| Read Time: 2 minutes | Firearm Crimes

Self-Defense and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

A recent Florida manslaughter trial received national attention when a jury convicted a licensed gun owner of manslaughter for killing another man in a Clearwater parking lot.  The case involved Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which makes it legally justified for a person who is in fear for his or her life to use deadly force to stop an attack.    Orlando Self-Defense Attorneys If you are facing a murder or assault related charge, you may have a valid claim to self-defense. At Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, our criminal defense attorneys have successfully represented clients who have faced a wide variety of criminal charges.  If you would like to discuss your case with experienced, skilled attorneys, contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation. We will evaluate your case and discuss possible defense strategies, including self-defense or the stand your ground law, if necessary. Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law In 2005 the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute 776.012 which has been popularly known as “Stand Your Ground.”  This new law widens the scope of self-defense. The law provides a person the right to use lethal force to defend themselves against threats without imposing a duty to retreat. In some states, a person cannot shoot an aggressor with the intent to kill without first attempting to retreat or flee from the danger.  Under the stand your ground law, a person does not need to attempt to retreat the altercation. Instead, he or she can shoot the aggressor without attempting to retreat when a reasonable person would believe he or she was in danger of great bodily harm or death in similar circumstances.  The jury in the trial mentioned above convicted the defendant of manslaughter, despite the defendant claiming the stand your ground defense. The defendant and the deceased person argued over a disabled parking spot. The deceased person shoved the defendant to the ground.  Seconds later, the defendant pulled out his handgun and shot the other man as he turned away from the defendant. The jury found that a reasonable person would not have believed he was in imminent threat of bodily harm or death in that situation.  Florida law categorizes manslaughter charges into the following three categories: Manslaughter by act or voluntary manslaughter involves committing an intentional act that was not justified or excusable that resulted in another person’s death. Manslaughter by procurement occurs when the defendant induced, persuaded, or encouraged someone else to kill another person. Manslaughter by culpable negligence occurs when the defendant engages in culpably negligent conduct that causes another person’s death. If You are Facing a Criminal Charge in Florida, We can Help Facing manslaughter, assault, or gun-based charge is serious. Our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys can skillfully advocate on your behalf. If you were involved in an altercation during the event that resulted in the alleged crime, you may have valid self-defense or stand your ground defenses. Contact our law office today to set up your initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Florida Man Faces Aggravated Battery Charges After Firing Shots

A 25-year-old man from Cocoa recently fired gunshots into the air near his girlfriend as he sat in a car driven by his mother. Prosecutors charged the suspect with multiple gun-related charges. The punishment for Florida gun-related convictions can be serious. If you are facing a gun-related charge in the Orlando, Florida area, Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law can help. We aggressively represent our clients throughout the criminal defense process. To schedule your free initial consultation, contact our Orlando, Florida, law office today.  In the incident mentioned above, the defendant’s mother picked her son and a friend up and took them to the defendant’s girlfriend’s apartment. The mother did not anticipate what would happen next. The man got out of the car and confronted his girlfriend. According to witnesses, he pointed a gun at his girlfriend’s head then verbally threatened to kill her. He then allegedly fired off several rounds of ammunition out of the window of the car. Prosecutors have charged the defendant with aggravated battery with a deadly firearm. Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Firearm Florida criminal law states that aggravated battery occurs when a defendant intentionally strikes or touches another person and, in doing so, does one of the following: Knowingly or intentionally causing great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability, or  Using a deadly weapon, or Battering a person who the defendant knew or should have known was pregnant  Penalties for aggravated battery increase substantially in Florida when the incident involves the discharge or possession of a firearm. When the offense includes discharge of a firearm, judges must impose the following minimum sentences: When the defendant possesses a firearm during the incident, the judge must impose a jail sentence of at least 10 years If the defendant possessed a semiautomatic firearm or a machine gun, the judge must impose a jail sentence of at least 15 years  If the defendant discharges a firearm during the incident, the judge must impose a jail sentence of at least 20 years If the discharge of the firearm causes great bodily harm or death, the judge must impose a jail sentence of at least 25 years The Importance of a Defense Attorney Facing an aggravated assault charge is serious enough. However, if firearms are involved, the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines are incredibly serious. At Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, our attorneys are skilled at aggressively defending our clients. Common defenses to aggravated battery charges include the following:  Self-defense Stand your ground doctrine Defense of others, or  Lack of intent to strike or touch.  If you are facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly firearm, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney. The penalties for an aggravated battery charge serious and could include a minimum 25-year jail sentence. Contact the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law to schedule your free initial consultation today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Burglary

The Criminal Trial of a Notorious Florida Burglar has Begun

One of three Immokalee men will face charges stemming from a stretch of Florida home burglaries. The group became known as the “Ninja Robbers” and allegedly participated in burglaries from December 2013 to 2014. The dubbed “Ninja Robbers” dressed like ninjas by wearing all black and would break into houses all throughout the State of Florida. One of the defendants faces several charges, including kidnapping with the intent to commit a felony and robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon. Florida law defines burglary as entering the home of another person with the intent to commit an offense. The Criminal Trial of One of the Ninja Robbers is Underway Two of the three men known to the public as the “Ninja Robbers” recently pled guilty to 34 different Florida criminal charges. The Florida judge presiding over the case ordered lengthy prison sentences of 45 years to each defendant.  The men dressed in all black wearing masks entered Florida homes through unlocked doors and proceeded to hold the occupants at gunpoint. They used zip ties and duct tape to restrain them in some instances. The criminal charges to which they pled guilty include the following: Kidnapping with intent to commit a felony Carjacking with a firearm Dealing in stolen property Aggravated battery causing great bodily harm Home invasion robbery with a firearm Conspiracy to commit racketeering Racketeering The remaining man who rejected a plea deal will now face trial. A jury panel of six jurors and four alternate jurors will form, chosen out of a pool of 150 potential jurors. Finding jurors who have not seen any new articles, blog posts, photos, or heard any news about the “Ninja Robbers” will be difficult.   Fighting a Florida Burglary With a Firearm or Deadly Weapon Charge The crime of burglary in Florida requires someone to enter a dwelling, usually someone’s home or other dwelling structure, without permission and with intent to commit an offense. Entering a dwelling legally and remaining there without permission with the intent to commit an offense also constitutes burglary in Florida law.  Florida Burglary in the First Degree Charges First degree burglary is the most severe type of burglary crime. To commit burglary in the first degree, the offender must commit a burglary along with other aggravating factors. The suspect must enter a dwelling without permission with the intent to commit an offense, and also do one of the following: Enter with explosives or a dangerous weapon or weapons,  Commit an assault or battery upon another person, or Enter the structure using a motor vehicle as an instrument in committing the offense or causes damage to the property above $1,000. If You are Facing a Burglary Charge, We can Help Are you facing a Florida robbery or burglary charge? If so, Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law can help. Our skilled Orlando criminal defense attorneys have helped many clients secure dismissals and receive not guilty verdicts. Burglary is a serious charge in Florida, especially if the defendant used a firearm or deadly weapon in the process. Hiring a skilled Orlando burglary defense attorney is wise. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Federal Agents Make More Drug Ring Arrests

In mid-September, federal prosecutors charged eight additional defendants with drug trafficking offenses. Drug trafficking is the crime of selling, transporting or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana or other illegal drugs.  In Florida, Federal prosecutors are aggressively pursuing charges against the suspects. The federal investigators may bring more charges in the coming weeks.  Federal drug charges are extremely serious. If you have been charged with a federal drug crime, the experienced litigators at Moses & Rooth can help. Contact the Orlando federal criminal defense attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation.  Federal Investigators Have Been Investigating a Drug Ring in North Central Florida The federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) have been investigating a drug ring in north-central Florida for the last two years. The drug ring in question is allegedly responsible for distributing MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine throughout the Florida panhandle. The prosecutors returned the original indictment in May. The recent indictment of eight more suspects is a continuation of the original indictment. The suspects could face serious penalties, including life imprisonment and fines up to $20 million. Federal Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys The recent arrests of multiple suspects for drug possession and trafficking demonstrate law enforcement’s focus on the war on drugs. Prosecutions for federal drug crimes make up the majority of criminal prosecutions in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are actively involved in arresting suspects for drug trafficking.  The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is a federal drug policy that used to regulate the distribution and manufacture of certain controlled substances. The CSA classifies drugs into five different schedules based on their potential for abuse. The schedules are as follows: Schedule I: Marijuana, ecstasy, LSD, and heroin Schedule II: Methamphetamine, morphine, cocaine, oxycodone, Dexedrine, fentanyl, Vicodin, and Ritalin Schedule III: Ketamine, Vicodin, and anabolic steroids Schedule IV: Tramadol, Valium, and Ambien Schedule V: Lyrica and cough suppressants  Possession of an Illegal Substance The Controlled Substance Act makes it a crime to possess some types of illegal controlled substances. It also criminalizes the possession of chemicals used to make illegal controlled substances and some accessories to drug use. Federal prosecutors must be able to prove that the defendant did the following beyond a reasonable doubt: Knew that the drug in their possession was a controlled substance, and Knowingly had possession or control over the controlled substance Federal prosecutors must prove each element in a drug crime. In many instances, prosecutors do not have the necessary evidence to bring a charge. Our attorneys will find any discrepancies in the prosecutor’s case and use them to defend our clients.  Seeking Legal Help for Your Federal Drug Possession Charge As federal prosecutors seek to make more drug-related arrests, it is wise to understand federal drug laws. If you are facing a federal drug possession charge, it is essential that you seek help from skilled defense attorneys. Those convicted of federal drug possession crimes face serious consequences. That is why our attorneys fight hard for the rights of our clients throughout the entire process. Contact our Orlando criminal defense law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Scholarship

Announcing the 2019 Legal Scholarship Winner

We received exactly 100 applications for this year’s scholarship! After carefully reviewing all of them, we are pleased to announce the winner of our 2019 scholarship. Brandon Osowski! Congratulations Brandon! Brandon recently graduated from Florida State University this past spring and has been accepted to the University of Virginia School of Law, which he’ll be attending this fall. Brandon interned with Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta of the 13th Juicial Circuit of FL, and this experience instilled a desire within him to legal education in order to help protect vulnerable citizens from entering the court system. Brandon tells more of his story in his scholarship essay, which he has agreed to have published below. We invite you to read it. Introduction: Before I even graduated high school, I had developed a desire to be a lawyer. If you asked me what sparked this interest, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. As I continued my academic career with this unfounded desire, I was able to earn experience in the legal field. The most influential experience occurred during my internship with Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta of the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida. During my time with Judge Ficarrotta I noticed a disproportionately high number of offenders being from poor backgrounds. This disappointed me and inspired me to utilize my legal education to help keep this population from entering this cyclical system. Having the opportunity to receive this scholarship would be used to take some of the enormous financial burden law school poses for me; allowing me to pursue my passion of protecting vulnerable citizens from entering the court system. Aside from these goals, in my free time I am an avid golfer. Golf serves as an outlet for me, an escape from the stresses of the real-world. It challenges me and teaches me lessons that help me progress as a student and a professional. Why we should be allowed to warn of DUI checkpoints: The legality of DUI checkpoints has been tested many times in the past. The argument that a DUI checkpoint violates the fourth amendment was shut down in the Supreme court case Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz. The court ruled 6-3 that these checkpoints were constitutional and that they only caused a minor inconvenience to motorists, not violating their 4th amendment right. With the legality of these checkpoints being settled, the right to freely talk about them is now being questioned. Even though DUI checkpoints are legal, the existence of these should not restrict the first amendment right of free speech. Any person can let a fellow motorist know “be careful, there may be a DUI checkpoint tonight”, just like a mother can tell their 16-year-old kid driving on the 4th of July, “be careful, there will be many cops out tonight.” Just like it is legal to let someone know to be careful because of the possibility of something occurring, it should be legal to be more specific, saying “be careful, I heard there will be a DUI checkpoint on the corner of Tampa and Racetrack road.” On the surface, this seems like it would inhibit the police from doing their job. Regardless of if this is the case, the existence of these checkpoints cannot, and should not legally restrict one from talking to another person about a given checkpoint at any given place or time. The justification for this argument is clear when we look at a very similar police operation, speed traps. Speed traps are an operation where many officers are directed to work at a certain location and pull people over for speeding. During these traps, many motorists will flash their headlights to let oncoming traffic know of the speed trap. Similar to letting motorists know of a DUI checkpoint, flashing headlights can be seen as “inhibiting the police from doing their job.” Recently, a federal judge in Missouri, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey, ruled on the headlight flashing issue. Judge Autrey stated that it is protected under the first amendment that motorists are allowed to flash headlights to let other motorists know of a speed trap. Because of the parallels between DUI checkpoints and speed traps, Judge Autrey’s reasoning can be extended to DUI checkpoints; protecting citizens from letting other motorists know of DUI checkpoints. Some may argue that this justification from Judge Autrey does not apply because a speed trap and a DUI checkpoint differ in the fact that a DUI checkpoint is aimed at catching people driving under the influence, a state that cannot be changed from last-minute knowledge of a DUI checkpoint. With this argument, many claim that knowledge of a DUI checkpoint incentivizes drunk drivers to avoid a given area, putting other drivers in danger. Even though these points are valid, arguments can be made that knowledge of a DUI checkpoint incentivizes drivers to not drive under the influence and to operate their vehicles more safely. From the arguments presented above, it is clear that it is 100% legal to let motorists know of a DUI checkpoint. Even though it is legal to do this, it is tougher to determine whether this should be allowed. Both sides make valid and convincing arguments. Since there is a level of uncertainty to this question, it is important that the 1st amendment right to free speech is protected. Therefore, letting motorists know of a DUI checkpoint is not only legal, but it should be allowed. Works Cited Headlight flashing OK, Missouri judge says. (2014, February 06). Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/06/police-speeding-headlightsaclu/5253337/ Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990).

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Criminal Defense

What Happens if I Plead the Fifth Amendment?

Pleading the fifth in real life is not as funny as Dave Chappelle’s skit on pleading the fifth, however, it may be necessary to protect yourself from self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that no person in a criminal case can be compelled to be a witness against themselves. An experienced criminal defense attorney at Moses & Rooth can help you determine if pleading the fifth is the right option for you when testifying. Pleading the Fifth as a Criminal Defendant In Malloy v. Hogan, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a defendant has the right to plead the fifth in State criminal cases, as well as, Federal criminal cases. As a criminal defendant you can choose not to take the stand in order to protect yourself from self-incrimination, however, once you have chosen to do so you have waived your right to testify. Criminal defendants cannot choose to answer some questions and not others. It’s an all or none scenario in criminal cases. In Griffin v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a jury may not infer that a defendant is guilty because the defendant pled the fifth and refused to testify. The U.S. Supreme Court later strengthened this ruling in Ohio v. Reiner. Pleading the Fifth in a Civil Case Defendants in a civil trial may also plead the fifth, but not without risk. A jury in a civil trial, unlike a criminal trial, may make assumptions if a defendant chooses not to testify. Pleading the Fifth as a Witness A witness, like a defendant, may assert their Fifth Amendment right to prevent self- incrimination. A witness may refuse to answer a question if they fear their testimony will incriminate them. The criminal activity that the witness fears does not have to pertain to the case at hand. If a witness chooses to plead the fifth, unlike criminal defendants, this does not allow them to avoid testifying altogether. Witnesses subpoenaed to testify must testify, but can plead the fifth for questions that they deem are self-incriminating. Prosecutors may offer witnesses immunity in exchange for their testimony. Witnesses with immunity will not be charged for any incriminating statements made while testifying. When immunity is not on the table there is another option. Prosecutors may offer to reduce the charges if the witness agrees to testify. When Pleading the Fifth Will Not Protect You Defendants cannot assert their Fifth Amendment right to protect themselves from self-incrimination against evidence the Court deems to be non-communicative. A defendant cannot plead the fifth when objecting to the collection of DNA, fingerprint, or encrypted digital evidence. In Commonwealth v. Gelfgatt, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of a defendant whose right to protect himself from self-incrimination was being threatened by an order to decrypt his computer, however, the Court ruled it was not a violation of the defendant’s rights. Before testifying as a criminal defendant or witness let the criminal defense lawyers of Moses & Rooth in central Florida advise you on your options of pleading the fifth and protecting yourself against self-incrimination. Our lawyers have a depth of knowledge because we only handle criminal defense cases. If you fear testifying will lead to criminal charges contact us today for information on how to protect yourself. Related articles: https://www.mosesandrooth.com/self-incrimination-defense-may-block-forced-decryption/ https://www.mosesandrooth.com/supreme-court-limits-power-miranda-related-silence/

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Criminal Defense

What Does it Mean to Withhold Adjudication in Florida?

We have all made mistakes throughout life, some bigger than others. These mistakes can be small, only causing issues within that day, while other mistakes can have lasting effects on your life. Such mistakes result in a criminal record that can affect your job, housing, whether you are able to obtain a license, as well as harming your reputation. Florida can sometimes give you a “second chance” in the form of withholding adjudication. You may be eligible for this form of adjudication, and should therefore contact an attorney. If you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with a crime, contact an experienced Florida criminal law attorney to determine the best strategies for your case. Withholding Adjudication? In Florida, the law can be tricky. If you are charged, and enter a guilty plea or no contest, though you may be found guilty, you may not actually be convicted of the crime. The court will determine whether or not you are adjudicated guilty or if the court will withhold the adjudication of guilt. If the court withholds the adjudication of guilt then it has not convicted you of the crime, though you may be guilty. According to Florida’s Statute Section 948.01, if it appears to the court that the defendant is not likely to again engage in criminal activity and that the defendant should not suffer the penalty imposed by law, the court gives great discretion to withhold the adjudication. If the charge was for a felony then the defendant must be placed on probation, and if the charge was for a non-felony, if probation is not rendered, then a fine may be. Once the probation is completed and/or fines paid, there is no adjudication of guilt. There are many benefits to withholding adjudication. When a judge withholds adjudication, the defendant will not be convicted of the crime. This allows for a defendant to: Keep his or her license if it was supposed to be revoked or suspended; Answer “No” on job applications when asked if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime; Vote; Own a firearm; Petition the court to seal your record. It is important to note that there is a limitation on the number of withholds a person can receive. That is why it is in your best interest to seek legal representation to see if your charge qualifies. Withhold of Adjudication FAQs Q.  What is a withhold of adjudication? A.  In the state of Florida, the law provides judges the ability to withhold adjudication for certain offenses. A withhold of adjudication simply means you are not convicted – even if you are guilty. Q.  When is withhold of adjudication offered? A.  Typically, a withhold is offered to 1st time offenders who the court finds unlikely to again engage in criminal activity. Q.  Is a withhold in Florida recognized by other states? A.  Outside of Florida, organizations (commercial and governmental) may not recognize withholds and may look at them similarly to a criminal conviction. Withholds go on your record. Q.  Do I have to disclose a withhold of adjudication to an employer? A.  It just depends on how the question is asked. For example, if your employer asks if you have ever been arrested or charged for a criminal offense, then you would still need to answer in the affirmative. On the other hand, if you’re asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, then you can answer “no.” Need Legal Advice? Being charged with a crime can be overwhelming, especially considering all of the consequences you could possibly face. However, withholding adjudication can save you a lot of distress if you are granted it. Because of this, it’s important to contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to seek legal advice and representation. Contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law at (407) 377-0150 or by filling out our contact form. We may be able to help you with your case!

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Orlando News

Florida Felons Win Their Voting Rights Back….or Did They??

On November 6, 2018 Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment which automatically restores the right to vote to 1.4 million individuals with felony convictions. Amendment 4 (Initiative Information) restores the right to vote for people with felony convictions upon completion of the terms of their sentence, including probation and parole.  The amendment does not apply to individuals convicted of murder or felony sexual offense. The amendment went into effect on January 8, 2019.  It was a popular and overwhelmingly successful amendment. But, the new amendment is threatened with politics, policy and certain limitations. Florida House of Representatives voted to advance a new bill (HB 7089) that would block certain convicted felons from their right to vote. ( Florida House of Representatives – Documents   The House Bill 7089 would require felons who have completed their jail terms to pay all fines and fees associated with their case BEFORE regaining the right to vote.  Basically, if you are Florida felon and have completed your jail time you have to pay all your fees and court costs before your right to vote is restored.  What does this really mean to Florida felons?  Essentially, Florida is a state that maintains more than 115 different types of fines, fees and surcharges which can be assessed against defendants in court cases, including those involving traffic violations, according to an analysis by the Fines and Fees Justice Center, based in New York. That’s the second-largest number of fines, fees and surcharges assessed anywhere in the country.   Florida Lawmakers who support this new bill say they are simply clarifying what the Amendment actually means by clearly defining that an individual completes their terms of probation or parole when all their fines and fees that have been assessed by the court are paid off.  Opponents argue that this essentially blocks most individuals from restoring their right to vote because most felons coming straight out of jail are not able to pay back all their fines and fees. The bill was supposed to go to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk to decide whether to sign the bill, let it become law, or issue a veto. Gov. Desantis would have signed this bill and made it law, however the bill passed in the House but did not receive a vote in the Senate.  The bill failed to pass in the Senate before the legislature adjourned on May 3, 2019.  Contact Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law for your criminal defense needs.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Criminal Defense

A Legal Guide for Florida Spring Breakers: Know Before You Go

CC image by Ekaterina Vladinakova at Flickr If you’re heading to Florida for spring break in 2019, the sunshine and warm water may not be all that you encounter. In fact, spring breakers are notorious for getting into legal trouble – typically for things like underage drinking. Before you go, here are a few laws and safety tips that you should review to reduce the risk of an accident and keep you out of legal trouble– Staying Safe – Avoiding the Four Ds As a mnemonic device to help you remember safety and the law when you’re on spring break, consider the four Ds that you should always avoid: Drunk driving Drugged driving Distracted driving Drowsy driving All four of the above are, first and foremost, extremely unsafe. When you drive drunk, drugged, drowsy, or distracted, you significantly increase your risk of causing a motor vehicle accident. You may also have legal consequences if you are apprehended for drunk or drugged driving, and even texting while driving is against the law in the Sunshine State. Alcohol For those who are traveling for spring break, alcohol typically presents the biggest temptation, and of the biggest health, safety, and legal risks, too. While our law firm does not condone underage drinking, we do want to remind you that if you do drink–whether of the legal drinking age or not–to never get behind the wheel after you’ve consumed an alcoholic beverage. CC image by Image Catalog at Flickr In addition to staying clear of drunk driving, remember that it is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol within the car, as found in Florida Statutes Section 316.1936. Remind your passengers that if they want to drink, they can’t do it while your vehicle is in operation. Find a Designated Driver Avoiding the four Ds means finding a designated driver if people in your group have been drinking or using drugs. You should also find another driver if those in your group are overly-fatigued; studies show that fatigued driving has the potential to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. When you’re assigning a designated driver in your group, do so smartly. Characteristics of a designated driver that are important include that the driver has/is: A valid driver’s license and auto insurance; Responsible; and Able to resist the temptation not to drink, even when hanging out with friends. It’s always a good idea to select a designated driver before you hit the bars or are exposed to alcohol. If there is no one in your group who makes for a safe designated driver, take a cab, use a rideshare, or find another way home. Know Your Limits If you will be drinking on this spring break, make sure you do so safely – which means more than just avoiding the driver’s seat. It’s also important that you set and know your limits – how much can you personally consume safely? Don’t drink more than you can handle, and try to stick to the general rule of no more than one drink per hour, coupled with a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. (Note that depending on who you are, the one-drink-per-hour rule may be very inaccurate.) When drinking, be sure to always pair your alcohol consumption with plenty of food and water, too. It’s also important that you familiarize yourself with the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, and keep an eye out for anyone in your group who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning. The American Addictions Centers lists a few of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning as vomiting, hypothermia, seizure, loss of bowel or bladder control, irregular pulse, and blue-tinged skin. If you suspect that anyone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, you should seek emergency medical care/dial 911 immediately. Alcohol Ban on Beaches The car is not the only place that you can’t have an open container of alcohol in Florida; alcohol is also prohibited on many of the beaches, too. Refer to the Orlando Weekly for a list of beaches in Florida where you can legally drink alcohol, and note that Panama City Beach has banned alcohol on the beach as an “emergency measure” for this year’s spring break. Other Important Laws It’s also important that, in addition to alcohol-specific laws, you also review the rules regarding using a fake ID and public intoxication. As an added safety tip, we also recommend getting vaccinated before coming to Florida, which may offer protection from bacteria and viruses that are often rampant in large gatherings, like those that are found during spring break. Be Smart About Sexual Assault, Rape, and Other Violent Crimes CC image by freestocks.org at Flickr Spring break is no longer just an opportunity for young people to celebrate a reprieve from the grind of university life and get in a little sunshine; it is also a time where many people, spring breakers and otherwise, commit serious crimes, including rape, sexual assault, theft, and assault. During spring break, adhere to the following safety tips: Don’t leave a drink unattended – date rape drugs, including GHB and Rohypnol, could be placed in your drink while you’re distracted; Travel with a buddy – don’t go to unfamiliar places alone, especially in areas where drugs and alcohol are present; Have a plan, including knowing where you’re going and when, and how to get there; Don’t give out your information, including where you’re staying while on spring break, to strangers; Tell someone where you’re going before you leave and when you plan to be back; Keep your belongings close to avoid pickpocketing and theft; and If things get heated between you and another spring breaker, walk away – an assault can be dangerous, and could result in criminal charges if you’re involved. Dos and Don’ts of Interacting with the Police CC image by Alex Smith at Flickr If you are pulled over or otherwise stopped by police while on spring break this year, it’s important that you know how to respond to protect...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

He’s Krafty and He Gets Around

By now you know that the Jupiter Police Department has been conducting a human trafficking and prostitution sting, specifically targeting different day spas. It appears that investigation spanned Palm Beach, Martin, and Orange Counties and that the investigation proceeded over a period of eight months. Unfortunately, this type of investigation and arrest of the owner and those frequenting the “spas” are not uncommon. The girls working the spa are being forced to perform sexual acts and are essentially sex slaves working for the owner of the spa.  This type of story will make the papers for a day or so and then fade away. However… When one of the “Johns” who frequents this type of establishment is the owner of the reining Super Bowl Champs, things are a little different. Bob Kraft, multibillionaire and owner of the Patriots is accused a soliciting a woman for sex acts twice within the last month. Now everyone is presumed to be innocent, even the owner of the Patriots, and Mr. Kraft has denied any wrong doing. However, the Jupiter Police Department is claiming to have graphic video evidence of the men who paid for sexual services at the spa. As an aside, the idea that Bob Kraft was caught on video for illegal acts is true karma and certainly put a smile on every non-Patriot NFL fan #spygate. Even weirder than a multi-billionaire being involved with a prostitution sting from a day spa in a strip plaza is the fact the affidavit seems to indicate that Mr. Kraft is alleged to have visited this fine establishment on January 20, 2019. Why is that weird? Well, if accurate, Mr. Kraft must have needed this tension reliever because his team was playing the Chiefs just a few hours after the encounter. Certainly explains why Kraft looked so calm during the overtime win that sent his team (literally) to the Super Bowl. So what’s going to happen for Mr. Kraft? Well, assuming the state attorney’s office believes that they have the evidence to go forward with the prosecution, Kraft will receive notice of the case at his home in Boston. He will have to appear in court or an attorney will appear on his behalf. After that all the discovery (police reports, videos, witness statements) will be given to the defense attorney. Mr. Kraft will then go to trial or enter a plea agreement. What might a plea agreement look like? In Florida, solicitation of prostitution has certain mandatory conditions. These include 100 hours of community service, $5000.00 civil penalty (no big deal for a someone with a net-worth of north of six billion dollars, but hefty for most) and they must attend “an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking…”. Additionally, there could be fines, probation, and, while incredibly unlikely, up to one year in jail per count. CC image by Twitter Trends 2019 at Flickr

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