Criminal Law Blog & News
Check this page often for the latest in Florida criminal law info & crime history of the day!
Michael Buchanan is a practicing criminal defense attorney in Gainesville, Florida, with more than 25 years experience defending people accused of criminal misconduct. He is a former president of the Eighth Judicial Circuit chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Read detailed professional biography here.
On this date, March 5, in the year 1994, former Jefferson Starship lead singer, Grace Slick, was arrested for pointing a firearm at a police officer who was responding to a call that shots had been fired at her house. Law enforcement officers from the Tiburon California Police Department went to the singer's home after receiving a call at 3:30 a.m. from an inebriated man who said a drunken woman was firing a gun in the home. When police officers arrived, a man came to the door yelling ''kill me,'' the police reported. An officer quickly subdued the man. Grace Slick then came to the door carrying a shotgun and allegedly pointed it at the officers. Slick was demanding that the officers leave her property as she pointed the firearm at them, police said.
A DUI deferred prosecution program or other DUI diversion alternative does not exist in many jurisdictions in Florida. Fortunately, in Gainesville, Florida, and the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida (which includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties) there is DUI deferred prosecution alternative available for some individuals charged with Driving Under the Influence. This article will focus on the DUI deferred prosecution program as it currently exists in the Gainesville, Florida area. It should be understood that the availability and requirements of a DUI diversion alternative may vary greatly between each of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits. For detailed information about DUI prosecutions in other Florida circuits, one should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer whose practice is focused in the judicial circuit where the DUI is alleged to have occurred.
A deferred prosecution agreement is a contract between a person charged with a criminal act and the prosecuting authority, which diverts the case out of the formal criminal justice system. If the accused individual complies with the conditions of the agreement, the criminal charges are usually dismissed at the end of the deferment period. This article will focus on deferred prosecution agreements in Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit, which includes Gainesville, Florida, and Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties. It should be understood that the availability and requirements of a deferred prosecution agreement may vary greatly between each of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits. For detailed information about deferred prosecution agreements in other Florida circuits, one should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney whose practice is focused in that particular judicial circuit. A map of Florida’s judicial circuits can be found here.
I've been practicing criminal law in Florida for more than 25 years and have represented hundreds of individuals in criminal cases over the years. In almost every case I've demanded discovery of all written statements and reports of law enforcement officers, but never - never - has a “draft” report ever been disclosed in discovery. Now I’m wondering how many “draft” reports have been hidden from defendants in criminal cases in Florida over the years. Surely, there have been other cases where police officers create a “draft” report and then made changes.
As a criminal defense attorney practicing law in a college town (Gainesville, Florida) I've seen more than my fair share of young adults, ages 18 - 20, being charged with the criminal offense of underage possession of alcohol. Underage possession of alcohol is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida and carries the potential punishment of imprisonment up to sixty days in jail for the first offense. See Florida Statute 562.111(1) I can’t help but feel sorry for these young adults and their parents as the realization sinks in that this “criminal” activity will be of public record, potentially for life. Yes, we live in a country where one is old enough to get one’s legs blown off in Afghanistan serving in the armed forces at eighteen years of age, but when one returns to the “land of the free” and possesses a can of beer one can be arrested, taken to jail and charged with a crime.
Like it or not, we live in a country where the average citizen’s word is practically worthless if contradicted by the words of a police officer. As a consequence of this reality, the majority of police misconduct that occurs daily goes unreported and undetected by Courts and prosecutors. The misuse of physical force is routinely blamed on the suspect by police officers. The use of coercive investigative techniques are routinely denied by police officers. The illegal detention of citizens is a daily occurrence, sustained by the exaggerations and misrepresentation of police officers. Without a video recording of what actually occurred, the typical citizen, once arrested, is often powerless in a court of law when faced with the lies and distortions perpetrated by police officers. One partial solution to this problem is the citizen who is willing to video record police officers engaged in their daily activities.
On August 24, 2012, the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Federal District Court that had found Florida’s drug statute unconstitutional in the case of Mackle Shelton vs State of Florida. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals did not actually decide the constitutional issue presented, finding instead that consideration of the defendant’s question of law was procedurally barred under the provisions of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1996. The lower court that was reversed had found that the Florida drug statute’s failure to require proof of knowing possession of contraband violated due process of law.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled, in an opinion dated July 12, 2012, that Florida drug laws are constitutional, rejecting arguments that the drug statute’s failure to require proof of knowing possession violates due process of law. In the case of State of Florida v Luke Jarrod Adkins, a five justice majority concluded that, “Given the broad authority of the legislative branch to define elements of crimes, the requirements of due process ordinarily do not preclude the creation of offenses which lack a guilty knowledge element.”
May 4, 1970, Four Kent State University Students Killed By Ohio National Guard - Today In Crime History
On this date, May 4, in the year 1970, four students were killed and nine others wounded when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during a Vietnam War protest. Approximately 67 shots were fired by the guardsmen over thirteen seconds. Jeffrey Glenn Miller, age 20, was shot through the mouth and killed instantly. Allison B. Krause, age 19,was shot in the chest and died later that day. William Knox Schroeder, age 19, was also shot in the chest and died almost an hour later in a hospital while undergoing surgery. Sandra Lee Scheuer, age 20, was shot in her neck and died within a few minutes from loss of blood. Among the wounded was Dean R. Kahler, who was shot in the back, causing permanent paralysis from the chest down. All of those killed or wounded were unarmed.
April 30, 1871, Settlers In Arizona Murder More Than 100 Indian Women & Children - Today In Crime History
On this date, April 30, in the year 1871, more than one hundred Apache Indians in Arizona were murdered by local settlers in what became known as the Camp Grant massacre. Apaches refer to the site as g’ashdla a cho o aa or “big sycamore standing there,” with the unspoken understanding of what took place.
I suppose I should not write this. I suppose I should just go with the flow created by the apparent overwhelming ground swell of the media and popular outrage over the Sanford Police Department’s failure to arrest George Zimmerman on a murder charge. As a criminal defense attorney that knows well that the police are not only fallible but also capable of outright dishonesty, I still feel the need to speak in opposition to the idea that we can know with certainty the facts of this investigation by reading news reports or listening to popular media accounts. As my friends and associates lineup on Facebook acknowledging that they have signed a petition essentially demanding that Zimmerman be immediately arrested, I can’t help but smell a lynch mob mentality that causes me to step back and urge caution.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with several other local law enforcement agencies, has arrested at least twenty different individuals for utilizing various Internet social meeting sites to allegedly attempt communication with a person believed to be a minor regarding sexual activity. No actual children were involved - only adult law enforcement officers posing as minors. The Gainesville television station WCJB reports that one of those arrested was an elementary school teacher. This blog will not report the names of those arrested as all are presumed innocent.
In a rare unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled on January 23, 2012, in U.S. v Antoine Jones, that attaching a GPS device to a suspect’s vehicle is a search under the Fourth Amendment. In one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age, the court ruled that police must obtain a search warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a vehicle in a criminal investigation.
On this day, January 28, in the year 1981, Plasmatics band member Wendy O. Williams was arrested on an obscenity charge for allegedly simulating a sexual act with a sledge hammer. During her physical arrest, Williams was injured and was also charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy Kills Five School Children, Wounds Thirty Others - Today In Crime History
On this day, January 17, in the year 1989, at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, Patrick Purdy shot and killed five schoolchildren, and wounded 29 other children and one teacher, before committing suicide. This event became known as the Cleveland School massacre.
At least one Florida Appellate Court has ruled that it is lawful to stop a vehicle because the driver was seen drinking a beverage in a paper bag.