Criminal Defense Attorney | Criminal Defense Law

Blog Published By Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

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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?

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 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 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

Arsonist whose lawyer’s pants caught on fire jailed

A Miami arson case that attracted far-reaching media interest after a bizarre incident in court where the defense attorney’s pants caught fire has ended with the arsonist being sentenced to serve 364 days in jail. Little was known about the case outside the Miami courtroom until the lawyer’s pants burst into flames. The defendant Claudy Charles accepted a plea deal which will include five years of probation. The fire fiasco had led to the suspected being granted a fresh trial after he had been convicted in March. He decided to take the plea deal in the new trial. The attorney was also stood down from the case. The fire incident is still under investigation with investigators trying to figure out whether it was planned to sway the opinion of the jury or it was just an incredible coincidence that it occurred as he tried to convince the jury that his client’s vehicle had caught fire accidentally. A hitherto low-profile case in Miami-Dade criminal court attracted widespread media attention on March 8 when the remarkable event took place. The defense attorney Stephen Gutierrez was making his… Read More

Financial Bail: How It Distorts Legal Fairness

Introduction A healthy legal system is one that carries out regular reforms to reflect existing values of the society. Over the last decade, a major issue plaguing the criminal justice system has been the high population of incarcerated individuals, which has led to an overpopulation of the jails and prisons. This is in sharp contrast to countries like Sweden and Netherlands that are closing their prisons for opposite reasons. The fact is that for virtually every year from 1993 to 2012, crime rate has been falling. So, why is the incarcerated population increasing then?Among a myriad of reasons, perhaps the most plausible is the number of outdated practices that put more people in jail, while the rate of the clearance remains fairly steady. One of these outdated practices generating a lot of discourse is financial bail. Financial Bail Financial bail refers to the practice of courts temporarily holding onto a deposit of money or property as collateral. This is to ensure that the defendant will return when trial commences to claim their assets, and guard against the possibility of the defendant being a flight risk.… Read More

The Impact of Criminal Charges on your Driving Privilege

Is driving a right or a privilege? In the State of Florida, driving is considered a privilege and not a right. A person’s driving privilege can be suspended, canceled or revoked for a number of reasons that can include (but are not limited to) failing to pay a ticket, failing to pay child support, or failing to attend traffic school. Who monitors my driving privilege? In Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is the agency that monitors a persons driving privilege among other services. The Agency has several offices throughout the State of Florida. Can criminal charges and convictions impact my driving privilege? Yes. Contact with the Criminal Justice system can impact an individuals driving privilege. In some instances, this impact may be temporary or short term. However, there are circumstances in which the impact may be permanent. Can having a criminal conviction affect my privilege to drive? Yes. The legislature has determined that if you are adjudicated guilty of certain crimes, the DHSMV MUST suspended your driver’s license. That means that if a person is adjudicated guilty of a crime… Read More

Can You Break the Law in Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is now becoming mainstream. What was once a popular topic for science fiction, virtual reality is now becoming – for lack of a better word, a reality. The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, Jaunt, One Plus, Sony PlayStation VR, and Google Cardboard are just a few of the popular VR headsets that are near release or currently available on the market. Eagle Flight allows you to fly over Paris in a virtual world. If that’s not your style, you can walk a tightrope between skyscrapers with The Walk. Still not your thing? – become a quarterback for your favorite football team with VR Sports Challenge. These are just a few things you can now do with a virtual reality headset. Consumers often report an extremely realistic experience thanks to the ever-increasing high resolution displays that are released each year. Some players of The Walk recall the difficulty one may face when it comes to taking that first step on the tight rope when you feel as if you are walking hundreds of feet in the air (despite them knowing that it is… Read More