Will Florida get softer on crime under new Criminal Justice Reform Laws?

Attorney William R. Moore Criminal Justice Data Collection

The United States incarcerates more people than other countries throughout the world and Florida has one of the toughest criminal justice systems in the nation. Our state also has one of the strictest sentencing codes in addition to having more minimum mandatory offenses than other states. The result has been a 2.5 million dollar Department of Corrections budget that keeps about 100,000 inmates incarcerated. Considering that Florida is expected to experience a significant increase to its general population in 2021, lawmakers have implemented data collection requirements in order to make changes to Florida criminal justice based on information rather than emotion.

Rehabilitation vs. Incarceration

Since 2016, Florida has seen no reduction in the amount of inmates despite reducing the amount of defendants that were sent to prison. This is due the fact that mandatory minimum offenses and sentence enhancements have resulted in inmates being forced to spend significantly longer periods of incarceration than other states. All of those convicted losses have been required under law to serve at least 85% of their sentence. Longer prison sentences translate into greater punishment and less rehabilitation for a prison population in which 95% will eventually be released.

Analyzing Florida Criminal Justice Trends

Under the new law, Florida prosecutors, public defenders and various entities within the criminal justice system will have to collect information about the treatment of defendants including race, plea negotiations and case dispositions. It is the intention that this data will be used to make better-informed decisions with regard to changing Florida criminal law and potentially focusing on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. It is expected that the result will be lower crime rates at less cost to taxpayers.

Specifics pertaining to adults about the Justice Reform Law

Education and reform: counties may elect to contract with the district’s school board to provide educational services to inmates. State funding will be provided for workforce programs for the education of inmates who have no more than 24 months left on completion of their sentence.

Criminal justice data collection: every local and state agency within Florida must uniformly collect criminal justice data from state attorneys and public defenders. This information must be published on a single accessible database. This database must be freely accessible by the public. All data must be anonymous with respect to the defendant’s name. Florida counties must also encourage local communities, public and private educational institutions to provide pre-arrest immersion programs.

Broward DUI Task Force to install Intoxilyzer 8000s in Patrol Cars?

William R. Moore Criminal Defense DUI Task Force Broward County

DUI investigations in Broward County Florida have troubled Sergeants due to the time that it takes a detective to conduct an adequate investigation under Florida law. According to attorney William R. Moore, investigations typically take about 6 hours. A majority of this time is spent transporting a suspect to the Breath Alcohol Testing Facility. Once at the BAT facility, it is a fairly lengthy process before the individual is tested. As a result, perhaps due to the lack of funding, we have seen less DUI arrests and a drastic reduction in the number of DUI Task Force Detectives.

An arrest is required prior to requesting and administering breath tests.

Many people believe that officers test individuals at the scene using portable breath testing equipment which hasn’t been the case until now. Florida has only authorized the use of CMI’s Intoxilyzer 8000 for use in testing a suspect’s breath/blood alcohol level and this device is not conducive to being housed in a vehicle. Under Florida law, Intoxilyzers must be kept in a secure environment that is clean, dry and free from airborne chemicals such as ethanol. Criminal defense attorneys have understood these requirements to be the rationale behind officers not having them installed into the patrol cars of DUI Task Force Members.

A pilot test of “in-car breathtesting”

Despite regulation tending to restrict the use of breath testing equipment in police cruisers, one DUI Investigator in Broward County is utilizing an Intoxilyzer 8000 which has been specially mounted in his patrol car to make arrests. The reason for which is undoubtedly to cut down the time required to conduct a full DUI investigation through utilization of the Breath Alcohol Testing Facility. It is estimated that, should in car breath testing be permitted, DUI investigations could be cut from 6 hours to under an hour and a half.

Florida’s standard ground law still confusing in light of Markieis Mcglocklon case

William R. Moore on Deadly Force and use of firearm to defend one' self

The recent Markeis Mcglocklon arrest is the latest long-line of controversial cases involving deadly force which is claimed to have been used in self-defense.

Criminal law used to require a person to retreat from a threat

The use of deadly force to defend oneself has always existed, however, under common law, the defender first had an obligation to retreat prior to asserting any type of legal justification. Florida’s standard ground law eliminated this duty to retreat which raised concerns as to vigilante justice throughout the state of Florida.

Two scenarios under Florida’s “stand your ground” law

Justification for the use of deadly force is presumed where such force take place in a person’s home or automobile. This fueled the fire in that many

An individual may use deadly force in any other place that they have a legal right to be where that person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to either himself or others, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

Threat of death or great bodily harm

I think we’re seeing here is either a misunderstanding or a loose definition of the “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” claims William R. Moore

Florida courts have defined this as a justifiable belief that:

The assailant was attempting to murder them,

commit and aggravated assault upon them,

burglarize them,

a forcible felony,

sexual battery

etc.

False sense of security among Florida gun owners?

Florida has some of the most liberal concealed carry laws in the nation and it is been argued that the stand your ground law has created a somewhat false sense of security with regard to when you can draw a firearm.

You perceive a threat, doesn’t matter if your public, the law says that you’re justified in meeting force with force. If you justifiably fear great bodily harm then you can take a step further and use deadly force such as killing the assailant with firearm.

What about situations where you can’t justify a fear of great bodily harm or death?

What then of situations where someone is in fear of being pushed rather than being severely beaten or killed? How is the use of a firearm viewed under Florida law in that circumstance

There are many ways that you can use a firearm. Understanding that you should never pull a firearm unless you’re prepared to use it, you can still tell an assailant that you have a gun and that you’ll use it if necessary. You can show them that you have a gun and can actually pull that firearm. You can even take another step in point that gun at your assailant. All of these things can be done without firing a shot.

It’s interesting though that Florida’s standard ground of law doesn’t mention firearms in the statute rather only the term deadly force. This of course includes firearms, however:

What if someone fears that they are in danger of being battered but not justifiably to the extent that they are in danger of serious bodily harm, such as being pushed to the ground?

Can you draw a gun?

Florida courts have held that simply drawing the gun is not in itself considered the use of deadly force. Pointing a gun at someone does not in itself constitute the use of deadly force. Marty v. State in 2016, Rivero v. State,

This would seem to suggest that an individual can draw a firearm when they have a justifiable fear that any unlawful force is to be used against them no matter how slight. This would also allow for the drawing of a firearm to prevent a trespass on twins property.

Drawing a gun and firing it in the air as a warning shot does constitute the use of deadly force under Miller v. State. Florida’s standard ground law was amended however to allow the firing warning shot.

 

Uber Crime and Insurance

William R. Moore Explains Uber Coverage

 

Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have been credited with reducing traffic/criminal offenses such as DUI throughout the nation despite data which suggests that it’s the fact varies greatly depending on the state and jurisdiction.

Various crimes involving rideshare companies reported on regularly

Allegations of crimes and nefarious deeds seem to be all the rage when it comes to reporting on news involving companies such as Uber. Everything from Russian spying to a Driver’s urinating into a bottle when his passenger wasn’t looking have made headlines. More serious cases involving road rage and murder have also been popping up with some regularity.

Recently, criminal offense attorney William R. Moore sat down with personal injury attorney Chris O’toole to discuss steps taken by at least one rideshare company to protect its client passengers.

Uber provides insurance to it’s riders based on 3 scenarios

As of now, Uber provides insurance coverage to its patrons. The policy amounts which range from $50,000 to over $1 million depending on one of three scenarios:

Where a driver was on the clock but did not have a passenger in its car, such as in driving to pick passenger up; where a driver has a passenger in his or her car and gets into an accident (and/or) where an Uber driver comments on intentional or grossly negligent act resulting in harm to a passenger.

It is unclear at this time as to whether Uber provides coverage to its drivers for intentional acts committed against them.

Avoiding a prison sentence through restitution

William R. Moore Criminal Sentencing

Criminal offenses such as DUI Manslaughter almost always include a civil lawsuit seeking damages from the offenders insurance company. In many instances however, the maximum policy limits do not fully compensate the victim’s family. Sometimes the offender didn’t carry automobile insurance at all.

Establishing that restitution to the victim outweighs the need for a prison sentence

Under Florida Statute § 921.0026, the judge can consider during a motion for a downward departure that the need for payment of restitution to the victim outweighs the need for a prison sentence.

A defendant serving a mandatory prison sentence obviously will not be able to make restitution payments to the victim’s family. Where this is an issue, the victims loved ones may be willing to testify that a defendant would better serve them on probation where they can work and make amortized payments over the length of their probationary sentence.

Negotiate with the attorney representing the family

Discussing options with the civil attorney representing the victim’s family may provide an avenue for a criminal defense attorney to file a motion for downward departure and either avoid or reduce the time of incarceration sentence. At the very least effort should be made to communicate with counsel for the victims loved ones to determine if this may be a viable option.

For more information about this article contact attorney William Moore at 954-523-5333