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Sarasota, Florida, criminal defense blog

Study shows witness IDs send many innocent people to prison

Nearly 70% of all exonerations based on DNA evidence involve mistaken witness identifications, according to a report commissioned by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court set up a task force in 2016, which was the first federal effort to address the subject. The results were published last fall in the Temple Law Review, exposing the criminal justice system’s over-reliance on eyewitness accounts.

Should police be able to force you to give up your cellphone passcode?

It wasn’t long ago that we simply used cellphones to make phone calls outside of home. Now, in addition to the various ways we use them to communicate, we also utilize them for media consumption, as a mass storage device and for various other conveniences. The more uses phones have, the more vital it is that we keep them secure.

But what happens when law enforcement believes you hold case-changing evidence on your phone?

Courts allowing ‘junk science’ as evidence, study concludes

Scientists say judges across the United States fail to keep unreliable psychological and IQ tests from being used as evidence, resulting in junk science in courtrooms. The research says such tests can influence juries and judges whether it’s used in bail hearings or death penalty cases.

Scientists studied hundreds of different tests as part of the study, published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest journal. They found prominent psychological manuals had not reviewed one-third of the tests, and only 40% received a favorable rating.

What does Florida's stand-your-ground law state?

In 2005, Florida became the first state in the nation to pass a stand-your-ground law. While others have followed suit since then, many people still don't understand exactly what this law means. Everyone in this state should have at least a basic understanding of it so that they can do what they feel is best for their safety when they are facing imminent danger.

In a nutshell, the stand-you-ground law enables you to protect yourself from great bodily harm or death. You can use deadly force to accomplish this. The problem that comes with this law is that you have to show that you reasonably felt like your life or body were in immediate danger.

How can you be sure it's safe to drive with your prescriptions?

Whether you've fallen ill or have chronic health issues that you have to attend to, you should be aware that driving isn't always a good idea when you're taking medications. Certain medications can interact with alcohol or cause side effects that make it difficult to drive safely.

Of course, life goes on, even if you have to take medicine. So, there is a good chance that you'll need to drive at some point. How can you make sure you minimize the risk? Is there a way to know if you are safe to drive while taking medications?

Types of felony probation in Florida and noncompliance penalties

People convicted of felony criminal acts in Florida might be sentenced to serve probation instead of having to go to prison. Probation is sometimes referred to as community supervision. When participating in the program, they must ensure that they comply with specific requirements.

There are different types of supervision that fall under Community Corrections, which is a part of the Florida Department of Corrections. The probationer will serve a specific amount of time on the program, as ordered by the court.

Florida doesn't have employment protections for medical marijuana

The availability of medical marijuana in Florida presents a conundrum for some people who might have a condition that can benefit from using it, but who are concerned about how it might impact them in a professional manner. The answer to this isn't always simple, so it might help to understand a few things.

While there are states that have laws protecting an employee's right to use medical marijuana, Florida isn't one of them. Because of the lack of protection, you have to know your employer's policies regarding the use of this drug.

Drugged driving is illegal in Florida, even on legal drugs

When people think about impaired driving, they usually think about alcohol as the impairing substance. This isn't the only substance that can lead to a driver being too intoxicated to drive. Drugs, including marijuana, prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs, can also lead to a person being unable to operate a motor vehicle.

Florida laws stand firm on the topic of impaired driving, regardless of the cause. You can face a criminal charge for driving under the influence of these drugs. This means you are facing a driver's license suspension, time in jail and fines.

7 best practices during a traffic stop

You have probably been pulled over at some point in your life. You drove to the side of the road, put your car in park and reluctantly waited for the police officer. But did you know the best way to behave from that point forward?

Traffic stops are routine and common, but they can sometimes escalate and go south. Luckily, there are several ways you can help a traffic stop go as smoothly as possible.

Which Florida professions are subject to licensing and review?

Floridians, like all Americans, have certain basic rights when it comes to criminal charges brought against them. Your rights protect you from improper behavior on the part of law enforcement, aggressive government searches and facing criminal charges more than once for the same offense.

Known as "double jeopardy," the right to avoid more than one trial for the same offense is an important protection offered under the Fifth Amendment. However, many people misunderstand the concept of double jeopardy and how it actually affects their life. It only refers to your right to be free from prosecution related to the same crime more than once.

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