What NOT to do after an arrest…

There are many mistakes made before and after an arrest is made, the biggest behind breaking the law is making statements to law enforcement without a lawyer present. In this video found on myYouTube channel, you will find a sample of the advice I would give to you if I was your criminal defense attorney.

“The singular biggest mistake that everyone makes is they make statements to the police in the hopes of making their situation better and all they’ve done is hurt themselves.”

Although it is hard not to make any statements during this process, remember that anything you say will be used against you in the court of law.

Blood Tests Banned in Misdemeanor DUI Investigations

Not too long ago, I touched upon the idea that Florida could see “no refusal” DUI checkpoints in the future, but last week Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal put an end to that idea, at least for now. The court ruled that law enforcement cannot forcibly draw blood in a DUI investigation if it is a misdemeanor. The ruling still stands that blood can be drawn if it involves injury, death or if it is a felony case.

According to an article from Key News in Key West, attorneys on both sides of the argument agree on one thing: that blood tests are the most accurate of all sobriety tests. Where they differ is how the blood is used. Sam Kaufman, Key West defense attorney states,

“What they’re saying is that blood is not being used as a means to commit a crime…In other words, the statute states that evidence has to be property used to commit a crime. They’re saying that a person’s blood doesn’t fall into that category.”

Dennis Ward of Monroe County is for the “no refusal” forced DUI blood tests. He wants everyone who is pulled over and has a prior DUI to be subject to a blood test. Currently, the law stands that blood can only be drawn in felony cases. A suspect’s third DUI is only considered a felony if it happens within 10 years of the last convicted DUI but the fourth DUI is always a felony.

Ward says that this ruling is not going to stop his fight against drunk drivers. At this point in time he cannot do anything about first or second time offenders, but says this will not hold him back from moving forward with felony offenders.

Although this case stems from Key West, the article explains that this “ruling affects all of Florida because no other precedent has been set.” This sets back any movement towards the “no refusal” DUI check points coming to Tampa. It raises the question of whether or not the Geiss case mentioned in the previous post or any other current cases dealing with forced BAC tests will be appealed. Although the law has passed, this is likely not the last we will hear of the “no refusal” checkpoints and blood tests. This situation underlines the importance of effective legal representation if you’ve been charged with DUI/DWI.

Bill Fails to Change Police Lineups

The House failed to pass The Eyewitness Identification Reform Act purposed to standardize identification lineups. The law would have required all police lineups to be conducted by a random officer who has no prior knowledge about the case or the suspect. The thought behind the bill was that if an unaffiliated officer ran the lineup, there would be no chance of bias or pressure for the witness to pick a suspect.

According to an article from the Florida Bar News, attorney Perry Thurston says that the bill did not pass because of law enforcement influence.

“They thought it was an excellent idea, but they didn’t want to be ordered to do it. They wanted to do it on their own time frame.”

We hear two arguments, both valid points. One argument is that this bill was purposed to prevent the innocent from being accused and to protect law enforcement from any unintended bias; the other argument is that this law potentially casts doubt on law enforcement’s integrity.

Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville is quoted saying

“The argument can’t be both ways that we have every confidence in our cops, yet we are going to make them pay the price by having a law that casts a doubt on their integrity. This is a problem with misidentification by the witness, not a problem with our law enforcement and our law enforcement’s integrity.”

 

Although the bill died, attention was drawn to this proposition and the fact that police officials liked it – they just didn’t want to be mandated. Just because it didn’t pass, doesn’t mean officers may not adopt this procedure for future lineups.

Will the Media Influence the Casey Anthony Case?

The media plays an influential role in our life everyday, but will it play a role in the outcome of the very publicized Casey Anthony case?

Anthony is accused of murdering her two year old daughter in Orlando. A very public search was conducted to find the “missing” girl, who’s remains were found months later and fingers were pointed at mother Casey Anthony.

According to Anthony’s defense attorney Jose Baez, the standard microphones that are found in every courtroom are picking up private conversations between Anthony and Baez. Under the legal process, all conversations between the defendant and lawyer should be private. Baez requested that all the microphones to be removed excluding the Judge’s and the juror’s.

Judge Belvin Perry took many steps to make sure that the media was not an influence on the juror’s decision. Jurors pulled from Pinellas County were questioned more specifically about what they had heard about the case and how they felt about the death penalty. Perry decided to pull jurors from Pinellas County because the media coverage was not as extreme.

According to an article from the St. Pete Times, Jonathan Green really didn’t want to have jury duty. Green was fined $450 for contempt of court when he admitted to talking about the case to someone else. Green said, “I just wanted to get out of jury duty.” It is almost hard to blame Pinellas County citizens to not want to be a juror for this case. The jurors are expected to be in the Orlando courtroom everyday for 6-8weeks.

Possible Alcohol Ban on Treasure Island Beaches

Sunset Beach, a popular beach in Treasure Island, may be facing a ban of alcohol on their beaches- one of their biggest crowd drawing specs! Treasure Island officials say that the drinking has gotten out of hand.

According to a 10 News article, “the ordinance would ban alcohol on weekends from 8 a.m to 6 p.m, including holidays.” The City Commission voted unanimously for the drinking ban.

Many people opposed to the ordinance showed up at the meeting last week. Some argued that it would hurt small business owners because of the crowd that has drawn specifically because the beach permits alcohol. Others argued that is was unfair to ban alcohol all together just because of other people’s actions. But residents from the Sunset Beach area who are for the ban argued that the allowance of alcohol leads to inappropriate behavior and fights in their neighborhoods.

There will be a second meeting to discuss this ordinance sometime next week and if it passes again, the ban will immediately take effect. It will be interesting to see how officials will regulate the ban on alcohol at Sunset Beach.

What You May Not Know about a DUI in Florida…

“It can and does happen to anyone.”

DUI charges rank among the Top 5 charges in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. Hillsborough County alone is ranked one of the highest charging DUI counties in the state of Florida. There are a couple of things that you probably don’t know about a DUI that you should…

  • – The DUI charge has two components creating two separate cases. Administrative (Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) and Criminal.
    – Enrolling quickly in DUI school could help with your criminal case.
    – You have a strict 10 calendar day deadline from the date of your arrest to file a Formal Review Hearing with the DHSMV.
    – Previous DUI/DWI cases are considered a prior conviction, no matter what state.
    – A DUI usually consists of driving under the influence of alcohol, but could also mean driving impaired by drugs; even prescription drugs.
    – There are many possible penalties for a DUI. For a guideline of Florida’s DUI penalties contact a Criminal Defense Attorney.

If you unfortunately do happen to get arrested for a DUI, the most important thing you can do is contact a Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can advise you the rest of the way after your arrest. Knowing what to do and expect during the investigation process is also very important.

“No Refusal” DUI Checkpoints- Could Florida see more in the future?

Towards the end of last year, we heard the idea that “no refusal” DUI checkpoints could be introduced to Tampa’s fight against drunk driving.

The “no refusal” checkpoints would consist of having a judge on scene, allowing them to issue a warrant for the driver in question requiring that they take a blood test to acquire if the driver was intoxicated.

Currently, a blood test is only to be used when there is serious injury or death involved. Obviously anyone can agree to a consensual blood test but it is very unlikely that anyone would.

According to an article from Floridatoday.com, an appeals court in Daytona on Tuesday questioned whether or not law enforcement could forcefully obtain a blood sample in certain DUI cases. This case dates back to 2009 when Gregory Geiss was pulled over for swerving between lanes. There was no serious injury or death involved but a judge was on scene, a warrant was issued, he had to take a blood test and was charged with a DUI.

The judge in the 2009 case did not allow the blood evidence to be used in the courtroom, but later the state appealed. Two arguments surfaced: Is blood a searchable property? Is the searching of blood an invasion of privacy?

According to the article, Defense Attorney Ernest Chang called the forced tests, “a judicial expansion of powers.”

In 2003, there was a similar case where the defendant was charged with a DUI because of a blood test. In this case, a panel of circuit judges decided in favor of the state 2-1.

It will be interesting to see how the circuit judges in Daytona decide on the Geiss case. With what has happened in past cases, and the decision of this case, we will see if the “no refusal” DUI checkpoints will make way to Tampa anytime soon, or if the current publicity to the Geiss case will put a hold on that.

Facebook Aids to Fighting Crime

Facebook is everywhere these days and is not just being used as a personal way to stay connected to friends. Sheriff’s offices around the country have been utilizing Facebook as another way to get information out to the public, and for the public to relay information back to Crime Stoppers.

On Monday morning, the Polk County Sheriff’s office posted on Facebook a video of a man stealing at 75 year old woman’s wallet in a local laundromat. Two hours later an anonymous source contacted Crime Stoppers and reported who the man was and where he worked. Sure enough, it was the right suspect and the man was charged with petty theft. Bay News 9 covered the story and that video can be found on their website.

Although this was a smaller crime, think about the power that Facebook and social networking has. Not only do crimes get solved thanks to fan pages, but since Facebook is so accessible, everyday citizens can act as crime stopping heroes.

Polk County Sheriff’s office updates the page daily and have said that this is not the first crime that Facebook fans have helped them solve. They send all press releases and Crime Stopper bulletins to Facebook where they have over 7,000 fans.

Other Sheriff’s offices also have Facebook pages including Hillsborough County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission stated that they made over 100 arrests through Facebook.

If you are looking for Legal advice, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri also has a presence on Facebook.

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Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated

FL Bar Board Certified

Former Prosecutor