HOW TO AVOID BEING INVOLVED IN A ROAD RAGE INCIDENT & WHAT TO DO WHEN IT BECOMES A CRIME

Here in Florida the summer heat can bake your parked car’s inside temperature to over 120 degrees in ten minutes. No wonder the hot cities of Florida often rank in surveys as the worst places for road rage incidents. 

The Road Runner cartoon was filled with road rage when the Coyote tried to kill the always lucky road runner.
Road Rage Coyote & Road Runner

All of us occasionally make mistakes while driving. When you see someone make a stupid driving mistake don’t rub it in their face nor even their hood. And if another driver accuses you of making a driving mistake, remember that the best rule of the road when confronted is not to let the finger pointing escalate to name calling or yelling. After all this if Florida where a retired police officer recently was accused of shooing an unarmed man at a theater for texting on his phone. 

Here are five rules to help you avoid being involved in a road rage incident where you may be arrested for an alleged criminal act no matter who is really at fault.

1. You should assume that the other driver is armed with guns, knives and other weapons and act accordingly. If you think the other driver is armed then it makes sense to stay as far from his vehicle as possible.
2. You should assume that everything you say or do is being recorded in video and audio. Not only will other vehicles will have plenty of occupants with cell phone cameras ready, there are also cameras along many roads, at intersections and along the businesses by the road.
3. You should never pull your car over to have it out with the other driver. If the other driver pulls over in hopes of fighting it out, use the opportunity to get far away. Nothing is going to be accomplished other than risking the safety of everyone in both vehicles.
4. If the other driver is using his vehicle as a weapon in an aggravated assault by driving too close to you in a threatening manner, call 911 while trying to drive to the nearest police station or other area of apparent safety.
5. As soon as an incident occurs do your best to de-escalete the situation. 

What are the possible criminal charges awaiting drivers involved in road rage? Criminal charges begin with any threat to the other driver using any weapon used during the coarse of the incident. Under Florida law the legal definition of weapon may include the vehicle itself if the car is used to threaten someone; for example, by pulling away just before a collision with the purpose of scaring the other driver which would constitute an aggravated assault. 

If a car actually does touch or strike the other car, then depending upon the damage and injury to the passengers and driver, Tampa Bay police could charge either battery or aggravated battery. Clearly a weapon fired or thrown from a moving vehicle could also result in battery or aggravated battery charges as well as throwing a deadly missile charge. If there is a collision and the driver fails to remain at the scene to render possible aid charges of hit and run will likely be filed. Further, police and prosecutors have will bring charges of vehicular homicide if a death results or murder charges if there was heat of passion or sufficient time for premeditation before the death.

The problem in many of these cases is that both drivers may be viewed by law enforcement as being at fault for allowing a bad situation to escalated into something far worse where people end up being injured. Because of the significance of the aggravated felony charges, even someone without any criminal history could find himself not only arrested but also facing a possible long term of prison if criminal charges are filed. Therefore it’s always important to avoid road rage situations that could easily escalate ruining the lives of everyone in both cars.




HOW DAY LIGHT SAVINGS TIME ACTUALLY REDUCES VIOLENT CRIME

That hour you lost in sleep last night might just be worth it, because a study establishes that the extra hour of daylight results in a reduction in violent crime. In fact the crime reduction during that hour of light rather than darkness is significant especially for major violent crimes such as robbery, murder and rape.



Haold Lloyd dangles from a clock high above a street stopping time itself even as daylight savings time fights crime by making criminals less likely to act.
Harold Lloyd Fights Daylight Savings Time

For example, during that well lit extra hour of sunshine there’s a reduction in robbery by 51%, murder by 48% and sexual battery by 56%. Could it be that just like us, criminals miss the extra hour of sleep and so slough off their important work habits during during that lonely hour? No, say our hard-hearted scientist, it’s simply that criminals are more likely to do their work at night while cloaked in darkness.

According to the study Under the Cover of Darkness: Using Daylight Savings Time to measure how ambient light influences criminal behavior, which ferreted out other variables, it is the light itself that reduces the crime rate. Light increases the likelihood of being caught thereby increasing the expected cost of the crime. The study further shows that Daylight Savings saves over half a billion dollars a year in social costs due to reduced crime. And it suggests that it would be a wise investment to improve night time lighting with more street lights.

Since Florida is known as the Sunshine State one would think crime would not even exist here in Tampa Bay. Nor would one readily believe that beach blanket crime could occur on our sunny beaches during tourist season, yet it does and in broad daylight too. Perhaps the problem is that the street lights are turned off during the day.

Anyway, soon we’ll recover our lost sleep. Till then my recommendation for our somnolent Congress is to take that hour away on Monday rather than ruining the weekends by stealing the hour on Sunday. Perhaps the findings of another crime study finding that more iphone muggings occur on Mondays than any other day of the week will help our cause. By reducing the number of hours on Monday crime would be reduced as well.

ARE GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE MORE OR LESS LIKELY TO BE PRESUMED INNOCENT IN CRIMINAL TRIALS?

Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer always assumed that good looking people have a better chance of being acquitted in Criminal jury trials. 
That’s why before every trial I always suggest the Defendant take a good hot bath at least a week before the trial is set to begin; after all as Andy Warhol suggested, “the best look is a good, clean look.” 

da vinci's lady with an ermine establishes the possibilities guilt  hiding within a beautiful face in Tampa Bay, Florida.
da Vinci, Innocent or Guilty?

But what about those unfortunate folks who are clean, possibly even innocent, but not good looking. Is a jury more likely to convict them just because they’re beautifully challenged?

A recent counterintuitive study establishes that the opposite is true. 

In the study it was the most beautiful women who were least likely to be believed by jurors when accused of murdering their husbands. So no more baths for my clients! 

Here’s an excerpt from the study:

The results showed that a defendant’s physical attractiveness increased the perception of the defendant´s responsibility in committing the crime; and an interaction between prototypicality and attractiveness in assigning credibility to the defendant´s testimony. Moreover, hostile sexism mediated the relationship between the defendant´s prototypicality and controllability. 

In a recent, possibly notorious Tampa Bay, Florida case a defense lawyer suggested at sentencing that his beautiful blonde client, a teacher accused of having sex with her fifteen year old student was, “too beautiful to go to prison,” as if prison were somehow a place only for ugly women who failed in their debutante debut.

Perhaps the lawyer was smart to plead, after all the Judge gave probation where many other indifferent looking defendants charged with having sexual battery still sit rotting in jail, in fact in Florida many Defendants spend significant time in prison for crimes involving minors despite never touching a child improperly. 
And maybe it was smart to not let the case go to a jury, where there could have been bias, but a bias to not believe her, to convict her because of her looks. There’s at least one Clearwater criminal defense attorney in Tampa Bay, Florida who believes the lives of every person, yes even the ugly, are too beautiful to be ruined by prison.

BE SHERLOCK HOLMES – NOW YOU CAN HELP SOLVE ALL THE UNSOLVED MURDER CASES IN FLORIDA

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to solve a real unsolved murder? Here’s your chance to enter the criminal justice system by using The Florida Department of Law Enforcement database of unsolved murder cases in Florida. Of course if you show a little too much interest in an unsolved murder you’re apt to become the leading suspect, if so call a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney to sort things out for you by reminding the cheerless officers about that near airtight alibi you have – you weren’t yet born when the murder occurred – as some of these cases go back quite a ways.

 Be Sherlock Holmes by  solving unsolved murders in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo &Tampa Bay, Florida with help from FDLE
Are you Sherlock Holmes?

Yet in truth the frowning officers would be right not cracking smiles, weighed down by such loss. Like withered flowers the somber faces of these many pages upon pages of victims greet you with the limitless pain of loss stretching forward till the end of time. 
The least we must do is remember. A Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer commends Florida’s Law Enforcement for honoring the murder victims by never giving up the search for their killers in these unsolved murders, perhaps knowing Sherlock Holmes would remind them, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth.” 

PINELLAS COUNTY HIT & RUN COLD CASE SOLVED WHEN DEFENDANT CALLS POLICE TO ARREST HER BOYFRIEND

Nearly a year ago a woman sped off after striking and killing a pedestrian in Pinellas Park, resulting in a classic unsolved hit and run case. The cold case could have remained unsolved if the woman herself hadn’t called the police to her home.


Foolishly, she called police to her house because she said she was afraid of her live in boyfriend, recently released from jail on worthless check charges. Maybe she was right to be apprehensive of him because he told the police she was the perpetrator of the hit and run also known as leaving the scene of an accident with injury, that she’d told him everything and when police confronted her they say she confessed.


Even though police believe the pedestrian violated the driver’s right of way that night, the driver had a legal duty under Florida Statutes to stop and identify herself and to render aid.


The St. Petersburg Times noted that a Pinellas Park police inspection of the accident vehicle revealed that it was still heavily damaged after almost a year from the fatal crash. 

“We found pieces of the turn signal and the passenger side mirror at the scene (of Fisher’s death),” said Pinellas Park police Sgt. Brian Unmisig, “and they matched the parts that the vehicle was missing.” She was booked into the Pinellas jail, where she was being held Tuesday in lieu of $52,250 bail
Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer for Drug Crimes & DUI in Clearwater, FL

The purpose of this law is not to establish who was at fault in the accident nor to apportion blame. The idea is that anytime there is a crash involving injuries the driver must stop, identify herself and render aid if necessary. Clearly, if the driver at the scene was impaired then a DUI Manslaughter investigation will take place, if at fault without impairment a Vehicular Homicide investigation will begin, or if the accident was the result of premeditation possible Murder or Homicide charges. (see statute below)
316.027 Crash involving death or personal injuries.

(1)(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in injury of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. Any person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in statutes.
(b) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in the death of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of the law.

The Clearwater Police ask your help in solving this very Cold Case. 
File:1910Ford-T.jpg

Things have changed since this Model T was the fastest – and only – car on the road in 1910.


FLORIDA STAND YOUR GROUND LAW IS YOUR PERFECT DEFENSE TO MURDER

Stand your ground is the law in Florida. Recently in Tampa a man stabbed another man in the head with an ice pick after a traffic dispute leaving the stabbed man in critical condition. His defense was that he was standing his ground.

In Clearwater the police determined there would be no arrest of a man who shot his neighbor after a shouting match over putting out garbage.
In Hillsborough a jogger shot and killed an unarmed man eight times, yet the jogger was not prosecuted after establishing that he’d been struck in the face first and believed the other man to be armed. But eight shots, you’d think he might have stopped at seven…
The Florida law gives people the right to use deadly force against intruders entering their homes or vehicles, no longer needing to prove fear for their safety, only that the person who is stabbed, shot with a firearm or even killed intruded unlawfully and forcefully. Thus making a defense to charges of aggravated battery or murder.
Previous Florida law and common law required that a person attacked in a public place must retreat if possible. Now someone attacked in public, “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.” The law also forbids the arrest, detention or prosecution of the people covered by the law, and it prohibits civil suits against them.
The central innovation in the Florida law is in expanding the right to shoot intruders who pose no threat to the occupant’s safety. According to the International Herald Tribune, one professor of law noted, “In effect,” Professor Sebok said, “the law allows citizens to kill other citizens in defense of property.” At least the Florida Supreme Court has ruled in its standard jury instructions that the Defendant must actually believe that the threat and danger is real.
 Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine

JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE

View Entire Chapter

776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.

(1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
(b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
(c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
(d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

(4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

Members of the Florida Supreme Court rest after a hard day’s work in the Fields of Justice.

Alfred de Dreux: Pug Dog in an Armchair, 1857

SUPREME COURT GRANTS CERT WHERE THE TRIAL JUDGE DECLARES A MISTRIAL IN A MURDER CASE WHEN THE JURY FOREWOMEN TELLS THE JUDGE HOW THE JURY HAS ALREADY VOTED: IS IT DOUBLE JEOPARDY TO TRY THE DEFENDANT AGAIN?

Oh, impartial jurors, please don’t tell the Court what you’ve decided until you actually render your verdict at the end of the case otherwise bad things will happen possibly even this unfortunate result….
The Supreme Court granted certiorari this morning in the case of Alex Blueford v. Arkansas, 
No. 10-1320. 

The facts are as follows:

Petitioner Blueford was tried on a charge of capital murder. During jury deliberations the jury forewoman, in open court, informed the court that the jury had voted unanimously against the capital murder charge and against the lesser-included charge of first-degree murder, but that it was deadlocked on the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. (oops!) 
The court declared a mistrial, and subsequently ruled that double jeopardy did not prevent a retrial on all charges. 

The defendant appealed interlocutorily

to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which affirmed. Blueford v. State, 2011Ark. 8, S.W.3d, 2011 WL 285805 (Ark. 2011).


Areas of Practice for Robert Hambrick – Attorney in Clearwater, FL
Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer Crimes in Clearwater, FL
Definition: Certiorari, Petition for Writ of Certiorari. Legal Dictionary | Law.com
JuryBox.org – Explaining Jury Nullification as the Last Check and Balance

Jury behavior

Scholarly research on jury behavior in American non-capital criminal felony trials reveals that juror outcomes appear to track the opinions of the median juror, rather than the opinions of the extreme juror on the panel, although juries were required to render unanimous verdicts in the jurisdictions studied. Thus, although juries must render unanimous verdicts, in run-of-the-mill criminal trials they behave in practice as if they were operating using a majority rules voting system.

The Jury by John Morgan, 1861 This is a very talkative bunch of jurors…the one with the blue scarf on his head wants to convict my client, shame on you — but the future foreman of the jury, that bright tall fellow right behind Mr. Bluescarf knows that my client is innocent and plans to dominate the jury and then if necessary,  invade Continental Europe to prove my client’s innocence – Many Thanks.

File:The Jury by John Morgan.jpg

IS YOUR BABY SITTER WANTED FOR MURDER — HOW TO FIND OUT IF ANYONE HAS AN ACTIVE ARREST WARRANT

Florida’s statewide investigative agency has a “Wanted Persons Search” function which allows you to check the names of anyone you suspect may be a fugitive from justice. Is your babysitter wanted for Murder, Aggravated Battery, or even worse in Florida’s warped Criminal Justice System, the crime of Driving While License Suspended or Revoked? 


This link looks to be a winning party game at your next get together with friends, neighbors and especially politicians; all in abject fear that maybe that long forgotten speeding ticket was never paid. 


Below you’ll see that FDLE (Florida’s FBI) “cannot represent that this information is current, active or complete,” but no matter just for the hell of it, your government puts it out there anyway, riddled with errors or not….


Here’s the link to the Wanted Persons Search: FDLE Public Access System | Wanted Persons Search

And more about the database from your friends at FDLE:


The database contains Florida warrant information as reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement by law enforcement agencies throughout the state and authorized for release to the public. FDLE and the reporting agencies strongly recommend that no citizen take any individual action based on this information. This information is not to be used as a confirmation that any warrant is active, or as probable cause for an arrest. Information contained herein should not be relied upon for any type of legal action. FDLE cannot represent that this information is current, active, or complete. You should verify that a warrant is active with your local law enforcement agency or with the reporting agency. [Wanted persons may use false identification, which could cause the warrant to contain a name, date of birth, or other information not belonging to the subject of the warrant. Such false information may or may not be designated as an alias on the warrant.]

Here are some other FDLE LINKS of interest for your next neighborhood party:
And this, which from its name – STOLEN ARTICLES SEARCH – must be for finding a purloined article or two from this Blog or from say, The New Yorker…….no, I see, articles to FDLE means personal belongings, never mind then, just take what you want:
And for all the strange folks you meet at Publix or the public parks:
A history of prisons and punsishment:

Vintage books edition cover


MAN MURDERS 13 PEOPLE & ASKS FOR AN “AUTOPSY OF MY BRAIN” IN HIS SUICIDE NOTE–AUTOPSY REVEALS STUNNING REASON FOR THE MURDERS

When is someone responsible for criminal behavior? Should a person be punished for doing a heinous act if he has lost the ability to fully control his actions? This article is from the excellent writer, David Eagleman (and many thanks to Fred & CD for lending me a copy of his latest book, Incognito, which I highly recommend especially for his portrayal of sentencing solutions geared toward individual responsibility). This article was excerpted in the Atlantic Magazine.

The Brain on Trial

Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order.
By DAVID EAGLEMAN

ON THE STEAMY first day of August 1966, Charles Whitman took an elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower in Austin. The 25-year-old climbed the stairs to the observation deck, lugging with him a footlocker full of guns and ammunition. At the top, he killed a receptionist with the butt of his rifle. Two families of tourists came up the stairwell; he shot at them at point-blank range. Then he began to fire indiscriminately from the deck at people below. The first woman he shot was pregnant. As her boyfriend knelt to help her, Whitman shot him as well. He shot pedestrians in the street and an ambulance driver who came to rescue them.
The evening before, Whitman had sat at his typewriter and composed a suicide note:

I don’t really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can’t recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.

By the time the police shot him dead, Whitman had killed 13 people and wounded 32 more. The story of his rampage dominated national headlines the next day. And when police went to investigate his home for clues, the story became even stranger: in the early hours of the morning on the day of the shooting, he had murdered his mother and stabbed his wife to death in her sleep.

It was after much thought that I decided to kill my wife, Kathy, tonight … I love her dearly, and she has been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have. I cannot rationa[l]ly pinpoint any specific reason for doing this …

Along with the shock of the murders lay another, more hidden, surprise: the juxtaposition of his aberrant actions with his unremarkable personal life. Whitman was an Eagle Scout and a former marine, studied architectural engineering at the University of Texas, and briefly worked as a bank teller and volunteered as a scoutmaster for Austin’s Boy Scout Troop 5. As a child, he’d scored 138 on the Stanford-Binet IQ test, placing in the 99th percentile. So after his shooting spree from the University of Texas Tower, everyone wanted answers.
For that matter, so did Whitman. He requested in his suicide note that an autopsy be performed to determine if something had changed in his brain—because he suspected it had.

I talked with a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt [overcome by] overwhelming violent impulses. After one session I never saw the Doctor again, and since then I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.

Whitman’s body was taken to the morgue, his skull was put under the bone saw, and the medical examiner lifted the brain from its vault. He discovered that Whitman’s brain harbored a tumor the diameter of a nickel. This tumor, called a glioblastoma, had blossomed from beneath a structure called the thalamus, impinged on the hypothalamus, and compressed a third region called the amygdala. The amygdala is involved in emotional regulation, especially of fear and aggression. By the late 1800s, researchers had discovered that damage to the amygdala caused emotional and social disturbances. In the 1930s, the researchers Heinrich Klüver and Paul Bucy demonstrated that damage to the amygdala in monkeys led to a constellation of symptoms, including lack of fear, blunting of emotion, and overreaction. Female monkeys with amygdala damage often neglected or physically abused their infants. In humans, activity in the amygdala increases when people are shown threatening faces, are put into frightening situations, or experience social phobias. Whitman’s intuition about himself—that something in his brain was changing his behavior—was spot-on.

For the rest of this brilliant article from the The Atlantic Magazine, please go to the following:

THE BEST CRIMINAL DEFENSE: FUN & VITAL FLORIDA TRIAL

The more important the case, the more likely that the judge will do his or her best to make you look good. And the less important the case the more apt you are to fall on your face if for no other reason that those involved are simply bored. If the game isn’t interesting there are plenty of judges who are apt to play you like the cat plays the mouse.

When the Best Clearwater Defense Lawyers go to jury trial on first degree Murder or an Armed Burglary or white colar crime such as Theft, Bribery, Embezzlement or Fraud, the attorneys will be treated with more respect at every stage of the proceedings.

Human nature being what it is everyone involved in the case tries harder and works harder when the stakes are greater especially a good judge.

Part of the reason is that any possible appeal of a conviction could carry with it the argument that the defense counsel failed to zealously defend his client or that the defendant had incompetent counsel. Further, in an appeal the judge’s legal decisons will be looked at for legal error. Any mistakes of law or in jury instuctions or in evidence could result in a conviction being overtunred. The prosecutor’s actions will be also be examined to see if there was prosecutorial misconduct.

The more complex the case for Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys, the more likely that the record of the case will reflect well on all three parties with the judge doing everything he can to make certain that the defense gets a clean shot at a fair trial. The message for any good defense attorney then is to always add an interesting wrinkle or twist to the case such as a compelling personal story about the defendant. The trial must be vital and fun. Let the Court know why you are trying the case, and the Judge will do whatever is possible to give you a fair hearing.