Articles Posted in Felony driving offenses

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), about 25% of all car crashes involve a hit-and-run incident. A hit-and-run is when someone is involved in a car accident but flees from the scene before law enforcement arrives. The most serious offense in these situations occurs when a person hits a pedestrian and then leaves, especially if it results in the pedestrian’s death.

What is most important to remember is that first and foremost, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in the state of Florida. Florida law is tough on those who flee the scene of a crash.

Punishments for causing injury or death at a hit-and-run accident:

Nowadays, it is rare to meet someone who does not own a smartphone. It is normal to wonder if Florida police can search your phone for evidence. Can police officers scroll through the information contained on your phone without a warrant?

If you are arrested, officers are able to search you, and any “containers” that are in your immediate control. A “container” can be a wallet, bags, boxes or anything a person might use to store other items. Even a pack of candy could classify as a container.

However, the Supreme Court stated that a phone is not a normal container that is able to be searched with reasonable suspicion. This is because cell phones don’t contain physical evidence such as drugs, weapons or other things officers look for during a search. Our cell phones contain digital evidence—something that is treated differently by the law.

The U.S. Constitution protects you against unreasonable search and seizure. However, law enforcement gets around the need for a warrant by showing reasonable cause for a search. Usually, police need to show that they had reason to believe you were breaking the law. This generally happens during traffic stops. Before, officers in Florida could search your vehicle if they smelled marijuana. However, due to a change in Florida law, the odor of cannabis or hemp is no longer legal grounds for a police search.

This imposed a problem on police officers because figuring out the difference between marijuana and hemp is now vital. Due to this, any found substance has to go through testing to determine the THC content. Only substances above .3 THC content are illegal. Anything else is legal under the new law. Police have always relied on the distinct smell of marijuana to detect criminal drug use. However, there are now hemp-based lotions and textile products. The “smell of marijuana” does not mean anything illegal is taking place. An experienced lawyer can help you argue that evidence uncovered in a search under the basis that an officer smelled marijuana in your car can be suppressed.

Everyone is entitled to legal representation when facing charges. At Michael B Cohen Law, our priority is making sure that you receive the best legal representation for your federal crime cases. You can schedule a free consultation with us today and learn about your options and ways in which we can help you and your future.

In the early morning hours this past February Cesar Cepeda lost control of his pickup truck by the on-ramp at the intersection of the Dolphin Expressway and Florida’s Turnpike. He was able to move the vehicle onto a grassy area on the side of the highway. Unable to restart the vehicle, he called his father Jose for assistance. His father promptly arrived to help his son. As the two men were standing on the side of the road by their vehicles, another car veered off the highway, striking and killing the two of them.

The man who ran into the father and son then left the 2014 Camaro he was driving and took off with the father’s Chevy Equinox. The SUV was later found that same day abandoned in the town of Homestead.

DNA evidence left at the scene found in and on the suspect’s car matched a man named Earl Lewis, of Homestead and led to a manhunt that went on for nearly a month. The Florida Highway Patrol began their search for Lewis assisted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office as well as the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Road rage and guns can be a lethal combination here in South Florida. The frequency of these incidents has more than doubled since 2014.

Florida and Texas which are states with the largest number of relaxed gun laws, and concealed carry permit holders lead the way according to the available data.

Just last month a Fort Lauderdale man was arrested after being accused of pointing a loaded gun at the passenger of another vehicle while driving on the US1 Overseas Highway in Key Largo.

Thankfully, in this case, no shots were fired.
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Two good Samaritans stopped their vehicles and attempted to help a man that was terribly injured but apparently still alive, lying on a Dania Beach thoroughfare just before 4:30 in the morning.

Bernard Williams, 62, of Dania Beach turned out to be a homeless man, according to a report issued by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Why he was lying in the road when a car struck him is unknown, but a sheriff’s deputy recognized him when he arrived at the scene where the man was still lying in the road, clinging to life. The police officer had seen the homeless man around the vicinity on numerous occasions. Tests also revealed that the victim’s blood alcohol level was 0.22 which a medical examiner said “could impair a person’s normal faculties.”

The hit and run took place at the 1200 block of Federal Highway on June 5 in front of Cyber Pizza Cafe. He was later pronounced dead at the scene by fire rescue.

When police began their investigation, it was a surveillance camera from a neighboring business that was credited with showing a vehicle moving in a southerly direction on Federal Highway (US1) around the time Mr. Williams was struck. The car was then identified as a white taxi which proved to be owned by Yellow Cab which serves South Florida cities in that area. After the taxi was identified, authorities asked the company for a list of the drivers who were operating their cabs at the time.

Examining the suspected vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department uncovered fatty tissue fixed to the undercarriage of the cab as well as the front bumper exposing chips in the finish of the paint. During Williams’ autopsy, a similar fragment of white paint was found on the victim’s chest that ultimately established a match to the vehicle.

From the taxi company’s records it was determined that Michael Brandt, 58, of Hollywood was the driver of that cab at the time of the crash. The Broward Sherriff’s Office obtained a warrant for his arrest on October 15. He was subsequently arrested and charged with the crime of leaving the scene of an accident w/death, which is a first-degree felony. He is facing charges of vehicular homicide mostly due to the circumstance that he fled the scene. Brandt originally told detectives that he was in the Hallandale Beach and Hollywood area at the time of the incident but lab analysis samples obtained from the vehicle matched Williams’ DNA, confirming that the vehicle in question was in fact the taxi that struck him, and was clearly being driven by Brandt at the time.

According to the report filed, investigators said Brandt had to have more than a slight idea that he had collided with something due to the “severity” of the crash. Brandt “did know or should have known that the incident would have or could have caused injury or death to a person.”

Myrtle Corbin, the victim’s sister told the Sun Sentinel newspaper shortly after he was run down that her brother was homeless and living on the streets for more than 20 years. She noted that he opted to live that lifestyle in spite of him being in touch with relatives.

Her statement to the news reporter was “I never dreamed he would go this way. I just know that he doesn’t have to suffer through what he was going through in this life anymore… I feel the person who did it needs to be reprimanded in some way, or at least admit that you did it.”

According to the Broward County Clerk of the Court’s Website, Brandt is still in custody and his case is pending. Judge Raag Singhal will preside over the case if it goes to trial.

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