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Florida_grand_theft.jpgOur Broward County criminal defense attorneys have learned that a Broward County detective was suspended without pay following his arrest on a charge of grand theft. He allegedly took $1,220 seized during a drug bust at a Pompano Beach apartment.

The sheriff’s complaint affidavit states that deputies arrived at the apartment last December after receiving a call from a property manager who’d discovered marijuana plants at the apartment. Deputies found over $2,000 in the pants pocket of one of the tenants when he arrived home. The detective told deputies to leave the money inside the apartment. They counted the money three times while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive.

Later, the detective reportedly refused help from other deputies as he stayed alone in the apartment for unspecific length of time. When the detective and the sergeant later counted the money, they found that over a thousand dollars was missing. According to a sheriff’s investigation, the detective was the only person with access to the money and the opportunity to steal it.

Though the tenants of the apartment were charged with child neglect and one tenant was charged with marijuana possession and drug trafficking, those charges were dropped earlier this year.

Source: Broward sheriff’s detective suspended after his grand theft arrest, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 27, 2010 Continue reading

baby_car.jpgIn Hallendale Beach, a father was sentenced to 20 years in prison after leaving his 9-month-old daughter in a car outside a Florida race track. He returned to find her dead. On the advice of his attorney, he pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter of a child. His sentence of 20 years is the longest sentence handed down for this type of crime anywhere in the country.

The sad reality is that these types of cases are not terribly uncommon. In fact, as of mid-October of this year, 49 children had died this year alone after being left in cars for too long. Eight of those cases were in Florida, and about one-sixth overall occur in this state.

Further, the law is enforced inconsistently across different counties. Some caregivers are never charged, while others, like the 27-year-old father mentioned previously, are sentenced to jail time. Miami-Dade prosecutes every case, while other jurisdictions do not file criminal charges in similar cases. It’s a complicated issue, because in most cases, the parent had no malicious intent. They may be otherwise loving parents who regret that absentminded moment for the rest of their lives.

Source: Babies left in hot cars: Accident or crime?, Miami New Times, October 14, 2010 Continue reading

DNA_orbit_animated_small.gifAlthough a new state late requiring Florida felony suspects to submit DNA samples to police goes into effect next January, it’s unclear whether the law will be enforced due to financial woes. Officials in Palm Beach and Broward County say they are still trying to determine how much the extra DNA collection would cost and where the money will come from.

Currently, Florida collects DNA only after someone is convicted of a felony. But, state officials say, collecting DNA at the time of arrest and including the information in a national database could help identify repeat offenders and prevent future victims of rape, assault, and other felonies. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will oversee DNA collection.

Twenty-three other states have already enacted laws regarding the DNA of felony suspects. However, the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the law in California, because the person has not yet been convicted of a crime and they say DNA should be private.

Source: Advocates in South Florida push to implement new law that takes DNA upon felony arrests, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 12, 2010
DNA image courtesy of Richard Wheeler (Zephyris)
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The widow of a man who was killed by a drunk driver in 2001 has reportedly settled with Outback Steakhouse for an undisclosed amount. The restaurant chain was accused of violating its duty of not knowingly serving alcohol to persons habitually addicted to the use of any and all alcoholic beverages.

The driver who killed the Florida man and seriously injured his friend had apparently been drinking at Outback Steakhouse before the accident. She admitted to alcoholism during her sentencing and is currently imprisoned at Hillsborough Correctional Institution, where she is serving a 14 year sentence for DUI manslaughter. According to lab reports from the night of the accident, her blood-alcohol level was 0.24. The legal limit for adults in Florida is 0.08.

The deceased man’s widow has since moved out of Florida with her daughter.

Source: Widow gets settlement from Outback Steakhouse in DUI manslaughter case, The South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 15, 2010 Continue reading

violent_crime.jpgLast week, state official released new statistics showing a decrease in Florida crime of about 11% during the first half of this year compared to the first half of last year. The Palm Beach Post reported that major crime statistics dropped by more than 11% percent, while in Broward County, authorities noted fewer robberies and aggravated assaults.

However, one unfortunate trend that began last year was that while crime is down overall, homicides related to domestic violence actually rose 6%. Last year, the percentage of homicides linked to domestic or dating violence doubled from the previous year.

According to local leaders in law enforcement, the increase may be due to increased stress and pressure due to the economy.

Source: Crime down first half of 2010, but domestic violence-related homicides rise, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 13, 2010 Continue reading

Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys have learned that the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has chosen not to formally charge a federal prosecutor accused of exposing himself to a minor under the age of 16 due to “insufficient evidence.”

Police arrested the 36-year-old attorney on September 26 after the parents of a young girl accused him of exposing himself to a minor as he left the pool at a riverfront bar. He was reportedly wearing boxer shorts. The lawyer, who has specialized in narcotics and appellate cases, had recently returned from working at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

His attorneys called the arrest form a “fiction” and claimed that their client did not try to elude police officers at the outdoor bar because he was not aware that they were trying to detain him. Florida law prohibits adults from knowingly exposing minors to harmful motion pictures, exhibitions, shows, presentations, or representations.

Source: No state charges for Miami federal prosecutor accused in exposure case, Miami Herald, October 19, 2010 Continue reading

Florida_cyber_crimes.jpgHere in Florida and across the county, the law still lags behind technology in terms of protecting privacy and preventing voyeurism. Because technology moves so quickly, it’s been challenging for laws to keep up. The recent incident at Rutgers University, in which a freshman committed suicide after his roommate and another student allegedly used a webcam to broadcast his sexual activities with another man, demonstrates these unfortunate realities.

The students involved in the Rutgers case have been charged with violation of privacy, which has up to a five-year prison sentence. There may be other charges that could apply to the case as well.

Florida law states that someone who uses a camera to violate another person’s privacy can be charged with video voyeurism, which is a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to a year in jail. However, repeat convictions bump the charges up to a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Source: Rutgers University case highlights how advancing technology can easily be misused, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 4, 2010 Continue reading

A disagreement between an Assistant State Attorney and a Broward Circuit Judge could result in the removal of the judge from all 455 of the prosecutor’s cases. Courtroom tension mounted on September 22, as the judge ordered the prosecutor to “have a seat” at the prosecution table after she reportedly objected to his handling of a defendant’s case.

The defendant was in court for an open plea on charges of cocaine possession, resisting arrest, and habitually driving with a suspended license. Though the judge had agreed to formally convict and sentence him, he hinted that he might withhold the conviction to avoid suspending his license again, since the defendant had received a hardship license for business purposes.

The prosecutor objected and the judge gave her what has been described as a “judicial timeout.” According to the State Attorney’s Office, he also undermined the attorney by drastically reducing the sentences of three other defendants whose cases were being prosecuted by the attorney. The State Attorney’s Office appealed to the Fourth District, which put the case involving the judge and the prosecutor on hold. The office has also requested that the judge remove himself from the lawyer’s other cases, because it is believed that judge lost his neutrality and became an advocate of the defendant.

Source: Broward prosecutors trying to kick judge off 455 cases, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 5, 2010 Continue reading

Florida_hands_free.jpgLast Monday, a new policy when into effect that prohibits on-duty Florida Highway Patrol troopers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Authorities said the goal of the policy is to set a positive example for Florida drivers and keep roadways safe. Although eight states have banned holding a cell phone and talking while driving, Florida does not have such a ban, so the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles considers this policy a proactive approach to the growing problem of distracted drivers.

Florida’s 1,650 troopers may only use cell phones with a hands-free device, allowing them to keep both hands on the steering wheel. Troopers are also required to pull over to program their GPS or use it in voice-activated mode. Here in South Florida, local agencies including Palm Beach and Broward County Sheriff’s Offices are considering similar bans on holding a cell phone while driving.

Though it’s unknown how many fatal car accidents (if any) were caused by troopers using cell phones, the measure has been praised by the DMV.

Source: FHP troopers barred from talking on hand-held cell phones while driving, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 4, 2010 Continue reading

Our Deerfield Beach criminal defense lawyers have learned that South Florida police and firefighters participated in a 30-vehicle parade last month as part of the Pink Heals “Care Enough to Wear Pink” tour. The parade took place on Monday, September 20, and ran along Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield Beach, raising more than $12,000 to promote cancer awareness and support for survivors.

Organized by three Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue, the festivities includes trucks from the Palm Beach County Sheriff, the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, Delray Beach Fire-Rescue, and teams from several other South Florida communities. The trucks uses Pepto-Bismol pink paint and were festooned with hand-written wishes for those fighting cancer and memorials for loved ones.

Source: Pink Heals Cancer Awareness Tour of South Florida, South Florida Sun Sentinel, September 25, 2010 Continue reading

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