December 8, 2013

Confession: Good for the soul, bad if you are arrested

Don’t confuse clearing one’s conscience with yourself and your maker with talking to the police. I wrote the book on it: CAN THE POLICE LIE TO ME?
Yes….the US Supreme Court calls it “aggressive interrogation” but to normal folk it means lying. The police can promise you anything short of a walk to induce you to make a statement and the courts will consider it voluntary. “I’ll go easy on you”, “I’ll speak with the prosecutor for you…” “Tell me what you did or I’ll go hard on you”….all spoken by a cop to get you to make a so-called voluntary statement. Do not go there!!
If you are the subject of a police investigation you have no duty to give any information that will be used to prosecute you in a criminal court. If the police are there to arrest you then you must go with them. Do not resist. Do not oppose them taking you in custody. You may have a bad night in the local jail, but any criminal defense lawyer can help you get a fair trial if you don’t make any statements to the police. Remember the mounted fish on my wall, the one that has the following brass sign below it, which reads: ‘IF I ONLY KEPT MY MOUTH SHUT I WOULD NOT BE HERE TODAY”.
When in doubt, if you have any questions: go to my FREE! App and download it to your smartphone, iPad, iPhone, or tablet…. The name of the free app is SAY NO TO POLICE. It’s easy to use, fun to read, and can inform you on most of the things that judges and cops know, but don’t want you to know!

January 19, 2013

Democrats, Republicans, and the "Stand your Ground" law

After an innocent 17 year old boy was shot by accident by a neighborhood watch volunteer, his mother, Sybrina Fulton and Democratic lawmakers are asking for the repeal of the Stand your Ground law.

The stand your ground law gives a person the right to justifiably use deadly force as long as there is a reasonable belief of an unlawful threat. In Beard v. U.S. (158 U.S. 550 (1895)), the Supreme Court ruled that a man who was on his property when he came under attack, did not provoke the assault, and had reasonable grounds to believe, that the other individual intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm, did not have a duty to leave and was entitled to stand his ground.

This basically means that if someone enters your home in the middle of the night and you have reasonable belief that this person has a gun and may take your life, you don't have an obligation to leave your home, but you have the right to self defense and to use deadly force to protect yourself.

The case of Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old boy shot and killed by George Zimmerman, has brought even more criticisms of the stand your ground law and whether it should continue to exist or not.

George Zimmerman is being charged with second-degree murder. He is claiming self-defense and is now awaiting trial.

September 22, 2012

They didn’t arrest me! – Am I free of charges?

Sometimes a person can be charged with a crime and still be “on the loose”. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the charge was dismissed or that the person was set completely free of culpability and doesn’t have any further responsibility about what happened at that time. So what happens if you’re not taken into custody then?

What happens is that in the counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, not always will an officer arrest you. In some cases in South Florida, mostly in traffic offenses and misdemeanor cases, an officer will issue the person a citation. Even though it is not an arrest, a citation also needs to be taken seriously. A citation is a commitment that says you will show up in court at a certain date and time. When you sign a citation you are making a promise that you will appear in court. In exchange of that, you are allowed to remain in liberty.

If you were issued a citation in South Florida, you need to contact an experienced criminal attorney who will guide you through the process. Call our offices to make an appointment for a free consultation.

September 8, 2012

“Going insane” in South Florida

We know that when a person is being accused of committing a criminal act, it is the state’s obligation to prove all the elements of the crime existed. The elements of the crime are stated in the Florida statutes of that specific offense. In the courts of Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Miami, and South Florida in general, the state has the burden of proving that the defendant was guilty.
One of the elements of a crime is what it’s called mens rea. It refers to the guilty mind, or the intent the person had to commit the offense. This is when the defense of insanity comes in. In Florida, insanity is a defense that alleges the criminal, due to a mental illness or retardation, didn’t have the capacity of knowing the wrongfulness of his or her actions at that time.
It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney when dealing with an insanity defense in South Florida. If you think that you or someone you know is being charged with a crime and that at the time of that crime he or she may have been, according to Florida’s rule, “legally insane” you should call a South Florida criminal defense attorney now.

September 4, 2012

What is an “accessory after the fact” in the State of Florida?

In South Florida, not only you have to actually commit the crime in order to be accused and sent to prison. For example, you don’t need to be the one who actually shot an individual in order to be accused of a crime. You may have not even been at the time and place where the crime occurred, but you may also be responsible for aiding the perpetrator.
In Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami, and other cities in South Florida, after an individual commits a crime, you can be charged with being an accessory after the fact for helping him or her in any way. It can either be by hiding their gun, or by helping them to avoid getting arrested.
In the counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, to be charged as an accessory after the fact, the state needs to prove that you knew the other person committed a felony, that you assisted him or her in any way, and that you are not related to them.
It is important that you contact a qualified attorney if you or someone you know is being accused of being an accessory after the fact. Call an experienced South Florida criminal defense attorney.

April 17, 2010

Bond in Florida: You Have a Constitutional Right

Florida’s constitution is clear: the right to bond (pre-trial release) is a right, not a privilege. Our constitution says that pre-trial release (bail) cannot be denied by a judge unless he makes a finding that there are no conditions (restrictions) that can assure your appearance in court, or can assure the safety of the community. Written in the constitution, but treated lightly by the legislature and most judges. How so? Go to Florida statute 903.0471, your legislature said a judge can deny you bond if you have a new arrest while out on another charge. South Florida criminal defense lawyers, yours truly among them, have been reminding judges that bond is a right than can only be taken away if the judge makes a finding that the arrestee is a danger of flight or danger to the community. The legislature and most criminal judges in Florida avoid dealing with the constitution in a rush to judgment. It may appeal to common sense that if you are arrested once and then a second time, you may be a habitual or repeat offender. But being a repeat offender is not a constitutional basis for denying bond. I have been fighting in court, just again last week, to overturn the law that denies bond to re-offenders. Constitutional rights exist, they are there to preempt passions and imagined fears and should not be taken away easily. Contact a Florida criminal lawyer to know your rights to bail.

April 15, 2010

Bond in Florida: You Have a Constitutional Right

Florida’s constitution is clear: the right to bond (pre-trial release) is a right, not a privilege. Our constitution says that pre-trial release (bail) cannot be denied by a judge unless he makes a finding that there are no conditions (restrictions) that can assure your appearance in court, or can assure the safety of the community. Written in the constitution, but treated lightly by the legislature and most judges. How so? Go to Florida statute 903.0471, your legislature said a judge can deny you bond if you have a new arrest while out on another charge. South Florida criminal defense lawyers, yours truly among them, have been reminding judges that bond is a right that can only be taken away if the judge makes a finding that the arrestee is a danger of flight or danger to the community. The legislature and most criminal judges in Florida avoid dealing with the constitution in a rush to judgment. It may appeal to common sense that if you are arrested once and then a second time, you may be a habitual or repeat offender. But being a repeat offender is not a constitutional basis for denying bond. I have been fighting in court, just again last week, to overturn the law that denies bond to re-offenders. Constitutional rights exist, they are there to preempt passions and imagined fears and should not be taken away easily. Contact a Florida criminal lawyer to know your rights to bail.

April 11, 2010

How Do I Get Information About Florida Criminal Law?

If you have a need to know and understand Florida’s criminal laws here is the best way to start: go the Florida’s Jury Instructions and read the jury instruction for the Florida criminal law you are interested in learning about. That’s where I start and I’ve been a criminal lawyer since 1976! Here’s why: Juries don’t read statutes, judges don’t read statutes to juries. Only lawyers read law, so skip the law and go to the jury instructions. After the trial the judge doesn’t explain the law, he reads the jury instructions. Jurors base their decisions on their understanding of the jury instructions. So what does a statute mean? It’s anyone’s guess, and it often is just that: something lawyers and judge’s wrestle with in motions and hearings. But when the tire meets the road and a criminal defendant is on trial the only law that matters is what the jury hears, and the judge just reads them the jury instructions. Florida criminal jury instructions can be found on the website of the Florida Supreme Court, or just Google it! Once you’ve read them then call me for a consultation. Start with a little basic research and you’ll get better results from your Florida criminal lawyer. Be informed, it’s your best defense! Knowledge is power.

January 28, 2010

Florida Continues to Lead the Charge Backward in Refusing to Restore Felons’ Rights

It came as no surprise that a case coming out (of all places!) the 2nd Circuit: Hayden v. Paterson, (Federal) refused to restore civil rights to felons even after re-stating the obvious racial disparity in our prison populations: “Blacks and Latinos are sentenced to incarceration at substantially higher rates than Whites, and Whites are sentenced to probation at substantially higher rates than Blacks and Latinos. For example, in 2001 Whites made up approximately 32% of (continued on page 2)

Continue reading "Florida Continues to Lead the Charge Backward in Refusing to Restore Felons’ Rights" »

January 12, 2010

Self Defense Statute Litigated by South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Ralph Behr

Your host and writer, South Florida Criminal Defense attorney Ralph Behr appealed an adverse ruling on self defense in Florida and made new law.
The Florida legislature created a new statute concerning when it is okay to use force to defend yourself or others. The law formerly only permitted the use of self defense when you are standing your ground in a protected area, such as your home. The new Florida criminal statute said that a claim of self defense creates immunity from prosecution unless a determination is made that the use of self defense was wrong.
The statute uses the term immunity. South Florida criminal defense attorneys understand immunity means the State cannot prosecute. Immnity is a bar, not a defense. No means no, right? Well maybe.
The appellate court did not agree with south Florida criminal defense attorney Behr and ruled that the correct procedure is to file a motion to dismiss and argue law. Attorney Behr argued that immunity means immunity, not a hearing on the facts. No said the local court of appeals and now it's off to the races?
Two differing opinions came from two courts of appeals in the State which makes this ripe for review by the Florida Supreme Court, and so it shall be. If you are charged with a crime in South Florida contact attorney Behr: he just made some new law on a very important issue: self defense.

November 18, 2009

Florida Expunging Of Records Is a Reality for Students

Getting a criminal record expunged is a common thing to do today. Students are taking advantage of this process in order to make clear records for any future employment and career opportunities they may be pursuing. One student, Debbie Robinson, 20, will be applying for a expunging of her record before she starts applying to become a nurse. She used some weed and got caught a high school football game a few years ago. There are some catches though to do this. In order to have records sealed or expunged, no adjudications of guilt or prior expunges must have occurred in the State of Florida. It costs another $75, a fingerprint form and a certified copy of some forms then one can become eligible to have their records sealed or expunged.

Continue reading "Florida Expunging Of Records Is a Reality for Students" »

August 10, 2009

Florida Judge Guilty of Mortgage Fraud

Thomas E. Stringer of Tampa plead guilty to a bank fraud charge. The hefty jail time facing Stringer could be in upwards of thirty years. A break in the case though for Stringer is that no parties sustained financial loss in the crime, so Stringer may only face forfeiture of the funds acquired from the fraud itself. No date on sentencing has been confirmed as of yet. The premise of Stringer's fraudulent scheme was to receive a loan for a residential property in Hawaii. A mortgage application made by Stringer was falsified by saying that he did not borrow any money for the down payment. In reality, he used a third party in borrowing some money. The FBI investigated the case to its conclusion, in partnership with two US Attorneys.

Continue reading "Florida Judge Guilty of Mortgage Fraud" »

July 21, 2009

Man Charged In Murder of Florida Couple in the News

According to one of the eight suspect of the recent, heinous murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings, the ringleader of the group named Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr., was the solo shooter in the crime. As well as this affidavit strengthened by Thornton's testimony, a safe was also recovered in connection with the killing and robbery. The couple of 17 children, mostly with special needs and disabilities, was murdered in their own home in Pensacola. The safe stolen from their house was found buried in the backyard of a local antique mall owner in connection with the organized murder. The antique mall owner, Pamela Long Wiggins, 47, was arrested with being an accessory after the fact to the home invasion.

Continue reading "Man Charged In Murder of Florida Couple in the News" »

July 2, 2009

Death of Florida Man Triggers Push for a New Law

After the death of John Waldo, 42, in Gainesville, FL, fiancé Monica Kraft has pushed for tougher laws regarding ticketed cars and vehicle inspections. Back in February, Waldo was found dead in the backseat of his vehicle parked on a residential road. The BMW was ticketed a whopping seven times but no one had found the body until Waldo had been missing for twelve days. A University of Florida student ended up discovering the body after closely looking in through the car window. No foul play has been detected and police are still investigating for evidence of murder.

Kraft has met with numerous city officials including the Gainesville Police's Captain Ed Book in an effort to see what can be done to prevent this from happening again. Currently under way in city government is the enactment of an ordinance that would would require city employees to visually inspect the inside of any vehicle after being accruing three consecutive unclaimed tickets. This law would be known as the Waldo Law. The exact design of the law would be to require law enforcement agencies to run the tag number of an abandoned vehicle that is receiving any ticket.

Continue reading "Death of Florida Man Triggers Push for a New Law" »

June 30, 2009

New Florida Law To Cut Down Prescription Abuse

Governor Charlie Crist has signed into law a prescription drug tracking bill that will put a damper on the pill pipeline into eastern Kentucky. One such case that recently has been completed revolving around this "pipeline" is that of a Broward County pain clinic patient accused of obtaining pills and selling them in Kentucky. Oxycodone was the drug involved in this crime.

The new law will "definitely help," says Sheriff Terry Keelin of the Boyd County Sheriff Department in Kentucky. 90 percent of the suspects in the Boyd Sherrif Office have been obtaining their pills from Florida. "Operation Pill Crusher" has received 105 people indicted during the program, and of those a large number were also from Florida clinics.

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May 4, 2009

Florida Crime Goes Down, According to FDLE

Incidents of major crime ticked up in 2008 over the previous year but were significantly down from 10 years ago, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which today released the annual statewide crime report. "The number one priority of government is to make our neighborhoods safe and secure for Floridians," Gov. Charlie Crist said in prepared statement included in the announcement. "Our state is committed to implementing the necessary tools and resources to deter criminal activity and protect the people."

The report also said that domestic violence offenses dropped by 1.8 percent compared with the previous year. Nonviolent crime, which includes burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft, increased 1.7 percent, the report said.

Continue reading "Florida Crime Goes Down, According to FDLE" »

April 7, 2009

Sexting in Florida A Reality in a Court of Law

The recently documented rage of "sexting," a form of sending picture text messages with nude photos, is turning up nasty results. Many minors are engaging in these activities at a fervent pace, making legislators uneasy and drawing lines in the sand for where legal measures must step in. Technically and according to the law, this is child pornography, even if the victim takes the picture consensually of themselves and sends to their boyfriend/girlfriend that is a minor as well. Both are in trouble. A recent case law out of Florida can only make this fact more evident in that no matter who is involved or what was sent to whom, both parties are breaking the law.

The Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act in Florida Statute states the following:

An offender less than 18 years of age who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Continue reading "Sexting in Florida A Reality in a Court of Law" »

February 19, 2009

Florida Probation Officer Budget Cuts

Florida budget cuts have come to hit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. 66 probation officers were laid off recently in response to the shortage of funds for the program. "Cutting probation officers statewide ''minimizes the impact to public safety,'' said spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. 22 of the 66 officers cut were in South Florida. The ones let go were officers in the program for less than a year, totaling only a 3% reduction in probation officers statewide.

It is unclear how this will affect those on probation, yet it seems to be obvious that it would lead to more strain on the already limited resources of law enforcement and their subsidiaries. Those on probation with officers already will be put on a longer leash because probation officers will probably have to be in more places at once.

Violation of probation is something that happens to criminals on probation and should not be left alone or thought of as "just going away." An experienced lawyer can help represent you at all your probation hearings.

Continue reading "Florida Probation Officer Budget Cuts" »

February 12, 2009

Florida Possession of Firearm In Parking Lot Law Tested

The first case in Florida regarding legal gun storage in cars on employer parking lots is being tested. A Boca Raton funeral employee is suing his company for firing him on the premise that he had a gun in the parking lot of his place of employment. He is claiming that the employer violated the new state law that permits people with concealed-weapons licensing to have their firearms secured in their cars on workplace property. A spokesman for the funeral parlor declined to comment on the situation. The accusations that Collazo, 36, even had a gun on the premises were said to be made by two anonymous tipsters in the area claiming to have seen " a bulge in his pocket" which resembled a gun.

This is groundbreaking legal news as far as concealed weapons on employee property goes. The "Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008" states that:

The statute provides that an “employer”—that is, a business with at least one worker who has a concealed carry permit—may not: (1) prohibit a worker with a concealed-carry permit from securing a gun in a vehicle in a parking lot;(2) prohibit a customer—whether or not he or she has a concealed-carry permit—from securing a gun in a vehicle in a parking lot; (3) ask a worker with a concealed carry permit or a customer whether he or she has a gun in a vehicle in a parking lot, take any action against such a worker or against a customer based on a statement about whether the worker or customer has a gun in a vehicle in a parking lot for lawful purposes, or search a vehicle in a parking lot for a gun; (4) condition employment on whether a person has a concealed-carry permit; (5) terminate a worker with a concealed-carry permit, or otherwise discriminate against such a worker, or expel a customer, for having a gun in a vehicle on the business’s property, unless the gun is exhibited on the property. A business that does not have at least one worker with a concealed-carry permit is not subject to any of these provisions.

Certain places of employment do not allow guns at work under law, but storing of your firearm securely in your car at work is OKAY. Be sure to follow this blog to see where the courts go with this one.

Continue reading "Florida Possession of Firearm In Parking Lot Law Tested" »

January 29, 2009

Sports Betting Strife In South Florida

A criminal sports betting syndicate has been busted in Philadelphia.

Wagering is illegal in most states, Florida has extensive laws concerning gambling and illegal betting. South Florida is a hotspot for this sort of criminal activity. Criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr has had over 10 cases in the last two years: arrests in Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

Wagering and betting on sports events is a felony in Florida you face arrest, and conviction after trial, just like in Philadelphia, only it's worse…… here it carries a 15 year felony prison term.

If you place wagers you can be arrested as under the principle rule. Know thy bookie. Call thy attorney. His name is Mr. Behr. Phone lines standing by.

January 21, 2009

Violation of Probation Is A Serious Matter

If you're under probation for any conviction, you are under contract with the State to maintain certain restrictions and activities. There are different types of probation you may be under.
Administrative probation means:

a form of noncontact supervision in which an offender who presents a low risk of harm to the community may, upon satisfactory completion of half the term of probation, be transferred by the Department of Corrections to nonreporting status until expiration of the term of supervision.

Administrative probation is only one type of probation out there. You may be under community control, drug offender probation, or sex offender probation. All are serious matters and must be dealt with accordingly. It's your life and if you want to keep it on track, you are advised to follow orders as specified in your specific case.

Continue reading "Violation of Probation Is A Serious Matter" »

January 13, 2009

Florida Convict Gets Sentence Lowered

James Ray Booth, 59, once a convict serving a life sentence, now serves a 10 year sentence. He was charged in 2006 with first-degree murder yet acquitted of aggravated battery and armed burglary recently this year in a new trial. The jury found nevertheless guilty of third-degree murder and aggravated assault with a firearm, two charges that were of lesser severity than former charges.

The lengthy legal procedings in court with Prosecutor Pete Magrino and the suspect's attorney, Patricia Jenkins, argued over legal semantics. The final verdict was two consecutive life sentences and 20 years in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Continue reading "Florida Convict Gets Sentence Lowered" »

December 3, 2008



The DUI punishments in Florida have been increased. Starting October 2008 fines are doubled for first DUI convictions to $500. A maximum of $1000 fine can be imposed on a first DUI conviction in Fort Lauderdale, South Florida, Broward, Miami and West Palm Beach.
In Florida a breath-alcohol reading of .15 now doubles or enhances punishments for DUI convictions.
If you have been arrested in South Florida on a DUI charge it is now more important than ever that you seek a good South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, criminal attorney. You can defend yourself when you know the law. Seek and obtain a Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney and protect your rights!

November 4, 2008

Mortgage Fraud

South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach, have become a hotbed of prosecution for mortgage fraud.

The US Attorney, Broward, Miami and Palm Beach State Attorneys (prosecutors) and the Florida Attorney Generals Office of the Statewide Prosecutor have filed several dozen criminal prosecutions in Fort Lauderdale and Miami in both State and Federal Courts.

These investigations involving mortgage fraud have taken off and are growing. Prosecutions in Fort Lauderdale and Miami have become a daily grind in the local news. The charges of fraud and property investment schemes related to the mortgage market are being prosecuted as follows:

Fraudulent application: Applicants and mortgage brokers are accused of falsifying income status of the buyers or investors to reflect false reports of employment history, income forms, asset statements or credit record.

Flipping: When a buyer or investor pays a low price for a property then sells it at a higher price by falsifying statements to the lender.

Duplicate Statements: One settlement statement is provided to the seller, it shows one price for the property. A second settlement statement is presented to a lender: It shows a higher property value. A loan is given based on the higher value, and the excess loan proceeds is taken by the "actors", i.e. those accused of mortgage fraud.

October 13, 2008


In Florida DUI cases a blood alcohol reading from a breath-test device allows the prosecutor to tell the jury that the defendant is presumed intoxicated.

The breath-test machines, usually an Intoxilizer (brand) were upheld again by a Florida court.

The over 200 DUI cases in South Florida, Broward and Dade (Miami) that were stopped until the decision are now back in court.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Fort Lauderdale, contact attorney Ralph Behr for a free consultation.

October 4, 2008


All my loyal blog readers have a chance to let me know what to do about the law. Vote by emailing me at
A YES vote means: yes: the jury should hear from the judge about the penalty (jail sentence) if they convict a defendant.
A NO vote means: No: the jury should not hear the possible sentence if they convict.
If you have a reason to vote yes or no I'd like to hear it. I will let you know how the voting went on October 15th. Thanks, R Behr

September 5, 2008



Call a lawyer first, why?

First: a local lawyer knows the local bondagents, your lawyer can get a good bond and control the bondsman: use the lawyer as a problem solver.

Second: the lawyer may be able to get a quick bond hearing and reduce the bond amount.

When a good local lawyer and a good local bondsman are in front of a local judge you benefit all around. The judge is confident you are well repersented and may be inclined to lower the bond.

If you or a family member or friend has been arrested in South Florida, Miami, Fort Lauderale or West Palm Beach contact a south Florida criminal defense attorney. Ask about bond. Ask about the judge. Ask about how an arrest and a trial work.

Information is the cure for agitation and aggravation. Let a local professional guide you through the criminal process. Call Attorney Ralph Behr at 1-800-761-3446.

September 4, 2008



Probation and Community Control are sentences, not pre-trial release; and sentences must be followed.

If you fail to follow any condition of probation, the probation officer will report to his supervisor. If the violation is willful and substantial then a request for a pick up order (warrant) is sent to a judge.

If the judge signs the request it becomes a warrant.

In Broward, Fort Lauderdale, by local order; anyone arrested on a violation of probation warrant waits ten days in the Fort Lauderdale jail before being brought up before a judge.

The first apperance is a first violation of probation hearing. At that hearing one admits or denies the allegations. If admitted the judge can do one of three things:

1. Return you to probation
2. Modify or add new conditions or increase the length of the probation or community control or
3. Send the violator to prison for any term of years within the sentencing or punishment code guidelines.
If you have a concern call a south Florida criminal defense attorney. Not all violations result in prison, some can be modified, some call be dismissed.

September 3, 2008



If you've been arrested in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach and charged with burglary make sure your criminal defense attorney checks the most recent changes to the burglary statute.

The law in Florida, of which Fort Lauderdale is a part, is a burglary means entering a dwelling or structure or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein.

Burglary cannot be charged unless the state can prove the intent to commit a crime at the time of the trespass. If the intent to commit a new crime comes after the entry it's not a burglary: it's a trespass and a theft.

Some Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys omit this point in their thinking. If you want a clear thinking South Florida criminal defense attorney call Ralph Behr at 954 -761-3444.

September 2, 2008



If you are under a sentence of probation or community control beware. Fewer than one in three succeed without a violation.

The most common violation of probation is a failure to check-in, after that comes moving without notice, and then "dirty urine" if you are on drug offender probation.

Failure to pay costs of supervison are more common, but most of the Judges in Fort Lauderdale will not sign a violation of probation warrant unless the failure to pay is willful: that means you have the money but refuse to pay.

Rule One: Call a lawyer. Contact a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer BEFORE, not after. Your South Florida criminal defense lawyer can get you a hearing before your judge and avoid the probation violation by obtaining a modification of probation terms.

Prevention is the best way to avoid a violation of probation warrant. Call a south Florida or Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer and get a consultation. Call Ralph Behr at 954-761-3444 for a no-fee consultation 24/7. Out of State: call 1-800-761-3446. Call Now, the call is free, the peace of mind is priceless.

September 1, 2008



No. A police officer can stop you can talk to you but you don't have to respond. If you believe you are the focus of a criminal investigation, or a person of interest, ask for a lawyer.

The only person who can force you to answer any questions is a judge. Police can ask, you don't have to answer,

August 31, 2008



If you been arrested in Fort Lauderdale and made a confession, it's not enough for a conviction.

The corpus delicti rule means the state must have actual evidence in addition to a confession before judge will allow a jury to deliberate.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr recently litigated that very point before a Fort Lauderdale criminal judge, and won.

If someone is arrested, and then makes a confession, that's not enough to seek a conviction and sentence. Consult with your South Florida criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale or Miami to get clear on this. Or call Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr.

August 27, 2008



Effective August 2008 Florida has enhanced the penalties for marijuana production.

Possession of marijuana in smaller amounts remains a misdemeanor. However for those who grow marijuana plants the previous threshold of 300 plants for a first-degree felony, has been lowered.

Manufacture of marijuana, a big business in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Palm Beach, may soon be out of business. As Florida enhances penalties for growing plants arrests may soon peak.

The Statewide task force investigating the crime of growing marijuana commercially have increasingly focused on eradicating grow houses in the Fort Lauderdale Miami area. The new law is expected to increase the importation of marijuana from out-of-state.

August 26, 2008



In any criminal courtroom in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale or Miami or West Palm Beach, those charged with possession of cocaine or possession of any controlled substance are convicted for things they didn't do? How can that be?

The principle rule, derived from Florida criminal statute 777.0 11 says if a criminal defendant helped another person to commit a crime, the defendant is a principal and will be treated as if he had done all the things the other person did. The only thing they prosecutor needs to establish is that you did some act or word which was intended to encourage or assist the other person with the intent for them to act criminally.

If you have been charged with a crime in Fort Lauderdale, or Miami, or If you've been arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, for example possession of cocaine, you should and must understand the so-called criminal principal rule. In simple terms: in for a penny, in for a pound.

August 24, 2008



Fort Lauderdale and Miami are hot spots for identity fraud. Sadly or not it is a fact of life for those living in Broward County, Miami and Palm Beach.

Taking a victim's identity to obtain credit is the most common identity fraud committed here in Fort Lauderdale. The thief can capture identity information by attacking your computer or capturing data online.

To protect oneself you can go to the Florida identity theft website. Your credit card company, or bank can help. Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers serve on various committees to help reduce identity theft. You can speak with a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer by calling the Florida Bar, or the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

August 23, 2008



No. Huh?

Your right to remain silent only applies AFTER an arrest, not before.

If you are arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Miami or West Palm Beach you MUST know the difference between a stop, a detention, police contact, and the ultimate situation: an arrest.

To answer the question more fully know this: The arrest is valid even if no rights are read to you. If the police intend to use any statement of yours (confession) it cannot be used in court unless under the totality of the circumstances the statement is freely and voluntarily given and not the product of coercion or force.

For a fuller understanding of an arrest, and a stop, and your Miranda rights speak to a South Florida criminal defense lawyer. Contact the Broward Bar Association in Fort Lauderdale, or the Florida Bar for a list of South Florida criminal defense lawyers with offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach.

August 20, 2008


Many of those accused of crimes in South Florida are forced to agree to excessive amounts of money payments under the restitution element of their sentence.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals, which reviews South Florida criminal cases, clarified the rule. The court found that a Broward judge abused his discretion in ordering a restitution amount with insufficient evidence to support the dollar amount.

If you are on probation in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Miami, South Florida: contact your criminal defense attorney concerning the restitution amount of your sentence.

This new case clearly states that defendants who were forced to agree to pay restitution when there is insufficient evidence to support the dollar amount may appeal the restitution amount and have it reversed.

August 19, 2008


Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr has sent an advisory to his clients on probation. It concerns the recent ruling from the appellate court that covers South Florida: particularly Fort Lauderdale and Broward County.

The ruling clarifies when drug offender probation terms are added to probation for non-drug crimes

The new ruling clearly states: a defendant may not be sentenced to drug offender probation unless he has been convicted of an enumerated chapter 893 offense or agreed to such probation in a plea agreement.

If your probation has been violated because you failed to comply with drug offender probation requirements contact your South Florida criminal defense attorney. Ask if the charge was a drug-related charge; ask if the final disposition includes your voluntary agreement to drug offender probation.

August 17, 2008


Florida DUI penalties were enhanced starting in 2008.

The principal change has been an increase in the fine: from $250 for a first DUI to $500.

If you are arrested and refuse to provide a breath exemplar your first refusal counts towards the newly enacted misdemeanor charge of breath-refusal.

Now it is a misdemeanor to refuse to provide a breath exemplar if you are stopped, and detained, and the officer undertakes a DUI investigation. The misdemeanor charge only arises on your second DUI arrest.

In South Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, many criminal defense attorneys are asked by their clients if they should "blow", which means provide an air exemplar.

For a complete explanation go to the book Can The Police Lie To Me? Or ask a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney.

August 16, 2008


US currency (paper money) that circulates in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and south to Miami has the highest traces of cocaine in the world.

Possession of cocaine requires actual possession, knowledge and control. If you hold on too tight to your money you cannot be convicted of possession.

Former President George Bush (the senior) once produced a ten dollar bill that tested positive for cocaine. Of course he was in Miami when it happened.

You cannot get "high" from paper currency in Fort Lauderdale, but you can still spend it at the beach for a beer.

August 15, 2008


In South Florida a Probation Violation means ten days of jail in Fort Lauderdale before you see a judge. Fort Lauderale is in the 17th Judicial Circuit, it does not include Miami.

A willful and substantial violation of probation generates a probation officer filing a request for a pick-up order: i.e. a warrant.

In Fort Lauderale, Broward County Florida, by local custom every probation violator comes before the judge after a stay in the Fort Lauderdale jail.

The Clerk usually makes you wait ten days before scheduling a first violation of probation hearing. At that first hearing we deny or admit the violation(s).

If you admit then the judge can sentence you immediately.

A denial requies a full hearing. At the hearing the State must prove the violations before the judge can revoke, sentence or return you to probation.

For more information call a South Florida criminal defense lawyer.

August 12, 2008


Two West Palm Beach police officers were fired and one quit when their video camera, mounted in the front of the police cruiser, video-taped the officers kicking and punching a suspect who was in handcuffs.

South Florida criminal defense lawyers have been aware of the police brutality for years. Many lawyers represent those who are the victims of police abuse and then charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.

Miami and Fort Lauderdale have similar problems with police violence. If you have been the victim of police abuse contacts a local lawyer. You have rights, you can file complaints and your lawyer will see to it that a proper investigation is undertaken.

August 9, 2008



If the police have probable cause they can make an arrest without a warrant. Probable cause means a reasonable person would believe a crime has been committed and you did it.

Police must have a warrant to enter a home: with two exceptions: hot pursuit and exigent circumstances.

If the police are in your home just remain calm. A judge can sort things out later, you cannot.

Just remember to remain silent and do not agree to a search. You will learn from a criminal defense lawyer what a totality of the circumstances test means for consent to be free of coercion.

South Florida criminal defense lawyers know how to conduct suppression hearings, you don’t. If you have a concern contact a lawyer and ask. Remember that knowledge is power.

August 8, 2008

What is an arrest? What is a stop?


Police contact begins with a stop, proceeds to a detention and culminates with an arrest.

When contact is voluntary you are always free to go.

A detention is lawful only if the officer has articulable suspicion that a crime has been committed and you are a person of interest.

An arrest occurs when you are no longer free to go.

Understanding the difference between a stop and an arrest is key to understanding your constitutional rights. Miranda warnings are only required after an arrest. So what to do?

If you are having contact with the police and are concerned that you are a person of interest: ask for an attorney. Police cannot offer you freedom or a pass. Don’t negotiate with a police officer. Only a prosecutor can give you a deal that stands up in court.

For more information go to CAN THE POLICE LIE TO ME?

August 5, 2008



A dog working for the police validated a drug possession arrest because it happened fast. The four minute rule is under assault.

Drug trafficking and drug possession cases are a top priority for cops in Fort Lauderdale. Searches incident to a traffic stop have always been a major suppression issue. Miami and Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers are always litigating the time between a lawful stop and a drug dog search. Here's the latest doggerel...

A dog sniff at the time of a traffic stop which took only a minute was not a violation of the search and seizure rules. See: Barbee, a July 2008 Federal case out of Ohio.

The court determined that the traffic stop was justified by the trooper’s suspicion that Barbee had committed two traffic violations. The drug arrest was validated by the drug sniffing dog's signal drugs were in the car.

At hearing the cop said he was writing citations when the drug-sniffing dog alerted.

The cop didn't need any additional suspicion to justify the canine sniff and the arrest was upheld.

July 28, 2008


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

July 27, 2008


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.

July 25, 2008


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.

July 24, 2008


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.

July 20, 2008



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.

July 16, 2008


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!

July 13, 2008


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.

July 10, 2008


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.

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.