Florida lawmakers decided in favor of a measure that would wipe clean criminal records of those who are arrested, but later found “not guilty.” That would include some high-profile individuals such as Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman. However, the act is really intended to help those lesser-known individuals who are arrested on charges they beat or were later dropped. Supporters of the bill say it would allow these individuals to apply for jobs or rent apartments without having to worry that their online mugshot or a dropped criminal charges wcriminal defenseill surface in a background check.

The bill sailed through the state legislature, and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying the fact that these charges plague people whose guilt was never proven in the eyes of the law is “tragic.”  Continue reading

A doctor licensed in Puerto Rico practicing medicine in Miami was recently arrested on 16 federal charges related to an alleged $20 million health care fraud scheme that reportedly involved claims to Medicaid and Medicare that were either fraudulent or false. Federal authorities also say the doctor was illegally distributing oxycodone and a number of other powerful controlled substances. doctor

Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Justice Department allege the 51-year-old defendant attempted to defraud the government and receive health care bribes and kickbacks. Specifically, he owned an operated several clinics in Miami that “purported to practice medicine as an area of critical need.” According to the indictment, defendant from 2009 through this year referred Medicaid and Medicare recipients allegedly under his care to a local discount pharmacy as well as several home health agencies. In exchange, prosecutors allege, defendant received kickbacks and illegal bribes from these entities.

Further, authorities allege the doctor submitted claims to Medicare Part D for services like office visits and procedures that he either didn’t provide or that clearly weren’t medically necessary. Some of those included billing for removing lesions and therapeutic injections he never actually gave, authorities said. Prosecutors assert that in some cases, he wrote prescriptions to powerful drugs known to be cause addiction (i.e., oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam and others) even though there was no valid medical reason to do so.  Continue reading

It seemed after years of incessant and arbitrary crackdowns by federal agents on marijuana operations in legal purgatory by way of incongruous state and federal laws, there was finally a reprieve with the “Cole memo.” marijuana

In 2013, the Obama administration issued a new policy, by way of Deputy Attorney General James Cole’s memo, that essentially promised to back off businesses that were abiding well-regulated state marijuana system laws. With that, the marijuana industry saw a boom, with the anticipation of topping $25 billion by 2020. A total of 28 states – including now Florida – have some form of legalized medicinal marijuana, while eight states allow it for recreational use.

But now, it seems, the Trump administration may throw a wrench in that cog. Marijuana still remains illegal under federal law, and absent action from Congress, that’s unlikely to change. It seemed initially after Trump’s unexpected win he would maintain the status quo, at least with regard to federal marijuana policy. But status quo has never really been his thing.  Continue reading

Minimum mandatory sentences in Florida may be on their way out. That’s if the conclusions of the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee are taken to heart by the rest of the state legislature. prison

Lawmakers concluded after close examination of tough-on-crime-era policies that not only are minimum mandatory sentences ineffective, they are costing taxpayers enormous amounts of money – often for very little return. On top of that, the cost to communities, families and individuals, who are serving decades behind bars for non-violent offenses, is astronomical.

Take for example the 25-year prison term of one inmate at a correctional facility in Homestead. In 2002, she was arrested for selling 35 pills. She got $300 out of the deal. She was arrested and later convicted for drug trafficking. Minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines meant the judge had no discretion: She would have to serve 25 years. Housing her in prison costs taxpayers more than $18,000 annually. By the time her sentence is over and she is released in 2023, it will have cost taxpayers nearly $452,000.  Continue reading

Murders in the U.S. shot up by more than 10 percent in 2015, compared to the year prior, while violent crimes overall inched upward about 4 percent during the same time frame. That’s according to the latest statistics reported by the FBI. This was the highest violent crime rate in three years.Gun Close-Up

We must be mindful of the fact that these numbers are much lower than the crime levels reported a decade or two ago, but still a marked increase following several years of decline.

These figures were highly anticipated because violent crime in the U.S. has been given greater scrutiny the last few months, particularly as it’s an issue that has been noted repeatedly by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. While certain violent crimes like rape, robbery and assault have fallen, the rise of homicide and other serious crimes has drawn concern. Continue reading

President Obama recently announced the sentence commutation of more than 100 federal prisoners serving decades-long penalties under arcane cocaine trafficking statutes. Obama has commuted the sentences of nearly 600 people this year, and over the course of his term, more than the last 11 presidents combined.powder

Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals arrested for cocaine trafficking in Miami will not be able to count on a presidential commutation or pardon. These charges potentially carry decades-long sentences, so it’s imperative that your Miami criminal defense attorney have the experience, skill and resources to properly defend your case.

F.S. 893.123 is the state statute on drug trafficking and outlines the minimum mandatory penalties for the various charges. Contrary to popular belief, cocaine trafficking is not primarily the work of criminal masterminds or even career criminals. In fact, one need not even sell the drug to be arrested for trafficking. Continue reading

Florida voters backed a constitutional amendment to approve medical marijuana, which broadens the very limited therapeutic uses lawmakers in the Sunshine State approved two years ago. The current law does grant permission for those with cancer or other serious conditions that cause seizures or spasms to use low-THC derivatives (so long as they aren’t smoked) for treatment of their conditions. Amendment 2 will mean people with many other conditions will be eligible to receive the drug. marijuana

Now, people can get the drug to treat not only cancer or seizures, but also: Epilepsy, AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, Chrohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The statute also allows doctors to prescribe marijuana for any similar type of ailment.

The measure was personally backed by a number of criminal defense and personal injury lawyers in the state. It passed with a noteworthy 71 percent of the vote. Still, it is likely to be months before any of the approximately 450,000 people who actually qualify for the drug will be able to get it. Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s death penalty law, which does not require a unanimous agreement from jurors, is unconstitutional. What this means is that until state lawmakers can rewrite the sentencing procedure in Florida death penalty cases, there is no death penalty in Florida — at least for those awaiting trial. injection

Death penalty opponents applaud the decision, which comes not long after the law was recently-revamped. Previously, Florida did not require juries deciding on death penalty cases to reach a unanimous verdict as to the fate of the defendant. Only a majority was necessary to impose a death sentence. The law was rewritten to require a unanimous verdict. However, legislators decided to require, in a law passed earlier this year, that only 10 out of 12 jurors agree to impose death. That’s because the size of the jury in capital cases (as compared to other criminal matters) expands from 10 to 12.

However, the Florida Supreme Court in Perry v. Florida has now soundly rejected this arrangement. The U.S. Supreme Court had already determined back in January that judges in this state had far too much input in the decision of whether someone should be put to death. In fact, it should be the responsibility of the jury alone to make that call.  Continue reading

Most readers are aware that several states in the United States of America have legalized marijuana, which has led to a new industry being developed.  The problem many of these industry participants have is the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law as well as many states.  Though the federal government has not been actively and aggressively enforcing federal laws as it applies to marijuana.  This is welcome news to many, but those who choose to either conduct business related to marijuana should seek legal advice in order to avoid the many pitfalls of this contradiction in the laws within the U.S.  Recently, I was contacted by a Canadian law firm who shared the following chart and information with me, which I thought would be useful to any of my readers traveling to Canada and elsewhere.  If you run into any problems, our firm handles criminal matters throughout the U.S. and also we provide consulting services to anyone seeking to step into the marijuana (cannabis) industry arena.

Marijuana in Canada

 

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The Supreme Court has widened the door when it comes to unlawful police searches, following a divided 5-3 opinion in the case of Utah v. Strieff. policelights1

The outcome is deeply concerning to anyone who supports suppression of evidence gained as a result of an unlawful search, sometimes referred to as “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” As dissenting Justice Sonya Sotomayor passionately wrote, this ruling allows one’s body to be subject to invasion while the courts excuse the violation of rights. It implies, she said, that we are not citizens of a democracy, but rather “subjects of a carceral state.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagen also dissented.

Defendant was suspected of drug activity. After receiving anonymous tips, the officer in this case began staking out his home. On the day in question, officer stopped suspect, who had left his home to walk to a nearby convenience store. The officer requested identification and at that point discovered defendant had an outstanding warrant for a traffic violation. The officer arrested defendant and subsequent to that arrest, conducted a search of his person, at which time he discovered meth and drug paraphernalia.  Continue reading