Sheppard, White, Kachergus, & DeMaggio, P.A. Attorneys & Counselors At Law
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Jacksonville Florida Criminal Defense Blog

Standing up against abuse of prison guard power

Prison guard abuse is an issue many might assume is no longer common in today's society; unfortunately, however, the problem persists in detention centers across the nation. Yet this problem is often a hidden one, making it all the more complex and dangerous. Families and friends, unaware of various forms of abuse that take place within prison walls, are horrified to find that their loved ones do not receive adequate protection and care. While mistreatment in Florida prisons can take many different forms, the reality that countless prisoners must face daily is one that cannot continue.

While the media has certainly placed immense focus on this topic in recent years, not all observations have proved optimistic. Vice News sees the issue as an important one, but also one that may be difficult to tackle -- prison abuse has become part of a vicious cycle in the country's incarceration system. Prison guards often berate and isolate inmates to unnecessary extremes, which, in turn, can inflict lasting trauma on the victim. Vice also points out the lack of mental health support in prison systems; as a result, many inmates do not receive the care they need, and some even end up back behind bars. To make matters worse, many corrupt guards face no penalties for their actions, despite how damaging their abuse may have been.

What you should know about domestic violence in Florida

Domestic violence is a continuing problem in Florida, as it is across the nation. Sections 741.28-741.31 of the Florida Code define domestic violence as any kind of assault and/or battery, simple, aggravated or sexual, perpetrated by one family or household member against another that results in the victim’s physical injury or death. Domestic violence also can include stalking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, or threats of physical harm or death.

“Family or household member” has a specific meaning and refers to any of the following:

  • Spouses and former spouses
  • People who presently cohabitate or who have done so in the past
  • People who are related by blood or marriage
  • People who have had a child together, whether or not they are or were married

The all-too-common issue of police brutality

In the immediate wake of the Daniel Shaver shooting in Arizona, many Floridians are left confused and distraught; however, there is one aspect that is certain: police brutality is still a tremendous issue in America today. Unfortunately, there are countless who suffer at the hands of law enforcement, never to see justice served.

Florida, similar to other states, contains specific laws surrounding police misconduct. Those who have been exposed to excessive force or other kind of police brutality have rights to take legal action, and to seek out truth in such an unfortunate and damaging situation.

Understanding plea bargaining

When defendants set out to argue their criminal cases in a Jacksonville courtroom, they typically do so with the ultimate goal of gaining an acquittal and/or an exoneration. However, somewhere along the pathway to completing this process, that goal may shift to earning the most favorable outcome that is possible. To do that, one may have to give some serious thought to plea bargaining. Such agreements are much more common in the American criminal justice system than most may think. According to information shared by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the 48,939 criminal offense cases heard in America's largest 75 counties in 2009, 53 percent of felony cases ended in pleas. 

Most may assume that plea bargaining must be initiated by a prosecuting attorney, yet that is not the case. Either side of a criminal case can commence such talks. Perhaps the reason that it is presumed that prosecutors typically are the ones seeking plea bargaining is because it may be believed that they are the side most benefitted by it. Indeed, the American Bar Association states that courts and prosecutors are motivated to avoid trials due to the time and expenses that they require. Yet the ABA also claims that plea bargaining also offers distinct advantages to defendants, such as: 

  • Avoiding the cost of having to defend themselves
  • Not risking receiving a harsher sentence as the result of a trial
  • Avoiding the damage that the details shared at a trial can do to their reputations

Florida's changing marijuana laws

Laws surrounding marijuana have changed significantly in recent years. Florida is one of many states reconsidering the penalties for possession; some officials believe the consequences that come with minor drug offenses such as possession of marijuana are far too harsh. Yet even with the state's gradual shift toward legalization, there may still be a long way to go. 

There is much debate over whether medical marijuana laws should end there, or if the state should allow recreational use, as well. What might the future of marijuana look like in Florida, and is a happy medium possible? Regardless of views, the penalties for recreational possession can last much longer than one might think.

Racial injustice on the road

Over recent years, America has seen a drastic increase in the number of racial profiling incidents, especially on the country's roadways. Despite efforts to maintain and comply with human rights standards, this increase largely involves the apparent divide between law enforcement and non-white citizens. And despite the country's growing awareness of the issue, Florida is one of the highest-ranking states with racial injustice on the road. 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, evidence shows that racial profiling on Florida's roads did, in fact, occur in recent years -- particularly among the black community. Data showed that law enforcement officers stopped and ticketed black motorists for seat belt violations at a rate nearly double that of white motorists. This imbalance was even more apparent in surrounding Florida counties. The ACLU reminds its readers that such traffic stops can be deadly to non-whites, and despite the data showing that blacks and whites wore seatbelts at comparatively equal rates, this detrimental trend has yet to cease.

How Prosecutor Misstatements Overturn DUI Convictions

A defendant's right to a fair trial imposes important limitations on how prosecutors can characterize evidence or argue their case before the jury. If a prosecutor makes objectionable comments during trial, the court has wide discretion whether to let the comment slide or declare a mistrial and force the State to start its case over in front of a new jury. However, if a prosecutor repeatedly makes inflammatory or misleading comments, the cumulative effects of those statements may require the defendant to receive a new trial.

I'm Going To Make You Live By The Constitution If I Have The Power To Do It"

William Sheppard and Betsy White were interviewed last week by the Bar Bulletin Staff of the Daily Record about the recently filed complaint against Chief Judge Mahon and Sheriff Mike Williams as it relates to the unfair bail practices against misdemeanants.

Can you get a hardship license in Florida?

Losing your license after having been convicted of driving under the influence can cause a significant impact on your life. Getting to work, school or all of the other important places you need to be can become a nightmare having to wait on public transportation or rely on others to drive you. Depending on the nature of your conviction, these challenges can last for several years. Yet is there a way to earn back your driving privileges (even if it is only on a limited basis)? 

Florida does indeed offer hardship licenses to people in your situation. Such a license can be attained only after you have waited 12 months from the date of your original suspension. To qualify following a DUI conviction, you then must also complete an approved DUI prevention course. You may also be required to present letters of recommendation from certain people recommending you to be able to operate a vehicle on a restricted basis. These people may include: 

  • Community business leaders
  • Law enforcement officials
  • Officers of the court


A new case has come out of the circuit court in Miami denying the State's Motion to Obtain Oral Swabs from a gentleman who was charged with robbery of a drug store with a firearm. According to the State, he "gave a full post-miranda confession" and "lead officer to the location of a backpack which contained a plastic firearm and the stolen currency and the clothes he wore when the crime was committed."

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  1. Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Rated for highest level of Provisional Excellence 2016 Best Lawyers Best Law Firms US News 2016 American College of Trial Lawyers William J.Sheppard Best Lawyers Lawyer of the year 2014 The Florida Bar Board Certified Best Lawyers|Best Law Firms US News|Criminal Defense: White-Collor|Tier 1|Jacksonville|2017
  2. Best Lawyers Best Law Firms US News 2017 AV Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rated For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability Super Lawyers Best Lawyers Linking Lawyers And Clients Worldwide
  3. Martindale-Hubbell Client Champion Silver / 2017 Best Lawyers Best Law Firms US News 2018

Sheppard, White, Kachergus, & DeMaggio, P.A. Attorneys & Counselors at Law.
215 N. Washington Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Phone: 904-701-0589
Phone: 904-727-7191
Fax: 904-356-9667
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Regular office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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