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How A Brady Violation Can Overturn A Criminal Conviction

By The Baez Law Firm |

In a criminal trial, the prosecution is not supposed to “ambush” the defense. Nor can the state intentionally withhold information that might undermine their case. To do either is what is called a Brady violation, named for a 1963 United States Supreme Court decision. A Brady violation occurs when three conditions are met: The… Read More »

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What Is A “Bill Of Particulars” In A Federal Criminal Case?

By The Baez Law Firm |

In any criminal prosecution, the defendant has the right to know the specific charges against them. This typically comes in the form of an information or indictment. An information is a charging document filed by the prosecutor spelling out the basis for the defendant’s arrest and charge. An indictment is similar, but it is… Read More »

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Florida Supreme Court Overturns Murder Convictions Due To Improper Deposition Format

By The Baez Law Firm |

There are strict rules governing the admission of testimony in a Florida criminal trial. Both the prosecution and the defense need to follow these rules. And if testimony is admitted in violation of the rules, it can taint the outcome of the trial. Even a seemingly small deviation from the rules of evidence can… Read More »

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Is There A Difference Between Pleading “Guilty” And “No Contest”?

By The Baez Law Firm |

If the police arrest you on suspicion of committing a crime, you must be taken before a judge and arraigned. The main purpose of arraignment is for the defendant to enter a plea to the charges presented. If the defendant pleads “not guilty,” then the case will be held over for trial. The defendant… Read More »

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Does Police Negligence Always Invalidate A Criminal Search?

By The Baez Law Firm |

There is something of a misconception that just because the police conduct an illegal search and seizure, that the evidence obtained must automatically be “suppressed” at trial. In fact, the rules are a bit more complicated than that. Even when the prosecution concedes a Fourth Amendment violation, the evidence in question may still be… Read More »

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Federal Government Continues Crackdown On COVID-19 Fraud

By The Baez Law Firm |

The federal government has been cracking down on people suspected of committing fraud related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, federal prosecutors are targeting individuals and businesses that allegedly obtained federal relief funds using fraudulent tactics. Many of these cases center on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a program created by Congress to provide… Read More »

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Can You Be Ordered To Pay Your Victim’s Legal Fees If You Are Convicted Of A Crime?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Although the prospect of jail time is often what concerns a criminal suspect the most, prison is not the only form of punishment that may follow from a guilty verdict. In cases where there was a victim, the sentencing court may also order a convicted defendant to make restitution. Florida law states restitution is… Read More »

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How “Speedy” Is The Right To A “Speedy Trial”?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution famously declares that in all criminal cases, the accused “shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” The Constitution itself never actually defines the word “speedy,” however, so what does this actually mean? Does the state actually have a time limit to try you… Read More »

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Can I Appeal My Criminal Conviction To The Supreme Court?

By The Baez Law Firm |

You will sometimes hear people who are upset at a court decision that, “I’ll appeal this all the way to the Supreme Court!” In reality, very few cases ever get that far. Indeed, the Supreme Court largely decides its own docket, meaning you cannot even appeal to the Supreme Court will not even hear… Read More »

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What Is “Marital Status Discrimination”?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Under most circumstances, a Florida employer can fire–or refuse to hire–a person with or without giving a reason. This is what is known as “at-will” employment. But there are some exceptions to this general rule. Notably, federal and state civil rights laws protect employees and job applicants from discrimination on the basis of certain… Read More »

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Do Police Have To Give You A New Miranda Warning If You Start Talking?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona, police are required to advise a criminal suspect of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to speak with an attorney before conducting an interrogation. If the suspect subsequently invokes the right to remain silent, the interrogation must cease–i.e., the police cannot ask… Read More »

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What Is The Legal Standard For A Domestic Violence Injunction In Florida?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Under Florida law, a person who is a victim or potential victim of domestic violence may request a court injunction against their alleged abuser. This is a very serious matter. If the court issues the injunction, the respondent faces potential criminal charges–and thus jail time–if they violate the terms of the order. At the… Read More »

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Can You Change Your Mind And Withdraw A Guilty Plea?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Criminal cases are often resolved by plea agreement. In simple terms, the defendant agrees to plead guilty (or sometimes “no contest”) to a specified charge, and in exchange the prosecution agrees to a particular sentencing recommendation. A plea agreement is not final until it is accepted by the court. And under Florida law, a… Read More »

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Does A Felony Conviction Always Mean Jail Time In Florida?

By The Baez Law Firm |

Criminal sentencing is a very complicated area of law. When a person is convicted of a felony in Florida, for example, they will not necessarily face a mandatory prison sentence. Indeed, the courts rely on a complex “score sheet” prepared by the State’s Attorney to determine whether prison is necessary for a given crime…. Read More »

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Can A Court Order Me To Pay Restitution If My Child Commits A Crime?

By The Baez Law Firm |

While prison is often the form of punishment that concerns criminal defendants the most, it is worth noting that jail is not the only way a court can hold an offender accountable for their actions. Florida law authorizes a court to award restitution–i.e., financial compensation–to the victims of any criminal act. The prosecution must… Read More »

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How Williams Rule Evidence Can Affect Your Criminal Case

By The Baez Law Firm |

A criminal trial is not about the defendant’s character. At least it is not supposed to be about character. A trial is about determining whether or not the prosecution can prove that the defendant committed a particular crime. For these reasons, prosecutors typically cannot introduce evidence of uncharged or unrelated crimes. For instance, if… Read More »

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When Does Offensive Speech Cross The Line Into Criminal Activity?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The First Amendment provides broad protections for freedom of speech. Even if particular speech is upsetting or produces a strong emotional reaction in the listener, that does not make the speech criminal. At least in most cases. The courts have recognized some exceptions to the First Amendment, including one for “true threats.” As defined… Read More »

Jury

Does A Jury Need To Unanimously Agree About The Specific Criminal Act Committed By The Defendant?

By The Baez Law Firm |

The right to a jury trial means that the jurors must reach a unanimous verdict. Strictly speaking, this means that the jurors must all agree that the prosecution has proven each element of the alleged criminal offense “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If a single criminal charge encompasses two or more separate incidents, the jury… Read More »

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How The Accuser’s Physical State Can Affect A Sexual Battery Charge

By The Baez Law Firm |

Sex crimes charges often involve some of the harshest penalties available under Florida law, particularly when the alleged offense involves non-consensual sexual activity. Indeed, sexual battery–the legal term for rape in Florida–can be charged as a first-degree felony under certain circumstances. For example, if the evidence shows the victim was “physically helpless to resist”… Read More »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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