Posted On: October 26, 2011

Deportations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach under the “Secure Communities Act”

South Florida criminal defense attorneys representing people swept up in the homeland security removal process witness horrors of epic proportion inflicted on communities and families in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. Only the United States government can conceive of an oxymoron of such epic portions as a so-called secure communities act. This highly controversial immigration removal program has come under the study of the University of California in Berkeley, which recently published the results of its study of 375 detainees. Coming as no surprise, the results concluded that the secure committee program seems to be targeting those of Latino origin for removal, rather than the intended group of violent offenders. If you have a criminal history involving a felony charge you should consult with a South Florida criminal defense attorney. Recent federal cases have changed both the scope and the focus of deportation proceedings in South Florida. Start by asking what the current policies towards persons of your national origin and criminal history.

Posted On: October 22, 2011

Federal Pre Trial Release in Florida’s Federal Criminal Courtrooms

The U.S. constitution makes pre-trial release, called bail or bond, a right. That right exists more in the law then for those arrested in South Florida and charged in federal court. U.S. District Courts are in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Federal courts are for cases and controversies of limited jurisdiction in civil matters and have exclusive jurisdictions for violations of federal criminal laws. The bulk of those arrested in Florida and brought before federal judges are drug importation and distribution charges (known as trafficking in Florida courts), immigration arrests, wire fraud, money laundering and an increasing number of federal arrests for violations of our Patriots Act (terrorist related charges). If you have been arrested and charged in a federal court the first judicial officer you’ll see is a U.S. Magistrate. Magistrate’s handle all bond, bail (pre-trial release) matters. In federal court you can be held in custody for three days simply on the request of the U.S. Attorneys’ Office. This is called pre-trial detention. The statute to read is U.S.C. 3142(f), the federal “first appearance” statute. For most your detention hearing is also the first appearance hearing. Magistrates in South Florida will rarely grant release on any condition if the charges involves drug trafficking in any amount more than person use amounts, weapons charges and charges brought under the Patriots Act. In the fall of 2010 a Boynton Beach Police Officer arrested by the U.S. and charged with drug trafficking was granted bail and fled to Brazil. As a result of that the Magistrates’ are ever more skeptical of granting any pre-trial release conditions, even though the right is embedded in the Constitution. Most defendants who are granted pre-trial release are able to do it because their South Florida Criminal defense attorney worked with the Assistant United States Attorney (the prosecutor in federal courts) and came before the Magistrate with an agreed set of conditions. If you are arrested and charged in Federal court you should insist on an experienced federal criminal lawyer from the day of your arrest.

Posted On: October 18, 2011

Florida’s Convicted Felons Regisitration Laws

Florida has an extensive set of statutes requiring convicted felons to register. In the past these statutes were rarely, if ever and enforced, in Miami, South Florida, Broward Fort Lauderdale and the West Palm Beach area. Things have changed! Within the last six months there's been an exponential increase in the arrests for people who violate the registration of felons statutes. Florida statute 943.0435 requires sexual offenders to register. Those persons convicted of sexually motivated or sexually related offenses have come under increased supervision and control by the Florida Department of Corrections. The prosecutors in South Florida, called the State Attorney for Dade County, and the prosecutor for Broward County(Fort Lauderdale) have increased the arrests for failure to register. The current statute makes it a felony for a person, convicted of a felony, to fail to register with the local law enforcement, or Sheriff, in the county in which they reside. If you have a felony conviction in Florida, whether from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or West Palm Beach, you should consult with a South Florida criminal defense attorney regarding the requirements for registration. The most likely way people get caught up into the registration violation traps is at traffic stops. Be certain that your drivers’ license address is correct, and reflects the county in which you are registered. If you have a withheld adjudication, then you are not under Florida law considered a convicted felon. If you have a withheld adjudication, the felony registration requirements do not apply to you. If you contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney, in Fort Lauderdale, or Miami, he or she, can tell you from the court records the correct disposition of your final disposition. Do not rely on websites to determine if you have a felony conviction. The only place to check is with the felony court clerk in which your case was filed and resolved.

Posted On: October 12, 2011

Credit Card Fraud in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Florida

The fraudulent use of credit cards and debit cards has prompted the creation of special prosecutorial task forces. The state attorney's office in Fort Lauderdale which prosecutes in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County has a special unit just for credit card and identity theft. The state attorney's office for Palm Beach County also has a special unit for identity theft cases. In recent years the federal government has provided significant funds which local law enforcement uses to focus on credit card and identity theft matters. The US attorney's office in South Florida, which brings federal criminal indictments in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach, also has increased resources for credit card and identity theft cases. Federal prosecutions are usually brought under the wire fraud statutes. For cases filed under as a credit card faud prosecutor’s file under statute 817 and 812. If you are arrested in Fort Lauderdale under the theft statute the minimum felony exposure is five years. Five years because 15 years if it's more than $20,000 in total loss, it becomes a first-degree felony for over $100,000 in losses. If you're prosecuted in Fort Lauderdale or Miami for first-degree felony the maximum prison sentence is 30 years. Because the victim is usually a bank or credit card clearinghouse the individual name which is being used is not an integral part of the prosecutor's case. Identity theft prosecutions arise not only for credit card and debit card matters but also from ATM machines.

Posted On: October 10, 2011


Extradition concerns laws and treaties used to transfer criminal suspects from one sovereign nation to another for prosecution. This is not to be confused with removal proceedings by the Homeland Security Department whereby people are deported from United States because of a criminal history. Extradition is also a concern when a person is wanted by another state for prosecution. By way of example, someone who was charged in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, South Florida with a drug trafficking or drug possession charge may be found in another state. When an individual is arrested in another state and being held for transport to Florida this process is called intrastate extradition. United States Constitution and the full faith and credit clause as well as agreements between states, called intrastate compacts, come into play in this situation. A criminal suspect can also be transferred from one county to another. When Palm Beach issues a warrant for the arrest of someone charged with murder or probation violation that individual may be found and held in Fort Lauderdale. At that point it is a matter for the Sheriff to arrange for the transfer of that individual from one county to another.

Posted On: October 6, 2011

Armed Drug Trafficking Offenses in Florida

Drug trafficking's most serious offense, and one that can include a possible death sentence in Florida, is Armed drug trafficking. The statute appears as Florida statute 893.135 (for punishments it refers the reader to the Florida sentencing and punishment sections). You can also look for it in the basic parts of F.S. 893 which, although quite long and confusing, is Florida’s drug abuse prevention and control statute. If you want to obtain a basic understanding of drug trafficking criminal offenses in Florida, start with a read of the criminal jury instructions, Section 25. Reading the Jury instructions for drug offenses and crimes in Florida, (such as purchase, sale, and cocaine delivery, and trafficking in cocaine and heroin), is the best place to get a good understanding of what these crimes are in Florida. Once you have read the jury instructions for possession of cocaine, delivery of cocaine or trafficking in cocaine, you can see and understand Florida's statutory scheme for drug possession and trafficking offenses. Basically, Florida's criminal laws on possession of drugs and selling of drugs fall into three categories. Simple possession, the drug possession statute that has the least exposure to prison (five years) is for arrests of "personal use” amounts of controlled substances. Drug "users" and "abusers" are charged with possession when they have enough for one dose or "high"....possession of personal-use amounts. Possession charges are for those who are users, but not dealers, sellers, or aren't in the “business” of buying or selling cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone and other mind altering drugs. Possession of more than enough for one dose, or being caught either giving away drugs or buying or selling a "small" amount is Delivery. Delivery of any controlled substance such as cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, or any "salt" or derivative of the many listed controlled substances in Florida can land you in prison for fifteen years.

The drug offense laws in Florida are for people who use, buy or sell any lesser or greater amounts of controlled substances. Most common drugs offenses are for cocaine, oxycodone, marijuana, and the many manufactured cocaine distillates and heroin substitutes in their many and various synthetic forms.