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A 23-year-old truck driver from Hollywood is charged with grand theft auto after allegedly stealing a car that hadn’t violated any traffic laws, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Grand theft auto in Fort Lauderdale is a felony and can be punishable by serious time in prison. That’s why it is crucial to consult with a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer before making any statements to police or conceding to any searches of your property.
In this case, the tow truck driver is accused of stealing a car from private property on Northwest 15th Street and taking it to be crushed. According to police, the tow truck driver obtained the vehicle from someone other than the owner and didn’t get the person’s thumb print on a derelict motor vehicle certificate, which is required by state law.

The tow truck driver allegedly took the vehicle to an impound lot, where it was completely crushed. She is charged with grand theft auto, knowingly inducing another to sign a vehicle title and receiving a derelict vehicle without proper paperwork.

She is being held in the Broward County Jail because she has a probation violation on a previous charge of fraudulently obtaining property in another jurisdiction.

This case offers some important lessons to the public. For one, grand theft auto is a serious charge that can result in years in prison. Under Florida law, the amount of possible punishment is determined by the value of the vehicle stolen. According to Florida Statutes 812.014, grand theft is punishable by anywhere from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony. That’s a range of 5 to 30 years.

In this case, the vehicle stolen is a 1992 Ford Escort, so it’s unlikely that the charge will be more than a third-degree felony. But still, that charge can put someone in prison for five years. That kind of charge can ruin a person’s career and reputation and cause many problems in the future.

Second, violation of probation in Fort Lauderdale can have lasting effects. Some defendants believe that getting out of jail time and getting a probation sentence is a walk in the park. But it’s not. Probation officers are paid to hound defendants and make sure they are abiding by every condition of their probation sentence.

Any minor slip-up means the defendant can be right back in front of a judge who might have given them a break with a probation sentence, which typically doesn’t make judges happy. They can sometimes revoke the probation sentence and send a person to prison for the full term of probation. For instance, if a person is sentenced to five years on probation in lieu of prison for a grand theft auto charge but fails a drug test, doesn’t report on time or commits a number of the many conditions of probation, a judge could send that person to prison for five years and revoke the probation sentence.

That’s why making sure your case is properly defended, which sometimes means getting charges tossed out or winning at trial. If not, it means getting the best resolution possible, which sometimes means striking a plea deal that works for the defendant and the state. But this charge carries tough penalties and has to be taken seriously.
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A Broward County judge recently ruled that police aren’t allowed to issue citations for running a red light because they carry a steeper penalty than citations issued by getting caught by a camera, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

This is welcome news for those who have been the victim of the unbalanced and unfair practices in Fort Lauderdale regarding red-light camera tickets. Fort Lauderdale Traffic Defense Lawyers have done a substantial amount of work fighting for the rights of drivers accused of violations through “Big Borther” methods such as traffic cameras. Fighting Broward County traffic tickets is important because not only can they cost a driver in fines and fees, but also can tack on points to a person’s driver’s license, which could lead to a suspension.

As we reported earlier this year on our Florida Criminal Lawyer Blog, we have succeeded in getting many of these camera tickets dismissed.

The Broward County judge ruled that because red-light camera tickets cost $158, while officer-issued tickets cost $260 and impose points on a person’s driver’s license, the practice violates the equal protection provisions of the United States Constitution and Florida Constitution. This ruling will likely set precedent for judges dealing with other citations throughout Broward County.

The Attorney General’s Office will appeal the ruling. But while the state argues equal protection doesn’t apply in this situation, it’s possible either red light camera tickets or tickets written by officers will go by the wayside if the Florida Supreme Court eventually gets involved. It’s equally possible that the penalties for red-light violators caught on camera will increase to those that accompany a ticket issued by an officer.

In Florida, red light violations are governed by specific details regarding whether a light is “run” or not. Sometimes, this can be defended simply by the officer mistakenly believing the light was red or not correctly judging where in the intersection the vehicle was when the light turned red.

Governments in recent years have turned to red-light cameras as a wave of the future approach to fighting traffic violations. In many cities throughout Florida, the cameras simply show traffic in real-time, while others record road intersections. Some are designed to cite traffic violators. As the government becomes more intrusive, it is more and more important to make sure you are well represented.

Don’t just pay a fine if you get a ticket. Consult with an experienced law firm that can help you decide whether the ticket is worth fighting. Adding points to your driver’s license can hike up your insurance rates as well as lead to a license suspension. Plus, the tickets are very costly. Speak first with Fort Lauderdale Traffic Defense Lawyers before doing anything.
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A new study by University of Florida researchers shows that shoplifters nationwide take about $11.6 billion a year in merchandise, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Security companies and retail shops alike have been conducting more and more studies about shoplifting, bringing the crime into the spotlight in South Florida. This means that police and prosecutors may very well be more apt to seek tough penalties against West Palm Beach shoplifting suspects. West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers are sometimes able to beat shoplifting charges based on faulty evidence or get charges reduced so that defendants don’t have to spend time in jail. We pride ourselves on providing aggressive defense for our clients and protecting your rights.

The news article cited some examples of shoppers taking liquor, expensive underwear and shoes that were likely re-sold for profit. And the National Retail Federation says retailers pass on the costs of shoplifting to consumers.

In 2010, Broward and Palm Beach counties reported a total of more than 83,000 incidents of larceny, which includes shoplifting and fraud. It’s down from 2009, but up from the 2005 to 2008 averages. Some attribute the high number to the slumping economy and the ease of selling stolen items online.

And while some people believe that shoplifting is a minor crime that the criminal justice system takes lightly, those convicted can face significant consequences, depending on the amount stolen. In Florida, stealing between $!00 and $300 in merchandise is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. But anything above that but under $5,000 in value is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Once someone steals more than $5,000 in goods, prosecutors can punish them with a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

And repeat misdemeanor offenders can have a third offense bumped to a felony. Stores determine whether to press charges and sometimes they don’t. But a recent retail survey by the National Retail Federation reports that 95 percent said they were victimized by organized criminals.

Companies don’t like to be victimized and while some may decide that they don’t want to go through the process of filling out a police report, some will. And they will use their surveillance cameras and witness testimony to try to nail a suspect.

That’s why if you are arrested and charged with this type of crime, you should immediately consult an experienced attorney. Being able to fight video surveillance and possible suppress it as evidence in a trial could be key to proving a defendant not guilty of the charges.

The most important thing is not to give a statement to police if you are charged with a crime. Trying to talk your way out of an arrest only gives law enforcement and the state more ammunition in proving you guilty. Consult with West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers in order to protect your rights.
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Five Fort Lauderdale men have been charged with participating in a burglary ring that extends from Florida through Georgia and into South Carolina, ABC News reports.

Fort Lauderdale Burglary Defense Lawyers have decades of experience as state prosecutors, so we know how the state attorney thinks and how they will work to obtain a conviction against our clients. That’s why we have the experience to defend Fort Lauderdale burglary cases and other charges that the state brings against defendants every day.

According to the news reports, the five men — ages 23 to 34 — targeted liquor stores, cell phone stores, electronics stores and retail outlets in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the men committed more than 250 burglaries, stealing alcohol, cell phones, televisions and other electronics worth more than $1 million.

Authorities said the men stole in 18 different Florida counties and they expect to make more arrests.

Large-scale investigations that agents take on like this can be very complex, with thousands of pages of documentation and discovery information to analyze and study. These types of cases typically take a long time to resolve and hiring the right attorney can make all the difference for the defendant.

Sometimes, successfully negotiating a plea deal can mean keeping a charge like burglary off a person’s criminal history record. Less serious charges from burglary, such as possession of stolen goods or trespassing, could help reduce the consequences of a conviction. Lesser charges could mean less severe consequences in the event you are charged again in the future.

But it sometimes takes a full-court press defense and preparation for trial to get the best possible outcome in these cases. Burglary in Fort Lauderdale (Florida Statute 810.02) is punishable all the way from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. So, beating that charge and getting a jury to acquit may be the best strategy.

If someone uses a weapon and enters an occupied building, they can go to prison for life. If no weapon is used, but someone is in the building, they can face up to 15 years. Simply committing a burglary where there are no people involved can put a person in prison for five years. And most defendants aren’t charged with one count of burglary. Five counts of stealing from a home or business means a possible 25-year sentence.

So, how important is it to consult with a team of attorneys who are on the cutting edge of defense tactics in South Florida? Don’t do anything before you talk with Fort Lauderdale Burglary Lawyers. Call today.
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IA Miami police officer was arrested recently by the FBI and charged with carrying cocaine and marijuana he seized from a dealer during a bust last year, The Miami Herald reports.

The story shows that anyone can get caught up in a bad drug possession charge in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in South Florida. If a police officer, sworn to uphold the law, can be charged, so can anyone else. That’s why Fort Lauderdale Defense Attorneys, former prosecutors who understand how the state prosecutes cases, have spent years defending people who deserve a second chance.
According to the newspaper, the six-year police veteran who worked in the department’s crime suppression unit, was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. According to the story, the officer kept the drugs in his police cruiser and used drugs and cash seized during a raid to pay off confidential informants.

Florida law has many drug possession charges on the books, so the specific details of a defendant’s case is the only way to know for sure what kind of punishment they may face. Depending on the weight of the drugs, the type of drugs and whether the person may be carrying a weapon when they were arrested are all potential factors in how the state pursues the case.

The type of drug can determine whether a defendant is charged with a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison or a misdemeanor, which can put someone in jail for up to a year.

The weight of the drug will determine whether a person is charged simply with possession of the drug or possession with intent to distribute, which can enhance the sentence. Drug trafficking in Florida (Florida Statutes 893.135) allows for a charge of a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

The penalties alone, not withstanding the potential for someone’s career and reputation to be ruined, are reasons to seek an experienced law firm of attorneys who are skilled at fighting these types of charges.

In cases where confidential informants are used, it’s possible that an entrapment defense can be used. Sometimes, the use of informants require defense attorneys to spend a lot of time questioning the credibility of the informant, who is usually a drug dealer turned witness. These people can’t typically be trusted.

Police officers sometimes bungle evidence or violate a person’s rights in the midst of a drug investigation. All of these factors are possibilities to get the charges dropped. So, if you are arrested for a drug charge, don’t speak with police until you have contacted Fort Lauderdale Defense Lawyers so your rights are preserved.
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Florida lawmakers recently passed into law a measure that will allow judges to keep criminal suspects in custody up to 10 days prior to them making a first appearance if they have a prior felony conviction, The News-Press reports.

This is another measure by lawmakers to try to gain support from the voters and show they are “tough on crime.” What this law does is punishes people who haven’t been convicted of the crime for which they were arrested. If you or a loved one faces a probation violation charge in Fort Lauderdale, trust a law firm of former prosecutors who know the criminal justice system well.

The Officer Andrew Widman Act was signed into law recently by Gov. Rick Scott. The legislation is named after a Fort Myers police officer who was fatally shot while trying to break up a domestic disturbance.

The suspect, who was fatally shot by responding officers, was a convicted felon who had been arrested weeks earlier on drug charges, a violation of his probation. When the man appeared in a Lee County courtroom weeks earlier, authorities hadn’t checked to see if he had out-of-county warrants, which he did, out of Collier County, to the south.

Starting on July 1, judges will now be able to hold in custody for 10 days suspects who have a prior felony conviction if the new charge violates a term of probation. They can be held until a judge issues an expedited violation of probation order prior to the suspect making a first appearance on the violation of probation charge. Judges can now also issue an arrest warrant if a felon violates probation, the newspaper reports.

Seventeen law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in Florida since 2008, including six this year. All six were slain by convicted felons, the newspaper says.

While many will cheer this new law as a victory for keeping the community safe, it may allow judges to make unfair assumptions about suspects who have not yet been convicted of additional crimes. West Palm Beach probation violation laws have already established the process for people arrested on a subsequent violation.

What this new law does is makes a person, including non-violent offenders, eligible to stay in a county jail for up to 10 days where normally they likely would have been able to remain out of custody on bail.

A violation of probation can sometimes be punishable by as many years as the original conviction, so hiring an attorney early in the process is critical. Being represented during a first appearance and not saying anything in public that could be used against you can help assure that a defendant has a beneficial resolution to the case.
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Police recently arrested four young adults for allegedly burglarizing cars in Boca Raton city parks after pulling a vehicle over near one of the parks, The Palm Beach Post reports.

In cases of car burglaries, it is often difficult for law enforcement to prove unless the suspect is caught in the act. Fort Lauderdale theft lawyers have years of experience dealing with burglaries and will pull out all the stops in defense of your case.

In this case, police received reports of vehicles being broken into at certain public parks. On patrol, officers pulled over a vehicle occupied by three men and a girl, according to the news report. Officers said they smelled marijuana and found broken glass on the floorboards and a tool used to break windows.

The newspaper reports that two of the suspects told police they were looking for vehicles to burglarize at city parks and at Florida Atlantic University and admitted to breaking into several cars, describing some of the stolen items. They are charged with theft (812.014), burglary (810.02), possession of burglary tools (810.06) and possession of marijuana (893.13).

What this case may come down to is whether police had probable cause to make the traffic stop in the first place. Probable cause is the standard law enforcement must abide by in pulling over vehicles and making arrests. In order for the evidence they found to stand in court, the stop must be lawful.

This is an area where law enforcement officers are often criticized for racial profiling. If they have no reason to pull over a vehicle other than they believe the occupants look “suspicious,” it’s possible they had no reason to pull over the vehicle in the first place.

The obvious flaw for several of the suspects is talking to police. Many times defendants, especially young defendants, try to explain their way out of a crime. While it may make the person feel better to tell what they did, it makes their case much more difficult. And while most people are taught to trust police growing up, that advice can be thrown out the window when someone is being investigated by police. They are legally allowed to lie to suspects to try to get a confession.

The best bet for a suspect is to remain silent and speak with a qualified attorney immediately. Fort Lauderdale burglary charges are serious and if police are able to link a suspect to several cases, the charges can add years to a potential prison sentence. At the minimum, a single burglary conviction can put a person in prison for five years if there is no violence, weapons or past criminal charges. From there, the penalties only increase.
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