Articles Tagged with criminal defense attorney Miami

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

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

If your child was arrested, would they know their rights?boy

The fact is, juveniles in Florida can face serious penalties, and in some cases, may even be tried as adults for felony offenses. But it seems in many cases, they do not fully understand the rights they have when they are taken into police custody. Authorities may take advantage of that.

Miranda warnings, also sometimes referred to as Miranda rights, is a notice that is supposed to be offered by law enforcement to criminal suspects in police custody or in custodial interrogation prior to questioning. It warns individuals that they have a right to silence – that they do not have to answer questions by law enforcement. Officers rarely deviate from the legal language of the warning, though varying version are used across the country. But a number of cases have prompted juvenile rights advocates to argue for the wording to be updated in terms that are easy for juveniles to understand. Continue reading

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in favor of a black man on death row in Georgia who alleged prosecutors violated his constitutional rights by ensuring an all-white jury by using their peremptory challenges during jury selection to strike potential jurors of color. jury1

The groundbreaking decision in Foster v. Chatman makes it clear that this kind of discrimination will not stand.

“Two peremptory strikes on the basis of race are two more than the Constitution allows,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court made it clear in a recent ruling that a criminal suspect’s silence is not to be used against him or her in court. Of course, not using one’s silence as proof of guilt is an established legal principle, but one that was recently expanded in the court’s May 5th decision in Florida v. Horwitzpolice

The court was asked to decide whether, per article I, section 9 of the Florida Constitution and Florida evidentiary law, prosecutors are prohibited from using a defendant’s pre-arrest, pre-Miranda silence as some substantive evidence of his or her guilt when defendant chooses not to testify at trial. The 4th District Court of Appeal had ruled the answer was “No,” but certified the question to the state supreme court as one of great public importance.

A high-profile murder suspect, Donna Horwitz was accused and ultimately convicted of fatally shooting her ex-husband, Lanny.  Continue reading

Florida’s new death penalty law is unconstitutional, ruled a Miami-Dade judge recently, because jurors aren’t required to agree unanimously on the execution.prison1

The decision in Florida v. Gaiter is the just the latest in legal wrangling over the death penalty in Florida.

Death penalty cases have been on hold since January, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Hurst v. Florida. In that case, the court declared Florida’s death sentence system unconstitutional because it didn’t entrust jurors with enough power. For the last several decades, jurors have been responsible for issuing “majority recommendations” when it comes to the death penalty, while it is ultimately the judge who imposes the order of execution. Continue reading