September 19, 2014

Jury Impartiality: Why it's so Difficult, and How it Can be Achieved

The right to an impartial jury during one's criminal trial is fundamental; it is guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This right is of such importance because it must be the case that those who render verdicts, which profoundly affect (and sometimes end) lives, must be unbiased and solely basing their judgments off the facts of the case.
This, especially in today's media-saturated word, is no easy feat, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know from experience.

This issue, and efforts to remedy it, have been brought to light in the pre-trial filings and hearings of the manslaughter case of Palm Beach polo magnate John Goodman, for which the Judge has sent out jury summonses to individuals in Tampa Bay, not wanting to run the risk of a pool of Palm Beach jurors having already made up their minds about Mr. Goodman.

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September 17, 2014

Racism in the Criminal Justice System

The United States has come a long way since the days of Jim Crow, and certainly since the times of slavery. Nevertheless, just as we cannot wash away the stains these horrible eras have left on our national history, we cannot deny the fact that racism, whether deliberate of subconscious, still plays a profound role in the operation of our criminal justice system.
To put it plainly, blacks in this country are targeted and punished fare more aggressively than are whites.

Our criminal defense lawyers know from experience (and from facts to be laid out in this post) that unspoken feelings toward race far too often govern the outcome of criminal cases; they influence the choices of arresting officers, the decisions made by the prosecutors and the verdicts rendered by the jury.

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September 16, 2014

Should a Jury Be Allowed to Hear Questionable Testimony by a Defendant?

To be sure, the circumstances surrounding the case of Jorge Barahona are cringe-worthy. That said, should a jury be able to hear the statements he gave police when he was heavily medicated and not thinking clearly?
In early 2011, Barahona was arrested in Palm Beach County after his pest control truck was found on the side of I-95; next to the truck, he was found unconscious, his daughter's dead body was found wrapped in plastic, and his adopted son was found convulsing, allegedly caused by the ingestion of harmful checmicals.

As our criminal defense lawyers know, when police visited Barahona in the hospital to ask him questions about the alleged crimes, he waived his right to an attorney and gave statements to the police. Here's the problem: he had just been brought out of a coma and was not thinking properly, a result of the fact that he was being heavily medicated at the time.

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September 11, 2014

Harmful Effects of the "War on Drugs"

Opposition to the so-called "War on Drugs" isn't new; this poorly executed policy has been receiving condemnation since its inception in 1971 when President Nixon declared drug abuse to be "public enemy number one."
The criticism against the bloated crackdown on illegal substances now stems from all walks of life and political affiliations. The issue is getting a lot of attention right now as we approach national midterm elections this November, during which we in Florida will vote on whether or not medical marijuana should be legal and available in the Sunshine State.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County drug crime defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert know that an overhaul of the current drug laws is long overdue. The facts, as we will discuss in this posting, clearly demonstrate that the War on Drugs is doing far more harm than it is good.

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September 8, 2014

Can Your Record Be Expunged?

As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defnese lawyers know, being arrested for and/or charged with a crime can take a toll on your livelihood -- and the inconvenience and limitations don't end when the hearings, fines and probationary meetings stop. You shouldn't have to pay for a bad decision for the rest of our life, and an experienced law firm like ours can help you make sure you don't.
Even having a record of an arrest and/or criminal charges, which can be searched and accessed by state and non-state agencies alike, can be seriously harmful to your social life and both your academic and professional career.

There is a solution. In many cases, the State of Florida provides for an expuncation or sealing of criminal records given the fulfillment of certain requirements. Having your record expunged and/or sealed means that you can have an easier time moving ahead with your life.

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September 3, 2014

DNA Evidence Frees Wrongfully-Convicted Brothers After 30 in Prisoners

Back in 1983, an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina was brutally raped and murdered. Shortly thereafter, two brothers were arrested for, charged with, and convicted of the crime, and they have been in jail ever since. Until today, that is.
Explosive new DNA evidence has implicated someone else in the murder of the child. As a result, the two brothers will leave prison today free men, having had the last 30 years of their lives stolen from them by a clearly flawed system of justice.

Our criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert know that while a crime such as the one at the center of this 1983 case is heinous and emotion-fueling, it is critical to rememeber that careless prosecutions can not only fail to serve justice, but can also create a tremendous injustice, as was the case for the two wrongfully-convicted brothers.

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September 1, 2014

Labor Day Celebrations Mean Increased DUI Arrests

As our Palm Beach and Broward County DUI defense lawyers know, there is little in life that people like to celebrate more than a day off from work.
This Labor Day, please be aware that some people will go a bit overboard and get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, and that police officers will be out and about, looking to pull over swerving drivers and setting up DUI checkpoints.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County DUI defense lawyers know that, as a general rule, DUI arrests in South Florida tend to spike during holiday times, especially over Labor Day Weekend, which is often regarded as the last "real" weekend of summer. Because of this, people feel that this time of year is their last to truly enjoy their summer, and that's why the roads can get dangerous and the county jails tend to fill up.

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August 27, 2014

Unlicensed Driver Receives 8.5 Years in Vehicular Homicide Plea Deal

As a full-service Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket and criminal defense firm, we handle cases of all types, from driving without a license to, for example, homicide. As was recently reported on by the Sun Sentinel, these two issues converged in the case of a man sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for vehicular homicide after he struck and killed a toddler while driving without a valid license and allegedly blacking out due to dangerously high blood sugar.
The Lake Worth convict, Steven Barnes, is not a new addition to the Florida criminal justice system -- according to the Sun Sentinel, his record includes six DUIs and nine instances of driving without a license. (His license was revoked permanently in 1996.)

Our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that, as evidenced by this case, poor decisions can lead to irreversible actions, the result of which can mean the loss of life and serious prison time for an otherwise nonviolent offender.

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August 25, 2014

Boynton Mother Arrested After Daughter Burned by Cup of Noodles

According to an article in the Sun Sentinel, 23-year-old Boynton Beach mother Nahomie Thermidor was arrested on Thursday and charged with child neglect, after her daughter received second degree burns from a falling cup of noodles.
Back on July 13th, her daughter was brought to a hospital with 3-inch by 2-inch burns on her chest; the problem, according to police, is that the school nurse told Thermidor to bring her daughter to the hospital two days earlier.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that the issue of child neglect is a tricky one. The truth is that while nobody wants to see a child injured or neglected, the fact that a child happens to be injured while in the care of a mother does not necessarily indicate that a child has been abused or neglected.

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August 18, 2014

Should Police Officers be Required to Wear Cameras?

The issue of and controversy over police activity being captured on footage is not a new one. What is relatively new, however, is the discussion over whether or not police officers themselves should have to wear video cameras on their uniforms, not just mount cameras on the dashboard of their vehicles.
Incidents such as the vicious beating of Rodney King in 1991 (taped by onlookers much to the chagrin of the officers involved) and the apparently unprovoked and unjustified killing of Michael Brown by a police officer earlier this month have reignited the conversation. As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, while law enforcement officers might think it's unnecessary, hordes of civilians argue that it will ensure accountability in a field where there's largely none.

Case in point: the most pressing questions swirling around the murder of Michael Brown by a Missouri police officer seem to have no definitive answers. It might very well have come down to an issue of he-said, he-said, were it not for the fact that one of the two people involved in the incident is now dead, having left behind a family and a nation demanding answers.

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August 14, 2014

Siri Provides Questionable Evidence in Florida Murder Trial

Back in September 2012, University of Florida student Christian Aguilar went missing. At the end of that month, his roommate, now-20-year-old Pedro Bravo, was charged with the murder, although no body had been found. Weeks later, hunters found the decomposing body of the victim in a shallow grave roughly 60 miles from Gainesville.
In the trial that is expected to wrap-up today or tomorrow, the prosecution has received some key assistance from an unlikely (and perhaps unreliable) source: Siri, the helpful and often times sarcastic iPhone assistant.

As our Palm Beach and Broward County cirminal defense lawyers know, the increasing presence of technology in our everyday lives has implications far beyond those one might expect. This fact is being brought to light in the murder case of Pedro Bravo, given the fact that data recorded on his smartphone on the day his roommate went missing is being used against him in a court of law.

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August 13, 2014

Broward County Man Arrested for Possession of Moonshine

According to a report by the Sun Sentinel, a Broward man was recently arrested for posessing homemade liquor and the tools with which he allegedly produced (and intended to continue making) the moonshine.
Producing moonshine conjures images of the days of Prohibition, during which it was illegal to proaduce, sell, transport or import alcohol in and within the U.S. from 1920 through 1933. But, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know from experience, criminal cases arising from the illegal production of alcohol are quite common -- even in, as the article puts it, "sophisticated South Florida."

The issue of illegally producing alchol is a complicated one. You don't need illegal substances to create illegal alcohol; unlike making pot brownies, for which you need to illegaly obtain marjiuana, you can make home-brewed alcohol with just a few, legal ingredients, including water, yeast and table sugar.

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