Self Defense has been an available affirmative defense to criminal cases since the dawn of society. Florida also has long acknowledged the fundamental right to use force in defense of self or others. The essential elements of self-defense have stayed about the same. A person may use deadly force when it is reasonably necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the person or to another person. The procedure and burden of proof required to make a self-defense argument has changed.
Although Florida added a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana, the possession of marijuana without a medical card is still a criminal offense. Possession of less than twenty (20) grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine. Simple possession of over twenty (20) grams is felony with up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
In a criminal case, it is not uncommon for a person accused of a crime for the first time to want to keep their record clean or not have a criminal record whatsoever at the conclusion of the case. Unfortunately, if there has been an arrest or the officer instead issued a Notice to Appear, sometimes referred to as a written arrest, then there is already a record. That record will be that the person stands accused of whatever charge the police suggested.
Constructive possession means other than physical possession. In the world of criminal defense this usually means drugs or narcotics, firearms or other contraband 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.
As a practicing criminal defense lawyer it is never a dull day. Everyday new fact patterns arise such that you are much less subject to being surprised. An article in the Gainesville Sun brought my attention to a criminal law that I have never seen applied in such a fashion.
In the context of criminal domestic battery or domestic violence, a question often asked is whether a victim can drop the charges. The short answer is No. Only a prosecutor has the discretion whether to charge a person with a crime. The victim to a domestic battery can request that the State not press charges, however it is simply a request.
A violation of pre-trial release in a criminal case can lead to having a bond revoked. According to numerous sources, comedian Katt Williams was arrested on Tuesday January 8, 2013 for failing to appear in court while out on bond. His bond was revoked and re-set. Several of my clients have missed court or otherwise had their bond revoked while out on bond. Not all of my client's bonds were re-set.
Many criminal cases such as drug possession, drug trafficking and not just DUI or other criminal traffic charges begin with a mere traffic stop. Until recently, clients were advised that if they are driving a blue car and the registration states the registered vehicle is white then, that alone is a sufficient basis for a stop. This would mean that if a person purchased a used car that was white, registered it and then had it painted black with red flames the mere fact that the car was painted would cause an inconsistency with the registration sufficient to justify a traffic stop. Many times, this is where the officer says they smell marijuana or they have a dog that alerts to cocaine or other drugs. When drugs are found a person is charged with possession or drug trafficking. In other words, painting your car is going to get you stopped but only at the discretion of the officer's suspicion. While it may seem outrageous that you can be stopped merely for painting your car, that may appear suspicious to a government worker driving a government car who is not responsible for the government paint job. That and people who steal cars tend to switch the plates of similar make and model cars. Obviously, in the eyes of law enforcement officers anyone who paints their car is suspicious.
In Florida, Chapter 825 addresses the criminal offense of Abuse or Exploitation of the Elderly. "Elderly person" is defined by law to mean "a person 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age or organic brain damage, or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunctioning, to the extent that the ability of the person to provide adequately for the person's own care or protection is impaired."