Where there once was the town-crier, today there is the internet. Those unhappy with a person or business now have, as they should, the means to express their dissatisfaction to all who choose to view their complaints on the web. Many people are under the mistaken impression that they can blog anonymously without repercussions. This view is incorrect, particularly once a lawsuit is filed and civil discovery commences. At that point, internet host sites are required by law to supply identifying subscriber data via the discovery process.
For those who find themselves in the cross-hairs of a lawsuit for blogging, there is one guiding principle: the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because blogs enjoy such protection, they do not constitute "cyber-stalking" for injunctive purposes, unless they are being used "to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images or language...directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose." §784.048(1)(d) (Fla. Stat. (2013); Chevaldine v. R.K./Fl. Management, Inc., ___ So.3d ___, 2014 WL 443977 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 5, 2014); Murphy v. Reynolds, 55 So.3d 716, 717 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011).
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida was established in 1962. During its existence, numerous important civil rights and constitutional cases have been litigated in its courtrooms. Bill Sheppard and Betsy White have been fortunate to be in the forefront of much of this litigation. They recount their experiences in two articles recently published in The Florida Historical Quarterly,Vol. 92 (Fall 2013).
If Woody Allen lived in Florida, could he be prosecuted for an alleged sexual offense which occurred over 21 years ago? If his actions constitute capital sexual battery, the answer is yes. Under the express language of §775.15(1), Fla. Stat. (2013), a prosecution for capital felony or life felony "...may be commenced at any time." What is capital sexual battery? Since the alleged victim in the Allen matter was below the age of 12 at the time she claims she was assaulted, she is a qualifying victim for purposes of Florida law. The question then becomes whether the acts alleged to have occurred would be considered sexual battery in this state. Section 794.011(1) (h), Florida Statutes (2013) defines sexual battery as "oral, anal or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object." Actual sexual intercourse is not required under this statute.
If you are arrested in Jacksonville, you will be taken to the John E.Goode Pre-Trial Detention Facility, otherwise known as the Jail. The jail is a multi-story beige complex located at 500 East Adams Street, between Bay and Adams in downtown Jacksonville. Our office is located about a block north of the jail at 215 North Washington Street. You will most likely arrive in the back of a police cruiser driven into the sally port of the jail. From there, in handcuffs, you will be walked into the jail to begin the booking process. You will be searched, finger printed, your mug shot will be taken, your clothes and property will be confiscated, you will change into a jail jumpsuit, and you will be put into a jail cell with other individuals who have been arrested.
Florida's Stand Your Ground Law (SYGL) (§776.032, Fla. Stat. (2013) gives a person both immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability from the use of deadly force when he or she believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to self or others or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. This law also provides that before the reasonableness of force issue is presented to a jury, the trial court must decide whether the case should proceed at all. When the defendant files a motion to dismiss on SYGL, the trial court must decide whether "...based on circumstances as they appeared to the defendant when he or she acted, a reasonable and prudent person situated in the same circumstances and knowing what the defendant knew would have used the same force as did the defendant." This is known as an objective standard; it is not what the defendant believed, it is what a reasonable person would have believed.
Over fifty years ago, in the case of Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that evidence which tends to negate guilt or mitigate (lessen) the sentence of an accused must be disclosed to him prior to trial. Unfortunately, time and again this evidence is not disclosed as it should be. The problem arises because it is the prosecutor who decides whether such evidence should be disclosed. Courts become involved only when a motion is filed by the defense. Often counsel for the defendant will be unaware that exculpatory evidence exists.
If organizers are successful, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote to amend the Constitution of Florida to allow ill Floridians legal access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. United for Care, a grassroots organization, is currently collecting signatures to ensure that Floridians get the chance to vote on medical marijuana in 2014.
Injunctions, sometimes referred to as "restraining orders," are court orders prohibiting an individual from having contact with the alleged victim of violence. The individual seeking protection who files the petition for injunction is called the "Petitioner," and the individual restrained by the court is called the "Respondent." Four types of civil injunctions exist in Florida: (1) domestic violence, (2) sexual violence, (3) dating violence, and (4) repeat violence. These injunctions have different requirements based on the facts of an individual case.
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.