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.
Posted in Criminal Law, Drugs, Federal, Florida, Uncategorized
Tagged drugs, eric holder, florida laws, jeff sessions, mandatory minimum, new laws, sentencing
Former Browns QB Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel, who’s facing charges in Texas for allegedly striking his former girlfriend, was in court for a preliminary hearing. A reporter texted his attorney for a comment, and received a text back that appears kind of incriminating. The lawyer has indicated the text was meant for another attorney. Oops.
It’s bad practice to bad mouth your own clients… thought the temptation can be great on some criminal cases, but it’s a bad idea. It’s an even worse idea if you don’t pay attention who your texts are going to. Suggesting, say, that your client may have been doing something illegal might end up prejudicing your client if they decide to have him submit a pee test. That could be bad for the client, and for you.
A 21-year-old man tried to take off from an attempted traffic stop on Easter morning, only to collide with a turning vehicle as he sped away: and surveillance cameras caught the dramatic collision on video. It’s a stark and scary reminder of the violence when one more more vehicles is travelling at a high rate of speed. Miraculously, the motorcycle driver, Joey Pinheiro of North Fort Myers, survived, and will likely be facing criminal charges.
Robert Hayden Jr., via LCSO
There was another high-profile fleeing case on Easter, as a man riding an ATV in traffic on Palm Beach also fled from an attempted traffic stop. That man also ended up crashing his vehicle, though he ended up stuck in a ditch, and with less serious injuries. Robert Hayden Jr. was charged with fleeing, as well as possession of marijuana and for gun charges. Failing to stop for law enforcement officers is a felony in Florida: so many times the fleeing charge ends up being more serious than whatever infraction for which the cops initially tried to stop somebody.
Posted in Criminal Law, Florida, Fort Myers / Lee County / Southwest Florida #SWFL, North Fort Myers / Southwest Florida
Tagged accident, atv, drugs, firearm, fleeing, fort myers, fort myers beach, joey pinheiro, marijuana, motorcycle, North Fort Myers, robert hayden
NBC-2 took a look at the actual cost to taxpayers of the prosecution of marijuana offenses. As a sample, they found that on one day there were 29 offenders in the Collier County jail for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. At a cost of more than $100 per day to house them, that totaled over $3,000.00 in incarceration fees- just for one day! Lee county, with a larger population, likely has even more marijuana offenders.
The costs calculated by NBC does not include the other costs: costs for the prosecutor’s office, court administration fees, and legal defense costs (because it’s a criminal offense, all defendants are entitled to have an attorney, and the state pays if they cannot afford it.) Some of these costs are offset by imposing financial assessments to the defendants… but the guys (and gals) in jail won’t be paying them.
Further, and one of the main complaints of those who are challenging are the collateral consequences: people are burdened with the stigma of arrest, they are followed around by their convictions and mug shots, and in Florida, a conviction also leads to a mandatory driver’s license suspension! That makes it even harder for people to put their mistakes behind them and to be productive members of society: if they can’t drive, a lot of people lose their jobs, for instance. That’s why it’s imperative to get an experienced criminal law attorney to represent you if you get arrested- even if it’s ‘just a little weed’.
Pablo Escobar, notorious kingpin of the Medellin drug cartel in Columbia in the 1980’s, was known for this extravagances in that poor country. In addition to giving money, housing, and soccer fields to the poor, he own vast estates on which he built palaces, and imported wild animals for his personal zoo. Most of the animals were captured and disbursed to zoos after his death, but apparently they couldn’t handle the Hippos, and left a small, but viable breeding population in a pond.
Fast forward three decades, and the four Hippos have bred into a population of more than 60, and with no natural predators in South America, they are beginning to become a problem. Locals are somewhat enamored with them, and protested when one was shot a while back, but now a drought has forced them into closer contact with populated areas. Scientists are working on a program to sterilize them, but are waiting on the special dart guns needed to sedate them.
In the meantime… stay away. While vegetarian, Hippos are extremely defensive and dangerous to humans.
Wait, what’s this got to do with a criminal law blog? Well, Pablo Escobar was probably the biggest criminal of the 20th century– sorry Al Capone. But really, I just wanted to talk about Hippos. Also, check out the amusement park they made out of Escobar’s old ranch, Hacienda Napoles… I guess featuring Hippos.
Wesnel Isaac managed to evade capture for around 7 years, rising to not only Lee County’s most wanted list, but for the 15 most wanted for the U.S. Marshall’s service. He was eventually arrested in Haiti in 2014, and extradited back to Florida to face charges for an execution-style triple murder in Lehigh Acres allegedly related to his drug business. His trial began jury selection this morning.
One of his co-defendants also made it out of the country. Loubert Jules was captured trying to sneak back IN to the United States, crossing the Mexican border in the trunk of a car. He was sentenced to life in prison after trial. Two other co-defendants were given 8-year sentences for agreeing to cooperate and testify.
Crime Photo from Mexican Federal Police
Mexican authorities were investigating an accident, when they discovered 55 pounds of packets that appear to be cocaine… in the dashboard where the passenger airbag should have been. There was a passenger in the vehicle when it crashed, and he did not survive. An Airbag might have helped.
It’s possible that had there been an airbag, the passenger still might not have survived. The driver’s airbag did deploy, bu the was also killed due to his injuries. However, I stand by my thesis that it’s a bad idea to put drugs in place of your airbag.
Don’t do drugs.