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A 37-year-old man was arrested in connection with the January 18 theft of a $6,500 watch from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, CBS News is reporting.

Theft charges in Fort Lauderdale typically aren’t slap-on-the-wrist offenses. In fact, grand theft in Florida is punishable as a felony. Prosecutors can charge someone either with a first-degree, second-degree or third-degree felony.
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That means that the possible prison sentence for a conviction can range from up to five years, to up to 15 years or up to 30 years or more. These are serious penalties for a charge of theft without any violence. As Florida Statutes 812.014 points out, grand theft charges depend on many factors.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers realize that police officers will attempt to file the most damaging charge they can against a suspect, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can prove it. When talking about theft charges, one must consider the value of the product.

According to the law, these charges hinge heavily on what the stolen goods are worth. If the stolen property is worth less, the suspect may face the third-degree felony version of grand theft. If it is high-dollar, the person could be looking at a first-degree felony.

But proving the value is a whole other thing. If the goods stolen are brand new, that’s one thing. But if they are used, in poor shape or have been affected by outside factors that could impact the value, which in turn could impact the charge.

And since determining the value is critical in cases like these, this could be a point of contention. Prosecutors must be able to clearly show how much a piece of stolen property is worth in order to prove the charge they are filing. If they can’t prove it, the person should be acquitted.

In this case, according to the news report, the man was caught on video surveillance at the airport last month. On the video, it shows a man walking through a security checkpoint and putting back on his shoes and other things.

As he’s putting things in his pockets and a laptop back into his bag, he looks down and sees a watch that is in the bin in front of his. He grabs the watch, puts it in his backpack and walks away. Earlier news reports stated that after the man walked away from the checkpoint, authorities were no longer able to capture him on camera.

The CBS News report states that sheriff’s deputies looking through hours of video surveillance attempting to find the man’s image on tape. They said they were able to confirm the man’s identity as a 37-year-old who lives in Sunny Isles. They told the news media the man also lives on Long Island.

Detectives went to several houses the man owns and when he opened the door, he alleged was wearing the watch on his wrist. Detectives arrested him and charged him with grand theft.
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Almost everyone accused of a crime in Fort Lauderdale or Broward County must make some sort of appearance at the courthouse building on the downtown riverfront.

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This wouldn’t be different from any other city or county in South Florida, except the Broward County courthouse is aging, decrepit and overrun with pests, according to recent reports by the New Broward courthouse still not off the ground, By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel

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West Palm Beach police recently arrested a Lake Worth man and charged him with assaulting an officer during a nightclub brawl, The Palm Beach Post is reporting.

Charges of battery on a law enforcement officer in West Palm Beach are more serious than regular battery simply because of the victim. When an everyday citizen is injured in an attack, the charges are less serious for the defendant.
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Lawmakers have attempted to protect law enforcement officers by increasing penalties against people who would consider an attack. West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers understand the motivation behind this move, but it still places law enforcement officers above the citizens they serve. All victims should have the same value in the eyes of the law. But they don’t.

Another issue in cases like these is finding unbiased jurors. When a police officer is introduced as the victim in a case, jurors may not be able to properly do their jobs. While prospective jurors who are related to officers or who have friends who are officers can easily get weeded out of a jury, other people may be more difficult to screen.

Some people just have grown up believing that officers should have more credibility as witnesses, that their words are more powerful and trustworthy. Some citizens believe that law enforcement officers should get extra rights or more protection than other people. And while those are fine beliefs to have, that may not make them good jurors — especially when the alleged victim is a cop.

In this case, according to the news report, the 23-year-old is now facing charges of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence and aggravated battery. He is accused of beating an officer who was trying to break up a fight at a night club. He allegedly punched the officer with a “tool” from his key chain.

When officers arrived, they allegedly found the man and his fiancee fighting. The suspect struggled with officers and allegedly punched one in the face. Two officers and a bouncer got the man out of the club. Outside, an officer tried to fire a Taser at the man, but missed. Officers then chased him into an alley and arrested him.

Florida Statutes 784.07 defines aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. It spells out who can be considered a victim under the law and lays out the possible penalties. A person who is convicted faces at least three years in prison. If a weapon is used, penalties could be tougher.

Aggravated battery is knowingly causing great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement to a person. If a person is battered with a weapon, that also qualifies under this law. A person charged with this crime can face a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years behind bars.

These are serious charges that are enhanced by the identity of the victim in this case. It is important to be properly represented if you are facing a criminal charge. The more serious the charge, the more important. Every defendant should have their day in court.
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A 25-year-old Boca Raton woman now faces a charge of inciting a riot in Pompano Beach after a bawl at a bowling alley, the Sun Sentinel is reporting.

The newspaper states that the woman was jailed after 20 to 30 people began fighting at the bowling alley. Inciting a riot, under Florida Statutes 870.01, can be punished either as a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony.
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According to the law, an affray is essentially a fight in a public area. Officers can charge someone with a first-degree misdemeanor in that case. A riot, however, is the more serious charge. That is encouraging or inciting a large-scale fight or disturbance in a public place.

In either situation, the defendant will need an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer. Any charge, whether misdemeanor or felony, requires legal counsel because they can have serious consequences.

While it’s true that a misdemeanor carries lower penalties, that doesn’t mean a conviction won’t end up hurting a person’s career or ruining relationships. Avoiding a conviction can help a person repair their image and reputation, as well.

Jail or prison time is a possibility any time there is a felony charge, so it’s something all suspects facing these type of charges need to keep in mind.

According to the newspaper, the woman was at a bowling alley on North Federal Highway. Two large groups were bowling, with one of the groups acting more boisterously than the other. Members of the louder group had been drinking and were using obscene gestures in a joking manner.

The other group, however, included children and took offense to the antics. When they asked the other group to stop, an argument started.

The woman who was later arrested allegedly threw two full drink glasses at a woman in the other group and then allegedly threw a punch and chair at the woman. A sheriff’s deputy reported seeing some of the actions when he first arrived at the alley in response to a 911 call.

The woman was arrested and charged with encouraging others to start in the fight. Another person was charged with refusing to leave the scene of the crime.

From what’s printed in the news article, it’s unclear what proof the sheriff’s deputy had to charge the woman with inciting a riot. It’s also not clear what actions the suspect took to try to get other people to join a fight. If the only witnesses who say the woman was trying to get others into a fight were the alleged victims, the state may not have a strong case. Victims are always going to seek the most serious charges and bring up the worst possible allegations.

The testimony of any criminal case witnesses – but especially that of alleged victims — must be looked at with a healthy dose of skepticism. A trained Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney is able to find weaknesses in the state’s case.
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A Florida woman is under arrest for child abuse, after allegedly got into a heated argument with police before driving off in her car, causing her 7-year-old son to bang on the window, screaming and crying, according to The Palm Beach Post.

West Palm Beach child abuse charges can lead to jail time, but also can include child custody issues and involvement of the Florida Department of Children & Families.
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On the criminal charges, an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney is needed to ensure that all facets of the case are explored. While police may report their side of the facts, there is always another side and the truth sometimes is in the middle.

While news reports may be negative toward a defendant initially, keep in mind, you’re only hearing one side of the story. Police officers write their reports after only a few hours of investigation and sometimes don’t include vital facts that can show proof of innocence.

In this case, a 32-year-old woman was arrested and charged with child abuse, child neglect, resisting an officer with violence, battery on a law enforcement officer, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident with damage.

According to the news report, the woman’s problems started when a police officer spotted an SUV sitting in a parking spot at a medical center. The officer noticed a boy inside, who told the officer that his mother was inside and would be back soon.

When the officer got the woman’s phone number from the boy, he called it. The woman told officers that there was nothing wrong with leaving her son in the vehicle. The officers and woman got into an argument, causing the boy to start crying.

The woman then told her son to get back into the vehicle and after noticing that a police cruiser had blocked her in, she drove over a curb, through a bush and over a sidewalk, police allege. Police later found the woman at another medical center in Palm Beach Gardens.

There, the woman was allegedly trying to get a nurse to administer a test to prove she wasn’t under the influence of narcotics. But she didn’t get the test after changing her mind. Officers found her there and got into a struggle with the woman while arresting her.

When parents are charged with offenses, they almost instantly will become involved with the state’s child welfare system. Often, allegations of abuse or neglect are overblown by DCF investigators, who aren’t trained as police officers are.

Yet, allegations from these social workers can lead to criminal charges. A person can be forced to endure many headaches throughout the process.

From a criminal perspective, the goals are to try to get the charges dropped, win at trial or come to a successful plea agreement with prosecutors in order to minimize the possible penalties. When child welfare agencies are investigating, though, the effects on a person’s custody must also be taken into consideration.
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Two people — a man and woman — now face sex trafficking charges after police began investigating whether a young runaway had been forced into prostitution in West Palm Beach.

Prostitution charges can be serious. As seen here it can lead to other charges if police begin investigating deeper. On the surface, most people who are involved in prostitution are charged with a misdemeanor. Still, the impact of such charges can follow a defendant through life for years to come.
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There are times when a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer will be called on to defend a larger charge, including sex trafficking. Sex trafficking has become a hot-button topic as it goes hand-in-hand with immigration, in many cases.

If a person arrested for prostitution claims they have been forced into the situation, it could lead to a search by detectives to determine the truth to the statement. This can lead to serious charges classified as felony offenses.

In this case, a girl under 16 was recently reported missing by her stepfather. The man told authorities that he suspected she could be involved in prostitution. Detectives searched online to try to find the girl and set up an appointment with a detective operating as an undercover “john.”

When police met the girl at a motel near Interstate 95, they explained the investigation and the girl told them about a 33-year-old “pimp” and a 22-year-old prostitute whom she was involved with. She said she met the 33-year-old at a convenience store and he talked with her about becoming a prostitute.

The next day, the girl called the man and he picked her up. The two had sex and he then explained how the set up would work, including how much money she would make and what percentage she could keep.

Police say she began working for the man, having sex with one man and watching while another man performed a sex act in front of her before police were able to find her. Both the pimp and prostitute now face major sex trafficking charges involving a minor.

In these cases, there are several elements the state must prove. First of all, to prove that a person was involved in trafficking a person for purposes of sex, they must show that the victim was unable to leave and was essentially held captive by the suspects. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean they were bound and unable to leave, but that they were forced into the alleged activity.

Prosecutors must also be able to prove that there was intent to commit a crime or that there was knowledge the victim was underage. In some prostitution cases, suspects aren’t aware of the age of the prostitute, making enhanced charges related to the age of the victim difficult. Though in many cases, not knowing the age of a victim is not deemed a defense.

At any rate, when a prostitution charge is enhanced to something more serious, an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer should be called to investigate the facts and properly defend the suspect. Many times, these charges are overblown as police detectives seek to file the most serious charges, but not necessarily charges that are provable.
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A Fort Lauderdale judge made a rational decision recently when he ordered a man who was facing domestic violence charges to take his wife on a date and get counseling, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

It was a refreshing sight for Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys to see a judge make a decision that could help a person and not throw the book at someone, which is too often the case. While some cases of domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale can be serious allegations, sometimes minor spats lead to arrests and major penalties can flip a person’s life upside down.
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Domestic violence incidents are treated seriously by police and can lead to misdemeanor as well as felony charges, depending on the circumstances. When police are called to a house for an incident, they are likely to leave with a person in handcuffs. That’s just the way it is.

But an arrest isn’t a conviction and there are defenses. The credibility of the accuser and alleged victim may come into play. And the observations of the police officers who arrive at the scene are going to be important, as well.

But in many of these cases, there are few or no witnesses, other than a neighbor saying they heard arguing. Sometimes, the state can have trouble proving the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. In other situations, the alleged victim realizes they don’t want to press charges and won’t cooperate.

In this case, a man got in trouble for not wishing his wife a happy birthday and that led to a domestic violence incident, the Sun-Sentinel is reporting. When the man appeared before the court, a judge made a strange ruling.

The judge ordered the man to take his wife out to dinner — Red Lobster — and go bowling. They will also have to undergo counseling. The judge said he wouldn’t have made such a light ruling if the case was more serious or if the woman had been injured or appeared in danger of being harmed.

The man allegedly pushed the woman against a couch, grabbed her neck and held up a fist, but never struck his wife. The man had no prior criminal history and the judge then asked where the woman would like to go. After saying she liked Red Lobster and bowling, the judge ordered both, along with a birthday card and flowers.

While it’s rare that a judge will make such a ruling, it’s refreshing to know that judges are looking at each case on its merits and not just scanning through cases as they go. It’s the job of an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney to show the judge why this case stands out as different from the rest.

Many times, a lawyer can do that, but the judge won’t listen. It may be possible, once the case gets past first appearance and is assigned to a judge who will preside over the case full-time, arguments can be presented that will lessen the charges, reduce bond or get the charges dropped altogether. There are scores of motions that lawyers can make in these types of situations. Domestic violence charges can be serious and they can do serious damage to a person’s reputation. That’s why they must be scrutinized and defended aggressively.
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