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Can “Religious Freedom” Be A Defense To Criminal Charges?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The First Amendment guarantees every person the right to freely exercise their religious beliefs. Federal laws such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) further provide that the government “may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” only if it furthers a “compelling governmental interest” and is the “least restrictive means” of furthering that… Read More »


What Happens When A Potential Juror Assumes I’m Guilty?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The presumption of innocence is the bedrock of the American criminal justice system. All persons accused of a crime are innocent unless they are found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” by a jury of their peers. Jurors themselves must not enter a trial with any assumptions regarding the defendant’s guilt. Their ultimate verdict must… Read More »


What Is The “Independent Act” Defense?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Generally speaking, if two people conspire to commit a crime, they are both guilty of that crime, regardless of the specific role that each person may have played. But what if one person goes beyond the scope of the “agreement”? In other words, what if one conspirator decides to commit an additional crime that… Read More »


Can My Child Be Arrested For “Trespassing” On School Grounds During A Suspension?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Florida’s juvenile justice system often puts minors between a rock and a hard place. While minors lack the legal ability to make most decisions for themselves, they may still find themselves in trouble due to the actions of their parents. Unfortunately, certain criminal laws may impose liability on a minor even in a situation… Read More »


Can A Judge Throw Out A Breathalyzer Test That Indicates I Was Not Drunk?

By The Baez Law Firm |

It is fairly common knowledge that a person commits DUI in Florida if they have a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher as measured by a Breathalyzer or similar chemical test. Prosecutors will often introduce unfavorable test results to secure a defendant’s conviction. Keep in mind, however, that strictly speaking, a test is… Read More »


How Does Florida’s “Romeo And Juliet” Law Affect Statutory Rape Cases?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The age of consent in Florida is normally 18. This means that it is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to legally consent to sexual activity. An adult who therefore engages in sexual conduct with a minor can therefore be charged with statutory rape, even if the minor is a willing… Read More »


How Does The “Presumption Of Innocence” Actually Work?

By The Baez Law Firm |

We are all familiar with the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” Indeed, it is the bedrock of our entire criminal justice system. But what does it mean in practice? Or to put it another way, how does the presumption of innocence work when it comes to a real criminal trial? The Burden of… Read More »


Can A Judge Revoke My Probation Based On Secondhand Information?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Many Florida criminal sentences include a term of probation. This means the defendant is not in prison but they can only remain free if they abide by certain conditions set by the court. If a law enforcement officer has reason to believe a defendant is not meeting their obligations, they can file an affidavit… Read More »


When Can The Prosecution Appeal A Criminal Sentence In Florida?

By The Baez Law Firm |

If you are acquitted by a jury in a criminal trial, the prosecution cannot appeal the verdict. But what if you are convicted and the judge decides to impose a more lenient sentence than the prosecution wanted? Can the state appeal that decision? Florida Appeals Court Orders New Sentencing Hearing for Man Convicted of… Read More »


How You Can Lose Your Property Even If You Are Never Charged With A Crime

By The Baez Law Firm |

It is common practice for federal prosecutors to seek forfeiture of property believed to be connected to criminal activity. Sometimes forfeiture proceedings are part of the underlying criminal prosecution of the individual defendant. But there is also civil forfeiture, where the government technically sues the property itself rather than the owner. Civil forfeiture does… Read More »


Altercation At Florida Music Festival Leads To Aggravated Battery Conviction

By The Baez Law Firm |

Many crimes are not the result of careful or calculated planning. They are just as often the consequence of a person suddenly losing control. Say you get into a verbal argument with someone. In and of itself, that is not a crime. But if in the heat of the moment you get so angry… Read More »


What Happens If I Waive My Right To Counsel In A Criminal Trial?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The Constitution guarantees your right to be represented by a qualified attorney at every stage of your criminal trial. As with any such right, you can waive your right to counsel and represent yourself. Should you do this? No. We will not go into all of the reasons here, but suffice to say, self-represented… Read More »


Does The U.S. Have Criminal Jurisdiction Over Boats In International Waters?

By The Baez Law Firm |

In most cases, U.S. criminal law does not apply to acts that occur outside of the United States. But in its efforts to curb the international drug trade, Congress adopted the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. This Act effectively gives federal prosecutors extra-territorial jurisdiction to pursue foreign nationals in U.S. courts for alleged drug… Read More »


Is There A Difference Between Supporting A Terrorist Organization And Committing A “Crime of Terrorism”?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Money laundering and drug trafficking are two of the most commonly prosecuted federal crimes in Florida. Both offenses can lead to serious prison time. And in some cases, prosecutors may try and up the stakes by trying to connect such activities to “terrorism,” which can lead to even harsher sentences. Federal Appeals Court Orders… Read More »


What Is The Sentence For “Aggravated Identity Theft” Under Federal Law?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Identity theft broadly refers to the illegal use of someone else’s personal identifying information. One common form of identity theft is using false or stolen information to obtain legal identification, such as a passport or driver’s license. Oftentimes, the people who commit such crimes are not doing so for any nefarious reason. They may… Read More »


Is “Rehabilitation” A Factor In Deciding A Federal Prison Sentence?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Although historically the federal government looked at prison as a way to “rehabilitate” individuals convicted of criminal activity, since the 1980s, legislative policy has moved away from that objective. In fact, when Congress created the federal sentencing guidelines in the mid-1980s, one of the stated objectives was to “recognize that imprisonment is not an… Read More »


The Role Of The Jury In Criminal Sentencing

By The Baez Law Firm |

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every person charged with a crime the right to a jury trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has further clarified that this right extends to the determination of “[a]ny fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime.” In other words, if prosecutors need to… Read More »


Miami Judge Tosses Gun Found During Illegal Search Of Suspect

By The Baez Law Firm |

You might think that courts will always believe the testimony of the police over that of a criminal defendant. But that is not true. Take this recent case from Miami, United States v. Howard. The defendant in this case was talking with some friends on the sidewalk outside of a building. Miami police detectives… Read More »


Can I Withdraw A Guilty Plea In A Criminal Case?

By The Baez Law Firm |

In any criminal prosecution, the defendant may choose to enter a guilty plea, thereby waiving their right to a trial on their guilt or innocence. But can the defendant change their mind? That is to say, can a guilty plea be withdrawn after the fact and a new plea of “not guilty” entered in… Read More »


Can The Police Arrest And Search You for Violating A Municipal Ordinance?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Not every action that violates the law is a crime. If you run a red light, for example, you have committed a non-criminal traffic infraction. A police officer can briefly stop you and issue you a ticket. But they cannot handcuff you or otherwise detain you any longer than is necessary to write the… Read More »


How Can An Arthur Hearing Help Me Get Bail?

By The Baez Law Firm |

In many criminal cases, a defendant has the right to bail. This is typically an amount of money that must be posted with the court as a deposit to ensure the defendant’s appearance at trial. Bail allows a defendant to remain free–i.e., not in jail–while their criminal case is still pending. When it comes… Read More »


Could I Go To Jail For Driving With A Suspended License?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Traffic violations typically do not result in jail time. One exception, however, is driving with a suspended license (DWLS). If your driving privileges have been previously suspended, revoked, or canceled, and you are caught behind the wheel of a vehicle, you may actually face some amount of jail time. Indeed, in some cases jail… Read More »


Entrapment As A Defense To Drug Charges

By The Baez Law Firm |

When the police improperly induce a defendant to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed, that is considered entrapment. Under Florida law, both objective and subjective entrapment are possible affirmative defenses to a criminal charge. Objective entrapment focuses on egregious conduct by law enforcement. Subjective entrapment, in contrast, involves an assessment of… Read More »


Can The Police Stop You Based On An “Anonymous” Tip?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Before the police can detain you, they need “reasonable suspicion” to suspect you of a crime. For instance, if an officer observes you breaking a traffic law, that in and of itself is usually enough to create reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop. But the officer may also rely on information supplied by someone… Read More »


Federal Court Denies Epstein Victims Lawsuit Against Government

By The Baez Law Firm |

One of the biggest criminal justice stories in recent years involved the now-deceased Florida financier Jeffrey Epstein. According to federal prosecutors, Epstein conspired with a number of people to sexually traffic and abuse over 30 young girls. Epstein allegedly paid his own employees to “deliver” the girls to him, some of whom were barely… Read More »

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