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Polk County Criminal Defense Blog

The Consequences of Grand Theft Auto

Stealing a car goes well beyond a petty crime. Those who think it would be funny to take someone else’s vehicle for a joyride need to be aware of the potential consequences. Penalties for this type of behavior can be harsh, and in some cases you could be putting yourself in danger.

Yes, it’s bad enough to go to jail for making a bad decision, but it’s even worse to end up dead.

Critics of internet law amendment say measure is overly broad, counterproductive

In an effort to target a website that is accused of accounting for a high percentage of child sex trafficking reports in the United States, lawmakers are currently pushing an amendment to the Communications Decency Act known as Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The bill would allow for easier criminal prosecution of those who operate websites that have been used for sex work advertising.

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was originally implemented in order to regulate pornography on the Internet. Under the law, operators of websites are protected from liability for content posted by third-party users. Under the proposed bill, though, this protection would be eliminated for websites which host advertising of “unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.” The bill would also allow state prosecutors to enforce the law against individuals and businesses that use these websites to engage in sex trafficking.

New Florida law adds penalties for opioid trafficking

We’ve previously written on this blog about Florida’s drug-induced homicide law, which allows for an additional criminal charge against those who illegally supply opioid drugs to those who overdose on them. As we pointed out, it isn’t clear whether the law will be an effective deterrent against the problem of illegal opioid use, but it is the way many states are sending a strong message about the problem.

A new Florida law recently went into which will contribute to the crackdown on opioid trafficking. The new law is aimed at dealers, and specifically allows dealers now to be charged with for trafficking opioid drugs. Before the law’s passage, dealers who traffic opioid drugs like fentanyl could only be charged with possession, which involves more lenient penalties. 

Domestic violence defense strategy depends on facts, circumstances of the case

Domestic violence charges seem to get a lot of attention when there is a professional athlete involved. In a sense, this is understandable since athletes are public figures and we expect them to be good role models. On the other hand, the kind of attention domestic violence allegations and charges generate when a sports figure is involved is not always fair.

Innocent until proven guilty—that is the way the criminal justice system works. This means that it is the government’s task to provide evidence showing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime. This often is not the reaction the public has, though, when an athlete is accused of domestic violence, and this is unfortunate. Not only does it expose the accused to potentially undeserved public shame; it can also make it more difficult for the accused to obtain a fair trial. 

Drug-induced homicide law raises potential issues, requires solid criminal defense, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the push to enact and enforce drug-induced homicide laws, noting that Florida recently joined a number of states which have these laws on the books. As we noted, there are various criticisms of these laws, including that they are not effective in preventing overdose deaths, they can discourage suppliers from contacting authorities when an overdose occurs, and that they can end up targeting family members and friends rather than dangerous drug dealers.

Criticisms of the law aside, anybody who faces charges of drug-induced homicide needs to work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest case in their defense, and to protect their rights in the criminal process. As we mentioned last time, proving that the sale of drugs to an individual caused that individual’s death is not necessarily easy. 

Your rights when it comes to search and seizures

We’ve all seen movies and television shows where police officers go crashing into a criminal’s home. These dramatized depictions often feature SWAT teams, battering rams and tactical weaponry and gear. While the scenes have some basis in reality, law enforcement officials can’t just come barging into your home without probable cause.

Officers need a warrant or permission to enter your home, even if they suspect you of committing a crime. It’s a protection afforded everyone in the United States.

Drug-induced homicide law raises potential issues, requires solid criminal defense

Readers may be aware that illegal opioid drug use is an epidemic across the nation, with the number of opioid overdose deaths drastically increasing over the last couple years. State and federal authorities have been working to address the problem in a number of ways.

The responses to the problem have ranged from taking a medical approach to the problem to using the criminal system as a tool to punish those involved in trafficking the drugs. An example of this is a new Florida law which allows prosecutors to issue charges of drug-induced homicide against those who distribute opioid drugs which cause death to a user. 

Nick Gordon domestic violence arrest: could it impact investigation into Bobbi Kristina’s death?

Many of our readers may remember hearing or reading a couple years ago about the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston. Her death was tragic not only because she was young and because of its proximity to her mother’s death in 2012, but also because Brown’s boyfriend Nick Gordon was accused of playing a part in her death.

Though he has denied any responsibility for her death, Gordon was found to be civilly liable last year for Bobbi Kristina’s death and was ordered to pay $36 million to her estate. He has faced no criminal charges in connection with the incident, though investigation into the case is ongoing. The fact that Gordon was recently arrested for domestic battery and false imprisonment in Florida, according to the District Attorney’s office, adds an “additional layer of evidence” to the case. What exactly does that mean, though?

Youtube star faces child pornography charges, up to 15 years in prison

We’ve been looking in recent posts on this blog at the issue of sexting, and the consequences minors can face for becoming involved in this activity. As we mentioned last time, sexting can result in serious charges on its own, but charges can really become serious when minors are depicted engaging in sex acts.

Across the country and here in Florida, minors have been charged with child pornography offenses. These charges can have serious consequences for those who face them, minor or adult. One recent high-profile case that made the news was the case of Austin Jones, a YouTube star from Chicago accused of encouraging young female fans to send him multiple videos depicting sexually explicit activity. 

Strong criminal defense important in fighting charges of sexting, child pornography

One of the unfortunate realities of easy access to Internet and electronic communications is that there is more opportunity for young people to get in trouble. This is particularly true when it comes to “sexting,” which has become a rather common occurrence among teens in Florida and across the country.

Under Florida law, it is illegal for minors to knowingly using a computer or other mobile device to send photographs or videos depicting nudity to another minor, or to possess such material sent by another minor. The law provides that a minor cannot be charged with sexting if he or she did not solicit the images, took reasonable steps to report the material to a guardian, school or to the police, and did not send the material to another party. 

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