I just got into a car accident and struck a person. I’m nervous and I don’t know what to do. What can happen to hit and run with bicycleme if I just drive away? What will happen if I stop? This scenario can have serious consequences if you make the wrong decision. Under Florida Statute 316.027, a driver involved in an accident must stop their vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close to the scene of the crash as safely possible. When stopping, you should avoid obstructing the flow of traffic and stay off the roadway as much as possible to avoid any further accidents or injuries caused by moving traffic near the scene. If the accident resulted in bodily injury or property damage, you are required by Florida law to provide your name, address, and the registration number of your vehicle to the other party involved. You are also required to contact 911 for emergency medical services if someone is injured and unable to call for themselves. Continue reading

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Officer Cecil Garrett was arrested on July 26, 2017, on five counts of perjury committed by false written declaration following a criminal investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that was initiated after the Clermont Police Chief Chuck Broadway notified them of numerous citizen complaints about Officer Garrett dating back to June of 2016. Officer Garrett is accused of writing in his arresting reports that he initiated traffic stops after running the vehicle’s tag and confirming the driver had a suspended license; however, computer logs showed he had already initiated the traffic stops before he actually ran the tag. Officer Garrett is currently on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case. Perjury is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Continue reading

I was just involved in an argument with my significant other. Things got out of control, and she is accusing me of hitting her.clenching fist

What can I expect to happen next?

The term domestic violence encompasses many things, including any assault, battery, battery by strangulation, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

Once law enforcement has been contacted, a police report will be filed. The decision as to whether criminal charges will be filed against you is made by a state attorney. The victim of the crime cannot decide whether to file or drop criminal charges against someone, although a victim may make a report with the state attorney to request that charges be filed. If criminal charges are filed, a no contact order will most likely be put into place, restricting or prohibiting contact between the alleged offender and victim. Victims of domestic violence may also file a petition for a protective injunction, which can include provisions requiring the abuser refrain from further acts of abuse, requiring the abuser to leave the household, preventing the abuser from entering the victim’s residence, school, business, or place of employment, award custody of minor children, and direct the abuser to pay support to the victim and minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so. It is important to always comply with court orders, including no contact orders and protective injunctions. Continue reading

Voters in Florida recently passed an amendment to the Florida Constitution, known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, legalizing medical marijuana within the state. Medical marijuana is no different in substance from traditional marijuana, it is merely used for medicinal treatment purposes while under the care of a health professional. Advocates in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana believe it can relieve the symptoms and pain associated with a wide range of medical conditions. Despite this recent change in Florida Law, the possession, sale, and trafficking of marijuana for purposes not within the medical exception remains illegal.

If an individual is stopped by law enforcement for a traffic violation while in possession of marijuana and explains he has it because he’s sick or has a condition he feels marijuana provides therapeutic benefits for, can he face criminal liability? Yes.
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No! No! No! The police may say to you if you let us just look atyour phone and download some information we will let you go. This is a lie – they want to gather evidence against you to arrest you. The police can lie to you to get evidence, or in this case, your cell phone data.  Don’t be fooled into thinking if I just give them my phone all will be okay.

Remember! If the police already had enough evidence against you to rise to the level of probable cause they would not need the data from your phone to help convict you.

So, what is Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is a serious criminal offense. Under Florida Law, cyberstalking occur via communications over the internet, cyberspace, and through text messages. Cyberbullying, masquerading as the victim on-line, anonymously posting private information about another person, texting sexually provocative information or pictures (sexting), and on-line sexual harassment are acts associated with cyberbullying. Continue reading

From 2004-2009 there were only two convictions for video voyeurism in Orange County, Florida; by 2014 the number raised to 10.  Increased use of smartphones with photo and video capabilities as well as the commercial availability of small digital cameras attribute to the rise in numbers.  Intentionally filming someone when they have the reasonable expectation of privacy may result in charges of video voyeurism.

Florida Statute §810.145 defines video voyeurism as:  When a person for his or her own amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, or profit, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing another person, intentionally uses or installs an imaging device to secretly view, broadcast, or record a person, without that person’s knowledge and consent, who is dressing, undressing, or privately exposing the body, at a place and time when that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Video voyeurism can be easy to prove due to technological advances and video evidence. If you are accused of video voyeurism in Central Florida it is imperative that you do not allow law enforcement to search your cell phone without a warrant and to hire a criminal defense attorney.
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A fingerprinting expert for the Orange County Sherriff’s Department has been under internal investigation since October 2016, even though the State Attorney’s Office of Orange and Osceola County are just now finding out about it. An 18-year veteran fingerprinting expert, Marco Palacio, was said to be “sloppy” when performing his work and has been removed from his position.

Over the weekend, Employees at the Orange County Sherriff’s Department worked to identify cases in which Palacio was listed as a witness; by midday Monday, there were 2,640 –  of which 130 are still active cases. Now, the State Attorney’s Office is sending letters to Orlando-area defense attorneys informing them of the possibility of harm to their clients from fingerprinting mistakes made by Palacio. However, the State Attorney’s Office will not be determining whether anyone was wronging convicted or jailed because of possible error in fingerprinting analysis. That burden is shifted to the defense attorneys on those cases, whether from the Public Defender’s office or privately hired.

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
-Nelson Mandela

Amanda M. Kennedy*

I.    Introduction
During the 2014-2015 school year, more than 2,000 children between the ages of five and ten years old were arrested for behavioral problems in Florida.  Legal experts say scenes of children being handcuffed inside classrooms play out too often in Central Florida. On May 21, 2015 Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 378 2015 which took effect October 1st, 2015. The bill expanded juvenile civil citation by allowing law enforcement officers to issue a civil citation or participation in a similar diversion program to youth who have committed up to three misdemeanors.  Furthermore, the bill also stated that if an arrest is made, law enforcement must provide written documentation as to why the arrest is warranted.

The purpose of this note is to understand the criminalization of our children that is happening in our schools, to consider the changes made to Florida Statute § 985.12 by way of Senate Bill 378, and to propose additional changes that can be implemented to help combat the prison pipeline issue. Part I discusses what is happening in the schools and the alarming arrest rates of young children. Part II examines the effects that arrests have on young children emotionally and educationally. Part III discusses the original Florida Statute Prior to Senate Bill 378. Part IV identifies the specific amendments to the statute and discusses the positive effects of Senate Bill 378. Part V discusses the original approach to delinquency in the schools: “zero tolerance” policies. Lastly, Part VI discusses additional changes that could be made to legislation in order to combat the issue of excessive arrests in schools in the State of Florida and nationwide.  Although the recent change in legislation is a step in the right direction, it does not completely resolve the issue of an egregious amount of child arrests within Florida schools and across our nation. Was Senate Bill 378 the solution, or just the first step in the right direction of educating our children instead of criminalizing them

I.    The Issue: Alarming Arrest Rates
Over 2,000 children were arrested during the 2014-2015 school year, for behavioral problems. The more shocking numbers are the ages of those 2,000 arrests; Orange County, Florida leads the state of Florida in child arrests between the ages of five and ten. “Florida A&M University, Dean LeRoy Pernell, says ‘according to the Department of Juvenile Justice, the bulk of arrests of five and ten-year-olds were not for serious crimes like murder or arson.’” “Maybe fist fights, dress code violations, talking back; conduct that is basically viewed as insubordinate.” The problem is Central Florida schools offer more police officers in hallways than behavioral tutors or counselors — officers whose only tool is to make an arrest. Continue reading

A few significant rights are taken away from a person once he or she has committed a felony. Specifically, in Florida, “a convicted felon is not allowed to vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office until civil rights have been restored.” In addition, the convicted felon is no longer allowed to possess a firearm. While taking away civil rights from a convicted felon may seem like additional, yet justified punishment, some criminals do not have the desire to remain criminals for the rest of their lives. Some people have a change of heart or an epiphany, realizing they need to get their lives together. But, how can you have the mindset of wanting to become a law abiding citizen if you’re not treated as such? Well, there is some hope within this dreadful circumstance. A felon may have his or her rights restored and in essence become a regular citizen again. Usually, they will need a criminal defense attorney to help them through the process. Continue reading

It’s important to know what happens and what consequences one may face when being accused of insurance fraud in Florida. Although insurance fraud doesn’t seem as heinous as murder or burglary, it is still a crime that can result in a prison sentence of quite a few years. Insurance fraud is not a rare crime either. According to the Division of Insurance Fraud’s annual report, there was a total of 17,392 suspected fraud referrals and the court ordered a total of $51,203,744.42 in restitution in the 2014-2015 fiscal year; that includes health, vehicle, PIP and home insurance fraud, just to name a few. How exactly does insurance fraud affect others? I mean, if you didn’t do the crime, then you have no worries, right? Well, unfortunately this line of thinking is false. When insurance companies are forced to pay out millions of dollars for false claims, insurance premiums can go up. So, if the criminals are attacking the insurance company’s pockets, they are in the long run affecting yours as well.

Legal Definition of Insurance Fraud in Florida

So, what exactly is the legal definition of insurance fraud in Florida? Florida statute 817.234 gives the precise and detailed definition, but insurance fraud is essentially when a person knowingly presents false or misleading information to an insurance company with the intent to defraud or deceive the company. Examples would be a doctor giving a statement that exaggerates on the injuries a patient sustained in an auto accident or a doctor excessively charging the insurance company for services. While doctors found guilty of insurance fraud face the risk of losing their license to practice for about 5 years, a person participating in staging an auto accident could face a minimum of 2 years in prison. Continue reading

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