The United States Supreme Court in a unanimous decision has held that the police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested incident to a lawful arrest. A search of digital information on a cell phone does not further government interests in officer safety and preventing evidence destruction and implicates substantially greater individual privacy interest than a brief physical search of the contents of an individual’s pockets. That is not to say that evidence existing on a cell phone taken from an arrested person is immune to search, it is that law enforcement will have to apply and meet the requirements of probable cause to get a search warrant from a judge.
The federal government will frequently charge individuals with a violation of 18 USC 1001 for giving a False Statement to a Government Agency. To be convicted under that section, a person must act “willfully” in making false statements to investigators. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has quietly adopted a more defense-friendly position on such prosecutions. Federal prosecutors are now told that in order to prove a person acted willfully in providing a false statement to a federal agency, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that making the statement was unlawful – not just that the statement was false. This is a material change in the government’s charging decisions that could affect future white collar investigations and prosecutions under Section 1001.
Such prosecutions have ensnared such high-profile defendants as Martha Stewart and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. In short, the government must now prove that the statement was false and the person making the false statement knew that making a false statement was unlawful.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in US v. Thompson found that in a case involving felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(1), the Defendant must have had at least two of the three “civil rights” restored to not be in violation of the statute. Thus, when Thompson was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm based on a 1994 state conviction, he defended the case claiming that his civil rights had been restored in 2005. In actuality, Thompson only regained his right to vote, but not to serve on a jury or to hold public office. The Eleventh Circuit held that because Thompson had only 1 or his 3 civil rights restored, he was still in violation of the statue for possessing a firearm.
A circuit court judge in Palm Beach Florida, unlike Miami-Dade Judge Milton Hirsch, upheld the constitutionality of Florida’s drug statute. In a 16-page opinion, Judge Kastrenakes blasted U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven and Circuit Judge Hirsch arguing they disregarded a plethora of appeals court decisions to reach their erroneous conclusion that the law is unconstitutional because prosecutors don’t have to prove that a person knew he possessed illegal drugs to get a conviction. Mere possession is enough, the judge wrote. Their rulings, he claimed were “fatally-flawed” and “just plain inaccurate.”
Judges in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties have thus far denied all motions to dismiss 893.13 charges. Appeals have been taken from Judge Scriven’s ruling as well as in South Florida. This issue will have to end up before the Supreme Court to decide.
I am pleased to announce that I have received a Peer Review Rating on Martindale-Hubbell: AV® Preeminent™ 4.6 out of 5! This was quite an honor and I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their reviews. I’d also like to take a moment to explain how one obtains a review on Martindale-Hubbell and what it means.
The Peer Review reflects a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. Prior to obtaining a review, a lawyer must get a specific number of responses and based on if those responses meet the criteria, they will move to the next step in the rating process. One requirement is that the lawyer receives a “Very High” rating within the General Ethical Standards measuring the attorney’s conduct, ethics, reliability, diligence, etc.
The next step is the Legal Ability numerical rating. Lawyers are rated on a scale of 1 (lowest) – 5 (highest) based on five performance areas: legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability, and legal experience.
With the two ratings combined, the Martindale-Hubbell Peer review rating is calculated and given a rating number and term. The guidelines for what each rating means are explained on the Martindale website) as:
AV® Preeminent™ (4.5-5.0) – An AV® certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
BV® Distinguished™ (3.0-4.4) – The BV® certification mark is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.
I am proud to say that my rating of 4.6 out of 5 lands me in the AV® Preeminent™ category. Again, I want to thank my fellow members of the bar and judiciary for this Martindale-Hubbell rating.
For most criminal cases, a flat fee is determined based on the lawyer’s experience and how much time and work will go into the case. However, some lawyers do charge an hourly rate.
“That usually is not to the benefit of the client because experienced lawyers have a high hourly rate on average and it’s usually a much better situation for a client to agree upon a flat fee.”
When considering Attorney Lori D. Palmieri for representation, she bases her fees firstly on the following components:
- What are you charged with?
- What type of crime are you under investigation for?
- Is it a federal crime or a state crime?
- Is it a felony or is it a misdemeanor?
Secondly, she considers how much time she will put into the case.
“When you hire me, you get me. I personally handle every case and I determine how much time is needed to effectively represent you.”
Palmieri keeps her fees at a reasonable price for the amount of experience and quality representation that you will receive.
If not, you may be at a disadvantage, claims a recent post on Forbes.com by Kashmir Hill entitled Make Sure Your Lawyer Knows How To Use Facebook.
Ms. Hill starts the post with a statement that basically says if your attorney doesn’t have an iPad…run! Referencing articles in the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, she explores the evolving practice of examining the online profiles of potential jurors during jury selection, looking for indications as to how they might “contribute” to the jury’s decision, should they be selected.
Walking through a series of five examples, Ms. Hill paints a picture of jury selection in the age of Google and Facebook. And while it’s unclear as to how this evolving practice will stand up over the long term, at least for now, it has been upheld by an appellate court in New Jersey.
Definitely take a look at Ms. Hill’s post (the examples are interesting, to say the least!), and be sure to do your homework when you’re looking for a Tampa criminal defense lawyer to represent you in federal criminal matters, state criminal matters, drug charges, or DUI.
With the launch of the new Palmieri Law YouTube Channel, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri takes a few minutes in this first video to introduce herself and the Palmieri Law practice.
Now in her 21st year, she practices exclusively in federal and state court in Florida. As Lori states in the video, when you hire her, you get her, not a junior associate! As a former state prosecutor, Lori is able to view cases from the prosecution’s perspective, to see whether a case can be proven. As she states,
“…having the benefit of both sides of the aisle gives you experience, dedication and commitment that’s hard to match.”
Palmieri Law’s offices are centrally located in Northwest Hillsborough County in Westchase Commons.