Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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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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.

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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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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On your favorite TV courtroom drama show, the defense may often focus its arguments around the idea that the accused must be found “not guilty” because the evidence points to a specific other person as the real guilty party. In real life, your best defense in a criminal trial doesn’t always look like that, but sometimes that is exactly how to advance your strongest defense.

When that’s the case, you need to be sure you have skilled Pinellas County criminal defense lawyer on your side, because there is a specific way to get that evidence before the jury. Do it right and you may have very strong chance of an acquittal; do it wrong and the jury may not ever get to hear that powerful evidence at all.

R.N. was a man in need of that kind of defense in his case. R.N. was on trial for a home burglary and for battering the woman inside the home. The attacker broke into a Dunedin home in the middle of the night and jumped on the resident as she lay in bed. The woman eventually fought off her attacker.

When you’ve been accused of a particularly salacious crime, yours can be an especially difficult uphill battle. Sometimes, people may want to look more closely at the nature of the charges against you, as opposed to the actual, admissible evidence against you. Fortunately, in this state and country, you are entitled to a fair trial(regardless of the charges asserted) consisting of only that evidence that was obtained in a manner that did not violate your constitutional rights, including your right to be free from most warrantless searches and seizures. To make sure you get the fair trial and the vigorous defense you deserve, be sure you’ve contacted and retained a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney.

A.P. was a man who found himself in the type of scenario laid out above. He was on trial for 15 counts of video voyeurism. According to the state, A.P. had installed a camera in a bedroom wall in his home and used it to maintain a live video feed of the woman who lived in the room, including capturing her in “various states of undress.” The case was extremely serious for A.P., because the Florida legislature had recently upgraded the crime of video voyeurism to a felony, and the accused man faced as much as 380 years in prison if he was convicted on all charges.

The state believed it had strong evidence, as it had multiple videos taken from A.P.’s computer that appeared to depict exactly the sort of secret surveillance that the state alleged. The state, however, had one major problem, which the defense was ultimately able to use in its favor: the police didn’t have a warrant, and they also didn’t have valid consent, when they searched the computer and seized the video files.

Whether you’ve dealt with the criminal justice system or you simply watch crime-themed television programs, you are probably familiar with a person’s Miranda rights. These rights are a very important part of a criminal suspect’s constitutional rights. A suspect has the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. If the suspect agrees to talk to police without an attorney present, then the suspect is considered to have “waived” his right to remain silent, as well as his right to counsel (during the questioning).

Obviously, one of the major keys to any successful criminal defense is keeping out evidence that is harmful to the defense case. One way that can happen is if the defendant made a statement or confession to police after waiving his Miranda rights, but that waiver wasn’t valid. A valid waiver must be “knowing,” “voluntary” and “intelligent.” There are many ways that a defendant’s waiver can be invalidated, including proof that he was confused, was intoxicated, or that he lacked the intellectual capacity to give a valid waiver. What all this establishes is that, even if a defendant confessed to the police, the defendant may still have options and opportunities to obtain an acquittal. That’s why, if you or a loved one are facing charges, don’t give up and don’t go without counsel; retain an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney to handle the case.

An example of this was on display in a recent case that originated in Polk County. J.W. was, at the time of his arrest, an 18-year-old man with cognitive delays. Two deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office questioned the teen regarding an unsolved sex crime. A sergeant read J.W. his rights and he said he understood. He also signed a waiver form.

 

Per the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, “Operation flush out”, an undercover unlicensed contracting sting, was a smashing success…

Taking place between Saturday, August 4 to Monday, August 6, this secret operation took place on 54th avenue near 27th street in Saint Petersburg, Florida.  The deputies put out advertisements asking for contracting help.  When the operation was over, 29 people were arrested for over 60 counts including  unlicensed specialty contracting violations, worker’s compensation fraud, and various other criminal charges unrelated to unlicensed contracting such as drug possession and outstanding warrants.

What is unlicensed contracting?  It is exactly what it sounds like.  After the local newspaper  wrote a 2017 expose on the practice of painters, roofers and other construction practices working on people’s homes without the proper license, the Sheriff was quick to get involved.  This has been his third sting since last October and he claims that south Pinellas is a hotbed for this illegal activity.

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Sometimes, Florida can be famous – or infamous – for news stories with strange twists. While some of those twists might elicit a chuckle or two, the possible legal consequences for the subjects of those news articles can be profoundly serious. If you are facing arrest, it’s no joke. Make sure you retain a skilled Tampa Bay defense attorney.

One possible takeaway from a recent South Florida news story is this: if you are going to cut off someone in traffic in Miami-Dade County, make sure it isn’t a law enforcement officer. One man made that mistake and found himself the subject of a traffic stop, according to a recent Miami Herald report. Once the police initiated the traffic stop, they found several things they deemed suspicious inside the man’s car. These included six guns, several bottles of strong cough syrup (without a prescription), suspected marijuana oil and nearly $20,000 in cash.

The Herald report also noted that the police proudly touted the bust on a local TV station. “It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases,” the police told CBS 4. There was one not-so-small problem: it wasn’t a “good” bust.

Are you a military veteran with court costs, fines or even warrants?  Then this Saturday, April 14, 2018 may be for you!  The annual VA stand down event is taking place at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd, Bay Pines Fl 33744.  This event is from 8:30 a.m.-1:00p.m.

You must register via phone at 727.464.6446 or email pdvastanddown@wearethehope.org before April 11, 2018.

What is this event?  This once a year program helps veterans by reducing/eliminating certain court costs/fines and they may be able to get minor warrants dropped completely!

By reducing/eliminating tickets, court costs or warrants, many veterans will be able to get their driver’s license back, avoid jail/arrest and may be free to start job hunting again. Continue reading

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