Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

By now, the story of the retired police captain who shot and killed a fellow movie-goer in Pasco County has become extremely well-known, especially here in Florida. We can all debate what each man could and/or should have done differently, but this isn’t about that. Instead, this post is to focus on some legal aspects of the case that were less well-known and the lessons one can draw from this case, starting with the value of having the right Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer on your side when you’re facing major felony charges.

To recap, Curtis Reeves, a retired police captain, was attending a matinee movie with his wife when he became frustrated with a nearby man who was texting. The captain spoke out, an argument ensued, then the other man threw Reeves’ popcorn at him. Shortly thereafter, Reeves drew his gun and shot, fatally wounding the man.

The prosecution argued that Reeves was insulted by the popcorn-throwing and shot in a fit of rage. The defense argued that Reeves shot in self-defense.

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Comedian Ron White once described an interaction with police outside a bar thusly: “I had the right to remain silent… but I didn’t have the ability.” The reality is that “adult beverages” have made a lot of people say things they later wished they hadn’t. If something you or a loved one drunkenly said could potentially be harmful in a criminal case, you need every resource you can get to try to exclude those statements from your trial. Make sure that the main resource you secure is the services of a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer.

Last spring was apparently a prolific time for these kinds of scenarios here in the Sunshine State. Back in April, police encountered a 28-year-old woman outside a bar in St. Petersburg allegedly drunk and offering lap dances to passersby. The police said the woman first asked them if they were going to “bang her” and, later, asked if they were going to shoot her.

In May, Ocala police responded to a report of a woman in a bikini trespassing at a motel pool. The Dunnellon woman was “verbally aggressive,” and told police that the hotel manager reported her solely because the female manager was “jealous that her body looked good.”

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Modern technology has touched all areas of life. Things that would have been impossible 50 years ago are common today. Even with the application of modern technology, all the rights and privileges established by the constitution remain in place. A prosecutor inevitably doesn’t want to lose a child witness’s testimony due to the child’s fear or lose an ill person’s testimony because poor health prevented their travel. However, the Constitution still requires that a criminal defendant be confronted by the witnesses against him. That’s true whether the witness is 10 feet away in the courtroom or thousands of miles away on a video feed. Ensuring that all your rights — including the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause rights — are protected is an essential part of any criminal defense, and is just one area among the many where it pays to have a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney on your side.

Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court issued a very important ruling in a case involving these issues of modern technology and constitutional rights.

The underlying crime was the double murder of a couple who lived together just north of Fort Lauderdale. The prosecution’s star witness was the accused man’s mother. The state wanted her to testify about the suspect’s allegedly having taken the couple’s credit cards and SUV, driven to the mother’s home in the stolen vehicle, disposed of certain pieces of evidence while there, and ultimately dumped the stolen vehicle at a Walmart store near the mother’s home.

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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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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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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?

social-image-logo-og-300x300Many people have heard about the protections the Constitution provides for people standing trial for alleged crimes. These include the right to a jury trial, the right to counsel and the right confront witnesses, among others. All of these are based on a more fundamental foundation of the American criminal legal system: the right to a fair trial. That fundamental foundation establishes several things that the prosecution cannot do as they try to convict you. Of course, one of the most critical ways to even the playing field is to exercise your right to counsel and arm yourself with representation from a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney.

Unfairness in a criminal trial can happen in a lot of different ways. Look at this recent Sarasota case as an example. C.T. was on trial in Sarasota for a burglary charge and two sex crime charges. Those charges all stemmed from an incident where C.T. and a homeless friend entered the home of one of C.T.’s cousins to sleep at the home. The pair allegedly entered the home in the middle of the night uninvited by opening a door secured by a broken lock.

Just seven days before C.T.’s trial was supposed to start, the prosecution changed the list of charges it would pursue. Two days later, the state provided notice that it was amending its witness list – by adding three additional law enforcement officers who were going to testify about the alleged burglary. C.T. asked the judge to postpone the trial, arguing that he needed extra time to address these changes in the charges and these newly added witnesses. The judge denied the request and C.T. was convicted on the burglary charge.

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Currently, CCTV cameras are almost everywhere on the highways, in railway stations, bus stations, hotels, resorts, and residential buildings to keep crime at bay. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are commonly used in public places all over the globe. CCTV video has been used by law enforcement authorities to solve crimes and arrest criminals on several occasions. They’ve proved to be incredibly helpful in monitoring down criminals CCTV captures a truthful image of the events, and the Courts place a high value on its integrity due to its accuracy. The solar security camera is easy to mount without the need to connect electricity or cable. When it detects people, it will begin lighting the camera automatically, and it has local storage and privacy protection. Solar energy cellular surveillance cameras run on 3G/4G cellular data and are intended to function in areas with no hardwired Internet.

Authentication of CCTV Footage:

To be deemed admissible in the Court of law, digital evidence must be properly preserved, authenticated, and in compliance with each state’s different digital evidence policies. Furthermore, the applicability and relevance of the digital evidence to the case must be identified.

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