News

A Three Point Update On Medical Marijuana

medical marijuana is on its way

Medical Marijuana is still the exception, not the rule in Florida.

In November 2016 the most publicized issue at the voting polls was the choice of president, but there were more issues on the election ballot than just the race for the White House. Most states had local issues to decide and here at home one of those issues was the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Known as Amendment 2, the measure passed with just over 70% of the vote. But the “yes” vote was not an all clear to do as one wishes, and in the months that have followed there have been additional questions that have arisen, and getting answers is imperative if anyone is expected to act within the letter of the law.

A quick three point update on the status of medical marijuana in Florida includes the following information:

  • Of key concern to law enforcement officials is clarification on when, where, and how a dispensary will operate. This type of clarification is needed if law and order is to have any place within this new law.
  • What type of use will be permitted, vaping or smoking?
  • Growers have a large stake in the final version of the law, because they have invested a significant amount of time and money on this issue.

The State’s lawmakers have been tasked with implementing a law that operates in the way the voting public expected. The problem is that it is difficult to write a law that encompasses every voter’s needs or wants. The end result could be a law that sees a lot of legal challenges before there is any set groundwork for what is legal and what is illegal. In the meantime, we will keep our eyes on this very important issue, so we can provide accurate advice when required. It is also important to remember that the law will not give a blank check for things like distribution, possession, or other illegal drug activity. If you have questions about the status of medical marijuana or have another drug crime related mater that needs attention, call our office. We have experience defending people charged with drug crimes and will aggressively defend any charges against you.

For more information about drug charges, call our office. Schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

Hurricane Mathew Brought Little Rain, Lots of Perspective

Joey Ferraro, 10, with another load headed to Missionary Flights International

Joey Ferraro, 10, with another load headed to Missionary Flights International

Like many of us, Joey Ferraro had never lived through a hurricane when Mathew brushed our coastline.  It had been ten years since the last major storm, and Joey wasn’t sure what all of the excitement was about, but it worried him.  As he watched the constant news updates, he saw Mathew barrel over Haiti, flattening homes and businesses in its path.  When Jim Cantore started broadcasting live from Fort Pierce, worry turned to panic.

We were lucky, the storm missed us.  Joey was relieved.  But he thought about the people of Haiti, and how they fared after the storm.  When he learned of the total devastation, Joey was overcome by emotion and felt compelled to do something.  He wanted to collect supplies but wondered how to get them to the hurricane survivors in Haiti.  With a little help from his mother, he discovered that Missionary Flights International flys out of Fort Pierce and would be the perfect way to get the supplies directly to the people in need.  So he wrote a letter and posted it to social media:  haiti-bridges-effort

“My name is Joey Ferraro and I’m in 4th grade at Bridges Montessori in Stuart, Florida. Earlier this week Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti as a category 4 hurricane. 1000 people died mostly because the people are poor and their homes are not built well enough to provide shelter from bad storms. A lot more people will die if they don’t get food, medicine and supplies soon. That makes me very sad. I feel guilty that we were spared and so many people died there. The people in Haiti need food, supplies, and medicine right away or they will die from starvation and disease.  We all have so much and if you have anything left over from your storm supplies those things can be sent to Haiti on missionary flights.”

Within minutes, donations started pouring in.   Local neighborhoods, businesses, schools and families answered the call, donating tarps, food, supplies  and money.  The show of community support was breathtaking.  The most touching story comes from the day Joey started his mission.  A homeless family reached out to donate its own supplies to the people of Haiti.  They didn’t have much, but wanted to give what they had!

Joey and his mother started frequent trips to the airport to drop off the supplies, and he met the pilots and toured the planes that would deliver them. Joey’s teacher, Ms. Susan at Bridges Montessori in Stuart jumped in to help Joey get the word out.  Joey’s class collected so many supplies that it had to use a moving truck to move the goods.  The class took a field trip to Missionary Flights International to make the delivery, where they got to tour the airplane hanger, and sort and package the supplies for their final Haitain destination.

Joey learned that helping people feels good, and that desire coupled with action can start a movement!

Hurricane Mathew victims are still in need of support.  Learn how you can help at http://www.missionaryflights.org/mfi/index.php

One More Piece Of Personal Data You Need To Know About

If you have ever spent any time at the beach you know that you leave a footprint in the sand for every step you take, and that as soon as the tide rolls in your footprint is erased. But in real life it is not as easy to remove all traces of where you have been and what you have done. For instance, if you are arrested for a crime or receive a traffic ticket, there is a record of that event that can be pulled up by the authorities with the click of the mouse. Depending on the severity of the charges, you might find yourself in hot water with the police if you are pulled over for another infraction. However, there are ways you can “erase” previous charges, but you have to qualify for the process. The procedure is referred to as records expungement, and with certain types of cases it removes all reference to a past incident from public view. But be careful, just because the public can no longer search your record, that does not mean certain governmental agencies and personnel no longer have access.

If you are considering asking the Court to expunge your record, call us to make sure you qualify and that the results will be what you need. This is also a good time to learn about one more piece of personal information that may soon be available to you, and how detailed your online footprint could become. Google plans to implement a feature that allows a user to see the following:

  • You will soon be able to enter your own name in the search box, while signed in to your account, and pull up a history of your activity.
  • Recent websites visited on both your PC and smartphone will be revealed.
  • A feature similar to your smartphone’s “find your phone” app will also be available, and it could help you to protect the data you have stored on your phone. This will give you more security and increase your privacy.

Police and other agencies use the internet during investigations all the time. This new feature will help you to see what others can see about you, which can be beneficial if you are facing criminal charges. More Courts and Judges are allowing the use electronic information as evidence, and knowing what the other side could potentially “dig up” on you will help to develop and effective defense.

Allow an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast to help you if you have been arrested. Your first visit is a free initial consultation and we work with you to come up with a strategy that is tailored to the facts of your case.

Three Ways The Media Can Hurt Your Case

When you are arrested for a crime, the last thing you need is to have your case tried in the “Court of Public Opinion”. But with high profile case that is just what happens sometimes. When an incident is given a lot of media attention, it is not long before people take to social media and voice their opinions. This dual method of having your story splashed across the TV and on the screen of anyone with an internet connection can cause serious problems for your defense. When the public has already made a decision about a highly publicized case, it is hard for a defendant to get a fair shake.

A good example of this type of problem is the case of Adacia Chambers, the 25 year old woman arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and crashing her car into a crowd at Oklahoma State University’s Homecoming parade. The public backlash against Ms. Chambers is so severe, that she risks these three ways the media can hurt her case:

  • A fair trial in Stillwater, Oklahoma is unlikely. A smart move in this circumstance is to ask for a change in the venue where the trial will take place (if in fact the case is resolved by trial rather than negotiation).
  • Public perception of Ms. Chambers is so low that finding a potential juror without a preconceived idea as to her guilt or innocence will be near impossible.
  • Media reports and opinion on social media can be taken as true, even before all of the evidence is presented. This means any person who does sit in judgment of Ms. Chambers is likely to listen to the news or troll the internet to learn what happened rather than giving the evidence presented in Court the weight it deserves.

The initial reports were that Ms. Chambers may have been on drugs or drunk when driving. If so, she will face charges of DUI as well as heightened charges now brought against her for the deaths of 4 people at the parade. This type of case takes special care and investigation in order to develop an effective defense. If you have been charged with a DUI or other crime, call one of our DUI attorneys for help. We can keep media impact to a minimum while aggressively defending you.

If you have questions about how the media impacts a criminal case, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

Important Changes To Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Upon being arrested a criminal defendant’s most pressing concern is the range of punishment. Knowing what to expect by way of fines and possible incarceration helps to prepare you for what lies ahead and can also help aid you when deciding on a defense strategy. When the offense is in federal court rather than state court the Judge is required to adhere to strict sentencing guidelines. Over the years these guidelines have changed. This Fall, criminal defendants in federal matters will see another change. It is important to know what’s in store for the future, even if your case is not a federal case. This is because some prosecutors in state court try to draw parallels to these rules, so understanding the rationale behind them is key to understanding how the criminal judicial system works.

The United States Sentencing Commission has approved the following changes, to be effective November 1, 2015:

  • Clarification on who is considered a “conspirator” in a conspiracy case. This change is aimed at clarifying who can be held accountable, and for what. The hope is that one single defendant will not be made to answer for all the charges in a case, but only those for which evidence points to their involvement.
  • For financial crimes, the punishment can be adjusted downwardly depending on the amount in controversy. The financial harm suffered in a money crime (commonly thought of as white collar crimes) has been adjusted to take into account inflation.

The Commission hopes these changes will provide fair punishment, and hopefully decrease the amount of incarcerated individuals. An interesting fact is that the United States jails a higher percent of its population than do most other countries in the world. This statistic is truly amazing, and should give prosecutors pause when pushing for jail time. Our goal is to reach results that are appropriate for the case. When a punishment is out of line with the charge, we aggressively pursue alternative sentences.

If you have questions about how criminal sentencing works, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free consultation and we work with you to reach results that fit your needs.

Two Ways To Get Ticketed For Texting While Driving

The dangers of texting and driving are well known. Studies show taking your eyes off the road even for the minimal amount of time texting takes can have serious consequences because the time needed to refocus is significant. This means that the dangers of texting and driving are well known. Studies show taking your eyes off the road even for the minimal amount of time texting takes can have serious consequences because the time needed to refocus is significant. This means that when you text and then shift your gaze back to the street you are driving without fully paying attention to the rules of the road. To combat this growing problem and decrease the number of accidents related to texting and driving, Florida has passed a ban on texting while operating a motor vehicle.
The law is close to a year and a half old, and thus far has not netted the number of citations officials envisioned. This may be due to the fact that texting while driving isn’t something you can be pulled over for without further cause. Two ways to get a ticket for texting and driving are:
● Speeding
● Failure to wear your safety belt
If you are pulled over for another traffic violation, such as one of those listed above, and are found to be texting while driving you can expect to receive a citation for violation of the text ban as well. The current law makes it a secondary offense to text and drive, and that is why you cannot be pulled over simply for that act. If you have received a ticket for texting and driving you should put on a solid defense for that offense as well as the primary offense that led to the texting ticket. We can help you develop a strategy that works, call our office for help.
If you have received a traffic ticket or two, contact an experienced traffic ticket defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free consultation and we work with you to reach results that fit your needs.
When you text and then shift your gaze back to the street you are driving without fully paying attention to the rules of the road. To combat this growing problem and decrease the number of accidents related to texting and driving, Florida has passed a ban on texting while operating a motor vehicle.

The law is close to a year and a half old, and thus far has not netted the number of citations officials envisioned. This may be due to the fact that texting while driving isn’t something you can be pulled over for without further cause. Two ways to get a ticket for texting and driving are:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to wear your safety belt

If you are pulled over for another traffic violation, such as one of those listed above, and are found to be texting while driving you can expect to receive a citation for violation of the text ban as well. The current law makes it a secondary offense to text and drive, and that is why you cannot be pulled over simply for that act. If you have received a ticket for texting and driving you should put on a solid defense for that offense as well as the primary offense that led to the texting ticket. We can help you develop a strategy that works, call our office for help.

If you have received a traffic ticket or two, contact an experienced traffic ticket defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free consultation and we work with you to reach results that fit your needs.

Florida House Bill Stiffens Texting and Driving Law

police officerFlorida House Bill 1 is on the agenda for this year’s legislative session.  It stiffens penalties for texting and driving and also carves out exceptions for emergency personnel  and navigation among others.  This bill would change a ticket for texting and driving to a non-moving violation which would have substantially higher fines than the current law.  It would also double those fines if the infraction is committed in a school zone.  Most importantly, it does not require that this ticket be issued as a secondary action.  In other words, if this Bill passes you can be pulled over for texting and driving.  And of course, once you are stopped, an officer may look to see what else is in plain view in your vehicle or ask you for consent to look around.  While there are certain exceptions for the issuing of the ticket, by the time the officer has determined if an exception exists, you will already be pulled over and communicating directly with them.  So, be careful out there, and don’t text and drive!  Doing so could land you an expensive ticket or worse if you have any other shenanigans going on inside your vehicle!

Can A Sober Driver Be Arrested For DUI?

Being charged with DUI is a frightening experience, it is made even more so when you are not under the influence of alcohol when pulled over and arrested. Most people would be surprised to learn that not every person charged with DUI has been drinking. There are instances where the field sobriety test result is a false positive, due to improper equipment maintenance or even the existence of legal substances such as certain prescription medications.

In one highly publicized case, a sober driver was charged with DUI after the officer hit her! In the summer of 2014 a Wisconsin woman was arrested for DUI after an officer ran a stop sign and plowed into her car. The case unfolded like this:

  • 25 year old Tanya Weyker was hit by an officer who ran a stop sign.

● Weyker was injured in the incident, and therefore unable to participate in a field sobriety test.

● The officer made an arrest of DUI despite the lack of a test result showing a BAC over the legal limit.

A blood test later revealed Weyker was not under the influence, but the experience was long and difficult. Instances such as these show that mistakes are made all the time, and sober drivers can be wrongfully accused of DUI. In Weyker’s case her injuries included a broken neck, which prevented her from taking a field sobriety test. Other factors that might prevent a driver from agreeing to a field test include age, or physical disability. Even then, if the test is taken a false positive may still happen if the test isn’t administered properly. For an analysis of your case, call a qualified DUI defense attorney with experience reviewing the testing process and examining all the components of your case.

If you have been charged with DUI, call a competent criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for help. We offer aggressive representation for criminal charges. Call us today to schedule an appointment that includes a free initial evaluation of the facts of your case.

The Trouble With High Profile Cases

Over the years that have been a handful of trials against famous people, and at first blush it might seem like being on the jury would be beneficial. Book deals, interviews, and instant celebrity status can easily be gained when you serve on the jury of a well-known defendant. There is a downside to trials like these though, such as the length of time it can take from start to finish and court orders whereby the jury is sequestered from the public. Not being able to go home every night can really take its toll on a juror’s family, and the time away from work may cause a serious financial burden on a juror.

These are the types of issues lawyers for Aaron Hernandez know to expect, but instead they worry potential jurors may seek to sit on the case for personal gain:

  • Hernandez’s lawyers are trying to figure out ways to keep those off the jury that are only looking to gain fame for having made life decisions that impact the former Gators player.
  •  Of particular concern is the possibility potential jurors may be untruthful in the jury selection process, simply to be chosen for the jury panel.

 

One way Hernandez’s lawyers are considering, to avoid potential juror problems, is by seeking additional preemptory challenges. This means the defense attorneys are asking the Court to allow them the ability to dismiss a juror for no reason. In every case each side is given a set number of these types of challenges, but Hernandez’s attorneys are hoping for an extra few challenges. It will also be important for the defense to find jurors that have not had much media exposure to the case. This is an issue in all high profile cases, where possible jurors have pre-determined idea about the facts of the case. The danger posed by learning too much about a case prior to hearing the evidence is that the jury may disregard vital evidence that is produced in Court.

If you have questions about criminal cases or have been charged with a crime, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We aggressively defend you and work to maintain your driving privileges. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

A “Textalyzer”?

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. A driver under the influence is less alert and more prone to cause an accident, sometimes causing serious injury to other motorists. The way a DUI is treated varies from case to case, but the one constant seems to be the test results that led authorities to issue the citation for DUI. DUI’s are most commonly filed after an officer obtains a breath test result that shows the driver was over the legal limit for alcohol in their bloodstream. On the defense side of a DUI case, it is common to challenge many aspects of the case, including the test results. But what do you do when a traffic violation is not the result of drinking and driving, but might still involve driving while otherwise impaired…by your phone?

There is a lot of media attention on the issue of texting and driving, with everyone from pro athletes to musicians, to celebrities pledging to drive “text free”. To combat this growing problem, a Virginia company is developing a text radar gun of sorts. The device works as follows:

● The radar gun reads radio frequencies being generated from within your car.

● These frequencies are tied to cell phone use.

While the product awaits approval for use, several concerns come to mind. One significant issue is how will the device differentiate between who is using a phone; driver or passenger? Also, what about the talk to text feature found on nearly every smartphone in use? Despite the hype, there are safety features in place that many drivers use, yet are not detectable to another piece of electronic equipment. This is similar to the problems encountered with Breathalyzer, where false positives are not uncommon. Until the kinks are worked out, this product should not be put to use by police forces at any level.

 

For more information about texting and driving and the potential legal consequences, call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We work with you to tailor a defense that fits the specific facts of your case. We offer an initial consultation for no charge.

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