give damaging testimony against B.P. after B.P. evicted her.

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798516-drug-offensesThere are several things that can happen in your drug crime trial that can make the process unfairly tilted against you. Things like a prosecutor’s misstatement of the law in closing arguments may confuse and/or prejudice the jury, thus entitling you to a reversal if you’re eventually convicted. However, it is possible that you could lose your opportunity to make that winning appeals argument if you don’t make the right objections during your trial. In other words, at every step during your criminal trial process, it is essential to know what to do and when. That is one of the many areas where it is invaluable to have a skilled Tampa Bay drug crime defense attorney on your side.

J.L.A.’s case is an example of an appeal that succeeded, in part, due to correct actions that were taken at trial. J.L.A. was on trial for drug trafficking. According to J.L.A., he was riding with his long-time friend, Malcolm, when a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled the pair over in a traffic stop. Malcolm allegedly handed his friend a bottle and said, “Tuck this.” J.L.A. testified that, as he hid the bottle, he though it contained marijuana.

The bottle did not contain marijuana. It contained more than 200 pills, including hydromorphone, oxycodone, and alprazolam. The deputy found the bottle and the pills after conducting a pat-down search.

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outbreak-coronavirus-world-1024x506px-300x169In part one of this blog, we discussed recent court changes and what to expect with any upcoming court dates.  In just over a week since Part One was written, there has been numerous changes/updates.

For one, ALL non-essential court dates have been moved until at least May.  this includes jury trial for criminal and civil cases.  Only new arrests and people in custody who can resolve their cases will have court the next several weeks.

Next, while not strictly court related, the Chief Judge in Pinellas signed the following administrative order:

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As of this writing (March 2020), the Coronavirus aka “Wuhan Virus” is understandably the world’s number one topic.  The purpose of this post is NOT to give health or social distancing advice, rather it is to help criminal defendants, witnesses, victims, et al in the Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Manatee counties know what to expect with their cases the next several weeks.

To start, click on the county your case is in: Pinellas, Hillsborough or Manatee County.  Pasco and Pinellas are under the same judicial circuit so the same rules apply. Pasco is here, just in case.

To sum up:  Most courts are shut down for all cases but what is considered “critical matters”.  That means courtrooms will ONLY handle cases of new arrests and certain “in custody” matters where the case can be resolved and a person can be released from county jail, freeing up much needed space.

From Florida Daily:

This weekend is a big one for Saint Petersburg with the St. Pete Grand Prix and St. Patrick’s Day coming up.  Per the Florida Daily though, local residents need to be aware of a law enforcement operation set to coincide with all these fun activities…

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On Wednesday, the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA)Florida Police Chiefs Association, and the Florida Highway Patrol announced the launch of Operation Dry Streets, a joint statewide initiative that focuses on keeping the roads safe for citizens and visitors across Florida.

social-image-logo-og-300x300We all have certain fundamental constitutional rights in Florida. From time to time, law enforcement officers overstep their authority and infringe on those rights. Sometimes, they do it for well-meaning reasons… other times, not so much. Either way, officers are not allowed to do certain things, like taking law-abiding citizens into custody just because they think that is the best thing for all involved. And the state is not allowed to convict you of resisting an officer without violence if the arrest the officer sought to make was not a legal one. If you’ve been the subject of an illegal arrest, or wrongfully been taken into involuntary custody, don’t wait to protect yourself. Contact an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney right away.

L.L. was a woman in Lee County who found herself in that kind of trouble. Her case began with a concerned citizen’s call to EMS reporting “a woman lying in the grass on the side of the road.” Two EMTs found L.L. in the grass. She was responsive and cooperative. She explained that she was trying to find a house, had failed to find it and had decided instead to lie down in the grass and smoke a cigarette.

Is it what most of us would do in that situation? Probably not. However, responding to a situation in an unusual way is not necessarily illegal, and it is not automatically a valid basis for police to take you into custody. Yet, that’s what happened to L.L.

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Many people may be familiar with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and its protection against illegal searches and seizures. Fewer people may be familiar with is the “exclusionary rule.’ This rule is something that may help you to get harmful evidence thrown out in your case if the police obtained that evidence through an illegal arrest. To get the proof suppressed, though, you still have to know what the correct legal rules are and the correct way to go about seeking suppression. In other words, you need to be sure that you have a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney on your side working to protect your rights.

J.R.D.’s case was one that involved this rule and was an important victory for anyone illegally arrested due to mistakes made by the police. The case arose from a police stop of J.R.D. and his identical twin brother. The officer did a computer check and the sheriff’s department’s computerized warrant system said that both brothers had outstanding warrants. The officer called dispatch to confirm that the computer information was correct. The dispatcher told the officer that J.R.D. had an outstanding warrant, but his brother did not.

The officer arrested J.R.D. and, after searching him, found illegal drugs. On the way to the jail, the officer discovered that both the computer and the dispatcher were wrong – J.R.D. did not have any outstanding warrants. (It turns out that his brother did and he did not.) Despite this revelation, the officer took J.R.D. to jail and the state charged him for possession of controlled substance.

798531-violation-of-probationA violation of your probation in Florida can be an extremely serious matter. If you’re found in violation, that can mean your serving many more years in jail than you otherwise would have without the violation. Given that many years of your freedom can be on the line, it is exceptionally important that you take a violation of probation matter very, very seriously. Be sure you have a knowledgeable Pinellas County probation violation attorney on your side to protect your rights and your freedom.

I.H. was someone who was out on probation but who did not stay out on probation. The state asserted multiple bases for violating I.H.’s probation. While I.H.’s probation was ultimately violated because he admitted in open court that he committed the crime of resisting a police officer without violence, his case still went before the Second District Court of Appeal. The part of that court’s ruling addressing some of the other alleged bases for violating I.H.’s probation offers some potential good news for others on probation.

In I.H.’s case, the state alleged he failed to pay court costs and failed to pay the costs of his drug testing. These were two of the “special conditions” of I.H.’s probation. A court may order a probationer to pay court costs and to pay for his drug testing as special conditions of probation, and violate that probationer’s probation if he doesn’t pay. The key thing is, though, that the trial judge has to explicitly include those conditions in the order of probation. If a condition (like paying court fees or drug testing charges) is not included in a person’s order of probation, the probation cannot violate the terms of his probation by failing to do it.

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