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Florida Man’s Death Sentence is Unconstitutional

In a decision that will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that a Florida man’s death sentence is unconstitutional. This ruling was made because the Supreme Court felt the sentencing process used in this case was not fitting or fair.

In 1998, Timothy Lee Hurst was convicted of murdering Cynthia Harrison. She was found bound, gagged, and stabbed more than 60 times. At the time of his conviction the jury made the recommendation for the death penalty, but it was the judge that made the final call during a separate hearing.

The Supreme Court stated, “We hold this sentencing scheme unconstitutional. The Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death. A jury’s recommendation is not enough.”

This decision will most likely open the door for further appeals from the 390 Florida inmates waiting on death row. Alabama and Delaware both use a similar sentencing procedure, so appeals from these states are also likely.

While this ruling will have a large impact on criminal defense and sentencing, it does not remove the death penalty as a sentencing option in Florida. Inevitably, the death penalty will continue to be fiercely debated by lawyers, politicians and pundits, but for the time being it appears the death penalty in Florida is a viable option.

Beyond the impact on sentencing, this decision showcases the power and necessity of the appeals process. The criminal justice system is far from perfect and it is often necessary to keep fighting long after the initial ruling. The lawyers at Bauer, Crider, & Parry have the experience to know how and when to appeal. This kind of legal knowledge is hard to come by, but can be the difference between a harsh and favorable sentence.

10 20 Life

A Florida man is likely to face 120 years in prison for firing two shots that did not injury anyone. Randal Ratledge, a 58-year-old Army veteran, was talking with his neighbors one night in 2012, when he unexpectedly went into his home, grabbed his gun and fired one shot in the air. Ratledge then began shouting profanities at his six neighbors and chased them. During the course of the chase he fired one more shot in the general direction of his neighbors.

10 20 Life

In 1998, Florida passed a law commonly known as “10 20 life.” This law sets mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun crimes. Here’s how it works: 10 20 Life

  • If you pull a gun the minimum sentence is 10 years
  • If you fire a gun the minimum sentence is 20 years
  • If you shoot someone the minimum sentence is life

Because Ratledge fired at a group of six neighbors, he is being charged with six separate counts of aggravated assault. Each charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years, which adds up to 120 years.

Ratledge’s lawyers are claiming he had a bad reaction to a sleeping pill and are working to get a reduced sentence in exchange for a plea deal. Judges have little to no room to get around these kinds of minimum sentences, which critics of the 10 20 life law are fast to point out.

Jackelyn Barnard, state attorney spokeswoman, said prosecutors are in communication with Ratledge’s defense attorneys.

“While we cannot get into specifics pretrial, the state has considered all options, which include waiving the 20-year minimum mandatory,” Barnard said.

Anytime mandatory minimum sentences are involved, a highly skilled criminal defense attorney needs to be involved. The lawyers at Bauer, Crider & Parry have more than 130 combined years of experience and know what it takes to defend their clients from the 10 20 life law.

Tampa Juvenile Battery Defense Attorney

floridadefense.com Podcast – #4FDP – Juvenile Battery

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement

Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement: All right. Welcome to floridadefense.com podcast. We are speaking to criminal defense attorneys in the Tampa-area Bauer, Crider, and Parry. We are speaking to Mike Kenney. And we are in this series on juvenile crimes. And we’re going to be talking basically today about a Tampa juvenile battery. And we’re speaking to Tampa juvenile battery defense attorney Mike Kenny. And Mike, how are you?

Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry: I’m doing well. How are you?

B: Good. Good. Let’s kind of started on battery.

M: Sure. Sure.

B: Kind of mentioned before the podcast – fights in school.

M: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It used to be maybe, when I was a kid going to school that if kids got in a fight they went to the principal’s office. But nowadays, if kids get in a fight in school, a lot of times they go to jail, or the juvenile detention center.

B: Right.

M: And there is law enforcement involvement in most schools nowadays, at least in the state of Florida. And what happens with that is, obviously, a lot of things are better as a result of that. But there’s also probably, a higher likelihood of there being state involvement on behavior that didn’t always get that.

So, fighting in school, and two kids get into fight in school, the likelihood is someone’s going to get arrested, or charged. And when you have that, it’s going to have, obviously, a significant impact on a young man or woman’s life. And I’m sure a lot of parents would be very concerned, and want to do whatever they can to keep that child as mark-free as possible, as far as the criminal justice system is concerned.

So, you know, battery, in the state of Florida, is defined as an intentional touching or striking of another individual, against that person’s will. Or, an intentional act causing bodily harm to another individual. And that can either be a misdemeanor or a felony – depending upon how the touching happens and the level of harm caused. So, in juvenile cases, it’s same exact statute as it is an adult court. So, you can have an aggravated battery, which could be the use of a deadly weapon to make contact with somebody. Or, the use of a deadly weapon to make contact with somebody that causes serious bodily harm. A felony battery would be causing serious bodily harm, but, without maybe, the use of a deadly weapon and without intent to cause serious bodily harm.

And then you have your misdemeanor batteries. Which could be anything from a push, a punch, a slap -all of those things. And they all have different levels of punishment. But what’s important to note is, that when a juvenile’s accused of a crime, if it’s a felony, he doesn’t have that same protection that he may have it was a misdemeanor, as far as juvenile court is concerned. There is a confidentiality that juveniles are afforded in Florida, but that confidentiality doesn’t really exist at the same level, if at all, when juveniles are accused of felony cases.

So, it’s very important to make sure, that if that comes up, that you have an attorney who knows what he or she is doing to best protect and insulate your child from having a very public record of a, what I would say, is a momentary lapse in judgment, or blip in his or her life. As a criminal defense lawyer, when you’re representing juveniles, your job is to make sure that one mistake doesn’t become a lifetime of grief. And that’s kind of what you have to be aware of when one you have a child who gets in trouble. And nowadays, when children get into fights, nowadays, there is a higher likelihood that the police are going to get called. And there’s a higher likelihood that there’s going to be an investigation.

So, what I want to tell my clients, and the family members of my clients, is it’s very important to understand that when someone from school wants to send your child to the police officer’s office there, that it’s very important that everyone understands that their children still have a right to not incriminate themselves. They still have a right to have an attorney present. They still have a right to ask an attorney questions, and they still have a right to not be part of that interrogation.

The biggest problem I’ve had, is I’ve represent plenty of juveniles who end up getting requested to go from their classroom to the police officer’s office, and the biggest problem I have is when juveniles walk into that office they believe that they have to go. They believe that they have to go in there because their teacher sent them there. And they believe that, I guess, it’s their job to sit there and answer the questions. And a lot of times that child is doing himself no good. Because he’s basically providing the information to the person who’s one day going be on the opposite side of the courtroom trying to prosecute him for a criminal act.

So, my job is to get involved early. My suggestion is if the parents know that something is going on, as far as the criminal act involving juvenile, you want to get involved early so you can prevent mistakes like these. I can do a great job, but it’s always a lot harder to go back and try to make up for some mistakes that were made along the way before I got involved.

And in battery cases, the biggest concern, obviously, is whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor. And probably the second concern is going to be the cost of restitution, if there is any. Restitution being criminal courts order the defendant in a juvenile case to pay any medical expenses that the victim may have suffered as a result of this criminal act. And a lot of times the juvenile can’t afford that. So, the real person who’s on the hook is mom and dad. And these are important aspects to understand when you’re getting involved in a criminal case. Which is why you want to hire a lawyer who knows what he’s doing.

B: All right. Anything else on battery?

M: No, sir.

B: It seems, I agree with you, and when I was in school there was a little bit more discipline involved by the school than getting the police involved immediately. And nowadays, it’s just kind of an immediate.

M: Right.

B: A lot of schools even have police.

M: Sure. Probably every public school in Florida probably has a school resource officer of some type at this stage of the game.

B: Right. So, if you’re charged with that, it’s important to contact Tampa juvenile battery defense attorneys like Bauer, Crider and Parry, that are experienced in juvenile matters. All right. You’ve been listening to the floridadefense.com podcast. Join us for our next edition.

 

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Juvenile Sex Crimes in Tampa Attorneys

Floridadefense.com Podcast – #3FDP – Juvenile Sex Crimes

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement

Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement: All right. Welcome to floridadefense.com podcast. We are speaking to criminal defense attorneys at Bauer, Crider and Parry, Mike Kenny. Mike, how are you doing today?

Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry: I’m doing very well. How are you doing?

B: Good. We are in the juvenile crimes, and today we’re going to be talking about juvenile sex crimes in Tampa. Previously, in our podcast, we did one on sexting. So, you guys can go back and listen to that. I think it was our number three podcast. But Mike, can you kind of give us an overview of juvenile sex crimes?

M: Well, sure. There’s a couple of major concerns in juvenile sex crimes. Sex crimes, in and of themselves, have that very daunting perspective from a person who’s accused. Nobody wants to be accused of something like that. It’s kind of one of those things that once that bell is rung, it’s really hard to escape that type of accusation in your normal life. Even if you’re successful in being acquitted. It has a very significant impact on a person’s life.

And the sex crimes in juvenile court are going to be the same types of sex crimes that are prosecuted in adult court. You have crimes like sexual battery. Which is essentially what some people might commonly understand is what’s called a rape. You have lewd or lascivious molestation which is the touching of a person, under the age of 16, over their clothing, on their chest, buttocks or crotch. You know? The sexual organ area. You have lewd or lascivious battery which is the penetration of the genital area by another person, and the victim is under the age of 16-years-old.

They’re all the same types of crimes. What’s unique is that in juvenile cases age of the offender is very significant. And I can tell you the biggest reason why it’s significant is the registration requirement. A lot of people out there might realize that people who were convicted of sex crimes may have to register as sexual offenders. That’s the case in the state of Florida. Anybody who’s convicted of a sex crime has to at least register as a sexual offender.

Well, when you’re a juvenile, depending on how old you are, if you’re convicted of a sex crime you’re going to have to register as a sexual offender. And that’s something that your lawyer is going to want to know. Because, he’d better know, I should say, what the age is, and what the age requirements are. And in Florida, the age is 14. A person is accused of committing a crime at the age of 14, and is convicted of committing a sex crime, he or she is going to have to register with the state of Florida as a sexual offender.

That means this 14-year-old, going on 15, 16, is going to register. And it’s going to be public record, this person is convicted of committing a sex offense. Now, just imagine what kind of impact that has on a 14 or 15-year-old. And just imagine how difficult that’s going to be for a person of that age to ever start life off on the right foot. Now, if the person was just a few months younger, 13-years old, and is convicted the same exact act, that person is not going to have to register.

So, it’s very important for the lawyer fighting this type of sex crime case to know what it is he or she is dealing with. And a lot of times, your battle isn’t always with the facts, but your battle is with the state attorney’s office trying to get them to maybe agree to negotiate this charge as something that does not require a sex offender registration. There have been plenty cases that I’ve been involved in, that were juvenile cases, where someone 14 years of age may have been accused of committing a sex act, and I have been able to get the prosecutor either to not to make a filing decision. That means is no charge at all. Or, sometimes agree to amend the charge to something, like I said, would not be necessarily a sex crime, but maybe addresses some elements the prosecutor was concerned about. And you have the juvenile getting whatever attention that he needs as far as counseling is concerned. And you also have a second chance. A second chance meaning this juvenile isn’t going to have the rest of his life marred by this conviction.

The unique thing is, in the state of Florida, the age of the victim is really “the one that drives a bus”. So, if you have two consenting 15-year-olds, theoretically they have both committed a sexual crime if they both engage in either lewd or lascivious molestation or battery, or something of that nature. So, it’s not necessarily the consent of a party. And because you really aren’t at liberty to consent at the age of 15 in the state of Florida. So, it’s the age that kind of “drives the bus” in all these crimes.

My experience has been one that would, really, I think the most important thing to do is when you get a call from a family member who says, “Hey, I got a son or daughter is accused of this type a sex offense,” my experience has been that the best the do is, you know, depending on the facts, obviously, talk about getting the child an evaluation. You know? When you hire a lawyer, and a lawyer who knows what he or she’s doing, they’re going to have some experience knowing, you know, who’s out there in the community who might be appropriate to handle certain types of cases like this as far as sexual evaluations.

There are plenty of psychologists out there, and psychiatrists out there, who deal in sex-type crimes. And a lot of times, these evaluations can sometimes give a message to the prosecutor that this kid is just a kid, and this criminal act isn’t necessarily an indication of some deep-rooted sexual deviancy. But sometimes, it’s just, you know, a period that this kid is a little confused and doing some exploration. My experience has been that when prosecutors realize that it’s more of a confused child, as opposed to somebody who’s got a prolific problem, the prosecutor may be more willing to work with you as far as what the outcome of criminal case is.

And it really is something that is so crucial, that when a lawyer’s handling a juvenile accused of a sex crime, that you hire somebody who knows what he’s doing. Because every step along the way is going to have an impact on the rest of this child’s life.

B: And it’s important again, and we say this always, but early in the process, Because, like you said, it could affect them for the rest of their lives.

M: Absolutely. There are cases that I’ve had, and not even that long ago, that you usually get a sign pretty quickly that there’s a criminal case coming. When I say “you”, the family member. A lot of times the cases that that you get involved in are that there’s some conversation between two juveniles, and maybe a parent of one of the juveniles gets wind of it, and they call the police. The police come out, and they start asking questions. It’s usually around that time that mom and dad of the juvenile accused                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 realize that there’s something that’s happening. And at that moment, is probably when you want to get a lawyer involved.

Having a child answer questions from law enforcement, while maybe seems in everybody’s mind is a good idea to be cooperative, sometimes can have a very negative impact on the future of that case and how it’s handled. So, my advice obviously is don’t talk to the police until you talk to a lawyer. And that lawyer will be able to give you some advice as far as whether it’s a good idea to cooperate, or not. In a lot of cases, if not most cases, it’s probably not a good idea to have a conversation with law enforcement.

But if you get involved early, sometimes, you can address whatever issues might be out there. You can get this sexual evaluation that might be helpful for the prosecutor to make the appropriate assessment. And there have been plenty cases where the prosecution has decided not to file charges based upon those facts and circumstances. And that’s huge, because if they don’t file charges everything is over. There isn’t any criminal history. There isn’t any registration that this juvenile has to deal with. It’s a lot easier for me to have a conversation about a prosecutor maybe not filing charges, that it is for me to have a conversation after charges are filed and ask the prosecutor to change his or her mind. I mean, I can tell you it’s, I know it’s impossible for me to get my wife to change her mind, let alone a prosecutor.

B: Right.

M: You always want start in the beginning before they make that decision.

B: All right. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, a juvenile sex crime, it is important to hire experienced juvenile sex crime lawyers in Tampa like about Bauer, Crider and Parry. And join us for our next edition of floridadefense.com podcast.

 

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Tampa Juvenile Theft Defense Attorney

Floridadefense.com Podcast – #2FDP – Juvenile Theft

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement

Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement: Welcome to floridadefense.com podcast. We are speaking to Mike Kenny of Bauer, Crider and Parry. They’re criminal defense lawyers in the Greater Tampa area. And this is their second edition, and we’re talking about juvenile crimes. Now, we’re going be talking to Mike Kenny, Tampa juvenile theft defense attorney. Mike how are you?

Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry: I’m very well. How are you?

B: Good. Good. You gave us an overview in the previous podcast about juvenile crimes in general. Now we’re going to dig down a little bit more into the theft.

M: Right.

B: Do you see a lot of theft in juvenile crimes?

M: Yeah. That’s certainly a common accusation that you see in in juvenile court. There’re some unique things when it comes juvenile crimes that don’t necessarily come into play in adult crimes. Obviously, the statutes are the same. You know? A theft is a theft. And it’s punished the same way, as far as it prescribed, the same way as it would be in juvenile court. The theft of a certain amount of money, $300 or more, is a grand theft; anything below that is a is a misdemeanor. So, that’s kind of the basic stuff.

But what normally is the issue in a theft, is things like prior history and restitution. A restitution is: if something is stolen, and it’s not replaced or returned, there is an amount of money that often the offender would have to pay to make the victim whole again. Well, in juvenile court, that restitution amount can sometimes be placed against the family to pay back. And that’s important because in some cases the amount is very expensive. In adult court, you’re on your own. You’re an adult. You’re a grown person. And it’s your responsibly to meet your requirements. But obviously, in juvenile court, a lot of times these kids don’t have jobs, and the only way they meet the requirements is through the help and assistance of the family.

So, sometimes the person who’s really on the hook, at least financially, in a lot of respects, could be mom and dad. So, it’s important for mom and dad to kind of realize that when we’re talking about these types of crimes. And why it’s so important to have somebody get involved early to kind of know what the issues are, and try to remedy whatever can be remedied through this process. So, everyone has a good idea and understanding what’s going on, and how to best represent the families of the loved one – this child.

So, the unique thing about juvenile court is there is no prison, and there is no jail. So, the punishments are going to be generally probation, or depending on how significant the crime is, maybe if it’s really significant, and there’s some significant prior history, the juvenile goes to some type of program. A program meaning, he actually leaves his home and gets shipped off somewhere to address the issue. In theft cases, you don’t see that happen all the time, but you do see it happen occasionally.

What I have seen happen, in my experience as a juvenile criminal defense lawyer, is a lot of times there’s car thefts. You know? Kids who think that they’re going to take a car out for a ride, and a lot of times there’s accidents that happen, and the damage is significant. And that’s what kind of has the overriding impact on juvenile cases – is the amount of money that has to be paid back to the victims. And that’s been a very heavily litigated issue, a lot of times. Because not everyone always agrees on how much the item is worth, that has been either stolen or destroyed. So, I find in juvenile cases, not only are you arguing whether or not a crime has been committed, but you’re also arguing what is the actual damage or the impact of that alleged crime if the juvenile’s convicted.

In juvenile cases, as I was mentioning before, they’re not technically convicted of crimes. They’re adjudicated “delinquent” or not, and sometimes there’s a withhold of an adjudication of delinquency, which means the same thing in adult court. It’s not a conviction of a crime, but it is sometimes something that can have a serious impact on a juvenile. Any felony, there are certain ways that the public can see a juvenile who’s got a felony charge. So, for instance, everyone has this this belief that if you’re a juvenile nobody knows about it. It’s not in the public record. And it goes away when they hit the age of 18. That is not the case in the state of Florida. Although, some misdemeanors, you’re never probably going to be able to view it. The Clerk’s website does not post juvenile crimes, but on felony-type cases those arrests can be, it does not have the same protection. There are juveniles who are arrested for felony charges. And I’ve have seen cases where those juveniles arrested were literally posted in the jail, and when they post in the jail they’re obviously public record. Then you see them on those websites that post people’s arrest pictures.

So, it’s the false belief that, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a juvenile crime” is really misleading, and it’s damaging. Because you want to handle things in a juvenile case just as well as if you would be doing an adult case. Quite frankly, I think a juvenile matter can sometimes be more important because this is before person even gets, you know, his foot out the door, as far as starting his life, his or her life. And you want to make sure that he or she has every option available to him. And if somebody does a background check and they find out that this juvenile may have had a felony conviction some time ago, you know, that’s going to be tough for him or her find a job.

B: Now, in the first one you talked about a risk assessment that that the DJJ does. Part of that risk assessment in a theft case would be probably based on what was stolen. Correct? Whether it be a car, or you know, a six-pack of beer.

M: Sure. The actual crime itself is looked at. And then the family environment is looked at. Maybe the educational level that the juvenile has, the intellectual ability that the juvenile has, all of that is looked at, and then viewed to see whether, or not, this person is likely to reoffend. Most the time, a person, whose first foray it is into the juvenile world, is probably not to be found to be a very high risk of reoffending. But there are certain things that can have an impact on whether or not that risk is considered high risk or not. And obviously the higher the risk assessment, the higher the level of supervision the Department of Juvenile Justice is going to request from the court, as far as the sentence is concerned.

That’s what it all really boils down to. What it boils down to, is when you represent a juvenile in a theft case, you want to have the Department of Juvenile Justice make the best recommendation possible for your client if you believe it’s a case you’re going have to resolve with a plea. And the reason why you want to do that is because you don’t want someone to start off in the juvenile justice system with a very difficult sentence, that he or she may not be able to complete.

So, you want to make sure that the Department of Juvenile Justice gets all the information they need to make a good assessment on your client. To realize that your client is a person that mom and dad say he is. And a lot of times that’s putting the best foot forward. That’s making sure mom and dad are advised of what the procedures are in a juvenile case. That they go to these meetings with the Department Juvenile Justice, and they show they’re willing participants in the program. And a lot of times when the DJJ sees that there’s a family that’s motivated, involved to bring a child out of this area where he or she may have made a mistake, a lot of times the assessment is viewed to be lower than some high risk. You know? When you have certain individuals who maybe have no one there to help them through this program, you know, it’s a much less optimistic outlook.

B: All right. Anything else you want to cover on theft?

M: No. I think that’ll cover it.

B: All right. You’ve been speaking to Tampa juvenile theft defense attorneys at Bauer, Crider and Parry, and Mike Kenny. And join us for our next edition of floridadefense.com podcast

 

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Tampa Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement
Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry

Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement: Welcome floridadefense.com podcast. We are speaking to Tampa juvenile defense lawyer Mike Kenny. Mike, how are you doing?
Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider and Parry: I’m doing very well. How are you doing?
B: Good. Good. We are just going to be talking about juvenile crimes during this series of podcasts. And the first one we’re going to do an overview of the different juvenile crimes that you guys work with.
M: Yes. The juvenile area is kind of a unique area. The state of Florida prosecutes crimes. There’s a statute, every crime, every criminal act that is that is determined to be illegal, there’s a specific statute for it. So, everything that is prosecuted in an adult court can get prosecuted in juvenile court, but there’s a completely different way that it’s handled. They’re called delinquency actions. And if a person is convicted of committing a crime while a juvenile they’re adjudicated delinquent. They’re not really convicted of a crime, so to speak, at least technically speaking.
So, there’s a whole different process involved. And it’s really important if someone’s involved in a juvenile matter that they seek advice and representation from a lawyer who’s got some familiarity with that area. Because while a lawyer may know criminal law very well, juvenile court is a completely different arena. There’s certain practices, and obviously some policy, that a lawyer’s going need to know to most effectively represent his or her client.
So, what happens is in a juvenile case a person is either arrested, or not. If they’re arrested they’re taken to the juvenile detention center. And there is an assessment. And an assessment is – a thing called Face Sheet is drawn up, and it basically scores the particular criminal act the juveniles is accused of, as well as any prior history. That Face Sheet is going to come up with a number. And that number will tell the court whether or not this juvenile is supposed to stay in secure detention for a specific period of time – the maximum being 21 days, essentially. Or, home detention, or maybe some other pretrial limit or pretrial requirement.
So, secure detention means that the judge, if the judge looks this person’s crime and determines that there is probable cause a crime has been committed, and determines that the person scores for secure detention, that person is going to stay in a juvenile detention center for 21 days. There is no bond. A person can’t be bonded out. There is no amount of money that can be paid to secure person’s release until they come back to court.
Now, what a person can do, and what I have done, is lawyers can file a motion with the court, and ask the court to consider releasing the person to home detention from the juvenile detention facility. And at that point in time there could be hearing where the judge is presented with facts that demonstrate that there is no risk of harm to the public if the juvenile is released. And that the juvenile will be assuredly coming back safely to court at his next hearing. And sometimes judges will agree to release, especially if there’s some issues with the factual scenario described. A lot of times things change once police are called, and some new facts come to light. And sometimes that can be helpful in presenting some scenarios to the judge where it might be more appropriate to have a juvenile at home in the care of his parents.
And that’s the first detention – secure detention. It’s the highest form detention. And the court will actually charge for any type of detention. He’ll charge the family an amount to keep that person in custody. It’s not huge amount, but the judge will make a determination if the family has an ability to pay, and then assess that person a cost-per-day for that type of detention.
The next level of detention is home detention. And that’s where the judge will order that the juvenile stay at home, and have certain conditions like maybe a curfew, follow certain rules at home, and follow certain rules at school. That also will have a certain cost assessed per day. Which is usually somewhere from 1 to 3 dollars a day. To where the court will determine that that person has to pay that amount in order to have that home detention supervised by the Department of Juvenile Justice.
I mentioned the Department of Juvenile Justice. That’s why when a person is involved in a juvenile matter, you’re going to want a lawyer that has some familiarity with the area. Because the Department of Juvenile Justice is a very major aspect of juvenile court. The Department of Juvenile Justice has a role to where they advise the court of what an appropriate sentence would be.
When a juvenile is arrested for juvenile crime, or at least charged with a juvenile matter, the Department of Juvenile Justice does an investigation. They meet with the family. They look at the allegations of the crime, and the DJJ makes an assessment of whether, or not, this juvenile is at risk to reoffend. They have categories. They have high risk down to moderate risk, or low to moderate risk, and finally low risk. And the DJJ will make an assessment based upon the level of risk a juvenile has, and that assessment is pretty much what the judge’s limit is. Meaning, the DJJ may make an assessment for probation, a withhold of adjudication, and things like that. And when they make that assessment the judge is pretty much going to have to follow that assessment, unless he or she makes specific findings on the record why the judge would like to depart, or go above, that recommendation from the Department of Juvenile Justice.
It’s been my experience, a lot of times, when a person gets charged with a juvenile matter, when I see what the recommendations is from DJJ, I kind of realize that that is kind of what the cap is going to be, so to speak. Things can get worse, of course, as time goes on, but you at least know in the very beginning that the DJJ’s making a certain recommendation. That’s what the judge is essentially going give. And that’s when it becomes crucial for the attorney to know whether or not that’s a that’s a good way to resolve the case. Or, whether they need to come up some type of maybe plea negotiation with the prosecutor to sometimes avoid certain things that that might have a negative impact in the future on a juvenile’s life.
B: What is that risk assessment based on?
M: They talk about prior history, the home environment, whether not there’s a stable home environment, education – there’s a whole bunch of things that go into it.
B: Okay.
M: A lawyer, who’s representing someone on a criminal matter, oftentimes knows before this assessment happens, that a juvenile’s been arrested. So, I get called all the time when a juvenile gets arrested. And one of the first things I’m going to tell the families is, “Listen, you’re going to get a call from the Department of Juvenile Justice. They’re going to want to have a meeting with you and the family.” That’s when you talk to the family, and say, “We want to put our best foot forward in the situation.” And you kind of explain the process to them. And a lot of times you can reach out to whoever’s doing the assessment to kind of give them, you know, your family’s side. What may not necessarily be reflected in some paperwork. And that can sometimes have an impact on the assessment. I think the more information that someone from the Department of Juvenile Justice has, the better at making an appropriate recommendation, at least a recommendation that is more appropriate for what the needs of your client might be.
B: So, the DJJ, they come back with the recommended sentence. And have you seen very many times where they go above and beyond? Or, it’s usually less? Or, it just kind of depends?
M: Well, the DJJ makes a recommendation, and then what the sentences is going to be up to the judge. But case precedent is pretty significant.
B: Okay.
M: To suggest that judges really can’t go beyond what’s recommended, unless there are unique circumstances that the judge can demonstrate on the record why he or she might give someone a harsher penalty. For instance, you know, a person who first gets charged the juvenile crime, most of the time is going be either given something from a very minimum of judicial warning, to maybe some pure supervision probation to get certain requirements performed. It’s very rare that they’re going to be sent away to a program. Almost never happens the first time. The judge can’t just go from a recommendation of a judicial warning, to sending some juvenile away to a program. Unless, there’s a really good record demonstrated why the judge is going to depart from the findings of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
B: So, it’s important for a parent, or even a juvenile, to hire a defense attorney like Bauer, Crider and Parry early in the process. Correct?
M: It’s very important. Early in the process is, a lot of things that happen, and it’s kind of hard to go back and fix things. I’ll tell you one of the most important things when we’re talking about early in the process, in juvenile cases there’s this rare benefit that juveniles occasionally have. And that’s called the Juvenile Arbitration Program. And the Juvenile Arbitration Program, there are certain crimes that aren’t significant, to the extent that they may not be felonies, or very serious felonies. They may be some misdemeanors of sorts. And an officer, who say investigates the juvenile, has the discretion to refer the case that he’s investigated to the Department of juvenile Justice for the Juvenile Arbitration Program. In that circumstance, the officer does not submit a report or a complaint to the state attorney’s office. The state attorney’s office never even sees it. It goes to the Juvenile Arbitration Program. And if the juvenile agrees to comply with the program, he’s given certain requirements to perform. And if he performs them appropriately the case is closed. Essentially it never gets filed, and there’s really no criminal history at all, except for maybe some type of investigation. That is a wonderful benefit. Why it’s important to get involved early, because, if the officer does not exercise his discretion to do that, and he submits it to the state attorney’s office, once the prosecutor files charges, the Juvenile Arbitration Program is no longer available.
So, timing is very important. I have in cases tried to intervene if I see that the prosecutor hasn’t made a filing decision yet, and if I can convey to the prosecutor that, “Hey this is more appropriately handled in the Juvenile Arbitration Program.” Sometimes, the prosecutor will send it back and recommend it going to the Juvenile Arbitration Program, and the case gets dismissed. And the reason why that’s so important is because, even though these are juvenile cases, there’s still a history of some type. And you can end up having a case closed out without there being any history at all. The last thing any mom or dad wants is to have their 12, 13, 14-year-old child to start life off with a criminal history before he’s even gotten his foot in the door in the world – as far as finding a job and going to college.
B: Good. We’re going to be breaking it down over the next few podcasts. We’re going to be going over theft, and sex crimes, and battery. So join us for our next edition of floridadefense.com podcast.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Rights When Dealing with Police

In 2015, there were several cases that put law enforcement policies and procedures in the spotlight. Knowing how to deal with the police and what rights you have is critical anytime you interact with law enforcement. Here’s a list of general rights you have when you speak to law enforcement.

Rights When Dealing with Police

Miranda Rights- This is one of the most misunderstood rights. Movies and TV shows have effectively butchered the public’s understanding of Miranda rights. Police are only required to read you your Miranda rights if they are taking you into custody. If you are simply being questioned, but are not in custody, police are not required to read you your rights. However, anything you tell police can still be used against you, so be careful.

Stop and Frisk- The state Florida has laws that allow police to stop you and ask for your ID if they believe you, “ have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a violation of the criminal laws of this state or the criminal ordinances of any municipality or county.”

Consent- Most of the time (there are exceptions) if police don’t suspect you of a crime, you are not obligated to answer questions or be searched, which means the police need your consent. If you do consent to questioning or searching you need to be aware of two things. First, you can retract your consent at any time. Second, no matter what the cops tell you, nothing is ever off the record.

Silence- Being silent can never be used against you, so when in doubt be quiet. When you’re suspected of a crime it’s best to let your lawyer do the talking. The attorneys at Bauer, Crider & Parry have more than 130 combined years of  experience talking to the police on their client’s behalf. Don’t incriminate yourself by saying something you shouldn’t, call the Florida defense team at Bauer, Crider & Parry.

Dog Fighting in Florida

In a rural Florida town, hiding by thick trees and well off the beaten path, nearly 100 people retreated into the woods. These people were running from Putnam County Sheriffs who were responding to call about people yelling and dogs barking.

When the Sheriffs arrived they found a semi-elaborate dog fighting facility, complete with a fighting arena and kennels. Almost 30 cars, 19 dogs, a digital hanging scale, two cell phones, sponges, and a 12-gauge were all found at the scene as well.

Several people who live in the surrounding areas were contacted, but all denied being involved with the dog fighting. All the dogs were taken to a local shelter, which was broken into the next day. The thief stole a red pitbull that was taken from the fighting kennel. The Sheriff’s office is now conducting an investigation to find those who were involved.

Florida Dog Fighting Laws

Just like every other state in America, dog fighting in Florida is a felony. It is also a federal felony to engage in dog fighting activities. Florida classifies dog fighting as a third degree felony. This law applies to:

  • Keeping fighting dogs
  • Instigating or organizing dog fights
  • Hosting dog fights
  • Attending dog fights

If you’ve been charged with dog fighting, you’re facing serious penalties if convicted. In fact, Florida has some of the strictest laws when it comes to dog fighting and animal cruelty in general. The lawyers at Bauer, Crider & Parry have the knowledge and experience needed to defend their clients against state and federal felony charges. With more than 130 years of combined experience the Florida Defense team can handle any case.

Aroldis Chapman Might Face Domestic Violence Charges in Florida

Aroldis Chapman, a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, is now under investigation for domestic violence. No charges have officially been filed, but Florida prosecutors have confirmed they are reviewing evidence regarding an incident that took place in October.

Chapman’s girlfriend, Cristina Barnea, is accusing Chapman of pushing her and choking her during an argument. Barnea says the argument was broken up by her brother and that Chapman left the house after it was broken up. A few minutes later Barnea says she heard gunshots and proceeded to take shelter and call the police.

Chapman acknowledges the argument happened, but denies he ever pushed or chocked Barnea. He claims he locked himself in the garage after the argument and then fired a few rounds into the wall with his handgun.

The case was originally deemed closed by police due to lack of evidence and cooperative witnesses.

In the state of Florida plaintiffs can pursue both criminal and civil charges. Since no charges have officially been filed, it’s unclear which option Barnea will go with.

Florida considers a wide range of crimes eligible to be classified as domestic violence if they are committed by a family or household member against another family or household member. The following crimes can all be considered domestic violence.

Assault
Aggravated assault
Battery
Aggravated battery
Sexual assault
Sexual battery
Stalking
Aggravated stalking
Kidnapping
False imprisonment
Any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death

Again, these crimes must be committed by a fellow family or household member to qualify as domestic violence in Florida. The term family or household member includes: current and former spouses, relative by blood or in-laws, people who currently or formerly lived together as a family, or parents who have a child in common, regardless of whether they were ever married.

Facing domestic violence charges in Florida is no small mountain to climb. The lawyers at Bauer, Crider & Parry have more than 130 years of experience and are skilled in handling domestic violence cases.

Florida DUI Tests

Seeing those red and blue lights in your rearview mirror is always scary, especially if you’ve had a few drinks. If you get pulled over for drunk driving in Florida there are few rules about Florida DUI tests you should be aware of to avoid harsher punishments.

When an officer pulls a driver over who they think is driving under the influence, the officer will have the driver perform at least one test. These tests are designed to gauge how intoxicated a driver is and if they should be behind the wheel or not.

First the officer will most likely ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety test. This test can be done in one of three ways: horizontal/vertical gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, or one leg stand. In the state of Florida, drivers do not have to comply with a field sobriety test.

Not taking a field sobriety test won’t stop you from getting arrested, but it might give the prosecution less evidence to convict you in court.

While refusing a field sobriety test is allowed, if you are arrested for a DUI you cannot refuse a blood, urine or blood test. These tests will measure your blood alcohol level to see if you’re over the limit.

In Florida we have a legal precedent known, as implied consent, which means you automatically consent to chemical testing if you’re arrested on suspicion of a DUI. Refusing one of these tests can earn you a one year license suspension for the first refusal. Officers may also ask you to take more than one type of test, and refusing a second test will also get your license suspended for a year.

To recap, you can refuse a field sobriety test, but you can still be arrested. If you are arrested, you cannot refuse a blood, urine or breath test. No matter what kind of test you took or refused to take, if you’ve been charged with a DUI call Bauer, Crider & Parry for legal help with Florida DUIs.