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The rule of completeness is an important rule that can offer protection against the misuse of a recorded statement you make to the police in a Miami criminal case. However, this rule has its limits. In a recent Florida Supreme Court case, the Court considered the rule of completeness, as well as the evidence rule that permits impeachment of hearsay declarants.

At issue was whether section 90.108(1) (the rule of completeness) allows a defendant to require the government to put into evidence an entire video recording of his statement to the cops where the government questioned a detective about the defendant’s inculpatory statements without putting the recording into the record. Also at issue was whether the government could impeach a defendant under section 90.806(1), which permitted an attack on a hearsay declarant’s credibility.

The case arose when a 68-year-old retired man took a 27-year-old man home with him from the beach. When the victim didn’t arrive at his friend’s house for dinner as planned, the friend went to the victim’s house where he found the victim lying facedown inside. Witnesses told a detective they’d seen the victim eating with someone younger earlier that day. The medical examiner decided that the victim had the kinds of injuries that were consistent with being choked and decided it was likely that he’d been killed by force. Other evidence, including video surveillance footage from stores, showed that the defendant had used the victim’s credit card.

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Can giving an instruction on abnormal mental conditions be damaging to a Miami defendant’s defense? In a recent case, a Florida court considered standard instruction 3.6(p), which deals with abnormal mental conditions, and found that providing the instruction could be tantamount to a suggestion of mental illness when there was no other competent evidence of mental illness introduced. The instruction states that mental illness, abnormal mental condition and diminished mental capacity aren’t defenses to any crimes and evidence can’t be taken into consideration to show a defendant didn’t have the specific intent or state of mind needed to show he committed a particular crime charged. These complex situations and more can be navigated by a dedicated Miami criminal defense attorney.

The defendant was convicted of seven felonies based on one crime spree. He was sentenced to life, among other things. The defendant had a history of mental illness. However, at trial, there was no expert testimony presented about the defendant’s mental condition. When he was 16, the defendant was placed in a juvenile detention facility and while in isolation, he started to hear voices. He received a schizophrenia diagnosis.

In 2014, he was subject to the Baker Act. Two months after he was released, the crime spree occurred.

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In a recent Florida appellate decision, the court considered a case in which a burglar hit an 80-year-old man in the head and badly beat him up such that he suffered a brain hemorrhage. The old man was released before the hemorrhage resolved, and he died in his home. The defendant was charged and convicted of first degree murder. He appealed on the grounds that the prosecution hadn’t proven that his own actions caused the death of the old man. If you have been charged with a homicide, it is important to have a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney by your side throughout the process.

The case arose when the 80-year-old victim came home after a day shopping with his adult daughter. When he and his daughter got out of their car in their garage, the defendant attacked the old man. The victim collapsed and then the defendant sat on him and kept beating him up before running away.

At the hospital, the victim underwent a CT scan. The staff found there was no bleeding in the brain. He was discharged. After he was released from the hospital, his CT scan was reviewed again, with the doctor finding there was a little bit of bleeding. He came back to the hospital again the next day and underwent more scans. The doctor found the bleeding had resolved, but after being discharged, the victim collapsed on his bed at home and passed away.

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In a recent Florida burglary decision, two burglaries of the same home had occurred. These burglaries were separated by five days. The defendant had been convicted of burglary with more than $1,000 in property damage, but he was acquitted of the other residential burglary. He was also convicted of grand theft of property that was worth at least $20,000.

The defendant argued that the lower court had made a mistake in denying his requests for acquittal because the state failed to show:  (1) the amount of property claimed in the burglary charge and (2) the value of what was stolen in the grand theft offense.

At the lower level, the defendant was charged with residential burglary with intent to perpetrate theft and triggering property damage of more than $1,000. He was also charged with burglary with intent to perpetrate theft. The third charge was grand theft of assets worth at least $20,000 from victims’ homes.

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A 67-year-old man who was accused of raping a child under the age of 10 in the 1990s pled guilty to 10 felony charges in Miami County last month. The victim grew up and reported the crime to detectives last year. After being charged, the defendant made a deal so that prosecutors would recommend he spend 10 years in prison in exchange for agreeing to waive consideration of the allegations by a grand jury and pleading to 10 gross sexual imposition charges. The maximum term would be 50-years for the 10 charges.

The judge accepted the pleas, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled sentencing, at which time the defendant’s sex offender classification would be determined. The defendant is being held without bond until sentencing.

Often, those convicted or who plead to sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders in addition to serving jail or prison time and paying monetary fines. After serving the prison sentence, an individual is supposed to initiate registration when their sentence requires them to take such an action. Many people do not register because registration comes with a great stigma. You might hope to start over in a new community. However, there can be added penalties for failure to register as a Florida sex offender.

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The Miami Herald reported on May 7 that just hours after a press conference announcing the arrest of two suspects in the murders at the Liberty Square housing projects last month, Miami-Dade prosecutors were expected to ask a judge to quash the arrest warrants the following morning in court. The Herald wrote that the “unusual development suggests authorities rushed to make an arrest in a high-profile killing.”

According to the Herald, homicide detectives had secured a probable cause arrest warrant that was reviewed by prosecutors and signed by a Miami-Dade judge based on the identification of an eyewitness. The Herald reported that sources said “prosecutors expressed concerns about the weakness of the evidence during a meeting with top-ranking Miami police brass and the homicide detectives on Friday, the day before the arrests.”

One suspect claimed he was shopping with his mother at the time of the shootings, and supermarket surveillance video reviewed only after the suspect was booked confirmed his claim. At the press conference, Miami’s police chief and mayor also urged the capture of a third suspect still loose on the streets. The arrest warrant for the third suspect has also been canceled, according to the Herald.

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Florida’s so-called 10-20-Life law, established under § Florida Statute 775.087, has been in effect since 1999 and has largely accomplished its primary goal to sentence thousands of people to mandatory prison terms because of certain convictions involving firearms or other dangerous weapons. The prosecutor is the only person with the power to waive a mandatory minimum sentence, and judges are only allowed to deviate from mandatory minimum requirements when an alleged offender is a youthful offender. 

One key provision of Florida Statute 775.087 that was amended, however, by Senate Bill 228 (SB 228) when Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law on February 26, 2016, related to convictions for aggravated assault involving the possession of a firearm, destructive device, semiautomatic firearm and its high-capacity detachable box magazine, or machine gun. Whereas such convictions automatically triggered mandatory three-year prison sentences, SB 228 deleted that requirement. 

It now appears that more lawmakers in Florida may be trying to eliminate other mandatory minimum provisions under state law. If you were arrested for any kind of criminal offense that could carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence, it is in your best interest to immediately contact The Hoffman Firm.

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In 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 477 (HB 477), adding the opioids fentanyl and carfentanil to the list of drugs that can result in mandatory minimum sentences. Now, two bills have been proposed in the Florida Legislature that could allow judges to depart from mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.

House Bill 481 (HB 481) provides that mandatory minimum sentences for controlled substance offenses may be reduced by up to specified percentage for offenders meeting certain criteria. Senate Bill 694 (SB 694) authorizes a court to impose a sentence other than a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment and mandatory fine for a person convicted of trafficking if the court makes certain findings on the record.

“This year, the momentum is stronger than ever in the Senate for real criminal justice reform,” State Senator Rob Bradley, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told the Miami Herald. “It remains to be seen if our friends in the House share that appetite.”

SB 694 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 15-5 vote on February 22, 2018, and now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. Shortly before that vote, the Senate Justice Appropriations Subcommittee had heard from a vocal opponent of the measure, lobbyist Barney Bishop from the conservative criminal justice reform group Smart Justice Alliance.

“You’re helping drug traffickers,” Bishop said of the SB 694. “Do you know how much pot you’ve got to have to meet the trafficking minimum for this bill? You have to have 25 pounds. That’s 25 backpacks.”

With very little time remaining in the 2018 legislative session, it remained to be seen whether the Senate measure would gain any traction in the House of Representatives—where a separate measure had not moved through the chamber.

Miami Criminal Defense Attorney for Mandatory Minimum Drug Crimes

Florida Statute § 893.135 imposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking offenses involving certain amounts of controlled substances. It is important to remember that an alleged offender can be charged with a drug trafficking crime as the result of simply possessing more than a specified amount of a controlled substance—drug trafficking crimes do not require any actual or intended distribution of the illegal drug.

Mandatory minimums under this statute include offenses involving people who knowingly sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or bring into Florida, or who are knowingly in actual or constructive possession of any of the following:

Drug Amount Mandatory Minimum
Cannabis, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(a) More than 25 pounds, but less than 2,000 pounds, or 300 or more cannabis plants, but not more than 2,000 cannabis plants Three years in prison and fine of $25,000
2,000 pounds or more, but less than 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 or more cannabis plants, but not more than 10,000 cannabis plants Seven years in prison and fine of $50,000
10,000 pounds or more, or 10,000 or more cannabis plants 15 years in prison and fine of $200,000
Cocaine, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(b) 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
400 grams or more, but less than 150 kilograms 15 years in prison and fine of $250,000
Morphine, opium, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, or any salt, derivative, isomer, or salt of an isomer, including heroin, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(c)1. 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
Hydrocodone, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(c)2. 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
28 grams or more, but less than 50 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
50 grams or more, but less than 200 grams 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
200 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 25 years in prison and fine of $750,000
Oxycodone, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(c)3. 7 grams or more, but less than 14 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
14 grams or more, but less than 25 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
25 grams or more, but less than 100 grams 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
100 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 25 years in prison and fine of $750,000
Alfentanil, carfentanil, fentanyl, sufentanil, a fentanyl derivative, or a controlled substance analog, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(c)4. 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
28 grams or more 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
Phencyclidine (PCP), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(d) 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
400 grams or more 15 years in prison and fine of $250,000
Methaqualone (Quaalude), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(e) 200 grams or more, but less than 5 kilograms Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
5 kilograms or more, but less than 25 kilograms Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
25 kilograms or more 15 years in prison and fine of $250,000
Amphetamine or methamphetamine, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(f) 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
200 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 15 years in prison and fine of $250,000
Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol or “roofies”), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(g) 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
200 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid or GHB), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(h) 1 kilogram or more, but less than 5 kilograms Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
5 kilograms or more, but less than 10 kilograms Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
10 kilograms or more 15 years in prison and fine of $250,000
γ-butyrolactone (gamma-butyrolactone or GBL), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(i) 1 kilogram or more, but less than 5 kilograms Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
5 kilograms or more, but less than 10 kilograms Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
10 kilograms or more 15 years in prison and fine of $250,000
1,4-Butanediol (BD), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(j) 1 kilogram or more, but less than 5 kilograms Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
5 kilograms or more, but less than 10 kilograms Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
10 kilograms or more 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(l) 1 gram or more, but less than 5 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
5 grams or more, but less than 7 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
7 grams or more 15 years in prison and fine of $500,000
Synthetic cannabinoids, Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(m) 280 grams or more, but less than 500 grams Three years in prison and fine of $50,000
500 grams or more, but less than 1,000 grams Seven years in prison and fine of $100,000
1,000 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 15 years in prison and fine of $200,000

When a person is accused of one of the crimes listed above, a judge is powerless to issuing a sentence that deviates from the mandatory minimum required. It is in the best interest of any individual facing one of these charges to immediately retain legal counsel.

Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Miami who can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Contact The Hoffman Firm today to receive a free, confidential consultation that will let our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case.

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The Miami Herald reported on January 18 that police suspected there was a “marijuana lab” inside a warehouse on 123rd Street in Medley and saw a Hialeah man park a pickup truck in front of the warehouse, go inside, and return back to the truck about two hours later. According to the police report, officers entered the warehouse with a search warrant and found “two fully functioning hydroponics laboratories,” one of which had 25 plants and the other had 11. 

The Herald reported that police also found grow equipment and chemicals and documents addressed to the alleged offender. A stolen truck was also discovered inside the warehouse during the search, with one detective noticing that the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the truck had been tampered with and determined the truck had been stolen from Broward County in 2016. 

The man was held in jail with no bond on charges that included grand theft of a vehicle, altering a vehicle’s information, and trafficking marijuana, according to the Herald. All three of those crimes are felony offenses.

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The Miami Herald reported on December 7 that a 28-year-old man was arrested during a traffic stop near U.S. Route 1 and Southwest 136th Street in Pinecrest. Police set up surveillance near the Pinecrest Whole Foods on Dixie Highway where the man was spotted. According to the Herald, the alleged offender had been accused of offering rides to female students at the University of South Carolina, taking them to places other than their desired destinations, and refusing to let them out of his vehicle. 

According to the South Carolina newspaper The State, the man was arrested by the Pinecrest Police Department on two outstanding arrest warrants: one for assault and another for domestic violence. Neither warrant was related to any incident involving University of South Carolina students. 

Two women, ages 21 and 18, reported to the Columbia Police Department on November 26 that they received a ride from the alleged offender. One female reported getting out of the car after feeling uncomfortable while the man attempted to prevent the other woman from leaving, causing her to receive medical treatment for scrapes and bruises to her leg. 

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