January 16, 2015

Criminal Mischief

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This weekend as I drove through my neighborhood, I noticed a street sign had been knocked down... it apparently, had been run over. I remember thinking, "Somebody in Jacksonville had a good time last night." My criminal defense lawyer hat wasn't quite on yet, but I did briefly start to think that someone could potentially be in need of a good DUI attorney.

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I made a right turn and drove on after I snapped a quick picture of the sign. As I drove further down the street, I noticed that the pole with the flashing light that warns you to slow down in the school zone was also missing; it had also been mowed down. Just after passing the school, I made a left and discovered more signs had been run down. Tire tracks in the dirt made it clear that a vehicle had been used to destroy these signs. It was now obvious that the first sign I found was no accident, but part of an episode of criminal mischief, which is defined as willful and malicious destruction of property. Criminal mischief is a misdemeanor, as long as the damage is less than $1,000. Beyond the $1,000 threshold, criminal mischief becomes a felony offense. See Florida Statute 806.13.

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The most troubling and potentially dangerous sign destruction was a downed stop sign that had been flattened at an intersection. This was an accident waiting to happen. I'm the father of for young boys, and I used to be a teenager not too long ago. I can remember how "fun" it used to be to destroy things... for no reason at all. However, in this situation, the danger that the community was subjected to was incredibly ridiculous and could land someone is a world of trouble. If you or a reckless loved one have a lapse in good judgement that lands you in the hot seat, the experienced jacksonville criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC can help. Call us today at 9904) 685-1200.

January 6, 2015

Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer Tip #163: Child Neglect

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Take a look at the picture above. Is there anything that troubles you about this picture? I'm bothered by the distance between the adult and the two small children that are walking several feet behind the man. Even more troubling is the time and place that this occurs. This picture was taken about 8:20 a.m. near the intersection of Philips Highway and University Boulevard on a Monday morning as I drove to my office. By the time the man made it to the intersection, he did finally stop and wait for the children. However, I wondered if he would have simply kept going if traffic had allowed him to continue.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I sometimes find it hard look at the world surrounding me and not break out into a legal analysis of situations that I encounter from time-to-time. When it comes to situations that involve children, I suppose I wear my father hat and my Jacksonville criminal defense attorney hat at the same time. I immediately began to consider all the reasons why what I was seeing was an incredibly bad idea. I was actually proud that my feelings as a parent dominated my thoughts as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer; my thoughts on how I could defend this man were second to my thoughts of "what in the [insert expletive of your choice here] were you thinking?"

Florida Statute 827.03 defines neglect as follows:

"Neglect of a child" means:
1. A caregiver's failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child's physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or
2. A caregiver's failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.

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December 29, 2014

Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer Tip #573: Know Thy Victim- Grand Theft and Credit Card Fraud

"Crime doesn't pay." I've heard this cliché over and over, but rarely in my capacity as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. The few times I did hear it as a criminal defense lawyer, it didn't come from other Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers or from Jacksonville prosecuting attorneys for that matter. It always came from people that aren't familiar with the details of what actually goes on. Most often it would be from parents or other family members who say that they've tried to counsel the client and advise him or her into doing something more positive in life.

141229_McCaully.jpegTampa thief, Malik McCaully would probably say that crime does in fact pay--in more ways than one. Recently, McCaully was over $2,000 in the green after stealing a wallet from D'Andre Rivers' car that contained Rivers' credit cards, identification, and social security card. Although criminal plots are never a good idea, it looks as if crime does, in fact, pay sometimes. However, "a fool and his money are soon parted." A series of bad decisions leads to a severe beating and getting arrested. McCaully really didn't know who he was dealing with.

McCaully allegedly went on a shopping spree, making over $2,000 worth of fraudulent credit card charges on Rivers' card. Rivers, who has a criminal past himself, began to conduct his own investigation. Rivers tracked down a car rental agency where McCaully had used the stolen credit card to rent a car using Rivers' identification. The car rental agency turned over the contact information that McCaully provided when MCCaully rented the car. Why McCaully provided his real contact information is a mystery. Rivers made contact with McCaully to set up a drug deal at the Westfield Brandon Mall in Tampa. If your first thoughts were, "What criminal receives a random call from a stranger about a drug deal, then agrees to meet with the caller?" you're not alone. It's unclear whether McCaully would be the buyer or the seller, but agreeing to meet a random caller for a drug deal is equally unwise either way.

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December 15, 2014

Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer Tip # 751: Listen to Your Lawyer

141215_lawyers-140579-m.jpgWhether you've hired a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, or you've had one appointed to you by the court, it is always a good idea to listen to the advice of your criminal defense lawyer. I've been a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer for a number of years, and in my experience I have often found that a person accused of a crime who ignores the advice of his or her lawyer will end up in unfavorable position more often than a client that listens. Communication goes both ways; your lawyer should always listen to your concerns and consider the goals that you wish to accomplish. Your lawyer is then responsible for explaining to you how the law applies to the facts in your case and advising you of the best way to proceed in order to put you where it is that you would like to be.

Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers are trained in the law, rules, and procedures that apply to your case. The experience that your criminal defense lawyer brings to the table is also invaluable. It's a no-brainer that a criminal defense lawyer that is trained in the law and that has handled thousands of cases would know better than you... 9 out of 10 times anyway.

At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal defense lawyers that can help guide you through the complex legal system and work with you to achieve the best outcome possible in your case. If you or a loved one needs representation, our lead Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer is available 24/7 through our emergency line at (904) 302-7629.

December 7, 2014

Florida Drug Crime Sentences Increase Nearly 200% Since 1990s

Non-violent drug offenders in Jacksonville and throughout Florida are being sentenced to much higher prison terms than before. I've witnessed this first hand as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. According to a recent study cited by huffingtonpost.com, Florida inmates spent 194 percent more time in prison in 2009 than in 1990. The study, conducted by the Pew Center looked at trends in 35 states over the last couple of decades. Florida was one of the states where increased sentences were noted. In Jacksonville, non-violent drug crimes, particularly sales, are often targeted for prison time. Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers know that sales in Jacksonville are often recorded on audio or video equipment, which makes defending these types of crimes more difficult in most cases.

Selecting the right Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, one that is familiar with successful strategies in defending and negotiating sale of cocaine and related drug offenses, is critical. The success of any drug offense defense, or negotiations for that matter, put on by a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer is highly controlled by the facts of the case. Successful defenses or negotiations are the key to preventing a drug offense defendant from becoming part of Florida's increased sentences statistics.

All sales of controlled substances in Florida are felony offenses, which are punishable time in Florida State Prison. Possession, of most controlled substances also will result in a felony. Florida law does not require prison in most drug offense cases, but the State's position in most instances to push for prison time. The most important factor in whether a particular set of facts create weaknesses in the State's case that can be exploited by a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. The next most important factor is the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer that is handling the case and whether the criminal defense lawyer has the knowledge as skills necessary to recognize and take advantage of any available weaknesses in the State's case.

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November 23, 2014

Student Arrested for Battery After Attack in Front of Resource Officer

As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, brazen acts committed in front of authority figures are like nails on a chalk board. Perhaps the only things that could be worse for a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney are videos of the offense and confessions. Recently at Jacksonville's Wolfson High School, 18 year old Chynna Cinnamon Thompson allegedly attacked another student and the Dean of Discipline, Joshua Kristol, when he tried to intervene. According to firstcoastnews.com, both acts took place in front of a school resource officer. Thompson was arrested for misdemeanor battery, as well as, battery on a school employee.

Battery occurs when someone intentionally touches or strikes another person against the person's will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Battery is typically a 1st degree misdemeanor, but under Florida law, when certain classes of people become victims of a battery, the offense is automatically reclassified as a felony. In the case of a school board employee, as we have here, the battery is reclassified a 3rd degree felony. Felony offenses, by definition, are offenses where a person can be imprisoned for more than one year. In these cases, hiring an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to defend you or loved one is important.

Battery on a school board employee is punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison, while a simple misdemeanor battery can have a punishment up to one year in jail. This puts Thompson in jeopardy of spending up to six years behind bars. However, based on the limited information available to the public and the apparent lack of any serious injuries in this case, it is unlikely that Thompson will be sent to prison, but the boldness required to launch an attack in font of a school resource officer will most certainly be of great concern to the State Attorney's Office and the presiding judge.

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November 13, 2014

Jacksonville Walmart Becomes Bloody Crime Scene; Man Arrested for Aggravated Battery

As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I've represented my share of clients that suffered from mental illnesses. John McFarland, self-reported as schizophrenic, was arrested for aggravated battery after an unprovoked attack against a total stranger, according to news4jax.com.

As Roger Chan waited in line to pay for his groceries, McFarland used a hunting knife to stab Chan in the back of the head, face, and neck. The injuries were described as lacerations. Police arrived on the scene and took McFarland into custody without incident. McFarland, who has a history of mental illness, has been arrested for violent offenses in the past, but found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Aggravated battery is a serious offense. It carries a maximum possibility of 15 years in Florida state prison. Based on McFarland's history of mental illness, however, it is likely that he will end up in the state hospital again, rather than in prison. If it can be demonstrated that McFarland's actions were a result of his mental illness, another not guilty by reason of insanity will be the likely result. McFarland could end up spending many years in state custody in a mental health facility.

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November 7, 2014

Elderly Man Arrested Twice for Feeding Homeless

According to patch.com, Arnold Abbott, 90, of Fort Lauderdale, FL was recently arrested for the second time in less than a week. His offense? -- feeding the homeless. Abbott is the founder of Feed Thy Neighbor, a nonprofit agency with a mission to feed the hungry.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I've encountered a few offenses that sent my mind racing to figure out exactly why it was a crime. However, this one tops the list. The Fort Lauderdale ordinance that led to Abbott's arrest bans feeding the homeless in public.

At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we can help if you or a loved one has been arrested for a minor offense or something more serious. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. Initial consultations are always free!

November 3, 2014

Aggravated Assault: Man Threatens Restaurant Employee With Gun Over Burger

A West Palm Beach man, 27 year old Dechazo Harris, placed an order at a Checker's drive-thru, but changed his mind about the order once he got to the window. According to huffingtonpost.com, Harris was told that he would have to drive back around to change his order. Harris pulled a gun on the employee and threatened to shoot the employee if Harris wasn't given a burger.

141103_grilled-sausage-patties-1422473-m.jpgHarris ended up being arrested on aggravated assault charges, pursuant to Florida statute 784.021. Assault occurs when a person makes a threat, either by word or by doing some act, that causes another person to reasonably become fearful. A weapon being involved is what makes this a case of aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a third degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years, but under Florida's minimum sentencing scheme for gun-related crimes, Harris faces a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence. If convicted, he will not be eligible for early release or gain time.

At the law office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers that can help if you or a loved one are charged with aggravated assault or any other offense. 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 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?

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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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