attorneyThere are certain rights guaranteed to every citizen. One of these is the right to legal counsel in your criminal matter. If you think that you or a loved one is suspected of a domestic violence crime, it just makes good sense to act without delay and retain the services of an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney. The police are very skilled at their jobs. Make sure that you have skill on your side by having counsel representing you.

Once you’ve retained counsel, you have a right to have that attorney present when being questioned by the police, in many situations. If the police fail to follow this rule, you may be entitled to get statements you’ve made to them excluded from evidence. An example of this was the case of a Manatee County man named Cornelius. On the afternoon and evening of June 6, Cornelius had been acting strangely while visiting his parents’ home. By 4 a.m. on June 7, the parents took Cornelius to the hospital, and he was committed under the Baker Act. The Baker Act is a state law that allows for involuntary confinement of an individual due to mental illness. This commitment can be initiated by a judge, a police officer, a doctor, or a mental health professional.

That meant Cornelius was in the hospital and was not free to leave. On the evening of June 7, Cornelius’ mom returned to the hospital. The staff there told her she couldn’t see her son. Cornelius’ girlfriend, she was told, had been found murdered in her home, and the police were coming to question Cornelius. Cornelius’ mother did what a wise mom in her shoes should do:  she immediately retained legal counsel for her son. Cornelius’ lawyer arrived at the hospital sometime later, but the staff didn’t let him talk to his client. He left a business card with the staff.

double barrelEveryone is entitled to receive justice, whether they are perfectly innocent or less so. The not guilty are entitled to acquittals, and the guilty are entitled to punishments that fit their crimes. To this end, it is important to ensure that criminal defendants are not charged with (and convicted of) more severe crimes than the actual facts dictate. A skilled Florida gun crime lawyer can help you make sure that the result of your criminal case is a just one.

One recent example of a case in which the facts didn’t support the crime was the trial of Phillip. One night in Orange County, Phillip waved a man over to his car, and, when the man approached, Phillip brandished what looked like a double-barrel shotgun. He demanded that the man give him his wallet, and the victim complied. Police caught up to Phillip later, and, when searching his car, they found the double-barrel of a shotgun. What the police did not find, however, were any other parts to a shotgun. No receiver. No stock. No firing mechanism. Just the barrel.

The accused man admitted that he robbed the victim but denied that he used a real gun in the process. The state, however, still charged Phillip with the crime of robbery with a weapon in violation of Section 812.13(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes. At the conclusion of the trial, Phillip was convicted.

Raymond Eugene Furr, 51, faces charges of armed burglary, criminal mischief and petty theft of less than $300, according to Treasure Island police, after he broke into a garage and made himself coffee. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

File this one under “why not”?  Per the local paper,  a local transient man found himself in hot water for brewing some hot water.

Treasure Island Police arrested 51-year-old Raymond Eugene Furr for multiple charges when he broke into a garage and started making coffee.   When the homeowner discovered his garage door opened and damaged, he also found the suspect helping himself to the coffee selection.  Raymond fled when he was confronted by the owner who quickly called the police.

It did not take long for the police to find Raymond Furr as he was arrested less then 45 minutes later. When he was caught, he was found with a pair of scissors in his front pocket.  The police charged him armed burglary, petit theft (of the coffee) and criminal mischief (for the garage door).


Why ARMED burglary when there was no proof that the suspect  was armed at the time of the break in?  Could he have been unarmed and then found the scissors in the garage?  There are two separate issues here. Burglary is covered under Florida Statute 810.02.  It specifically states that one is guilty of armed burglary if during the course of the “break in”, the suspect either comes with a dangerous weapon or becomes armed with one during the course of being in the dwelling, structure, or conveyance.  This means that the state would have to prove that the suspect either broke into the garage while in possession of the “dangerous weapon” or while in the garage he found and armed himself with the scissors.  

The state would have to prove that the scissors were on the suspect or stolen from the garage during the course of the burglary.  Being in possession of the scissors 45 minutes later when he was arrested would not be sufficient to sustain an armed burglary charge.  On a side note, the question if the scissors would even be considered a “dangerous weapon” per the statute is another issue.

Finally, Armed burglary with a firearm    is considered an extremely serious crime.  As shown above, a suspect can break into a home unarmed.  If during the course of the burglary, he/she finds a gun and steals it, the charge is immediately upgraded to burglary with a firearm.

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toolsWhen it comes to criminal law, there are many things that the law says that the state must prove before an accused person can be convicted. Regarding many crimes, the law requires proof of two essential elements, described in the Latin terms actus rea and mens rea. The first of those two means that you must have committed some type of overt act. The second means that you must have intended to commit that act. These elements, especially the intent one, can provide an opportunity for an accused person to mount a successful defense. However you choose to pursue your defense, it helps to have skilled Florida criminal defense counsel working for you.

A recent case from Miami, in which the defendant’s appeal was successful, shows the importance of intent. Carl, the defendant in this case, was a carpenter who did cabinetry work. One of Carl’s satisfied customers referred him to the customer’s aunt. Carl and the woman agreed to a deal, with the woman paying him $2,250 as a 50% deposit. The check was cashed the same day. Carl was supposed to complete the work in two weeks’ time. After several weeks, he stopped returning the woman’s calls. She eventually hired another carpenter to do her custom cabinetry work.

This might sound like the factual background of a civil lawsuit. The state, however, charged Carl criminally with third-degree grand theft and contracting without a license. The defendant asked the court to issue an order of acquittal in the case, but the judge denied that request. Carl was convicted and received a sentence of 60 months.

herbicideIf you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, there may be multiple different methods for defending against those accusations. One type of defense is to prove that you didn’t do it, or at least to cast doubt on the state’s case that you did do it. Another type of defense is persuading the court that, whatever you did or did not do, your actions could not constitute the crime that the state has charged you with committing. Whichever type of defense you mount, it helps to have a detailed knowledge of the law, which means it pays to have a knowledgeable Florida theft crime attorney on your side.

One case in which the defendant succeeded based upon the latter of the two types of defenses discussed above was the case of Pedro from Hendry County. Pedro offered to sell a man “discount” farm supplies. What Pedro didn’t know was that his would-be buyer was cooperating with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office. Thus, when Pedro made his offer to the man, the man gave Pedro’s name to law enforcement, and they set up a controlled sale of stolen herbicide between the man and Pedro. Pedro made the purchase, and that sale got Pedro arrested for dealing in stolen property.

At his trial, the state brought forward evidence that Pedro bought the herbicide and that he planned to use it on his farm. The prosecution specifically argued that Pedro made a phone call to trigger the start of the chain of events, which included the acquisition of the herbicide, and that Pedro bought the herbicide with the intent to use it.

What Are Some Common Reasons To Approve Or Deny A Nebbia Hold In Florida?

Nebbia Hold would stay in place if there is no proof of any legitimate sources of income. If a family or friend or a client cannot come up with financial records to prove that they have a legitimate source of income that is going to be very difficult to overcome the burden. If they have not had a job in years, they do not own any property, have any retirement savings, they do not own a vehicle or have any assets, it is going to be hard for them to prove that the money that they now came up with for bond, is from a legitimate source. Oftentimes, if you have the proof and it is sufficient that that is what it takes to accomplish lifting a Nebbia Hold.  But if you do not, it is going to be very difficult because the judge is going to assume that if you do not have any assets. For example, the judge may consider  how did you come up with $100,000 for bail?

Is A Nebbia Hearing A One Shot deal Or Can It Be Appealed?

handcuffsIf you enjoy “Law and Order” or other police dramas on television, the chances are you’ve heard the words:  “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” This statement is known commonly as a Miranda warning (because it originated from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Miranda v. Arizona). In real life, the issue of a criminal suspect’s receipt of a Miranda warning can be a very important part of the case. An experienced Florida sex crime attorney can help analyze your case and determine if your rights have been violated and what that can mean for you.

One recent Tampa Bay area case in which the Miranda warning was critical was a case of the alleged molestation of a young girl. The girl told her father that her former stepfather had sexually assaulted her multiple times at a home in Palm Harbor when she was nine years old. Law enforcement in Pinellas County brought in the alleged abuser for an interview.

A detective began the interview by giving the man his Miranda warning. He went through each element of the warning, and the suspect said he understood every part. However, the man also observed, “I can’t afford a lawyer anyhow.” Without doing any more inquiry regarding whether the man understood that he was entitled to have an attorney provided to him at no cost if he wanted, the detective simply went forward with the questioning.


How Long Does It Usually Take To Get A Decision?

Generally it happens right away. Once the court reviews the documents, generally a decision is made on the spot as to whether the financial records are legitimate or not. Oftentimes, the court may require additional proof and then usually an experienced criminal defense attorney like Blake & Dorsten will get a quick reset. Obviously time is of the essence because the client is in jail and  unable to bond out so we generally like to get a reset within a few days, oftentimes less than a week. Once the hold is removed  the client can bond out right away, usually within a few hours.

Can Someone Handle A Nebbia Hold By Themselves In Court?

barOne of the protagonists from a famous 2009 movie encouraged others to “enjoy the little things.” In the law, it is less about enjoying the little things than it is about paying keen attention to the little things because sometimes the little things can make a huge difference in your criminal case. That was the case for one defendant who was facing sexual assault charges and who won a reversal of his conviction because the trial court, in issuing jury instructions, misstated the crime with which the state had charged the man. These and other minute but highly important details are examples of the types of areas in which experienced Florida sex crime attorneys can help you.

In the case, recently decided by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, the defendant was accused of trying to take advantage of an inebriated woman. Specifically, the defendant, the victim, and several of the defendant’s co-workers had spent the night drinking, and the victim ended up passed out in a field next to the bar’s parking lot. Eventually, several of the group got the unconscious woman to a van owned by one of the group. Even though the victim was “essentially non-responsive,” everyone except the victim went back inside the bar. After that, the defendant went back outside, purportedly to check on the victim. Then, sometime after that, the van’s owner went out to check. She discovered the victim, still largely not responsive, in a “half-naked” state and the defendant, with no pants on, standing over her.

At trial, the jury heard replays of phone calls, made by the victim but recorded by the police, during which the defendant “admitted that he attempted and probably did try to have sex” with the victim. Eventually, the case went to the jury, and the jury convicted the man. With facts like these, the case against the defendant might seem, to a layperson, to be ironclad. However, in many aspects of the law, from contract law to criminal defense, the difference between a favorable and an unfavorable outcome can be the smallest of details and knowing how to present those details to the courts. Additionally, even with alleged facts that are offensive and potentially triggering for some, the law still requires that all defendants receive a trial that comports with all of the fundamental elements of fairness.


A new article from the Tampa Bay Times discusses new changes that makes getting a DUI in Saint Pete even more costly.

Just passed by the city council, a new ordinance now calls for a $500 fine plus towing/storage costs for drunken drivers if they want to get their vehicle out of the impound lot post-arrest.  The SPPD will need additional training in this matter before they start enforcing this new rule.  It is not known when it will go into effect.  Also not known? If a person who is later found to be not guilty or not under the influence at the time will be able to have their money refunded.

A city council member remained unmoved. “Difficult consequences to poor decisions is what changes behavior. “Call Uber, call a taxi, save a whole lot of money and probably a life. There’s just too many easy ways to save the $500.”

With this ordinance, Saint Petersburg becomes the first city in the Tampa Bay area to add a fine to get your car back from impound.  Hillsborough and Pasco officials both denied wanting a similar law in their area.

With over 445 dui arrests in Saint Petersburg so far this year, members hoped this new law will make tipsy drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel.  City council voted 6-2 on this new law with the two members who voted against the ordinance stating worries about due process and an extra burden on certain driviers who could not afford the additional expense.

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