Much has changed in the practice of Florida criminal defense during COVID. With varying orders being issued by the Florida Supreme Court, the Chief Judges of the Circuits, County and local municipalities, we are all dealing with the semi-shutdown as best we can. It seems that new orders, tweaking the last set, are made about every other week.
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.
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.
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.
Tony Stewart's crash that killed another driver, Kevin Ward Jr., will be investigated by law enforcement. A few minutes into the business day and I am already being asked "for what?" While some feel this is an incident for which Mr. Ward waived any civil actions by assuming the risk of death when he exited his vehicle and tried to confront a race car,, there are others that want our government to investigate all incidents of death with an eye towards prosecution.
When someone is accused of the criminal charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, the deadly weapon can be almost anything. For example, a table, chair, baseball bat, firearm, or even a car or other vehicle can become a deadly weapon if used in a certain manner.
Battery is a criminal offense that reaches all levels of society, as proven by the recent encounter between Jay-Z and Solange, his sister-in-law, in the elevator at the Standard Hotel. While the description of the video on TMZ refers to this wild kicking and swinging as an assault, Solange's actions are called battery in Florida. For more on the difference between assault and battery, see my blog Assault and Battery - Very Different Meanings in Florida Criminal Law. Fortunately for Jay-Z, this video captured the altercation, otherwise he could be painted as the aggressor and could easily be the defendant instead of the victim.
Words mean things. In Florida criminal law the words "assault" and "battery" have completely different meanings. Both are criminal. Many times, in movies or television, the word assault and the words "assault and battery" are used to describe what is actually a battery in Florida. In essence, an assault is a credible threat and a battery is an unlicensed touching.
You can vacate, dismiss, dissolve, modify or change an order of protection against domestic violence, injunction or restraining order, sometimes also called a stay-away order. Once a domestic violence injunction is in place, the only way to remove it is through the court. Often people seek out a domestic violence divorce or family lawyer after it is too late and the court has already entered an injunction. If circumstances have changed, you can ask the court to change the order of protection against domestic violence. To get relief from the injunction, a party must show that the scenario underlying the injunction no longer exists so that the continuation of the injunction would serve no valid purpose.