July 24, 2014

South Florida Woman Arrested for Counterfeit Money Demonstrates What Not To Do

Earlier this month, a woman in Pompano Beach was arrested for allegedly using $400 in counterfeit money to purchase a pre-paid Visa card.
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As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers understand it, the manager at the store at which the Visa card was purchased realized that the money used for the purchase was counterfeit, and he subsequently deactivated the pre-paid card. Upon realizing that the card was no longer active, the woman returned to the store, at which point the police were called.

This case highlights a few issues that are highly relevant to criminal defense law, including the fact that seemingly criminal behavior might be unintentional and that what you say to police officers can cause you otherwise preventable harm.

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July 21, 2014

Can Felons Use the "Stand Your Ground" Defense?

A thought-provoking legal argument from a courtroom in Palm Beach County is heading to the Florida Supreme Court. The case begs the question of whether or not a convicted criminal can invoke the state’s Stand Your Ground law as justification for shooting someone.
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The controversial law has been receiving a great deal of attention recently, playing crucial roles in the recent Florida criminal cases first of George Zimmerman and then of Michael Dunn, both of whom fatally shot an individual they claimed posed a legitimate threat to their safety. In those cases, as our Palm Beach and Broward criminal defense attorneys understand, the defendants might have done questionable things prior to the incident, but neither was a convicted felon.

The case to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court is that of 25-year-old Palm Beach resident Brian Bragdon, a convicted felon who shot and killed two people in 2012; Bragdon claims it was in self-defense but the prosecutors disagree. Without a doubt, this ruling -- and the arguments to be made leading up to the decision -- will have a lasting impact on the criminal justice system in the Sunshine State.

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July 10, 2014

Confessions Aren't Always What They Seem

Whenever the media reports that someone allegedly confessed to something, people instantaneously assume that they're guilty. Of course, this seems reasonable at first. Why would somebody say that they committed a crime unless they did?
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As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, based on years of experience, confessions to crimes aren't always what they seem. Unfortunately, they do have consequences; even if somebody later recants their confession, prosecutors use the fact that the suspect confessed as evidence of guilt.

The truth is that people often confess (or are coerced into confessing) due to circumstances beyond their immediate control, regardless of whether or not they committed the crime in question. For this reason, it's vitally important that the general public, and especially the individuals who sit on juries during criminal trials, not confuse an alleged confession as an honest, clearheaded admission of guilt.

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July 8, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott Tours State to Oppose Sentence Leniency Measures

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is up for re-election in November, at which point he will face now-Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist in a battle over the top political position in the Sunshine State. Clearly, the Governor has a lot to deliberate and attend to, but our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense attorneys believe he hasn't devoted enough time to considering changes to existing sentencing laws.
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Gov. Scott is in the midst of touring the state, with campaign stops in cities such as Tampa, Orlando and Miami, in an effort to reaffirm his "stay the course" strategy with regard to the current legal reguirement that prisoners (even non-violent ones) must serve at least 85% of their sentence. Scott promised voters that, if he is re-elected, he will not change his position on the issue.

Scott's position, highlighted by the fact that he vetoed a bill in 2012 that would have cut prison sentences for non-violent offenders and placed them in drug rehabilitation programs, adds fuel to the raging fire that is our broken prison system.

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July 3, 2014

DUI Arrests on July 4th Weekend

As Americans prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, and America's independence, law enforcement departments all over the country gear up for increased numbers of sobriety checkpoints and DUI arrests.
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Our Palm Beach and Broward County DUI defense attorneys know that local police departments have historically ramped-up DUI crackdowns during July 4th, espcially when the holiday falls on a weekend or, as is the case this year, when it creates an extended weekend.

With more drivers on the road and more local bars and restaurants hosting events and offering drink specials, the likelihood of drunk drivers being on the road increases; as such, so does the number of police officers looking to catch them.

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July 2, 2014

Palm Beach Man Acquited of Murder 15 Years Later

Back in 1999, an 18-year-old night manager at Chik-fil-A was murdered while he was on the job at the Palm Beach Mall. Two days ago (15 years after the murder), 32 year-old Jesse Lee Miller, Jr., who had endured three jury trials and more than a decade of accusations, was acquited by a jury of his peers.
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While the acquital is evidence of the cirminal justice system's ability to free a man who is not beyond all reasonable doubts guilty, the fact that it took so long and so many trials to deliver the ultimate result indicates major problems in the courts.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers understand the heartbreak associated with the loss of an innocent life; still, the emotions emanating from such a horrific circumstance do not justify the unconconstitutional, accusatory treatment of another, especially when the case involves faulty evidence and questionable testimony.

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June 30, 2014

Computer Searches: Compelling Evidence?

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that despite Supreme Court rulings that a warrant is needed for law enforcement officers to search your computer, what you type into search engines in the privacy of your home can come back to hurt you in a court of law.
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Over the past few years, we've seen many high-profile criminal cases in which what the defendant allegedly typed into a search engine on their computer was brought up in court as evidence. Recall how, in the Casey Anthony trial of 2011, a search for "chloroform" 84 times on the Anthony family computer raised eyebrows in court -- prosecutors alleged that this was evidence of Casey researching how to kill her baby daughter using chloroform.

Now, a murder investigation into the death of a Georgia toddler -- who died after being left in his father's SUV in the blazing sun for seven hour -- has grown to include searches of the comuter belonging to the father, who is now the suspect in what is being called a "homicide." Police and forensic experts have announced that seemingly suspicious internet searches draw an eerie connection between the interests of the father and the circumstances in which the son died.

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June 27, 2014

Police Left Two Teens in Holding Cell for Days

Americans are entitled to fair treatment by law enforcement officers, and our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that this holds true whether they are interacting with them casually on the street or whether they have been placed under arrest.
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This principle was glaringly violated when two Georgia teenagers were kept in a courthouse holding cell without food, lights or toilet paper over this past weekend.

According to the Daily Caller, the teens, 16 and 17 years old respectively, were left in the holding cell "accidentally" after neither boy's parents showed up.

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June 25, 2014

Supreme Court: Warrant Required for Cell Phone Searches

In a landmark ruling today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police cannot search the cell phones of suspects without first obtaining a warrant. As our criminal defense lawyers know, and as CNN reporter Pamela Brown commented, "this is a big blow to law enforcement and a big win for privacy rights."
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The decision, a much anticipated one, grouped cell phones and other electronic devices in with products such as wallets, handbags and motor vehicles, a category of items "subject to limited initial examination by law enforcement," according to the article.

The importance of the ruling is further highlighted by the fact that the Supreme Court, one which typically rules on cases along strict party lines, issued this ruling unanimously, quashing any doubt about peoples' right to privacy when it comes to their cell phones.

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June 23, 2014

Police Can Use Your "Smart Home" Data Against You

Large tech businesses produce products and services that we rely on each and every day, including smart phones, home security systems, and wireless communications programs. Moreover, these all converge in a relatively new creation by companies such as AT&T, Apple and Google, known as the “Smart Home,” which allows people to turn off the lights, lock the doors and view security camera footage all remotely from their mobile phones.
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Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that while so-called “Smart home” configurations can prove useful and interesting to the people who own them, they can also end up being used against their owners in legal proceedings.

For instance, video security footage is stored on the manufacturing tech company’s servers; once it is on there, regardless of the fact that it reveals intimate details about the inside of your home, law enforcement agencies contact the tech companies and request access to the data (including video footage) that they have.

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June 20, 2014

What Not to Do in Front of a Judge

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that the impression you leave on a judge can have a strong influence on the outcome of your case, for judges often have a great deal of discretion in making judgments about the validity of charges, the stipulations of penalties, etc.
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As one Fort Lauderdale man recently learned, yelling and cursing at a judge can also lead you to be found in contempt of court, for which you can serve jail time. According to the Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale man Christopher Colon was appearing before a Broward judge via videolink after being arrested on a domestic violence charge. When the judge decided to block his release from jail, Colon went on an extended rant that included cursing at the judge twenty times.

In his inappropraite tirade, the 27-year-old man used the "f" word eight times, and then proceeded to tell the judge to perform a sex act on him, demonstrating exactly what not to do when you are in front of a judge. As a result, Colon was found in contempt of court and sentenced to 364 days in jail.

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June 19, 2014

Fortune Telling: Criminal Behavior?

So-called fortune tellers, or "psychics," purport to be able to see the future in ways that the rest of us cannot. They set up shop in cities, suburbs and strip malls, inviting customers to spend some time -- and some money -- to have their futures predicted.
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Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that while this practice might seem logically questionable, it can also lead to illegal behavior.

The relationships that fortune tellers develop with their clients is often a close one; many individuals see fortune tellers multiple times per week, establishing a rapport with their psychic that one might have with a very close family therapist or long-time family doctor. Unfortunately, this relationship often times makes the customer vulnerable to fraud on the part of the psychic.

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