In criminal defense a common question is whether a deferred prosecution and a deferred adjudication mean the same or are different. Jurisdictions use different language for similar or even the same legal concepts. This can make legalese confusing for those new to the criminal justice system or the geography.
In criminal defense and traffic defense much is made about the initial seizure or traffic stop. This is because if you fight the traffic stop and win, evidence is excluded which can lead to the entire case being dismissed. In regards to fighting a traffic stop, some people argue that there is a fundamental right to travel which is a defense to whatever violation of the traffic law that led to the seizure or the accusation itself. Essentially, the argument is that the fundamental constitutional right to travel invalidates whatever statute, law, rule or regulation the government is attempting to enforce or even the court's jurisdiction. In court, unrepresented defendants can be heard to argue things such as:
In Florida, a person can seal or expunge criminal records but only once in a lifetime and only if the charge(s) qualifies. Not all charges can be sealed or expunged. The Petition to Expunge or Seal must be filed in the county where the case originated. In Florida, expunging a case or sealing an arrest or case are different things.
Recently, Floridians voted over 71 percent in favor of medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions. However, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida does not change the penalties for the illegal use. Sale, cultivation and distribution are still crimes if not done pursuant to the new medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Very few companies are authorized to grow and dispense medical marijuana.
In criminal and traffic defense a common complaint from an accused individual or their family is that the arrest affidavit, arrest report, accident report or citation contains one or more errors. For example, if there is a DUI accusation with a child in the car but the officer marks on the DUI citation that there were no passengers under the age of 18 or marking "no injury" on a traffic ticket in a case involving a near fatality. (actual examples). The ugly truth is that the police, deputies and troopers filling out these documents are people too and they make mistakes. Unfotunately, typographical or similar errors will usually not lead to a case being dismissed.
Part of the traffic ticket practice is clearing suspensions in the best possible way. Common reasons for suspensions are for failing to address the citation within thirty (30) days, failing to pay, failing to complete traffic school, failing to appear in Court in a criminal case, warrants, child support etc. Of course there are many other reasons a driver's license can be suspended and each case is unique.
Recently, for the first time in this firm's history of defending violations of probation, a violation of probation report or affidavit included a speeding ticket as an alleged new law or substantive violation. Then, the judge then issued a warrant with no bond, presumably after reading this report or affidavit of violation of probation. They call it criminal defense practice for a reason, everday there is something new. I've been involved in the system since 2001 and this was a new one on me.
Recently the 5th District Court of Appeal held that a passenger of a vehicle is lawfully seized and not free to leave a traffic stop. Therefore, if evidence of a crime is found, it can be used against the passenger. A large amount of drug possession cases and other criminal cases start with a traffic stop and subsequent search of passengers.
Constructive possession means other than physical possession. In the world of criminal defense this usually means drugs or narcotics are found but, not in the pocket or in the bra of the defendant. Constructive possession is an important concept for cases involving possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or a concealed firearm or weapon without a license. For example, you possess that television on your wall, you can move it, throw it away, and beat it with a baseball bat because you control it. However, no one carries around their flat screen in their back pocket.
In August 2014 I wrote about a Florida Court finding that in criminal cases of solicitation of prostitution the mandatory civil penalty ($5,000) is unconstitutional. Since then the matter has continued to be fought in courts. People who picked up charges of soliciting could still have imposed this penalty but depending on their representation, the sentencing court could have deferred imposing the penalty, left open the possibility of removing the fine or refused to impose the penalty all together.