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.
Sheppard, White, & Kachergus was recently mentioned in the Jacksonville Daily Record for the pro bono work that we do:
On September 12, 2013, the First District Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Niles' conviction for lewd and lascivious molestation on the grounds that he was denied his right to speedy trial. This appeal was litigated and argued by Mr. Sheppard with Ms. White as his co-counsel.
As a veteran of the Korean Conflict, Mr. Sheppard has spent many years fighting for the rights of this country's veterans. Although returning veterans are entitled by law in Florida to preference in hiring, retention and promotion by state and local governments, these statutory requirements are often overlooked or disregarded. On August 19, 2013, Mr. Sheppard argued Brennan v. City of Miami, before the Third District Court of Appeal. The issue before the Court was whether the City could require an already hired employee to re-prove his veteran status to his employer prior to obtaining the benefits of the law's promotion preference. Once again, Mr. Sheppard engaged the appellate court in a lively discussion. A video of Mr. Sheppard's argument has been posted below. A decision from the Third District is pending.
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.