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Miami Legal Issues Blog

Understanding the difference between larceny and embezzlement

According to the National White Crime Collar Center, theft by employees, typically embezzlement, ranks high as one of the most prevalent and costly problems facing today's public and private business organizations. Understanding the difference between the two crimes is an important part of understanding the charges you face. The distinction is complex, but we'll try to explain them both.

Protect yourself from false accusations of sexual abuse

Teachers and other professionals who work with children often find themselves facing allegations of sexual abuse. A student gets a bad grade and accuses the teacher of misconduct. The teacher explains sexuality in class as part of the lesson, but in the retelling, the information gets misinterpreted.

According to an AP investigation in 2007, in a five-year period, 2,570 educators were punished for sexual misconduct. However, over 10,000 educators were charged with some type of misconduct during the same time frame. About 53 percent of these cases involved a criminal conviction.

Is your drug addiction treating a mental illness?

Drug addiction is a serious problem, whether it involves licit or illicit drugs. It becomes even more complex if someone is self-treating a mental illness by using illicit substances. This can land a person in the criminal justice system when all that was needed was proper mental health treatment. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, chronic drug abuse often occurs in conjunction with mental illnesses identified by the American Psychiatric Association. This includes disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some disorders actually have an increased risk of drug abuse:

Ways your DNA evidence might be compromised

According to a 2013 news release from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in 2012, the FBI started a review of more than 21,000 cases using microscopic hair comparison in cases before 2000. The NACDL asserts that there are many problems within the forensic science system and believes the system should be overhauled. Although many organizations are working on this very problem, in the meantime, you have to deal with the current laws. If you've been charged with a crime, it's important to talk to your attorneys about the different ways DNA evidence might be compromised. Here are a few ways it could be contaminated:

Mom was right: Always look both ways

The old adage to "look both ways before you cross the street" is even more important in Florida. According to a study published in the Huffington Post, Florida ranks second in pedestrian deaths. Only New Mexico has more pedestrian -related fatalities.

What does this mean for you?

In Florida, an average of 588 people are killed each year in pedestrian accidents. Couple that with the third highest number of traffic fatalities overall (2494), and Florida's roads are actually more unsafe than any metropolis, including New York City.

Conceal your weapon by securing it at home

In 2015, the state of Florida laid claim to the title of the state with the most concealed weapons permits on record. Filing nearly 1.4 million licenses, Florida's permit holders led those applicants in Pennsylvania and Texas. Addressing these 1.4 million permit owners who store their arms at home are campaigns to promote safety awareness. If you or someone you know stores a gun at home, here are three tips that will enhance security at your residence.

1. Be informed

To prevent accidental injury from discharge, it is recommended that gun owners enroll in a firearm safety class. This training is typically provided by NRA or state certified instructors who are qualified to teach others how to use firearms. Courses review firearm safety, loading and handling gun malfunctions. Having enrolled in these programs, permit holders learn about the responsibility that gun owners have to themselves and those around them when carrying their firearm. Additionally, when manuals are provided with the firearm, it's incumbent on the gun owner to read the literature to provide further education.

What to do after a slip-and-fall accident

Imagine you're walking through the grocery store. You are in somewhat of a hurry to get home, so you are walking quickly and focusing on getting everything on your list. Suddenly, you turn the corner into the produce aisle, slip, fall and wind up in serious pain on the ground.

In this scenario, most people would get up and just try to avoid the embarrassment of having fallen in public. They often assume it was their own fault for being careless and chalk up the incident to clumsiness. However, this could prove to be a costly mistake if the reason for your fall was not your fault, but someone else's.

The "potalyzer": Detecting marijuana intoxication with saliva samples

If you have read our February blog post that provided an update on potential changes coming to Florida's marijuana laws, you can add HB 307 to the list of Florida laws that relate to marijuana possession. This past March, Gov. Rick Scott signed into legislation HB 307, which legalizes the use of medical marijuana for select circumstances. Additionally, registered voters in Florida will be able show their support this November for Amendment 2, legislation that supports the creation of a medical marijuana program in Florida.

In the event that the legislation effectively expands Floridians' rights to smoke marijuana, law enforcement officials are searching for tools that can quickly and effectively detect an individual's level of drug intoxication. Such a machine is now being marketed as a "potalyzer." Developed in Stanford University, this device uses saliva to detect levels of THC, the main ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for providing the drug's mind-altering effects. In addition to obtaining a sample in a manner that is less invasive than drawing blood or collecting urine, this new device utilitzes properties of saliva can precisely reveal how much THC is in the driver's system.

Lessening prison's impact through the youthful offenders program

Perhaps your child was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends. When he was convicted of his crime, you knew that your son needed to make amends for what he had done; however, you know prison won't change his life for the better.

The courts in Florida recognize that there are opportunities to rehabilitate certain offenders without using incarceration to promote change. The youthful offender program was developed to benefit this group of people.

First time offender programs

If you have been following our blog, you know that there are ways to protect yourself from being charged with drug possession: challenging the validity of evidence, placing the burden of proof on the prosecution or verifying the illegal nature of the drugs seized. If you find that these defense tactics are unsuccessful, there is another option Florida makes available to certain individuals: the first offender program.

As is suggested in the name, "the first offender program" may only be utilized by those who have not been convicted of other crimes. Admission to the program is granted to individuals receiving approval from the victim, arresting officer and select officers of the court. The purpose of the program is to rehabilitate those accused of committing crimes, usually those resulting in a misdemeanor charge. Successfully completing a program typically requires an individual to enroll in drug or alcohol therapy, pay a fine, complete community service and maintain good behavior during a supervisory period. Some programs reward first offenders with an expungement of the conviction from the criminal record.

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