Many people across the country were riveted these past few weeks by the homicide trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Many people were happy with the outcome; many more were profoundly disappointed. Regardless of one’s feelings about the trial’s result, there are certain things that we can all learn from the trial and why the jury decided as they did. Although the Tampa Bay area is 1,200+ miles from Kenosha and Wisconsin’s laws are not Florida’s, one thing that is nearly universal is how important the right defense strategy can be. That’s why, if you or a loved one is on trial or potentially facing charges here, it pays to have a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney on your side.

For those unfamiliar with the background events, Kyle Rittenhouse was a teen who lived 20 miles south of Kenosha and who traveled to the city on August 25, 2021, after a series of protests the day before had included arson, vandalism, and property damage. (The protests had begun after local police shot and paralyzed a Black man.)

During the night of August 25, Rittenhouse was involved in a pair of confrontations with protestors. During those confrontations, Rittenhouse shot at four men, hitting three and killing two.

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Many criminal cases, including those here in Florida, begin not with a police search executed pursuant to a valid search warrant, but with a traffic stop. In a significant percentage of those cases, that initial stop was unlawful, which means that all the evidence obtained as a result of that stop should be suppressed at trial. Getting that gun, those drugs, or other evidence excluded from your criminal case requires a skillfully crafted and coherently advanced motion to suppress, and that represents just one of the multitude of places where a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between conviction and acquittal.

Traffic stops have, of course, been in the news lately, including to our north. D.W., a Minnesota man, was pulled over by police and, eventually, was fatally shot by one of those officers. Police said that they pulled D.W. over for an expired license plate but, shortly before his death, D.W. told his mother that he believed the police had pulled him over for the air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.

In Minnesota, things like air fresheners and fuzzy dice hanging from your rearview mirror are a valid basis for pulling you over. But here in Florida, the air freshener you have hanging from your rearview mirror cannot be the grounds for a valid traffic stop and, if the police do that, then any evidence they find is something you potentially can get suppressed. We know this because of a 2005 case decided by the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.

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Putting up “the best possible defense” can mean different things in different cases. Sometimes, it’s about establishing your complete and total innocence. Other times, it is about demonstrating that, even if you did something wrong, the prosecution has advanced charges that do not fit the facts. Whatever form your “best defense” looks like, be sure you have retained an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer to help get the best outcome available to you under the law.

Some cases have an “only in Florida” flair because they involve the misguided exploits of Florida Man (or Florida Woman.) Other times, a case has an “only in Florida” flavor for reasons wholly unrelated to the alleged perpetrator involved.

This criminal case is an example of the latter. First, as background, it is important to understand that the State of Florida takes the illegal collection and sale of alligators, alligator hatchlings, and alligator eggs very seriously. So much so that, a few years ago, the Florida Wildlife Commission set up a sting operation at an alligator egg processing facility in DeSoto County.

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Public perception of the criminal justice system can be skewed. People follow cases on TV or the internet, they form opinions, then they want the “bad guy” punished. They often don’t care about the finer points of proper criminal procedure… right until they are the person facing a potential criminal conviction. That’s when they gain a whole new understanding of the importance of fundamental fairness in a criminal case. Part of ensuring fundamental fairness in your case is exercising your right to obtain a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney.

Back in late June, in a ruling that made headlines around the world, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania tossed the sex crimes conviction of famed comedian and actor Bill Cosby.

A lot of people were very angry about Cosby being set free. Undeniably, the things of which he was accused were abhorrent. However, if one digs deeper into what the Supreme Court ruled, one can see the fundamental notions of fairness that undergird our criminal system required the outcome the court reached.

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Driving a commercial truck, semi, or big rig poses obstacles that “regular” passenger car drivers do not face. One thing, they’re huge and can be hard to handle, especially on narrow roads that do not accommodate such cars. So, to keep away from accidents, all the truck drivers must take truck training.

For another, their size makes them more difficult to control, which means they can’t react as rapidly as a smaller passenger car to a sudden or unexpected motion. Even yet, truck accidents can cause by either a truck driver or a passenger car driver. When behind the wheel, any motorist must act appropriately and be alert of potential road risks at all times.

Commercial truck drivers are to blame for truck accidents:

Here in the State of Florida, probation is something that you need to take extremely seriously. There are so many ways you can be charged with a violation of probation and could have your probation revoked. Of course, there are also lots of situations where you can be wrongfully charged with a violation of probation. Just as much as you take your probation seriously, you should also take any charge of violation of probation with the utmost seriousness. That means reaching out to a knowledgeable Tampa Bay probation violation lawyer immediately.

A song in a famous Mel Brooks musical comedy contains the whimsical lyric, “It’s what you oughtn’t to do but you do anyway.” For one Punta Gorda woman free on probation, her alleged actions during a “video visitation” at the Charlotte County Jail, as reported by thesmokinggun.com, would be something that fell into that category.

On August 8, the woman, D.F., traveled to the jail to visit C.T., a male inmate. According to the facility’s Jail Intelligence Detective, who reviewed the footage of the pair’s video visitation, the two “frequently talked in a lewd manner speaking of sex, sexual organs, and sexual activities.” That part was OK.

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798516-drug-offensesMany people assume the police are more particular about arresting violent offenders than those who are involved in drug-related crimes. Surprisingly, the opposite is true. In 2016, the FBI estimated that there were 1,572,579 arrests throughout the United States for drug-related crimes.

Whether you are arrested for having heroin, LSD, cocaine, or methamphetamine on your person or are found in possession of prescription medications, you are likely facing serious jail time.

This is especially true if you don’t have the help and guidance of a drug possession attorney and you don’t know how to conduct yourself accordingly before or during your arrest. If you are facing drug possession charges, do yourself a favor and keep the following dos and don’ts in mind:

The State of Florida has some of the harshest drug laws of any state in the country. Depending on what charges the state brings against you, you may be facing extended jail time dictated by mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Given how profoundly harmful, or even life-changing, a drug conviction can be, it is essential to arm yourself with a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been charged with this kind of crime.

There are lots of ways the right attorney can help. Most people facing drug charges were not spotted by the police standing on a street corner or in a parking lot holding a quantity of illegal drugs out in the open. Rather, many of these charges arise subsequent to other kinds of stops initiated by the police, including routine traffic stops. Sometimes, those stops and/or the searches that stem from them were illegal.

When that happens, you can, through your capable legal counsel, potentially get the drug evidence seized in that stop thrown out, which may create a massive hole in the prosecution’s case against you. Let’s look at the recent drug case of a man in Charlotte County that lays out a pretty typical example of how these kinds of arrests can happen, and how you can get the evidence tossed.

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Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has been the subject of much commentary from TV talking heads, internet bloggers, and other “armchair attorneys.” Regardless of what one might think about the wisdom of the law, the fact remains that this law may, in the hands of a skillful Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney, provide a person accused of a serious crime a distinct possibility to avoid a conviction.

A recent case from Manatee County illustrates how helpful and far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” immunity can be. In C.C.’s aggravated battery case, it was undisputed that C.C. and her boyfriend, G.B., went out to a Palmetto biker bar, where they met and partied with Mr. C. and Ms. E.

G.B. and C.C. later invited their new acquaintances to their Palmetto trailer home. There, a disagreement erupted between Mr. C. and G.B. That disagreement devolved into a fight.

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dui-3The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains within it many basic rights for people who are on trial for alleged crimes. This is the Amendment from which the accused derives his right to present a defense at trial. That right to present a defense is very broad and significantly limits what the prosecution and/or the courts can do to keep out relevant proof that you think can strengthen your defense case. Recognizing what you can and cannot present in your defense, as well as making the arguments necessary to get that evidence in front of your jury, are just two of the countless critical areas where the experience and knowledge of a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney can pay invaluable dividends to you.

Take, for example, a DUI homicide case where you are the driver on trial. That state has evidence that your blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit. But, to convict you of the homicide crime, the state needs proof that you caused the crash, not just that you were driving drunk.

Now imagine if you had proof that the other driver involved was legally drunk, as well. Would not that piece of evidence be valuable to your defense?

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