July 28, 2014

Appellate Court Protects Florida Gun Owners From Prying Doctors and Gun Control Lobbyist

How often does the answer to the question, "Do you own a firearm?" make a difference when you visit your doctor because of a sore throat? I'm willing to bet that "never" is the reply that comes to mind for most people. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals apparently shares this opinion as shown by its ruling upholding a law signed by Florida governor, Rick Scott, which prohibits doctors in Florida from asking patients whether they own guns.

medical-doctor-1314902-m.jpgIn response to the bill signed by Gov. Scott and backed by the National Rifle Association, several individuals and groups from the anti-gun community, such as the Florida chapters of the American Academies of Pediatrics and American College of Physicians, filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, "the Act simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters."

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution reads in part, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Institute for Legislative Action Director, Chris Cox, welcomed the court's ruling and described the ruling as "common sense". Cox went on to say that whether a patient exercises his or her constitutional right to own a gun is none of a doctor's business.

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July 23, 2014

Know Your Rights Under Florida Law

Criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, and throughout the State of Florida, oftentimes find their jobs more difficult because their clients were in the dark about their rights and what to do during an encounter with police. Evidence that otherwise would not have been available against a client is used to hurt the client after consent was unnecessarily given to search a car, house, etc. I've found that the average person is often nervous when they come into contact with police officers, whether the person has done something wrong or not. Perhaps the most important thing to do is to stay calm so that you can think clearly.
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The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) provides general information that is very useful about the rights you should be aware of during police encounters-- this information is critical and should be known by all U.S. Citizens and non-citizens alike, even if you've done absolutely nothing wrong. Click here for a downloadable and printable card that you can carry with you, just as you carry your I.D. card or insurance card, everywhere you go.

Florida Statute 901.151 authorizes law enforcement, when there is a reasonable belief that there is a crime taking place, has taken place, or about to take place, to temporarily detain a person to find out who the person is and what are the circumstances that caused the person to be present. An officer may perform a pat down of the person detained, if there is probable cause to believe that the person is armed with a dangerous weapon. Under this type of encounter, a person would not be free to leave. However, an officer can only detain a citizen for as long as it takes to look into any suspicious behavior.

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July 20, 2014

Unreasonable Search Leads to Big Payout for Florida Woman

A Florida woman, unreasonably searched by being forced to shake out her bra when she was pulled over by a male Lakeland police officer, received a settlement of $25,000 from the city, according to theledger.com. The deal will keep the case out of court.

Florida constitutional law protects Floridians from unreasonable searches as and seizures. This protection from unreasonable searches mirrors the protections that are afforded by the U.S. Constitution. Click here to read the story.

Call the Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense and Litigation lawyer, Markus A. Sermons, to find out how our experience can assist you or a friend/family member assert your rights after an illegal search or seizure.

Read also DHS Ransacks Florida Couple's Home Without Explanation, Strips Woman Naked.

July 18, 2014

Police Use False 911 Calls to Trick People into Consenting to Warrantless Searches

According to a recent article by policestateusa.com, police officers in Durham, North Carolina routinely lie to gain access to homes in search of wanted suspects. The "tactic is apparently legal--and commonplace - according to an officer's sworn statements", writes a policestateusa.com staff journalist.

An officer from the Durham Police Department admitted recently, under oath, that he told a resident at a private home in Durham that he was investigating a 911 hang up call in order to gain access to the private home. In reality, the officer was there to serve an arrest warrant on an occupant of the home.

DSC08925.JPGHow would this type of conduct by law enforcement hold up in Florida? Would this type of conduct be considered an unreasonable search or seizure under the U.S. Constitution or the Florida Constitution? Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers, along with defense attorneys throughout the state, are often faced with answering these types of questions in defense of their clients.

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July 16, 2014

Voting, Firearm, and Other Civil Rights Restoration in Florida; Requirements and Procedure

In Jacksonville, and throughout the State of Florida, a bad decision that leads to a felony conviction can strip a person of his or her civil rights for life. Without a restoration of civil rights, a convicted felon cannot possess a firearm, serve on a jury, vote, hold public office, and more. Perhaps the most hurtful rights to have taken from a convicted felon are the rights to vote and bear arms. The Florida Constitution takes the right to vote as a result of a felony conviction, while Florida Statute 790.23 makes it illegal for a felon to possess a firearm and creates a three (3) year mandatory minimum sentence that must apply for those convicted of the offense. Although it is possible to have one's civil rights restored, the number of convicted felons having their rights restored has dropped in recent years, according to News4Jax.com.

statue-of-liberty-2-1420901-m.jpgAutomatic restorations implemented by former Governor Charlie Crist were done away with soon after current Governor Rick Scott came into office in 2011. Since Scott took office, the number of civil rights restorations has dropped significantly. There have only been approximately 1200 since Governor Scott was elected to office, compared to more than 150,000 during Crist's administration.

The Office of Executive Clemency is the Florida agency that oversees the restoration of civil rights for Florida convicted felons. There are similar, but slightly different procedures that exist, depending on the level of civil rights restored and the seriousness of the underlying offense; each requires an investigation into the applicant that wishes to have his or her civil rights restored.

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July 11, 2014

What to Expect in a Florida Criminal Preliminary Hearing

Navigating through Florida's complicated labyrinth of criminal law is a task best left to the trained professional-- someone that speaks the language and can even walk the walk when it comes down to it. In the area of criminal law, knowing the rules regarding what is supposed to happen and when it is supposed to happen is a very valuable tool to possess. A criminal defense attorney that is knowledgeable of the rules will prove to be your greatest ally in the unfortunate event that you are arrested.

gavel-2-1409592-m.jpgFlorida law, under Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.133, requires a nonadversary preliminary hearing within 48 hours of a person being arrested; this is commonly referred to as "first appearance", since it is typically the first time that a person appears before a judge after being arrested. At this hearing, the presiding judge will determine whether there is probable cause to believe (1) that a crime has been committed and (2) that the defendant is the person that committed the crime.

The amount of a bond required is usually set during the first appearance. It is important to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf to help ensure that a reasonable and appropriate bond amount is set. Moreover, if it can be demonstrated that no probable cause exists, a defendant can be released without a requirement to post a bond. Another situation that could lead to release without a bond requirement is where the hearing is not held within the time frame that is required by Florida law, which is 48 hours; however, in extraordinary circumstances two separate 24-hour extensions may be applied.

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July 10, 2014

Will Florida's Evolution of Legal Marijuana One Day Allow You to "Party" with the President?

Under the current status of legal marijuana in Florida and the long road traveled to arrive at Florida's limited medical use of legal marijuana, it doesn't seem likely that the near future makes Florida a place where people can freely offer marijuana to the president without the threat of criminal prosecution and the need for services of a Florida criminal defense attorney. This past Tuesday, President Obama spent time in Denver, Colorado, and reportedly made his rounds, taking advantage of the Denver's nightlife. While spending time at a bar formerly owned by Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper, President Obama shot pool with the locals, spoke with citizens, and was even offered marijuana on more than one occasion before finally calling it a night. According to the Florida Times-Union, the President refused each time and was back in his hotel room by 9 p.m.file0001430681570.jpg

In June, Florida governor, Rick Scott, signed a law that allows limited use of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, a low THC strand of marijuana will be allowed to treat diseases such as epilepsy and cancer, according to The Huffington Post. The law is not yet effective and still has details that must be worked out. However, one thing is crystal clear: Florida's newly signed law does not allow recreational use of marijuana. Colorado, for example, allows residents over the age of 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants for private use, but the marijuana is required to stay where it is grown. Residents of Colorado are also allowed to travel within the state while possessing up to one ounce of marijuana, and may give up to one ounce as a gift to another person, as long as the recipient is also 21 years old or older.

Possession of marijuana is currently illegal in the state of Florida. In fact, possessing more than 20 grams is a felony that could potentially land a person in prison for up to five years; while possessing less than 20 grams puts a person in jeopardy of spending up to a full year in the county jail. As the amount of marijuana increases, the consequences and severity of potential sentences increase, as well. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal defense attorneys available for free initial consultations in the Jacksonville area. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 to learn how our experience can go to work for you or a loved one in drug related offense and other legal matters.

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July 9, 2014

Stand Your Ground Law and Convicted Florida Felons: Can Felons be Immune to Prosecution for Possessing and Firing Guns?

Currently, a controversial question has come about in Florida: Should a convicted felon, who because of his status as a convicted felon has lost the right to legally own or possess a gun, be afforded the chance to claim self-defense and be immune from prosecution if he shoots someone while defending his home? More scenarios exists that create legal justification, but the defense of one's home is the most recognizable situation that comes to mind for most people. The Florida Supreme Court is currently awaiting legal briefs and oral arguments from attorneys so that the high court can decide if Stand Your Ground applies to convicted felons, each side hoping to sway the court in its favor.

If reasonably justified under the facts relating to a particular situation, the average non-felon Florida citizen will be afforded the benefits and protection of the Stand Your Ground law when forced to use the lethal force of a gun for protection from a home invader, for instance. Depending on the Florida Supreme Court's ruling on this issue, Florida criminal defense attorneys may have a new tool in the defense of some clients.

There is no requirement to quiver in fear or run away, tail tucked between your legs, when someone attempts to use lethal or deadly force against you in Florida under the state's Justified Use of Deadly Force statutes. This principle is commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground. Under the proper circumstances, Florida law makes a person immune from criminal and civil liability after lawful self-defense is exercised.

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January 9, 2014

Injunctions For Protection and Technology: How Unintentional and Inadvertent Contact Through Social Media May Land You In Jail.

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Through the evolution of technology, people no longer communicate the way that they used to. Where as most business and social interactions used to always take place face to face, in today's tech world that is no longer the case. Now a substantial amount of social interaction and business interactions are through email or social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Although this has been great in many respects, there have also been many downfalls for clients in the legal system. This has been extremely true for people who have had domestic violence injunctions or restraining orders issued against them.

In years past when an alleged victim took out an injunction for protection in Florida, the prohibited conduct was normally clear. Do not call the victim. Do not go within 500 feet of certain addresses. If you called the person, there was a record of the call, which would mean that you violated the terms of the injunction and would go to jail on a misdemeanor violation of injunction. This is no longer the case. With the inventions of social media sites, violating an Injunction or commonly known as a restraining order has become more complicated and potentially more dangerous for the person who has an injunction against them. As a result, there have been allegations that a person may violate an injunction and not even know it.

Just this week it was reported that a Google+ invite to a former girlfriend landed a man in jail. The police reported alleged that an ex girlfriend had just broken up with the man and obtained a restraining order against him. Shortly after receiving the injunction, the girlfriend discovered an invitation to join one of his Google+ circles. She called the police and they arrested the man for this one act. Upon first look many people would think this is no different than the woman who was arrested for violating an injunction for a "poke" on Facebook. In the Facebook case the evidentiary issue was whether it could be proved that it was actually the woman herself or her involvement that caused the poke or had another person had access to her computer.

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December 26, 2013

River City Marketplace Brawl Could Lead to Numerous Charges


Photo credit: taliesin from morguefile.com

On Christmas night at river city market place, chaos erupted when teenagers began fighting, jumping on cars and even rushing an off duty police officer. Jacksonville.com reported that hundreds of people became involved and approximately 62 police officers were called in to handle the unruly crowd.

Five people, aged 19 and younger were arrested on misdemeanor charges of "fighting". "Fighting" is a local crime under Jacksonville Municipal Code Section 614.123 entitled "affray." The affray ordinance makes it illegal to engage in a fight or mutual combat with another person in a public place. As a result, unless these teenagers hire a good criminal defense attorney who can either persuade the state to drop the charges or allow them to enroll in a pre-trial diversion program, they are beginning their young adult lives convicted of a crime.

Since the investigation is still active, more arrests and charges are possible such as assault and criminal mischief. When a person is charged with assault, they are being accused of unlawfully threatening someone by word or act and having the ability to act on the threat, which is a violation of Florida Statute 784.011. An assault is an intentional threat by word or act to do violence to someone. The person threatening must have an apparent ability to commit the violence, which results in creating a well-founded fear in the other person that violence was imminent. An assault in Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor. This means if you or a loved one are convicted of a simple assault in Florida, you or your loved one will face up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

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November 14, 2013

Stand Your Ground Law Still Intact despite a vote to Repeal

gun-close-up-940614-m.jpgThis week the Florida the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Subcommittee heard testimony and argument on a bill that wanted to repeal the law self-defense law in Florida called "Stand Your Ground" which allows an individual to defend themselves instead of being forced to retreat when confronted by an attacker and use deadly force when the person believes that their life is in jeopardy.

Although 22 states currently have some form of the stand your ground law, Florida's Stand Your Ground Law received national attention during the Trayvon Martin case, despite the defense never being asserted by his Zimmerman's defense counsel. In Florida, Florida Statute 776.032 grants immunity from criminal and civil prosecution to individuals who exercise their right to use force in defense of themselves or others.

Specifically, Florida Statute 776.032 provides that "a person who uses force as permitted in Florida Statutes 776.012, 776.013 or 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force." This is the statute that has been termed the "Stand Your Ground Law."

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November 6, 2013

How shoplifting a present during the holidays will cost much more than the amount of the item.

As a criminal defense attorney, each year around the holidays, I have seen a rise in the amount of people arrested for shoplifting. Often times, these people succumb to the pressure that the holiday brings. Their loved ones see the commercials of shiny new toys and presents and beg their parents for the items. In this economy when there are so many people unemployed or underemployed, there is simply no money to spare and faced with disappointing their loved ones, they attempt to shoplift the item and as a result end up in jail.

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November 4, 2013

How finishing that one drink can result in DUI

Driving Under the Influence or (DUI) is a crime that knows no bounds and affects everyone from ordinary citizens, politicians, celebrities and athletes alike. Almost all of us know or have known someone who has driven under the influence of alcohol at some point in his or her life. Driving under the Influence is a type of crime that does not discriminate on who you are in order for you to be arrested or commit the offense. As a matter of fact, we often hear of famous people committing these crimes, nationally the list of celebrities charged with the offense is substantial. Celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Charles Barkley, Heather Locklear, FloRida, Kiefer Sutherland, and the list goes on.

So what does Driving Under the Influence (DUI) mean? In Florida if you have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or more and operate a motor vehicle, you are considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol and you will be arrested. So what does .08 mean and how much do I have to drink to reach .08?

That is where the problem lies. Your blood alcohol level is affected by many factors besides the amount of alcohol you consume. Factors such as your gender, how much you weigh, whether or not you take prescription drugs, how long it takes you to consume the alcohol and whether you drink on an empty stomach or have eaten a full meal, all contribute to your body's blood alcohol level. The only way to be truly safe is not to consume alcohol at all, which can be difficult given our culture of happy hours and bars.

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November 1, 2013

Don't Let a Day At The Florida-Georgia Game Lead to a Night in Jail on Assault, Battery, Disorderly Conduct charges or worse

Every fall millions of Americans avidly cheer for their favorite College or NFL team and boo their opposition. With the Jacksonville landing hosting Florida-Georgia activities this weekend, we are reminded of last year's incidents during Florida-Georgia weekend that resulted with one person in the hospital and landed another fan in jail charged with aggravated battery.

Last year's incident at Florida-Georgia was not uncommon. Back in 2011 a pre-season game of the Raiders and 49ers resulted in two fans being shot and another beaten. Last October a fan was stabbed on the way to a football game betwee49ers versus New York Giants game. Then again during the playoffs in January during the NFC Championship game an Atlanta Falcons fan was stabled in the neck right outside of the Georgia Dome. Back in February three teenagers were stabled when attending the Ravens victory parade. I bet not one of these fans thought they would end up in jail or the hospital that day.

Unfortunately the violence between fans and of fans continues. Just last weekend four fans at the Jets v. Patriots game allowed their team spirit to turn into violence against fans of the opposing team. This led three Patriots fans, and one Jets fan to be charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. A verbal conflict is alleged to have escalated into a physical altercation when the Patriots fans kicked and punched the Jets fan. The Jets fan in return punched one of the Patriots fans. Most commentators are focusing on whether or not self-defense is a valid legal defense in that case. The Jets' fan's attorney stated, "it is clear that Kurt was defending himself, his mother and his friends from an attack."

Self-defense statutes vary from state to state. In Florida, a defendant can claim self-defense in a non-deadly incident such as this, if the defendant reasonably believed that such action was necessary to defend himself or herself against the other's imminent use of unlawful force.

However self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the person charged has to assert and demonstrate facts supporting self-defense at trial. A person who does not have a lawyer may not understand how to properly and legally assert self defense which may cause them to lose their case. A conviction for simple assault could get you 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. However the circumstances in the Jets v. Patriots incident, if it happened in Florida, may also have led to additional charges such as misdemeanor battery. If a person is charged with misdemeanor battery, that offense carries up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Any time you or a loved one is charged with a criminal act in northeast Florida, it is important that you seek a Jacksonville Criminal Defense attorney immediately. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who has represented hundreds of clients charged with assault and battery, I can fight to protect your rights and aggressively represent you.

If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, you can contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200.

October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat and Sex Offenders

Trick or Treating is not the same as it used to be. Now added to the list of concerns parents have when trick or treating, is their fear of people designated as sex offenders or predators.

Sexual predators and sexual offenders are different classifications based on certain criteria under the Florida Statutes. Through the Public Safety Information Act of 1997, Florida began listing sexual offender information available through a 24 hour a day hotline and on the Internet. Both sex offenders and sexual predators must register with the Florida department of Law Enforcement and their names, addresses and picture are posted on the sexual offender database.

The holiday of Halloween not only brings special concern to parents but also to offenders. In Florida, there are special requirements on Halloween for sex offenders and sexual predators, such as not being able allowed to display Halloween decorations, distribute candy or leave their outside lights on. However many state restrictions only apply to those individuals who are currently on supervised probation. As a result, many counties have stepped in by imposing different additional requirements on Halloween. These requirements vary by each county and each year there are changes so sex predators and sex offenders need to make sure they know the rules in the county in which they reside.

Jacksonville.com reported that in Duval and Saint johns county during Halloween sex offenders and predators are required to post a sign in their yard stating that they have no candy or treats at this residence, nor can they have on any outside lights or participate in any activities.

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