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It’s not a secret that Florida is a transient state.
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As such, it’s not surprising to our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys that there are a large number of individuals in the area with outstanding warrants. In fact, police agencies particularly in South Florida are awash with them. there are roughly 300,000 in Miami-Dade County, another 220,000 in Broward County and another 60,000 in Palm Beach County.

All of that doesn’t include out-of-state warrants, which is what was involved in the arrest of a Fort Lauderdale man wanted in New Jersey.

According to The Sun-Sentinel, the 69-year-old had reportedly eluded authorities for two decades. Apparently, he had been convicted for murder in 1971, served his time and was released under supervision, commonly known as parole.

However, during that time, he was accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child in 1992. He fled, and has been on the run ever since as one of New Jersey’s most-wanted fugitives.

According to various media reports, the man had been homeless for at least the last handful of years, living in a tent in the woods. A tip was called in to authorities after someone became aware that he had been living under an alias for some time.

From his mug shot, he appears much older than his 69 years, likely worn down from a life on the run.

Now, this is a severe case, and of course, not everyone with a warrant is a most-wanted fugitive. But it can feel that way if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering if that officer up the street will figure out who you are and haul you in. It may seem that a bad situation has gotten worse because the more time has gone by, you may fear the more trouble you’ll be in.

However, the best way to handle this – not only to ensure your safety but also the protection of your rights – is to contact a criminal defense lawyer in the jurisdiction where the warrant is active. An attorney can help you determine your next step and how you can surrender peacefully and safely.

One risk you take by not doing this is the possibility of additional charges. This is because if police do catch you off-guard, your first instinct may be to flee or fight back. Ultimately, this rarely works out in your favor, and you only end up creating an even higher uphill battle for yourself.

The other reason this is an important step to take is that if you surrender on your own, it’s possible that police will want to question you immediately. If you haven’t had a chance yet to consult with a defense attorney, you run the risk of saying something that could potentially further hurt your case.

Also, the act of surrendering yourself could result in a judge showing you some mercy when it comes to the sentencing phase of the situation.
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A police officer has been arrested amid allegations that he solicited a prostitute in Pompano Beach recently. heels.jpg

Our Pompano Beach defense lawyers understand that this is a serious charge for an officer, particularly given that his arrest was the result of an undercover sting carried out by members of his own agency.

As spelled out in FL Statute 796.07, a first offense is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. That means it’s punishable by up to 60 days in jail, plus fines and other civil penalties.

But with an arrest like this, there is usually a great deal more at stake then simply the possibility of a few days in jail. It’s the embarrassment. It’s the potential implosion that such a revelation could have on your relationships at home. And, as in this case, it’s about what could happen if your employer finds out.

Our Pompano Beach prostitution defense lawyers understand the critical importance of discretion in these cases. Of course, if you are an officer or a high-ranking official, there may be no way to conceal certain details from the media. In those cases, having someone speak to the media for you can be a critical public relations move. The worst thing you can do in an already awful situation is give a statement that could potentially hurt your case – and then have it broadcast or published.

For those who aren’t in law enforcement or serving in public office, these cases can be handled discretely.

Either way, trying to pretend it didn’t happen isn’t going to help anyone. The best thing you can do is secure legal counsel immediately, and answer questions for no one.

In this case, not only is the involved officer under suspension, so is the sergeant who signed off on his arrest report.

The details we have on this case so far are sketchy, with police citing the ongoing internal investigation as a reason for being tight-lipped.

According to The Sun-Sentinel, the 40-year-old deputy reportedly offered $20 to a woman if she would give him oral sex. As it turned out, that woman was actually a colleague of his who was working undercover.

Now we don’t know exactly how the events unfolded after that point, except that the deputy, who had established a 10-year career with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, was not immediately arrested. In fact, he wasn’t taken into custody until four hours later. The location of his arrest is listed as a sports bar and grill in Coral Springs.

Presumably, the suspension of the arresting officer has to do with this point, although we don’t know that yet.

Both have been suspended with pay.

An attorney for the deputy facing charges was quoted as saying that the alleged act appeared to be a cry for help, and implored the department to offer him the option of treatment, rather than termination.
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Authorities with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office are scouring the Oakland Park area for an individual who reportedly fatally struck a 17-year-old bicyclist and then fled. bikewreck.jpg

Our Broward hit-and-run attorneys know that there are a number of reasons why someone would leave the scene of an accident with injuries.

First, it’s entirely possible that the driver didn’t realize they had struck a human being. This is often the case for hit-and-run incidents that happen at night or on poorly lit roads.

Secondly, there may have been a medical condition to blame. Just take the example of the federal commerce secretary who was cited for felony hit-and-run in California recently. As it turned out, he had suffered a series of seizures that resulted in his loss of vehicle control.

Thirdly, fear is a big factor for a lot of people involved in hit-and-runs. There are cases in which a person may have been drinking, and there is the fear of being arrested for DUI-related charges. But for a lot of people, the intensity of the entire situation causes them to panic. They aren’t clearly thinking it through.

We certainly understand this, particularly given that under FL Statute 316.027, the offense is a third-degree felony, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, it is very important that you contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible – before even turning yourself into police. The reason for this is two-fold:

1. It ensures your safety during the process.
2. It allows you the opportunity to speak to your lawyer before you say anything to police, who are going to want to question you immediately and possibly have you submit to chemical testing. You don’t want to do any of this before speaking with your attorney.

It’s noteworthy too that media reports of hit-and-run incidents can be incredibly biased. Just take for example the story of this Oakland Park case. The reporter began the story by saying that the motorist, “turned their car into a weapon, used it to kill a man and then, used it to flee as the victim died.” An inflammatory statement like this fails to take into consideration any extenuating circumstances that may exist in this case.

Let’s take a look at what we do know of this case:

The 17-year-old El Salvador native was reportedly riding his bicycle home after playing soccer in the park. He was reportedly crossing the street near Powerline Road and was struck as he was making his way across the crosswalk.

An ambulance transported him to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Investigators have said that the driver reportedly got out for a moment and then drove away.

It’s unclear how many witnesses there were to the crash, but it seems they did not get a good look at the driver. They were unable to identify whether it was a male or female. However, they have indicated the vehicle was a late-90s model, light blue Chevrolet or GMC pick up truck or sport utility vehicle.
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The wife of suspected Trayvon Martin gunman George Zimmerman has been charged with perjury, after a judge determined she lied under oath about how much money was accessible to her husband. hush.jpg

Broward perjury defense lawyers know that with high profile cases such as this, prosecutors and judges may wish to make an example.

There are a number of defenses to this – and you will want to hire a defense attorney, as under FL Statute 837.02, perjury in official proceedings is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Possible defenses include: forgetfulness, not understanding the question or literal truth. We’ll explore those more momentarily. First, let’s examine what happened in the Zimmerman case:

According to The Miami Herald, Shellie Zimmerman was reportedly arrested on one count of perjury after prosecutors say she lied under oath at a bond hearing for her husband, who is accused of gunning down teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford Florida in February. He was not charged for several month, as local police believed his actions were permissible under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. A special prosecutor appointed by the governor later disagreed, and Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, was arrested.

The case has gained national coverage amid claims of blatant racism.

That brings us to the bond hearing in April. At the time, Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was asked whether the couple had any money. She responded that they had none they were aware of.

However, prosecutors later brought forth evidence indicating that Shellie had put away cash in a safe deposit box and had also transferred an estimated $75,000 from her husband’s bank account to her own. After her husband was released from jail, prosecutor’s said, she returned the money to her husband’s bank account.

George Zimmerman, who is already facing a charge of second-degree murder, was not charged with perjury, prosecutors said, because he was never asked directly about the money.

An attorney for Martin’s family said that Shellie Zimmerman’s arrest “sends a strong message” regarding the credibility of some of the witnesses involved.

Jailhouse calls between husband and wife were recorded prior to that April bond hearing. In those calls, she reportedly told her husband that more than $100,000 had been raised for her husband’s defense in an online account. The prosecution contends the two planned to try to hide the money.

Prosecutors say the pair were careful to speak in code when they discussed these matters over the phone.

It was this same conversation that reportedly led the judge in the case to revoke George Zimmerman’s bond.

An attorney for Zimmerman’s wife later said that she had lied out of “fear, mistrust and confusion.”

It’s that last part that may hold the most weight in terms of an actual perjury defense.

One solid defense in perjury cases is that you did not understand the question being asked of you. The burden will be on the prosecution to to prove that the accused person clearly understood the questions but also in the correct context. One challenge to this would be if the question was asked repeatedly and in multiple ways. It’s not clear whether that was the case here.
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Those who suffer from infectious diseases shouldn’t be charged with aggravated circumstances in cases of assault, simply by virtue of their illness. teeth.jpg

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys know this was the core issue in People v. Plunkett, which was decided recently in the New York State Court of Appeals.

While this case is out of New York, Florida criminal defense lawyers know aggravated assault charges are often complicated by what authorities claim as “aggravated.”

The facts of the case, as described by Chief Appellate Judge Lippman, are this:

The defendant was convicted in county court of aggravated assault on a peace officer, following his entering a plea of guilty. The evidence was purportedly based on testimony by the officer that he was bitten by the defendant on the finger as the officer tried to make an arrest. The defendant in this case is HIV positive. Additionally, he has an extensive history of psychiatric illness.

The officer in this case had initiated the arrest because the defendant had opened a bag of marijuana in the waiting room of his primary care doctor’s office.

Under normal circumstances, the bite that the officer sustained would garner a charge of assault on a peace officer. However, because the defendant was HIV-positive, he was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer.

Prosecutors contended that the so-called “dangerous instruments” necessary to meet the statutory requirement for the threshold of aggravating circumstances were the defendant’s teeth, particularly by virtue of the fact that he was HIV-positive and HIV is known to cause AIDS, an autoimmune disease that has been known to cause severe illness and death, particularly if untreated.

However, the appellate court, in examining the defendant’s appeal, relied on the case law established in a case known as People v. Owusu. That case determined that a person’s teeth could not be defined as an “instrument” under the law. What’s more, that case held that no individual body part could be construed as a dangerous “instrument,” even if it was used to produce injury.

Now this was an issue the trial court wrestled with as well, although the judge in that case believed that because the defendant was afflicted with the AIDS virus, his saliva in and of itself was a substance capable of causing death or other serious injury. The teen, argued the prosecution, were merely a means to inject that dangerous substance into the police officer’s body.

The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty, but did not waive his right to an appeal.

The appellate court chose to decide the issue purely on the merits of whether that initial charge was appropriate. Although the lower court had held that the saliva itself was a dangerous substance, the appellate court ruled instead that the saliva was a part of one’s person, as defined by earlier case law.

In fact, the court ruled that if it were to deem certain parts of the body as weapons, simply based on their characteristics, it would be weighing cases in which a person’s height, weight and strength relevant to the alleged victim’s would be considered a factor for the severity of the crime. This would result, as they put it, in a sliding scale of criminality in which a larger person could be charged with a greater offense than a smaller person who committed the exact same act. This is a slippery legal slope, and the court rightly recognized it here.
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Fort Lauderdale hit-and-run cases don’t discriminate. road.jpg

Defense attorneys know their are many factors — and clients range from violent offenders to successful professionals.

The latter was the case recently in Seminole County, where a well-known chiropractor was charged with leaving the scene of a crash in which a Fort Myers female motorcyclist was killed.

Now, it may seem that criminals might be more likely to flee a crash. However, the pattern we’ve observed in some of these cases is that professionals tend to feel they have more to lose. And, of course, those who have no experience with the criminal justice system often panic and flee the scene before coming to their senses.

It’s not a matter of being cold-hearted. In many of these instances, the driver doesn’t realize the extent of the damage or injuries or may simply be unsure of what his or her responsibilities are.

Particularly in cases where a motorcycle and inclement weather were involved (as is alleged to be the case here) the driver may not even be certain that they’ve been in an accident. That may seem far-fetched, but it happens more often than you might think.

Florida hit-and-run crashes involving injury or death are spelled out in Florida Statute 316.027. Basically, what that law says is that if you are involved in a crash in which there was any type of injury – be it on public or private property – you must stop right away, either at the scene of the crash or as close as possible to it. You must remain there until fulfilling the requirements spelled out in Florida Statute 316.062, which states that you must render aid (in the form of “reasonable assistance”) to the injured parties and you must provide your information. Providing your information does not necessarily mean giving your side of the story about what happened in a crash, and particularly if you may be at fault, you should refrain from doing so. Providing your information simply means that you give your name, address, registration number of the vehicle and license.

The only time you are excused from these duties is under Florida Statute 316.064, which indicates that you are not legally responsible for these duties if you are physically incapable of doing so.

Usually, however, if you are able to drive away, you are seen as legally fit to complete these duties.

In this case, the road conditions that day were rainy on State Road 415, near New Smyrna Beach. A vehicle allegedly struck hers from behind, and the impact was said to have knocked her into oncoming traffic. She was then struck by two other vehicles whose drivers reportedly could not avoid impact. The motorcyclist’s husband reportedly witnessed the crash, and provided a statement to Florida Highway Patrol investigators alleging that the doctor, who had been driving a large, luxury sport utility vehicle, hit his wife without stopping to render aid.

But there’s something about this scenario that just seems off. First of all, doctors take an oath, pledging to do no harm. Failing to stop to help an accident victim when you have the medical expertise to do so seems unlikely. And secondly, this doctor advertised on his website that he plays a large role in helping auto accident victims recover.

It’s just worth pointing out that the actions here don’t seem to coincide with the other details we know of the defendant – and that could be an important point for the defense.

If convicted, the doctor faces up to 30 years in prison.
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Fort Lauderdale fraud defense, particularly for high-level Ponzi schemes, require skill and experience.moneyseries12.jpg

A Broward defense attorney should have a proven success record for cases involving white collar crimes and offenses involving extensive paper trails and financial records.

That’s what’s going to be required for a local investment adviser and several of those working with him. Prosecutors contend that he spearheaded an effort to gain the trust of the gay community in Wilton Manors. By exploiting that trust, prosecutors say he perpetuated a multimillion dollar investment fraud.

There are about 14 residents from Broward who say they were victims of the $2.5 million scheme. Victims contend they trusted the man, who was vouched for by a well-known area resident and his daughter. The defendant is now locked up awaiting trial for federal charges of wire fraud. In the meantime, the investors have also reportedly filed a civil lawsuit. Others across the country have filed similar lawsuits, including a California family alleging a loss of $4 million. Additionally, the SEC has filed a lawsuit in civil court against him, saying he raised an estimated $11 million by lying and submitting phony financial statements.

Those representing the alleged victims say that the losses have completely wiped out life savings and that they were victimized by people they believed were their friends.

However, what’s important to note is that sometimes investments go bad. Just because a venture doesn’t work out doesn’t mean someone is criminally liable.

After it became clear to the defendant that charges may be filed, he reportedly fled to Cyprus, a Mediterranean island where he was born. That was back in January, and it was believed that he would be out of reach of federal authorities there. However, he returned to the U.S. — visiting Las Vegas in March. Authorities with the FBI were waiting for him when he landed.

With regard to the man’s dealings in the Walton Manors community, it’s alleged that his friend and his friend’s daughter introduced him to the gay community there by ingratiating him into the nightlife scene. The daughter also reportedly worked as the manager of property at the Wilton Station development. At least four of the alleged victims lived there.

It’s alleged that the father-daughter pair told false stories to the investors of the riches they were able to afford due to the investments they made with the defendant. This, say prosecutors, gave the alleged victims confidence in a man they had only just met.

However, the man and his daughter say they were victims of the defendants as well.

The civil lawsuits say that the defendant and father-daughter pair would wine and dine potential investors at a local fancy restaurant. That’s where the defendant would give his sales pitch.

Prosecutors say it wasn’t until much later that the investors realized they had been defrauded.

Of course, there are a lot of details in this case that we don’t yet know, such as what the alleged victims believed they were investing in and how that all began to unravel.

It’s a case our Fort Lauderdale fraud defense attorneys will be watching closely.
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