In Florida, there is a legal action called an Injunction for Protection against Stalking. Injunctions are also called orders for protection or stay away orders in other jurisdictions. Stalking is defined as whent an accused "willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person." Harass means to "engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
In criminal cases alleging the use of force a defendant may seek immunity from prosecution. Today, this is called Stand Your Ground, but it has always been true that self-defense is a viable defense to any use of force case. A person seeking immunity has the burden to put forth evidence that the use of force alleged was reasonable against another's imminent use of unlawful force.
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 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.
The term 'Statute of Limitations' (SOL) refers to the time period under which a case can be brought. If the time passes, then the SOL operates to bar the case and the plaintiff is out of luck. There is a SOL for almost every type of case. In criminal cases, the time limit is expressed in a term of years depending on the offense. Sometimes people feel that if it took several months to receive a criminal citation, then that should be enough to have the case dismissed. Unfortunately, so long as prosecution is started within the time frame allowed then, a delay of several months will not win the matter.
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.
Though the Stand Your Ground law was enacted a few years ago, the burden of proof had never been ultimately decided by the Florida Supreme Court. The procedure in a Motion to Dismiss based upon immunity had been established.
A frustrating issue defending those accused of Driving Under the Influence or DUI, has been the lack of a definition of the word "impaired" in the standard jury instructions. Without a breath, blood or urine result or sample the State of Florida must prove that the person is "impaired" in order to convict a person of DUI. This is especially true if the accused is DUI by drugs or prescriptions. However, the Florida Supreme Court in issuing jury instructions has sought fit to leave the word "impaired" undefined.
Whether "keep and bear" arms means to openly carry or carry at all has been debated. However, it is a criminal offense to open carry in Florida. As with most things in the law, there are exceptions. For example, if a person is engaged in or going to or from hunting, fishing, camping or on a target range, that person can openly carry. These exceptions are affirmative defenses. There is also the obvious cop exception. Recently, an appellate court decided whether Florida's prohibition on the open carrying of firearms was in violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Domestic violence has made a lot of headlines recently and by now most of us have seen the ads the NFL felt compelled to bombard us with. My office defends those accused of the criminal charge of domestic violence but we also represent victims seeking injunctions and proceeding with divorce or dissolution of marriage.