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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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On October 27, the Miami Herald reported that the principal at Wesley Matthews Elementary in Miami was reassigned on by Miami-Dade County Public Schools after she was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) on July 21. The 46-year-old woman who has been with the school system for 23 years will work at a district administrative office, a non-school site, Miami-Dade schools spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego told the Herald. 

The Herald reported that a breath test administered following the alleged offender’s arrest showed blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.140 and 0.142—both over Florida’s legal limit of 0.08. The woman reported the misdemeanor to school officials and remained in her role as principal until the reassignment, according to the Herald. 

“We don’t usually reassign in cases such as these, but the district can and will take action if a case has the potential to cause a disruption to the learning environment we work so hard to maintain,” Gonzalez-Diego said in an email to the Herald. “Our goal is to maintain continuity of education with minimal disruptions.” 

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The Miami Herald reported that a North Miami man would be spending his 60th birthday in Miami-Dade’s Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center after being arrested on September 27. The man was being held with no bond after being charged with seven counts of sexual battery on a child between the ages of 12 and 16. 

WPLG-TV reported that the arrest affidavit stated that the alleged victim told police that the man had sex with her three times, most recently at a hotel in the summer with the other two incidents occurring in the living room and guest bedroom of the man’s house. Police told WPLG that the man admitted that he went to the hotel with the alleged victim but denied having sex with her.

Sexual Battery Defense Attorney in Miami, FL

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The Miami New Times reported on September 20 that a University of Miami (UM) student filed a lawsuit against the university on September 15. According the New Times, the student alleges in her lawsuit that she was raped on August 23, 2013, at an off-campus apartment complex known informally as “Red Road” that caters to UM students. 

The student claims that her assailant—who was a resident adviser (RA) at a campus dorm nearby—regularly stalked her and threatened her after the assault. The student said she first reported the assault and subsequent stalking to the RA program supervisor at her assailant’s dorm, but the supervisor “ultimately did nothing and also did not provide the student with anymore advice or reference her Title IX rights in any way” after saying he would speak with the alleged rapist. 

The student claims she first reported the rape to then-Dean William A. “Tony” Lake on September 16, 2013 and reported the stalking to the Coral Gables Police Department later that same day. The New Times reported that Lake allegedly told the student that “the school wasn’t able to enforce the no-contact order and that it was on her to steer clear of the rapist” two weeks after the university issued a no-contact order and the student’s rapist began harassing her again. 

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On July 3, the Miami Herald reported that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that Florida’s updated “Stand Your Ground” law was unconstitutional. The ruling was not binding, likely meaning that the appeals process would lead to the revised law being reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.

Senate Bill 128 (SB 128), which shifted the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutor during the pretrial phase of Stand Your Ground cases, was one of 16 measures Governor Rick Scott signed into law on June 9. Under the new law, prosecutors must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that an alleged offender was not acting in self-defense.

Hirsch issued his ruling in the case of a woman charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and grand theft. The Herald reported that the woman will have an immunity hearing held in the near future to prove her self-defense claim, and she would be able to appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, and ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court if unsuccessful.

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Miami criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman is representing a 32-year-old woman who was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) manslaughter, DUI causing serious bodily injury, DUI with property damage, and possession of marijuana following an April 8 crash in Key West that killed an off-duty Delray Beach police officer and left another critically injured. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on May 3 that police said the alleged offender refused to perform field sobriety exercises or allow a blood sample to be taken and asked for a lawyer, but authorities forcibly obtained a blood sample after a prosecutor obtained a judge’s signature on a search warrant. 

Key West police said the alleged offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.17. “This arrest was only based on the alcohol blood draw that was done forcibly,” Hoffman told WTVJ-TV. “I was told that the other blood tests aren’t even in yet. So, someone essentially decided to jump the gun as far as we’re concerned.” 

While the alleged offender was taken into custody by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Sun Sentinel reported that she will be taken from a Broward County jail to Key West because the woman faces charges in Monroe County. Hoffman told WPTV-TV that authorities jumped the gun and should have awaited pending toxicology results before arresting his client. 

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