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CS/SB 494 – Compensation of Victims of Wrongful Incarceration

Finally Getting Rid of Clean Hands?

What happens when a prisoner is wrongfully accused of a crime? We can hardly deny that prison, for any length of time, can be a completely life changing experience. Especially if the wrongfully accused crime was something heinous such as sexual assault, homicide, or serious drug offenses. So what has the Florida government done to ease wrongfully convicted individuals back into everyday life?
In 2008, the Florida Legislature passed the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act. The Act was designed to compensate wrongfully convicted individuals for every year that he or she served in Florida prison, up to $2 million dollars.
The catch is that to qualify for compensation for wrongful incarceration, the victim must have “clean hands.” Having clean hands means that the wrongfully incarcerated victim must have no prior felonies.

What is the Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act?

The Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act established the administrative process for receiving compensation for wrongful compensation. The victim petitions the original sentencing court for an order finding that he or she was wrongfully incarcerated and is eligible for compensation.
In this process, the Department of Legal Affairs administers the eligible person’s application process and verifies the validity of the claim. The Chief Financial Officer arranges for payment which is payable to the victim over the course of ten (10) years, at $50,000 per year, totaling $2 million dollars.

Fla. Stat. § 961.04 the Clean Hands Provision

An individual will be ineligible to receive compensation for wrongful incarceration if any of the following apply:

  • during the individual’s wrongful incarceration, the person was convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, any felony offense;
  • during the person’s wrongful incarceration, the person was also serving a concurrent sentence for another felony for which the person was not wrongfully convicted; or
  • before the individual’s wrongful incarceration, the person was convicted of, or plead guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, any felony offense;

What Does Senate Bill 494 Do?

Senate Bill 494 is set to amend chapter 961 of the Florida Statutes, which establishes the administrative process for compensating those who have been wrongfully incarcerated in Florida prison.

Currently, an individual is not eligible for compensation for wrongful imprisonment if he or she has a felony on his or her criminal record. It is important to note that while thirty (30) other states have a type of wrongful incarceration statute, Florida is the only state that has a so-called “clean hands” provision. The interesting thing about the clean hands provision is that it punishes the victim of wrongful incarceration for past acts that he or she has either already paid for with incarceration or fines. Either way, the debt to society has been paid.

Yet, the clean hands provision would deny compensating the victim for the State’s mistake. Currently, any felony will disqualify a victim. If SB 494 passes, only violent felonies will disqualify a victim. The hope is that such a change will widen the pool of available applicants. Since 2008, only four (4) people in Florida have been compensated for wrongful incarceration.
Senate Bill 494 would narrow the list of the kinds of felony offenses that would disqualify a person from being compensated for wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, a felony would disqualify a victim if any of the following apply:

  • during the person’s wrongful incarceration, he or she was convicted of, pled nolo contendere to, regardless of any adjudication, any violent felony; or
  • during a period of parole or community supervision on the sentence that led to his or her wrongfully incarceration, the person committed a violent felony that resulted in the revocation of the parole or community supervision.

Additional Resources
Senate Bill 494 –Visit the official website of the Florida Senate for more information on the current status of Senate Bill 494, including the most up-to-date analyses, the voting history, any amendments, or citations to the Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act.

Find an Attorney for Wrongful Incarceration in Leon County, Florida

The idea that not having clean hands somehow justifies wrongful incarceration by the State of Florida is disappointing. Wrongful incarcerations have taken the lives of many defendants and have substantially uprooted their lifestyles.

The Florida Clean Hands provision prevents wrongfully incarcerated individuals from their ability to start over. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully incarcerated, call the attorneys at Pumphrey Law.
Our attorneys have years of experienced fighting for the rights of those who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.

Pumphrey Law is located in Tallahassee, Florida. We serve clients accused of crimes in Leon County and the surrounding areas throughout Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit including Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County and Quincy in Gadsden County. We also represent clients in the surrounding areas of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region.

Call (850) 681-7777 for an initial consultation.

This Article Was Last Updated on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

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Florida Criminal Hazing Accusations

At many colleges, universities, and post-secondary institutions, hazing is a rite of passage that allows one to cross over into membership in the “Greek” community.  “Greek” refers to the various fraternities and sororities designated by Greek letters that promote camaraderie and philanthropic activity among students and alumni.  Although hazing may be a tradition for some organizations, many actions that are considered hazing may also be considered criminal. Those who commit such acts, if caught, may face criminal prosecution and punishment.

Over the years, fatal sorority and fraternity hazing incidents have gained mass media coverage and attention.  Hazing criminal accusations can have very negative consequences on a person’s life if he or she is found guilty of committing those acts.

Many times, those who are found responsible for hazing face criminal charges and disciplinary actions from the school or university for violating the student conduct code. Civil suits may also be filed against organizations and their members depending on the situation.

Hazing under Fla. Stat. § 1006.63

Florida Section 1006.63 defines hazing as an action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution.

Common forms of hazing may include but are not limited to the following:

  • pressure or coercing the student to violate state or federal laws;
  • physical and mental manipulation;
  • pressure to violate school code of conduct, or any school rules;
  • whipping, beating, drugging, branding;
  • acts and activities that may lead to one being sleep deprived;
  • conduct that could result in extreme harassment; and
  • forced consumption of anything.

Hazing Criminal Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, FL

If you have been accused of fraternity or sorority, hazing in Leon County, Florida it is important you speak with the experience criminal defense lawyers at Pumphrey Law as soon as possible. Our lawyers have experience representing students who attend Florida State University, Florida A & M, The University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida International University, the University of Miami, and other Florida schools.

It is our primary goal to protect the rights of those students who are facing criminal accusations throughout the entire process. We understand that students may face a lot of pressure from faculty and others to speak about the incident, but it is wise to speak with our Florida criminal defense attorneys before saying anything about the alleged hazing incident(s).

Penalties for Hazing

Penalties for hazing vary from case to case depending on the severity of the accusations.  Some penalties may include but are not limited to the following:

  • being charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime depending on the circumstances of each case;
  • being subject to academic sanctions like expulsion and suspension, loss of scholarships or financial aid; and
  • being subject to a four (4) hour hazing education course

Consent is not a Valid Defense in Florida

If you have been criminally charged with hazing, it is not a legal defense to say that the victim consented to such hazing acts. Many times individuals want to join sorority and fraternities so bad that they consent to the abuse; however, Florida law does not recognize such consent.

If your membership in a sorority or fraternity at FAMU, USF, or a different Florida college or university is at risk due to hazing allegations, or you are facing criminal or student code of conduct violations in Florida it is important to contact the Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777.

Find an Attorney for Sorority or Fraternity Hazing in Leon County, FL

If your fraternity, sorority, or an individual member of such organizations is facing criminal charges for hazing, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not talk to the police until you have an attorney present.

Being charged with hazing in Florida can have serious consequences, not only on your record but on your academic standing and ability to complete your education as well. Our attorneys provide well guided criminal defense for college students.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have years of experience representing clients at Florida State University in Tallahassee, the University of Florida in Gainesville, the University of South Florida in Tampa, and other Florida Schools.

Call (850) 681-7777 for more information about how one of our lawyers can help you.

This Article Was Last Updated on 4/25/2017.


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What to do If You Get Pulled Over?

I’m getting pulled over! Oh Crap! There are blue lights flashing behind you indicating that you need to pull over.  What should you do?  The blue flashing lights are directed at you.  What do you do if you get pulled over by the police?

Be calm. Stay in your vehicle.  Above all else, be calm. You should notify someone that you are being pulled over, (preferably a sober friend or parent who can come to the scene if necessary). You can also record the encounter with a law enforcement officer. Florida law says you can always tape record a law enforcement officer while he or she is in the performance of his/her duty (which I highly recommend for everyone’s safety). Most importantly, remembe—be calm. Stay in your vehicle.

Remember, answer no questions other than your name, date of birth, address, and place of residence. It is also important to note that signing a ticket is not an admission in Florida.

The officer who approaches is focused on who and what is in the car but most importantly, everyone’s hands.  Keep your hands where the officer can see them at all times, this will work to your advantage.

Regardless of the officer’s demeanor, you are always respectful, polite and attentive.  You are going to need three things, a driver’s license, valid registration, and valid proof of insurance.

One of the reasons that the officer asks for these items is compliance. The officer may also be looking for anything that might indicate another crime.  On the compliance side, the officer is going to run your information to see if there are any summons, warrants, or restrictions against you.

If you have an active warrant against you, it is imperative that you call an experienced criminal defense attorney. I, fortunately, provide those services. Call Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 for an initial consultation about your case.

Have your registration and proof of insurance along with your driver’s license neatly together, (not all crumpled in a wad of confusion), and hold them outside the window awaiting the presence of the officer.  This will show the officer that you are prepared, squared away and showing compliance.

Stay in your vehicle.  Unless you are ordered out of the vehicle, you are safer inside.  Remember, there are other cars out there flying by. While Florida’s move over law is a good law, it doesn’t matter, for your safety stay in the car

Although I admittedly live in a town with a regional airport, I do have a thriving criminal defense practice.  There are a lot of people who get pulled over and arrested in Tallahassee, Florida.

Parents teach your children how to handle a traffic stop, roleplay a traffic stop (some police agencies will even sponsor mock traffic stops) and be safe. I hope this has helped Tracey, our girls, my Dad and anyone else who reads what to do in a traffic stop.

Find an Attorney for Being Stopped by Police in Leon County, FL

If you or someone you know has been arrested or detained by the police, then call an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney.

Our office is located in Tallahassee, and we take cases throughout Leon County, FL.

Call (850) 681-7777 now for more information about your case.

This Article Was Last Updated on Thursday, March 30, 2017

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So You Need a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney?

“Criminal Defense Attorney” or “Attorney” are not common search terms here in Tallahassee; our State capital.  Unfortunately, “Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney” is the most searched term, let’s face it.

The reason is quite simple.  Tallahassee or Leon County ranks at the top of crime rate as reported by The Tallahassee Democrat. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “[the number of reported crimes include] murders, sexual assaults, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts combined to rank Leon County with the highest (5,049) reported crime rate in the State.”

In Tallahassee, Florida, we have an average of 72,000 students at three major schools, which equates to a greater need for advice on criminal related issues for students.  Recently, the Tallahassee Democrat reported  that “even as the total number of reported offenses rose by more than 1,000, arrests declined by ten percent (10%).”

The unfortunate side is that when a false arrest, mistaken arrest, negligent arrest, or some form of arrest that snares an innocent person –one who is truly innocent of everything—it places the family in complete and utter fear.

The family suffers the most and is in desperate need of correct answers, and someone who can take control of a situation that appears hopeless.  An experienced individual who can make hope happen again–not unreasonable nor false hope, but real hope. Such hope is built through experience, training, and compassion.

Contact Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777, and let us help remove the fear, restore the hope, and give you leadership and direction that you so desperately need when you need a Tallahassee, criminal defense attorney.

Our offices are conveniently located in Tallahassee, Florida; Don Pumphrey can help you understand the charges pending against you, the potential punishments, and the best defenses to fight the charges.

The Firm represents clients in Leon County, FL, and the surrounding counties of Jefferson County, Wakulla County, Gadsden County and Liberty County.

This Article Was Last Updated on March 27, 2017.

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The Gang Members Protection Act?

“Gang Members Protection Act,” as dubbed by State Attorney Aronberg of West Palm Beach, is just another term used for something that places the burden of proof in stand your ground cases squarely on the shoulder of the prosecutors.

“Prosecutors never like having the burden shifted to them—it creates more work,” stated Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr.”It creates less funding, less appreciation, less staff, and by shifting the burden to the prosecutor, it creates more work.

The 2017 Florida House Bill 245 (previously CS/HB 128) is building on the Stand Your Ground (SYG) history of this great State, which clearly moves the burden of proof to the State Attorney. Such a shift in the burden will most likely create more cases and more SYG filings. Read more about CS/HB 128 here.

Attorney Don Pumphrey went on to say, “this is just the beginning of proving when the use of force is an issue, and this is a very good thing for due process of law.”

Any time force is used, whether it is with simple battery (touch or strike), impact weapons, or a taser, it will require the stand your ground analysis (as it has since its inception) and the criminal defense attorney will be responsible for hiring a use of force expert. Ideally, an experienced attorney would hire someone to assist the trier of fact, someone who had training and experience in use of force at all levels up to, and including, deadly force.

A use of force expert will come in and assist not only the Tallahassee criminal defense attorney but also to assist the trier of fact (a jury, grand jury, judge) by reconstructing the timeline and explaining the areas force was used and why. The why is the answer that always has an effect on Stand Your Ground cases.

Sadly, many law enforcement officers (who have their own “use of force continuum”), prosecutors, and criminal defense attorneys do not understand how force is utilized in a continuum. Use of force has a specific application in specific and unique circumstances.

Roy Bedard is a great expert in reconstructing use of force scenarios and has been a great asset to me in the past.

Mr. Bedard is the President of RRB Systems International, a law enforcement product, and training company located in Tallahassee, Florida.  Changes to Florida’s Stand Your Ground SYG Law by shifting the burden to the State will create a new atmosphere for criminal defense attorneys in Tallahassee, Florida, but will do little to change the perceptions of those who need the training the most, law enforcement officers having to make decisions based upon the new law.

Find an Attorney for Stand Your Ground in Leon County, Florida

Don Pumphrey Jr., is a hometown criminal defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida, and a lifetime member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys in Tallahassee states.

Pumphrey Law takes cases throughout Leon County, and the surrounding areas of Jefferson County, Wakulla County, Gadsden County and Liberty County.

Call (850) 681-7777 now for a free consultation about your case.

This Article Was Last Updated on March 3/27/2017

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Dismissal, No Information, Nolle Prosequi, What Does it all Mean in Florida

In Florida, dismissal cases, no information separated from the almighty nolle prosequi.  The majority of the defendants in any given Florida courtroom could not tell you the meaning of the term nolle prosequi.

Nolle Prosequi, in legal terms, means“[a]t common law the State has the discretion to announce a nolle prosequi any time prior to the swearing of the jury to try the cause. Wilson v. Renfroe, 91 So.2d 857, 859 (Fla.1956). In addition, because it is solely within the State of Florida’s discretion to nol-pros a case, it may timely do so without the permission of the court. State v. M.J.B., 576 So.2d 966 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991) (holding that the trial court erred in refusing to accept the State’s nolle prosequi filed after the trial court denied the State’s motion to continue, but before jeopardy attached).

The State’s discretion, however, is not unlimited. The State’s ability to dismiss a case without prejudice and to file a new information is restricted by double jeopardy and the speedy trial rule. State v. Stell, 407 So.2d 642, 643 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981).

Nevertheless, a “nolle prosequi effectively ends the proceeding, and any action taken subsequent to the filing of the nolle prosequi is a nullity.” Sadler v. State, 949 So.2d 303, 305 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007). See also State v. Braden, 375 So.2d 49, 50 (Fla. 2d DCA 1979).

Moreover, a nolle prosequi is self-executing upon its announcement and immediately terminates the proceeding. State v. Spence, 658 So.2d 660, 661 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995). No approval of the trial court is required,” State v. Aguilar, 987 So. 2d 1233, 1234–35 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2008)

In the State of Florida, the Office of the State Attorney falls under the executive branch of government and therefore vests certain powers to determine whether to proceed with a criminal prosecution. The interesting aspect of a nolle prosequi is that it can be entered at any time and terminates the criminal proceedings, (on the spot, instantaneously, immediate), with no further proceedings on the charging document.

The ability to re-filing after nolle pros is subject to certain rules and restrictions such as double jeopardy, the speedy trial rule, and if neither of those applies, then there is still the infamous statute of limitations. Discussing all of the preceding would require separate blogs and separate entries to explain. The good news is that majority of the time a nolle prossequi is the best outcome for a criminal defendant.

No Information or No Action in Florida

A “no information” or a “no action” is not the same thing as nolle prosequi. In Genden, a “no information” was filed after the information, and around the same time that the appellant pled no contest to the two charges that were listed in the “no information.” It was never mentioned in the proceedings below and, as we noted earlier, is being raised for the first time on appeal.

The parties did not cite, and the court was not able to find, any case law or rules in Florida defining the term “no information.” The term “no action,” on the other hand has been defined as the voluntary termination of proceedings by the state before an information is filed. Genden v. Fuller, 648 So.2d 1183, 1183 n. 1 (Fla.1994); Allied Fidelity Ins. Co. v. State for Use and Benefit of Dade County, 408 So.2d 756, 756 n. 1 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982) (“A ‘no action’ is a dismissal of the pending charges before an information or indictment has been filed; a nolle prosequi is the dismissal of a pending information or indictment.”).

A “no action” serves the purpose of letting a person who has been arrested know that information will not be filed, or an indictment will not be sought.

The Court went on to say “[w]e do not agree with appellant that a “no information” is a nolle prosequi. From a grammatical standpoint a “no information” is the same as a “no action.”

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, an action is a “civil or criminal judicial proceeding,” Black’s Law Dictionary (7th  ed.1990), and an information is a “formal criminal charge.” Id. at 783.1

The Florida Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of what can constitute a nolle prosequi is consistent with Wilson v. Renfroe, 91 So.2d 857 (Fla.1956), in which the prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss criminal charges which stated that an investigation showed that there was insufficient evidence to prove the case. Our supreme court rejected the defendant’s contention that the motion to dismiss was a nolle prosequi.”, Purchase v. State, 866 So. 2d 208, 208–09 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004).

Simply put, the no information or no action, depending on what part of the State of Florida you are in, merely tells you that a charging document will not be filed at that specific time. A no information is indicative of two things in the prosecutor’s world—getting rid of the case with no intention of bringing a charging document later or giving the target of the investigation more “rope” to hang themselves with later, so that the prosecutor can lie in wait for the appropriate time when more evidence exists to bring formal charges (within the boundaries of due process).

Dismissal in Florida Courts

Dismissal is a term usually used by the court. Dismissal can be used by a prosecutor, which is pleasant to a defense attorney’s ears, but it is more appropriate to say nolle prosequi.  Dismissal is usually a judicial function denoting that the charges, charging document, elements, primary offense, or any number of areas are “terminated” for that particular time, and for a particular purpose.

Depending on the timing of any dismissal, (and the basis), it could be fatal for the pending charges brought by the state attorney, or it could be a mere bump in the road for the prosecutor. For the defense attorney, dismissal could mean that there are still more battles to be fought, either on the re-filed charging document or on appeal.  Regardless, it is always good to hear the words dismissal, no information or no action, and nolle prosequi.

Don Pumphrey is a former State Prosecutor, a lifetime member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, a former State of Florida police officer, a former professional athlete in both the USFL and the NFL, and a full IronMan finisher. Most importantly, Don is a husband, father, and friend who loves giving people back their lives and building relationships with former clients who are better because of his services.

Find an Attorney for Dismissal in Leon County, FL

If you or someone you know has been arrested, call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Invoke your right to remain silent and do not speak with anyone until you have secured an attorney.

Don Pumphrey represents criminal defendants charged with drug crimes, violent crimes, DUI and driving offenses, and other criminal offenses in Leon County, FL, and the surrounding counties of Jefferson County, Wakulla County, Gadsden County and Liberty County.

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DUI Ignition Interlock in Florida, All about DUI’s?

blog-interlock-620

“Make no mistake there is always money attached to legislation that moves toward expanding or developing or implementing any device”, says Don Pumphrey, Jr., Owner and Founder of the Pumphrey Law Firm located in Florida’s Capital City, Tallahassee. This is a campaign that’s being pushed for mere safety?  One random company touts preventing over 4 million “illegal” starts since 1992 yet in the same paragraph give a disclaimer that nothing is 100%.

“Here is the straight.  The ignition interlock is a deterrent or a safety device?  Most persons who are required to use the ignition interlock device have been driving for days, weeks, months without the ignition interlock device, only to have it statutorily mandated as punishment?  These DUI ignition interlock laws and devices have been around for quite some time, where is the new research?    If it truly has the backing of safety and not monetary gain, I am all for anything that benefits each of us in society.”

Why isn’t there a marketing campaign pushing these devices on the largest group of our society that is immature, has a drivers license (or ability to apply for one) and is at highest risk?  This group would be persons ages 16-28 or the new “Uber Generation.”  “Who in the DUI world does the interlock truly benefit?  Show me the numbers. Show me it is about reducing drinking related traffic incidence.  I’m all ears.” adds Pumphrey, Jr. “Maybe we should look to current experts in the areas of human factors and look for your information from www.nhtsa.org  even better yet, request an opinion from an expert like Don Fournier, a licensed engineer and expert in reconstruction with Forensic Engineering Technologies. Reach out to someone like Dr. Justin Morgan at F.E.T. and see if they can point you to an opinion as to whether this is indeed a reliable safety device given any empirical research provided.”

The ignition interlock in Florida is a measure for money not for safety.  There may be collateral safety attached sufficiently to shoot the locks off the wallet of the legislature, but the real reason for the device is financial. In the end, it is my humble opinion is that the manufacturer is pushing a product to make money on DUI’s, not preventing DUI’s.

Penalties for DUI in Florida

Whether people were celebrating victories or wallowing in bitter defeats of College Football, socializing with friends, or simply grabbing a drink after work, arrests for alleged drunk driving  can turn fun into months of incredible stress. Convictions can result in serious penalties, even if it is your first criminal offense.To avoid costly fines, having your driving privileges suspended, and the possibility of time incarcerated, you need the assistance of an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney with experience litigating DUI offenses on behalf of clients throughout various areas of Florida, including Leon County and Jefferson County.

Resources

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=ignition+interlock+site:nhtsa.gov&*&spf=612

Studies About the Ignition Interlock: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=ignition+interlock+site:nhtsa.gov&*&spf=612

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Respondents Beware When Dealing with Injunctions for Stalking

I am a criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee, Florida, and I primarily focus on criminal allegations. However, I also handle collateral matters and allegations, the increasing number of which, involve ex-girlfriends, friends with benefits, friends, strangers found on social media and on and on  . . . .  It’s seemingly never-ending.

Here is how it goes, someone gets their feelings hurt because break-ups are never fun.  They get angry at the other party, then start some dialogue in their head that the person is following them (even though they live in the same area of town, have the same friends, and go to the same pickup bars).  Then the one with the grudge believes that somehow this person is stalking them.  Holy Cow!  Are you kidding me?

I was a young prosecutor when the stalking statute was created, and it had a very good purpose.  Now, it is becoming a tool for angered exes (lovers, friends, enemies) because the person goes down and fills out the forms and, voila, a Temporary Injunction is filed.

Although the judge knows the injunction was filed by a lay person and not an attorney, he or she signs it anyway in an abundance of caution to ensure that the person is protected until an evidentiary hearing can be held –BOOM!

You now have an injunction history even if the case is dismissed.  Really?  I sat through a hearing recently where there was not a single mention of a threat, not one.  Merely sightings of the respondent and stories from the past “on again, off again” toxic relationship that had no relevance and no indication of a current or past threat.  What happened to “sticks and stones but words,” heck just sightings will hurt me?

Florida Stalking Statute §784.048

Florida Statute 784.048 provides definitions for the terms, “harass,” “course of conduct,” “credible threat,” and “cyberstalk,” and they each have their own subsection of the statute. These definitions are pretty self-explanatory, yet they say nothing about sightings or “happening to appear in the same place,” and nothing about the crappy parts of a past relationship.

In addition to the definitions found in §784.048, there is another part of the Statute that must be fulfilled to constitute “stalking.” Florida Statute §784.048(2) and (3) require willful, malicious, and repeated behavior harassment, stalking, etc….  Is it willful or malicious to live in the same town and do the same things you did before a breakup?  If you repeatedly go to your job, repeatedly walk your dog in the same park as before the breakup?  How about just repeatedly driving on the same roads and streets?  How about eating at the same restaurants?

Luckily, judges and the case law help clarify all of these issues.  However, the person who is a respondent had better beware. These normal, everyday activities can be twisted to create (with literary license) a circumstance that could end up with you in court -a court where you have no idea what you are doing; a court where the rules of procedure and evidence apply. Essentially, in a court of law you must be a strong advocate; a zealous trial lawyer, if you are to survive.

Attempting to try your own case as a pro se litigant will likely only end in a train wreck, where your best hope is that an experienced criminal defense attorney can fix it. I have had multiple clients attempt to try their own cases and then come to my office crushed, asking me to fix it. It is highly unlikely that a case that started pro se can be fixed later.

The best thing to do would be to speak with an experienced trial lawyer, someone who has tried over 100 jury trials. Speak with a strong, tireless, advocate who will fight for your best possible result. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Mark Twain once said, “a man who represents himself has a fool for an attorney” and he was absolutely right.

Finding an Attorney for Stalking in Leon County, Florida

As stated, being criminally charged with stalking is often a convoluted mess that results from break-ups, hookups, and jealousy. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best thing you could do under these stressful circumstances.

Call Pumphrey Law for a free consultation for more information about your stalking charges and how to fight such a serious accusation.

The attorneys at Pumprhey Law represent clients throughout Leon County in Tallahassee, Florida.

Call (850) 681-7777 now for more information about fighting stalking charges in Florida.

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Vaping and Hash Oil

Although marijuana legislation in Florida is a controversial issue, recreational use is becoming more acceptable across the country. The health benefits of marijuana are becoming more acknowledged and more states are getting on board with legalization.

Currently, twenty-eight (28) states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana. Seventeen (17) states have decriminalized marijuana, and seven (7) states have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The increase in marijuana acceptance has also brought on alternative ways of consuming it. For those new to marijuana, these methods may be unheard of. Vaping refers to inhaling the gasses released from marijuana after it has been heated. Dabing, another way to use concentrate, uses a cylinder like tube to heat and inhale THC concentrate. Of course, marijuana has been used in cooking baked goods as well as other foods.

Marijuana users have chosen to vape, dab, or eat marijuana edibles rather than smoke it for reasons that range from health to potency. Individuals have chosen these methods of using the substance to reduce the risk of lung diseases or respiratory issues and for the strength of the THC concentration– the active ingredient in marijuana.

What users fail to realize is the many states have laws that penalize hash oil concentrates a lot harsher than they do the green leafy substance.

Attorney for Hash Oil Crimes in Tallahassee, FL

Florida has recently legalized medical marijuana. As using marijuana becomes more acceptable, understanding your rights under the new regulations will become more important.

Call one of our experienced marijuana defense attorneys for more information on hash oil and how the new Florida medical marijuana legalization might impact how these crimes of prosecuted.

Don Pumphrey represents criminal defendants charged with marijuana concentrate possession in Leon County, FL, and the surrounding counties including Jefferson County, Wakulla County, Gadsden County, and Liberty County.

What is Hash Oil?

Hash oil is the result of extracting the active ingredient (THC) from marijuana plants. The extraction process creates a substance that is a concentrated form of THC. Butane is the most common chemical substance used for extraction. The maker puts butane in a polyvinyl cylinder tube along with marijuana. The butane extracts the THC from the marijuana and leaves oil or wax-like substance at the end.

Butane is not the only method for oil extraction. Some methods use alcohol, olive oil, ethanol, or water. Each method makes the resulting substance different. The terms used to describe it refer to the consistency of the extract. Some other names for marijuana extracts include:

  • hash
  • co2 oil
  • budder
  • Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
  • shatter

Lab Testing for Cannabis Resin and Hash Extracts in FL

The new methods of marijuana consumption involving higher THC levels raise interesting implications for GC-MS testing for cannabis resin extracts. Gas Chromatography—Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) is a method for analyzing and identifying various substances in a given test sample.

Most counties use the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Crime Lab. If the police recover a small amount of marijuana concentrate on a piece of wax paper, for example. The weight of the sample would be measured in grams and described as a brown wax-like substance.

The crime lab will then return a report identifying the substances as a cannabis resin extract from GC-MS test.

Criminal Penalties for Marijuana in Florida

Marijuana is a Schedule I substance.  A Schedule I substance describes a drug that has not been approved for medical use and has a high risk of abuse. With respect to marijuana, all cannabis products, except less than twenty (20) grams of marijuana as a green leafy substance, constitute a Schedule I substance. Penalties for marijuana include:

First-Degree Misdemeanor: possessing marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor when the person possesses twenty (20) grams or less of marijuana. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and up to $1,000 fines.

Third-Degree Felony: possessing marijuana becomes a felony when an individual possesses between twenty (20) grams and twenty-five (25) pounds of marijuana. Possessing any amount of THC concentrate is a felony. A conviction of a third-degree felony is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Additional Resources
Definitions for Popular Hash Oil Names – For more information on the definitions of popular marijuana terms for butane hash oil or honey oil visit the Druglaws.org website. The website also provides access to blogs and useful resources about the marijuana community and the effects of using marijuana.

The Medical Marijuana Act – The Marijuana Policy Project is a nonprofit organization that campaigned to pass Amendment 2 –the medical marijuana act in Florida. The Marijuana Policy Project partnered with United Care MPP assisted with the campaign’s fundraising and public education efforts.

Definitions in Amendment 2 – The United Care Official Website for the full language contained in Amendment 2 along with useful definitions such as “Debilitating Health Conditions.”

Finding a Lawyer for Marijuana Resin Crimes in County, Florida

If you or someone you know has been charged with marijuana concentrate possession, then contact an experienced marijuana defense attorney in Leon County, FL. With offices in Tallahassee, Don Pumphrey can help you understand the charges pending against you, the potential punishments, and the best defenses to fight the charges.

Call attorney Don Pumphrey at (850) 681-7777 for more information about crimes for marijuana concentrates.

Don Pumphrey represents criminal defendants charged with drug possession crimes in Leon County, FL, and the surrounding counties of Jefferson County, Wakulla County, Gadsden County and Liberty County.

This article was last updated on Friday, January 27, 2016.

Also posted in Florida Law | Tagged , | Comments Off on Vaping and Hash Oil

Stand Your Ground under Senate Bill 128

Stand Your Ground (SYG) has been a widely debated topic across the United States, especially with the numerous high-profile cases involving self-defense. Approximately twenty-two (22) states have some version of a stand your ground law. As of today, the states that have SYG laws include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Most Stand Your Ground laws change the common law requirement in self-defense, which requires a duty to retreat to the best of one’s ability before using force. All stand your ground laws have some form of “no duty to retreat” language in them.
In Florida, a person who uses force in “justified” self-defense cannot be arrested, detained in custody, or charged and prosecuted. The new Florida Senate Bill 128 proposes to change some procedural aspects of SYG required to prove that the defendant qualifies for immunity.

Attorney for Self-defense in Tallahassee, Florida

Being charged with a violent crime such as an assault, battery or homicide can be completely life changing, even if it is done in self-defense. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to help explain Stand Your Ground law, and how it may apply to your case can alleviate some of the fear and stress caused by the trial process.
Speak with the Pumphrey Law Firm now for more information about the current status of stand your ground in Florida. Pumphrey Law is located in Tallahassee, Florida, just minutes from Florida State University.
Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a no obligations consultation about your case.

Burden of Proof in Florida

In order to fully understand the significance of Senate Bill 128, you should understand the definition of “burden of proof.” Generally, the prosecution is tasked with the proving the defendant guilty. With such a “burden” falling on the State, the defendant does not have to prove or show anything. In Florida, self-defense is an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is the defendant’s side of the story put forth, that if proven true, creates a justification for an otherwise unlawful act.
As of now, the Florida Supreme Court, in its majority opinion in Bretherick v. State, 170 So.3d 766, (Fla. 2015), has set forth the procedure for asserting immunity under SYG. Under Bretherick, a defendant that claims immunity under SYG must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the entitlement to the immunity at a pretrial hearing. A preponderance of the evidence is a standard of proof that a proponent must meet in a pretrial hearing. The preponderance of the evidence is defined as “more likely than not.”
Until SB 128 passes, a defendant must prove that it is more likely than not that he or she is entitled to immunity.

The Effect of Proposal 128 on Florida SYG

As stated above, under Bretherick, a defendant has the burden of proving that he or she is entitled to immunity under Stand Your Ground. If Senate Bill 128 is enacted, then the burden shifts from the defendant to the State, meaning that the prosecutor will have to prove that the defendant is not entitled to SYG immunity.
Additionally, Senate Bill 128 will change the standard of proof. Currently, the standard of proof is by a “preponderance of the evidence.” If SB 128 is enacted, then the standard of proof will be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Beyond a reasonable doubt is a higher standard of proof than preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, the State will have to prove that the defendant is not entitled to immunity beyond a reasonable doubt if CS/SB 128 passes the Florida Legislature.

Additional Resources
CS/SB 128: Self-defense Immunity – Visit the official website of the Florida Senate to find out more information on the status of the upcoming changes to the Florida Stand Your Ground law sponsored by the Judiciary and Senator Rob Bradley (R).

Fla. Stat. § 776.013 –Visit Online Sunshine the official website of the Florida Legislature for the full statutory language of the current Florida Stand Your Ground law.

Forensic Engineering Technologies –Visit Forensic Engineering Technologies for more information about how their forensic investigators can detect various emotions on 911 emergency calls, such as anxiety, fear, anger, or aggressive intent. The Pumphrey Law Firm has used their experts in previous Stand Your Ground trials in Florida.

Find an Attorney for Stand Your Ground in Leon County, Florida

Stand your ground is a difficult standard to prove. With the new changes emerging, your rights and duties under Florida law could change. Under these circumstances, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney who has handled defense cases for years.
Speak with one of the attorneys at the Pumphrey Law Firm for more information about your case. Pumphrey Law represents clients throughout the Tallahassee, Florida area, throughout Leon County.
Call (850) 681-7777 for a consultation about immunity under Florida Stand Your Ground.

Also posted in Criminal Law in the News, Florida Law | Tagged , | Comments Off on Stand Your Ground under Senate Bill 128

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Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr.

Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.

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The information provided on this site is for general information purposes only. The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Use of this website or submission of an online form, does not create an attorney-client relationship.

The hiring of a criminal defense attorney in Leon County or surrounding areas is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements, informational videos, a blog, or an internet website. Before you decide which attorney to hire for your case, ask us to send you free additional written information about our qualifications and experience. Contact us today for more information.

Principal office located at: 553 E. Tennessee St., Tallahassee, FL 32308