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Can I be prosecuted for just for talking about having sex with a minor over the internet?

Answer:

Yes, you can. The prosecution of those looking to have sex with a minor over the internet has exploded in recent years. These cases are easy to prosecute: police officers pose as underage minors (or the minor's parents) and get people to make incriminating statements. Then, they arrest them; the prison sentences are long. And the entire crime is a complete fiction, since there was no possibility for the minors or those seeking them out to actually meet, because the 'minors' are actually police officers. But how can someone be prosecuted for attempting to commit a crime which could actually never come to pass? As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have seen it happen.

Should I ever consent to having my computer searched by the police?

Answer:

No, you should never consent to having your computer searched, even if it's for a limited purpose. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I have seen all to often criminal charges brought for what the police find on someone's computer. The 11th. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case of USA v. Watkins (July 28,2014) is an example of this. Mr. Watkins agreed to assist law enforcement in a murder investigation after the body of a seven year old girl, with whom Watkins was acquainted, was found in a landfill. Watkins was not a suspect in the murder of the child. The child was friends with Watkin's grandchildren and the children occasionally used the Watkins home computer. The police wanted to search for clues by visiting the websites the children had visited. Watkins agreed, but told the police that he had downloaded some child pornography on the computer. The police assured Watkins that they had no interest in the child porn; they were only interested in evidence relevant to the murder investigation. So Watkins agreed to allow the police to search his computer, but only as it related to the murder investigation.

If the police mistakenly find contraband in my car, will the case be dismissed?

Answer:

It should be, as it stands right now, but the law may soon change. Florida police officers pull motorists over every day based on mistakes of law. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer,I represent people every day who are the victims of police 'mistakes of law'. In the case of Damian Leslie v. Florida, the police pulled over Mr. Leslie because he did not have a center rearview mirror. The cop believed this to be a traffic violation; it was not. When Leslie pulled over, the cop observed three baggies of marijuana in his lap while he was sitting in his vehicle. The cop then searched the car further and found some cocaine.

Can the police use a stingray to track the location of my cell phone?

Answer:

A stingray is not just a fish that glides around the ocean floor with a long tail. It's also a shorthand term for an IMSI catcher, which simulates a cellphone tower to trick nearby mobile devices (like your cellphone) into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. A stingray can see and record a device's unique ID number and traffic data, as well as information that points to it's location. By moving a stingray around, the police can triangulate a device's location with greater precision than is possible using data obtained from a carrier's fixed tower location. And yes, the police in Florida can and do use this controversial surveillance tool to track your cell phone. I have seen it done as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.

Can the police search my car because of it's color?

Answer:

No, they cannot police search your car because of it's color. The Florida Supreme Court recently decided State v. Teamer (July 3, 2014), in which a person was charged with drug trafficking and possession after the vehicle he was driving was stopped by a deputy sheriff who noticed an inconsistency between the actual color of the vehicle Mr. Teamer was driving and the color indicated on the vehicle's registration. How would a cop know this, you might ask, from his police cruiser? The police are told that, when sitting in traffic, or watching a vehicle stopped at a light, for example, to use their on-board computers to run random license plates to check if there are any outstanding warrants or other discrepancies. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I can tell you that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office does this routinely.

Can the police question a child at school without a parent?

Answer:

Probably, yes, the police can question a child at school without a parent present. In J.D.B. v. North Carolina, a 13 year old, seventh grade student was accused of breaking into two homes. A few days after the break-ins, a school resource officer took the student from his classroom to a conference room in the school where two police officers and two school administrators questioned him for 30 minutes. The student, incredibly, was not given his Miranda warnings, nor was he given the opportunity to call his grandmother, who was his legal guardian, nor was he told he was free to leave the room if he wished. Eventually, he confessed to the crimes he was accused of, in part because he was scared after being threatened with juvenile detention. He was told to write out a statement, which he did. He was then permitted to leave and catch his bus home. Sometime thereafter, he was charged with breaking and entering and larceny. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I represent juveniles charged with crimes.

Is it legal for the police to search my cell phone?

Answer:

Not without a search warrant, it isn't legal for the police to search your phone. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I fight illegal searches by the police. The Supreme Court of the State of Florida recently ruled that the police cannot access the personal data on your cell phone without a search warrant. In Smallwood v. Florida, the police recovered Cedric Smallwood's cell phone when they arrested him for the robbery of a convenience store in Jacksonville. The phone was in Smallwood's pocket when he was arrested. The police searched the photographs on Smallwood's phone (without his consent) and found several incriminating photos (one of them showed the gun he used in the robbery next to a stack of fanned out money four days after the robbery - not too smart on Mr. Smallwood's part). This and other photographs were introduced against Mr. Smallwood at the time of his trial. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 50 years in prison - ouch!

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