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Each year, Florida and most of the rest of the states in this great union come out with the Uniform Crime Report. Virtually every year since Billy the Kid was shot in the back, Florida and the rest of the nation have reported a reduction in crime.

Somehow this never translates into a reduced need for law enforcement and prosecutors — but crime is forever going down. The few media outlets who have studied the issue, generally have found questionable reporting tactics used to maximize state and federal grant eligibility. If you get a grant to fight crime, after all, the grantors want to see crime going down before you get your next check.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys note this year is no different. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced this week that crime dropped 6.7 percent last year.

“It’s clear that public safety is a Florida priority,” said Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “I applaud the work of our chiefs, sheriffs and state law enforcement; our partnerships have been instrumental in bringing the crime rate to record lows.”

Murders dropped 2.9 percent, forcible sex offenses were down 3.3 percent, robberies were down 15.6 percent, aggravated assault decreased 8.9 percent, burglary dropped 7 percent, larceny was down 4.4 percent, auto theft was down 17.5 percent and domestic violence was down 2.7 percent.

What they don’t report is that Broward County has one of the 5 lowest clearance rates for major crimes in the state at 20.9 percent. In fact Miami-Dade (18.1 percent) and Palm Beach (21.1 percent) are also among the counties with the lowest clearance rates. In other words, only about 1 in 5 major crimes — murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft — were cleared based on 2009 date (which gives them the benefit of the doubt that not all of 2010 cases have been fully investigated).

Broward County (3.1 percent reduction)
Murder: 63 Forcible Rape: 439 Robbery: 3,137 Aggravated Assault: 4,958 Burglary: 17,354 Larceny: 46,243 Auto Theft: 4,717

Palm Beach County (11.3 percent reduction)
Murder: 83 Forcible Rape: 345 Robbery: 2,018 Aggravated Assault: 4,546 Burglary: 11,534 Larceny: 31,827 Auto Theft: 2,812

Florida’s crime clock looks like this:
-A larceny occurs every 1 minute.

-Burglary occurs every 3 minutes.

-Aggravated Assault occurs every 8 minutes.

-Auto theft occurs every 13 minutes.

-Robbery every 20 minutes.

-Forcible sex offense every 53 minutes.

-A murder every 8 hours and 53 minutes.

-Forcible Rape every 1 & 38 minutes.
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Six current and former law enforcement officers are on trial for mortgage fraud in Fort Lauderdale, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys continue to see a large number of state and federal fraud cases connected to the economic downturn and the collapse of the real estate market. In many cases, mortgage professionals, real estate agents and even attorneys are accused of fraud in connection with real estate investments during the boom years. Having given money to anyone with a pulse during the boom, these same banks are now crying foul and seeking all means of restitution. In many cases, defendants are guilty of nothing more than making bad investments. Or they were caught up in the downturn and financially ruined like so many other struggling South Florida homeowners.

During the two-month trial, prosecutors argued the defendants lied about their incomes and places of residents in order to obtain loans that would have been out of reach of their salaries. The defendants, including four police officers, a former police officer, and an FBI agent, argue they were betrayed by dishonest mortgage brokers who forged signatures and inserted false information into the lending documents.

Charges are pending against two other Plantation police officers as part of a mortgage fraud investigation that alleges one of the defendants coordinated more than $16 million in fraudulent loans on properties in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Federal prosecutors argue the documents were so blatantly fraudulent that there is no way the officers could not have realized something was wrong. They accuse defendants of inflating their income, exaggerating their job titles and of promising to live in homes where they had no intentions of residing.

One of the officers obtained $2.5 million in loans on seven different properties, despite living on a salary of about $55,000 a year.

But the fact remains, many, many people could be charged with inflating or overstating earnings in the age of no-doc or so-called “liar” loans. Had the market not crashed, the officers would have likely turned the real estate, repaid the loans and made a profit. Yet state and federal officials have become increasingly aggressive in filing charges in such cases … as if the banks need the help as the middle-class continues to struggle with the consequences of the recession.
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The owner of an assisted-living facility has been charged with Medicaid fraud in Broward County, the South Florida Business Journal reported.

As our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers reported recently on our Florida Criminal Lawyer Blog, authorities are also looking to crack down on pain clinics and so called pill mills in Broward and elsewhere in South Florida.

In this case, the owner of a Fort Lauderdale assisted living facility was arrested by the Plantation Police Department. She is accused of defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $100,000 by billing the program for individuals who did not reside at the facility. The facility had been licensed to provide for the care of up to six elderly people or disabled adults.

She is charged with one count of grand theft and one count of Medicaid fraud and faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

National reports show South Florida is the epicenter of heath care fraud and pain clinics or so-called pill mills. Gov. Scott recently announced a statewide crackdown on providers, however the governor has refused to back a database that would flag patients who are doctor shopping or otherwise abusing the system. As a result, medical professionals can find themselves facing criminal charges — which can be devastating and even result in the revocation or your professional license.

“The numbers plainly show that Florida has a serious problem that demands a serious, coordinated law enforcement response,” Governor Scott stated. “Florida’s future is threatened by crimes involving drugs, and our local sheriffs and chiefs simply cannot continue to tackle this mounting issue alone.”

Ninety-eight of the top 100 doctors dispensing oxycodone are in Florida, particularly in the Miami, Tampa and Orlando regions. More than 125 million oxycodone pills pass through Florida pharmacies. Florida dispenses more oxycodone than all other states combined.
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Apparently the politicians are learning what most of us have known at least since the advent of the cell phone: The locations of sobriety checkpoints are no secret. What has them up in arms — to the point where four Senators have fired off a letter to the nation’s cell phone makers — is the fact that there is now a cell phone app that will tell you the location of drunk driving roadblocks, according to FOX News.

Our Broward DUI defense lawyers know that sobriety checkpoints have little or no impact on preventing drunk driving. State statistics show that significantly less than 1 percent of drunk driving arrests in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in South Florida are the result of sobriety checkpoints.

Cell phones have been used to spread the word for a generation. In fact, it is safe to say that law enforcement rarely has a checkpoint established but what everyone who needs to avoid it already knows about it. Now Facebook and Twitter are often used to spread the word. The result is frequently car stops involving the unwitting and the unlucky, which typically results in marginal or unfair arrests.

In the bad old days of the 1980s it was just left to the bartenders to shout it out — or the band.

Now Apple’s App Store sells Buzzed for 99 cents. Checkpointer for $4.99 and Tipsy for free. Phantom Alert unveiled a DUI checkpoint feature as far back as 2009. The letter from the senators puts cell phone companies on notice that they are helping motorists to break the law and could be contributing to the risk of drunk driving accidents. The makers of the apps counter that if deterring motorists from driving drunk is the goal of checkpoints, spreading the work helps accomplish that mission.

Motorists charged as a result of a DUI checkpoint should consult an attorney in Broward or Palm Beach right away. Because such roadblocks infringe upon your Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the courts have place strict limitations on the actions of law enforcement. As a result, there are more ways to challenge DUI checkpoint arrests in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere, than there are to challenge a traditional arrest for drunk driving in South Florida.
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A wild car chase sent six people to the hospital, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Car chase charges should always be handled by an experienced defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale. These are complex cases. Passengers in a car involved in a chase can be victims — but are typically treated by authorities as if they had their foot on the gas. This can be particularly problematic when a serious or fatal accident is involved. In cases where law enforcement treats you as a perpetrator of the crime, you can be held responsible for the serious or fatal injuries that result.
And that can mean years or even decades behind bars.

In this case, the three men were arrested in Fort Lauderdale and ordered held without bail. The chase began about 6 p.m. Monday in Pompano Beach when Broward sheriff’s deputies tried to stop a black Nissan SUV. Authorities claim the driver accelerated toward two deputies who were in the street making an unrelated arrest.

This will also be an issue of contention for the defense. Authorities will likely charge the driver with assault with a deadly weapon or aggravated against a law enforcement officer. Intent will need to be established and there is a good chance an experienced defense lawyer will be able to get the charge reduced or dismissed. But it illustrates a common theme in charges that stem from a chase: Law enforcement typically file just about every charge they can dream up. What you are charged with is irrelevant. It’s what you are convicted of that matters.

Police say the men ultimately jumped out of the SUV and jumped into a Dodge Caliber hatchback. That car ultimately crashed into a Hyundai — injuring three adults and three children inside.

The Examiner reports police did indeed charge the driver with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Other charges include resisting arrest, aggravated fleeing in a motor vehicle, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving injury and burglary with battery.

Two of the men were also charged with probation violations.
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A 32-year-old woman has been charged with DUI causing serious bodily injury after she allegedly caused a drunk driving accident that sent a jogger to the hospital in critical condition, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

A Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer must always be consulted whenever a motorist is charged with drunk driving in Broward or Palm Beach counties. But this is never more true than when a serious or fatal accident occurs.

In fact, Florida DUI Law calls for a charge of manslaughter or vehicular homicide in cases in which a victim dies as a result of injuries sustained in an accident with a drunk driver. A defendant can face 15 years in prison — 30 years in cases where a hit-and-run crash is involved.

Too often, any investigation into the cause of the accident ceases when it is determined that a motorist is drunk — or accused of being drunk. If a defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale can prove you were not drunk — or were not responsible for the crash — you should not be convicted of the most serious charges involving a Florida drunk driving crash.

In this case, the 18-year-old jogger was hit shortly after midnight on a Sunday morning in Coconut Grove. The defendant was driving a Jeep north on Virginia Street and had just crossed West Trade Avenue. She reportedly veered right and struck a Toyota Corolla, before striking the victim who was jogging alongside the road.

What might have been a terrible accident involving a runner in the middle of the night is now a criminal investigation that could impact the rest of the defendant’s life. We do not discount the victim — these are always tragic cases. But prosecutors are often too eager to press for lengthy prison sentences and judges are too happy to comply. There are few defendants as unsympathetic as a motorist convicted of killing someone while driving drunk.

Everyone loses.

Hiring an aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best chance to protect your freedom.
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A defendant who faces a fatality hearing in Palm Beach may face the arresting officer but no prosecutor will be present, the The Palm Beach Post reports.

While Miami-Dade and Broward County send prosecutors to such hearings, the Palm Beach County State Attorney has refused to do so. In all cases, a criminal defense lawyer in Palm Beach or Broward should represent the defendant. Significant fines and the loss of your driver’s license may result. In addition, defending yourself may be in your best interest in the event of a wrongful death lawsuit.
The fatality hearings are held in cases where prosecutors have decided no aggravating circumstances — such as drunk driving or speeding — warrant criminal charges in an accident involving death. About 130 such hearings were held last year in Palm Beach County.

While a spokesperson with the Florida Highway Patrol said he saw no reason a trooper could not handle such cases alone, a local judge said an officer’s lack of knowledge about rules of evidence and other legal issues can favor the defense.

“The playing field is ridiculously imbalanced,” said County Court Judge Barry Cohen. “It’s horrible. There should be a prosecutor at every fatality hearing.”

A police officer may also fail to appear. When an officer does appear, he or she may fail to subpoena witnesses or present other evidence. Judges are only able to rule on the amount of evidence presented to them.
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