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What You Should Know About Credit Card Skimming

multiple credit cards in a pile

Credit card skimming is alive and well in the United States, and much of it begins in Florida. Credit card skimmers and fraudsters often plan their actions and may then move to areas of lesser population that often have lower crime rates and in which law enforcement is less alert to their activities. Gas Pump Skimmers We all enjoy the convenience of using the pay-at-the-pump system, but it could be one of the places where criminals are able to gather information about your debit or credit card. Those who know how can purchase the component parts for a skimmer at any computer parts store. The constructed parts can be quickly installed in a pump, then activated, sending information about those who purchase gas back to the installer. Floridians, especially those in high-crime areas, are alert to such activity. Stories of credit card skimming can be frequently heard on the local news. They take steps to protect their data, which can include: using cash to buy gas, entering the gas station to pay at the counter, or even using a prepaid card that will be used… Read More

Poethics: A Study in Law and Literature

legal writing in the criminal law world

There is the literature of law – the heavy tomes that recount case studies, interpretations of legislation, historical court cases and other legal situations; then there is law in literature, fictional, biographical or non-fiction stories in which legal ramifications loom large in the narration, or which deal directly with points of law. Add to that the rhetoric of the courtroom, building a case, persuading a jury or simply writing a report that will weight evidence one way or the other or stand firmly in the balanced position of presenting the facts, and you have poethics. Poethics Defined Poethics is a recognition of differences between fiction and reality, a consideration of how a lawyer or judge must use words to convey a sense of why a thing shall be adjudged in a certain way, and a correlation of the need to recognize the spirit of an existing legal ruling as well as the concrete structure of the words used to convey the mean of the law, the persuasion by the lawyer, and the decision of the judge. Richard Weisberg, in his book, Poethics and other Strategies… Read More

ATF Gun Tracing Program Helps Solve Case

atf logo

Federal agents succeeded in using a gun tracing program to deal with a unique web of crime. The crimes involved the use of guns and drugs. The case in question involves a former defense lawyer Tomislav Golik and public defender in Duval County who was involved in the sale of expensive firearms in exchange for cocaine. The trade was mainly conducted with convicted felons, according to a report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Eric Fox who is the AFT Resident-Agent-In-Charge spoke about how the bureau had succeeded in resolving the crime web. He said that as soon as the caliber, make and model of the different weapons were identified, the Bureau had decided to move with haste to remove the weapons from the streets within the shortest time possible. One of the guns in the Golik case was found to have been stolen from one St. Nicholas home in April 2015. The burglary took place at a time when the homeowners were not in the home. Court records show that Alvin Douglas Gay had attempted to sell the stolen rifle together… Read More

The Line Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

felony vs misdemeanor

Crimes have a general classification but can be broken down further into several categories depending on the level of severity. A crime can also be ranked as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the serious consequences of the criminal act. The categorization of a crime will influence how the case is handled, which is why it is important to understand the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. The rules that define a criminal act will influence the punishment or potential jail time the offender gets. Let’s first look at what constitutes a felony and a misdemeanor to understand the difference between the two. Felonies vs. Misdemeanors Crimes in Florida The basic distinction between a felony and misdemeanor lies on the penalty meted on the offender. The key difference lies in how much jail time and the type of prison the offender gets depending on the severity of the crime. In Florida, just like in many other states across the country, a felony case is considered to be more serious than a misdemeanor case and will usually attract harsher and lengthier conviction consequences. The District… Read More

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

Is It Time to Axe Bite-Mark Testimony?

bite marks forensic evidence

Evidence in Criminal Proceedings Evidence is the mainstay for timely resolution of criminal proceedings. It provides the agreeable stand on which the court—judge(s) or jury—makes convictions and acquittals. Understandably, evidence admitted for consideration exists in different forms. Traditionally, these forms include testimony of witnesses, video and/or image data, and forensic evidence—DNA or bite-mark testimony. How Bite-Mark Evidence is used During a trial, it is permissible to call on expert witnesses to testify on whether or not the criminal defendant left the teeth marks or lacerations on the victim in question. The expert witnesses called upon are forensic odontologists. What they do in simple terms is state the degree of semblance between the actual teeth of the criminal defendant to the bite-mark teeth pattern. The odontologists basis his or her decision by comparing the teeth pattern on the victim to a mold of the criminal defendant’s teeth. If a match occurs, then the court will adjudge the criminal defendant to be the source of the teeth marks. Disparaging Stats In a fundamental sense, the bite-mark testimony can be beneficial in a court trial. This has fueled… Read More

Should Kids Be Allowed to Waive Miranda Rights?

miranda for juvenile arrests

Miranda Rights The chances that you have heard a version of the Miranda Rights are high. You do not have to be a crime suspect to have heard it, thanks in part to criminal TV shows and their ubiquitous Miranda warnings read aloud by police officers to criminal defendants as at the time of the arrest. The Miranda Rights starts with the famous “You have the right to remain silent…” Judging by the popularity of the statute, it would appear that most people understand what the Miranda rights actually protect. Wrong. The plain meaning of the Miranda Rights sometimes gets lost. The various ways that law enforcement word Miranda warnings around the country often compound the loss in meaning. Protection Offered by the Miranda Rights By law, a law enforcement officer should read the Miranda rights to the suspect at the time of his or her arrest. The major benefits include: That it is not a must to speak to the police That you are permitted to have an attorney advocate on your behalf at all times of the police interrogation—before, during, and after A… 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

Corrine Brown Guilty – Fraud & Tax Evasion

Former US Rep. Corrine Brown faces years in prison after a Florida court found her guilty of diverting funds from a charity that were meant for helping poor students. There was no date set for her sentencing. The guilty verdict came after a criminal trial in which prosecutors outlined a narrative of how Brown and one of her top aides siphoned funds from the charity named One Door for Education Foundation and used them on shopping excursions, trips and lavish parties. Out of a total of 22 charges against her, she was found guilty on 18 which included not telling the truth on her taxes as well as her financial-disclosure forms during her time in Congress. There was no visible reaction from Brown as the judge delivered each verdict to a silent courtroom. She had entered a not guilty plea on all of the charges including tax fraud. She would later leave the courthouse supported by a companion with news reporters in tow. Some of her supporters shouted in support as she entered a waiting car. Her attorney, James Smith, while addressing reporters said that… Read More

Why DNA is not Foolproof

dna evidence

DNA Evidence To be fair, DNA evidence would go down in history as one the most influential technologies by the criminal justice system. However, its much-touted “infallibility” is falling like a pack of cards in the face of growing technological scrutiny. DNA Evidence is Fallible For the layman, the premise of using DNA evidence is fail-safe. Our DNA is one of a limited number of biological signatures—another being our fingerprints. Considering that on average we shed 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells per hour, it is overwhelmingly possible for a suspect to leave a bio-trail at the scene of a crime that makes identifying him or her remarkably easy. However, that explanation is also the bedrock of the opposing viewpoint held by professionals—that DNA evidence is easily transferable. Especially in instances where the DNA evidence is culled from skin cells, then the ability of skin cells to move easily can be a limiting factor to the reliability of the technique. Take this illuminating scenario for example. The murder of a multimillionaire was pinned on a homeless man. Unfortunately, this was a false allegation. The paramedics that… Read More

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