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.
Our ever vigilant clients recently brought to our attention a website claiming to be able to provide medical marijuana certificates. The website states that medical marijuana is already legal in Florida for those with a medical necessity. The website also claims that if a patient can prove medical necessity to a law enforcement officer, they are not subject to arrest. However, these claims are completely untrue.
The First District Court of Appeal has issued an opinion in a case in which we represent the Appellant. It states:
Once again, members of the firm have been selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for 2015. Mr. Kachergus was selected in the practice area of Criminal Defense: White Collar and Non-White Collar. Ms. White was selected in the practice area of Appellate Practice and Criminal Defense: Non-White Collar. Mr. Sheppard was selected in five practice areas: Appellate Practice, Criminal Defense: Non-White Collar, Criminal Defense: White Collar, Employment Law - Individuals and First Amendment Law.
An issue which frequently arises at a criminal sentencing hearing is whether or not the defendant has shown "remorse." It has been our experience that most individuals charged with an offense are, in fact, remorseful. If a person elects to require the State to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial, however, the State often argues the defendant has failed to exhibit the appropriate level of remorse. It then uses the defendant's exercise of the constitutional right to trial as a way to impose a greater sentence if the defendant is convicted.
Most people are aware they have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when they are being questioned by law enforcement. What many people do not know, however, is that in some circumstances, the privilege must be expressly involved and, if it is not invoked, the failure to answer specific police questions can be used against them later. In those instances, silence is not golden and can be introduced as evidence of guilt at trial.
In addition to representing our clients in their individual cases, one of the most gratifying experiences to the members of this firm is to prevail on a constitutional issue which benefits thousands of criminally accused defendants. Over twenty -one years ago, we were honored to have successfully argued Doggett vs. United States, 505 U.S. 647 (1992) before the United States Supreme Court. Doggetthas become the bedrock case when courts are determining whether a person's Sixth Amendment right to speedy arrest has been violated, and has been cited in thousands of decisions on this issue.
I am often asked why so many criminal defense attorneys oppose the death penalty. Beside the fact that the death penalty is grossly ineffective, with the cost of capital litigation far exceeding that of imprisonment for life, defense practitioners see up close and personal the individuals who ultimately receive a sentence of death. The poor, the disenfranchised, those unable to obtain adequate legal representation are the disproportionate "beneficiaries" of the death penalty lottery.
When I first began practicing criminal defense law in 1980, it was literally a different world. We were a band of brothers1 seeking justice for our clients. We were in it for love, not money,2 and truly believed our efforts mattered. And you know what? They did matter. Whether it was keeping a young kid out of jail for smoking weed or stopping an imminent execution, our collective efforts made a difference to the lives of countless people.
William J. "Bill" Sheppard is a criminal trial attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida. For the past forty-four years, he has built a reputation as an eminent civil rights, criminal defense and appellate attorney. He is well known for handling cases involving police misconduct, police shootings and the First Amendment to our nation's Constitution in state and federal court. He has also taken on a number of race, age and gender discrimination cases. Bill's interest in vindicating his clients' rights has led him to argue before the United States Supreme Court. He has appeared in front of the court on three different instances, including his successful augment in Doggett v. United States in 1992. One of Bill's greatest successes as an attorney was when he litigated Florida's momentous statewide prison conditions case, which produced considerable improvements in sufficient care for those who were incarcerated. Whether it's a complicated white-collar defense case or death penalty case, Bill has successfully exonerated his clients for the past four decades he's been practicing law