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Sexual battery of a child in Fort Lauderdale can carry serious consequences. Sometimes the accused is not apprehended right away, and by the time a trial occurs in Broward County the victim is much older and lives elsewhere. Can a victim be compelled to come from another country to testify in a child sexual battery case? Does a victim testifying by satellite violate the Confrontation Clause? These are all questions a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale sex crimes attorney can help you answer.

In a recent sexual battery case considering these questions, the defendant appealed a judgment and sentence after being found guilty of sexual battery on a victim under age 12. He argued that the lower court had made a mistake in permitting the victim to testify by satellite.

Although the crimes were reported when they happened, the defendant fled and wasn’t arrested for more than ten years. The victim was an adult by the time there was a trial. Before the trial, the government asked that the victim be able to testify by satellite from where she lived in Australia. She applied for a return visa, but wasn’t approved at the time of the government’s request. She was worried about endangering her job and the financial hardship.

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In a recent appellate decision arising out of a Broward County court decision, the defendant appealed his withholding of adjudication and sentence for one count of possession of cocaine after a plea. The appellate court considered whether the cocaine was found as a result of an Florida illegal search and seizure.

The case arose when the police discovered crack cocaine in the defendant’s food container. Early one morning, two police officers were patrolling an area known for being a high crime area. An officer wearing a vest with the word “Sheriff” written on it was driving an unmarked SUV with the windows rolled down. As the police officer started to turn at an intersection, he saw two men standing at the corner of it. One of the men was holding a fork and a food container.

The defendant turned and looked up with a startled expression. He dropped his fork, as well as a yellow item that he tried to push down into the food container. The officer recognized that the item was crack. The police officer stopped. He took the container, which held grits. The items were pulled out of the grits and tested and found to be crack.

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Using a firearm while committing a felony is a serious charge in Florida. In a recent Florida gun crime decision, the defendant appealed his conviction for using a firearm while perpetrating a felony in violation of Florida Statutes section 790.07(2).

The case arose in connection with a drug deal that soured. The defendant had gone to the victim’s house to purchase marijuana and shot the victim. The defendant later argued he shot the victim in self-defense because the victim and another person tried to steal the money he’d brought to buy pot. The victim argued that the defendant shot him after trying to grab the pot without paying for it and running away.

The defendant was charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery with a firearm. Although he was arrested for the use of a firearm while committing a felony, he wasn’t charged with it because the prosecutor thought this offense was combined in the other two counts. At trial, the jury found the defendant not guilty of armed robbery and lesser included charges. It couldn’t make a decision on aggravated battery.

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If you are required to register as a sex offender in Broward County, you should be aware that any discrepancies in your information or failure to register can trigger an investigation. Recently, a Florida man who was already a registered sex offender was charged with a federal criminal complaint of soliciting child pornography over the Internet. The county case was closed. Investigators claimed that a detective looking over the man’s sex offender registration information found that his Facebook account was not in his true name. Accordingly, a detective sent him a friend request, in which he pretended to be a 13-year old girl.

The man and the detective pretending to be a child engaged in multiple online conversations. Eventually the man raised sexual activity and suggested that they meet to have sex. He again asked the detective posing as a child to meet up in person and transmitted a sexual photo a few days later. He later asked the person he believed to be a child to send him a picture of her genitals. Soon after he was arrested. In 1994, he was convicted of aggravated indecent assault in another state and his sentence required him to register as a sex offender.

If you are required to register as a sex offender as part of your sentence for a sex crime and don’t do so within 48 hours after initial release or after moving to a new location, you can be convicted of a third degree felony. You are required to update any changes to your identifying information within 48 hours of the change. The sentence may involve a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine. Sex crimes that may result you being required to register as a sex offender as part of your sentence include human trafficking, false imprisonment if the victim is a minor and you are not her parent, kidnapping when the victim is a minor and you are the parent or guardian of the victim, and luring or enticing a child. You may be regarded as a sexual predator under Florida Statute 775.21 if you are convicted of a violent sexual offense.

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Only hours after the Miami Herald reported that an arrest warrant was issued for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson after he failed to appear for a Broward County court date on May 1, ESPN reported that the arrest warrant was being set aside. Anderson’s attorney told ESPN that the missed court date was the result of miscommunication and a new court date was set for July 19.

Anderson was supposed to appear for an arraignment relating to a misdemeanor reckless driving offense in January. According to ESPN, the incident initially resulted in nine charges—including two felonies—but was reduced to the misdemeanor charge of reckless driving and threatening a public servant or family member.

ESPN reported that the Broward County State Attorney’s Office dropped the felony charges in April due to insufficient evidence. Anderson’s attorney told ESPN that he “never received notice from any court to appear” and called it a “clerical error.”

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On February 26, 2016, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 228 (SB 228). The legislation deleted aggravated assault from the list of convictions carrying mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment if during the commission of the offense the convicted person possessed a firearm, destructive device, semiautomatic firearm and its high-capacity detachable box magazine, or machine gun.

Criminal charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences often put both alleged offenders and judges in difficult spots. A person who is accused of a crime that involves a possible minimum sentence may be less inclined to fight the charges at trial out of fear for the possible consequences of a conviction, giving a prosecutor substantial leverage in pretrial negotiations. Similarly, judges are powerless to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences even in cases in which an alleged offender has no prior criminal record.

While the change to the state’s law for aggravated assault with a firearm or other weapon offenses was certainly a welcome one, many other criminal offenses in Florida still carry very steep mandatory minimum sentences. Any person who is facing a possible mandatory minimum will want to immediately retain legal counsel for help possibly getting the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible.

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After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a national opioid epidemic, Governor Rick Scott signed Executive Order 17-146 on May 3, 2017, declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. On June 14, 2017, Governor Scott signed House Bill 477 (HB 477), legislation that added the opioids fentanyl and carfentanil to the list of drugs that can result in mandatory minimum sentences.

Roughly six months later, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a report stating that the 5,725 opioid-related deaths reported in 2016 were 1,483 more than the prior year, or a 35 percent increase. The date included the following opioids:

  • Buprenorphine
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WPLG-TV reported on December 28, 2017, that a man was arrested after DNA evidence linked him to a 2010 rape in Davie. Davie Police Sergeant Mark Leone told WPLG that United States Border Patrol was notified because the alleged offender was in the country illegally.

Leone said the rape case originally went cold after saliva was collected from the woman’s breast and submitted for DNA analysis, but a company was able to create a composite of the alleged offender after police recently provided the DNA evidence. The composite was used to locate the alleged offender, who consented to a collection of his DNA.

Leone told WPLG that “the test results concluded that it was a 1-in-400-billion chance” that the man arrested was not the man responsible. WPLG reported that he now faces multiple counts of sexual battery.

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TCPalm.com reported on December 4 that a 39-year-old man was arrested in the 4500 block of Southeast Chatham Avenue in Stuart in Martin County. The man was wanted based on warrants issued in Broward County related to attempted sexual battery, burglary with battery, and battery with prior conviction.

Three days later, the Watertown Daily Times reported that state police in Massena, New York, arrested a 52-year-old Ontario woman based on another warrant from Broward County. According to the Times, the woman was being held without bond on a felony charge of violating probation and she was serving a sentence for exploiting an elderly person, second-degree grand theft, and forgery.

Both of these cases demonstrate that warrant information is shared by law enforcement agencies nationwide. People who have active warrants for their arrest cannot hide and simply hope to wait out warrants, as there are only two possible ways that warrants go away: with a warrant being recalled by a judge or the alleged offender being placed under arrest.

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The Sun-Sentinel reported on November 15 that a 48-year-old man turned himself in to Broward County jail to face driving under the influence (DUI) manslaughter charges following a July 15 crash along the Davie Road Extension near North 78th Avenue. According to an arrest report, a man driving behind the alleged offender told investigators that “9 or 10” times before the crash he saw the alleged offender’s GMC Sierra “drifting out of its lane and moving into oncoming traffic and that its turn signal was activated in the direction the pickup was drifting.”

The Sierra struck a northbound Toyota Scion and then hit a Kia Forte, the latter collision resulting the death of a 60-year-old grandmother. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the alleged offender fainted when being treated at the scene of the crash and again while giving consent to have his blood drawn. He is accused of having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.24, or three times the legal limit.

One week before that story was published, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a 25-year-old man was booked into the Broward County jail Tuesday in connection with the death a 30-year-old woman and two of her children on April 24, 2016. The Sun-Sentinel reported that the alleged offender’s car went out of control and overturned in a construction zone on Interstate 75 as he and the 30-year-old woman argued while he was driving.

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