Most people know that the Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to a trial, "without unnecessary delay". However, in the federal system, defendants also have speedy trial rights under statutory law. Specifically, the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 requires a criminal trial to commence within 70 days from the date the Information or Indictment was filed or from the date the defendant appears before an officer of the court during his first appearance, whichever is later. While the Speedy Trial Act may seem simple, it is often the subject of litigation, because the 70 days provided in the act can often actually go much longer before a defendant is entitled to a trial on his criminal charges.
While the 2016 election is most notable for selecting the nation's next president, Florida voters are also deciding on some important amendments to the state's constitution. Not the least of which is Amendment 2, which is poised to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Twenty-five states currently have laws that allow medical marijuana in some form. If Florida joins these states, the Amendment will create a new framework for prescribing, distributing, and possessing medical marijuana.
Florida law contains dozens of crimes that punish defendants from pursuing or soliciting sex with minors. Many of these crimes share similar elements. This means that prosecutors can often charge defendants with multiple crimes for the same incident, dramatically increasing their potential sentence. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits criminal defendants from facing multiple charges for the same crime.
When a criminal defendant wants to challenge a state court conviction, the highest state court is rarely the last stop. Prisoners who have exhausted their options in state court can often get a second chance at challenging their trial court's errors through a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Federal habeas petitions can only challenge a state court's conviction for constitutional violations. However, even violations of state rules of criminal procedure can take on a constitutional dimension through the Sixth Amendment's guarantee to effective assistance of counsel, if the defendant's attorney failed to raise those issues or argue them properly.
Bill Sheppard and Sam Jacobson have filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court on behalf of registered voters within the Fourth Judicial Circuit. The lawsuit alleges that the written-in candidacy of Kenny Leigh is a sham designed to close the election primary for the Office of State Attorney to registered Democrats and Independents. The lawsuit seeks to open the primary, which will effectively determine which candidate will be elected to the State Attorney position, to all registered voters.
Recently, our office had the pleasure of assisting a man who was seeking presidential clemency for a non-violent drug offense. We were shocked to find out later that this man was a war hero who had been sentenced prior to the amendments to U.S.S.G. §5H1.11 which allowed military service to be considered in determining whether a departure is warranted. With the client's permission, we would like to share with you an excerpted portion of the clemency package we prepared on his behalf, along with the video we shot at our office on Veteran's day.
William J. Sheppard invited to speak on veteran's rights at Federal Bar Association annual meeting
A motion for post conviction relief is typically a defendant's last resort for attempting to overturn a criminal conviction. It could also be a last effort to be released from prison after direct appeal of the person's criminal case has been denied or not been effective. Typical grounds for one seeking post conviction relief could include: