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The focus on crime will continue into 2018 (from Tallahassee.com)

FSU police officer using the Force on a suspect

Following up my “2018 predictions” post yesterday came this from the Tallahassee Democrat.  Where the facts come from and whether they are accurate or not is a mystery – the stats cited seem to be from the FBI’s 2016 (not 2017) analysis.  That analysis (linked to the article and screenshotted below) seems to show Tallahassee crime going up – total crimes in 2015 was 15, 177, up to 16, 289 in 2016).   

tallahassee criminal defense

tallahassee drug crime lawyerBut you get the idea. 

LCSO setting up a “crime fighting center . .. to monitor trends”?  TPD getting new headquarters?  Money on updating technology?  SAO going paperless?  Don’t see how those fight crime – process cases and have nice comfy digs, yes.  But on the streets?  Don’t see a concrete law enforcement plan in the article, other than the LCSO SPIDER squad (my experience is those aggressive “specialized” units usually produce lots of motion to suppress work for the criminal defense attorney for Fourth Amendment violations).

KUDOS, however, to the community for its efforts to help itself:

The community has also stepped up efforts to address the underlying social factors driving crime.

The city of Tallahassee started a program focusing on young men and women not in the workforce but most likely, according to data, to be involved in crime.

The TEMPO (Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity) program, run by former school principal Kimball Thomas and funded by community partnerships, tries to enroll those individuals ages 16 to 24 who are out of school or out of work and offers them an outlet away from a lifestyle of crime.

Last month, safety cameras, which are not actively monitored, were installed in a south side neighborhood where data shows a high number of crime happens.

A legion of neighborhoods have stepped up in a movement to take personal responsibility of their streets. The idea is that if the people who live there show they care, they can improve their quality of life.

Part of making those improvements has been a push through the Neighborhood Public Safety Initiative to identify areas most susceptible to crime and underlying contributing factors.

A pilot program was launched in October in Griffin Heights and the Greater Frenchtown area to assess the level of blight, properties in need of improvement, sidewalk, streetlight and other amenity repairs and promote neighborhood beautification.

Not trying to be critical, just understand.  I think the citizens are getting it right, and local government should support those efforts.  If we spend more on helping people, and less on arresting them, crime will go down:

“This study found that the savings of supply-control programs are smaller than the control costs (an estimated 15 cents on the dollar for source-country control, 32 cents on the dollar for interdiction, and 52 cents on the dollar for domestic enforcement). In contrast, the savings of treatment programs are larger than the control costs; we estimate that the costs of crime and lost productivity are reduced by $7.46 for every dollar spend on treatment.”

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/chapter/economics

Source: The focus on crime will continue into 2018

California Couple Used a Drone to Deliver Drugs (from Time)

Authorities say a drone delivered drugs to customers at a nearby parking lot. The customers would then drive by the couple’s home and throw their payments on the lawn.

One wonders what some people could do with their lives if they put their minds to that, rather than finding ways to break the law.

Source: California Couple Used a Drone to Deliver Drugs: Police | Time

Tallahassee criminal courts in 2018 . . . what to expect

2017 was tough in Tallahassee criminal courts – while crime statistics were down (artificially so, it may be, as the rumor is that local law enforcement is purposely not making as many arrests in order to push the stat lower and raise Tallahassee’s poor reputation for being a crime-ridden city), big cases were up.  Tallahassee courts processed several high-profile cases- some of which ended in acquittals, some of which never went to trial and have been continued (the Markel murder trial), one of which (Segura) ended in a mistrial, and one that was investigated and not charged (the FSU fraternity death case).  We saw the establishment of a new veterans’ treatment court.

2017 saw laws change, and policy change – we saw the first year of a new Second Judicial Circuit prosecutor’s term, which always takes adjustment on both sides.  Jack Campbell seems to be working very hard to make the system better, and also seems to have a good compass as to what needs to be done.  We wish him well in 2018!

In 2018, expect to see the legislature continuing to be “tough on crime” and continue its quest to make EVERYTHING in Florida illegal.  Segura will be retried, to the great expense of Leon County citizens.  The FSU fraternity case will either end, or there will be charges.  The Markel case may not get tried, because the out-of-town attorneys for the defense can’t seem to get it ready.  DUI arrests will likely go up, and I sense that financial crime arrests and prosecutions will also increase (there has been a slight rise ongoing for some time).

As a Tallahassee criminal defense attorney, I plan to continue to provide the best service possible to my clients.  My book, Florida Criminal Cases Notebook (James Publishing) should be out in early 2018.  Another book that is being completed, Cross Examination in a Nutshell (West Academic) should be out in the late spring.  James Publishing and I are looking at another book to come out in late 2018, on the topic of Florida Criminal Procedure.  We tried several jury trials in 2017 – all of which were acquittals.  That’s a rarity (even for me!), and while we hope it will continue in 2018, we are going to hope for the best and continue to prepare for anything.

We wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2018!

Clients, here’s how prosecutors view your case

Tallahassee criminal defense attorneyThis article will help clients understand what I deal with when working with prosecutors.

Stress and fear usually envelop anyone charged with having committed a crime.  The frantic search for hope in a dire situation often drives how someone new to the criminal system seeks answers and relief.  I certainly understand that, and offer these words to those folks – so they understand what we defense attorneys are working with (and, often, against).

First, understand that the prosecutor is an elected official, and his or her employees are representative of the office.  All decision are subject to public scrutiny.  All records are public.  In other words, politics is a part of the process.  Like it or not.  So prosecutors always have in mind whether there will be any negative repercussions about how they handle a case.  No one wants to get called to the boss’ office, nor see their name in the paper regarding a case.

Second, understand that the prosecutor is not in the business of dismissing charges.  To the contrary, the job is to prosecute allegations of crime.  Please do not ask me if your case “can just be dropped”, or if I can tell the prosecutor that you are a good person and this is your first arrest and see if he or she will just let it go.  It does not happen that way, sorry.  Your good history and character are a part of my presentation, but will not magically impress a prosecutor to simply ignore a police report with your name on it.

Please also understand that the prosecutor may not immediately know what has happened to you.  From the time you are arrested until the paperwork makes its way to the State Attorneys’ Office (SAO) could be days, even weeks.  While I jump on cases right away, it takes time for the prosecutor to get a file and get up to speed.

Next, understand that whatever I tell prosecutors about the case will be checked out.  Trust but verify, as it is said.  Most prosecutors will give credit to what another professional tells him or her (except one I know in Gadsden County, who told me he doesn’t believe anything that comes from a defense attorney – real nice).  But as they are bureaucrats and at-will employees of an elected official, they have to confirm things before decisions are made.

Prosecutors have many, many cases, and yours is probably not that important to them.  What that means is that I often have to make several attempts at contact to get an answer to my questions and to get you information about resolving your case (check this article I wrote years ago, admonishing prosecutors to return phone calls).   You must be patient – I keep a running list of which prosecutors I am currently waiting to hear from so I can follow up.  

Finally, please undestrand that resolving a criminal case necessarily involves a penance . . . a punishment.  It is not intended to be comfortable nor convenient for a defendant.  Prosecutors generally do not care that you have to take time off from work, or attend meetings or do community service hours at night, or that you have to pay fines and court costs.  So demanding that I ask a prosecutor to amend a sentence because its cramping your style is senseless.

So, all that to say that negotiating with a prosecutor is a very difficult thing to do.  The process is not the traditional postitionally-based negotiation, in that most prosecutors do not take the position that they have something to lose.  That’s a whole different blog post, actually!  As a Tallahassee criminal defense attorney, I work to present creative resolutions in a professionally manner.  If you are charged with a crime in Leon County, we will work past these issues and do our best to “get to yes” as we have for many other clients over the years.