November 19, 2014

South Florida Students Arrested in Massive Tax Fraud Case

One might not ordinarily associate Miami Dade College student accounts with massive identity theft/tax fraud, but recent charges filed against 18 current and former Miami Dade students purport to show that there was a major overlap between the two.
South Florida played host to a scheme in which identity thieves used student educational accounts intended to receive financial aid from the state to file fraudulent (stolen) income tax returns. When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued tax refunds, the student accounts were used as a place to deposit the money.

Our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County criminal defense lawyers know that this is an incredibly complicated case and the legal defense of the students requires shifting the perspective. Instead of viewing these students as hardened criminals, might we be able to see them as victims, taken advantage of by the planners of the scheme?

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November 13, 2014

Miami Woman on Trial for Killing Her Husband's Suspected Murderer

As reported by the Miami Herald, a widow, Janepsy Carballo, is on trial in Miami facing charges of second-degree murder in the shooting death of her late husband's suspected killer.
As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers understand, in April 2008, Ms. Carballo's husband was gunned down on his front lawn, allegedly by two men, one of whom was Ilan Nissim, a business partner of the victim. Following the shooting, police urged Ms. Carballo to get close to Nissim in an effort to garner as many clues as possible.

Then, in May 2008, Ms. Carballo shot Nissim dead when he appeared at her house. Two years later, charges were brought against her, and two years after that her trial is underway. At the core of the case is the debate over whether Ms. Carballo shot and killed Nissim as an act of revenge, which might justify the charges, or whether she shot him out of fear and in self defense, in which case she would likely have been justified in shooting the man.

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November 12, 2014

Responding to a Traffic Ticket or Citation

Traffic tickets can be a true nuisance and a real burden, raising the possibilities of fines and fees, driver's license suspensions, dreaded points, increased insurance rates, etc.
And, as our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers know, you can be issued a traffic ticket and/or citation for any number of a wide range of driving offenses; tickets are not restricted solely to common offenses such as speeding and running red lights.

The penalties for various traffic offenses range from problematic to outright burdensome, and, as our traffic ticket lawyers know, simply deciding to pay the fine and accept the associated penalties is typically not the most strategic approach.

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November 7, 2014

Elderly Florida Man Charged for Feeding Homeless

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that laws against criminal activity exist to protect the public. That said, we also know that some of the laws on the books today actually hurt the public.
Consider the case of Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old South Florida man, who has been charged with a crime for handing out food to the homeless. The charge stems from a new Fort Lauderdale law "banning public food sharing."

Supporters of the law, which has pushed this selfless 90-year-old into the criminal justice system, say that feeding the homeless only feeds the cycle of homelessness. Abbott, on the other hand, believes that by doing what is now labelled a crime, he is simply giving food to the hungry.

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November 4, 2014

Medical Marijuana and Election Day

Chances are, unless you've been hibernating for the last six months, you've heard of the major issues surrounding today's elections. Not only is today a big day because of the U.S. Senate and House seats up for grabs; it is also of particular importance to us here in Florida.
Along with going to the polls to decide between Fmr. Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott (and a few others), Floridians will finally have the opportunity to vote on Amendment No. 2, which, if passed, would make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes in the State of Florida.

As our Palm Beach and Broward County attorneys know, marijuana has many benefits for people with all sorts of diseases and illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

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November 3, 2014

Boynton Officer Accused of Raping Woman While on Duty

Police officers are supposed to enforce the law, to ensure that it is upheld, and to protect the safety and welfare of the public. That's what, among other things, they're paid taxpayer dollars to do. What they are most certainly not paid to do is rape individuals while on duty.
Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that Boynton Beach law enforcement officer Stephen Maiorino has been accused of and charged with raping a 20-year-old woman, at gunpoint, while on official police duty.

When police officers undermine the law in the manner described above, it raises questions about how fit they are to hold other people responsible for breaking the law. What seems so disturbing about this case is that not only is the officer accused of the heinous crime of rape, but he allegedly forcefully raped the woman and used his official status as leverage in committing the crime.

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October 31, 2014

Report Shows Widespread Monitoring of Snail Mail by U.S. Government

In an age of internet- and cell phone-related privacy concerns, it might come as a surprise to learn that the U.S. government still hangs on to a favorite pastime -- spying on regular old snail mail.
According to a recent report, the U.S. government approved roughly 50,000 requests (last year alone) from law enforcement groups around the country as well as its own internal organizations to monitor the mail of American citizens as part of criminal and/or national security cases.

You can password protect your e-mail and social media accounts, but you can't exactly put a lock on a letter that would prevent the government from knowing where it came from, where it's going, or even what it says. The report, while shocking, raises legitimate privacy issues.

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October 24, 2014

ACLU Challenges Miami Sex Offender Law

Miami has among the country's strictest regulations concerning where registered sex offenders can reside. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken issue with some of the laws' implications.
One of the most rigid laws that Miami has adopted is one stating that a sex offender cannot be within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, bus stops, or anywhere else that children might congregate. That makes finding a place to live incredibly difficult -- so difficult, in fact, that some sex offenders have actually become homeless, drifting from one unsafe place to the next.

The ACLU, as our criminal defense lawyers know, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the sex offender laws in place in Miami violate the sex offenders' fundamental right to safety and to maintain a home.

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October 23, 2014

High Crime Rates in Miami-Dade County

According to data recently compiled by information services provided Esri, and as reported by the South Florida Business Journal, you're more likely to live in a high crime area in Miami-Dade County than in any other county in South Florida.
As our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade criminal defense lawyers know, the research company ranked crime rates in 75 zip codes around Miami-Dade County; across the county, the so-called total crime index ranged from 29 all the way up to 513.

This information is certainly important when it comes to deciding where to buy a home, find a job, etc., but could the crime statistics play an unfair role in a criminal case? Might a jury be swayed more easily into regarding someone as a criminal if they happen to reside in a "higher crime" area?

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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.
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.
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.
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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