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Articles Posted in Informational

State laws concerning concealed weapons work differently depending on what state you are in. Florida is known as one of the more lenient states in the U.S. to own firearms, but in order to do this, you need to have a concealed carry license. While The U.S. Supreme Court does say that Americans have the right to own firearms, they also restrict who can get them and how in order to keep the general public safe.

Florida has requirements in order for someone to obtain a concealed carry license:

You must be at least 21 years old (unless you’re in the armed forces).

Being found guilty of a criminal charge can be devastating news, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Sometimes the legal process can make errors and there are options designed to remedy these errors. One such opportunity is seeking post-conviction relief through newly discovered evidence (also known as after-discovered evidence). Post-conviction relief can help reduce a sentence or even overturn your conviction. If you’ve discovered new evidence that you believe can create doubt on your guilt, let us help you earn post-conviction relief.

Newly Discovered Evidence

To qualify for post-conviction relief through newly discovered evidence, the evidence must have:

Suppression Hearings

When a person faces criminal charges, the state or government must present evidence to obtain a conviction. One powerful tool used to counter evidence are suppression hearings. These special types of hearings are usually conducted before criminal trials start and are used to exclude or suppress specific evidence from being used in the upcoming trial. The most common and effective reason to file a motion to exclude evidence is when the evidence was obtained or collected through the violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. Here at Michael B. Cohen, P.A. we can take a deeper look around the circumstances of your charges to provide the best defense.

Process of Suppression Hearings

Exculpatory evidence in its simplest form is any favorable evidence for a defendant in a criminal case that can be used to prove their innocence. In United States law per Brady v. Maryland, a defendant MUST be disclosed by prosecutors of ALL evidence they have before the defendant accepts a guilty or not guilty plea. This requirement falls under a constitutional right of due process for a defendant. Exculpatory evidence is significant because it guarantees a person will face criminal punishment only if they commit a crime. This might seem like common sense but prior to this requirement, innocent people were being charged with crimes simply because the prosecution opted out in sharing evidence that proved a defendant’s innocence. Understanding this right is crucial to your case and can be significant in a successful appeal if you were convicted.

In the State of Florida, under Fla.R.Crim. P. 3.220(b)(4), the right to exculpatory evidence is protected under A Notice of Discovery. This notice triggers a duty from the prosecution to provide your attorney and defense team all evidence they have collected including police reports, witness testimonies, and other documents. Attorneys in the state of Florida are required to take a course in understanding and upholding this procedure.

A violation of exculpatory evidence is more commonly referred to as a Brady violation (referring to Brady v. Maryland case). The 3 elements a defendant must show are that the evidence:

The term post-conviction relief, commonly referred to as PCR, is a legal process in which a convicted individual can seek to vacate, set aside, or adjust their sentence. Compared to an appellate court, post-conviction relief is a broader analysis of all aspects of a case. This can include the legality of the sentence, counsel effectiveness, claims involving newly discovered evidence or the involuntariness of a plea, etc.

Federal Section 2255

With federal cases, 28 U.S.C. § 2255 can be used to request the U.S. District Court to vacate, correct, or set aside a sentencing. It is only available to those convicted and in custody (those in prison, probation, parole, or supervised release).

Giglio evidence refers to any information or material that may be used to impeach the credibility, testimony, or character of a prosecutor’s witness in a criminal case. In Giglio vs United States, John Giglio was convicted of using forged money orders with the assistance of Robert Taliento. The government, however, made a deal with Taliento to testify for them against Giglio in exchange for his immunity against prosecution. The jury and defense were unaware of this deal and ultimately Giglio was convicted. This deal was discovered after Giglio’s conviction and his defense team sought to overturn the jury’s decision based on the concealment from the government making Taliento’s testimony unreliable. In 1972, the case had reached the Supreme Court where they ruled that the failure to inform the jury on any agreements the government makes with any witness is a violation of a defendant’s due process rights, and therefore warranted a new trial.

Giglio evidence as a defense

Giglio evidence or material is a powerful tool to be aware of and use to defend your case or lead a successful post conviction appeal. An officer involved in a defendant’s arrest, for example, can be barred from testifying through a Giglio letter if the officer lacks integrity and credibility like concealing evidence in the past or any other misconduct. Other examples that must be presented by the prosecutor are:

The Heard v Depp trial sparked major news coverage and pop culture attention this year. The civil defamation case found Amber Heard guilty of all three claims against her while Depp was found guilty for one against him. After the verdict, Heard spoke out claiming the unfavorable depiction of her on social media played a part in skewing the jury’s decision. On July 1, 2022, Heard’s legal team filed a request with Judge Penny Azcarte to reject the jury’s verdict, dismiss the lawsuit, or order a retrial. It is unclear whether they will use social media influence as a defense. Nonetheless, a juror’s social media use and access can help make a case for an appeal on a conviction.

Remmer vs The United States

Criminal defendants have the right to due process. One imperative condition of due process is that a defendant must be granted a trial “by an impartial jury”. In the Supreme Court 1954 case of Remmer vs United States, they upheld that if any external information a juror or jury is exposed to related to the case results in bias for the jury, then it violates a defendant’s due process. In Remmer, a jury member was exposed to newspaper articles pertaining to their case. This called for a “Remmer hearing” where if a convicted party can prove a juror was improperly influenced or engaged in any misconduct, then a retrial can be granted. With the rise of social media, there is a boom in demand to use Remmer hearings towards any juror’s online engagement over a trial that might influence their decisions.

Under federal and Florida laws, it is unlawful to possess counterfeit currency and to use it with the intent of defrauding a retailer, merchant or individual. The federal government and agencies like the Secret Service seize millions of dollars in fake currency each year. A recipient handling multiple and large transactions are usually trained to prove the validity of the currency they’re receiving. If it is suspected that the currency is indeed fake, they may call the police and you could be charged with a forgery crime. These charges carry severe and heavy fines with lengthy potential prison sentences. You will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to provide you with the best legal defense to prove you had no knowledge that the currency was fake.

Florida Statute 831.15

Below is the Florida Statute explaining the illegality of counterfeiting money:

When you are accused of a serious criminal charge, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will present all available legal options to you that can prevent a conviction or at the very least, can lessen your charge. When appropriate, a Cooperation Agreement is a legal defense strategy for felony charges that could prove to be beneficial in your federal case. This agreement usually requires one to plead guilty and to assist the government in some way in exchange for a lesser sentence.

The worst thing one can do is cooperate with the government without an attorney present. People let the anxiety get the best of them and begin giving authorities information before an attorney is able to negotiate the terms of a cooperation agreement. It is vital that the accused person has an experienced federal criminal defense attorney representing them and protecting their rights. The attorney will first evaluate whether the information the client has and the facts of the case would meet the threshold for a cooperation agreement and a significant sentence reduction.

It also does not matter how hard you try to gather evidence for authorities. If in the end you are not able to gather the necessary evidence, no matter how much effort and time you put into it, you will not get the cooperation credit. And since you already gave a guilty plea, you will be locked into it. Ultimately, while cooperation agreements make sense for some, it does not help reduce prison time for others. That is why it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with cooperation agreements.

Besides the commonly known consequences of having a criminal record like serving time in jail or prison and paying heavy fines, having a criminal conviction can affect your life even if you do finish serving time or pay off the fines.

Even the most minor criminal charges can affect your personal and professional life.

Probably the most well-known consequence of having a criminal record is how it can negatively impact professional opportunities. Most employers run background checks and when they do yours, they will have a negative view of you and your capabilities. Although this is deemed unfair by many, employers may judge your morals and character especially if it was a serious offense. They may also wonder if you are likely to be a repeat offender. Another way you could be impacted by your criminal past is with child custody. If you are or ever do have a custody battle, the other party may bring up your record against you to deem you as an unfit parent. This is especially true if the charge was domestic abuse or other charges involving violence.

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