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Tampa Criminal Defense Blog

Florida among the least-safe states in the country

As gorgeous as our weather can be in the Tampa area, the Sunshine State has a dark underbelly. Florida attracts all types of people, and sometimes when so many cultures and attitudes come together in a single place, violent crimes occur. Crimes of violence can include anything from assault or battery to firearms offenses and even certain sex crimes. Unfortunately, when compared to other states, Florida is something of a hotbed for such crimes.

Even more unfortunately, the media focuses considerable attention on pointing this out. For example, a recent list of the 100 "most dangerous" cities in the United States included eleven Florida cities - none in the Tampa area. A more recent study that was released by WalletHub ranked states according to their "safety." In assigning a safety score, the researchers looked at a number of factors, including road safety, workplace safety and the state's emergency preparedness.

What does 'double jeopardy' mean in Florida?

According to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, "No person shall... be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb...." Being "twice put in jeopardy" -- or "double jeopardy" means being tried or punished twice for the same offense. So, for example, if a defendant receives a state criminal conviction for violent crimes he or she committed in Florida, the defendant could assert a double jeopardy defense if the state attempts retrial on the same crimes.

Double jeopardy has been a cornerstone of federal since the U.S. Constitution was ratified. However, this Fifth Amendment safeguard has only been guaranteed under state law for about half a century. Some states may have already had laws or constitutional provisions offering citizens protection from double jeopardy. But in 1969, the United States Supreme Court decision in Benton v. Maryland held that Fifth Amendment protections extended to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. In fact, Benton extends all the guarantees in the Bill of Rights (Amendments I through X) to state governments.

Are you familiar with the types of domestic violence?

If you are part of a relationship, it's important to learn a thing or two about domestic violence. Even if your relationship is healthy in all ways, you never know what could go wrong in the future.

When most people think about domestic violence the only thing that comes to mind is one partner physically abusing the other. While this is one of the most common forms of domestic violence, it's not the only type.

11 Florida cities land on '100 most dangerous' list

Across Florida - particularly on the Atlantic Coast - news media and citizens alike are reacting to a recent list that calls out 11 Sunshine State municipalities for their violent crime rates. The Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America, published by Alarms.org compiled the list in response to the shooting at a Parkland, Florida school. In spite of the alarms the list may be sounding, it also notes that the incidence of violent crimes in the country actually appears to be dropping.

Although the report acknowledges the dip in violent crime, the media in some Florida cities took umbrage at being included at all. A television station in West Palm Beach, WPTV, pointed out that the statistics used to compile the "Most Dangerous Cities" list were four years old. Noting that three of the cities on the list were in Palm Beach County - Belle Glade, Lake Worth and Riviera Beach - WPTV gathered its own statistics from local law enforcement agencies.

What does "probable cause" mean in Florida?

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens of Florida -- and the rest of the United States -- from unlawful searches and seizures, the latter of which includes arrests. Even in the case of suspected violent crimes, the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment are foundational. To overcome, such constitutional protections, law enforcement, pursuant to the Amendment's language, cannot search or seize a person or their property without "probable cause."

Even a law enforcement officer with a search or arrest warrant was required to make a showing of probable cause. In order to obtain the warrant, the police officer must swear in an affidavit that there is sufficient probable cause to overcome the Fourth Amendment protections afforded to an individual. A judge will ensure that the showing of probable cause is sufficient before signing off on the warrant.

We represent those struggling with drug addictions

There are many good people in the Tampa area who are struggling under the weight of a drug addiction. Often, their addictive behaviors are simply ways they cope with deep-seated trauma or other issues over which they may have had no control.

Still, drug use has a tendency to land even decent people in serious trouble with the criminal justice system. In addition to drug possession being a crime in and of itself, people often do things while high that they would never do were they sober, and many of these behaviors are also against the law and can lead to prison time.

How the criminal justice system sets up kids for failure

The criminal justice system is surely not one size fits all. This can be especially true when it comes to serving youth. Unfortunately, many kids do not understand their rights when dealing with law enforcement, and their naivety can be used against them in court.

Here is how the criminal justice system fails kids during arrests and interrogations.

Congressman's wife's arrest shines light on mental health issues

Many of us n Tampa have made the less than two-hour drive to visit Disney World. While theme park is known for bringing smiles to the faces of visitors, it was recently the site of the arrest of U.S. Rep. Darren Soto's wife Amanda on a charge of disorderly intoxication.

The congressman later released a statement that his wife has been dealing with mental health issues for years and that she regrets the actions that led to her arrest. The case will, hopefully, serve as reason for people to reflect on the struggles many have with depression, self-medication, addiction and sometimes arrests.

False accusations of domestic violence are common in divorce and custody

About 25 percent of divorces involve an allegation of domestic violence. Restraining orders and tales of abuse provide powerful leverage in family court.

Research shows that a high percentage of restraining orders are issued for trivial or trumped-up reasons. Half the time, no physical violence is even alleged. Yet judges issue the orders and let the chips fall where they may.

Don’t give up on yourself!

When a person is charged with a sexual offense, it feels like the end of the world. They are overcome with feelings of shame and despair. They feel they have let their families and everyone down.

Society holds sex offenses to be the most reprehensible of all criminal types. The news reverberates through the community, affecting relationships, employment and school.

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