Articles Posted in Your Rights

 

DRYWALL POWDER WRONGFULLY DETERMINED TO BE COCAINE BY FLAWED FIELD TEST

A Jacksonville.com story gives details into a tragic case in which an innocent man remained jailed for 90 days on suspicion of possession of cocaine.  The case is out of Oviedo, Florida near Orlando.  Karlos Cashe was pulled over by law enforcement for driving a motor vehicle without headlights.  During the traffic stop the officers used a police K9 to conduct a sniff of the vehicle to determine the presence of any illegal narcotics in the vehicle.  After a positive alert by the K9, a search took place in which a white powdery substance was recovered.  Cashe informed the officers numerous times that the powdery substance was drywall.  The officers however field tested the substance which tested positive for cocaine.  The story also clearly points out that the officers ran the background of Cashe and saw that Cashe was currently on probation for possession of cocaine and cannabis.  The officers knew any new arrest would suffice to violate Cashe’s probation.

Mr. Cashe was certainly at the mercy of system in his current arrest.  The way the system is set up is how an innocent man was forced to sit for ninety days behind bars.  When an individual is on probation and they violate their probation for what is considered a “new law violation,” they are not entitled to a bond.  Often times their bond will in fact be set at none.  In Cashe’s case he was forced to sit behind bars while the suspected cocaine was sent off to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Chemistry lab for analysis.  Unfortunately for Mr. Cashe or anyone else in his  situation, the labs typically are backed up due too under funding and the sheer number of cases they are assigned.  As Cashe knew himself and tried to explain to the officers, the substance was not cocaine. This writer and many other defense attorneys are very skeptical of an officer stating that the drug dog “alerted” on the car.  Here, for example, has the dog been trained to alert on drywall powder? If not, what was causing the dog to alert? Who knows if the dog alerted at all?  Cashe most probably, based on this writer’s experience, aggravated the officers by not consenting to a search of his vehicle. If he had consented to a search, the drug dog and its handler would not have been called to the scene as they were not necessary.

HOW HE SAT IN JAIL 90 DAYS

So why did Cashe have to sit behind bars so long?  Case law has long been established that field test kits for narcotics are allowed to be utilized to determine probable cause to arrest an individual.  The simple fact that Cashe was on probation is why he was held with no bond.  The obvious questions that this blogger has start with the date on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chemistry report that exonerated Cashe.  I am certainly curious to know how much longer did an innocent Mr. Cashe sit behind bars after the report was completed.  Furthermore, how long was Mr. Cashe sitting behind bars before the suspected cocaine was even sent to the chemist?  These are all questions that will likely be answered in a non- criminal courtroom. Continue reading

Federal Judge Orders Apple to Assist FBI Investigation of San Bernardino Shootings

The FBI successfully sought a court order telling Apple, as a corporation, they must assist the FBI in the investigation of the shootings in which an iPhone was retrieved from one of the deceased shooters.  Apple is, at present, refusing to comply with the order.  This is not a warrant.  This is a court order directing a private corporation that:

“Apple’s reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.”  The shorthand version of what the government wants here is the ability to bypass or overcome the time out function or destruction of of phone data that occurs when one puts the wrong passcode repeatedly into an iPhone.  Judge Sheri Pym did not provide Apple with some aspirational goal like “try your best” to help out the FBI investigation.  Apple is being ordered what they “shall accomplish”, what they “will bypass or disable”, “what they “will enable” and what they “will ensure.”

 

Judge Gave Apple Time to Respond

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a letter labelled as A message to our customers.” He indicated that Apple was not going to instantly comply with the court order.  Apple has retained the services of renowned lawyer Theodore Olson who successfully represented then republican candidate George Bush in the Bush v. Gore case, ultimately winning Bush the presedential election. It is not known at the present time what penalties Apple will face as a corporation or who, if anyone, at Apple would be subject to being jailed for not complying with the order.  One should note that prior to her seat on the Federal Bench, Judge Pym was an assistant U.S. attorney and also a chief of the Riverside branch of the U.S. attorney’s office, Central District of California.  This case was brought in federal court in the Central District of California.  It appears to be a motion filed by her former office asking her bring this order against Apple. Thus far, the federal prosecutors appear to have success in having their motion granted and an order entered by a sitting judge who just happens to be a former federal prosecutor from the same office. Continue reading

Protesters marched on Capitol Hill in Washington to protest the U.S. government’s online surveillance programs, whose vast scope was revealed this year by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden. People carried signs reading: “Stop Mass Spying,” “Thank you, Edward Snowden” and “Unplug Big Brother” as they gathered at the foot of the Capitol to demonstrate against the online surveillance by the National Security Agency. Estimates varied on the size of the march, with organizers saying more than 2,000 attended. U.S. Capitol Police said they do not typically provide estimates on the size of demonstrations.

In Florida, every person has the fundamental right to be let alone and free from government
intrusion into her private life under the Constitution. This right does not guarantee complete
freedom from intrusion, but the state must meet the strict scrutiny test, by furthering a compelling state interest and employing the least intrusive means to do so. For a particular facet of private life to be protected, the individual must have reasonable expectation of privacy for that facet. indexprivacy.jpg

In the same capacity, police must not invade one’s privacy without meeting certain constitutional requirements. According to Florida’s courts, reasonable suspicion is present when a reasonable police officer under similar circumstances would believe criminal activity had just occurred, was occurring at that moment, or was about to occur. In other words, whether that specific officer’s belief was reasonable is reviewed by the courts using an objective standard (what a reasonable officer would have believed under similar circumstances).

Many times, the true reason that a suspect is suspected in the first place is unfortunately because of racial discrimination, profiling, or other discriminatory practices that would drive a police officer to determine in his own mind that the person he is attempting to apprehend is in fact the perpetrator of a crime. In many cases, the arrested is really the victim; even when there are no specific facts to show that officers acted with racial prejudice, racial prejudice should not be ruled out.

Under the 4th amendment, if the police have exigent circumstances, or circumstances that would show that evidence of criminal activity could be removed or destroyed quickly, or the police are currently in “hot pursuit” of a suspect, the police may conduct a search without a warrant. However, one has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion in one’s home. This means that police may not enter one’s home without a warrant if they do not have probable cause.

The biggest misconduct violation of all was the police entering into a dwelling with no probable cause or warrantless entry exception. Just because someone does not answer the door, does not mean that a police officer can just enter through the window of the home. The officers probably felt they were in the right because they were looking for an armed suspect. The courts should not allow “hot pursuit”, the only possible justification in this case to suspend the warrant requirement, to be used as a justification for what police misconduct and serious violations of the Constitution. If county sheriff’s offices allow their deputies to participate in this kind of conduct, then every time an armed suspect in any general location is being pursued, whether by hot, warm or cold case pursuit, the police will feel justified under the law in invading one’s privacy, an act that is not justifiable under the U.S. Constitution.

Many times, the officer will claim one is being detained; remember, the detention could very well be illegal. However, resisting arrest can only make the situation worse for one who is already dealing with an officer who is not following the law correctly. One needs an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who has the knowledge to properly fight the charge and ensure one’s rights are protected.

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Law enforcement officers locked down Melbourne Square mall for two hours in pursuit of two suspects who had fled police during a traffic stop. Those men were not found — but the owner of the suspect vehicle, Ahmad Osama H. Youssef, was arrested on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court during his Oct. 7 jury trial for battery and two counts of theft. During the lockdown, Barnes said the owner of the suspect vehicle approached a West Melbourne police officer and said his car had been stolen, and thereafter was arrested.

An arrest warrant in Florida is typically known as a Capias, or bench warrant. Most arrest warrants are issued for many reasons including: indexwarrant.jpg

– Violation of probation
– Committing a felony crime in the state that the warrant is to be issued
– Failure to comply with a court order
– Failure to appear for court
Most arrest warrants are either bond warrants or no-bond warrants. This means that the judge issuing the warrant looks at the particular set of circumstances surrounding the request for the warrant, the nature of the offense itself, and whether the offense is something that is serious enough for the person it is issued against to be incarcerated until their next scheduled court date.

One can be arrested without a warrant for an offense committed before an officer or under certain other circumstances. However, not all crimes are committed in front of officers, and for some of those crimes, they are caused by forgetfulness. In compliance with Florida law, the court may issue a warrant or capias request for the arrest of any resident or non-resident who committed a crime in the state. The warrant allows all law enforcement officers, state, county, and municipal, in the state to arrest one and may be executed in any county in Florida.

Any type of warrant in Jacksonville is serious, whether it involves a new crime, failure to appear, failure to comply with probation terms or other difficulties in the legal system. Unfortunately, leniency is not often given to those who do not comply with a scheduled court date. In fact, many judges take the crime very seriously, being quick to impose harsh penalties for those who are found to have failed to appear in court. In most cases, the only way to avoid such consequences is to provide a defensible reason for one’s absence.

As soon as one becomes aware of a warrant or knows one failed to appear for a court date, one should contact an experienced attorney who can work with the Judge to recall the warrant or capias in exchange for appearance for court. At the resolution of most cases, it usually looks more favorable for the defendant who voluntarily turns himself in immediately after learning of the warrant as opposed to a defendant who had no intention of coming forward to face the charges and had to tie up a lot of law enforcement resources and possibly create a dangerous situation to bring them in.

After a failure to appear in court the judge may issue a no bond warrant for one’s arrest. In some cases the court may allow for a bond on the failure to appear warrant. An accused who missed court may have several options including:

– immediately reporting to the jail to surrender on the failure to appear warrant or capius;
– hiring an experienced attorney to file a “motion to surrender” in the courtroom (instead of jail) on the failure to appear capius or warrant in order to attempt to avoid another set of arrest records, mug shots and finger prints.

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Robert Q. Maron, a Florida man charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child stemming from allegations dating back to the late 1990s where he had sexual contact with two female children under 13 years old in Illinois, is defending against a major increase in bond amount. Maron had his bond, originally set at $200,000, raised to $500,000. This raise in bond cost was the result of an Illinois Assistant State’s Attorney’s statement that Maron showed a pattern of being a sexual predator to children of a certain age and is a risk to flee back to Florida.

A bail hearing is designed to allow both the accused and the prosecution to provide the judge with information about the accused so the judge can determine whether the accused is likely to reoffend. As well as assuring the Judge that the accused will attend Court and not flee. 2. To protect the safety of the community from unreasonable danger from the Defendant. The Judge, when determining a monetary bond amount or pre-trail detention or even to be released on one’s own recognizance or some other form of nonmonetary release restriction, will look at several factors, established under Florida Statute 903.046, including: iy1f43283w15vr8tsq7faqhppn4qw24.png

– The nature and circumstance of the offense charged
– The weight of the evidence against the accused
– The accused’s family ties, property ownership, employment history and mental condition.
– The accused’s criminal history including any record of flight from the courts
– The accused current status of being bonded out on another pending criminal matter,
– Whether the accused is currently on probation, which would cause a violation of probation by being arrested for the new charge.

Some candidates for bail are known as “flight risks,” if they have significant ties to another country or have strong reasons why they are unlikely to appear for the trial. At one’s bail hearing, the judge will hear from the state prosecutor, who will argue that one should remain in jail or post an extremely high amount of money to be released before trial.

Unless you are charged with a Capital crime (penalty of life in prison or death) you are entitled to a bond. Even in Capital crimes, one still may get a bond upon conducting an “Arthur Hearing”, where all the factors discussed above in F.S. 903.046 are evaluated as well as making a determination of whether there is an overwhelming presumption that the accused committed the crime or not.

A high Bond amount is many times equivalent to no bond at all. A wealthy individual might be able to post a $100,000 bond with no problem, while the average person may not be able to do so. Even with a bail bondsman, bonds many times are still not made. Often in Drug Trafficking cases or big fraud cases especially in Federal Court, a Nebbia hearing is conducted where the person who is posting the bond must show that the money for the bond is not coming from the criminal enterprise (sale of drugs or the product of racketeering etc.)

At a Bond hearing to reduce Bond or even set bond, an experienced defense attorney can show that the accused has ties to the community, such as a job, property, and a family. It is not necessary that these ties are to the same community where the alleged crime occurred. One’s attorney can also demonstrate at the bond hearing to the judge that the evidence against the accused is weak or improperly acquired.

An experienced Jacksonville bail bond defense attorney can help one present the necessary documents to the prosecutor and the court. At the hearing, one’s experienced Jacksonville bond defense attorney will present evidence, including documents and testimony, showing the court that the source of the funds to pay the hopefully reasonable bail is legitimate. There is nothing wrong with borrowing the funds, as long as it can be shown that the loan could be repaid with legitimate funds.

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Jacksonville’s citizens have many different ideas about how they feel they should run their lives, what sorts of activities they enjoy, and differ in actions they do in private. However, when one’s activities encroach on someone else’s dignity, the consequences can be costly. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

Willard Wigfield, a convicted sex offender from Lake County, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force and Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies after failing to appear in court. Wigfield was on bond after pleading guilty to a charge of rape and a warrant was issued after he failed to appear for his sentencing in Lake County Common Pleas Court on July 8. Wigfield was wearing an electronic monitoring device that was sending signals from the Tuscarawas River near New Philadelphia when he was supposed to be appearing in court. Willard-Wigfield_20130724113330_320_240.jpg

Jacksonville Failure to appear charges are normally brought for failure of the accused to appear at (or within) the stated time before the court as directed by a summons. Many times, failure to appear is a crime for which a bench-warrant or capias can and will be issued if the defendant promised to appear.

After a failure to appear in court the judge may issue a no bond warrant for one’s arrest. In some cases the court may allow for a bond on the failure to appear warrant. An accused who missed court may have several options including:

– immediately reporting to the jail to surrender on the failure to appear warrant or capius;
– hiring an experienced attorney to file a “motion to surrender” in the courtroom (instead of jail) on the failure to appear capias or warrant in order to attempt to avoid another set of arrest records, mug shots and fingerprints.

The consequences of having the outstanding warrant can include being ineligible to collect certain government, state or local benefits such as social security income, unemployment compensation, or financial aid, having one’s driver’s license suspended indefinitely until one surrenders, and possibly a finding of contempt if that option is exercised by the court.

To ensure more appearance in court, law enforcement agencies, with the help of groups advocating for victims’ rights, have started employing electronic monitoring programs to effectively monitor sexual offenders. These Offender monitoring programs come in the form of GPS tethers and GPS ankle bracelets and have proven to be an invaluable asset in the success of sex offender monitoring.

Many of the GPS trackers used for sex offenders are much more advanced than average
trackers, and give officers the ability to monitor an offender from the moment they leave jail,
regardless if they are indoors or outdoors. Pairing a single-piece monitoring device with web-based software, these ankle monitors uses active GPS and assisted GPS technology to track indoors, where GPS alone cannot reach.

Offender location and schedule profiles are available for the officer to view, indicating when
offenders need to be in certain zones (such as at home or work) and which zones offenders
must avoid (such as schools or parks). Officers are alerted when offenders are not where they should be or if they get too close to a forbidden zone.

Most GPS tracking systems operate on a 24/7 basis, sending reports to officers from monitoring centers. They receive reports when the battery dies, when one steps outside of range, or when one tries to tamper with the device. Offenders in this situation would be required to constantly keep the monitors charged.

Many GPS trackers used for certain criminal offenders are much more advanced than average trackers, and give officers the ability to monitor the offender from the moment they leave the jail, regardless if they are indoors or outdoors. Pairing a single-piece monitoring device with web-based software, these ankle monitors uses active GPS and assisted GPS technology to track indoors, where GPS alone cannot reach.

One in a situation such as this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville sex crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights, defenses, and options are known and protected. One cannot fight this battle alone. With the help of an experienced attorney, one can be sure that this mistake will be whited out of one’s life and become a thing of the past.

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According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida’s overall-crime rate hit a 42-year low in 2012. Although the number of sex crimes and homicides slightly increased, the overall crime rate fell nearly 7 percent last year, with significant drops in burglaries, robberies and theft. Many of these crimes involve gun possession charges, and when the accused supposedly possesses a gun, media attention as well as attention from the State Attorney office increases. However, the common misconception is that gun crimes are increasing and becoming a major threat to society all across the nation.

The nature of gun crimes are sometimes violent and many times do not involve a justifiable defense for the commission of the crime. However, the nature of a gun crime leads many to believe that a harsher punishment for even possessing a gun illegally, much less during the commission of a robbery, burglary, sexual assault or other harm committed against another, is justified. crime-tape.jpeg

Many crimes are committed personally by someone stealing something, sexually harming another individual, or committing other acts that involve them being present before the victim. Other crimes involve the perpetrator operating behind a computer screen. Unfortunately for the individuals who attempt either form of crime, technology has increased law enforcement ability to convict the accused of the alleged crime. However, not always is the charge correct, nor provable.

Florida has been experiencing a steady drop in both violent and non-violent crime since the 90’s, similar to other states who have experienced similar drops in crime rates as Florida-style conceal-carry laws proliferated. Other states that allow for concealed-carry have seen a steady decrease in gun related offenses. Some states with lax registration requirements, such as Vermont, a normally staunch liberal state that one would think would have anti-gun principals, allows citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Since this law was put into effect in Vermont, the state has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.

The issue that many accused individuals face involving gun crimes in Jacksonville and across the nation is the colorful gore-filled imaging that is painted across the screens of many television stations. Media madness has turned into frenzy over gun violence in the wake of incidents like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, as well as other local crimes involving home-invasion robberies, leading many of Florida’s citizens to believe that gun-related crime numbers are increasing. However, the statistics show the overall crime rate falling, as it’s been doing for the past 20 years.

Unfortunately for those who were the victims of Sandy Hook, the movie theater shootings, and other horrific incidents like those, guns were involved. The individuals who committed those acts were mad men who have no good intent in their actions; they used guns to accomplish their goals. However, the gun itself is not the problem; the person is the problem.

For those who commit non-violent crimes and/or violent crimes in Florida, the charges can be tough to fight and the case may seem impossible to win. However, if one obtains an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case, one will be able to ensure one has an advocate and protector against a very powerful State-operated legal system.

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Charles Hamilton, a Florida man accused of transporting 60 pounds of marijuana, served as his own lawyer in the trial and sentence hearing, arguing that he disagrees with Illinois drug laws and admitting he brought drugs into the state. In November 2011, Hamilton was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 55 north of Bloomington, Illinois. He even gave permission to an Illinois State Police trooper to search the truck. About 60 pounds of marijuana was found in a spare fuel tank on his pickup truck. Hamilton was sentenced to 22 years in prison for felony drug trafficking charges.

Many times, people feel that they are able to represent themselves pro se, or by themselves, without a licensed attorney to represent them or other court appointed officer. This is an option for everyone who enters into the justice system above the age of 18, assuming they are competent to understand the nature of the proceedings and the weight they are undertaking when establishing their own defense. Even though many people every day are found eligible to represent themselves, that does not mean they should. Many do not understand the process nor the repercussions of statements made to anyone regarding the case. images60lbsweed.jpg

Evidence rules and rules of criminal procedure set out standards of conduct and allowable methods of proving guilt and innocence in the court room. These rules are complex and involve major study to understand the legal possibilities in one’s case. For many, this means having extensive knowledge of 4th, 5th, and, 6th amendment protections. This means knowing almost everything there is to know on search and seizure, admissibility of evidence, rights on appeal, and other very important legal consequences that one may or may not be aware of.

The biggest problem that pro se litigants face when defending themselves is statements made to prosecutors and witnesses. When one is accused a crime, the first thing people do is ask one if one did or did not commit the crime. Sometimes one will make one statement to a witness, and another or substantially different statement to the State Attorney. Whether one has or has not committed the crime, one can cause oneself an extreme amount of grief in the system.

One of the most notorious problems pro se litigants as well as accused parties represented by attorneys is admissions. In Hamilton’s trial, Hamilton admitted he was delivering the drugs to Chicago for a $15,000 fee. Hamilton admitted that he transported drugs because he had little money. Many times, accused parties feel that being honest and forthcoming will end in good consequences. However, the less one says, the better. Words and admissions can extremely hurt one’s defenses.

Remember that one has does have a choice in obtaining an attorney to represent one. However, one should not obtain just any attorney. One charged with a crime of this nature should contact an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses against self-incrimination are known and protected.

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Manhattan hotelier Vikram Chatwal , a good pal of trouble magnet Lindsay Lohan, was arrested after police allegedly found him with illegal drugs at an airport checkpoint. Police say Chatwal was packing heroin, cocaine, ketamine, pot and an assortment of powerful pills when “behavior detection officers” flagged him for a search at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The arrestee provided a post-Miranda statement to narcotics detectives wherein he admitted possessing and purchasing the (drugs) illegally, according to the police report. lohan5n-1-web.jpg

According to Black’s Law, self-incrimination is the act or declaration either as testimony at trial or prior to trial by which one implicates oneself in criminal activity. Practically, self-incrimination can occur either directly, where information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed by means of interrogation, or indirectly, where information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed voluntarily without pressure from another person.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from incriminating themselves. Protection from self-incrimination requires the government to prove the case against one using corroborating evidence and other witness testimony, rather than coercing an admission of guilt. Some do not realize that refusing to answer a question because the response could form self-incriminating evidence is legal and proper. However, these rights are not always widely publicized, making one who is unaware, at risk.

Protections from self-incrimination stem directly from torturous practices that were and sometimes, still are, being used to extract information and confessions. Sometimes, police officers will physically injure suspects that they feel are guilty, or that they feel will “admit” guilt when they are actually innocent, in order to be removed from such police brutality. Some of the most famous cases involve criminal suspects being subjected to days without sleep under bright lights, or being scared into submission by a group of police officers who are threatening one, either with trumped up charges or other forms of punishment that may or may not be legal.

Fortunately for citizens facing drug interrogation in Jacksonville as well as across the nation, protections from self-incrimination in the form of “Miranda rights” are now mandatorily read to arrestees due to Miranda v. Arizona (1966). Miranda warnings must be given before law enforcement officers initiate questioning after one has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of one’s freedom of action in any significant way. This means that if one has been arrested, taken into police custody that one cannot leave from, or is in a police dominated situation that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave from, then one must have one’s rights read.

One must be warned, prior to interrogation, of one’s various Miranda rights listed below:
– One has the right to remain silent,
– Anything one says may be used against one in a court of law,
– One has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that,
– If one cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed.
– Further, only after such warnings are given and understood, may one knowingly waive one’s rights and agree to answer questions or make a statement.

Many think that if they do not say anything to police, that they are somehow implying guilt. However, this is not the case. The only statements that police and subsequently the State may use to claim an admission are the statements that one actually makes. Remaining silent, the most beneficial option one does have, does not mean that one has admitted being guilty to anything.

Remember that one has one choice of relief in a situation like this. One charged with a crime of this nature should contact an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s 5th amendment rights and defenses against self-incrimination are known and protected.

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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an acquittal in the case of Megan Winfrey, 24, who has been behind bars since 2007 in a murder case in which her conviction was based almost entirely on evidence from dog-scent lineups. The court’s decision Wednesday in Megan Winfrey’s case was based largely on the finding that the state’s evidence against her was insufficient. In her case, the San Jacinto district attorney had argued that along with dog-scent evidence, her suspicious behavior amounted to enough evidence to support her conviction. Prosecutors alleged, among other things, that she attempted to thwart DNA testing by shaving her pubic hair and that teachers at her school overheard her make threatening remarks about Burr and his money. The court disagreed with the prosecutors.

Dogs are used in conjunction with law enforcement all the time, either as a defense force, for use in detection of drugs and other illegal substances, bomb detection, and in this case, to allegedly identify a murderer. imagesdogsniff.jpg

Drug dogs and other dogs used to determine criminal activity, even though specially trained for a purpose, are still dogs. Dogs get excited and will alert to things like tennis balls in trunks other animals in the vicinity. The Court must consider the totality of the circumstances in determining one’s guilt or innocence. Therefore, determining whether the dog’s identification of a substance or scent was sufficiently accurate and reliable as a detector of the presence of drugs, victims, or other criminal-related activity is very important and comes within the review of the courts.

A dog-scent lineup consists of matching a “scent” sample from a crime scene to a “scent” sample from a suspect by a dog. The practice has been used in several states, including Florida, Alaska, Texas, and New York. Even though the dogs have an fairly accurate sense of smell, the major problem has been with the handlers of these dogs, who have been proven to be frauds.

There is a movement to ban the use of dog-scent lineups, but a Fifth Circuit ruling may put a stop on that; the decision held that even if a person was convicted after a questionable canine lineup, the appellate court can affirm the conviction based on corroborating evidence.

The most notorious specialist of this bogus practice has been Former Deputy Keith Pikett of Fort Bend County, Texas. From 1994-2009 he zigzagged across the state of Texas with his dogs, conducting dog-scent lineups. Pikett always told law enforcement and prosecutors exactly what they wanted to hear. The prosecutors loved him, known for being a “justice system rock star.” At one point, his status as an expert was even recognized by an appellate court decision, which gave him extra footing in the legal community, leaving him unchecked in his work.

If Pikett’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his scent lineups were involved in Winfrey’s case. Basing a finding of one’s guilt on inference evidence and other hearsay evidence is, at best, mere theorizing or guessing about one’s possible guilt rather than a reasonable inference based upon evidence and facts presented.

The same thing happened in 1981 in Florida, when DNA testing wasn’t used in criminal investigations. During that time, law enforcement simply relied on presumed “Scent-Tracking Expert” John Preston’s German Shepherd’s legendary nose to sentence Bill Dillon, to life in prison for killing a man in Canova Beach. Preston testified that his dog had tracked Dillon’s scent to a piece of paper he had touched, and had even tracked Dillon to a room he was in at the courthouse. In Dillon’s case, Preston even told the court his dog had the ability to track a scent under water; to actually smell below the water, which is physically impossible for a dog to do. In 1984, Preston was exposed as a fraud.

Many times, a motion to suppress evidence is the only thing that forces law enforcement to adhere to the Constitution, by making sure that evidence like this will not hold water and will be excluded, leaving the State with no case. If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case, one will be sure in what the prosecution and police can and cannot not use against one and can be sure that one will have one’s rights protected.

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