Articles Posted in Murder

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.

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.

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.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyJames Holmes the man responsible for numerous deaths after he opened fire upon the crowd at a late night showing of the new Batman shooting appeared in Court again. This time Holmes was sporting a new look. He had short brown hair and appeared not be completely comfortable with the situation. This is a vast contrast from his initial appearance with dis-shoveled orange hair and a demeanor that is best described as unusual.

This Court appearance was to handle the debate over the admissibility of the Notebook Holmes sent to his old doctor before the shooting. Prosecutors had sought to review the notebook, but the Defense claims patient and doctor privilege. The prosecution still rebuts that argument. However, if they continue to argue over this point there will be a delay in trail, something they do not want. So, the attorneys came to an agreement where the prosecution will drop the argument to see the notebook. However, if the Defense puts up the defense as to sanity it will immediately become available to the prosecution.

Also, at this court appearance the Prosecution by adding 10 new attempted murder charges and amending an additional 17 charges. That puts the total at 142 attempted murder charges.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyGeorge Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, is going to ask for a “stand your ground” court hearing in an attempt to have the case against him dismissed before ever going to trial. Though the move was expected, the announcement is the first time Zimmerman’s attorney has acknowledged his intention to argue the case on the grounds of the controversial Florida Stand Your Ground law.

Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s criminal defense attorney, released a statement confirming the decision earlier today. The hearing likely will not take place for several months but is meant to show that Zimmerman acted in his own self-defense.

Under Florida’s stand your ground law, people involved in violent altercations have no duty to retreat. If a person is in fear of death or great bodily harm, the law says he or she can act in self-defense and is immune from criminal prosecution.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyThe 24 year old shooting suspect in the Colorado Theatre Shooting is expected to be in Court Monday Morning for formal charging. Holmes is being accused of killing 12 people and wounding another 58. As a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney I will follow this case closely and report accordingly. I will also be conveying my opinion of the case and how I feel the case is proceeding for the Defendant.

When further information has been released about the Monday hearing where he will be formally charged, I will update my blog to reflect the current charges and progress.

UPDATE: HOLMES CHARGED WITH 24 COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND 116 COUNTS OF ATTEMPTED MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyA Florida man who shot and wounded two people as they tried to rob an Internet café is unlikely to face criminal charges because his actions appear to fall within the bounds of the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

The law, which was passed in 2005, says people are justified in using deadly force to defend themselves if they reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. A citizen has no duty to retreat and, if it is determined that their use of force was justified, they are immune from criminal prosecution and civil action. The Stand Your Ground law does not apply if the victim initially provokes the use of force of if they are involved in a felony crime.

Prosecutors said they had reviewed surveillance video from the Café in Ocala, Florida and believe that 71-year-old Samuel Williams was acting lawfully when he shot two men during the attempted robbery. Williams had a concealed weapons permit and thus was allowed to possess the weapon at the time of the shooting.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyThe Supreme Court recently held that it is cruel and unusual punishment to send a young murderer to life in prison if a judge has not first weighed whether he deserves a shorter prison sentence due to his youth and the specific nature of his crimes. The 5-4 decision struck down laws on the books in some 28 states – including Florida – that say life sentences without parole for juvenile murderers are acceptable.

Officials in Florida law enforcement say it will take some time for the state to assess the impact of the ruling. Most experts in the state say that the number of state prisoners affected by the Supreme Court ruling is around 250, but the data are not all in yet.

It’s clear that Florida’s laws will have to be rewritten thanks to the recent ruling. Florida’s judiciary is bound by the state’s 10-20-Life law, passed in 1999, which says possessing a gun while committing some felonies brings an automatic 10-year minimum sentence, that when a gun is fired in the commission of a crime, the minimum sentence is 20 years, and if someone is shot the sentence goes up to life. It’s important to note that the decision does not mean it’s unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison, only that statutes that make such sentences mandatory are no longer acceptable. In Florida, if a juvenile who is certified as an adult is convicted of first-degree murder, the only option is life without parole.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyJacksonville has a growing population and with this increase of residents also comes an increase in juvenile crime. I am not saying all children are prone to commit criminal activities. But, as a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney I am aware that the theory of probability is when you have more and more people crime is inevitably going to increase. One such incident occurred in Jacksonville last November involving 16-year-old Zachary Lambert.

Lambert was a troubled teen, but generally was a good kid. However, one day in November 2011 he decided to steal a pickup truck and go for a “joy-ride.” When the police located Lambert he fled the police. At the intersection of San Pablo and Beach Blvd. he ran the red light and struck another vehicle. The collision killed the other driver, Christopher Thompson (22) who was on his way to work at the Mayo Clinic. Lambert was subsequently charged with 3rd degree murder, vehicular homicide, aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement office, and grand theft auto.

After many discussions and negotiations between the State and the Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, Lambert decided the best course of action would be to arrange a plea deal with the state instead of proceeding to trial. A fact that many might not know is approximately 90% of criminal cases never make it to trial and are resolved through plea agreements. On Monday, Lambert plea guilty to vehicular homicide, aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement office, and grand theft auto. Although he has not been sentenced, scheduled for August, he could face up to 35 years in prison.

Today was another bond hearing where Zimmerman’s attorney, O’Mara, presented evidence as to Zimmerman’s injuries he sustained during the altercation with Trayvon Martin that resulted in Zimmerman shooting Trayvon in what Zimmerman is calling self-defense. This case started the controversy that Florida is currently facing for our “Stand Your Ground” law.

After lengthy testimony presented by both the Defense and the State, the Judge has determined that he will not make an immediate determination as to release Zimmerman on bond or not. He wants time to review all the evidence and make a proper determination.

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