Category Archives: Blog

The Current Laws in Florida for Smoking E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes Florida Law Smoking

The smoking of electronic cigarettes, often shortened to e-cigarettes, has become increasingly common. These products, known in legal terms as an example of a “nicotine dispensing device,” have been promoted as healthier alternatives to standard cigarettes. That’s because instead of adding secondhand smoke into the air, users exhale a mostly clear vapor. You may now find people “vaping” on the beach, on the street, and even inside shopping malls, where kiosks vend them. However, not everyone is allowed to use them, and people are not allowed to smoke e-cigarettes everywhere. Here are the current Florida vaping laws.

Florida Vaping Laws Regarding Minors

Florida Statutes 877.112 states that anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from possessing an e-cigarette or any other types of nicotine dispensing products. This is considered a noncriminal violation, and offenders may still be punished with community service, a $25 fine, and mandatory attendance at a “school-approved anti-tobacco and nicotine program.” Repeating this two times within twelve weeks of the first offense may also result in the suspension or revocation of the convicted minor’s license to drive.

This statute also prohibits the sale of nicotine dispensing devices to minors or giving them to minors in any way. Breaking this law is considered a misdemeanor of the second degree. Penalties may include a maximum fine of $500 and up to 60 days in jail. Committing this offense again within a year of a previous conviction elevates this to a first-degree misdemeanor. Anyone convicted of this charge may have to pay $1000 and spend as much as a year behind bars.

Where Are People Banned From Smoking E-Cigarettes?

Those who are old enough to smoke e-cigarettes legally are still prohibited from doing so in or near specific locations. In 2015, the Sixth Judicial Court in and for Pasco and Pinellas Counties ordered that no one can use e-cigarettes inside their courthouses. They also cannot use them unless they are at least 50 feet away from the courthouses. More broadly, all “firefighter employee places of employment” are completely tobacco-free according to Rule 69A-62.024(6). Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but they are listed, and prohibited, as an example of a “tobacco-like product.”

There are also laws in effect that prohibit vaping in the workplace. However, these are local laws, and only 19 counties and cities in the Sunshine State have them as of this writing, and they do not affect certain work environments. Currently, 19 localities in Florida ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed workplaces. These laws all include restaurants under the ban, but they also follow the example of the Clean Indoor Air Act and give an exemption to bars. Vaping is allowed for people who work outdoors.

These localities range across the state and include populous cities like Miami, Port St. Lucie, and Boca Raton. Vaping in enclosed workplaces is prohibited throughout the counties of Miami-Dade, Alachua, and Marion. Other than that and sixteen other towns – including some that already fall under the jurisdiction of these counties – Floridians are currently free to use e-cigarettes at their jobs, depending on workplace policy.

Broward County currently has no laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, though the city of Lighthouse Point has its own local ban. If you face charges related to Florida vaping laws or the laws regarding tobacco or controlled substances, contact a criminal defense lawyer today. The defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. can represent you and fight any accusations made against you. Contact us for a free consultation at (954) 462-1005.

What is the Felony for Threats of Terrorism?

What is the Felony for Threats of Terrorism?

September 11, 2018 marks seventeen years since perhaps the most harrowing day in the modern history of our country. Terrorism remains a touchy subject for many Americans – perhaps more so recently than in a long time. Many people may guess, correctly, that the state of Florida has specific statutes listing the definitions and penalties for this crime. However, some may not know that even making threats of terrorism is treated very seriously and may come with severe penalties. Here is an answer, from the professionals at the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A., to the question, “What is the felony for threats of terrorism?”

How Does Florida Law Define Terrorism?

Florida Statutes 775.30 details how the state’s legal system defines terrorism and the penalties for committing it. This law breaks down the definition into two parts, the first being what activities would constitute the act itself. “A violent act or an act dangerous to human life ”would meet Florida’s standards for terrorism. The same goes for any of the “computer-related crimes” listed in Statutes 815.06. These include, but are not limited to, accessing electronics or networks without authorization and installing viruses, engaging in surveillance, and destroying or damaging equipment.

The second part of the definition of terrorism is the purpose behind these activities. Doing any of the activities listed above to “intimidate, injure, or coerce” a group of civilians or influence the government’s actions and policies would count as acts of terror. A variety of other acts (such as murder, assault, battery, and kidnapping) may also be considered terrorism under this second part. If they are committed with the intent of “intimidating or coercing the policy of a government, or … affecting the conduct of a government,” it would meet the criteria for terrorism charges.

What Does the Law Say About Threats of Terrorism?

While Statutes 775.30 regards committing an act of terror, a completely different state discusses the state’s view of threatening an act of terror without or before going through with it. According to Statutes 836.10, anyone who “transmits a threat in a writing or other record … to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism, in any manner that would allow another person to view the threat” will be punished by law. Threats of terrorism would be considered a felony of the second degree. Anyone convicted of this charge may be subject to a maximum of $10,000 in fines and as many as 15 years in prison.

People may face felony charges even for making a false threat. Statutes 790.163 states that it is illegal to make a “false report, with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person” into believing that a terrorist act will be committed. This includes reports “concerning the placing or planting of any … deadly explosive, or weapon of mass destruction … or concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner.” Even though the threat was not real, those who hear it and find it credible would likely react as it if was a real threat. This may be why false threats of terrorism are considered second-degree felonies – the same level as a genuine threat of terrorism.

If you or a loved one have been charged with threats of terrorism – not even actually committing it – your life could change forever. The terrorism crime attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. understand this. That is why we treat every case with the seriousness that it deserves and fight aggressively on our clients’ behalf. Contact us today at <a href=”tel:954-462-1005″>954-462-1005</a> for a free consultation.

3 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Florida Legal System

3 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Florida Legal System

The laws that make up the Florida legal system are intended, as all sets of laws are, to cover any problems that may cause harm to individuals or to society at large.  Because of their wide reach, the laws can be quite complex and difficult for most people to comprehend. However, negligence of the law rarely works as an excuse for breaking it, and civilians without legal degrees may discover lesser-known ways that the law can assist them – or hinder them. Here are three facts you did not know about the Florida legal system, as provided by the professional criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.

1. Dealing with Private Companies After Getting Your Records Sealed or Expunged

Under the Florida legal system, arrest records are public, which can be the source of many complications, including difficulty applying for housing, insurance, or work. State law does provide people with the means to make their arrest record unavailable to the public (sealing) or get an arrest deleted from that record (expunction, also known as expungement). However, even if people qualify for either, their problems are not resolved instantly. Private companies can obtain this information in the time that the records are open to the public, and even after they are sealed or expunged, they can sell and disclose the details to others.

To protect people’s rights to privacy, the law does provide you with two ways to deal with this. Firstly, if these companies are informed that the record in question is no longer public, they should remove that information from their archives or risk being held liable. Secondly, if anyone – interviewer, landlord, or otherwise – brings up the arrest, you have the legal power to deny that it ever happened. Its removal or concealment on the official level means that part of your past is, by law, erased from public memory.

2. You Don’t Have to Lose Your License After a DUI Arrest

Simply getting arrested for a DUI can result in license suspension for a long time, even if the charges are ultimately changed or dropped. Depending on whether it is a first-time offense and whether or not your accept testing, a suspension may last anywhere between six months and eighteen months. Harshest of all is that it begins at the moment of your arrest, and though you may be granted a temporary permit just as immediately, it expires after ten days.

However, if you and your legal defense time act quickly, there is a chance that your license will be fully restored without ever losing your legal ability to drive. You may request and be granted a formal or informal review hearing, where the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will consider whether a suspension is warranted by the details of the arrest. They just may invalidate the suspension, which will not only let you get back behind the wheel but also serve as favorable evidence in the DUI trial. Plus, if the department fails to provide a date within thirty days of the request, the suspension is automatically invalidated.

3. Diversion Programs Can Help Get Certain First-Time Felony Charges Dismissed

If a plaintiff faces charges for a first-time third-degree felony, they may qualify for a program from the Florida Department of Corrections, called the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program, instead of continuing their trial. The Office of the State Attorney’s website describes it as “similar to being on probation” and requiring “full restitution to the victim, if applicable, in addition to other conditions.” It is a way of atoning for a felony offense without it staying on your record.

It should be noted that not all third-degree offenses qualify plaintiffs for the PTI program. Possession of half a gram or more of cocaine is not a charge that qualifies, and the same goes for any amount of heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and PVP or its derivatives. People accused of violent crimes cannot take part in the program. Other excluded charges include robbery, DUI, schemes to defraud, and possession of certain drugs, among others. If more than $5000 in restitution is owed to the victim(s), the plaintiff may also be denied the opportunity to take part in the PTI program.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorneys Who Know the Florida Legal System Well

Those are just three lesser-known details hidden in the Florida legal system. We do recommend that people who did not receive a formal and extensive education on the subject should still strive to learn more about the laws that govern them – after all, knowing your rights is a civic duty. With that said, we also understand how difficult and even tricky this can be.

That is why the next best thing to knowing the laws yourself is having someone on your side who does. The skilled Broward criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. are knowledgeable in a range of legal fields, and we are willing to use that knowledge to assist you. Call us today at 954-462-1005 for a free consultation.

Civil Negligence vs. Culpable Negligence in Florida

Civil Negligence vs. Culpable Negligence in Florida

The legal definition of negligence is, simply put, when someone gets injured or killed because someone else was not careful enough. By law, people have a responsibility to be vigilant and make sure that their behavior is not putting anyone else at risk. Any lapses in this may not only result in injury to another but in being made to repay damages to that other person.

However, not many people are aware that there are two kinds of negligence, and the differences between them may affect your options and your rights as the accused or as the injured party. Learn more about the difference between civil negligence and culpable negligence in Florida.

Civil Law vs. Criminal Law

To understand the difference between these two types of negligence, one must first understand the difference between the two types of law they respectively fall under. Criminal law is what comes to mind for most people when they think about court cases. Criminal cases only occur when someone is accused of breaking the law. These cases, by their nature, involve the state or federal governments, in addition to any victims.

Civil law, on the other hand, does not involve breaking the law. Instead, it encompasses a variety of other matters handled in a court of law, such as breach of contracts, family law, and workers’ compensation.

What About Negligence?

When it comes to the different types of negligence, one can understand them by simply applying the same concepts. Culpable negligence is also known as criminal negligence, and Florida law legally defines it as having “a gross and flagrant character, evincing reckless disregard of human life or the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects.” Civil negligence is for situations where someone showed carelessness that proved damaging but did not necessarily break any laws or cause so much harm that it could be criminal.

An example of a case that would be considered civil negligence, rather than culpable negligence, is medical malpractice. It is not necessarily illegal for someone to make a mistake – for example, a doctor giving a patient medicine without knowing that said patient is allergic to it. However, if someone makes a mistake that causes extensive damage to a person’s well-being or property, they could still be tried in court for civil negligence. The patient could file a claim against that doctor and receive compensation for the effects of the doctor’s negligence.

 

As simple as they may sound, the differences between civil negligence and culpable negligence in Florida, as well as other subtleties of the law, may prove difficult for laypeople to understand in practice. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can not only assist you in navigating the complexities of the legal system but also in fighting for you during your trial. If you or a loved one are facing charges involving civil or culpable negligence, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb at 954-462-1005 and our Broward criminal defense attorneys can start assisting you today.

The Fight Over the Clemency Process and Felons’ Voting Rights

The Fight Over the Clemency Process and Felons’ Voting Rights

Voting rights may seem simple: generally, you must be an American citizen, at least eighteen years of age, and you must be registered to vote. However, in the state of Florida, you can lose that right if you are convicted on a felony charge. It does not matter if the crime itself was violent or not. As long as it was a felony, you are not legally allowed to vote after a conviction.

There is one way to get that right restored: the clemency review process. Clemency is basically mercy from the government, and in this case, it would specifically mean that the Office of Executive Clemency feels you deserve to have your right to vote back. However, a large movement created by voting rights organizations exposed the process being flawed and possibly biased. Keep reading for information and recent news on the fight over the clemency process and felons’ voting rights.

The Office of Executive Clemency

To describe this process, imagine that you have been found guilty of a felony and you are serving time in prison. However, an election is coming up and you are eager to get back your right to vote, so you can do your civic duty and join fellow citizens in choosing your representatives.

For this, you have to turn to the Office of Executive Clemency, the board that hears cases and decides whether to grant or deny clemency. This board consists of four people – the Governor, the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services – and you need the approval of the Governor and at least two members to receive clemency.

The Clemency Review Process

Applicants face many obstacles in the process to receive clemency from the board. The first is having to complete the terms of their sentence. Any fines must be paid, any prison time must be served, and every assigned hour of community service must be performed before the board will consider your case.

First, you must actually apply for a Restoration of Civil Rights (RCR) case. After you do, the next step is waiting for the board to meet and conduct hearings. The challenge here is that the four individuals who make up the board have many other tasks and duties due to their high positions of power. This means they only meet four days each year. Ideally, you would want them to see your case on one of those four days.

This leaves them with little time to look at cases, and the Miami Herald reports that this has created “a backlog of more than 10,000 unresolved cases.” Felons have had to wait between five and ten years for their case to be reviewed. Because of this, you may have to not only skip the upcoming election but several midterms and general election.

In the end, whenever you do present your case to the board, you might not even be granted clemency. The rules clearly state, “The Governor has the unfettered discretion to deny clemency for any time, for any reason.” This means that you may be denied your right to vote because the board believes you did not show that you have changed enough, or because they simply disliked your attitude, or for any other reason.

The Fight for the Rights of Felons

Florida is one of only three states that do not automatically restore the voting rights of felons upon their release, and advocates for voters’ rights have been very critical of the restoration process. Criticism has been so high to the point that it in February, a federal judge ruled that the system violated the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker stated, “To vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority. No standards guide this panel.”

Walker later ordered the Office of Executive Clemency to come up with a new process by April 26. However, on April 25, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals delayed the ruling, keeping the current system in place. It remains unchanged, and the board continues to hear cases – including in the run-up to the 2018 midterm election, where current state governor Rick Scott is running for state senator. ABC News has pointed out the potential conflict of interest in a political candidate effectively choosing who can and cannot vote.

Citizens are doing their own part to fight for felons’ voting rights. The calls for change have grown so much that activist groups collected enough signatures to include an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot in the 2018 midterm elections. If 60% of voters say yes to Amendment 4, this would give felons the right to vote immediately after they finish serving their sentences. The requirements for citizens to propose Florida constitutional amendments are immensely difficult, and overcoming them shows that many people take this issue seriously.

 

With the way that the clemency system currently works, a convicted felon will want a sharp attorney on their side to assist them in regaining their rights. Anyone charged with a felony can also benefit from having a lawyer represent them in court. If either of these situations applies to you or a loved one, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. today. Call us at 954-256-8567 and receive a free consultation.

Everything You Need to Know About Florida Fake ID Laws

Everything You Need to Know About Fake ID Laws

The fake ID may be a staple of teen comedy films, and it may be enjoyable to watch depictions of characters in high school or college trying to convince liquor store owners and nightclub bouncers that they are older than they appear. However, getting caught with a falsified driver’s license or identification card in real life is not as humorous as it is in the movies. This is a serious offense that may result in felony charges, and Florida citizens should take care to be aware of the real-life consequences ordained by state law for these unlawful acts. Here is everything you need to know about Florida fake ID laws.

What Exactly is Illegal?

Florida Statute 322.212 bears this description at the top: “Unauthorized possession of, and other unlawful acts in relation to, driver license or identification card” (the statute defines “identification card” as any kind of card used “for the purpose of indicating a person’s true name and age”). While merely having a fake ID on you is a criminal act in itself, there are a variety of other acts related to fake IDs that constitute breaking the law.

According to Statute 322.212, these acts include:

  • Knowingly owning or displaying any kind of ID that does not belong to you, except if authorized by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). That can mean a license or identification card that is “blank, forged, stolen, fictitious, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued.”
  • Knowingly selling, manufacturing, or delivering a license or ID that is any kind of the above: “blank, forged, stolen, fictitious, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued.” Even offering to do any of those acts is illegal.
  • For DMV employees specifically, issuing a license or ID to someone while knowing they have not met all the requirements.
  • Giving a false name or any other kind of information when applying for a license or any other kind of official ID – this would be considered fraud. Also related is possessing ID with a false birthdate.
  • For people designated as sexual predators or sexual offenders, possessing an ID that does not show the required markings as they are supposed to be displayed.

What are the Penalties?

Certain breaches of Florida fake ID laws have lower penalties than others. Committing fraud while applying for a license or ID card and possessing ID with a false birthdate are both considered second-degree misdemeanors. You may not only be punished with 60 days of prison and a fine of $500 but also be slapped with a year-long suspension of your driver’s license.

As for all the rest, Statute 322.212 states that charges for breaking any of the other laws are felonies of the third degree. That means that if you are convicted of doing pretty much anything involving a license or ID card that either should not belong to you or has been altered from how it should look, you may have to spend up to five years in prison with $5,000 in fines.

As you can see, all this is significantly tougher than just being barred from entering a club or buying alcohol. While fake ID incidents may make for comedy fodder in teen movies, the actual penalties under Florida law are anything but humorous.

 

If you or a loved one face any charges related to Florida fake ID laws, you need to retain the services of a skillful criminal defense lawyer who can represent you in court. Anyone living in or near the Broward County area is welcome to contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. Our experienced attorneys will be aggressive in fighting for your case, and we will do everything we can to lower the severity of your charges or get them dismissed altogether. Call us today at <a href=”tel:9544621005”>(954) 462-1005</a> for a free consultation and more information.

What is Zealous Defense?

zealous defense

Have you ever followed a high-profile trial on the news and believed a defendant to be clearly guilty? You may have then, wondered if the defendant’s attorney knows that their client is guilty – and if so, why the attorney continues to defend them. There is a reason why lawyers fight on behalf of people who likely committed a crime. It happens to be the same reason for why lawyers fight on behalf of anyone. It is called zealous defense.

What is Zealous Defense?

Zealous defense, also known as zealous advocacy, is an ethical principle for practitioners of law. The essential idea is that once a client contracts the services of an attorney, the attorney must then do everything necessary to win the case, so long as it does not violate other ethical principles for the profession. They must do this regardless of their own feelings or views about their client – and regardless of whether or not they think their client is innocent.

As William K. Black notes in an article for Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, this can mean that lawyers who “believe [their client] to be guilty of a heinous crime” should still do what they can to assist their client. This can mean “rais[ing] alternative theories that are not simply tenuous by deeply embarrassing to other innocent individuals.” If an attorney believes a guilty verdict is more than likely, they have a duty to fight for the lightest sentence possible.

Why Have Zealous Defense?

It may seem that only guilty criminals can benefit from this practice and that getting away with a crime is the only possible benefit. The truth is that everyone in the United States benefits from zealous defense because it requires that all lawyers treat their clients equally. An attorney cannot let any personal convictions, which can include personal prejudices, interfere with their work. They must commit and be tireless in their effort.

This ideal naturally springs from and contributes to the presumption of innocence, which is the bedrock of the United States justice system. Anyone who must stand trial expects to be seen as “innocent until proven guilty.” This rule exists not just for model citizens, but also for unpopular individuals whom even their own legal representation may not personally like. Even unpopular individuals are still citizens who need the same protections given to all citizens under American law.

Moreover, if someone is disliked by others, or is seen as having the personality that would make them likely to commit the crime for which he or she are accused, that does not necessarily mean they are guilty. This is why Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1785, “That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approv’d …”

The idea of guilty people “escaping” through this principle may sound disconcerting to some. However, what matters is that someday, you might be that innocent person, standing trial for a crime you genuinely did not commit and at serious risk of “suffering.” Would you not expect your attorney to zealously advocate for you, no matter how the situation may appear?

 

Naturally, the Broward County criminal defense attorneys at Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. Broward Criminal Lawyers will zealously advocate for any and all clients. If you or a loved one are in need of legal representation, reach out to us today at (954) 462-1005 for a free consultation without obligations.

How the Heroin Epidemic Has Impacted South Florida

heroin epidemic in south florida

South Florida’s history is haunted by illegal substances, from the mobster-fueled rum-running of the Roaring Twenties to the cocaine cowboys of the 1980s. Even today, after decades of the nationwide War on Drugs initiative, the region is still wracked with drug trafficking and its disastrous consequences. Something to focus on in particular is the impact of the heroin epidemic in South Florida.

Origins in the Opioid Crisis

This issue is wrapped in a larger drug issue sweeping the United States: the opioid crisis. As reported by Public Radio International, South Florida became the country’s “pill mill capital” in the first decade of the new millennium. People came from all over the country for easy access to oxycodone and other opioids. Public pushback eventually translated into political action and “state and federal agencies cracked down” on these facilities starting in 2011.

However, the damage was already done: as with the rest of the United States, many people had become addicted to opioids during the time of the pill mills, depending on them for pain relief. The crackdown created scarcity, and the scarcity created higher prices. Lacking the means and needing a fix, many switched to street heroin.

Modern Strains

However, the heroin of today is not the same as that of yesterday. NBC6, the Miami branch of the network, reports that in South Florida, “drug dealers are mixing powerful synthetics like fentanyl and carfentanyl” to create more potent strains of ‘smack’. PRI writes that they are “thousands of times stronger than morphine.” This means that if someone overdoses on this type of heroin, it is much more difficult to bring them back from the brink.

To measure the scope of the spread of heroin in South Florida, as well as the response from local governments, NBC6 reviewed the financial records of City of Miami Fire-Rescue to see how much they paid for supplies of nasal naloxone. Paramedics use this drug, also called Narcan, to save people from overdosing on heroin. They discovered that in 2015, the department paid $36,459 for Narcan, and in 2016, they purchased $180,900 of the drug. Even with the slight uptick in price being accounted for, that is almost five times as much as the previous year.

The Epidemic in Numbers

The heroin epidemic in South Florida seems to have hit Palm Beach County hardest. It has seen hundreds of heroin deaths in the past few years, more than any other county in Florida. In 2016, the Palm Beach Post ran a special feature called “Heroin: Killer of a Generation,” profiling all 216 county residents who perished from heroin-related overdoses in the previous year. The Post later gave statistics using data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showing that heroin and related substances killed 541 Palm Beach County residents in 2016.

This is just a microcosm of the heroin epidemic, which is sweeping not just South Florida, but the state as a whole. The same collection of statistics from the Post also showed that the death toll for heroin throughout Florida has risen every year since 2010, with almost 3000 people perishing in 2016 alone. This is the true impact of the heroin epidemic in South Florida: all the lives lost.

 

Broward Criminal Law is prepared to assist you with all of your legal needs. Call today at (954) 462-1005 for a free consultation.

The Difference Between Third-Degree Murder and Manslaughter

The Difference Between Third-Degree Murder and Manslaughter

Murder is a serious crime no matter the location, but the severity of the charge can vary based on the circumstances of the killing and where in the United States you are being tried. Different states may have different definitions for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter.

Florida is one of three states that divides it even further: the statutes include an additional degree of murder, which shares some potentially confusing similarities with the law for accidental murder. It is imperative that Florida citizens be aware of where these definitions diverge, so here is the difference between third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The Different Degrees of Murder in Florida

To understand how Florida defines third-degree murder, you must first understand how Florida defines murder. Take a look at the list of felonies below:

  1. Certain traffic offenses
  2. Arson
  3. Sexual battery
  4. Robbery
  5. Burglary
  6. Kidnapping
  7. Escape
  8. Aggravated child abuse
  9. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
  10. Aircraft piracy
  11. Unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  12. Carjacking
  13. Home-invasion robbery,
  14. Aggravated Stalking
  15. Murder of another human being
  16. Violently resisting an officer
  17. Aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death
  18. Acts of terrorism
  19. Human trafficking
  20. Unlawful distribution of certain controlled substances if they are proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user

These 20 crimes, quoted from Florida Statutes 782.04, can result in severe legal consequences on their own. If someone kills another person “in the perpetration, or in the attempt to perpetrate” any of these crimes, however, they may be found guilty of murder in the first degree.

So Then What is Third-Degree Murder?

Third-degree murder has two key aspects that distinguish it from other types of murder. The list of 20 crimes previously mentioned is critical for understanding one such aspect. You may also receive a conviction for a felony if you kill someone while committing or attempting to commit a crime that is not included on the above list of crimes.

The second key aspect is that the killing must have occurred “without any design to effect death.” In short, it must be accidental and not pre-meditated. Of course, this is different from one of the definitions of second-degree murder, which involves a similarly unplanned killing, but is “perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life.”

How Does This Differ from Manslaughter?

Florida law  Statutes 782.07 defines manslaughter as “the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification … and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder.” This definition is similar to third-degree murder in that both involve the killing of another human being by accident. This may be why both crimes are considered second-degree felonies.

Florida law, however,  seems to see a need to make a distinction between third-degree murder and manslaughter. Manslaughter often occurs when people make mistakes that prove costly – for example, a driver failing to stop or swerving as someone fails to notice, or avoid them while crossing the street. On the other hand, some people do not accidentally kill others just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes, people are killed simply because someone else was doing something that they had no right to do under the law. This death could have been avoided if the killer had remained a law-abiding citizen.

Because manslaughter and third-degree murder are both on the same felony level, the penalties may be the same either way. However, this crucial difference will show in the convicted felon’s criminal record. Moreover, third-degree murder is added on top of whichever crimes the defendant was perpetrating or trying to perpetrate at the time, so people accused of this may still have more legal trouble than people charged with manslaughter.

If you or a loved one are dealing with any matters related to charges of third-degree murder or manslaughter, you should contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney immediately. The professionals at Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. Broward Criminal Lawyers are ready and willing to provide any legal assistance you may need. Call us today for a free consultation at (954) 462-1005.

Note: it should be mentioned that manslaughter involving the death of certain kinds of people (elderly adults, disabled persons, children, officers, firefighters, and specific emergency medical professionals) through culpable negligence would be considered a first-degree felony.

What Exactly is “Stand Your Ground”?

stand your ground

For the past several years, there has been much conversation and controversy across the nation surrounding the “stand your ground” law in Florida. Given the public’s continued interest, Florida citizens should be made aware of the facts regarding the law. Here is some information about the “stand your ground” law.

The Legal Text

Florida Statute 776.013 states in part, “A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use” force, whether deadly or nondeadly. This is known as castle doctrine, which has long been a staple of American common law.

However, Statute 776.012 is the one that introduced the “stand your ground” law. Unlike the aforementioned statute, which is specifically about the use of force against attackers in a home, this one more broadly touches on the justifiable use of force in general. The last sentence reads in part, “A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force … does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”

The significant aspect of the latter law is in the last phrase, saying anyone can use force without first attempting to flee if he or she is “in a place where he or she has a right to be.” Having “no duty to retreat” has long been part of castle doctrine, but this statute extends the principles of castle doctrine to any public space and anywhere else where they are legally present. This can be used to get a trial dismissed or as self-defense during a trial.

When Is Use of Force Not Justified?

The “stand your ground” law is not intended to provide people with carte blanche to attack others on sight. A person’s use of deadly force is only legally justifiable “if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

This exact piece of text, with the exact same words, can be found in both Statutes 776.012 and 776.013. It goes to show that in order for a “stand your ground” defense to work, an attorney must prove that their client believed – with reason – that they would otherwise have been murdered or seriously injured.

 

If you ever find yourself in a situation involving a shooting, you will want attorneys who are experienced with the state’s gun laws at your side. The Florida criminal defense attorneys at Broward Criminal Lawyer are ready and willing to provide any legal assistance that you or a loved one may want. Contact us today at (954) 462-1005 for a free consultation.