Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

In the law, the vast majority of issues are colored in shades of gray. That’s why a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney may answer so many questions with “It depends.” One thing that is fairly cut-and-dried, though, is the wide latitude the law gives an accused person in putting on a defense at trial.

As an example, we can look at the criminal case of J.A., a police officer in North Miami. In July 2016, J.A., along with a dozen other law enforcement officers, responded to a dispatch call about a man standing in an intersection with a gun in his hand.

J.A. thought the object the man held was a gun and that a second nearby man was his hostage. The officer next to him thought it was a gun. Radio dispatches were not definitive. J.A., a trained SWAT officer, fired three shots.

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Men and the homicidal reactions their wives’ adulterous affairs triggered (or allegedly triggered) have long been the grist for the plots of both music (Garth Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama” comes to mind) and jokes. In one joke, a man confesses to his neighbor (via text message) his numerous and regular indiscretions with the neighbor’s wife. The neighbor shoots dead both the wife and the texter. Back home, the shooter discovers a second text where the confessor informs him that autocorrect had altered his first message and that he had not been indulging himself in the pleasures of the neighbor’s wife, but rather the neighbor’s wifi internet. The joke concluded with the confessor whimsically remarking, “Technology, huh? It’ll be the death of us all.” Most folks read this joke and see irony and humor. An insightful Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer sees a good opportunity to discuss crime of passion defenses in Florida homicide cases.

Back in November, a Hillsborough County jury rejected a Tampa man’s crime of passion defense, instead finding him guilty of first- and second-degree murder for the shooting deaths of his girlfriend and her 10-year-old son. The jury recommended the death penalty, rejecting the man’s contention that he snapped after the girlfriend insulted the memory of his son who died by suicide. Allegedly, the trigger occurred when the woman told the man “I see why your son killed himself like a [expletive] because you’re a little [expletive],” according to FOX 13.

That Tampa case is a reminder of a very important concept: the provocations that can allow a defendant to invoke a crime of passion defense are varied… and vary by state. Most people immediately think of the sudden discovery of cheating spouses, but provocation can also come from being the victim of certain crimes, or even (in some states, including Florida) being the recipient of a romantic overture from a gay or trans person.

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For almost as long as there has been a World Wide Web (and later, smart devices,) there have been people posting adult and/or sexually explicit content online. When someone publishes their own images or publishes images of someone else with proper permission, that’s one thing; when they disseminate others’ images without authorization, it’s quite another. Today, these acts are often taken very seriously by authorities. Engaging in such publication can carry serious consequences, including a felony conviction and jail time. Obviously, a felony conviction can be a life-altering event, which is why anyone facing such charges should waste no time retaining a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer.

According to a recent arrest affidavit, an extortion case from Pinellas County involved those kinds of images. The genesis of the arrest was a relationship that was both business and personal… and had gone very wrong.

The Smoking Gun reported that E.L., a St. Petersburg woman, allegedly had lent her new girlfriend $45. Apparently feeling the girlfriend was untimely in paying back the debt, the frustrated lender decided to offer a little extra motivation.

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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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