October 24, 2014

13 Year Old Charged as Adult in Shooting Death of Homeless Jacksonville Man

In June, Thomas Trent was found dead in a shopping center parking lot on Jacksonville's westside. The 54 year homeless man had died from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities have now accused 13 year old Sharron Townsend of the homicide. Townsend was 12 years old at the time of the shooting, according to Jacksonville.com.

State Attorney Angela Corey has decided that 13 year old Townsend should be charged as an adult in relation to Trent's second degree murder. Life is the maximum sentence for second degree murder. Section 985.56, Florida Statutes (2014) authorizes state attorneys to charge a child of any age as an adult when a child commits an offense that is punishable by death or life in prison; the child will then be treated as an adult in all respects. In a recent statement, State Attorney Corey expressed her belief that juvenile sanctions were not enough to punish and rehabilitate a child that commits this type of violent crime. Townsend is the second juvenile that Corey has charged as an adult in a murder case. The first was Christian Fernandez, who was accused of killing his 2 year old brother. Fernandez, like Townsend, was 12 years old at the time.

I've participated in murder trials and sentencing hearings in Jacksonville as a criminal defense attorney. The devastation to the families on the victim's side and the defendant's side is unreal. Dealing with offenses of this magnitude are draining to all involved. Choosing the right attorney to represent you or a loved one in a serious criminal case is an important task that is not to be taken lightly. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal defense lawyers with years of experience defending serious felony offenses. If you, or a loved one, are arrested for a violent offense, we can help. Initial consultations are free. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. You can contact me directly via e-mail by clicking here.

October 22, 2014

Domestic Violence Injunction Violation: Don't Be A Sucker For Love

Domestic violence injunctions are serious business. Having an injunction issued against you limits your rights in certain areas. It limits the freedom to go certain places, it limits the freedom to possess firearms, and it creates criminal liability for violating the injunction. Florida Statute 741.30 governs the circuit court's injunction powers in regard to Domestic Violence. The statute is designed to make seeking a protective order an easy endeavor.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense and family law attorney, I've defended people in proceedings to have injunctions put in place, and I've also represented people seeking the protection of a domestic violence injunction. A common occurrence is that people are [understandably] highly emotional immediately after whatever incident led her [or him] to seek a domestic violence injunction, and he or she is adamant about having the protection in place. However, time has a way of healing wounds. The anger slips away, but now there is a court order that says that Boyfriend can't come near Girlfriend or contact her for the next year [or maybe even permanently]. These situations can happen in both directions, but the most common scenario in my experience is that the woman is seeking protection from the man.

The thing about the injunctions are that they don't tell Girlfriend that she is to stay away from Boyfriend; in most instances, it's a one-way street. Boyfriend must stay away from and can't contact Girlfriend, even if she says that it's okay, because the judge said, "DON'T DO IT!" So what happens? Well, Boyfriend [thinking the coast is clear] accepts an invitation from Girlfriend to come by and spend time with her. Things are great, until there is a disagreement about something, usually some trivial and incredibly unimportant thing. By the way, while things were great, Boyfriend and Girlfriend called and texted each other ALL the time. So, after there is a falling out, she has plenty of proof that he's violated the injunction, which is a crime.

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October 13, 2014

Jacksonville Looking to Improve the Way it Deals with Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System

As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have observed over the years the criminal justice system's failure with regard to mentally ill defendants. Answers, far too often, were geared toward locking these defendants away, rather than attacking the root cause of the problem. However, as a Jacksonville citizen, I am pleased and excited that there are those that wish to change the climate regarding the way the system deals with mentally ill individuals. According to the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville is looking to emulate some of the methods employed by Miami-Dade that have led to success over the years with regard to issues relating to the mentally ill.

Derek Gilliam of the Times-Union writes, "Fourth Judicial Circuit Judge Karen Cole organized the delegation that traveled to Miami because she believes the area's court system could be better when dealing with the mentally ill. She said in Jacksonville mentally ill defendants, especially ones charged with low-level misdemeanors, aren't identified by the courts or directed to services." Miami-Dade has managed to save millions of dollars and decrease recidivism among mentally ill defendants by focusing on treatment and training officers how to deal with these individuals. Police related shootings involving the mentally ill have dropped drastically, as well.

If you have a family member that suffers from a mental illness and is also charged with a crime, the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC has experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers that can help. Call today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation to learn how.

October 13, 2014

Jacksonville Looking to Improve the Way it Deals with Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System

As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have observed over the years the criminal justice system's failure with regard to mentally ill defendants. Answers, far too often, were geared toward locking these defendants away, rather than attacking the root cause of the problem. However, as a Jacksonville citizen, I am please and excited that there are those that wish to change the climate regarding the ways the system deals with mentally ill individuals.

According to the Florida Times Union, Jacksonville is looking to emulate some of the methods employed by Miami-Dade that have led to success over the years with regard to issues relating to the mentally ill. Miami-Dade has managed to save millions of dollars and decrease recidivism among mentally ill defendants by focusing on treatment and training officers how to deal with these individuals. Police related shootings involving the mentally ill have dropped drastically, as well.

If you have a family member that suffers from a mental illness and is also charged with a crime, the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC has experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers that can help. Call today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation to learn how.

October 8, 2014

Death of a Florida 'Speed Trap'

Many Florida residents, and visitors, have felt the sting of fines associated with speeding tickets after driving the stretch of highway 301 between Jacksonville and Gainesville. Waldo, Florida is one of the cities that this stretch of highway passes through. Of Waldo's $1 million annual budget, approximately half came from funds generated through traffic citations, according to ABC News.

IMG_20141008_131952_528.jpgTravelers may now have relief when passing through the Waldo area. The Waldo Police Department, responsible for issuing a half million dollars in citations each year, has been dissolved. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation into misconduct by the former chief of police (and the interim chief that replaced him briefly) may have led to the chief's resignation (and, later, the interim chief's resignation).

For assistance with civil traffic and criminal traffic offenses, experienced Jacksonville traffic ticket and criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC are available for free initial consultations.

October 3, 2014

Hit and Run: Avoiding Leaving the Scene Charges in Florida

If you've ever been in a crowded parking lot where space is limited, you know that you should be more careful than normal when maneuvering through the tight spaces that often accompany these situations. Misjudging the amount of space available to make a turn into a parking space, for instance, could easily result in a minor collision. So what are you required to do after you lightly swipe the car next to you? As a Jacksonville traffic attorney and criminal defense attorney, I've seen what can happen when people are unfamiliar with what they are required to do, or simply make the mistake of leaving the scene because they're scared and nervous. Leaving the scene without doing certain things that Florida law requires of a driver involved in an accident, is a criminal traffic offense that could lead to you being arrested. So how do you avoid being charged with the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

141003_destruction-demolition-derby-5-1302975-m.jpgDamage Caused to Attended Vehicle or Property
Florida statute 316.061 requires that the driver of a car that collides with another car or some other property, where damage occurs, to immediately stop and provide the driver's information to driver of the other vehicle or property owner. Consider the crowded parking lot example above. If you are attempting to park in a crowded parking lot, and swipe a parked car next to you, if there is someone sitting in the car, you should (1) stop at the scene; (2) provide the other driver with your name, address, and registration number for your car; (3) if asked, allow the other driver of property owner to see your license; and (4) report the crash to police. Failing to do what you are required to do prior to leaving is a second degree misdemeanor.

Damage Caused to Unattended Vehicle or Property
Florida statute 316.063 mandates that when there is a crash that involves damage to an unattended car or other property, you must (1) stop at the scene; (2) locate the owner of the other car or property in order to provide the owner with your name, address, and registration number for your car [if the owner cannot be found, leave this information in writing in a place that the owner can easily find it]; and (3) report the crash to police without any unnecessary delay.

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September 17, 2014

Minnesota Vikings Running Back, Adrian Peterson, Indicted for Child Abuse

Another NFL player has made headlines due to alleged physical violence. Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson, has been indicted in Texas for child abuse. Peterson allegedly spanked his four-year old son until the child bled. According to cnn.com, Peterson sent text messages to the boy's mother saying that Peterson felt bad about what he's done. Peterson went on to text, "Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don't play no games when it comes to acting right." However, photographs of the child's alleged injuries demonstrate that Peterson may, in fact, have gone overboard. Most disturbing is that Peterson was previously accused of abusing another four-year old son of his, reports espn.go.com.

140917_an-angry-and-scared-little-girl-695191-m.jpgAs a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I've defended clients charged with child abuse pursuant to Florida statute 827.03 in varying degrees. Child abuse in Florida, at a minimum, is a third degree felony that could land an accused in prison for up to five years, but can be charged as a first degree felony, which is punishable by up to thirty years.

Child abuse is committed when a person intentionally causes physical or emotional injuries to a child. Any intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in a physical or mental injury will be enough, even when there was no apparent desire to cause the resulting harm. The "should have known better" aspect gets many parents into trouble, especially since those that will be passing judgment will be doing so unaffected by the emotion that triggered the alleged excessive discipline.

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September 11, 2014

NFL Star Caught on Video Committing Domestic Battery; Implications Under Florida Law

NFL star running back, Ray Rice, has been all over headlines lately after a video surfaced that shows Rice punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face... knocking her out cold. TMZ.com first posted the full video on September 8, 2014. The video shows Rice hit Palmer inside an elevator, then drags her out after he knocks her unconscious.

Rice was indicted for aggravated assault as a result of the domestic violence incident that took place. The incident occurred in Atlantic City; Palmer was also charged with assault by Atlantic County, but the charges against her were later dismissed. Other States label offenses differently in some circumstances. In Florida, Rice's conducted would be labeled as battery, rather than assault. A battery occurs when a person is touched or struck against the person's will. An assault occurs when a victim is put in fear of being touched or struck. The fear has to be reasonable and the person threatening some sort of harm must have an apparent ability to follow through with the threat.

A battery or assault offense can carry a range of degrees in Florida, and accordingly there is a range of possible penalties that apply. Additionally, domestic battery convictions result in the loss of firearm rights, even in cases where the offense is not a felony offense. Criminal defense lawyers most often look to self defense as a shield against battery or assault charges. In cases like Ray Rice's case where the attack is on video and clearly shows that self defense is not an available defense, an experienced criminal defense attorney that can negotiate on behalf of the defendant is invaluable.

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September 8, 2014

Facebook Posts Lead to Criminal Charges

A criminal defense attorney's worst enemy is a confession, whether in writing or one that is video taped. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I've had my share of clients confess to crimes, even after they had been warned and told that they have the right to remain silent. At least these confessions came while they were being interrogated by trained detectives. I am completely baffled by the number of people that use social media to "confess" to criminal offenses by posting statements, and the ultimate confession... posting videos of themselves committing the crimes.

A teenager in Oregon was arrested after he made a Facebook post concerning a crash that occurred while the teen was driving under the influence, according to abcnews.go.com. The teenager posted, "Drivin drunk... classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P". After the messages were sent to the local police station, the teen was arrested for hitting two parked cars, but not for DUI.

140908_capture-1046263-m.jpgNydailynews.com reported that Facebook also led to a North Carolina mother's arrest after a video was posted on her son's Facebook page. The video showed the teen's mother helping him attempt the "fire challenge". The forty-one year old mother was arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor after her son had to be treated for the burns he received while attempting the challenge.

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August 27, 2014

Million Dollar Marijuana Operation Discovered in Countryside Home

A Tennessee power company's investigation into a neighborhood's power shortage issues led to a large drug bust in the Tennessee countryside. Beneath the average looking countryside home was a million dollar "pot cave". Marijuana was being grown in buckets, with an elaborate water and light system in place to maintain the plants, according to secretsofthefed.com. (Read the story here.) A secret entrance through the garage led to a cave that went back 50 yards into the hills the house was built against. The entrance was protected by a steel door, which was operated by a hydraulic motor.

The men that were running the marijuana operation had spliced into power lines, and stole an estimated $61,000 worth of electricity. In, Florida, this drug bust would have led to Grand Theft and Trafficking in Cannabis charges, among other things. Florida law calls for minimum sentences that apply in Trafficking cases, with three years being the lowest minimum that applies and fifteen years as the highest minimum. The maximum sentence allowable under Florida law is 30 years in Florida State Prison. Mandatory fines range from $25,000 to $200,000.

With these kinds of punishments as possibilities, finding the best criminal defense attorney available is a must. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a criminal offense in the Jacksonville area, experienced criminal defense lawyers are available for a free consultation at the Law Office of David M. Goldman. Call us today at (904) 685-1200.

August 21, 2014

Police Use Tricks to Get Confessions: Major Reason to Remain Silent

Remaining silent is a right that should be exercised more often by people suspected of committing crimes, but unfortunately, people's desire to explain themselves and tactics used by police oftentimes overcome a person's better judgement. The best time to contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is before you've talked to the police. In an ideal situation, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer even before you're ever arrested.

The U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution, both, protect a person's right against self-incrimination, meaning that a person can't be forced to testify against himself or herself. In essence, a person cannot be forced to confess wrongdoing. These provisions are the source of the "Miranda" warnings that you often hear recited to suspects in crime dramas, such as "Law and Order". The most prominent and important part of the warning is that the suspect has the right to remain silent; remaining silent is a great idea! For you protection, other than basic information like your name, etc, the only thing you should communicate with police about is your desire to have an attorney present.

Clients often think that there is no harm in speaking with an officer or a detective if the client has nothing to hide or hasn't done anything wrong. The truth is that officers and detectives are searching for any information that can be used to solve the alleged crime, and a confession is the grand prize, even if you don't realize you've confessed.

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August 8, 2014

Resisting A Law Enforcement Officer: More Trouble Than Its Worth

If you were to ask a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer when was a good time for his or her client to resist an officer, the most likely answer you would get is, "never". Most of the time, resisting an officer invites unwanted trouble. Over the years I've seen many clients who could have avoided arrest all together by simply relaxing. Whatever the reason was that the officer had to "harass" the client went away, but the Resisting Without Violence offense that came as a result of the client walking away when the officer had a legally valid reason for the stop would still stick around; often leading to a night in jail and unnecessary court costs and other fees.

In a July 23, 2014 article entitled Know Your Rights Under Florida Law, I discussed some of the basics regarding what you should do (and not do) when you encounter police. That article also contains a link to an ACLU rights card that is available as a free download and is very informative about your rights. It is never a good idea to physically resist an officer, with incredibly limited exception. Usually, the consequences of not putting your hands behind your back as directed means an additional offenses being charged, additional fines, and the like. Well, in the case of 43 year old Eric Garner, the ultimate price was paid after Mr. Garner refused to be taken in to custody in New York.

Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by police while officers tried to subdue Mr. Garner, who pulled away when they attempted to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, according to FindLaw.com. An eyewitness recorded the entire incident.

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August 4, 2014

Does The Prohibition Against Openly Carrying Guns In Florida Combine With the Concealed Weapons Law to Limit Floridians'' Constitutional Right to Bear Arms?

There are probably people that would say, "Yes!" if asked whether Florida's current legal climate unconstitutionally limits the rights of citizens to carry guns; while some will disagree with that opinion. Lawyers in Florida, politicians, anti-gun groups, pro-gun groups, and all others in between have different opinions on the issue because the answer isn't straight forward.

gun-and-bullets-1146529-m.jpgBoth extremes, pro- and anti-gun groups, alike, have validity to the concerns that they have surrounding the issue. As a United States citizen, I want the full protections and benefits of constitutional rights that have been guaranteed to each of us, although, I feel somewhat uneasy at the thought of people walking around openly with guns in their hands or on their hips like cowboys. However, my feelings and the feelings of those that agree or disagree is not what are important. The important thing to consider is what the law requires, specifically the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution.

The 2nd amendment to the United States Constitution declares, "[. . .] the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Florida's Constitution, in Section 8 of Article I, states, "[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law." Exercising it's police powers, the State of Florida in its own constitution puts a qualifier on the right to bear arms granted in the U.S. Constitution by adding that the State may regulate the manner in which it's citizens bears arms.

Continue reading "Does The Prohibition Against Openly Carrying Guns In Florida Combine With the Concealed Weapons Law to Limit Floridians'' Constitutional Right to Bear Arms? " »

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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