January 22, 2011

Ruiz case from the 4th DCA

Hamlet: “My words fly up my thoughts remain below, thoughts without words never to heaven go”. Too subtle for the 4th DCA? In a long awaited response to judges who find all cops credible and all defendants not, the 4th missed its chance to send a clear message to Judges in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and the 4th District. The court of appeals pulled a case from the trenches and said that a judge must not “be a rubber stamp” for law enforcement, but little more. File this case under “too subtle for me” because I, and most other criminal defense lawyers in South Florida, can’t see why the 4th DCA came so close to saying something then backed off. How about a do-over?

August 2, 2010

Defenses: insanity criminal culpability and competency

In South Florida, as in most states; criminal responsibility for the vast majority of crimes requires intent. A person who is under a mental disease or defect, or is incompetent to stand trial, has the defense to criminal charges of competency or insanity. In South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, very few successful insanity defenses have been litigated in South Florida criminal courts. The reason is insanity has fallen in disfavor with the legislature and most judges and juries. A South Florida criminal defense attorney can explain the trends in the charging and prosecuting of drug crimes, burglaries, robberies, and violations of probation, where the defense of incompetency or insanity has been rejected. Do not confuse insanity with competency. Insanity is the inability to form the requisite criminal intent due to mental disease or mental defect. Competency goes to an individual's current state at the time of the prosecution: if a person under arrest and facing a criminal trial in South Florida cannot effectively assist counsel, and is unaware of the function and role of the judge, a criminal defense attorney, and a jury, then the defense of incompetency to prosecution is raised by the criminal defense attorney. Incompetency merely delays the prosecution for up to two years, during that time the state has the duty to assist in the restoration of competency. For more information call or e-mail your favorite South Florida criminal defense attorney, or contact my office.

February 8, 2010

Fort Lauderdale Pre-Trial Release Program Extends Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Program to Non-Indigent Criminal Defendants

In these hard economic times it is a welcome gift for criminal defendants in Fort Lauderdale jails to be offered GPS bracelets and let out of jail without posting bail. The Pre-Trial Release Program, originally intended for indigent defendants, has broadened itself to embrace criminal defendants who have the financial resources to pay for their bond. The explosive growth of the government financed program has become the focus of a major political struggle. Supporters of expanding Pre-Trial Release are maligning Bail and Bond agents who insist they can do the job of getting criminal defendants to court for less money. Bond Agents say Pre-Trial Release should be pared back and limited to indigents only. State Senator John Thrasher (Republican from Jacksonville) has introduced a controversial bill in the Florida Senate that will curtail Pre-Trial Release. The bill would limit the program to the indigent. National Public Radio shined a national spotlight on this issue in a radio report aired in late January 2010 which did little to calm the waters. The broadcast inflamed the already heated fight by allegedly airing false statistics about the program’s success rate and cost.