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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86048012_s-300x215If you have been arrested for or convicted of a crime, there is a record of your arrest and subsequent consequences. This can affect many areas of your life, because everyone from banks to employers do personal background checks that will pull up these records. In order to keep one mistake from affecting your entire life, you may need to try to have your record expunged. There are certain situations in which this is possible.

If you were arrested but no charges were filed against you, or if you were found not guilty, you will be able to get your arrest record expunged in most cases. You do have to apply to have your record expunged, however. Just because you were found not guilty does not mean there is no record of your arrest. Make sure that no one can ever know about the incident by requesting to have the record expunged. Continue reading

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime in Florida, you should know what’re facing. You’ll most likely be facing  knowledgeable and capable prosecutors who are well-versed in using the legal system to get the information they want in order to make their case. They know how to phrase the requests they file with the court and make arguments in ways that generally persuade judges.

In order to defend yourself fully, then, you need legal representation that also knows how make (or oppose) requests effectively and make (or oppose) arguments persuasively. You need to be sure you have an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney on your side.

Consider the case of L.L. Actually, it was, at first, the non-case of L.L. In 2018, the state asked a judge to issue a subpoena for L.L.’s medical records. At that time, L.L. was not facing any criminal charges. The state argued that it needed the records as it had reasonable suspicion that the records held “information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

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82453918_s-300x175If you are a first time offender and are facing a non-violent criminal charge, you could be eligible for a diversion program. Diversion programs exist to help people who have made a mistake turn a corner for the better. These programs are designed to change the behavior that led to the charge without causing undue hardship like a criminal record or jail time. Here’s more about these programs and how they can help you.

What Are Diversion Programs?

Diversion programs, also called pre-trial interventions, are a way for prosecutors to take your case out of the normal court system. If you qualify and it is approved by the state, you will complete a period of probation, usually some community service, and potentially counseling or substance abuse treatment as indicated by the crime you committed. In return, your case will never go to court, you will face no jail time, and you can apply to have your record expunged in most cases. Continue reading

798531-violation-of-probationIt can be easy to confuse probation and community control in Florida, but they are actually quite different. A person under community control can only leave his/her residence to go to work, to attend class (if he/she is a student), to perform public service, to attend medical treatment appointments or other activities (such as church attendance or completion of errands that the officer approves in advance.) In other words, one can think of community control somewhat like “house arrest.”

Probation and community control do have some things in common, however. One that the two are similar is that a violation can have extremely severe negative impacts, including having to go back to jail/prison for a period of many years. If you find yourself having been accused of a probation violation or a community control violation, make sure you act promptly to retain an experienced Pinellas County criminal defense attorney.

C.B. was an example of someone facing that type of major setback. He was out of prison on community control. However, the state charged with violating his community control by “failing to remain confined to his approved residence except as approved by his community control officer.”

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All of us make mistakes at various points in our lives. For some people, those mistakes may come with criminal legal consequences. If you find yourself in such a circumstance, one of the key things you can do to help yourself is resist the urge to take action that will actually only make your situation worse. In almost all situations, attempting to run from the police is one of those urges that, if acted upon, will only make your legal circumstances worse. Instead of running, take quick and decisive action by retaining the services of an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney to take on your case within the legal system.An example of how running from law enforcement can go badly took place recently in Seminole County. A ClickOrlando report indicated that three people were traveling in a white vehicle that allegedly had a stolen license plate on it. Local law enforcement officers began pursuing the vehicle. There was a problem for the occupants, though; the vehicle contained cocaine and several pieces of drug paraphernalia. The driver tried to outrun the police but eventually crashed.

The driver, J.Y., and one passenger, J.K., decided to make a run for it on foot, racing into a field. A police K9 caught J.Y. J.K., however, had a different pursuit to handle. A herd of cows detected the woman and began chasing J.K. Eventually, the cows cornered the woman in one corner of the fenced field, where law enforcement officers were waiting to apprehend her.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the “police didn’t say whether they would consider creating a bovine chase unit.”

By now, most people are familiar with the “Florida man” meme and Florida man’s exploits, which are often criminal in nature. Sometimes, these events are actually more tragic than funny, arising as the results of severe (and often untreated) addiction and/or mental illness.

If a person commits a criminal act while suffering from a mental issue, he may not be competent to stand trial or may be not guilty of any crime due to his mental state. If you need to present arguments and evidence about your mental state in your criminal matter, be sure you have an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney by your side handling your case.

This backdrop brings us to news reports about J.D. from Bay County. In May 2014, J.D. believed that his neighbor stole his dog. Reportedly, J.D. confronted the woman with a shotgun. First, he threatened to blow the woman’s kneecaps off. Then he threatened to kill her. A male member of the household came outside, and J.D. shot him. That man subdued J.D. with a hammer and police came and arrested J.D.

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798531-violation-of-probationSometimes, even a seemingly minor crime can (depending on your circumstances) create big problems for you. That’s especially true if you’re on probation, where even a misdemeanor conviction may trigger a revocation of probation. The revocation of your probation could mean spending years in jail that you otherwise would have avoided.

That’s why, when there’s a potential probation revocation on the line, don’t take risks. Instead, fight the charge aggressively and contact an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney about your case.

For an example of how all this can work, there’s the case of A.N., which began after police in Hillsborough County were called to a motel on the basis of a “domestic violence incident.” The police officers who responded spoke with the alleged victim, and then spoke to A.N. (the alleged perpetrator) through an open window. They told the man they intended to arrest him for domestic battery.

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