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“Innocent until proven guilty” is one of the foundations of our criminal justice system. It is not just an expression, but a requirement that the state have enough evidence against defendants to sufficiently prove whatever is alleged. Therefore, in order to convict someone for a crime, the state must prove all of the elements of the crime. If there is not sufficient evidence of one or more elements of the crime then the charge (or conviction if it’s an appeal) should be thrown out. In a case heard by the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal, a defendant’s conviction for conspiracy was thrown out after the appeals court held that there was not sufficient evidence as to one of the elements of the crime. A skilled Tampa drug crimes defense attorney may be able to help you to get charges thrown out if the state does not meet their burden of proof as to all the elements of the crime.

Conspiracy in Florida

In order to prove that a conspiracy has been committed, Florida law requires the state to show that there was an agreement to commit an offense. In this instance, the state presented evidence to show that the defendant’s boyfriend met with a criminal informant to sell him cocaine. He had apparently sold small amounts of the drug to the informant in the past, but this time was planning to sell a larger amount. They planned to meet in the parking lot of a shopping center. The defendant testified that her boyfriend came to her house and asked her to drive him to the store in his car.

Many states, including Florida, have special laws about assaults on emergency medical care providers. If an emergency medical care provider is battered while working in their capacity as a health care provider, then what would normally be a first degree misdemeanor becomes a third degree felony. The specifics of the statute are discussed below. If you are accused of this or any other criminal charges, it is crucial that you contact a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you develop a defense strategy.

The Statute

Section 784.07 of the Florida Statutes defines what is required for a conviction for battery on an emergency care provider. Specifically, it is defined as when one person intentionally strikes another person against their will, and the person who was hit was “engaged in the lawful performance of her duties” as an emergency medical care provider.

As representatives of the State, prosecutors have special responsibilities that the defense does not have. Prosecutors are supposed to be on the side of justice, so they should look at the evidence with that goal in mind. If they find evidence that would tend to show that the defendant is innocent, they have a responsibility to share that evidence. Specifically, a Supreme Court case called Brady requires that the prosecution must turn over any evidence to the defense that meets certain criteria. If they do not do this, a conviction may be reversed. There are a number of different ways that a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney may be able to get your conviction overturned. Of course, individual results will depend on the facts of your case.Brady Violations

There are certain requirements that need to be met in order for a court to find that a Brady violation has occurred. The burden is on the defendant to show that a Brady violation has taken place. The first thing the defense needs to prove is that the evidence either impeached the testimony of a prosecution witness or was exculpatory. They also need to prove that the State either willfully or inadvertently withheld that evidence from the defense. Finally, the defendant needs to show that the evidence was material and that their lack of access to the evidence hurt their case.

The Florida Supreme Court has clarified some other aspects that are necessary for a Brady violation. One of the important aspects that they have clarified is that the defense must not have known about the existence of the evidence at the time of the trial. The reasoning behind this is that if the defense knew about the evidence, it wasn’t withheld.

The U.S. Constitution protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If evidence was gained by the police through illegal means, that evidence can be suppressed. Suppression means that the evidence cannot be presented in court. If evidence that should have been suppressed is presented, and there is a conviction, that conviction can be overturned. There are many possible ways that a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney can try to get evidence against you suppressed.Warrants and Searches

When a search warrant is issued, it will have a description of the specific places that are allowed to be searched. In this case, the warrant permitted the police to search three motel rooms, any people who were believed to be involved in the crime, the curtilage, and any vehicles located in the curtilage. The SWAT team came in to perform the search. During the search, they saw the defendant leave one of the hotel rooms and walk to his car, which was parked a few feet away in the parking lot of the motel. He got into his car, and as he tried to leave, he was stopped by law enforcement, blocking him in. Then he got out of his car and lay on the ground. The officer searched his car and found drugs.

The question raised on this appeal was whether the search was legal. In other words, was the defendant’s car located in a place that was covered by the warrant? The answer rested on the definition of curtilage. If the defendant’s car was parked in the “curtilage,” the search was legal. If it was not part of the curtilage, the search was illegal and should be suppressed.

Florida cops and courts treat drug and other related crimes very seriously. A conviction can come with significant consequences, including long stretches behind bars and significant money penalties. Many drug cases also often involve the confiscation of money and other property seized by police officers during an investigation. As a recent case out of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals makes clear, it can be tough to get that money back. State law creates only a small window of time to file a request to return seized property.

The defendant was charged with drug trafficking and money laundering following a 2006 police surveillance operation. Officers observed him pacing back and forth and talking on his cell phone for about 15 minutes before the defendant placed a black duffle bag in his car and drove off. They said he drove erratically to another location, where another man removed a black rolling suitcase from the defendant’s car. An undercover officer approached the two men and the defendant eventually consented to having the car searched, according to the court. The cops found “a significant amount” of cocaine and $738,000 in cash in the duffle bag inside the car.

The defendant was convicted two years later and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Law enforcement officers also seized the money from the duffle bag. A state court denied Defendant’s request to force the return of the money. The court cited a Florida statute that provides that any property lawfully seized by a law enforcement agency becomes the property of that agency 60 days after the closure of court proceedings related to the property. The court said the defendant filed his request outside of that 60-day window.

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Police officers must have reasonable suspicion to believe that you’re committing a crime in order to stop your car on the road. They need to have probable cause—a higher bar—to actually search the car. These are two important protections for anyone suspected of or charged with a Florida crime. But, as the state’s Third District Court of Appeal recently pointed out, there are many ways in which the cops can legally stop your car and search it.

Defendant was charged with possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a controlled substance after a police officer found Xanax pills in Defendant’s car. The officer, who was in an unmarked car investigating unrelated crimes in the area, said he originally pulled Defendant over because he noticed part of Defendant’s license plate was obscured. A metal frame was blocking “MyFlorida.com” from the top portion of the license plate and “Sunshine State” from the bottom portion. The officer said he searched the car because he smelled marijuana inside.

A trial judge agreed with Defendant that the search was illegal. As a result, the judge granted Defendant’s request to suppress all of the evidence gained during the stop, including the Xanax pills. The Third District reversed that decision on appeal, however, finding that state law gave the officer the right to pull Defendant’s car over.

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The rule against hearsay essentially bans a person from testifying in court about what another person said outside of court if the testimony is meant to prove that the out-of-court statement is true. As Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal recently pointed out in a murder case, however, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. That includes certain statements made by a person shortly before he or she dies.Defendant was charged with first degree murder and an assortment of related criminal offenses, stemming from the killing of a Florida man during what prosecutors described as a drug deal gone wrong. Defendant was visiting Miami from New York when he and a friend bought $5 worth of marijuana from M., according to the court. M. then arranged for Defendant to buy $1,500 in cocaine and marijuana from V., the court said. Defendant allegedly coaxed M. to his hotel room, where he and his associate claimed to be police officers, threatened M. with a gun, beat him, and forced M. to set up a meeting with V..

V. eventually met with Defendant and got in the back of his car. Defendant’s associate showed V. a police ID card. V. tried to get out of the car when he realized Defendant didn’t have money for the drugs he said he wanted to buy. A struggle ensued, during which Defendant allegedly shot V. three times as V. was getting out of the car. Defendant and his associate drove off with M. still in the back of the car. A police officer who arrived on the scene asked V. who shot him. V. told the officer that it was “a black man with dreads.” He died shortly after making the statement.

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In Florida and elsewhere, probation is an alternative to prison time in which a person convicted of a crime is able to remain free, so long as he or she complies with certain terms and conditions. This is an attractive option for anyone charged with a crime in Florida because it allows the person in question to avoid prison time, continue working, and remain with your loved ones. As a recent case out of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal makes clear, however, a person who has violated the terms of his or her probation is liable to face some serious consequences.A defendant in 2010 pled no contest to dealing in stolen property, a second degree felony, and grand theft, a third degree felony. He also pled no contest to dealing in stolen property in a second case. A trial judge withheld sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve three years of probation. One year later, however, Defendant pled no contest to various drug crimes, including cocaine possession. He also admitted to violating the terms of his probation. Defendant later violated the terms of his probation again by failing to undergo drug and alcohol treatment.

In 2015, Defendant entered into an agreement with Florida state prosecutors after once again violating the terms of his probation. He agreed that any new criminal offenses, including for traffic infractions, would violate the terms of his probation. Defendant was eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison on the three 2010 charges after being busted for driving on a suspended license.

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A recent Supreme Court decision is widely expected to make it easier for people wrongly convicted of Florida crime to get compensation. A later ruling out of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, however, makes clear that there are still strict time limits on efforts to get that compensation.Defendant was charged with grand theft and uttering a forged instrument, executing a scheme to defraud a financial institution, and counterfeiting a license tag in three separate criminal cases. He eventually entered into a plea deal, under which Defendant plead no contest to the crimes. He also agreed to pay restitution to the victims of the forged instrument and scheme to defraud offenses. Defendant was sentenced to three years of probation on the scheme to defraud charge as part of the deal.

A federal court in 2009 overturned Defendant’s conviction on the scheme to defraud offense. The court held that writing a check that’s unsupported by sufficient funds doesn’t qualify as a fraudulent representation to a bank without proof of intent. So Defendant also went back to state court and asked a judge to scrap his plea deal and give Defendant back the restitution money he had paid for the scheme to defraud conviction. The trial court declined that request in 2009. Some eight years later, Defendant filed a “motion for damages” seeking the return of the restitution money. A judge said that this filing wasn’t timely.

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The U.S. Supreme court recently bolstered personal privacy protections for anyone who owns a cell phone. The court’s new 5-4 ruling also clarifies some important safeguards for anyone facing Florida criminal charges (or elsewhere). The justices said that law enforcement officers generally need a warrant before they can obtain and search records showing when and where calls take place.“Although such records are generated for commercial purposes, that distinction does not negate [Defendant]’s anticipation of privacy in his physical location,” the court said in a majority opinion penned by Chief Justice John Roberts. “Mapping a cell phone’s location over the course of 127 days provides an all-encompassing record of the holder’s whereabouts.”

Defendant was charged with six counts of robbery and another six firearms offenses for his alleged role as the leader of a string of robberies. Prosecutors used cell tower records—showing Defendant’s whereabouts over the span of 127 days—to try to show that Defendant was in the area where the crimes happened when the crimes happened. A trial judge allowed the prosecutors to enter the cell tower data as evidence, and Defendant was later convicted. A federal appeals court affirmed the decision.

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