Posted On: July 29, 2008

FLORIDA CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS AND DEPORTATION

IMMIGRATION DEPORTATION CONSEQUENCES OF PLEAS

Deportation of those convicted of crimes has become a major focus of Federal immigration authorities.

Over the past three years the numbers of persons expelled from the US has gone up markedly.

South Florida criminal defense lawyers are increasingly asked what can be done.

Florida law permits criminal pleas to be withdrawn if deportation is a direct result of a guilty plea and deportation consequences were not clearly explained by the sentencing judge.

The 4th District in Florida, which hears appeals from Fort Lauderdale (Broward) and Palm Beach pronounced the rule: Failure to advise of immigration or deportation consequences of a plea to a criminal charge can be grounds to withdraw a plea. The defendant must allege and prove that 1. You were not advised of the deportation consequences of a plea 2. That the plea alone subjects you to deportation 3. The motion to withdraw the plea is “timely”.

If you are facing federal removal proceedings contact a Florida criminal defense attorney for a consultation. The area is complex so take the time to speak to a criminal attorney with immigration experience.

Posted On: July 28, 2008

FLORIDA MAKES CELLPHONES IN PRISON A FELONY

Possession of a cellular phone in a Florida prison is a felony punishable by five years in prison.

Cellphones have been tossed over prison walls, smuggled in by guards, and sold for commissary rights. In fact in Texas prisons heroine sells for $50.00 and a cellphone for $200.00.

Citing Florida's increase in cellphones being smuggled, corrections spokeswoman Ellyn Rackleff has been quoted as saying cellphones can be deadlier than weapons.

"We are constantly after the cell phones," she said. "It really undermines the security for everyone there and for the public outside

Posted On: July 27, 2008

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POLICE INTERVIEW AND A POLICE INTERROGATION?

In one word: everything.

An interview is a fact gathering contact. An interrogation is what the police do when you are a suspect and the purpose is to get an incriminating statement that can be used to convict you.

If you are talking to the police ask: is this an inteview or an interrogation?

Every first year police cadet knows the difference. If the officer doesn't give you a clear answer STOP and ask for a lawyer.

The police know how to end run around your Miranda rights, it is done by setting you up for a "voluntary" statement, which is not the product of a police interrogation.

Your Miranda rights only apply when you are under arrest.

A "stop" and a "detention" come before an arrest. Remember; your Miranda rights only apply when you are in police custody under arrest. Confusing? You bet it is.

The best thing to do is ask for a lawyer whenever you are being asked questions by the police. Don't try to charm a police officer out of an arrest, it cannot be done..

Ask a Florida criminal defense attorney for an explanation, go to CAN THE POLICE LIE TO ME? for more information.

Posted On: July 26, 2008

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT OK’S SEX OFFENDERS PORNOGRAPHY NOT RELATED TO THEIR CRIME

In a criminal case that started in Miami, Florida, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a sex offender may view pornography that doesn’t relate to the “deviant behavior pattern” of their sex crime.

The Florida criminal statute regulating sex offender probation bans possession of materials that “are relevant to the offender’s deviant behavior”.

The Court found the legislature was not banning all pornography for sex offenders.

The South Florida case arose from a Miami man on probation for lewd and lascivious battery. The Miami sex offender violated his Florida probation by possessing pornography.

Originally sentenced to two years of community control followed by eight years of sex offender probation, the violation of probation occurred during the probation portion of the sentence.

For more information on sex offenses and the Florida courts, contact attorney Ralph Behr in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Posted On: July 25, 2008

FLORIDA COCAINE POSSESSION LAWS

Cocaine possession in Florida is charged three ways:

1. Personal use amounts are usually filed as possession cases: a maximum of five years in Florida prison. Drug rehabilitation is offered to first time arrestees with no prior felony convictions.

2. Sale or Delivery of Cocaine carries a 15 year sentence. Proof of a sale, or attempt to sell any amount usually less than 20 grams.

3. Trafficking in Cocaine is charged when over 20 grams is sold, or offered for sale.

Giving cocaine is considered a sale, even if no money is contemplated. Giving a controlled substance (prescription pills) is charged as a delivery or trafficking felony in Florida.

Posted On: July 24, 2008

EARN MORE IN PRISON THAN WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE

The North Carolina legislature voted to pay $50,000.00 for every year exonerated defendants spend in prison.

Currently the going rate is $20,000.00 per year. At the urging of Senator Elie Kinnaird of North Carolina the legislature is increasing it to $50,000.00.


Posted On: July 23, 2008

FLORIDA MORTGAGE FRAUD ARRESTS

Miami has a Mortgage Fraud taskforce working overtime to grab headlines but many criminal defense lawyers in Broward and Fort Lauderdale view the arrests as a public relations ploy.

Alleging fraud, racketeering, grand theft and money laundering in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Miami police arrested 14 mortgage brokers and real estate professionals.

Criminal defense lawyers in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and South Florida are lining up to find new clients and at the same time scrambling to learn how to defend these white collar crimes.

Attorney Ralph Behr of Fort Lauderdale represented mortgage brokers charged with fraud and grand theft during the real estate collapse of the early 90’s. His office has added additional court qualified experts to his defense team of real estate fraud professionals.

If you have been charged or have concerns you may be a target of the criminal investigation in Florida call for a consultation or have your attorney contact our office for a defense review.

Posted On: July 22, 2008

IT'S MURDER HERE IN FLORIDA , BUT BETTER THAN TEXAS!

Shakespeare wrote Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.

He never lived in Texas, or Florida for that matter.

Texas has executed 405 convicted murderers since 1976. Florida ranked number five in the US with a total of 64 executions. Utah ranked 20 with six.

Texas also boasts 34 DNA-based exonerations.

Do the math and you'll find the Texas execution rate has a higher probability of error than a Quija board.

The message is...

Add your voice to those who insist courts and judges in Florida do a better job. That means treating the judicial process like any consumer product: improve it. Insist on better quality trials to reduce the error kill rate.

Florida felony court circuit judges in Broward County, sitting in Fort Lauderdale, preside over more murder trials than are held in most states. Fort Lauderdale has a great number of “Death Qualified” capital homicide attorneys.

Criminal lawyers in Fort Lauderdale and Miami can tell you that prosecutors act too much like cartoonish government workers: get through the work, no accountability no tolerance for criticism, just finaility..that's good enough. It isn't.

Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Ralph Behr is one of the several criminal attorneys who are licensed by the Florida Supreme Court as “Death Qualified” for capital homicide trials.

Posted On: July 21, 2008

IS MICKEY AFRAID OF A GUNSLINGER NAMED MINI?

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN FLORIDA: MICKEY MOUSE TELLS MINI NO GUNS AT WORK

Is Mickey Mouse afraid of Mini Mouse?

Is there a mouse in the house with a gun?

Disney, citing its Federal fireworks permit, is trying to keep guns out of the hands of the mouseketeers. The NRA says this means war!

Florida’s newly minted “take your guns to work” law has Disney in a twit. Citing their Federal fireworks permits Disney is trying to undo the handiwork of guns at work Florida style.

After firing and then re-hiring a gun-toting security guard it’s anyone’s guess what comes next. Will Florida’s hired guns at the AG’s office take aim at Disney in court. Or will Disney go to federal court to enjoin Florida’s new gun law. Only a mouse would guess.

Only Walt knows. Stay tuned and pass the cheese dip.

Posted On: July 21, 2008

SEXUAL OFFENDER Registry Information

The following information is provided as a public service.
It concerns the registration requirements of those convicted in Florida criminal courts of sex offenses.

There are two designations in Florida: sexual offenders and sexual predators.

A sexual predator or sexual offender subject to required registration.All offenders must report in person to the Sheriff's Office in the county in which he/she resides.

Additionally, ReRegistration requirements apply to both sexual predators and sexual offenders who have been released from sanctions for their qualifying sex offense, as well as those currently under some form of supervision with the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, or those under federal supervision.

A sexual predator or juvenile sexual offender adjudicated must report in person to the Sheriff's Office in the county in which he/she resides or is otherwise located to ReRegister FOUR times per year- once during the month of his/her birth month and every 3rd month thereafter.

A sexual offender that has not been adjudicated delinquent, must report to the Sheriff's Office in the county in which he or she resides.

A sexual offender who has been convicted of a crime or crimes in the statute sections listed below must report in person to the Sheriff's Office in the county in which he/she resides or is otherwise located to ReRegister FOUR times per year- once during the month of his/her birth month and every 3rd month thereafter:

Section 787.01, where the victim is a minor and the offender is not the victim's parent or guardian
Section 787.02, where the victim is a minor and the offender is not the victim's parent or guardian
Section 794.011, excluding s. 794.011(10)
Section 800.04(4)(b), where the court finds the offense involved a victim under 12 years of age or sexual activity by the use of force or coercion.
Section 800.04(5)(b)
Section 800.04(5)(c)1., where the court finds molestation involving unclothed genitals or genital area
Section 800.04(5)c.2., where the court finds molestation involving unclothed genitals or genital area
Section 800.04(5)(d), where the court finds the use of force or coercion and unclothes genitals or genital area.
Any attempt or conspiracy to commit such offense.
A violation of a similar law in another jurisdiction.

A sexual offender subject to registration who has not been adjudicated delinquent and who has not been convicted of one of the crimes listed above must report to the Sheriff's Office in the county in which he/she resides or is otherwise located to ReRegister TWO times per year- once during the month of his/her birth month and every 6th month thereafter.

Posted On: July 20, 2008

U.S. LEADS WORLD IN PRISON POPULATION

PRISON IS THE ANSWER. WHAT IS THE QUESTION?

25% of all prisoners in the entire world are in U.S. prisons.

The U.S. has 5% of the world population.

Why? The U.S. puts more people in prison for theft, forgery, bad checks, drug possession then any other nation in the world.

USA: 751 people in prison for every 100,000 in population.

If you count only adults in the U.S. one in every 100 is in jail or prison.

Only Russia comes closes with 627 for every 100,000 people.

Posted On: July 19, 2008

UNDERSTANDING MORTGAGE FRAUD CRIMES

Mortgage Fraud Defense

Obtaining money or property by any fraudulent means, device or scheme, is the underlying criminal act for prosecutions of mortgage fraud or bank fraud.

Providing false information, fraudulent documents, and material misrepresentations of income or assets to obtain bank financing can be prosecuted as a grand theft, forged or fraudulent document charge, bank fraud, wire fraud, or the newly minted crime of mortgage fraud.

These charges originate both in state courts and federal courts. Mortgage fraud as a crime category can be prosecuted under a multiple of criminal theories. Federal prosecutors often frame these cases as a wire fraud offenses. Wire fraud is the use of interstate electronic communication systems to perpetrate or advance a criminal enterprise in which a material misrepresentation is made for fraudulent financial or criminal solicitations.

In state courts prosecutors often move these cases under a more varied scheme of criminal charges. The complexity of the undertaking by fraud can be determinative of the criminal prosecution. Often a charge of theft is easier to prosecute than a scheme to defraud. In state courts local prosecutors have a higher comfort level when charging fraud, scheme to defraud, and theft charges.

In federal prosecutions, because of the broader scope of federal criminal statutes bank fraud and wire fraud on a more commonly charged.

Because of the complexity of these cases and the documents which are presented in any mortgage application, mortgage fraud cases are often considered white collar crimes. This complexity often leads to a confusion in the minds of both prosecutors and jurors. Mortgage fraud cases are won and lost in courtrooms because lawyers cannot clearly state their case. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys skilled in the art of trial preparation focus on communicating to the jury in simple terms.

During the years of 2005 through including 2007 rising real estate sales and prices precipitated a significant increase in a mortgage fraud cases. In the year 2008 the cities and jurisdictions in South Florida, led by Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach witnessed the largest increase in mortgage fraud prosecutions. In the first six months of 2008 the city of Miami saw over 50 mortgage brokers and real estate professionals arrested and prosecuted under the varied criminal theories of theft, fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and grand theft.

Posted On: July 18, 2008

MORE MORTGAGE BROKERS ARRESTED IN MIAMI, FLORIDA

THE POLITICS OF PROSECUTION MIAMI STYLE

Fort Lauderdale and Miami criminal courts will soon be flooded with grand theft and mortgage fraud trials.

Announcing that another 30 real estate professionals have been arrested the Mayor of Miami told reporters a total of 50 have been charaged with grand theft, fraud, mortgage fraud, forged or fraudulent documents, forgery and RICO charges.

South Florida ranks first in the US for mortgage fraud arrests.


Posted On: July 17, 2008

OPEN SEASON ON REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS

FORT LAUDERDALE AND MIAMI LEADS U.S. IN MORTGAGE BROKER ARRESTS

Leading a list of cities that features Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Miami, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida has, in the first half of 2008, arrested and charged a record number of mortgage brokers and real estate professionals.

Grant theft, wire fraud, money laundering, forged or altered documents and false fraudulent or altered appraisals lead the list of charges.

RICO and organized fraud and organized schemes to defraud in Florida can lead to prison terms of 15 to thirty years.

To date in Fort Lauderdale and Miami the Statewide Prosecutor’s office are neck-and-neck with the US Attorney in arrests.

Not surprisingly, criminal lawyers in South Florida have begun to focus their firms’ marketing to draw-in recently arrested mortgage brokers. Those new to these cases are increasingly turning to established criminal lawyers to help them once they have been retained.

Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Ralph Behr has issued a third in a series of guides to local criminal attorneys who take on these cases. If you have been arrested have your criminal attorney contact Ralph Behr for the current guide on defending mortgage broker fraud charges.

Posted On: July 16, 2008

RESTORING FELONS THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN FLORIDA

In Florida convicted felons cannot vote. Governor Crist has advocated returning civil rights to convicted felons after they have served their time.

Southern states such as Florida have a history of racially based obstructions for minority voters: tactics such as poll taxes, literacy laws, and political gerrymandering.

There are currently over one million African-Americans incarcerated, on parole or probation. Almost all of them are disenfranchised. They cannot vote.

Florida may have to reconsider the voting ban. The argument goes as follows: If the Supreme Court has ruled that the constitutional right to own guns cannot be outlawed by a legislature, then the right to vote should have similar constitutional protections.

If you have been arrested and charged with a felony in Florida contact your local criminal attorney. Know you rights and advocate for a change in the law.

Most criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can and will help you to know the law and your rights. Call now, get active!

Posted On: July 15, 2008

Sex Offender Registration News

On June 1, 2008 The Justice Department released its newest version of what are the Federal Sex Offender Registration standards. It is called the Sexual Offender Notification ACT (SORNA)

These new the guidelines are for the Adam Walsh Act's sex offender registration and notification provisions of Florida and other states.

Sex Offenses in Florida include both violent sexual offenses such as rape (sexual battery) sexual assault, lewd assault and most crimes contained in F.S. chapter 800. A copy of the guidelines is avaialble from the feds.

Non violent sex offenses such as lewd adn lascivious behavior (FS 798.02) Exposure of sexual organs (FS 800.03) are all listed and defined in Chapter 800. Florida statute 794 covers: sexual battery, sexual felony offenders, unlawful sexual activity with minors and other sex crimes: see the statue for more listed sex crimes.

The amended act, known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, is part of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The Department of Justice released the guidelines and cites the Offender Sentencing,Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) act for more information.

You can contact criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr, in Fort Lauderdale, for more information.

Posted On: July 14, 2008

CONGRESSMEN WRITE TO SUPREME COURT FOR DEATH PENALTY

The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the death penalty for sexual battery (rape) of a child. Eighty-five Republican congressmen wrote to the Court to tell them they got it wrong.

The letter said the Supreme Court had inaccurate information and should re-consider the death penalty. The letter noted that the rationale of “evolving standards of decency” ignored the re-instatement of death for child rape in the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 2006.

Posted On: July 13, 2008

FLORIDA LEGISLATURE MAKES THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY

Florida travel agencies are suing Florida to repeal a law making it more expensive to travel to….Iran?

The Florida legislature took time from its busy schedule of fixing Florida to repair the world.

SB 1310 requires a $1000.00 registry fee and a minimum $100,000.00 security bond of anyone traveling to Iran. The bond is to pay for services to anyone seeking to visit nations that sponsor terrorism.

Governor Crist signed the bill into law on June 23rd.

Florida has the 6th largest Iranian community in the US.

Posted On: July 12, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TRIALS ON THE RISE

Domestic violence, murder, and Florida criminal law

In a domestic violence case that will have a significant effect in South Florida the US Supreme Court ruled that introduction of the victim's calls to the police cannot be introduced in a domestic violence criminal trial.

In the case of Giles v. California a prosecutor introduced reports of prior threats against the victim. The Supreme Court ruled the reports alone, without the right to cross-examine, violate the confrontation clause.

Domestic violence, battery, and date rape crimes, are an increasing focus of aggressive prosecutors in Florida. In fact, in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, criminal trials for these charges are so much a focus of prosecutors that special trial divisions have been created in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.

Domestic violence, and battery cases require a specialized knowledge for criminal trial lawyers to be effective. In South Florida many lawyers specializing in criminal trials and criminal defense have extensive trial experience in domestic violence cases.

If you or a loved one has been charged with battery, or domestic violence, call for a consultation with a criminal defense attorney experienced in that area of law. Local criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr is available to you for a free consultation. Attorney Behr has been practicing criminal law and criminal defense since 1976 and is available for telephone consultations.

Posted On: July 11, 2008

THEFT, WIRE FRAUD AND THE NEW COTTAGE INDUSTRY OF ARRESTING MORTGAGE BROKERS IN FLORIDA

Criminal defense attorneys in Florida increasingly are speaking out against the politically targeted and politically motivated prosecutions mounted by the US attorney in South Florida.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami have seen arrests of local real estate professionals by the federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida explode in numbers and scope.

These arrests reflect the fact that Fort Lauderdale Broward County and Miami have witnessed the greatest increase and greatest fall in real estate values.

The political fallout is very real. The headlines made big news. Those arrested for fraud and theft are increasingly facing harsh sentences.

Defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale Miami in Palm Beach see these arrests as a new cottage industry for South Florida prosecutors.

Posted On: July 10, 2008

DUI IN FLORIDA: COURT RULES BREATH TEST ADMISSIBLE

The judges of the second judicial circuit on July 9, 2008 ruled that breath results can be admitted in evidence.

That means the 200 DUI cases currently on hold are going back to trial with the breath results.

Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyers last year took the same issue up to the appellate courts, and lost.

Posted On: July 9, 2008

MONEY LAUNDERING & WHITE COLLAR CRIMES

Money laundering for most of us is finding a $10 bill in the clothes dryer.

Forgetting to check your pockets when you put your jeans in the laundry is the precursor to clothes dryer joy.

Forgetting to check your pockets for the $10,000.00 in pocket-change you carry when you walk onto an airplane bound for the US can be the precursor to a federal prison term.

Go not lightly into this sad goodnight. Read this money laundering site from the US government.

Not knowing what federal crimes are contained in the Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act is a quick one-two punch that lands many people in jail and then in prison.

If you are a stock broker, financial advisor, banker, businessman with overseas ventures or even purchasing gifts while abroad, you need to have more than a casual awareness of money laundering and money structuring statutes.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami, like New York and Los Angeles are what the Feds call Gateway ports. Florida criminal defense lawyers see more heightened surveillance and prosecutions coming from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and South Florida than in years past.

The South Florida federal task force focusing on domestic security casts a dragnet that snares many innocents.

If you handle sums of money in excess of $10,000 for yourself, for others, family members or business associates get a mini education on money-laundering. Any criminal defense attorney who does federal court criminal defense can give you a quick overview in less than 10 minutes.

Understanding money laundering and white collar crimes, structuring and cash transaction reports and the alphabet soup of anti-money-laundering statutes is an education best undertaken with a few hours spent googling or consulting with a good criminal defense lawyer.

You don't want to learn about money-laundering statutes in a holding cell at a federal detention center near an airport. Better to learn about it in a criminal defense lawyer's office. There's no excuse for not knowing the law, information is inoculation.

Posted On: July 8, 2008

Fort Lauderdale Federal Judge Sentences Mortgage Broker to Six Years

Local criminal lawyer Ralph Behr represents several mortgage brokers accused of fraud and related crimes in South Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderale. But not the one sentenced by a local Federal Judge. Sadly Mr. Villaba, who pled guilty, was sentenced to six years and a heavy send off from the local federal prosecutor.

Fraud, wire fraud, theft, conspiracy and various bank fraud statutes are the prosecutors tools for prosecuting mortgage fraud cases. The defenses are manifold and quite complex, so most of these cases should go to trial where a jury can weigh the legal complexities.

The federal prosecutors and statewide prosecutors in South Florida are in the process of filing additional cases. Be on the lookout for more news.

South Florida criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr has issued a press release outlining the defenses and defense methods: local South Florida criminal lawyers can obtain a copy from attorney Behr's law office in Fort Lauderdale.

Posted On: July 7, 2008

GUNS: Change In Law May Permit Those With Felony Convictions To Own Guns

FLORIDA FELONY LAW AND GUNS

The June 2008 US Supreme Court decision may arguably force a change in Florida's law prohibiting those with a felony conviction from owning or possesing a gun.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami have the highest rate of gun ownership in Florida, and the highest felony conviction rate. It gets worse:

Florida has increased felony and felony conviction categories. More and more misdemeanors are becoming a felony.

More and more violations of probation and community control are resulting in felony convictions. Drug possession, drug trafficking, resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding have all became enhanced felony charges in Florida.

Florida law makes it a crime for anyone with a felony conviction to own or possess a gun. Things may change: here's why:

Constitutional rights cannot be legislatively overruled: that's basic constitutional law. Courts must apply a balancing test. The best example is your right to free speech does not permit calling out "FIRE!!" in a crowded theater.

If gun ownership is a constitutional right then it follows that the legislature cannot take it away. So the arguement goes, and it will....all the way up to the Supreme Court, and soon.

Florida criminal defense lawyers, a high concentration of them in South Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale will soon test Florida's law about guns and felons. Criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr will be on the front lines of this one.... Watch for more news....

Posted On: July 6, 2008

Criminal Law Judges in the News

South Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale have more judges on TV than any other State. Why? Miami and Fort Lauderdale have more colorful judges hearing more criminal trials then the TV moguls can shake a TV ad rate card at high rolling sponsors.
Among our now famous South Florida crime stoppers are: David Young,Cristina Penya, Judge Alex Ferrar, Judge Karen Mills. Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers are awating news from our former Judge who sent one of the Seminole Indians most famous hotel guests into the Broward coroner's freezer.

Posted On: July 5, 2008

GUNS AT WORK

July 1, 2008 is Florida's 'take your gun to work' day.

South Florida workplace parking lots will soon lite up with muzzle flashes as well as street lighting.

Miami, Palm Beach, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale workplaces now must permit employees to bring a gun to work. You must have a gun carry permit and must lock the gun in the car.

NO guns at schools, government buildings, prisons and airports.

Employers in South Florida cannot overrule the law.

If you live and work in the Fort Lauderdale - Miami area check with your criminal defense attorney to be sure you are not violating the law even if you have a concealed weapon permit. Being arrested in Florida is always easy, getting out of jail is never easy.

Posted On: July 3, 2008

Gangs, Law and Fort Lauderale

2008 is a bumper year for new criminal laws.

Soon the prosecutors of Florida will have a new statute to use against those arrested in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The Anti-Gang crime statute.

Singed into law it is now a first degree felony punishable by life in prison for those designated as leaders or organizers of criminal gangs to initiate, organize or pay for gang activities.

South Florida criminal defense lawyers are waiting for the State Attorney to sweep up 7th graders at local McDonalds there for after-school burgers and gang meetings.

Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach sponsored the bill. He called it the legislature's taking back street corners from criminals.

The law offices of Ralph Behr issued a press release to the Fort Lauderdale, Broward and Miami community newspapers advising them of the new law and its implications. South Florida is long in the news when it comes to crime: drug crimes, violation of probation and murders.

Posted On: July 2, 2008

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Hijacked by Judge

Federal criminal prosecutions too often are one-sided. For many accused and tried in Federal court it appears to them that the rules change with each turn of the wheel.

Florida federal criminal defense attorneys see it again and again. From drug possession prosecutions through wire fraud and money laundering the 'relevant conduct' sentencing loopholes permit sentencing which has all the appearance of a kangeroo court making up rules which favor the government.

South Florida criminal lawyers, among them attorney Ralph Behr, a former member of the Federal Rules Committee of the Florida Bar, has fought for clients who have been unfairly treated at sentencing. Here's an example:

In what may be one of a long line of cases highlighting the unfairness of Federal criminal prosecutions Anwuan Ball was sentenced by a Judge in Federal court for crimes for which he was not on trial.
An angry juror wrote:

As you remember, Judge Roberts, we spent 8 months listening to the evidence, filling countless court-supplied notebooks, making summaries of those notes, and even creating card catalogues to keep track of all the witnesses and their statements. We deliberated for over 2 months, 4 days a week, 8 hours a day. We went over everything in detail. If any of our fellow jurors had a doubt, a question, an idea, or just wanted something repeated, we all stopped and made time. Conspiracy? A crew? With the evidence the prosecutor presented, not one among us could see it. Racketeering? We dismissed that even more quickly. No conspiracy shown but more importantly, where was the money? No big bank accounts. Mostly old cars. Small apartments or living with relatives. It seems to me a tragedy that one is asked to serve on a jury, serves, but then finds their work may not be given the credit it deserves. We, the jury, all took our charge seriously. We virtually gave up our private lives to devote our time to the cause of justice, and it is a very noble cause as you know, sir. We looked across the table at one another in respect and in sympathy. We listened, we thought, we argued, we got mad and left the room, we broke, we rested that charge until tomorrow, we went on. Eventually, through every hour-long tape of a single drug sale, hundreds of pages of transcripts, ballistics evidence, and photos, we delivered to you our verdicts. What does it say to our contribution as jurors when we see our verdicts, in my personal view, not given their proper weight. It appears to me that these defendants are being sentenced not on the charges for which they have been found guilty but on the charges for which the District Attorney’s office would have liked them to have been found guilty. Had they shown us hard evidence, that might have been the outcome, but that was not the case.

Jurors acquitted Ball in November 2007 Ball was found not guilty on all counts of racketeering, drug conspiracy and murder. He was found guilty of possession of a half-ounce hand-to-hand crack-cocaine sale in Washington seven years prior.

Federal prosecutors requested Judge Richard W. Roberts to sentence Ball to 40 years, based on charges that were never filed or conduct the jury never asked considered.
Federal sentencing guidelines permit judges to sentence for crimes not charged under the "acquitted and uncharged conduct" federal sentencing.

Posted On: July 1, 2008

The Right To Bear Arms

US SUPREME COURT IN SPRING 2008 RULES ON DC GUN BAN

Q: What does this mean for Florida criminal law?

In what will soon be regarded as a landmark decision, Florida criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr has issued advisories to his clients concerning gun possession and related gun possession charges.

Changes in gun laws affect all aspects of criminal law, not only gun crimes, but any criminal charges involving the use or or display of guns.

Broward County, Florida, as well as Miami Florida and Palm Beach has the highest concentration of gun owners and gun related crimes in Florida.
The decision holds that the right to own guns is guaranteed by the constitution.

The court goes on to say that the regulation of guns is not beyond the reach of government. Gun laws in Florida permit guns to be carried with a permit.

The court’s ruling allows “reasonable restrictions” but does not, as most Florida criminal lawyers agree: give enough guidance.

Criminal attorneys in Florida are waiting for gun cases to move through the courts for clarification.

Guns that are used in crimes are punished differently then when guns are trafficked. Trafficking in guns goes beyond personal use and ownership and has penalties that can rise to life imprisonment in Florida.

Similar to drug trafficking and drug possession laws, Florida criminal lawyers will look to the courts for interpretations that affect Florida residents who are charged with gun related crimes.