Criminal Defense Attorney | Criminal Defense Law

Blog Published By Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.


Flawed Hair Evidence Used to Convict Innocent People

A picture is emerging of how flawed hair evidence was used to convict people who may have been innocent. In one of the cases, Richard Beranek was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of 243 years. He was found guilty in a rape case where the rape had been committed 130 miles from where he lived. The rape victim picked him out of a number of photographs and told police that he was almost certainly the attacker. She then picked him out of a lineup. Before she was raped, the 28-year-old woman had been followed around town. An unknown man had also been harassing her with sexually charged telephone calls. She suspected that the man lived nearby. Beranek would emerge as a prime suspect two years after the rape attack. Police thought Beranek, who was facing another sexual assault charge in his hometown, had the closest resemblance to a sketch they had drawn of the suspect in the rape in Stoughton. Wayne Oakes was the FBI analyst in the case. He sealed Beranek’s fate by concluding that a hair that was found in the… Read More

The Connection Between Expert Witness and Ineffective Assistance

Effective Assistance One of the primary appeals of the United States of America and its Constitution is the protection of the fundamental rights of citizens. The Sixth Amendment guarantees certain fundamental rights of all citizens. A few of these rights include fair and impartial trials, a speedy trial without undue delay, a jury of peers, and effective assistance from counsel. No doubt, the right to effective assistance from counsel is crucial. However, it is subject to significant debate. Apparently, the debate shows no sign of abating soon owing to the widespread nature of the debate. For example, the core of the debate—‘What is Effective Assistance’—affects the primary aspect of the effective assistance right. Nevertheless, case law has established tent pegs that help determine agreeable limitations of the vaguely defined right: specifically to ascertain whether or not an attorney provided effective assistance to his or her client. Ineffective Assistance under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure Due to the nature of the law, an individual can only bring up a case for ineffective assistance by making a post-conviction appeal. The Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 supports… Read More

How Far Can The Government Go In Freezing Untainted Assets of Individuals Charged With Crimes?

The constitution basically provides protection for an individual who has been arrested for committing a crime. There are rights that remain effective even before court procedures commence. Because freedom is at stake in the process, the 5th and 6th Amendment ensures that an individual will have legal assistance. An accused can choose the attorney to represent him most especially if he has the financial capacity to do so. The close relationship between an accused and his attorney is important for the success of the defense. It has been proven over and over again that those who have no choice but to be contented with state-provided attorneys lose in court battles. This is due to the fact that such lawyers are often burdened by a lot of work brought by too many cases they are handling. How A Criminal Defendant’s Assets Are Frozen Asset freezing can be ordered by the government if the crime committed by an individual falls under the “white collar” category. The logic here is easy to see. Since white collar crimes involve money, the monetary assets of an accused are basically evidences… Read More

People v. LaValle

People v. LaValle | Facts of the Case Background On Sunday, May 31st 1997, Cynthia Quinn while taking her morning jog, allegedly found Stephen LaValle urinating by the side of the road and yelled at him. This action completely angered LaValle who then followed her into the woods where he raped and murdered her with a screw driver he apparently found on her during the offense. He stabbed her 73 times before leaving the scene of the crime. He was arrested two days later because the samples found on Quinn’s body matched his DNA, and an eye witness had placed him as the last person seen with Mrs. Quinn. LaValle, despite having no legal training, defended himself in court because he had previously had a falling out with his two attorneys because they wanted to proceed with the case differently. In his argument, Lavalle stated that juror number 16 was biased and had stated that they would convict him even before the hearing began. He also urged that the emotional testimony given by Cynthia’s husband was inappropriate and only served to sway the jury into… Read More

Supreme Court DUI Ruling Regarding the Use of Blood Tests in Determining BAC

DUI or driving under the influence is a criminal term used to refer to the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. In the case of alcohol, a typical test referred to as the blood alcohol content is administered to determine the level of intoxication that the driver has. There is a specific threshold that forms the basis of the criminality of the driver’s actions. Precisely, if the if the blood alcohol content of the driver exceeds this threshold, the driver is deemed to have committed a DUI offense and is therefore liable to any legal ramifications that are attributed to DUI. There have been several Supreme Court decisions regarding DUI in the recent past. One of the most notable Supreme Court DUI rulings regards the use of blood tests in determining an offender’s blood alcohol level. A blood test is indeed one of the most reliable ways of ascertaining a driver’s blood alcohol level but there have been various issues surrounding the use of this method especially with regard to the rights of the accused. In the recent case… Read More

Drivers Must Possess “Actual Knowledge” of a Motor Accident to be Found Guilty of Charges in a Hit-and-Run Case

The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that drivers must possess “actual knowledge” of a motor accident to be found guilty of charges in a hit-and-run case. Zachariah Dorsett hit a teenager with his heavy pickup, after the teen fell off a skateboard into the road. Mr. Dorsett was pulled over and arrested by police roughly three miles from the scene of the accident and was charged with a serious offense, leaving the scene of a crash involving injury by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office. Nicholas Savinon, was dragged roughly 40 feet on North Ocean Boulevard in Boca Raton, Florida. He suffered numerous injuries: traumatic injuries to the brain, both a dislocated and fractured hip, along with fractures and various other injuries to his face. When questioned, Dorsett claimed he did not even know that he hit the teenager; he explained that the radio was blasting at full volume, his windshield wipers and AC were running, and all of his windows happened to be rolled up. Dorsett was found guilty at trial, and sentenced to two years in a Florida prison. At appeal, Dorsett’s criminal attorney argued… Read More

Warrantless Blood Draw in DUI Investigation | United States Supreme Court Lets Decision Stand

In Missouri v. McNeely, the United States Supreme Court decided that a blood draw is a search which is protected under the Fourth Amendment. It was held that a forced blood draw, by itself, is not considered an exception to the warrant requirement. Up until this decision, the “exigent circumstances” exception dictated whether or not law enforcement could legally force a suspect to draw blood, if there was a risk of losing the DUI suspect’s blood alcohol content through natural dissipation in the body. The Missouri v. McNeely decision will stand for now; the United States Supreme Court has just announced that they will not be hearing an appeal from Colorado with the same issue in question; prosecutors argued that because of the natural dissipation of alcohol in the body, it should be allowed by officers to forcibly draw blood without a warrant. According to prosecutors, by the time it takes an officer to go through the process to obtain a warrant, there will be a loss of evidence as the BAC of the suspect slowly decreases. Jack Schaufele was involved in a car accident… Read More

Difference Between a Traffic and a DUI Investigation

What is the Difference Between a Traffic Investigation and a DUI Investigation? Traffic Investigation: If you have ever had the misfortune of being involved in a traffic accident, you knowthat the process can be stressful and traumatic. In most cases, a police officer or crash investigator will respond to the scene and conduct an investigation. When called to the scene of an accident, the officer is required to write an accident report. Witnesses are not required to stay at the scene and report to the officer. If the officer at the scene suspects that either driver is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, he may perform a series of tests to confirm or dispel his suspicion. In some cases, where the accident results in serious bodily injury or death, a driver suspected of being under the influence of drugs/alcohol may be compelled to have blood drawn to determine their respective degree of impairment. Fla. Stat § 316.645 gives police officers the power to make an arrest pursuant to their investigation. The only caveat to this authority is that a law enforcement officer is… Read More

Bautista v. State | DUI Manslaughter

DUI Manslaughter | Double Jeopardy? The Supreme Court of Florida is faced with a certified question “of great public importance” from the Fourth District regarding the decision of Bautista v. State: “DOES THE “A/ANY” TEST ADOPTED IN GRAPPIN V. STATE AND STATE V. WATTS AS THE METHOD FOR DETERMINING THE UNIT OF PROSECUTION FOR THE COMMISSION OF MULTIPLE PROSCRIBED ACTS IN THE COURSE OF A SINGLE EPISODE, PRECLUDE MULTIPLE CONVICTIONS FOR DUI MANSLAUGHTER WHERE MORE THAN ONE DEATH OCCURS IN A SINGLE ACCIDENT AS APPROVED IN MELBOURNE V. STATE?”  Background: Bautista v. State David Bautista was driving while intoxicated (under the influence of alcohol) when his motor vehicle crashed into another car, resulting in the death of both individuals that were in that car. In trial, Bautista was convicted of two counts of DUI manslaughter. Mr. Bautista appealed, claiming the Florida statute does not allow multiple convictions of DUI manslaughter stemming from one single incident of DUI. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions, citing Melbourne v. State, which held that multiple convictions from a single DUI did not violate the principles of double jeopardy. What is DUI Manslaughter? Section… Read More

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel | Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 An appeal based on the Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, is an appeal of last resort. It is used when all other appeals have been exhausted. This appeal is a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, in which the defense attorney was unprepared, or incompetent in representing the client. An appeal of this type suggests that if it weren’t for the incompetent attorney, the end-result of the case would have been different; for this appeal to be effective, the appellant must substantiate this claim. The United States Supreme Court decision of Strickland v. Washington established the standard to determine the legitimacy of the claim of ineffective assistance: “First, the defendant must show that counsel’s performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the “counsel” guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel’s errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is… Read More