Latest Posts

Can Florida fix its “broken” prison system?

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Friday, January 16, 2015

The criminal justice system in Florida needs help. One prosecutor notes that the state’s prison system is "broken." Plagued by deaths of inmates, crumbling buildings, neglect, and shortages of underpaid staff all work together to create a recipe for a disaster. The price for this failure is the $2.4 billion budget for the Department of Corrections. What do taxpayers receive for this staggering sum? Apparently, what is likely to be an even larger bill next year, as incarcerations rise. In many states, there has been a movement to reduce the prison population, to save money. But not Florida. With the DOC on its seventh head in the last eight years and draconian sentencing, often for nonviolent drug crimes, still the... Read More »

Social media can become #incriminating

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Law enforcement can engage in many forms of surveillance during a criminal investigation. They may obtain a wiretap for a phone line. They may use a "stingray" to listen to cell phone conversations. They may use a search warrant to search a home or business. And they can simply sit a vehicle and follow the target of an investigation around the streets and highways of South Florida. Or, they can sit at their desks and surf Instagram and Facebook pages. While social media has become a popular resource for divorce and family law attorneys to look for their adversaries indiscretions, the police are becoming more perceptive and alert to the potential evidence they can gather from various social media sites.... Read More »

2 Tampa residents charged marijuana trafficking

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Friday, January 2, 2015

Two Hillsborough County residents are facing marijuana charges after officers reported finding plants and other items at a home on Eldorado Drive. According to reports, the investigation started after the Tampa Electric Company found that the house had an illegal connection that was siphoning power to the house. Tampa Electric estimated that the value of the unmetered power was approximately $4,980. When officers with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office when to investigate, they claim that the owner of the house gave them permission to search the residence. It was during this search that police claim they found 19 marijuana plants, 218 pounds of marijuana and other items used to grow the plants. Deputies estimate the street value of the marijuana... Read More »

The “mother” of the exclusionary rule dies pt.1

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The U.S. Constitution, via the Fourth Amendment, ensures that the people shall be secure in the persons, paper and property. This rule prevents law enforcement from breaking into your home and ransacking it, looking for evidence of any criminal activity. If they do suspect you of any crime, from drug possession to tax evasion, they have to go before a judge and provide probable cause in order for the court to issue a search warrant. However, if the Tampa Police or the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department had wanted to search your home without a warrant before 1961, the U.S. Constitution would have offered no protection. Because at that time, the Fourth Amendment only applied to federal law enforcement. That year, however,... Read More »

11th Circuit rules TANF drug testing unconstitutional, pt.2

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Thursday, December 18, 2014

In this case, Florida argued that they needed to test for drugs to prevent beneficiaries who were addicted to drugs to squander their TANF benefits on their drug habit. This would lead one to presume that there was a significant problem substance abuse with many TANF participants. This is because any time you add an additional administrative step to a process, you increase the cost of the program. When you add tests or audits to the process, you have to make certain they are examining the correct data and that the tests are valid. And, of course, you need to ensure that the audit or test does not cost more than your actual savings. If your audit procedure saves $100... Read More »

11th Circuit rules TANF drug testing unconstitutional

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Friday, December 12, 2014

Sometimes government attempts to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. This may be done to win political points. But when the attempt includes blanket searches of everyone involved, questions involving the Fourth Amendment are implicated. Florida has attempted to prevent people who use drugs to participate in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. They instituted a system of drug testing for anyone attempting to obtain these benefits. However, the State of Florida failed to show anything beyond a vague and generalized abstraction that people on the TANF program have substance abuse or drug problems and that it presents a specialized need that the courts require to allow an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. The state argued... Read More »

Florida man charged for alleged prescription drug violations

When an individual has an addiction, it is often difficult for him or her to seek the help that is needed. As a result, some parties may find themselves being questioned or taken into custody by police if the authorities believe the individuals are in possession of illegal or controlled substances. This type of situation could lead to a person being charged with prescription drug violations or other drug-related allegations. A man in Florida was recently taken into custody for allegedly having controlled substances in his possession. It was reported that the man was walking in an area where there had purportedly been multiple break-ins.  An officer stopped to question that man, and the officer reportedly grew suspicious when the... Read More »

Police chase leads to Florida man facing drug charges

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Many individuals may not be immensely knowledgeable on how certain legal processes are carried out. Therefore, when a party is facing drug charges, he or she may not fully understand what type of situation they are about to be thrust into. By gathering information on the criminal proceedings relating to one’s circumstances, a party may be able to prepare more adequately for his or her case. A man in Florida may be hoping to find out more about his situation after having charges leveled against him. It was reported that the man was driving a vehicle when police attempted to stop the vehicle due to a license place discrepancy. However, the driver of the vehicle allegedly did not stop and... Read More »

Florida requires warrant for cell tower phone data, cont. Part 3

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Friday, November 21, 2014

That is a very different notion than giving the police cellphone location data from a "stingray" that allows them to track an individual’s whereabouts 24/7 and would make most people slightly uneasy. The "stingray" device allows police to capture the communication signals from a cellphone and track it, and disturbingly, police have used the information and misled courts as to how they obtain it. By its ruling, the Florida Supreme Court has helped the cause of privacy rights by ruling that used of this tracking information real-time by police is a search that requires a warrant authorized by a judge. While only binding in Florida, it does provide clear guidance to other courts that may be faced with such a... Read More »

Florida requires warrant for cell tower phone data, cont. Part 2

  • On behalf of Mike G Law posted in on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cellphones, being a new technology, have been involved in few Fourth Amendment cases, and therefore, there is little guidance as to how to interpret some of the new capabilities within the context of the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. Police, of course, would prefer to claim it is not an illegal search because it is metadata and not the contents of the call. However, this relies on the now very-dated construction of the type of information provided by this metadata.  The world of 1979 was a very different place. Mechanical switches still controlled most phone calls, and the process of obtaining information from them was laborious and had to be performed by phone company employees. And because calls could be made... Read More »