Articles Posted in Informational

In recent years, the debate surrounding firearm ownership and regulation has intensified, shedding light on the intricacies of gun-related laws. One such issue is the legality of purchasing firearms on behalf of another individual. Commonly referred to as a “straw purchase,” this practice has raised concerns within the legal community due to its potential implications for public safety.

A “straw purchase” occurs when an individual buys a firearm on behalf of another person who is either prohibited from owning firearms or seeks to bypass background checks and regulations. Such transactions are illegal under federal law, specifically under the Gun Control Act of 1968. This act prohibits any person from purchasing a firearm with the intent to transfer it to someone who is ineligible to possess firearms, such as convicted felons, minors, or individuals with a history of mental illness. Additionally, the act requires all firearm purchasers to complete a background check, regardless of whether they intend to keep the firearm or transfer it to someone else.

Engaging in a straw purchase can have severe legal consequences. Individuals caught violating these laws may face criminal charges, including fines and imprisonment. Both the purchaser and the person for whom the firearm was acquired could be subject to prosecution. Law enforcement agencies and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) actively investigate and prosecute cases involving straw purchases, as they contribute to the illegal flow of firearms into the hands of individuals who should not possess them.

When a crime is committed, it is crucial to determine which jurisdiction will handle the legal proceedings. In the United States, crimes can be tried at either the state or federal level, depending on various factors. In the case of Florida, understanding the key determinants that influence this decision is essential. In this blog post, we will explore the factors that determine whether a crime is tried at the Florida state or federal level.

Nature of the Offense:

One of the primary factors that determines the jurisdiction is the nature of the offense. Generally, crimes that violate federal laws, such as drug trafficking, immigration offenses, or interstate crimes, fall under federal jurisdiction. On the other hand, crimes such as theft, assault, or murder that violate state laws are tried at the state level.

In the United States, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. It is crucial to be aware of your rights and recognize if you have been a victim of an illegal search and seizure. Read below the signs of an illegal search and seizure from a Florida federal standpoint.

Lack of a Valid Warrant:

The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement officers to obtain a search warrant, supported by probable cause, before conducting a search or seizure. If the search was conducted without a warrant or if the warrant was invalid, it could be an indication of an illegal search.

Being charged with a federal crime can be a scary thought, however, many don’t know that within three days of your arrest, you have the right to appear before a judge, also known as, a federal detention hearing. A federal detention hearing allows you to let the judge know that you are no danger to the community despite the charges filed against you. You will also have a better sense of whether there is probable cause for said charges and if there is a chance you may be released while you await your trial.

Your trusted lawyer will be allowed to present any evidence that can persuade the court you should be released on bond and once the judge receives this evidence and is convinced that you are not a flight risk or a danger to the community, he/she will approve your bail and set your next court date.

After Release

There is a common misconception that if you commit a crime, there are only two options: You are acquitted or you face jail time. However, an experienced criminal lawyer will inform you of pre-trial diversion programs. Everybody makes mistakes and fortunately, the state of Florida recognizes that many deserve second chances. Some offenders with little to no criminal history, including certain felony offenders, may be eligible to enter a pre-trial intervention program. Once the program is completed, the court will drop your charges. The state attorney’s office is also able to grant access on a case-by-case basis so even if you are not a first-time offender, you may still be able to participate in the program.

In most situations, pre-trial diversion programs focus on non-violent offenses and usually a person is ineligible if they are charged with any offense involving violence.

In order to qualify, you must meet the following:

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).

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