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Florida_handgun.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense attorneys have learned that on Monday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states and cities must allow citizens their Second Amendment rights. The 5-4 decision states that the right to have a handgun for self-defense “applies equally to the federal government and the states.”

During the 19th century, courts had ruled that the Amendment only applied to federal gun laws and should not impact local or state gun laws. That ruling has been overturned by this more recent decision, which legal experts say will no doubt lead to more firearms lawsuits.

In most states, residents (with the exception of those with a felony record or a history of mental illness) can possess a rifle or shotgun without a permit. But seven states forbid assault weapons or semi-automatic weapons. After the Supreme Court ruling, these restrictions may be challenged. We’ll be interested in seeing how the firearms laws impact South Florida.

Source: Supreme Court extends 2nd Amendment protection to state, local levels, South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 29, 2010 Continue reading

truck_Florida.jpgFile this under totally ineffective DUI defenses: A Florida truck driver arrested for DUI claims he drank a few beers to stay awake. Police apprehended the trucker on Interstate 75 near Gainesville after they noticed his tractor trailer swerving around the lane.

Two other drivers had already called the Florida Highway Patrol saying that a semi had almost forced them off the road. The 51-year-old truck driver’s blood-alcohol level was reportedly at .127. Florida’s legal limit is .08. He has been charged with two counts of DUI.

Our advice? Next time, consult a DUI attorney.

Source: D.U.Idiot: Trucker Drank Beer to Stay Awake, NBC Miami, June 17, 2010 Continue reading

pot_plants.jpgAttorneys at our Florida law firm have learned that the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy is organizing a drive to pass a proposed amendment about marijuana possession in Miami Beach. If passed, the amendment would make personal possession of marijuana a civil code violation punishable by a city-levied fine of $100.

According to Florida law, possession of less than 20 grams of pot is a misdemeanor. The current maximum sentence for possessing small quantities of pot is a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy has already succeeded in passing a similar ballot initiative in Massachusetts in 2008. Legal experts point out that even if Florida voters pass the pot initiative, it could get shot down at the state or federal level.

Source: Campaign under way to decriminalize marijuana in Miami Beach, Miami Herald, June 17, 2010 Continue reading

Florida_cruise.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense attorneys have learned that an ex-Royal Caribbean employee is charged with robbing the homes of almost two dozen South Florida residents while they were sailing aboard cruise ships. The 38-year-old women was arrested on burglary charges earlier this month and is being held on $70,000 bail.

According to Palm Beach County detectives, the former vacation planner gained access to traveler’s information when she was working at the cruise company’s Miramar offices. Authorities believe that she and her husband began robbing Royal Caribbean customers In 2009. The husband is also charged in this case and was being held at a Broward County jail on unrelated charges.

Royal Caribbean said it would not tolerate criminal activity, so the employee has been let go.

Source: Ex-Royal Caribbean employee accused of robberies, BusinessWeek.com, June 11, 2010 Continue reading

With an important election looming in August, a columnist for the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that Broward County judges are unusually testy. In recent years, Broward judges have jailed a court stenographer, a juror, and a defense attorney for contempt of court.

Perhaps it’s best not to test their patience, as one defendant did. During a recent hearing, this defendant reportedly made a crude remark to a Broward judge, who also happens to be running for circuit judge. The judge sentenced the defendant to 179 days in prison for contempt, and the defendant repeated the inappropriate remark.

Another defendant was sentenced to 120 days for contempt last December, but the judge reduced the sentence reportedly “in the spirit of the holidays.” These incidents all illustrate the importance of taking a court appearance seriously. Judges, especially those facing a difficult election, do not take kindly to vulgar remarks, disrespectful conduct, or inappropriate attire.

Source: The idiots’ guide to navigating Broward court, South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 2, 2010 Continue reading

labrador_death_row.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense lawyers have learned about a case involving a 9-year-old Labrador mix named Gigi who faces the death penalty for fatally biting another dog. The confrontation occurred in Weston on May 1. Broward County’s “one bit and you’re out” policy for dogs means that Gigi could be euthanized by lethal injection.

Gigi’s owner, an attorney, paid $500 to file an appeal. The owners of the dog was killed are pushing for the death penalty, since they’ve heard from other people that Gigi has had other run-ins involving smaller dogs. Her owner denies any violent history, saying he’d gladly keep her muzzled while outdoors if she were given a second chance.

Broward’s “dangerous dog” ordinance went into law two years ago, and it’s controversial, because it’s so much stricter than Florida state law, which allows two fatal attacks on animals before mandating euthanasia. The ordinance was upheld by a Broward Circuit judge and challenged by a ruling through an appeals court in West Palm Beach. Gigi remains in the custody of animal control.

Source: Does dog deserve death penalty for fatal bite?, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 12, 2010 Continue reading

money.jpgHere in Florida, a controversial program allows first-time DUI offenders to avoid jail time or even facing trial. Through the diversion program, offenders pay for and attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim impact class and donate between $500 and $1,000 to MADD or the Victim Service Center. Since 2005, MADD Central Florida has collected more than $250,000 through this program.

A study of first-time DUI offenders in Florida showed that those who were convicted are three times more likely to drive drunk again than those given diversion. Another reason that the state offers this program is that it helps prosecutors focus on other more serious crimes.

However, some of the victim’s parents worry that offenders are getting off too easy.

Source: Diversion Program Angers Drunken Driving Victims, WESH.com, May 18, 2010 Continue reading

Florida_jail.jpgOur Broward County defense lawyers have learned that the Broward County sheriff has decide to close a 544-bed tower at a Pompano Beach detention facility. In addition, 327 jail deputies will be laid off or demoted in order to save money. This controversial decision comes after a court order that jails may not exceed their designated capacity. Between 1986 and 1992, the county ran up $1.8 million in fines for overcrowding its jails.

Although Broward County once planned to build a new jail building, those plans have been tabled. This is the fourth consecutive year in which Broward County has decreased the number of jail beds. Although the Broward Sheriff says he doesn’t want to lower the bed count, budget cuts have forced him to do so. In fact, he estimates that there are already 19,000 suspects or convicts in Broward monitoring programs.

If the overcrowding problem continues in Broward County, the federal court could order the release of inmates with up to third-degree felonies, a fact that has many people concerned.

Source: Broward closing jail space; will suspects be released?, South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 1, 2010 Continue reading

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, 14 drivers were apprehended over the weekend for alleged DUI. The crackdown was part of “Staying Alive in 95 & Florida’s Roadways,” which began Friday night around 5pm and ran through 3pm on Saturday.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office released a statement this morning saying that sheriffs deputies wrote a total of 843 traffic citations. Forty of them were criminal. One driver was even found to be driving under zero tolerance, according to the statement.

Sheriff’s offices in Miami-Dade and Broward counties had similar operations over the weekend as well.

Sources: Sheriff’s office weekend traffic patrol nets 14 DUIs, Palm Beach Post, June 7, 2010
Increased law enforcement patrols planned for South Florida roads this weekend, South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 4, 2010 Continue reading

Screen%20shot%202010-05-31%20at%204.32.13%20PM.jpegOur South Florida lawyers have learned that the Palm Beach County’s Clerk and Comptroller’s Office is instituting a new system for credit card processing of speeding tickets, marriage licenses, and other items. It used to be that residents paid a $5 convenience fee for paying with a credit card online. Paying in person at the clerk’s office involved no such fee, even if the resident uses a debit or credit card.

Under the new system, those paying with a credit card will be assessed a 3.5% processing fee collected by MyFloridaCounty.com. That means that tax-payers will no longer shoulder the burden of covering credit card transaction fees.

Officials in Broward County said they considered the 3.5% processing fee, but decided to stick with their current system of charging a $5 convenience fee for credit card online transactions.

Source: Palm Beach County switches to 3.5 percent credit card processing fee, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 24, 2010 Continue reading

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