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.
Most people are familiar with the Miranda warnings. But police do not need to use these warnings every time they speak with a suspect. The Miranda decision only applies when a suspect undergoes "custodial interrogation". In other words, when a reasonable person would not feel that they were free to leave.
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.
The legal doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials who apply force reasonably or apply force in situations where the law is unclear. The purpose of qualified immunity is to prevent government officials from being discouraged carrying out their duties or protecting themselves from violent individuals. In practice, however, qualified immunity often causes judges to throw meritorious lawsuits out of court.
When judges sentence sex offenders to probation, they often require the defendants to "actively participate" and "successfully complete" a sex offender treatment program. The law does not specify what "successful completion" requires. It is generally understood that a defendant must cooperate with the treatment program's requirements in order to complete probation. This can create problems where treatment programs impose requirements that defendants were unaware of when they entered a guilty plea.
Many people accept violence between prisoners as an every-day facet of life for incarcerated individuals. Some even argue that such violence should be tolerated as part of the punishment for committing a crime. While these issues often remain unaddressed by policy-makers and prison officials, the Eighth Amendment provides recourse for certain individuals who have been the victim of violence at the hands of another inmate. An Eighth Amendment claim for failing to protect an inmate from violence is difficult to bring. However, a recent decision, Lane v. Philbin shows that these causes of action remain viable in the Eleventh Circuit. The Lane case reversed a lower court which had granted a prisoner's motion to dismiss.
In an opinion written by Justice Canady rendered last week, the Florida Supreme Court held that making a file accessible to others in a file-sharing program constitutes "transmission" under Florida's child pornography laws. The crime in question is codified in Section 847.0137, which makes it a third degree felony for any person "who knew or reasonably should have known that he or she was transmitting child pornography" to another person.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has ordered that the state pay more than $500,000 in legal fees to the ACLU of Florida, William Sheppard, Betsy White, and Samuel Jacobson who represented the Brenner plaintiffs more than a year ago in a case where the same-sex ban on marriage in Florida was deemed unconstitutional.
On February 13, 2015, the Fifth District Court of Appeal decided the case of Oliver v. State, 2015 WL 585536 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). In Oliver, the defendant was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for an inoperable tag light. The stop itself was not challenged on appeal. After the stop, the officer, in an aggressive manner, ordered the defendant to "keeps his hands on the f***ing dashboard." After a canine sniff alerted the officers to the presence of drugs in the car, the officers searched the defendant and found marijuana and a firearm on his person.