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Criminal Defense Archives

South Florida Appeals Court Rules Cell Phone Evidence Required a Warrant

In 2014, through a unanimous decision, The United States Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant must be obtained prior to engaging in the contents of a cellular phone. This decision helped start an update to outdated privacy rules, specific for technology, which the court said falls under the protection of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. One exception to this rule would be a major security threat. Recently, this ruling was cited in a South Florida appellate case in which a cell phone-that was unlocked by police-could be used as evidence.

Florida's New Death Penalty Law Ruled Unconstitutional

The state of Florida had revamped its death penalty law a mere seven months ago, only to have the Florida Supreme Court declare the newly revised statute unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court has also suggested that there was a significant deal of uncertainty surrounding the death penalty, as the state is one of the leading practitioners of capital punishment in the nation. The recently revised death penalty was challenged due to the fact that it did not require a unanimous decision from the jurors in order to draw the sentence. Nearly 400 inmates are on Florida's death row and due to the fluctuations surrounding the death penalty uncertainty have arisen as to their outcome.

Can Facebook Live Video be used as Evidence in Criminal Court?

The scope of social media is reaching further and further as more ways to communicate are introduced. One of the most popular features of late is live video. From Facebook Live to Periscope, live broadcasting is becoming the new normal. And because every user has access to it, anyone can now broadcast his or her own live event in a matter of seconds.

Florida's Death Penalty Conviction Practices Under Scrutiny

Recent state court decisions and amendments to the laws surrounding the constitutionality of death penalty sentencing practices in Florida are being challenged by judges in multiple cases. In the most recent development, a Miami-Dade judge found the death penalty to be unconstitutional based on the fact that it does not require unanimity of the jury. Florida Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch put it this way: "A decedent cannot be more or less dead. An expectant mother cannot be more or less pregnant. And a jury cannot be more or less unanimous. Every verdict in every criminal case in Florida requires the concurrence, not of some, not of most, but of all jurors - every single one of them."

Is the "Textalyzer" the Next Tool of Highway Patrols?

Everyone has heard of the Breathalyzer, the device which determines a driver's blood-alcohol level, but new on the driver's stage we have what is known as the "Textalyzer", a tool invented to keep people from texting and driving. Although the invention is still in its early stages, states are beginning to adopt the new technology as a way to prevent traffic accidents and provide incriminating proof of texting while driving should an accident occur.

Is Use of Certain Emojis Enough to Warrant an Arrest?

A twelve-year-old girl in Fairfax, VA is facing charges in juvenile court after posting a series of emojis in an Instagram post that implied a threat to her school. Emojis, the small pictures used to punctuate texts and social media posts, are a hallmark of smartphone communication. And, like many aspects of digital communication, they are a source of confusion in the courts.

Should Apple unlock its iPhones? Judges Split on Apple's Public Responsibility

Should Apple make a way for law enforcement to access their iPhones? That question continues to play out in the courts, and could have a far-reaching effect on technology and privacy laws in the United States.

Florida Re-sentencing Laws for Juveniles Creates Backlog in Courts

The juvenile justice system in Florida continues to be a hot topic. In December, the Juvenile Justice Bill received a lot of attention and now a ruling from earlier in 2015 is making a stir by creating a backlog of cases in courtrooms throughout the state. In the ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) that committed a murder can still be sentenced to life imprisonment; however, those individuals are entitled to a review of that sentencing after 25 years.

The Freddie Gray Trial Had An Anonymous Jury - What Does That Mean?

Recently, an anonymous jury was used in the high profile case of William Porter. Porter was the first of the Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray to stand trial. While there is precedent for using anonymous juries in certain instances, the practice has seen an uptick in recent years.

Juvenile Justice Bill Moves Through Florida House

On December 1, 2015 the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee took a hard look at Florida's direct-file laws and their effects on the lives of juvenile offenders. In the last five years, 12,000 juvenile offenders have ended up in Florida's adult criminal justice system - 60 percent of them non-violent offenders.

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