October 20, 2014

Why Michael Dunn was Found Guilty and Sentenced to Life in Prison

The Florida criminal case of Michael Dunn, who shot at a car full of teenagers and ended up killing one of them back in 2012, attracted media attention in particular for its apparent similarities to the case of George Zimmerman.
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In both cases, a man shot and killed a black teenager in what they claimed to be self defense. George Zimmerman, who was ultimately found not guilty, was able to demonstrate to the jury that he had been involved in a physical altercation with the teenager and thus had reason to believe his life was in danger.

Dunn, on the other hand, fired 10 rounds at a car full of teenagers who refused to turn down the volume of their music. There was no fight, and although Dunn said he feared that the teens had a gun, no gun was ever found. And, as our criminal defense lawyers know, that is just the beginning of what led to Dunn's guilty verdict.

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October 19, 2014

Florida Judge: Red Light Camera Ticket Violated State Law

Our traffic ticket defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that Florida's unpopular, so-called red light cameras are regarded both as a nuisance and an intrusion, and the programs allowing them have had their troubles in the court system.
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Despite court rulings that red light camera tickets had illegally ticketed drivers before the law allowed such ticketing, by last year more than 900 red light cameras had generated over $119 million in tickets.

But what if you knew the tickets are being issued by some out-of-state company? Wouldn't that be a violation of Florida state law? We think so, and apparently, so does Judge Mark Klingensmith of Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeals.

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October 15, 2014

DUI Diversion Programs Grant Second Chances

Our Palm Beach and Broward County DUI defense lawyers know that poor decisions don't always necessitate decades of punishment. While being arrested for DUI could certainly negatively impact your life for years and years, we know that it doesn't have to.
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As we have learned from our experience, among the most meaningful legal strategies in a DUI case involves pursuing a DUI diversion program opportunity, an option that is often available to first-time offenders.

The program allows first-time DUI offenders to complete certain requirements, after which they will be eligible to have their DUI charges reduced or dismissed altogether. For anyone who hopes to move ahead with their life after a bad decision, this is a viable, beneficial option.

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October 9, 2014

An Unusual Yet Serious Crime: Selling Pastries as Crack Cocaine

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that you certainly don't have to be involved in the (actual) high-risk world of drug dealing to be charged with a serious drug crime.
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For example, one man recently tried to sell what he told his prospective buyer was some crack cocaine for $20. In this instance, however, the "crack cocaine" was actually a crushed up breakfast pastry and his buyer was an undercover police officer.

After the seller was arrested and the officers determined that what was sold was not actually crack cocaine, the local prosecutors still decided to charge the man with a drug crime: creating and selling a counterfeit controlled substance.

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October 6, 2014

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Just Another Injustice?

Florida's mandatory minimum gun laws might have initially been proposed and passed as a way to deter gun crimes and punish those who commit them, but as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, they often have unintended, unjust consequences.
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As was highlighted in a national broadcast by CBS this past weekend, the case of Floridian Lee Wollard epitomizes why mandatory minimum sentencing laws are not the crime-preventing tools of justice you might think they are.

Because of these strict rules that don't allow for a judge's discretion, a man is spending 20 years behind bars simply for firing a warning shot in an effort to lawfully protect his family.

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October 3, 2014

Overreactions by Police

If you've been watching, reading or listening to the news recently, you know that overreactions by police are getting a lot of coverage. In California, South Carolina, Florida, and in many other places -- including Ferguson, Missouri -- police are apparently failing to restrain themselves.
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Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that whether or not an individual should be punished is a question left up to the court system, not the judgement call of a police officer in the heat of the moment.

It is because of hasty decisions made by officers in the line of duty that too many innocent people end up beaten, shot and killed.

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September 29, 2014

Texting and Driving in Florida

Texting and driving gets a lot of attention around the country, particularly as a cause of far too many auto accidents and related injuries.
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In Florida, it is a violation of s. 316.305 of the Florida State Statutes to text while driving, although, as our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers know, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Knowing that there are exceptions to the rule does not mean that texting and driving is safe; doing is makes you 23 times more likely to crash your car than you would otherwise be. Still, knowing the specifics of the relevant law can make you more able to assert your rights should you ever have to.

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September 25, 2014

Teenagers and Drug Sales: What's the Takeaway?

Hearing that a 17-year-old was caught selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer might cause one to jump to the conclusion that this individual should spend years in prison. But looking more closely at the situation will show you that it's just not that simple.
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To begin with, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, this boy is hardly a hardened criminal. To put things in perspective, at 17-years-old, he isn't old enough to vote and his brain won't be fully developed for at least another 7 or 8 years.

So, what do we make of the fact that this boy was caught selling drugs and allegedly robbing someone he thought was a drug dealer? Our years of experience in criminal defense law have taught us that children far too often get tied up in the world of drug running and that remedying this problem takes education and treatment, not strict jail time and harsh sentencing, which only make the problem worse.

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September 22, 2014

Children in Hot Cars in Florida

Over these past few summer months, as temperatures not only in South Florida but also around the country have been soaring, the offense of leaving one's child in a hot car has been getting a lot of attention.
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From a Georgia man being charged with murder in his son's "hot car" death, to a woman being arrested for leaving her children in a car when she went into a building for a job interview, people all around the country have been opining about what should be done to stop this crime and what should be done to those by whom it is committed.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that this issue receives a bit of a twist in South Florida, where temperatures can be scorching year-round, meaning anytime a child is left in a car (even for a few seconds) the parent or caretaker could theoretically be charged with child neglect.

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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.
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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.
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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?
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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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