The most recent case showing the magnitude of this problem can be found in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's use of the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Technical problems with this system have cost the State of Florida over $11 million and have resulted in delays in investigations and arrests throughout the State of Florida.
There is a common misconception that scientific evidence is infallible and the results of scientific testing are used to convict people for criminal offenses throughout this country on a daily basis. Many people do not realize undetected or undisclosed system errors are in fact sending innocent people to jail or prison. From the breathalyzer machine not properly maintained, inspected or used to now discounted hair analysis, which applied the wrong statistical probability of a match, we are now learning many supposedly infallible tests are "riddled with error."
With what appears to be the imminent legalization of medical marijuana in Florida, questions have begun to arise as to what may happen in the event Officer Friendly believes that a citizen is driving under the influence of marijuana. In Florida's an officer's request for breath, urine, or blood must be made incident to a lawful arrest. Before the law enforcement officer can make such a request under Florida's implied consent statute, the driver must be arrested. This does not prevent the law enforcement officer from seeking a driver's consent before an arrest, such request for consent should be politely but firmly declined.
As one of the founders of Florida's first integrated law firm, William J. "Bill" Sheppard has been highly regarded as a prominent criminal defense and civil rights attorney during his tenure practicing law. Throughout his career, he has argued cases at every level of the judicial system for protections and defenses against civil rights violations for countless individuals. He has successfully supported the causes of racial equality, while also successfully vindicating the rights of others.
In a 6-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court this week ruled that, in a limited set of circumstances, police officers can conduct a warrantless search of a person's residence over that person's objection, if another occupant consents to such search. The facts of California v. Fernandez are somewhat unique and, as a result, the Fernandez decision may have limited application. Nonetheless, the language of Fernandez implies it may have a significant impact upon the way police officers obtain consent, namely, by separating the home's occupants and "persuading" the weakest link to consent to a warrantless search. After Fernandez, all occupants should make clear their refusal to consent to a warrantless search or risk having a court declare items seized to have been lawfully obtained.
First degree murder is punishable by mandatory life or the death penalty. An individual accused of first degree murder is entitled to have their case heard by a twelve-person jury. The jury's verdict must be unanimous in Florida. An accused commits first degree murder by killing a person "...from premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being." A killing which occurs during the course of certain statutory felonies can also constitute first degree murder. See §782.04(1)(a) and (b), Fla. Stat. (2013).
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).
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.
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.