A conviction on a theft charge can have serious ramifications. A Florida judge can suspend your driver’s license even if your conviction is only a misdemeanor. If you’re facing theft charges, a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer may have many options in your case. These could include challenging the value of the item(s) in question, arguing mistaken identity, or contesting your intent to deprive the owner of their property (among other possibilities.) With all these potential avenues out there, contacting an experienced lawyer about your case is well worth your while.

A well-worn phrase posits that it is “better to be lucky than good.” In one recent local theft case, the operative phrase arguably could have been: “If you’re not going to be smart, it is good to be lucky.”

The suspect in the case was M.K., a 33-year-old Clearwater man who traveled to a St. Petersburg tattoo parlor during the evening of Dec. 2 to obtain some new body art. A true aficionado of haute cuisine, the customer elected to get a five-inch-wide replica of the Waffle House logo tattooed onto his right calf.

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Many procedural details go into the pretrial, trial, and post-conviction phases of presenting a defense. It is important to have a Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer who is fully immersed in the knowledge of all of these details, as any one of them may be the key you need to a dismissal, an acquittal, or a reversal of your conviction.

One area where that’s especially true is the rules regarding discovery violations.

As an example of how important a prosecutorial discovery violation can be, we have this recent drug case from Lee County.

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Occasionally, this blog takes the opportunity to highlight potentially criminal situations where individuals demonstrated “what not to do.” For example, if you’re facing charges or under suspicion, running from the police is an example of what not to do. What you should do instead is get online or grab a phone and get in touch with a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

This blog also sometimes highlights people who have engaged in distinctly “Florida man/Florida woman” behavior. This blog post involves both. That is, a Florida man and someone illustrating “what not to do” when facing a particular predicament.

Per a Fox 13 Tampa Bay news report, that man was J.Y. from Lakeland, whom Polk County Sheriff’s deputies were seeking concerning possible crimes of aggravated battery, false imprisonment, and tampering. After receiving a tip, deputies traveled to a residence on West 10th Street. At the front of the house, propped in front of a window, was a white dry-erase board bearing a message declaring that J.Y. “does NOT live here!!”

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Certain types of alleged crimes — namely, drug and/or weapon charges — frequently arise from evidence that the police seized in a search performed without a warrant. The law generally falls on the side of disallowing warrantless searches, but the law also has many exceptions that the state can use to get items seized without a warrant into evidence. Many times, the key to a successful defense is countering those arguments and persuading the court that no exception applies and that the court should exclude the item(s) in dispute. Having a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer on your side can be crucial to doing that successfully.

Sometimes, the police have no justification at all for the search they performed. Oftentimes, though, as a recent weapons case from the Orlando area shows, the issue is whether or not the police exceeded the bounds of what a potentially applicable exception allows.

The accused man from Orange County, J.J., arrived home to find local deputies already there, having arrived to serve an arrest warrant. The suspect had two bags on his body: a backpack on his back and a “fanny pack” on his chest. After the man refused orders to stop and instead went into his garage, the deputies tackled and handcuffed him. After that, they removed both bags, placing the fanny pack on the hood of a car.

If you are placed on probation, you need to understand several things. One is that you should take your probation very seriously. Another is that you should take any alleged violation of your probation equally seriously. If a prosecutor successfully persuades a judge that you violated your probation, you could face many years (or decades) behind bars that you otherwise would have avoided. If you have questions about your potential violation of probation, make sure you’re getting reliable answers by seeking advice from a knowledgeable Tampa Bay probation violation lawyer.

If you are facing a probation violation case, you have multiple ways in which you can attack it. A recent local case illustrates a few of those avenues.

The probationer was a Tampa man named Angel who, after a 2013 arrest, entered an open plea to multiple sex crimes charges. (An open plea means that you’ve pled guilty without reaching a sentencing agreement with the prosecutor; rather, you plead guilty and essentially “throw yourself on the mercy of the court.”) The judge in Angel’s case sentenced him to 20 years’ probation.

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The peculiar details of some domestic disturbances can generate less-than-serious coverage in the media. However, a domestic incident is always a serious legal matter in Florida, as it can potentially impact the lives of both the accused and the alleged victim in a myriad of ways. If you’re the accused, swiftly obtaining representation from an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer can greatly help you in the pursuit of a fair outcome.

An incident to our north is an example. According to a report by The Smoking Gun, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in The Villages earlier this month where the husband allegedly had battered his wife. According to the wife, the husband, who had been drinking, became upset about offensive content on a television show and declared “I’m not having that in my house.”

When the wife stood up from her chair, the husband grabbed her by both arms, forced her back down into the recliner, and refused to let her go. The police report indicated that the wife “had a minor injury of broken skin on her left inner forearm.”

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In a 2001 episode of a highly popular courtroom drama, a criminal suspect is very excited. “Y’all ain’t got no probable cause… That’s poison from the fruit tree!” Garbled wording aside, the suspect was onto something… or he might have been had he not been on parole and subject to warrantless searches. While you may not know all the ins and outs of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine and its role in suppressing potentially incriminating evidence, your experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer has an in-depth knowledge of this rule and more, which is why it is so important to obtain the right legal counsel when you are facing charges or are under suspicion.

The “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine is an element of the exclusionary rule of evidence. It bars the use of proof that the police obtained via a search, seizure, or interrogation that violated your constitutional rights, such as the right to counsel or the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

In the recent sex crimes case of one Sarasota County man, the usefulness of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” rule was one the important lessons readers can learn. The other — as often is the case — is: avoid talking to the police without your attorney present.

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There are many ways in which law enforcement officers can overstep or misstep in conducting a warrantless search pursuant to a traffic stop. When they do, those errors may mean the search was unconstitutional and you are entitled to suppression of the proof they found. This blog post will look at a couple of ways that officers can err. Keep in mind that, when an officer missteps, a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer can be essential to success in court when it comes to the suppression of evidence seized in an illegal search.

An example of one of the ways police can violate your rights comes from one of our sister states… California. The accused was a man driving in the Bay Area when the police pulled him over for two minor traffic violations. The time required to check for outstanding warrants, confirm the validity of the driver’s license, registration, and insurance, and decide whether or not to write a ticket took roughly 3 1/2 minutes.

But the stop didn’t end there. Allegedly, an officer suspected the driver of being under the influence of drugs, so he ordered him out of the car and conducted field sobriety tests, which the driver passed. This took roughly six additional minutes. But the stop didn’t end there, either.

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A lot of criminal prosecutions — especially ones related to firearms or drug crimes — involve evidence seized as a result of a warrantless search. If that’s you, one of the most important parts of your defense is contesting the legality of the search and the admissibility of evidence seized in it. When it comes to suppressing evidence seized as part of a warrantless search, having representation provided by a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer can be critical to your success.

One exception to the search warrant rule is something called a “search incident to an arrest.” If the officer has made a valid arrest, the officer can conduct a reasonable search to ensure his/her safety, such as searching for weapons.

Arrests are not the only reason that law enforcement officers involuntarily detain people. Each year, many thousands of people are involuntarily detained across Florida based on mental health concerns. According to research from the University of South Florida, officers performed roughly 200,000 of these mental health (a/k/a “Baker Act”) detentions in each of the last three years. This raises a question critical for many of those people: how much warrantless searching can the officer do?

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Weapons crimes often can come with strict sentencing rules including, in some circumstances, sentence enhancements. If you are facing such a possibility, it is vital to have a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you establish that you do not qualify for the enhanced sentence and should not be subject to a longer time behind bars.

Here’s an example from Florida of how these things can unfold. In 2013, federal authorities indicted F.S. for “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Normally, this crime would carry with it a maximum sentence of 10 years.

F.S., however, received a sentence of more than 17-1/2 years, though. How? The federal court determined that a sentence enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (18 USC § 924(e)) applied. That enhancement took F.S.’s crime from something with a maximum of 10 years to something with a minimum of 15 years.

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