It shouldn’t take a lawyer to understand criminal law. The purpose of written criminal law is for everyone to be aware and on notice of actions that are not lawful, only then can Floridians be held accountable to the ever growing number of our absurd laws. Yet over time Florida laws have become more and more complicated often seeming to require the tools of a cryptographer rather than those of a Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer to ferret out their hidden meanings.
|King John Grants Magna Carta
There’s even a movement to put the laws into plain language which is a great idea. For Florida laws that already exist see the new website called Sunshine Statutes which simplifies the task of understanding criminal law in Florida, something every Floridian and more than a few Tampa Bay Defense Lawyers should appreciate.
Sunshine Statutes gives every criminal statute’s history while interlinking that history to the key words of other laws allowing a reader to follow the progression or retrogression (this is Florida, after all) of our Florida Criminal Statutes. For example, if you go to weapons and firearms then click to crimes in pharmacies you’ll find that that it’s a third degree felony to possess a firearm in a pharmacy with the exceptions such as having a license to cary a concealed weapon, clearly noted, with the legislative history and with links to other laws for andy cross reference to see if it’s alright to carry a slingshot into the pharmacy of your choice.
And as the site notes trust but verify. Once you’ve checked out the statute go to the official Florida Law at Online Sunshine to be sure the law has not been amended. Then you should run a search to see if any Florida Courts have found the statute unconstitutional or changed the way it must be read and interpreted or if in doubt call a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney.
Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys are often asked, “How much jail time is the Judge going to sentence me to?”
A few days ago I received this email from a reader:
I was recently charged with Grand Theft and Dealing in Stolen Property. I did commit the crimes and I know it was very stupid of me to do so. Times were very rough at the time of the offence and I thought it was the easiest way for me to support my family but I know it was not right. I’ve never been in trouble before and am very scarred I’ll be taken away from my my wife and 1yr old son. Like I said I know I was wrong but cannot afford to lose my family. I know every case is different , but realisticly what might be the chances of getting this resolved without jail time? Thank you for your time.
|Original Poster for the Victor Hugo Book
|First, it’s probably a good idea not to confess to any crime even with an anonymous email. But to answer the letter writer’s question as to what is a Tampa Bay Judge likely to do if he does plead guilty, one must look to the Florida Sentencing Guidelines which will determine where a Defendant’s guideline range lies on a Florida Sentencing Scoresheet. For a thorough discussion of this see, How Guidelines and Scoresheets Determine Your Sentence in Pinellas and Tampa Bay Florida Courts. The charged offenses, the defendant’s prior record, aggravating and mitigating factors all come into play.
The anonymous author states that he’s never been in trouble, so let’s assume there are no prior convictions. Nor does the writer mention how much was the value of what was stolen in the Grand Theft allegation. Valuation can drive up the degree and severity of the charged offense. But The Dealing in Stolen Property charge is a second degree felony and will propel the scoresheet into a state prison time recommendation from the prosecutor for the judge. Yet ultimately what we want are judges not prosecutors making these decisions, with Tampa Bay Judges having the discretion to do what is right, to make decisions in Court that won’t destroy people’s lives needlessly. One hopes we’ve come a long way from Victor Hugo’s description of 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. The goal of a Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer is to determine if the charges can be reduced to lessor offenses, if so there’s a very good chance there’d be no prison time; if not to find the best possible arguments, facts and to tell the judge about your life and your family obligations, why the crime happened and why you will never be in front of the Judge again to support a sentence that does not include prison.
Ever wonder if those pyromaniac friends of yours fondly known in your neighborhood for their incredible 4th of July fireworks displays, have been arrested when the explosions threaten to burn down your house, at least one Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney does wonder and I’ve decided to help you in your quest for arrest information.
|My Neighborhood Fireworks Display
First, this blog has already described in detail how to find out if there is an active arrest warrant for someone in Florida. I’ll show you how to find out if the warrant resulted in an arrest and if someone has ever been arrested in Florida for anything else. Remember that this is only for Florida arrests.
You can find out if someone has been arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail by checking the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Inquiry Form which gives accurate information including the charged offense for every booking arrest into the Jail since November of 2005 and includes the cities of Largo, Clearwater & St. Petersburg, Florida. If you’re not noisy but more of the nosey type and are checking up on someone in Tampa you’d look to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Inquiry Form. For information for an arrest anywhere within the entire state of Florida, you can check the FDLE criminal history information web page, here’s hoping your own name doesn’t show up.
Of course if the person was arrested but was smart enough to hire your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer for his defense attorney it’s possible that he was never convicted or that he plead to a reduced charge something I’d do for your noisiest neighbor and even for you if you ever need help fighting a charge.
Up to 20,000 prisoners are held for long periods of time in solitary confinement each year in fifty-seven American supermax prisons and by one count up to 80,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement at any given time in the American prison system, which for a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney is a stunning number.
Tampa Bay Florida does not have any supermax prisons but we do have plenty of prisoners in the Pinellas County Jail and in Hillsborough County Jails who are subjected to solitary confinement for violations of arbitrary prison requirments, rules and regulations within our local prisons with little judicial oversight. For example, I represented a client whose meager yet unmet vegan food requirements led to ever greater minor jailhouse harassment, then to minor punishments and finally penalties that included time spent in solitary confinement even as my client lost weight at an alarming rate.
Terrible Jail conditions have been shown to create higher future crime rates even at our local prisons in Tampa Bay as worse the brutal conditions are in jails the more likely it is that prisoners will not reform once released.
Keeping all this in mind are our local prisons violating the 8th amendment standards for cruel and unusual punishment by subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement for minor transgressions of fluctuating prison rules? A recent Law Journal article notes that there have been many psychological studies showing what to a normal person would seem obvious, that solitary confinement is extremely harmful to prisoners:
Numerous psychological studies of prolonged solitary confinement detail the serious psychological harm to prisoners of such isolation. As one recent comprehensive survey of the psychiatric research on solitary confinement concludes, “Solitary confinement can have serious psychological, psychiatric, and sometime physiological effects on many prison inmates. A long list of possible symptoms from insomnia and confusion to hallucinations and outright insanity…“
|Maclise, Charles Dickens, 1839
The article goes on to note that this isn’t new science, we’ve known it for well over a hundred years as when Charles Dickens visited the Cherry Hill prison in 1842 and noted: “I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers . . . there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow-creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.“
Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer believes it’s time to brand solitary confinement once and for all as what it clearly is – cruel and unusual punishment which violates the very qualities that makes us American.