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Miami Criminal Law Blog

Supreme Court Sides with Defendant Who Was Given Incorrect Information

A new Supreme court case gives hope for prisoners and individuals convicted of crimes where they have received incorrect information in some instances - In Lee v. United States 582 US ___ (2017) the court held that:

When a defendant claims that his counsel's deficient performance deprived him of a trial by causing him to accept a plea, the defendant can show prejudice by demonstrating a "reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial." Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U. S. 52.

Florida is Toughest on Charging Juvenile Offenders as Adults

When it comes to charging youth offenders as adults, Florida ranks at the top in the nation. From 2003-2008, Florida transferred juveniles into the adult system two times the amount that the state with the second highest amount of youths charged as adults transferred them into the adult courts. From 2008-2012, over 12,000 Florida children were transferred into the adult criminal justice system. Some may argue that this is because the punishments in the juvenile system for youth offenders are not nearly tough enough, and many offenders under the age of 18 who commit violent crimes deserve a harsher sentence through the adult courts. Others argue that you cannot charge juveniles as adults due to differences in brain development, and the stark reality that many youth offenders who go into the adult system are more often abused and have higher recidivism rates.

What Happens After You're Arrested and How I Choose an Attorney

Preface

Before we get into what happens after you're arrested, let's briefly talk about before the main event. I often get calls from people who say "I just got a call from Detective _____, who wants me to come down to the station and speak with him to get my side of the story. I've already made the appointment, I'm going down at 3:00 P.M. today, I figured I'd give you a call before then to see what you think."

Does the Fifth Amendment Apply to Cell Phone Passcodes?

We've all heard the defense, "I plead the fifth!" But what exactly does the Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution mean for the accused? The statement of "pleading the fifth" simply means that someone accused of a crime has a right to not self-incriminate by saying something that could be used against them in a court of law. In other words, the U.S. Bill of Rights protects individuals from being compelled to be witnesses against themselves. Usually, this means that if you are arrested, you do not have to say anything to law enforcement regarding your involvement in the crime, and you will not be required to testify on the stand at your own trial. However, with modern technology such as smart phones containing so much personal information these days, how are the courts handling the possibility that a defendant's iPhone, locked by personal passcode, may contain information that could incriminate him/her?

You're Being Watched: Virtual Policing

With every new technology, whether we wear it, watch it, or use it to make our life more convenient, we may be giving valuable information about ourselves to others. Many fear that we are losing our rights to privacy, while others say that we should trade some privacy for safety. Whichever side of the argument you are on, the fact of the matter is that more and more people have access to some of our most private moments, including access by those in law enforcement.

Many police departments around the world are installing cameras all around major cities, such as cameras that can zoom in and identify the smallest details about a person. Other agencies are asking homeowners to share video from private surveillance cameras with law enforcement. And this isn't just happening in the Hollywood version of a CSI: Miami television show, this type of hyper-surveillance is happening in real life in our city.

What may constitute an ineffective assistance of counsel?

When you are accused of a crime, there are certain rights that you are afforded. The sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides clear criteria for those rights. One of the guaranteed rights is that the accused have the right to the assistance of counsel in a case against them. The U.S. Supreme Court has gone a step further in this requirement and ruled that states must provide a public defender for those criminals who may be indignant and unable to retain their own lawyer.

How Much Do You Know About These Three Types of White-Collar Crimes?

White-collar crimes may not always be as obvious a crime as something like a murder or a robbery. Many times, these are crimes committed by people you would never expect to be involved in criminal activities. White-collar crimes often happen "on paper," and the prosecution needs to prove something as subjective as "intent" in order to prove that a crime was actually committed.

Case Shines Spotlight on Body Cam Footage Laws and Policies in Miami

Police body cam footage seems to be a very popular topic of discussion lately. There has been much controversy over the use of the body cam, who should wear one, what is done with the footage and how long it needs to be saved. Many in the community think that body cams are necessary checks on power by giving police officers a reason to think before they do something that may be interpreted as out-of-line or an abuse of power. While others may think that the cameras add an extra layer of bureaucracy and may prevent police from doing what is necessary to stop a crime. Regardless of what one may think, it appears that we will be seeing more of these cameras worn by police as time goes by. In the state of Florida, we have our own legislation that governs body cams, and in South Florida, we have our own issues with this technology.

Technology as a Witness in Criminal Cases

Technology is all around us. It's no longer a choice if we want to take part in the innovative revolution; new devices are now a part of our everyday lives. Many of these modern technologies make our everyday lives easier, and some of them may also make it easier for law enforcement to solve crimes. With all the latest technology out there recording our every step and command, it's hard to ensure any type of real privacy. The very same technology that makes it easier for us to find out answers to questions and order commodities easily, record our fitness goals, and even stay in contact with our friends may be the very same technology that can help law enforcement solve crimes. Are you aware of the ways that technology can serve as a witness in criminal cases?

Is Bitcoin Virtual Currency Included in Florida Money Laundering Laws?

Money laundering has a long history as being a white-collar crime connected to various types of illegal activities such as the drug or sex trade, and any activities involving cross-border smuggling. In South Florida, we have heard many stories throughout our history of illegal drug money being laundered through legitimate businesses in the area. But what exactly does it mean to launder money? And what are the implications of a crime like money laundering?

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