Articles Posted in Courts

Calling someone accidentally by inadvertently pressing a button (or touch screen) on a cell phone can be a nuisance, but so-called “butt-dialing” is something we’ve all done at one point or another. Most of the time, the call is cancelled or otherwise ended and no issues arise.
But other times, as our West Palm Beach and Hollywood criminal defense lawyers know, the call is recorded and the content of the call is used against the person who made the call. Such a situation was at issue in the case of Huff v. Spaw (2015), which we will explore in this blog post. In the case, a federal court ruled that your butt dials aren’t private.

Specifically, if you butt dial someone and they hear you on the other end disclosing certain information, that information can be used against you. According to the federal judge presiding over the case, cell phone owners know the dangers of butt dialing and should take precautions to prevent it from happening; if they fail to take such precautions, it’s their own fault.
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Yesterday, in the case of Glossip v. Gross, the United States Supreme Court ruled against three death row inmates who were seeking to prevent the use of a certain lethal injection drug that can cause excruciating pain.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Alito, articulated that the inmates failed to identify a viable alternative method of execution and that the petitioners didn’t succeed in proving that the drug in question, midazolam, presents “an unacceptable risk of severe pain.”

As our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know, the highly anticipated ruling in this case has far-reaching implications. For instance, here in Florida, midazolam is a listed option for use in lethal injections. With this ruling, it appears this dangerous drug will continue to be administered in the Sunshine State.
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This past week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police officers who delay the conclusion of a traffic stop while they wait for a law enforcement canine to sniff for drugs (a process riddled with inaccuracy, as we will explore in this post) violate the Constitution by doing so.
Our West Palm Beach and Plantation criminal defense lawyers know that back in 2005, the Court ruled in Illinois v. Caballes that police could conduct a canine drug sniff during a traffic stop without violating the driver’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Too often, routine routine traffic stops have been turning into drug busts.

With Rodriguez v. United States, the Supreme Court has clarified their understanding of the Constitutional law at play here; their ruling has given another protection to American citizens by making it harder for law enforcement officers to turn a traffic stop into a narcotics arrest.
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Picture this: everything’s going great in your life until — bam! — you’re arrested for living with your girlfriend or boyfriend. No, it’s not a nightmare you’re having about how your parents will respond to your new relationship; it’s a practical reality under current Florida law.
Our society truly embodies most the advancements of the 21st century and these progressions have in large part made their way into government practices. With state laws available online, digital fingerprinting in police stations, and court appearances being held by video, it’s clear that the State of Florida is moving forward.

However, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, there are a couple of glaringly archaic sections of the Florida State Statutes that keep the Sunshine State tethered to the past, and one of those is the cohabitation law, which makes it a crime for an unmarried man and woman to “lewdly and lasciviously” live together.
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As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, video evidence of an individual appearing to commit a crime is not necessarily indisputable evidence that they actually did commit that certain crime.
That said, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the defense team when the defendant is on camera doing what the prosecution says they did.

Being caught on camera can be damning, which makes it all the more interesting that this man was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior against a child after law enforcement officers lawfully gained access to his home security camera and therein found apparent video of him committing the alleged crime.
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Our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert recognize the importance of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that secret recordings — in particular, even those captured by alleged victims of a crime — are not admissible as evidence in a criminal trial.
It’s long been a central tenet of criminal law that evidence procured in an illegitimate or illegal manner cannot be used as evidence in a criminal trial. That legal issue was made a bit murkier, however, in the criminal case against Richard R. McDade, who was sentenced to life in prison after having been found guilty by a Florida court of sexual battery against a young child.

The issue brought to light by this criminal trial, and the subsequent appeal, was whether secret recordings made by his victim, ostensibly proving his guilt, could be entered as evidence. According to the Supreme Court, these recordings should not have been admissible as evidence, and, as a result, McDade will be granted a new trial.
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Chances are, unless you’ve been hibernating for the last six months, you’ve heard of the major issues surrounding today’s elections. Not only is today a big day because of the U.S. Senate and House seats up for grabs; it is also of particular importance to us here in Florida.
Along with going to the polls to decide between Fmr. Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott (and a few others), Floridians will finally have the opportunity to vote on Amendment No. 2, which, if passed, would make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes in the State of Florida.

As our Palm Beach and Broward County attorneys know, marijuana has many benefits for people with all sorts of diseases and illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
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The right to an impartial jury during one’s criminal trial is fundamental; it is guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This right is of such importance because it must be the case that those who render verdicts, which profoundly affect (and sometimes end) lives, must be unbiased and solely basing their judgments off the facts of the case.
This, especially in today’s media-saturated word, is no easy feat, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know from experience.

This issue, and efforts to remedy it, have been brought to light in the pre-trial filings and hearings of the manslaughter case of Palm Beach polo magnate John Goodman, for which the Judge has sent out jury summonses to individuals in Tampa Bay, not wanting to run the risk of a pool of Palm Beach jurors having already made up their minds about Mr. Goodman.
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To be sure, the circumstances surrounding the case of Jorge Barahona are cringe-worthy. That said, should a jury be able to hear the statements he gave police when he was heavily medicated and not thinking clearly?
In early 2011, Barahona was arrested in Palm Beach County after his pest control truck was found on the side of I-95; next to the truck, he was found unconscious, his daughter’s dead body was found wrapped in plastic, and his adopted son was found convulsing, allegedly caused by the ingestion of harmful checmicals.

As our criminal defense lawyers know, when police visited Barahona in the hospital to ask him questions about the alleged crimes, he waived his right to an attorney and gave statements to the police. Here’s the problem: he had just been brought out of a coma and was not thinking properly, a result of the fact that he was being heavily medicated at the time.
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Many of the laws currently on the books were drawn up years ago, and today have unintended, undesirable effects. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, for example, often target honest individuals who might have made simple mistakes, while criminal laws should in fact be designed to obstruct deliberately criminal behavior.
In late 2011, a 27-year-old mother of two (in the photograph to the right) was pulled over in New Jersey during a routine traffic stop. Instead of being given a ticket, the young woman was arrested for and charged with unlawful posession of a firearm and bullets. Now, she faces mandatory prison time. Here’s the problem: the gun she was arrested for carrying was legal, licensed, and registered.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert have been following the case of Shaneen Allen, the single mother caught in the web of an antiquated criminal justice system. Her trial, which begins on August 5th, will allow her to fight for her rights as an honest, hard-working individual who has fallen victim to illogical and ineffective laws.
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