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Miami Criminal Law Blog

Teens May Face Charges in Man's Drowning Death

In early July, a Florida man entered a pond in Brevard County and drowned. Standing nearby was a group of five teens that recorded the entire incident on video. Instead of seek help for the man, who they taunted and cursed at while he struggled in the water, the teens simply let him drown without calling for help or trying to assist the man. Additionally, the teens did not report the incident to authorities, but they did post the video of the death on social media. While the victim's family was filing a missing persons report, unsure of where their loved one was at the time, the teens showed no remorse as witnesses to a drowning. The body of the man was located a few days later, and police were able to link the teens' video to the man's death.

South Florida Continues to be a Hotbed of Medicare Fraud

Miami is an epicenter of fraud related to government-run healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Each year, we see medical facility and pharmacy owners, doctors, and even hospital systems wrapped up in fraudulent billing or referral practices. Just this summer, there have been two major fraud-related crackdowns that have affected a wide network of assisted-living facilities here in Miami. These stories show the intricacies and details of how serious this issue is here in South Florida.

Health Care Fraud Crackdowns Target Drug Treatment Facilities in Florida

Health care fraud crackdowns initiated to catch those who defraud within the health care industry are common, but a couple of the most recent crackdowns have targeted one segment of the industry in particular that some may argue Florida desperately needs to be clean and honest. The drug and addiction treatment industry exists to support recovering drug and alcohol addicts who come to the facilities ideally to seek treatment and rid themselves of a dangerous addiction in order to live a healthier life. However, through evidence collected during one local and one national crackdown, a dark picture of the operation of these facilities has emerged.

The Opioid Crisis and New Tough Laws Against Dealers

At the height of the "pill mill" crisis in Florida, we saw an increase in dependency and deaths related to opioid addiction, primarily addition to certain prescribed painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and morphine. Florida was ground zero for the consumption and black market of these drugs. Otherwise law-abiding citizens were caught up in the illegal sale and consumption of dangerous prescribed painkillers, constantly seeking the euphoric high associated with these drugs.

Crime Has Dropped in South Florida Since the '80s, Despite the News Reports

Recently, the news reported that the U.S. Coast Guard seized 150 pounds of cocaine off of a fishing boat. The boat came into the RMK Merrill-Stevens Shipyard in Miami from Nassau, Bahamas, and the drugs were found during a routine inspection. Authorities in connection with the drug smuggling detained five people.

Back in the days of Miami Vice, this type of drug bust was pretty normal here in Miami. However, in the 30 years since the show put South Florida drug smuggling and murder on the map, we've actually seen crime rates decrease across the county. That's good news for those of us who call Miami home.

Miami Man Arrested for Threatening the Life of State Representative on Facebook

A Miami Gardens man was arrested recently, accused of threatening the life of State Representative Jose Felix Diaz. The threat was posted on the defendant's Facebook page and read, "I'll kill your ass and you better not show up to the next REC meeting."

With heightened emotions surrounding politicians being common these days, we are seeing more and more negative comments toward elected officials being posted on social media. Most of the comments are reactions or responses to policies and actions of officials, and therefore protected under our First Amendment right to free speech. However, if a negative comment crosses the line into a threat on the life of an official or his/her immediate family, that comment may no longer be protected under the Constitution. In fact, credible threats against public officials are considered serious crimes under U.S. Federal law.

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?

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