Category Archives: Criminal Law

Cape Coral Conducting a DUI Operation Tonight

Cape Coral announced they will be conducting a high-visibility DUI operation tonight. They plan to be out in force and looking for impaired drivers to bust. Part of the purpose of these operations is to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, and to remind everyone to stay safe!

Man Gets $1.4 Million Dollar Bond for Undersize Lobster Tails

lobster tails monroe

Tails Seized by Monroe SO

A Miami man caught with a bunch of undersized lobster tails was arrested and given bond totaling 1.4 million dollars in Monroe County. Now, to be sure, he got caught with a lot (246) of undersized lobsters, and he has actually been caught stealing undersized lobsters before, so this isn’t his first rodeo. Still, a bond as high as the annual salary for an NFL player might be a little on the high side.

Unless this guy, Jorge Vargas, has massive independent wealth (which I doubt, since he’s stealing seafood), this is essentially a no bond hold. The court is directed to take into account a lot of things when setting bond, including his means to pay, his likelihood of showing up to court dates (he’s apparently missed them before), the threat to the community, and prior record. While his record of similar offenses, and especially if he’s missed a court date on criminal charges, would suggest a higher bond, that is an awful lot of zeros to put up there on a fish case. To be entitled to a no bond hold (pretrial detention without bond), the state has to make a showing of the strength of their case, and why no bond could protect the community. There’s no indication that this guy is violent or anything like that, so the bond is likely too high under Florida law.

This case may be ripe for a habeas corpus, essentially an appeal to the higher court to order the lower court to reevaluate the bond on the case. Even if he gets the bond lowered, it will still be relatively high due to his record, and the volume of lobster he had taken. And even if he can post bond, that’s just to assure his presence in court… he may be facing some substantial incarceration if he is ultimately convicted of 246 counts of possession of undersized lobsters!

The Large Penis Defense Worked! Richard Patterson Found Not Guilty

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson, who’s attorney claimed that his girlfriend accidentally choked to death on his large member during oral sex, as opposed to being intentionally choked, has been found not guilty by a jury this afternoon. Patterson did not take the stand, but the Defense presented testimony from the former county medical examiner that her injuries could be consistent with choking to death on his member. Medical testimony from the state called that theory into question, but the associate medical examiner could not state for certain the manner of death. The jury was not able to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the death was murder, and Patterson is a free, well-endowed*, man.

In fact, his attorney conceded that the explanation of death while performing oral sex was unlikely, but shifted his focus that the death could have been from a heart attack or other accident. While her body was decomposed, her throat cartilage was not broken, leaving open the possibility of an accidental death. Prosecutors could not prove the cause of death, nor how long she had been dead, which complicated their burden of proof, on an extremely complicated case.

*Presumably well endowed, as the defense decided not to put his penis in evidence, nor to show it to the jury…

#onlyinflorida

The Penis Defense Case is going to the Jury

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

Attorneys for Richard Patterson, accused in the choking death of his girlfriend, Francisca Marquinez, are doing their closing arguments today, and the jury should begin deliberations this afternoon. The case has made headlines after Patterson’s attorney filed a motion to allow the jury to view his client’s penis. Apparently, he decided against the presentation, as he rested the defense case before the court had to rule on the motion. The Defense did present the former Broward County medical examiner, who testified it was possible that the victim could have choked during oral sex. Previously, the state presented testimony from a current associate medical examiner, who testified about why it was unlikely she died this way, but that he could not rule on the manner of death due to the body’s condition when it was discovered. Prosecutors argued in closing that Patterson did not call 911 right away, which might be expected if the injuries really occurred accidentally, in addition to pointing out other statements by Patterson. The jury could reach a verdict later today.

Our original story on the case: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/florida-man-to-use-penis-defense-in-murder-trial/

#onlyinflorida

 

Florida Man to Use Penis Defense in Murder Trial

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

When I heard about this murder case, I was confused because I also heard it was a choking case. Horrifically, I was not given bad information: it is a choking case, and Richard Patterson claims the woman choked on his member. Trial is underway, and Patterson’s attorney argued a motion to allow the jury to see his penis. Reportedly, the state does not object: what can they say if that is the defense he claims. Defendants have broad latitude to present and argue their defenses.

At issue is whether or not the penis will be erect… The state argues that it should be erect, for proper context. That actually kind of makes since, as the Defendant is arguing that she accidentally choked while giving him oral sex. It appears there will be no dispute that she was otherwise healthy and died of asphyxiation, but to prove second degree murder, the state will have to show that the defendant cased the death by an act that was “imminently dangerous” AND “demonstrating  a depraved mind without regard for human life”. An accidental death during consensual sexual activity would not meet this standard, though the State is likely to argue that his story doesn’t make sense. The Defendant indicated in his motion that they intend to call the Broward Medical Examiner who will testify the death is “consistent” with accidental asphyxiation during oral sex. This could end up being the trial of the year…

The trial started yesterday, and a jury has been selected. The judge has not ruled whether the penis will need to be erect for the jury demonstration. The death occurred in Broward county in 2015, and Patterson is facing life in prison if convicted.

AG to Shift Policy to seek Harsher Penalties on Federal Drug Offenses

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a new memo indicating a policy change for Federal Prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense”. This overturns a policy memo issued by Eric Holder two years ago, which instructed prosecutors to avoid charging defendants with offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences on many drug offenses, in an effort to reduce non-violent drug offenders in our over-crowded prison system.

Prosecutors praised the decision as they enjoy having as much leverage as possible to prosecute offenders, and felt handcuffed by the Holder Memo. Critics feel this is a return to harsh mandatory sentences that do not serve their intended purpose. Under this policy, federal prosecutors would be seeking a 10-year mandatory sentence for a kilogram of heroin. In contrast, the State of Florida mandates a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of more than 14 grams of heroin (about half an ounce). And yes, there are extended prison sanctions for marijuana offenders, as well.

A Collier County Man was the World’s Biggest Child Porn Kingpin

steven chase

Steven Chase

Last week a Gold Gate Estates man was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a September trial in North Carolina. The story didn’t get much coverage here, since the case was tried out of state (where the websites were being hosted), but he was running his dark-net website Playpen from his computer right here in Southwest Florida. The website may have been the largest child pornography distributor in the world, with up to 250,000 members.

The bust led to an international sting, dubbed “Operation Pacifier”, that netted almost 900 child pornography arrests around the world and some 250+ children victims were identified and/or rescued. That operation has led to a lot of coverage, both due to the success in taking down such a large number of child predators, but also for the criticism of the techniques used by the government. The FBI kept the Playpen site up and running and continuing to distribute child pornography as investigators sought to trace the sites users, going as far to infect them with malware that allowed them to be tracked. We have discussed the legal privacy concerns, and the concerns the federal government running child porn sites (a LOT of them), previously on this blog. The concerns are not unfounded, as there have already been cases where judges rejected using malware to search computers even when the location is unknown.

That didn’t save Chase, who has been locked away for 30 years, with a lifetime of supervision when he gets out. This will qualify him as a sex offender, and the additional sex-offender reporting that legally requires as well.