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This past week, a Broward jury found former MMA fighter Fernando Rodrigues not guilty of three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. If found guilty, according to Florida law, Mr. Rodrigues would have been convicted of a second-degree felony and would have faced a minimum of 10 years in prison.
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The case stemmed from a case of road rage on North State Road 7 in Coral Springs, which ended in a roadside brawl that involved Rodrigues and two pool service workers. When police arrived at the scene, all three men were handcuffed and one of them, Rodrigues, was arrested. Ostensibly, Rodrigues was arrested because it was the other two individuals in the fight who seemed to have sustained the most injuries from the fight.

Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys know that Florida law gives people the right to protect themselves – and that is just what Mr. Rodrigues did. Thankfully, a jury of his peers recognized the validity of his argument; as a result, a law-abiding citizen who served his country in the Marines will avoid being wrongfully thrown behind bars.
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Our South Florida defense attorneys applaud a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that law enforcement officers must first have a warrant (based on probable cause) in order to attach a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s vehicle in order to track his or her movements.
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Protection of the innocent is at the bedrock of our criminal justice system, and according to the system, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Police can’t just go around attaching GPS devices to vehicles of people they think are suspicious. They are no more allowed to track the movements of a suspected bank robber (without a warrant) than they are to track the movements of their next-door neighbor who they happen not to like.

In this particular case, as reported in this Washington Post article, police had attached GPS tracking devices to the van owned by a trio of brothers who were suspected of involvement in pharmacy burglaries in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. Before attaching the GPS to the van, police consulted a U.S. Attorney’s office, but they did not obtain a warrant for the practice, which the Supreme Court had ruled is a form of “search and seizure.”
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The accuracy of Florida DUI breathalyzer tests has long been the subject of debate.
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It doesn’t appear that debate is going to end anytime soon, despite the conclusion of a four-year battle to have the machines thoroughly tested by third-party consultants. With both defense lawyers and prosecutors analyzing the same results, one said says the machines “passed with flying colors,” while the other says certain flaws and inconsistencies were identified.

The discrepancies will ultimately continue to be analyzed in future Florida DUI cases for years to come.
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The label “criminal defense attorney” implies that such a person is an attorney who defends criminals. Very often it is the case that criminal defense attorneys such as those at Leifert & Leifert are representing innocent individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been dragged into the messy world of criminal justice.
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Did you know that Florida resident Carlos Gomez opened up a Wells Fargo bank account through which money was laundered? No? Well, neither did he. And that’s because he didn’t open the account. Back in 2011, Carlos Gomez was yanked out of his house at 5 A.M. and tossed in jail for two weeks, because a major U.S. bank had told investigators that a bank account used for laundering money was opened by Gomez when, in fact, it was not.

Accusations are made all the time, many of which lead to arrests, which are carried-out far too often. According to the FBI, 12,408,899 individuals were arrested in 2011 alone (the last year for which there is data). To put that in perspective, that’s about 4% of the entire U.S. population. Does this mean that 4% of the entire U.S. population should be in jail for committing crimes? No, because many of the people arrested are, in fact, innocent, just like Mr. Gomez. This case should demonstrate that just because someone is accused does not mean they are guilty. Often times, arrests made by law enforcement inflict far more harm than they prevent.
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As reported by the Sun Sentinel, on October 11th of this year, a 19-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens was arrested on for the illegal killing of an alligator, a slaying for which he used a machete.
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Given what we know of the case at this point, the criminal defense attorneys at Leifert & Leifert have determined three major “don’ts” that the man demonstrated in this one incident, which you should take note of.

First, and most obviously, you should not kill alligators, especially illegally. Florida state law requires special permits and weapons to kill alligators, and the killings may only take place on certain state land regulated for that purpose. Second, you should never document yourself doing something that might be a crime. Third, you should not point the finger at an innocent person, or you will only add to the charges that can be filed against you.
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Any minor arrested for a juvenile crime in Florida – no matter how serious – is entitled to bail. The one exception is murder.
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That was the ruling handed down recently by the Florida Supreme Court in Treacy v. Lamberti, No. SC12-647, appeal from Fla. 4th DCA 2012.

The ruling has been hailed a victory for the rights of juvenile offenders, whom the assistant public defender in Broward said must be recognized and treated distinctly different than adults – even when he or she has been charged with a violent crime.
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Domestic violence plagues families and communities all over South Florida, around the country and around the world. Our criminal defense lawyers too often see cases of family disagreements or misunderstandings that have turned violent, resulting in one or more person(s) being charged with the serious crime of domestic violence.
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We are always sad to see these cases brought into our offices, and so we’re happy to share with you that toward the end of this month, the 15th annual “Safewalk-Run” will take place in Coconut Creek, raising money and awareness for victims of domestic violence.

According to the Florida State Statutes, “domestic violence” is defined as an aggressive act such as assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, etc., and other criminal acts that result in physical injury or death of a family member or member of the household committed by another member of the family or household. As further stipulated by the statute, if adjudicated guilty of the crime of domestic violence, the offender must serve no less than 5 days in jail. 5 days doesn’t seem like a great deal of time, but the law goes on to say, “this section does not preclude the court from sentencing the person to … an additional period of incarceration.” So, the penalty for domestic violence really depends on who is overseeing your case and how they perceive what happened.
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As a nation it seems we are gradually coming to the realization that the 40-year war on drugs has been a colossal failure, pocked with racial prejudice and leaving a legacy of decimated lives and communities.
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And yet, it continues, often with the staunch support of law enforcement agencies (whom, it’s worth noting, tend to be very powerful lobbyists when it comes time to lawmaking). They cite the negative impact that drugs can have on an individual, a family and a community.

While there is undoubtedly some truth, our Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers have to question the approach and motivations of police, especially in light of reports like the one that was recently published in the Sun Sentinel.
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It may seem as if there are few things worse than being arrested for homicide.
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But there are ways that you can actually make it worse. One of those is witness tampering. Florida Statute 914.22 and 914.23 address tampering with, harassing or retaliating against a witness, victim or informant. What the law says is that if you engage in intimidation or physical force or threats of physical force against a person in an effort to have testimony or records or documents withheld from an official investigation or proceeding, you can be charged with a felony.

The severity of that felony – and therefore the punishment – depends on the nature of your interference. It’s considered a third-degree felony if you tamper or retaliate with a witness in a misdemeanor case. You’ll face up to five years in prison if convicted.
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There is often a great disparity between what people think they saw and what really occurred. Emotions, nerves, biases and many other extenuating circumstances all play a profound role in dictating how we perceive sights, tastes, sounds, etc. This is not just a phenomenon that causes interesting dilemmas in everyday observations; as our criminal defense attorneys know, this issue often exposes itself in criminal trials, when the prosecution calls a witness who claims to have seen the crime or scenes relevant to the crime in question.leifertfloridawitness.jpg

Often, what the witness claims to have seen did not actually take place, or what they claim to have heard was never actually said; frequently, video footage and audio recordings actually refute “eyewitness” testimony.

Does that mean that the mistaken witnesses are maliciously lying? Not necessarily, but it doesn’t have to. You see, there doesn’t have to be malice in order for a witness to be detrimental to the justice system.

Whenever there is reason to question the validity of testimony by a prosecution’s witness in a criminal trial, there is an advantage for the legal defense team. Remember, in our justice system, the defendant does not need to prove his or her innocence – the prosecution needs to prove guilt, and when one of their called witnesses is deemed unreliable, their case may be judged faulty, too.
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