What NOT to do after an arrest…

There are many mistakes made before and after an arrest is made, the biggest behind breaking the law is making statements to law enforcement without a lawyer present. In this video found on myYouTube channel, you will find a sample of the advice I would give to you if I was your criminal defense attorney.

“The singular biggest mistake that everyone makes is they make statements to the police in the hopes of making their situation better and all they’ve done is hurt themselves.”

Although it is hard not to make any statements during this process, remember that anything you say will be used against you in the court of law.

Blood Tests Banned in Misdemeanor DUI Investigations

Not too long ago, I touched upon the idea that Florida could see “no refusal” DUI checkpoints in the future, but last week Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal put an end to that idea, at least for now. The court ruled that law enforcement cannot forcibly draw blood in a DUI investigation if it is a misdemeanor. The ruling still stands that blood can be drawn if it involves injury, death or if it is a felony case.

According to an article from Key News in Key West, attorneys on both sides of the argument agree on one thing: that blood tests are the most accurate of all sobriety tests. Where they differ is how the blood is used. Sam Kaufman, Key West defense attorney states,

“What they’re saying is that blood is not being used as a means to commit a crime…In other words, the statute states that evidence has to be property used to commit a crime. They’re saying that a person’s blood doesn’t fall into that category.”

Dennis Ward of Monroe County is for the “no refusal” forced DUI blood tests. He wants everyone who is pulled over and has a prior DUI to be subject to a blood test. Currently, the law stands that blood can only be drawn in felony cases. A suspect’s third DUI is only considered a felony if it happens within 10 years of the last convicted DUI but the fourth DUI is always a felony.

Ward says that this ruling is not going to stop his fight against drunk drivers. At this point in time he cannot do anything about first or second time offenders, but says this will not hold him back from moving forward with felony offenders.

Although this case stems from Key West, the article explains that this “ruling affects all of Florida because no other precedent has been set.” This sets back any movement towards the “no refusal” DUI check points coming to Tampa. It raises the question of whether or not the Geiss case mentioned in the previous post or any other current cases dealing with forced BAC tests will be appealed. Although the law has passed, this is likely not the last we will hear of the “no refusal” checkpoints and blood tests. This situation underlines the importance of effective legal representation if you’ve been charged with DUI/DWI.

You’re Under Investigation, Now What?

Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri breaks down the importance of knowing your legal rights when you are under investigation and what your obligations are to the investigator.

Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S Constitution, you have an absolute right not to incriminate yourself. The most important thing that you can do while under investigation is contact an attorney and use their guidance to make any further decisions.

“You are not obligated at all to speak to law enforcement and you should exercise that right at every turn.”

As Palmieri states in the video, if you are under investigation, do not make any statements without the presence of a criminal defense lawyer.

So the police didn’t read you your rights…

This doesn’t mean your case will go away. All this means, is that any incriminating statements that you had made cannot be used against you in court. If the officer wants to ask you questions other than your name and address, s/he will then read your rights. At this time, you do not have to answer any questions because they will be used against you in the court of law.

A tactic that law enforcement sometimes use is asking you questions before reading you rights, getting you to admit something and then reading you your rights and asking the questions again. For the most part, the person under question would assume since they already made a confession or incriminating statement, the officers already know the truth so how else could it hurt them? This is false. Since they got you to admit something after reading you your rights, all statements thereafter will be used against you. Anything you say before your rights are read cannot and will not be used as incriminating evidence. The most important thing you can do while being investigated after an arrest is to call a criminal defense lawyer and make no statements before doing so.

Facebook & Divorce: Are they related?

So we’ve talked about Facebook before, how Sheriff’s offices utilize it to post pictures/videos of open cases, how some Attorney’s use Facebook in the juror selection process and now, how Facebook is cited in 90% of divorce cases.

According to a St. Petersburg 10 News article, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers discovered that Facebook is involved in one in five divorce cases. Whether it is from parents allowing illegal activities like underage drinking, or if it is a picture a spouse out on the town, lawyers are seeing more and more encounters with Facebook.

With all this action coming from Facebook, Attorney’s have no choice but to become a master at internet photo searches. A simple Google image search can result in pictures that some are unaware are even out on the internet. Untagged pictures or pictures from a deactivated Facebook account can still be found. Divorce Attorney Carin Constantine was interviewed by the St. Petersburg 10 news team and commented,

“Those pictures are still accessible by us, and we can still print them and we can still use them as evidence in your divorce case.”

Privacy settings are controlled by the individual, but the default settings that Facebook sets you up with are not ideal. The best advice would be to go into those settings and make it so only those people who you want to see your personal information/pictures can. For the future, ask friends and family not to tag you in any pictures if you want to avoid any controversy.

Facebook Aids to Fighting Crime

Facebook is everywhere these days and is not just being used as a personal way to stay connected to friends. Sheriff’s offices around the country have been utilizing Facebook as another way to get information out to the public, and for the public to relay information back to Crime Stoppers.

On Monday morning, the Polk County Sheriff’s office posted on Facebook a video of a man stealing at 75 year old woman’s wallet in a local laundromat. Two hours later an anonymous source contacted Crime Stoppers and reported who the man was and where he worked. Sure enough, it was the right suspect and the man was charged with petty theft. Bay News 9 covered the story and that video can be found on their website.

Although this was a smaller crime, think about the power that Facebook and social networking has. Not only do crimes get solved thanks to fan pages, but since Facebook is so accessible, everyday citizens can act as crime stopping heroes.

Polk County Sheriff’s office updates the page daily and have said that this is not the first crime that Facebook fans have helped them solve. They send all press releases and Crime Stopper bulletins to Facebook where they have over 7,000 fans.

Other Sheriff’s offices also have Facebook pages including Hillsborough County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission stated that they made over 100 arrests through Facebook.

If you are looking for Legal advice, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri also has a presence on Facebook.