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

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.

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

DNA

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."

Examining the legal standard for negligent prescribing

If you are a healthcare practitioner in Jacksonville, then you likely rightly follow the line of thinking that your first obligation is the well-being and satisfaction of your patients (even if that well-being requires the consistent use of prescription medications). If it is later discovered that one of your patients was abusing those substances, people may question whether or not you had a hand in allowing that abuse. You may believe the chance of facing such accusations to be impossible, yet many of those that we here at Sheppard, White, Kachergus, & DiMaggio. P.A., Attorneys & Counselors At Law have helped in past shared the same feelings, only to later be proven wrong. 

Your connection to one who was abusing prescription drugs may be established by some simply because you were his or her doctor. Fortunately, the law imposes a much higher standard in order to convict you of any wrongdoing. Section 893.13.8(a) of Florida's statutes on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control states that for actions in prescribing drugs to qualify as criminal activity, it must be shown that you: 

  • Knowingly assisted a patient, person or pet owner in securing a medication through false representations related to your professional practice
  • Employed a trick or scheme in helping a patient, person or pet owner obtain a medication
  • Knowingly wrote a prescription for a fictitious person
  • Wrote a prescription in exchange for a monetary benefit

Reviewing the Miranda Rights

Most in Jacksonville have likely heard that famous line "You have the right to remain silent..." on TV or in movies. Many may already know that these are known as "Miranda Rights," yet few may understand what they mean and what protections they may offer suspects when being interrogated by police. 

The Miranda Rights originated from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of . The defendant in the case signed a confession presented to him by law enforcement officers after two hours of interrogation. At no point was he informed of his right to remain silent and his right to have an attorney present. The attorneys who represented him at his trial and subsequent appeals argued that the omission of these details made his confession involuntary. In a 5-4 decision, the Court agreed. From that case came the mandate for law enforcement officers to explain the following elements to suspects before their interrogations: 

  • That they have the right to remain silent
  • That anything they say can be used against them in a court of law
  • That they have the right to consult with an attorney and have one present during questioning
  • That an attorney will be appointed for them if they cannot afford one
  • That an interrogation must stop once they invoke the right to remain silent 
  • That an interrogation must stop once they invoke the right to speak with an attorney

Understanding appeals jurisdiction

For many of those convicted of criminal charges in Jacksonville, their convictions do not signal the end of their legal proceedings. Rather, they simply represent a small step in what can be a much larger process. Many may view appeals cases to simply be a way for offenders to abuse loopholes in the legal system, and thus a waste of resources. However, in cases were a defendant has not had his or her rights respected (or has been wrongfully convicted), the appeals process offers relief from such injustices. 

To begin the pursuit of seeking such relief, one must file a petition with the court that he or she believes should have jurisdiction of his or her case. According to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, such a petition must contain the following elements: 

  • The reason for invoking the jurisdiction of that particular court
  • The nature of relief being sought
  • The facts supporting one's claim for relief 
  • An argument in support of the petition complete with appropriate citations of authority supporting it
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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

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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