It’s not a secret that Florida is a transient state.
As such, it’s not surprising to our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys that there are a large number of individuals in the area with outstanding warrants. In fact, police agencies particularly in South Florida are awash with them. there are roughly 300,000 in Miami-Dade County, another 220,000 in Broward County and another 60,000 in Palm Beach County.
All of that doesn’t include out-of-state warrants, which is what was involved in the arrest of a Fort Lauderdale man wanted in New Jersey.
According to The Sun-Sentinel, the 69-year-old had reportedly eluded authorities for two decades. Apparently, he had been convicted for murder in 1971, served his time and was released under supervision, commonly known as parole.
However, during that time, he was accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child in 1992. He fled, and has been on the run ever since as one of New Jersey’s most-wanted fugitives.
According to various media reports, the man had been homeless for at least the last handful of years, living in a tent in the woods. A tip was called in to authorities after someone became aware that he had been living under an alias for some time.
From his mug shot, he appears much older than his 69 years, likely worn down from a life on the run.
Now, this is a severe case, and of course, not everyone with a warrant is a most-wanted fugitive. But it can feel that way if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering if that officer up the street will figure out who you are and haul you in. It may seem that a bad situation has gotten worse because the more time has gone by, you may fear the more trouble you’ll be in.
However, the best way to handle this – not only to ensure your safety but also the protection of your rights – is to contact a criminal defense lawyer in the jurisdiction where the warrant is active. An attorney can help you determine your next step and how you can surrender peacefully and safely.
One risk you take by not doing this is the possibility of additional charges. This is because if police do catch you off-guard, your first instinct may be to flee or fight back. Ultimately, this rarely works out in your favor, and you only end up creating an even higher uphill battle for yourself.
The other reason this is an important step to take is that if you surrender on your own, it’s possible that police will want to question you immediately. If you haven’t had a chance yet to consult with a defense attorney, you run the risk of saying something that could potentially further hurt your case.
Also, the act of surrendering yourself could result in a judge showing you some mercy when it comes to the sentencing phase of the situation.
A police officer has been arrested amid allegations that he solicited a prostitute in Pompano Beach recently.
Our Pompano Beach defense lawyers understand that this is a serious charge for an officer, particularly given that his arrest was the result of an undercover sting carried out by members of his own agency.
As spelled out in FL Statute 796.07, a first offense is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. That means it’s punishable by up to 60 days in jail, plus fines and other civil penalties.
But with an arrest like this, there is usually a great deal more at stake then simply the possibility of a few days in jail. It’s the embarrassment. It’s the potential implosion that such a revelation could have on your relationships at home. And, as in this case, it’s about what could happen if your employer finds out.
Our Pompano Beach prostitution defense lawyers understand the critical importance of discretion in these cases. Of course, if you are an officer or a high-ranking official, there may be no way to conceal certain details from the media. In those cases, having someone speak to the media for you can be a critical public relations move. The worst thing you can do in an already awful situation is give a statement that could potentially hurt your case – and then have it broadcast or published.
For those who aren’t in law enforcement or serving in public office, these cases can be handled discretely.
Either way, trying to pretend it didn’t happen isn’t going to help anyone. The best thing you can do is secure legal counsel immediately, and answer questions for no one.
In this case, not only is the involved officer under suspension, so is the sergeant who signed off on his arrest report.
The details we have on this case so far are sketchy, with police citing the ongoing internal investigation as a reason for being tight-lipped.
According to The Sun-Sentinel, the 40-year-old deputy reportedly offered $20 to a woman if she would give him oral sex. As it turned out, that woman was actually a colleague of his who was working undercover.
Now we don’t know exactly how the events unfolded after that point, except that the deputy, who had established a 10-year career with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, was not immediately arrested. In fact, he wasn’t taken into custody until four hours later. The location of his arrest is listed as a sports bar and grill in Coral Springs.
Presumably, the suspension of the arresting officer has to do with this point, although we don’t know that yet.
Both have been suspended with pay.
An attorney for the deputy facing charges was quoted as saying that the alleged act appeared to be a cry for help, and implored the department to offer him the option of treatment, rather than termination.
The wife of suspected Trayvon Martin gunman George Zimmerman has been charged with perjury, after a judge determined she lied under oath about how much money was accessible to her husband.
Broward perjury defense lawyers know that with high profile cases such as this, prosecutors and judges may wish to make an example.
There are a number of defenses to this – and you will want to hire a defense attorney, as under FL Statute 837.02, perjury in official proceedings is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Possible defenses include: forgetfulness, not understanding the question or literal truth. We’ll explore those more momentarily. First, let’s examine what happened in the Zimmerman case:
According to The Miami Herald, Shellie Zimmerman was reportedly arrested on one count of perjury after prosecutors say she lied under oath at a bond hearing for her husband, who is accused of gunning down teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford Florida in February. He was not charged for several month, as local police believed his actions were permissible under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. A special prosecutor appointed by the governor later disagreed, and Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, was arrested.
The case has gained national coverage amid claims of blatant racism.
That brings us to the bond hearing in April. At the time, Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was asked whether the couple had any money. She responded that they had none they were aware of.
However, prosecutors later brought forth evidence indicating that Shellie had put away cash in a safe deposit box and had also transferred an estimated $75,000 from her husband’s bank account to her own. After her husband was released from jail, prosecutor’s said, she returned the money to her husband’s bank account.
George Zimmerman, who is already facing a charge of second-degree murder, was not charged with perjury, prosecutors said, because he was never asked directly about the money.
An attorney for Martin’s family said that Shellie Zimmerman’s arrest “sends a strong message” regarding the credibility of some of the witnesses involved.
Jailhouse calls between husband and wife were recorded prior to that April bond hearing. In those calls, she reportedly told her husband that more than $100,000 had been raised for her husband’s defense in an online account. The prosecution contends the two planned to try to hide the money.
Prosecutors say the pair were careful to speak in code when they discussed these matters over the phone.
It was this same conversation that reportedly led the judge in the case to revoke George Zimmerman’s bond.
An attorney for Zimmerman’s wife later said that she had lied out of “fear, mistrust and confusion.”
It’s that last part that may hold the most weight in terms of an actual perjury defense.
One solid defense in perjury cases is that you did not understand the question being asked of you. The burden will be on the prosecution to to prove that the accused person clearly understood the questions but also in the correct context. One challenge to this would be if the question was asked repeatedly and in multiple ways. It’s not clear whether that was the case here.
Those who suffer from infectious diseases shouldn’t be charged with aggravated circumstances in cases of assault, simply by virtue of their illness.
Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys know this was the core issue in People v. Plunkett, which was decided recently in the New York State Court of Appeals.
While this case is out of New York, Florida criminal defense lawyers know aggravated assault charges are often complicated by what authorities claim as “aggravated.”
The facts of the case, as described by Chief Appellate Judge Lippman, are this:
The defendant was convicted in county court of aggravated assault on a peace officer, following his entering a plea of guilty. The evidence was purportedly based on testimony by the officer that he was bitten by the defendant on the finger as the officer tried to make an arrest. The defendant in this case is HIV positive. Additionally, he has an extensive history of psychiatric illness.
The officer in this case had initiated the arrest because the defendant had opened a bag of marijuana in the waiting room of his primary care doctor’s office.
Under normal circumstances, the bite that the officer sustained would garner a charge of assault on a peace officer. However, because the defendant was HIV-positive, he was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer.
Prosecutors contended that the so-called “dangerous instruments” necessary to meet the statutory requirement for the threshold of aggravating circumstances were the defendant’s teeth, particularly by virtue of the fact that he was HIV-positive and HIV is known to cause AIDS, an autoimmune disease that has been known to cause severe illness and death, particularly if untreated.
However, the appellate court, in examining the defendant’s appeal, relied on the case law established in a case known as People v. Owusu. That case determined that a person’s teeth could not be defined as an “instrument” under the law. What’s more, that case held that no individual body part could be construed as a dangerous “instrument,” even if it was used to produce injury.
Now this was an issue the trial court wrestled with as well, although the judge in that case believed that because the defendant was afflicted with the AIDS virus, his saliva in and of itself was a substance capable of causing death or other serious injury. The teen, argued the prosecution, were merely a means to inject that dangerous substance into the police officer’s body.
The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty, but did not waive his right to an appeal.
The appellate court chose to decide the issue purely on the merits of whether that initial charge was appropriate. Although the lower court had held that the saliva itself was a dangerous substance, the appellate court ruled instead that the saliva was a part of one’s person, as defined by earlier case law.
In fact, the court ruled that if it were to deem certain parts of the body as weapons, simply based on their characteristics, it would be weighing cases in which a person’s height, weight and strength relevant to the alleged victim’s would be considered a factor for the severity of the crime. This would result, as they put it, in a sliding scale of criminality in which a larger person could be charged with a greater offense than a smaller person who committed the exact same act. This is a slippery legal slope, and the court rightly recognized it here.
Florida Criminal Lawyers