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As our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers reported in November, law enforcement would be on patrol, looking to make as many DUI arrests as possible during the Thanksgiving holiday.

We were right — the Florida Highway Patrol recently released its statistics, which showed a large number of DUI arrests and other traffic citations, numbers which don’t include local law enforcement totals.
And as the December holiday season hits full swing, we again warn drivers not to get trapped in the net of police as they are stepping up patrols this holiday season. Being charged with DUI in Fort Lauderdale not only can introduce a person to the criminal justice system, but can put them on the hook for possible criminal penalties and out-of-court sanctions such as job loss.

That’s why all aspects of the crime — from the initial stop and whether it was lawful to the accuracy of the breath testing and field sobriety testing — must be challenged by a skilled attorney. Otherwise, a person may not get a fair trial.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, troopers made 136 DUI arrests between November 23 and November 27 this year. That number is up from the 121 people who were arrested for the charge in 2010. Troopers statewide actually filed 470 fewer citations in the same time period, however.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that more people were driving under the influence and it certainly doesn’t mean those who were arrested are guilty. It simply means they were arrested.

Police are under enormous pressure, especially this time of year, to make arrests for drunken driving. When DUI-related fatal crashes hit the news, officials and the public sometimes call for answers. Often, the only answer of law enforcement is to run more PR campaigns that include sobriety checkpoints and enforcement blitzes.

And they respond by beefing up patrols. This can end up ensnaring people who are innocent of the charge. This sometimes happens when overzealous police officers stretch the limits of what is probable cause and arrest people who may not be guilty.

It all starts with the traffic stop. Police can’t pull you over unless you have done something wrong and that usually amounts to a traffic violation, such as speeding, running a red light or swerving. But it can also stem from having a tail light out, an improper license plate or an expired tag.

Once an officer makes the stop, he or she can use their training to see if the driver may have been drinking. What they classify as glassy eyes or blood shot eyes and slurred speech can all be used against the driver. Once they make these observations, it’s likely they will arrest the driver for DUI. A breath test, if one is consented to, and field sobriety tests, may be formalities at that point.

So, fighting the charge is the only option. An arrest may be an embarrassing mark, especially during the holidays, but it can be erased with an acquittal, if charges are dropped or a successful plea to a less-serious charge. Simply allowing the state to bowl you over with these charges is never an option.
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Nearly two dozen people were charged with fraud in West Palm Beach recently after authorities alleged they participated in an assisted living facility scam.

Theft charges in West Palm Beach can range from simple petty theft of a candy bar from a convenience store to an orchestrated burglary of a house. It can turn into a white collar crime if there is a concerted plan to steal money from an organization, insurer or business.
All of these charges require the skills and experience of a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer. No defendant, regardless of the charges they face, deserve substandard legal counsel. In fact, the U.S. Constitution requires a defendant have a solid attorney representing them throughout the case.

In this situation, authorities allege that a Little Havana woman was creating fake credentials so that people could get jobs in assisted living facilities throughout South Florida. According to officials, the woman would charge several hundred dollars to people who were interested in getting one of these jobs.

Medical personnel are required to have specific skills in order to work at these facilities and in order to care for the disabled or elderly.

Officials said that an undercover agent approached the woman recently and asked for a health-based credential in order to get a job. The woman charged $200 and said she would be able to get a credential and a job for the agent working with children who had Down Syndrome.

The article by NBC Miami goes on to state that authorities recently shut down an assisted living facility because it was discovered that a majority of the workers had fraudulent and fake work credentials. Along with assisted living facility workers, private bus operators and three people classified as “ringleaders” have been arrested.

While many people have been charged and the general public may believe that these people are guilty, they are innocent until the state proves the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. In this case, that means that the state must have evidence to show that these people aren’t entitled to the credentials they have and that the woman created all of them.

In cases where multiple defendants are arrested, it’s likely the state will attempt to flip some of them to become state’s witnesses. This brings up credibility issues because the state is essentially asking for a person’s word in exchange for their freedom.

In these cases, what they say to police at the time of the crime, during a deposition before trial and on the witness stand must all be compared. Inconsistencies that show they are changing their story to favor the state’s case must be pointed out to the jury. In extreme cases, it’s possible to get those witnesses excluded for their bias.

This is at the heart of the fairness issue of a trial. A defendant must have the right to confront their witnesses, even if those witnesses were previously co-defendants. All aspects of the case must be challenged.
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It’s obvious that a murder charge in Fort Lauderdale is a serious offense. Not only are the allegations that a person has been killed by another, but the consequences could be life in prison or possibly the death penalty in Florida.

That’s why murder must be treated differently. Not only must an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer be hired to defend the client, but prosecutors and judges must keep in mind the rights of the defendant — even more so than in other criminal cases.
This means a statement the defendant gave to police, if he did, should be scrutinized along with the police actions leading up to the conversation. Also, how police collected evidence and what actions they took to find witnesses should also be looked at closely.

In many cases, if a suspect’s constitutional rights are violated, an experienced lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence. If law enforcement acts improperly, such as gaining entrance to a person’s car or house and seizing evidence without probable cause, that evidence can be thrown out of trial.

Or, if at trial, the judge or prosecutor makes comments or takes actions that cause the defendant to suffer bias, it’s possible a new trial can be ordered. That’s what happened in State v. Allen, a Maryland case.

This case stems from an altercation between two friends. Allen was at the house of John Butler one night in 2001. Allen asked Butler to drive him home, but he said no. Allen jingled his keys and threatened to drive himself home, which caused a fight.

In the middle, Allen stabbed Butler repeatedly, took the car and drove off before crashing it soon after. He was arrested and charged with many crimes, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and armed robbery.

During trial, the judge told jurors that they could find him guilty of first-degree felony murder whether he had gone in with the idea to commit an armed robbery or only considered it after the murder. The man was convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, armed robbery and other charges.

First-degree murder in Florida can be charged if the crime was premeditated or if another felony, such as armed robbery, is committed at the same time. The appeals court ruled that robbery can’t be an “afterthought” in a felony murder case and sent it back for re-trial.

During the second trial, the only issue for jurors to consider was whether the man was guilty of first-degree murder. But a judge once again messed up when telling jurors that the man had already been found guilty of the armed robbery and second-degree murder, which paved the way for them to find him guilty of first-degree murder since that element of the crime was established by the judge.

An appeals court again granted a new trial. Judges make mistakes. But the defendant must always receive the benefit of the doubt. The bottom line is the defendant must have a fair trial in a Fort Lauderdale murder case.
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A recent case out of Illinois highlights just how sloppy some police work may be. We bring this up because a situation like this could arise in South Florida, including cases of murder in Fort Lauderdale.

Our Fort Lauderdale murder defense lawyers believe that murder in Florida is a different crime than any other. For one, the allegation is that one person took another person’s life, so the crime itself is heavy. But aside from that, a defendant who is convicted can be sent to prison for life, or worse, put to death.
In Florida, there are two ways to be charged with first-degree murder. The first is the state can attempt to prove that the crime was premeditated, meaning it was planned in advance. The alternative is for the state to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant killed the victim and it was done so while another felony crime, such as a burglary, robbery or sex crime, was being committed. An example would be if a person tried to rob a store and killed a clerk in the process.

In the case of Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park, an Illinois man was charged with murder after a baby died at his house, where he ran a day care.

According to court records, the man had run a day care for five months, but he also had five children of his own, ages 3 to 15. He had several young children in his day care, including an 11-month old. On a September day in 2005, the boy’s mother dropped him off for the third day he had been at the day care. He appeared lethargic and feverish.

Just after arriving, the boy was gasping for air and collapsed. The man performed CPR and other than getting some fluid out of his nose and mouth, was unable to help. The man called 911 and an ambulance arrived and took the child to the hospital.

Police were called in and detectives asked the man and his wife to come to the police station. After being stuck in an interrogation room for 45 minutes, the man asked the officer if he could come back in an hour. The officer said no and told him he was under arrest. Five hours later, officers entered the room and said they wanted to talk with him since they had spoken with others.

The defendant told them he wanted to speak with his lawyer and an officer filled out a waiver of Miranda rights for the man to sign. He then told the defendant he wanted him to sign the waiver, but he could call his lawyer first. The defendant called his lawyer and during the conversation, the officer picked up the phone and spoke to the attorney, who said the defendant would be remaining silent.

The man was permitted to make other calls, asked to leave and was told he couldn’t, then after being told that he couldn’t help himself out unless he talked to police, called his lawyer again and told the attorneys his lawyer “told me to go ahead.” He then spoke with officers for four hours.

The officers told the defendant they had spoken to three doctors who said the man must have shaken the baby to cause the injuries and death. After those apparent lies from police, the defendant admitted to shaking the baby too hard, though he expressed disbelief that he could have caused the child any harm.

The man was charged with aggravated battery of a child, which was amended to first-degree murder days later when the child died from the injuries. The man made bail and in the weeks and months later, the case fell apart. The prosecution found that the officers violated the man’s Miranda rights by questioning him after he had tried to invoke his right to silence. Medical experts found that the boy’s behavior on the date in question could have been caused by blows before that date.

The boy’s mother had a criminal record with violent incidents. She allegedly was known to have beaten the boy and threatened to kill him. The mother was never charged, but charges against the man were dropped about a year later, court records show.

It’s certainly good news the charges were dropped, but the man and his family were put through an awful situation for no good reason than the police did a bad job investigating. An experienced defense lawyer will rarely, if ever, tell a suspect to make a statement to police and will help expose bad facts like these in defending a felony charge.
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The assaults keep coming on Florida’s flawed DUI law, and our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers hope that one day defendants will see major changes to help uphold their rights.

In Naples recently, lawyers argued that the state’s DUI law is unconstitutional because defendants aren’t allowed to have the technology behind breath testing machines that are used statewide.
It’s a legitimate argument. In any other type of case, the defendant is allowed access to all aspects of the evidence against him or her. In murder cases, for instance, the defendant gets all the reports that lab workers generate when they test DNA. They have access to the workers themselves to question them about their tactics. In cases where ballistics are tested to determine if a weapon is consistent with the bullets found at the scene, all of that evidence is made available.

But in a DUI case in Fort Lauderdale, easily the most commonly filed charge in Florida and nationwide, key pieces of evidence aren’t made available to the person whose liberty is on the line.

The breath testing machines used in Florida — the Intoxilyzer 8000 — have been challenged for years. In recent years, DUI defense lawyers have been able to convince judges to order the breathalyzer’s manufacturer to hand over its schematics to lawyers for examination, but the Kentucky company has been slow to respond.

Prosecutors on the state’s west coast have dropped charges in cases where the machines were used by police and deputies because they equipment delivers readings that appear to be unbelievable. In some cases, the amount of breath measured by suspects was more than the combined lung capacity of a normal human being. It’s obvious there are issues, and possibly problems with past cases that were never discovered.

According to The News-Press in Fort Myers, a Naples lawyer recently argued that the law should be thrown out because the law doesn’t allow for defendants to get information on how the breathalyzers work. The machines are used in most DUI cases statewide.

The judge denied the attorney’s motion but ordered the Kentucky company to provide records about the machine. But, the attorney can’t share the information with other lawyers or anyone other than experts in the case.

Other judges statewide have made similar rulings in order to protect trade secrets. Ultimately, this will end up being a waste of time and resources because lawyers statewide can just make similar arguments and before long, every DUI defense lawyer in the state will have the information.

But at least judges are coming around. It’s about time that DUI defendants in Florida have their rights upheld and have access to all the evidence against them. Even if it takes time, it is necessary. These cases are too important to allow the state to have an advantage in sending people to jail or prison.

These are important issues that will likely shape Florida’s DUI law for years to come. These breath tests can be beaten because they are flawed. An experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer will work to ensure all aspects of the state’s case is properly vetted for his or her clients.
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A transgendered person was arrested recently in Miami Gardens for allegedly operating without a medical license, ABC News reports.

This rather unusual criminal case in South Florida involves a 30-year-old man who identifies as a woman. The person was charged with injecting at least one woman with a mixture of cement, Fix-A-Flat tire sealant, and other substances in order to make the woman’s rear-end larger.
Charges of operating medicine without a license in Fort Lauderdale is a felony and can be punished with time in prison. The allegations are serious, so a serious lawyer is needed.

A good Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer must be experienced, and have successfully worked on a number of different cases, from theft to drug crimes, robbery and battery.

These cases can be among the most complex and require not only legitimate witnesses, but also well-documented paperwork that details what is alleged to have occurred. Without proper evidence, as in any criminal case, prosecutors may be forced to drop charges and exonerate the defendant.

In this situation, a woman experienced bad side effects allegedly because of a procedure that was intended to enlarge her behind. She went to the hospital after experiencing serious abdominal pain. She had a wound where the initial injection was placed and soon developed MRSA, contagious staph bacteria that can infect a person’s skin as well as possibly invading other parts of the body. She also was diagnosed with pneumonia.

ABC News reports that even then the woman wasn’t forthcoming with what happened to cause the symptoms. It wasn’t until months later that the suspect was arrested in North Lauderdale. The article highlights several other cases where home-remedy situations have led to injury or death.

In January and February, women in New York City and Philadelphia allegedly injected patients with medications without a license. In Miami last year, a woman was arrested for a similar alleged act.

The Miami Herald reports that a second person was recently arrested in connection with the South Florida case. She allegedly assisted in the operation.

The newspaper reports that the second victim recently came forward alleging that the same person injected her as well. It’s unclear if additional charges have been filed or if police are still investigating the allegations.

While many have laughed at the outrageous allegations and the fact that a person would be willing to go that far for enlarged buttocks, these are serious allegations. In Florida, it can be charged as a third-degree felony.

This level of felony can lead to a person being sent to prison or put on probation for up to five years. It can include fines and fees and possibly other sanctions. When a person is injured as the result of another person’s actions, the penalties can be enhanced.

An experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer should be hired to investigate the situation to ensure the person’s rights are upheld.
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A 23-year-old has been arrested on charges that she allegedly sold the personal information of a person who survived the Holocaust, NBC Miami reports.

Charges of identify theft in Fort Lauderdale have become more and more prevalent as millions of Americans have access to computer networks and the Internet. They can use this access to create identity theft schemes that can steal away millions of dollars.
And South Florida has a bad reputation for these types of white-collar schemes because there are many older citizens who may be vulnerable to these types of crimes. But as Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know, not everyone who is arrested is guilty.

It takes a sophisticated scam to steal money by using Social Security numbers, addresses, names and other information. The average person can’t do it without training and research, and sometimes authorities simply don’t have the evidence to connect a person to the crime.

Criminal charges can stem from stealing credit card numbers, purchasing items with stolen credit cards, applying for loans and outright stealing money.

In this situation, a woman who worked for Jewish Community Services of South Florida in North Miami was arrested after being set up by authorities. As a worker with the organization, the woman had access to the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of 30 people.

An informant had contacted her and offered her $1,000 for some information so that the informant could file fraudulent tax returns. When the woman met the informant and agreed to make the purchase, she was later arrested.

The organization’s officials have said they will cooperate with police and will notify the potentially affected alleged victims to help them take measures to guard their identities.

Years ago, people may have worried about thieves taking their credit cards to rack up charges for which they could later seek reimbursement from the credit card company. Today, if a person’s identity is stolen or his or her personal information is otherwise compromised, it can be used in a way that can damage credit scores and cause financial disaster.

Identity theft charges in Florida can lead not only to serious prison time, but also possible probation and major monetary penalties. A person who is convicted of the charge can be forced to pay back the money that was lost either to the victim or to his or her lending institution. Plus, vehicles and other property purchased with the money allegedly gained from the scheme may also be forfeited.

And authorities are taking a hard-line stance against people charged with these crimes in Florida because of the senior population. It’s important to note that hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is your best chance to fight off the charges.

There are defenses that can be presented and the charges can be beaten. But it takes time and the commitment of a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer who is dedicated to fighting on your behalf.
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