Probation and parole are both related to the conviction of a crime, but these are two very distinct, separate punishments in the Florida criminal justice system. Probation is a form of punishment that does not always require incarceration, but it is used by the state for a specified period of time. Parole, on the other hand, allows incarcerated individuals to be prematurely released with a set of circumstances.
If the terms of probation or parole are violated in any way, an individual is subject to additional penalties and possibly incarceration.
Probation is used for juvenile and adult offenders whom the court places on supervision within the community via a probation agency in lieu of incarceration. Some jurisdictions in Florida will sentence probationers to a short term of incarceration as well as a sentence of probation to immediately follow. This is called a “split sentence.”
The supervision statuses of probation can vary greatly in Florida, from active supervision to inactive status – depending on the severity of the crime the individual was convicted of. If the offense was minimal, the individual may receive a reduction in supervision, but all offenders are still required to fulfil specific conditions of their probation, such as:
- Paying fines
- Paying fees or court costs
- Participating in treatment programs
- Obtaining and maintaining employment
There are also rules a probationer must follow while in the community and any failure to comply with the terms of their probation can result in a violation hearing and revocation.
Parole is used for criminal offenders who are conditionally released from prison and will serve the remaining portion of their sentence while in the community. A prisoner can be released on parole by the parole board (which is referred to as a discretionary release) or according to Florida statutes. Parolees will have different levels of supervision than a probationer and are often required to regularly report to their parole officer in person, by telephone or via mail. A parolee could be placed on inactive supervisory status if the nature of their crime is non-violent or after a period of being on actively supervised parole.
Have You Been Arrested for a Violation of the Terms of Your Release?
Probation and parole violations are very serious. Not only could it mean a revocation of your release, but it could mean additional years to be served, fines and fees. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today regarding your parole or probation violation hearing. Schedule a consultation at 904-356-8618 or by filling out an online contact form.Read More
The Colorado shooter, James Holmes, was recently sentenced to more than 3,000 years in prison as well as 12 life sentences. Most Americans were shocked at the amount of years added to his sentence while others felt it was too little. While it does sound like a large number of years for an individual to serve – especially because in reality they will not live long enough to serve those years – it is not the longest sentence seen in the United States criminal justice system. In fact, it was the fourth longest.
30,000 Years: Charles Scott Robinson
Charles Scott Robinson, a child rapist from Oklahoma, is currently the owner of the longest prison sentence ever given to a single person for multiple counts. In December 1994, Robinson was sentenced to 30,000 years in prison – with 5,000 years per the six individual counts given to him for his crimes.
21,250 Years: Allan Wayne McLaurin
McLaurin was an accomplice of Darron Bennalford Anderson. Anderson had received the largest amount of jail time as the result of his appeal with crimes ranging from robbery to kidnapping to larceny to the rape of an elderly woman. Anderson was found guilty in 1994 and sentenced originally to 2,200 years. When he appealed and won a new trial, he was convicted again, but this time the jury sentenced him to 11,250 years – which added 6,300 years to his original sentence. He did appeal again and was later allowed parole at year 12,744.
In McLaurin’s case, he was originally sentenced as an accomplice to 21,250 years in prison, but his sentence was later reduced to 500 years on appeal.
10,000 Years: Dudley Wayne Kyzer
In 1981, Kyzer (a man from Alabama) was convicted of killing his wife and sentenced to 10,000 years. He was also convicted of killing his mother-in-law as well as a college student that was at the house on Halloween of 1976. For each of those murders he was given life in prison on top of the 10,000 years he was already sentenced. The judge had justified such harsh sentencing due to the brutality of the murders. Since his sentencing Kyzer has been denied parole nine separate times.
3,318 Years and 12 Life Sentences: James Eagan Holmes
Known as the movie theater shooter of Aurora, Colorado, Holmes was recently sentenced to 12 life terms as well as 3,318 years in prison for additional counts of attempted murder, possessing an illegal explosive device and one more sentence enhanced for the violence within his crimes.
28 Life Sentences, 1 Death Sentence and 99 Years: Bobbie Joe Long
Bobbie Joe Long of Florida was found guilty for raping more than 50 women and killing more than 25 women. His modus operandi was that he would respond to classified ads for small appliances and if the woman answering that ad was alone, he would rape her. He was found guilty and sentenced to 1 death sentence, 28 life sentences and 99 years for his heinous crimes.
The Reality of Sentencing
These cases are extreme and by no means a sample of the criminal justice system. The reason for such extreme sentences is the jury’s verdict combined with mandatory sentencing laws as well as the judge’s discretion – especially regarding the terrible nature of the crime.
If you have been arrested or you are being charged with a violent crime, it is important to understand that Florida statutes allow for enhanced penalties – which can dramatically increase a sentencing period. Speak with a criminal defense attorney right away by calling The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. at 904-356-8618 or by contacting us online.Read More
Attorneys must adhere to a standard of legal ethics when representing their clients – and they must represent their clients to the best of their abilities. But, if you are guilty of the crime you are being accused of, do you admit such guilt to your criminal defense attorney? Will they still represent you as vigorously if they know you are guilty?
The criminal justice system has a strict process of discovery, investigations, trials and appeals. That is to help ensure that those innocent or guilty are always given a fair trial, as their constitutional rights demand. Also, it is your attorney’s job to resolve any charges against you – not morally judge you. Therefore, as you discuss the circumstances of your case with the attorney, you may want to be honest and admit to guilt.
The Burden of Proof
Despite your attorney’s knowledge of your guilt, the state has the burden of proof – not the defense. Therefore, the prosecutors have taken the time to file charges and under the law they must now prove in court that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard to be met and even if you are in fact guilty, not all states can meet such burden.
In the United States, a person is innocent until proven guilty in the courts. Innocent is not a prerequisite to criminal defense, and regardless of guilt, you deserve a criminal attorney to resolve your case and help navigate through the legal complexities of the criminal justice system.
An Attorney Can Negotiate a Resolution
If you are guilty or there is more to your case than guilt or innocence, you must realize that facts are subject to interpretation and there are circumstances that can mitigate one’s guilt. If you acted under duress or in self-defense, for example, you did not intentionally commit the crime you are being accused of.
It is your lawyer’s job to interpret all facts of your case and within the context of the law. They will look for errors in criminal procedure or find technical reasons to request a motion to dismiss the case. Perhaps you are guilty of something, but the bottom line is that you may not be guilty of as severe of a crime as you are being charged with.
Your criminal defense attorney is your advocate and expert negotiator. They will help you receive a less severe punishment even if you decide to plead guilty to the crime. An attorney can assist you with negotiating a sentence that has less jail time or no jail time or they can work with the state’s attorney to find an alternative sentencing option.
Speak With an Attorney – Regardless of Guilt or Innocence
An attorney will assess the legal facts of the crime from only the legal aspect – not the moral aspect. Your attorney is your trusted counsel and regardless of guilt or innocence, you have the right to that expertise. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today regarding your case by calling 904-356-8618 or by contacting us online.Read More
The state of Florida considers a crime “theft” when a person unlawfully takes or uses someone’s property with a criminal intent. That means that you must have knowingly obtained or used or endeavored to obtain or use someone else’s property with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive them of their right to that property (Florida Statute Section 812.014).
Petit theft, especially as a first-time offense, may not appear to have overly harsh penalties, but that does not mean that you should negotiate with the prosecution without an attorney. Even if you plan to plead guilty, an attorney can ensure you get the best deal for that plea.
The Classifications of Petit Theft
Petit theft is broken down into two classifications: second degree and first degree. The punishments for these include:
- Petit Theft of the Second Degree – This is the lowest offense level of petit theft. If the property’s value is less than $100, you are guilty of petit theft in the second degree. This is a misdemeanor offense under Florida Statute Section 812.014. If convicted of this misdemeanor crime, the sentence cannot be more than 60 days and the fine cannot exceed $500.
- Petit Theft of the First Degree – If the property is valued at $100 or higher, but less than $300, you have committed petit theft of the first degree which is also punished as a misdemeanor offense. The conviction can result in a term of one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000 under Florida Statute 77.082 and 77.083.
If you are adjudicated guilty of petit theft, your driver’s license can also be suspended for up to six months for the first conviction and up to one year for subsequent offenses.
Defense to a Petit Theft Charge is Key
A conviction is all it takes to generate a criminal history – and once you have established a criminal record, it may become more difficult to negotiate pleas for subsequent offenses in the future or even obtain employment and housing. An attorney will provide you with pretrial defenses as well as trial defenses that can possibly lessen or dismiss the charge. Some defense options can include, but are not limited to:
- Equal Ownership – This means that you are a co-owner of the property you allegedly stole; therefore, you are not guilty of taking the property.
- Good Faith Possession – This means that you did not have the intent to steal. Because Florida statutes require that there is intent, if you can prove that you possessed the property in good faith only and without intent to commit theft, your charges could be reduced or dismissed.
- Valueless Property – In order to be convicted, the property stolen must have a value. Florida law only criminalizes the theft of property and a valid market value must be present in order to establish that property was in fact stolen.
- Abandonment – If the owner of such property abandoned that property voluntarily, you could have your charges dismissed.
If you have been arrested for petit theft, you most certainly need criminal representation. The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. can assist you with your pending criminal case. Call 904-356-8618 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.Read More
Television shows and movies showcase it all the time: an individual is going about their day while two plain clothes officers sit in an unmarked car following them. Perhaps the unmarked police car will even follow that person a few cars back as they drive away. While it has been thoroughly dramatized in crime dramas, there is a difference between what happens on screen and reality.
Expectation of Privacy
As a citizen of the United States, the Fourth Amendment provides you with protections when it comes to your privacy. The Fourth Amendment prohibits any unreasonable searches or seizures of personal property – but what is considered “reasonable” is up for debate among jurists. The issue relies on whether or not a person had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time their Fourth Amendment rights were violated. For example, if a person knowingly exposes something “secret” to the public, they no longer have an expectation of privacy. If, however, they preserve that item (even if it is accessible in the public area), it is protected by constitutional rights.
All citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy within their home, but they typically do not have that expectation while in public. Therefore, police do have a right to follow someone as long as they are in a public place. If a person is in a public place and no unlawful search or seizure took place, the courts will rule that the police following that individual was not a violation of their rights.
Assessing the Warrant Requirement
Search warrants, by law, are only required when law enforcement must search a person’s place or seize property. There are exceptions to the warrant requirement, especially if something that can be seized is in plain view of the officer.
A person that is walking or driving in public would be considered “plain view” to officers and everyone else for that matter. Therefore, law enforcement would not be required to obtain a warrant in order to follow them. An officer also has the right to stop you on the street and ask you questions – but they would need reasonable suspicion or a warrant to search you.
Drawing a Fine Line
There is a fine line between what is reasonable and legal and what is a blatant violation of constitutional rights. If you feel the police are following you, they may be doing so in order to collect “reasonable” suspicion so that they can legally search and seize property. If you are under suspicion of a crime, police may follow you in order to gather evidence.
Any time you are being questioned or followed by the police, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can ensure your Fourth Amendment rights are not violated, but also ensure that police do not abuse their ability to follow a person in public simply to collect evidence.
Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today regarding your criminal case. We are available for consultation 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Get started by calling 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form.
The United States Constitution was written to protect Americans from numerous things. What most people do not realize, however, is the constitution also protects them when it comes to criminal acts. There are specific guaranteed rights a person has under the Constitution’s Bill of Rights – and these are critical when you are arrested or even accused of a crime.
Whether you are guilty or not, you should know the constitutional amendments that can impact the outcome of your case – and even your freedom. Most likely you are already familiar with the Fifth Amendment, which is your right to remain silent. But, you may be unaware that there are three more constitutional rights that are important during a criminal investigation and trial.
What Are the Amendments I Should Know?
- The Fourth Amendment – This deals with search and seizure – more specifically, the government’s ability to search or seize your personal property. An agent of the government, including police officers, cannot search or seize your property unless they have a search warrant, arrest warrant or valid probable cause. If your search or seizure violates your Fourth Amendment rights, the evidence obtained in that violation is not admissible in court.
- The Sixth Amendment – The Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to counsel. That is why state and federal governments provide you with appointed counsel if you are unable to afford legal counsel on your own. These attorneys are provided at no cost to you and instead are paid for by the government. Also, the Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to confront witnesses and your accusers as well as to cross-examine the witness and evidence that is being presented against you in the case.
- The Eighth Amendment – This is one that most criminal defendants are not aware of, but should be. According to the Eighth Amendment, the government is not allowed to use cruel or unusual punishments against you. That means if you are convicted or even being held while awaiting trial, you are entitled to basic level rights – even if you are not technically free.
Why It Is Important to Know Your Constitutional Rights
As a defendant, you should always know your rights. Your rights are there to protect you, and during an arrest, interrogation or even a search of your home, knowing those rights could help you in court. When the police, prosecution or other government agent violates your rights, your criminal defense attorney can use that information to help strengthen your defense during the trial – and possibly have evidence found inadmissible.
Speak With a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
It is hard to remember or understand your rights when you are going through the stressful and highly emotional process of an arrest. Contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney at The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today regarding your case. We can help protect your constitutional rights and mount a valuable defense in your case. Call us at 904-356-8618 or contact us online now to schedule a consultation.Read More
HIV risks and disclosures are different for every situation. From long-term partners to a person whom you just met, deciding when to disclose private information is difficult. After all, does another person have the right to know his or her partner’s HIV status? Does an HIV-positive person have a right to privacy?
The Criminalization of HIV Transmission, Exposure and Not Disclosing
Nondisclosure situations increase the stakes. If you have sex with a non-infected partner and fail to disclose your HIV status, the state of Florida could charge you with a crime.
Under Florida Statute Section 381.0041(11)(b), an individual that knows they have HIV and donates blood, plasma or organs without disclosing their status could be charged with a felony in the third degree. Also, Florida Statute Section 384.24(2) states that it is unlawful for an HIV-positive individual to have sexual intercourse with another person unless they have informed them of their HIV infection and that person has consented. Failure to disclose could result in a third degree felony charge as well.
Lastly, under Florida Statute Section 796.08(5), a person who has tested positive for HIV and could transmit their infection through sexual activity and commits the crime of transmission via prostitution could be charged with a third degree felony.
It is not just the United States that imposes criminal consequences for those that knowingly spread HIV. Other countries, such as Kenya, have strict acts that will criminally punish those who spread the virus. In Uganda, a person that knowingly spreads HIV could be sentenced to death.
A Person’s Sexual Rights and Responsibilities
A person should have the right to disclose their HIV status. When it comes to employment, there is no law in Florida that states a positive individual must disclose their status to their employer or co-worker unless there is a clear risk for transmission. But, at the same time, those who are not positive have the right to know if the person they are dealing with is HIV positive – creating a legal issue for both parties.
While individuals have rights to privacy under the constitution, a person living with HIV could be subject to prosecution for non-disclosure especially in states that criminalize the transmission, exposure and non-disclosure acts related to HIV.
Isn’t It Discrimination?
Every state has their own assessment for how they see these laws impacting the HIV stigma and discrimination. Florida’s Department of Health is closely monitoring their exposure and transmission laws to see if they negatively impact either of those issues. The department also has guidelines for offering services to those who are infected in order to protect their privacy and health.
As it stands right now, there are privacy laws in place for those who are infected, but it is not discrimination to prosecute an individual that knowingly spreads the virus to those that have not consented to exposure or transmission.
Are You Being Charged with a Felony? Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a felony, whether relating to a sex crime or other crime, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today. We are available 24 hours per day to answer your call, so get started by calling 904-356-8618. Contact us online to receive answers to your questions from an attorney.Read More
If you have watched the news recently, you may have noticed the case of Baby Doe, which occurred in Boston. This case, however, has received national attention – as it should. The toddler’s body had been originally discovered in a trash bag on Deer Island in the Boston Harbor. Once identified, the police quickly went to work investigating the mother and boyfriend. September 21st, the girl’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend were arraigned in District Court – accused of murdering the child and then covering it up.
The boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, has been charged with murder and he is being held without bail. The mother, Rachelle Bond, was charged as an accessory after the fact and has a bail amount of $1 million. Neither has plead guilty nor admitted guilt.
Who is Bella?
Baby Doe, now known to be Bella Bond, was found by a dog walking June 25th on Deer Island. She was only identified the second week of September. Investigators revealed that the end of her life was horrific and very tragic. The couple was seen verbally and physically abusing the toddler – as an example, they would lock her in the closet from 30 minutes up to an hour and allow the child to scream there.
The mother had told friends that recognized the girl’s picture that the child was taken away from her by child protective services. Later it turned out that the child had not been taken, but that the mother and boyfriend had killed the child and then disposed of her body.
Will They Receive Life in Prison?
The mother has told her friends that the child was possessed by demons and that her boyfriend felt the same. When Bond found her boyfriend standing over the lifeless body of her child, the boyfriend stated that the girl was a demon anyway and it was her time to die.
Unfortunately it is not clear how Bella died and both the mother and boyfriend remain incarcerated and have maintained their innocence. The cause of death report has still not been officially released by the medical examiner. Bond also claims that she was drugged and held against her will after the child’s death – stating that was why she was unable to come forward. The boyfriend states that he believed the child was in the state’s custody and had not realized she was deceased.
Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your Case Today
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a violent crime or has questions regarding your rights, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today. We can assess your criminal case over a no obligation consultation. Contact us at 904-356-8618 or contact us online. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to answer your questions and assist you with your case.Read More
A prison sentence, regardless of length, can be difficult for anyone to endure. If you have a mental illness, prison can become a nightmare. Mental health funding in the state and around the country has plummeted and most state prisons lack the staffing and funding to adequately care for those with a mental illness. Unfortunately, that means that hundreds of inmates with mental illnesses may lose out on vital treatments. Luckily, there are options if you suffer from a mental illness and you are incarcerated.
Prison Inmates and Mental Illnesses/Conditions
State-funded mental health institutions have slowly been closing their doors and most of their patients were not followed up on or given proper treatment. Instead, most mentally ill patients were then funneled through the criminal system.
According to a 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 64 percent of inmates, 56 percent of prison inmates and 45 percent of federal inmates have some sort of mental illness or mental health problem.
There are over two million Americans currently incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails. Providing mental health services to more than half of a prison population is very difficult – if not impossible for the justice system to maintain. Many prisons are forced to use solitary confinement for their inmates that suffer from a mental illness so that they can keep them away from the general population. This is, however, one of the worst punishments that can be given to those suffering from manic-depressive disorders or Schizophrenic conditions.
Receiving Mental Health Services During Incarceration
If you have a mental illness or condition, there are services available that you may be able to receive during your incarceration. Currently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons does offer mental health treatment via a staff of psychologists and licensed psychiatrists. This group also offers forensic services to the courts – including evaluations for mental illness.
Unfortunately, these services are only available to those incarcerated in federal prisons. However, the National Institute of Corrections also has created their own state and local correctional care programs for those in local jails and prisons. These programs are still underway and developing.
Prison and jail is no place for those suffering from severe mental illnesses. Inmates should have access to mental illness treatments – and it is important that inmates realize they do have rights regardless of whether or not they are incarcerated. If you have a condition that requires treatment, your defense attorney can ensure that you receive the treatment you need to maintain optimal mental health.
Receive a Fair Defense – Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. Today
If you have been arrested for a crime and suffer from a mental illness, do not hope that the prison or jail systems will provide you with the care you need. Instead, hire a defense attorney that can assist you with your case and negotiate with prosecutors to ensure your mental illness is addressed. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today for a consultation at 904-356-8618 or contact us online.Read More
The legal system in Florida, and other states, is a system that is based on the rule of the law. All of these laws are applied equally to everyone, and everyone is entitled to the protections provided by those laws. Nowhere in Florida statutes or the constitution does it say that a person can be singled out or treated unfairly by the criminal justice system.
Therefore, defendants and criminal defense attorneys all expect prosecutors to treat defendants equally. Unfortunately, what is expected of the law and what really happens is not always the case. It is difficult for any human being, including a prosecutor, to separate their own emotions from the facts of the law. Sometimes prosecutors can treat defendants unfairly, especially when it comes to crimes with mandatory minimum sentences.
Prosecutorial discretion is allowed for criminal charges. That means that state prosecutors do have freedoms when it comes to charging a defendant with an appropriate crime, arranging a plea agreement and offering lesser charges for pleas. Prosecutors can also dismiss charges against a defendant using their discretions. Prosecutorial discretion is widely used around the country and rarely overseen by judges or other authority figures – meaning prosecutors have free reign to do as they wish.
Most prosecutors in the state never abuse their authority; instead, they respect the law. However, there are instances in the past where prosecutors have abused their discretion – whether consciously or unconsciously.
What the Statistics Are Saying
According to an article published by the Daily Beast, it was found that there are some alarming differences when it comes to criminal charges, incarcerations and population statistics:
- White men make up for 65 percent of the population, but 95 percent of prosecutors in the country are also Caucasian.
- Black men make up for six percent of the population, but take up 35 percent of the prison population in the United States.
- Black men are 65 percent more likely to be charged with crimes that carry harsh minimum mandatory sentences than other races.
- Sentences for African American defendants are nine percent harsher than those of white defendants being charged with the same crime.
There are several reasons that can account for these disparities, the biggest being “tough on crime” platforms, which essentially force prosecutors to seek harsher punishments whenever possible – regardless of the defendant.
Prevent Harsh Punishments by Hiring a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a crime, you cannot rely on the prosecution to treat you fairly. Instead, you need an attorney by your side that understands the law and can protect your rights. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today to discuss your pending criminal case. We can help you for DUI offenses, theft, and even violent crimes. Call us to schedule a no obligation consultation at 904-356-8618 or contact us online with your questions.Read More