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Understanding Florida’s “Prison Releasee Reoffender” Law

By The Baez Law Firm |

Florida’s criminal laws contain a number of traps designed to make it easier to impose harsher sentences on certain defendants. For example, if a person is released from prison after committing a crime, they can be charged as a “prison releasee reoffender” (PRR) if they commit a new “qualifying offense” within three years. To… Read More »

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Can Prosecutors Strike Potential Jurors from a Criminal Trial Based on Race?

By The Baez Law Firm |

In Florida criminal trials, the prosecution and the defendant are each allowed a certain number of “peremptory challenges” during the process of jury selection. A peremptory challenge means you can strike a potential juror without having to give a reason. But there are some limits to this power. For example, in a 2019 decision,… Read More »

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How the Florida 10-20-Life Law Works in Criminal Cases

By The Baez Law Firm |

Politicians are eager to show they are “tough on crime” by passing harsh minimum sentencing laws. One famous example here in Florida is the so-called 10-20-Life law. Spearheaded by former Gov. Jeb Bush, this is a minimum sentencing law that requires a judge to impose minimum sentences of 10 years, 20 years, or life… Read More »

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The Role of “Intent” in a Florida Criminal Case

By The Baez Law Firm |

“Intent” is often a key element of a criminal offense. Prosecutors must prove a defendant acted with intent when they committed an alleged offense. Depending on the facts of a given criminal case, this can mean either general or specific intent. Specific intent, as the name suggests, means the defendant acted with foresight to… Read More »

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Lost Transcript Leads to New Hearing for Defendant in Florida Drug Case

By The Baez Law Firm |

“The dog ate my homework” is a classic excuse that no teacher would accept. Similarly, when a trial court loses the transcript of a criminal case, an appellate court is not going accept that either. A transcript provides an official record for the appellate court to review. Without such a record, it is impossible… Read More »

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How the “Reasonably Foreseeable” Consequences of a Crime Can Affect a Defendant’s Sentence in Florida

By The Baez Law Firm |

When assessing a criminal sentence, a judge can, in certain cases, look beyond what the defendant actually did or knew about. The court may also be allowed to consider the consequences of a defendant’s criminal actions, even if the defendant had no direct knowledge of such effects. Instead, the law looks to what the… Read More »

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Is a Guilty Plea Valid Even if the Prosecution Cannot Prove Its Case?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Most criminal cases never go before a jury. Instead, the prosecution and defense negotiate a plea agreement. In exchange for the defendant’s agreement to plead guilty to a criminal charge, the prosecution agrees to a sentencing recommendation that is typically far less than the maximum penalty available under the law. Of course, any plea… Read More »

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When Can Police Initiate a “Stop and Frisk” Detention?

By The Baez Law Firm |

“Stop and frisk” detentions remain a controversial law enforcement practice in Florida. Normally, a police officer must have a warrant before placing a person under arrest or searching their person. But the courts have long permitted the police to conduct what they call “investigatory detentions.” Basically, if an officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that… Read More »

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How Does Restitution Work in a Florida Criminal Case?

By The Baez Law Firm |

If you are convicted of a crime in Florida, you may be required to pay restitution to your victims. This is separate from any jail time or probation you may be required to serve. Florida law separately permits the judge to order restitution for any “damage or loss caused directly or indirectly by the… Read More »

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Can the Government Deport a Legal Immigrant for a Vehicular Homicide Conviction?

By The Baez Law Firm |

A criminal conviction can place your immigration status in jeopardy. Even if you have entered the United States lawfully, federal law allows the government to deport you if you are convicted of “two or more crimes of moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct.” This includes both federal and… Read More »

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How the “Double Jeopardy” Rule Works in Florida Criminal Cases

By The Baez Law Firm |

One of the oldest principles of American criminal law is the prohibition against double jeopardy. Under our Constitution, no person can be “subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Among other things, this means the government cannot retry you for the same crime if you have… Read More »

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Supreme Court Says Two Muslims May Sue Homeland Security Agents for Illegally Placing Them on “No Fly” List

By The Baez Law Firm |

Since the September 11 attacks nearly 20 years ago, Muslims living and working in the United States have faced an increasing barrage of attacks on their basic civil rights. Recently, the United States Supreme Court unanimously took an important stand on behalf of Muslims when it held that two men could sue the Department… Read More »

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Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial in Sexual Battery Case After Judge Excludes Key Witness Testimony

By The Baez Law Firm |

In any criminal trial, the defendant has a constitutional right to “confront” the witnesses against them. This includes not just the right to cross-examine one’s accuser, but also to present evidence that may call into question the accuser’s motives, or offer the jury an alternative explanation for what transpired. While judges have the discretion… Read More »

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How Paying Your Tax Bill with a Bad Check Can Land You in Serious Trouble

By The Baez Law Firm |

It is not unusual for people to fall behind in paying their taxes. But there is a difference between an honest person who is simply unable to pay and someone who intentionally tries to avoid paying. The government can–and will–prosecute people in the latter group. Fortunately, there are ways to resolve tax disputes before… Read More »

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Polk County Teacher Accused of Possession of Hundreds of Images of Child Sexual Exploitation

By The Baez Law Firm |

According to Florida law, a person convicted of possessing just one image or video showing sexual exploitation of a minor can receive a sentence of up to five years in prison.  The defendant must also register on the sex offender registry.  In some cases, he or she might not be allowed to work in… Read More »

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The Legal Status of Entheogens in Florida

By The Baez Law Firm |

Entheogens are plants or mushrooms used in traditional religious ceremonies to induce a trance state and spiritual visions.  Many entheogenic species, and the psychoactive chemical compounds they contain, are categorized as controlled substances, so that the criminal penalties for possessing or distributing them are the same as if the substance had been cocaine, heroin,… Read More »

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Post-Adjudicatory Drug Court Is Better Than Prison, but It Is Not Easy or Cheap

By The Baez Law Firm |

What would you give to have a second chance at sobriety and staying on the right side of the law?  Would you consent to random searches of your house and car?  Would you give up your right to medical privacy?  Would you pay for every drug test and counseling appointment out of your own… Read More »

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Yes, Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Is Still a Possible Defense in Florida

By The Baez Law Firm |

If you are one of the 25 percent of Americans who have received a diagnosis of mental illness, you know how harmful outdated stereotypes about mental illness can be.  Some of the most memorable performances in cinema misrepresent people with mental illness as violent and willing to kill either on impulse or in cold… Read More »

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What Is PPP Loan Fraud?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is part of the CARES Act, a piece of emergency legislation enacted to protect working people and small businesses from economic disaster during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.  All businesses with 500 employees or fewer were eligible to apply for PPP loans to cover payroll and other… Read More »

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Man Imprisoned in Polk County Since 1989 for Marijuana Offenses Will Be Free Before Christmas

By The Baez Law Firm |

A lot has changed since 1989.  In those days, almost every box of candy you bought from the gas station would have the words “say no to drugs” printed on the inside of the opening flap.  1989 was such a long time ago that some of your favorite 80s candies have been discontinued, while… Read More »

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Lil Wayne’s Weapons Charges: Can He Really Get Ten Years in Federal Prison Just for Owning a Gun?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Florida’s gun ownership laws are quite lenient; in most situations, it is legal for most adults to buy and possess firearms.  If you have a felony conviction, though, you can get criminal charges just for having a gun in your possession, even if you do not aim it or fire it.  In fact, the… Read More »

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The Arbitrary, Unfair Nature of White-Collar Criminal Prosecutions in The US

By The Baez Law Firm |

The US still doesn’t truly have one definition of “white-collar crime.” While the FBI defines the term as being synonymous with the full range of fraud crimes characterized by concealment, deceit, or violation, and committed by government professionals and businesses, still, this does not reconcile whether, for example, toxic dumping or using a counterfeit… Read More »

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Police Body Camera Footage No Longer Must Be Released to Public Under New Florida Law

By The Baez Law Firm |

On October 1, Florida implemented a new law which provides an exemption under the Open Government Sunset Review Act, allowing for law enforcement’s body camera footage to be kept confidential where it could otherwise be made available.  Due to the broad text of the new law, there are a number of concerns that the… Read More »

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DEA Provided with Broad Authority to Arrest & Charge Over 1,500 People in “Project Safeguard”

By The Baez Law Firm |

Just within the last three months, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has arrested and charged more than 1,500 people with state and federal crimes in cities around the country, including here in Florida, with police in 41 Florida cities participating what the administration calls “Project Safeguard;” a campaign geared towards cracking down on violent… Read More »

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Defense Attorney Jose Baez Unearths New Evidence in Former Mount Carmel Doctor William Husel’s Defense That Destroys Prosecution’s Claims

By The Baez Law Firm |

In late October, defense attorney Jose Baez, representing former Mount Carmel West doctor William Husel, filed a motion to dismiss the murder charges brought against Husel in connection with allegations that the doctor purposely provided lethal doses of fentanyl to 25 patients at Mount Carmel West. The motion was based on new evidence unearthed… Read More »

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