The United States Supreme Court recently found that Florida’s death penalty sentencing process was unconstitutional.  Specifically, the Court found that Florida’s death penalty scheme violated the 6th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The case of Hurst v. Florida was argued before the Court in October of 2015, and the case was decided in January of 2016.  Florida law calls for life imprisonment in capitol cases upon conviction.  A person may be sentenced to death, but only after a jury has heard additional evidence on the death issue.  The jury will then provide an advisory life or death sentence, but the ultimate decision comes from the judge in the case.  This last step is what the U.S. Supreme Court found problematic.

death penaltyIn Hurst v. Florida, Timothy Hurst was convicted of murder for the death of his co-worker.  The jury found him guilty and recommended death.  The judge also found that the death penalty was warranted.  Hurst appealed to Florida’s District Court of Appeal and was granted a new sentencing phase hearing.  The death penalty, again, was the result in the second proceeding, as well.  The case was then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, which upheld the result, despite Hurst’s argument that his 6th amendment rights had been violated.  Hurst was referring to a U.S. Supreme Court case where the high court struck down an Arizona death penalty sentencing scheme similar to Florida’s where the judge played a role in deciding the ultimate question of life or death.  Once Hurst’s case was heard by the high Court, the U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed with Hurst.

Florida’s legislature is now reconsidering the death penalty procedures in the State.  According to Jacksonville.com, a Florida senate committee will begin working this week on a death penalty fix.  For more information or help with a criminal case for yourself or a loved one, call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today.  Initial consultations are always free.  Let our experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers help you reach the best outcome in your case.

Last month, a Florida woman was arrested for Domestic Battery when she attached her husband… for passing gas in bed.  According to huffingtonpost.com, a Florida woman was so offended by her husband passing gas during the wee hours of the morning, that she elbowed him and then, literally “kicked him out” of bed.  The husband waited for things to calm down a bit before returning to bed.  A second gas-passing episode landed him in more hot water and resulted in more elbows and kicking.  The police were eventually called, and the wife, 55 year old Dawn Meikle was arrested.

Domestic ViolenceAlthough no injuries were reported in this incident, Florida criminal defense lawyers can tell you that domestic violence is taken very seriously.  Florida Statute 741.28 defines domestic violence as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”  In my experience as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, the vast majority of domestic violence incidents are of the misdemeanor variety.  They involve minor or no injuries, and are normally between couples.  Domestic violence can occur between brothers and sisters, parents and children, or between any other household members living together as a family.

Obviously, the incidents are sometimes more serious.  A similar story to this one, also out of Florida, involved a woman throwing a kitchen knife at her boyfriend when he passed gas while standing in front of her.  I’ve conjured some pretty rancid gas in my day, but I’ve never been attached for it.  I have been yelled at and given the evil eye though.

A person adjudicated guilty of domestic violence, as  misdemeanor offense, faces up to a year in the county jail and a minimum of 5 days in the county jail.  Probation as a sentence is allowed also.  In the majority of cases where there is no history of violence between the parties, probation and a batterers’ intervention course are likely.  The course is required whether there is a withhold of adjudication or an adjudication of guilt.  For more information, call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC for a free initial consultation.

 

Posting pictures or videos of yourself committing crimes is probably not the wisest thing to do in a country where just about everyone is on social media and can easily view what you post.  Even grannies, people with no real friends, and the police have social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Now, I imagine that there are places in the world where lawlessness runs rampant and posting pictures or videos of yourself using drugs, possessing stolen property, or beating your spouse won’t land you in hot water, but America is not one of those places.  Well, maybe in some parts, but you get what I mean.  In general,  I think that it takes a special type of stupidity to believe that you can do these types of things and suffer no consequences.  Recently, in Gainesville, Florida, according to accesswdunn.com,  a group of young men were arrested after posting images of themselves on Snapchat holding guns, drinking alcohol, and using marijuana.

self-incrimination on social mediaThe young men, one of which was a juvenile, were arrested after someone viewed the images and reported the group to the police.  They were arrested shortly after. One of the young men was in possession of a gun that had been stolen from a burglary of a car.  In Florida, breaking into a car and stealing a gun is considered an armed burglary.  Believe it or not, this offense is actually punishable by life in prison, even when the burglary is only to a car and not a person’s home.  That doesn’t mean that the young man in this story will get sentenced to life in prison, but that is an unfortunate, yet unlikely, possibility.  Although, in my experience such a sentence for a young person, especially someone that doesn’t have much of a record, is not likely, this does not mean that bad things can’t happen that will make the young man in possession of the stolen gun very uncomfortable.

Our country’s constitution grants criminal defendants protection against self incrimination, which means you are not required to tell on yourself.  However, when you post images or videos of yourself on social media that show you and your friends committing crimes, you’re pretty much waiving your right against self-incrimination.

If you find yourself unable to control the urge to commit crimes, at least do your criminal defense attorney a favor and don’t give the State all of the evidence it needs to prosecute you.  If you or a loved one end up in hot water, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you get the best outcome under the circumstances of your case.  Call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC  today for a free initial consultation.

negligence_500-288x300Second chances are a precious commodity in the world. Second chances in the criminal justice system are even more precious. Oftentimes, the opportunity to be given a break in the criminal justice system comes in the form of diversion programs.  They give people the opportunity to say, “oops”, and try again.  Diversion programs can be referred to by different names, but in general will give a person a chance not to be prosecuted as a result the offender’s participation in a program, typically aimed at addressing some sort of issue.  For instance, a person that is caught shoplifting may be required to attend a theft class as part of diversion.  Community service and fines are also common, since there is normally a fee attached to participating in the program.  Some other terms used are Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) or Deferred Prosecution (DP).

Florida Statute 948.08 gives state prosecutors discretion to use PTI programs.  In the case of  State of Florida vs. Michael Board, the defendant complained after the State revoked the PTI program due to alleged violations of the agreement by Mr. Board.  The trial court agreed with Mr. Board and required to the State to request permission from the trial court before being allowed to revoke PTI.  The State appealed and the appellate court sided with the State, pointing out that Florida law gives all discretion regarding PTI to the prosecution agency.

In many cases where the defendant has no prior record and the case does not involve a violent offense, the State will use its discretion to send the defendant to PTI.  The benefits of PTI lie primarily in the fact that the case will be dropped upon successful completion of the program.  Being able to apply to have your record sealed or expunged after completion is another nice benefit of PTI.  The programs may involve things from community service on the one hand, to classes being taken on the other hand.  In many cases, there are multiple requirements, but having the case dropped usually makes the program worth any trouble associated.  In many cases, the sooner you can have an attorney working on your behalf to convince the State that PTI is appropriate, then the better your chances of getting into PTI.  To speak an experienced Jacksonville criminal lawyer about your case, call us today to schedule a free consultation.

Things that you don’t know can, and oftentimes, will hurt you.  Under Florida’s criminal law, it appears to not be widely known by the average person that crimes committed by another person can get you into trouble under some circumstances.  Florida Statute 777.011, entitled Principal in the first degree, states “Whoever commits any criminal offense against the state, whether felony or misdemeanor, or aids, abets, counsels, hires, or otherwise procures such offense to be committed, and such offense is committed or is attempted to be committed, is a principal in the first degree and may be charged, convicted, and punished as such, whether he or she is or is not actually or constructively present at the commission of such offense.”  In short, you can be charged if you commit the crime or if you help or assist in anyway.

Jacksonville criminal defense lawyerAs a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I have encountered the surprise of clients and family members, typically parents, who are puzzled how a person who was not present ends up being charged with a crime.  For example, let’s say Jon Doe is a seventeen year old you man just a few weeks away from his eighteenth birthday.  John knows of a house where there is a gun collection.   John tells his friend, who has a history of burglarizing houses, where the house is located and how to find the guns inside the house.  The friend later breaks into the home and steals the guns while John is at work.  The friend has committed an Armed Burglary, which is a burglary committed when an offender is armed or becomes armed during the commission of a burglary.  Here, John’s friend becomes armed when he steals the guns from the house.  Can John be charged with Armed Burglary?  The answer is “yes”.  The horrible news for John is that Armed Burglary is an offense that is punishable by a maximum of life in prison.  John’s age makes it likely that he will be charged as an adult under these circumstances.

Remember when a person aids or counsels another regarding the commission of a criminal offense, the person may be charged whether or not the person was present at the time the offense is committed.  In the example used here John has certainly aided his friend with the Armed Burglary.  At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers that can help you or a loved one in your time of need.  We can help protect your rights and help you reach the best outcome under the circumstances in your case.  Initial consultations are free.  Call us today to schedule your consultation with a qualified Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.

Jacksonville sex offenderThe Jacksonville city council, in February,  approved changes to a city ordinance that addressed issues of registered sex offenders and holiday celebration.  The purpose of the ordinance is to protect the public.  The idea is the same as the registration requirement for convicted sex offenders; putting the public on notice and allowing sex offenders to be identified.  Failing to register is a crime on its own, and the new changes to Jacksonville’s ordinance have created the possibility of further criminal prosecution for certain actions.  According to FirstCoastNews.com, the changes to Jacksonville’s ordinance were aimed at closing loopholes sex offenders were using to get around certain prohibitions related to holiday celebration.   For instance, the previous version of the ordinance would not allow sex offenders to wear masks for Halloween.  The law did not address the issue of face paint, so registered sex offenders were using face paint to avoid trouble with the law.  Face painting is now prohibited also.

Another gap that was closed was one that allowed sex offenders to, for instance, put up Halloween decorations early on, then remove the decorations by Halloween.  The new amendments enacted in February closed this loophole as well.  Parents are advised to stay vigilant this holiday season while children are trick-or-treating.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) sex offender and sexual predator website can be found by clicking here.

Stay safe and have fun.  Happy Halloween!

While entering a convenience store parking lot, you accidentally bump another car while pulling into a parking space.  There is no one in the car.  You go in side the store and ask around to find the car’s owner.  However, you strike out.  The owner is nowhere around.  What do you do?  Florida law, under Florida Statute 316.063,  requires a driver in this situation to leave a note with the driver’s name, address, and registration number in a place on the damaged car that can easily be seen.  Afterwards, the accident should be reported to the police without unnecessary delay.  After doing the things that you required to do by law, you are free to leave.

Leaving the scene of an accident

Leaving the scene

Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida is not necessarily a crime.  under Florida Statute 316.063, but leaving without providing the information above can land you in hot water.  Not contacting the police as soon as possible can get you into trouble also.  Leaving the scene of an accident or a” hit and run” that involves only property damage is a simple misdemeanor and NOT  likely to get you jail time or anything like that, but it is too simple to avoid for you to be in trouble with the law.  Leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries is another story.  Just as there is a duty to provide certain information after a crash, there is also a duty to render aid to people injured in a crash.  Leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries is a felony offense that can be punishable by a prison sentence.

We have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys on staff that can assist you or a loved one who has been charged with a crime, such as leaving the scene.  Call today for a free initial consultation.

150923_harley-dogAccording to nbcnews.com, a Florida man is currently being investigated for possible animal cruelty charges after he was shot in the wrist… by a puppy.  It sounds unbelievable, but apparently it happened, and there are no charges pending against the puppy, and rightfully so.  Jerry Allen Bradford set out to shoot seven shepherd mix puppies, because he was unable to find them homes.  Apparently, turning the puppies over to the shelter was out of the question.  There can be a fee associated with turning animals in to shelters, but Bradford’s actions are not likely to be excused.  While Bradford held one of the puppies, the puppy squirmed and its paw hit the trigger. How is that for instant karma?  Bradford had already used the revolver to shoot three of the puppies, which were found in a shallow grave after authorities arrived. The other four puppies were unharmed.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I immediately began to think about possible defenses in this case if the puppy were to be charged with the shooting.  For Mr. Bradford, I’m pretty sure that animal cruelty charges will likely stick, but based on the language found in Florida statute 828.12, there may be arguments to be made in his defense also.  However, the puppy has a better case.

Self defense allows a person to respond to force with an appropriate amount of similar force.  In this case, deadly force is being used against the puppies.  The law will look to the reasonableness of responding to Bradford with deadly force.  The shooting in this case undoubtedly will be justified where the puppy has observed Bradford fatally shoot three of his puppy brothers.  In this instance, the puppy was reasonably in fear for its life.  Self defense law allows a person to come to the defense of others, just as much as it allows for one to protect himself or herself.  The puppy from this story managed to save four lives, one of those lives was his own, making him a hero in the eyes of many.  If you or a loved have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for any offense, including gun related offenses, the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC can help.  We have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers and Jacksonville gun lawyers on staff ready to put their experience to work for you.  Call us today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.

Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers know that ordinary people can find themselves on the wrong side of the law easily. Yes—even people who are not thought of as troublemakers. A fraternity in New York has come under fire for a hazing that resulted in the death of a pledge.   Chun Michael Deng died after receiving a fatal brain injury, according to JDjournal.com.  Pledge Deng was sent running  through a gauntlet blindfolded and wearing a thirty pound backpack.  He was somehow knocked unconscious during the run.  Deng was reportedly taken inside the fraternity house, his clothes were changed to hide traces of affiliation to the fraternity, then those that were present called for help.  A grand jury has apparently decided that charges should be filed against fraternity members in relation to Deng’s death.  Third degree murder is a charge being considered by New York authorities.

150915_unhappy-smoker-1526842Under Florida law, specifically statute 1006.63,hazing means any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. “Hazing” includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.”

When serious injury of death occurs, hazing is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison.  Hazing without actual injury of death is a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up one year in jail.  Avoiding hazing altogether can be accomplished by simply not doing something that can put a student in danger of harm.  At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers on staff that can help you achieve the best result in your case.  Call today for a free consultation with a knowledgable Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.

150902_sex-1485587States, including Florida, often pass laws to protect children.  Statutory rape laws are intended to protect children from being victims of sexual advances by older people.  Florida Statute 794.05, entitled Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors, makes it a felony for any person 24 years old or older to have have sex with a child that is 16 or 17 years old.  The consent of the minor is disregarded by the law when the defendant 24 or older.  NoBullying.com gives insight into the thought process behind the rule that the minor cannot give consent in the eyes of the law.  Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers can sometimes be a bit flustered by this fact.  Especially when lack of knowledge of the victim’s age is not a defense to prosecution, according to Florida Statute 794.021.

Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers know that sex crimes, like statutory rape, are serious.  Most of the time, a defendant will be required to register as a sex offender.  In certain situations, your Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue that under the facts in your case, registration as a sex offender isn’t required.  One the most common arguments is referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet exception”.  When the defendant and the victim are no more than four years apart in age, the defendant can avoid the registration requirement.

When the victim is under 16, Florida Statute 800.04, which governs lewd or lascivious offenses, comes into play.  Sexual intercourse is not a requirement under this statute. It can be used to prosecute inappropriate touching of children under 16, as well sexual intercourse with children under 16.  The Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC has experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers on staff that can help you or a loved one  in your time of need.  Whether you’re looking to simply speak with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer to know what your legal rights are or if you need a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer to defend you in a criminal case, case us today at (904) 685-1200.  We can help.  Click here to view our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog for more helpful information.

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