Drug Crimes Archives - The Law Offices of Travis Koon, PLLC

Expert Witness

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The prosecutor is trying hard to make a case against the defendant; he/she is desperately explaining how the insignificant details actually do apply to the case.  But now it is the defense’s turn to take center stage and defend their client.  An expert witness is brought in to show why the prosecutor’s argument doesn’t make sense.  The expert witness is the turning point of the case and the trial is over.

So what makes this person an expert witness?

An expert witness is someone who specializes in a particular field or discipline who may present their opinion without having been a witness to any occurrence relating to the case; and they have become qualified in their field through training, accomplishments and special knowledge.  This is the only time when an opinion is admissible in court.

According to Federal Rules of Evidence, rule number 702 states that an expert witness may testify in the form of an opinion if the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, the experts knowledge will help the court understand the evidence or to determine the fact in issue, and the expert has applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.[1]

A series of landmark decisions, commonly called the Daubert Trio (taken from the Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals case), by the Supreme Court has established criteria for the admissibility of an expert witness’s testimony in federal courts.  All the following needs to be established:

  • The reliability of the techniques underlying a proposed testimony
  • Peer-reviewed publications supporting it
  • General acceptance of the thoughts and ideas in the relevant field

The attorney may inquire into the reliability in order “to make certain that an expert, whether basing testimony upon professional studies or personal experience, employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field.”[2]

How they can help you

An expert witness can help establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was not able to perform the crime they are accused of doing. The lawyers at the Law Office of Travis Koon are criminal defense attorneys who have the knowledge and skills needed find and properly use expert witnesses.  The opinion of these people can determine the outcome of a case.

Speak with one of our attorneys today to help fight your legal battles.  We are Florida criminal defense attorneys that will help you every step of the way.  We have offices in Miami, Gainesville, and Lake City; let our experience work in your favor.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_702

[2] http://federalpracticemanual.org/node/38

Miranda Rights

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Seizure | No Comments
DUI

Miranda Rights

If you ever watched a movie or TV show that showed an arrest, you have heard the Miranda Rights being read.  We all know the basics of it, but let’s look at this warning a little more, and dispel some of the misconceptions.

 

The Miranda Warning is simply and explanation of the person’s rights that are given before any interrogation can begin.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

 

If a person does not understand these rights, then it is best to speak up and say so, have it explained.  But once it is understood, my best advice is to politely stop talking.  Do not explain anything or make any remarks that may be used against you.  Stop talking and call an attorney.

 

In 1963 Ernesto Miranda was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and rape of a woman, he had a prior record as being a peeping tom.  He confessed to the crime but soon recanted saying he was forced and coerced into confessing.  He was found guilty, but the ACLU picked up his case and appealed it.  In Miranda v. Arizona (1966) the Supreme Court found that his Fifth Amendment rights had been violated.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution covers several issues, which include the right to due process, double jeopardy, but significant to this case because it protects the individuals from self-incrimination.  Miranda was re-tried and once again found guilty – but the Miranda Rights were born.

 

An arrest can occur without the suspect being Mirandized, if the police later decide to question the suspect, the rights will be read at that time.  A person may still be asked common information such as name and age, and can be searched, for the safety of the officer. 

 

It is a myth that if a person is not read their rights that they will not be found guilty of any charges.  It only means that the self-incrementing confession may not be used against them; it has nothing to do with protecting them against the punishment as a whole.

 

If you are arrested and read these rights, please take the advice and do not say anymore.  Call us immediately at The Law Offices of Travis Koon.  We are criminal defense attorneys in Florida and can speak with you about your case.  We are located throughout Florida with offices in Miami, Lake City, and Gainesville.  Before you tell your side of the story, always call and attorney and tell it to us first.  We are here to help you through this trying time.

New Florida Laws for 2015

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New Florida Laws for 2015

It’s the start of a new year; the time when we make new (or the same) resolutions, and feel that it is the time to get a new and fresh start, a time to try again.  According to law makers, it is also a time to let us all know about the new laws that are being added to the books.

Unfortunately, not knowing about the new laws will not always get you a pardon from the ticket or arrest.  The powers that be feel that we are responsible to pay attention to the news and know that laws that we must abide by.  In a way I agree with this, but at The Law Office of Travis Koon, we know that there are just some laws that our client’s don’t always know exist.  So we want to let you know about some changes that are happening.

Florida Minimum Wage.  Florida businesses and workers should have seen a change that took affect the start of the New Year; the state’s minimum wage increased from $7.93 to $8.05 per hour.  To help off-set this increase, employers should see a 5.2% decrease in workers compensation increase.

Booster Seats.  In the past, children ages 3 and under are required to be in a car seat, while kids 4 and 5 years old could use seat belts… but that has changed.  Now children through ages 5 must be in booster or car seats.  AAA Auto club recommends kids should remain in booster seats until they reach 4 feet 9 inches.  People violating this law may be fined $60 and have 3 points added to their driver’s license.

There were not many laws changed the beginning of this year, but are you aware of the laws that passed last year?  Here are a couple laws that we, The Law Office of Travis Koon, want to make sure you are aware of.

Pain Killers. Increase the amount of being in possession, sale, or manufacture of hydrocodone that is needed to receive the mandatory prison sentence.

Increase Sentences.   The minimum mandatory sentence was increased for dangerous sexual offenders against children to 50 years.

Drivers Leaving the Scene of an Accident.   If a person is involved in accident that results in an injury (a second degree felony) and leaves the scene of the accident, their driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of 3 years.

These are just a couple of the laws that were passed in 2014.  While you may not be aware of all the new laws, we are.  The Law Office of Travis Koon is aware of the changes to laws and how they can affect you.  We are Florida attorneys with offices in Gainesville, Lake City, and Miami.  Call us immediately if you have had a run-in with the law and need a top notch criminal defense attorney.

Police Stop

What does Innocent Until Proven Guilty Mean in Florida?

Posted by | Assault, Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Seizure, Stop & Frisk, Uncategorized | No Comments

Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

The justice system was built upon the theory that all people are innocent until proven guilty.   In order to convict a person the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.  This is all good and well, unless a person is found guilty when they are truly innocent.

 

It is scary to think that this happens at all, much less more than we like to think.  Some feel that knowing about all the wrongful convictions can undermine the public’s confidence in the judicial system.    In 1996, C. Ronald Huff, Arye Rattner, and Edward Sagarin wrote a book that estimated about 10,000 people were in jail for crimes they didn’t commit[1].

 

Take William Jackson for example; a Columbus, OH man who was found guilty of raping several women in the 1980’s.  After serving 5 years, it was found that a physician was responsible for the crimes.  The physician was similar in appearance and had the same last name.[2]

 

So how does this happen?  How are this many innocent people found guilty?  Huff’s research found that many of the convictions were based on eye witness’s wrong identification, followed by perjury and the public pressure to solve cases can result in overzealous police officers.

 

In an instance such as this, it is more important to have an attorney on your team.  The attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon understand that it is possible for a person to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  We fight for our clients start to finish, our goal is leave no rock unturned and to provide our clients with the best defense under the law.

 

Anytime you are being charged with a crime, you need an attorney by your side.  Don’t try to navigate the court system alone, let those who have studied and understand all aspects of the law fight for you.  Our attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon have the experience in the courtroom and the negotiation table that you deserve.  Visit one of our locations at either Lake City, Gainesville, or Miami.  We are here to fight on your side.

 

Travis Koon

Attorney

386-597-0000

352-729-1211

www.koonlegal.com

 

Police Stop

Did the Officer Illegally Search or Stop & Frisk you?

Posted by | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Search, Seizure, Stop & Frisk | No Comments

When Does a Frisk Become a Search and Seizure?

This article is simply a brief description; a credible attorney should always be consulted in any situation. For assistance in legal situations call The Law Offices of Travis Koon, our criminal defense attorneys can determine if your rights were unlawfully infringed upon.
It almost seems common knowledge that a law enforcement officer is within their legal rights to frisk (a limited search) a person for weapons (for the safety of themselves and those around them) during temporary detainment – such as a traffic stop. This is a common misconception; law enforcement is only allowed to frisk an individual when they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ of a weapon.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1968 Terry v. Ohio:
Where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, …he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him.
This shows that in order to frisk a suspect, two requirements must be met:
• The suspect must be legally detained, meaning the detention must be based upon reasonable suspicion of a criminal activity.
• There must be reasonable suspicion that the person detained is armed and dangerous. Reasonable suspicion includes the totality of the situation – a bulge in clothing, behavior, the nature of the suspected offense and even the time and location of the stop .
The next question is to what extent is the officer allowed to frisk the detained person. The restraining officer is allowed a limited search of the outer clothing. A ‘limited search’ consists of a pat down of the outer clothing, then if the officer detects what he/she believes to be a weapon may they reach into the clothing to remove the object in question.
But what happens if the object in question is not a weapon, but perhaps an illegal controlled substance? If the officer believes the questionable object may be a weapon but turns out is in not, but still an illegal substance, as long as it was a lawful frisk, the contraband is admissible in evidence. But if the contraband was found by manipulating the outer clothing by squeezing or sliding the contents in the detainee’s pocket, then it is considered an invalid seizure, and any contraband found is invalid as well – as ruled in Perkins v. State .
Many laws are unquestionably confusing, and a person should not be expected to try to figure them out alone. It is in your best interest to hire a strong criminal defense attorney, such as those at The Law Offices of Travis Koon, who will guide you through the court systems and work hard to ensure your legal rights were maintained.

What can happen if you are Arrested for a Misdemeanor?

Posted by | Assault, Battery, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Petit Theft | No Comments

There Can Still Be Big Consequences for Misdemeanor Charges
Being charged with a misdemeanor is definitely not as dire as being charged with a felony, but it can adversely affect your life and follow you for years to come. For this reason, it is extremely important to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney when charged with a misdemeanor.
Just a few examples of misdemeanors are:
• Speeding,
• Trespassing,
• Vandalism,
• Public intoxication,
• Harassment,
• Theft under a certain monetary amount,
• Loitering,
• Possession of a small amount of an illegal drug,
• Driving While License Suspended,
• DUI,
• Petit Theft,
• Battery,
• Domestic Battery,
• Assault,
• Minor in Possession of Alcohol,
• Reckless Driving.
Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list, but you get the idea of what is considered a misdemeanor.
In order of severity, the least to worst charge is generally as follows: infraction, misdemeanor, and then felony; there may be levels of severity within each. A misdemeanor conviction can cause the same legal ramifications as felonies, but unfortunately, there are fewer ways to expunging them from your criminal record. Some of the consequences of being found guilty of a misdemeanor can be fines, required classes, community service, or even jail time. These are just the immediate consequences, but the life-long hindrances are usually much worse. You cannot have this arrest expunged if you are adjudicated guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
According to Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, “The single most dangerous thing people think is that if they get a conviction and don’t go to jail they won’t face issues… Misdemeanor convictions can have serious impacts.”
Imagine being in jail for a month or two while you await trial for being charged with a small offense because you couldn’t afford to pay the bail money.
Those found guilty of misdemeanor charges often feel they constantly have to prove that they are not the bad guy their record insinuates. You can temporarily lose your driver’s license, be turned down for jobs, lose your professional license, be refused housing… in general some basic abilities to provide for yourself or your family may be lost.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is vitally important to call a top rated criminal defense attorney such as those at The Law Offices of Travis Koon. The best result that one can hope for is being found not guilty of a crime, and that is not likely to happen without a professional fighter in your corner. Let the lawyers at The Law Offices of Travis Koon fight for you. We are criminal defense attorneys in Florida, know the laws, and can help you maneuver the legal minefield known as the court system.

DUI

Arrested? 4th Amendment Illegal Search and Seizure

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The 4th Amendment-Illegal Search & Seizures

On September 25, 1789 the First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. On December 15, 1791 10 amendments were ratified and constitute the first 10 amendments, or the Bill of Rights.
The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution protects against unwarranted searches and seizures. It states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmations, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This amendment protects against arbitrary arrest, and is the basis of laws regarding search warrants, being stopped and frisked, and even wires taps and other forms of surveillance; as well as other privacy laws. It was originally thought of as the notion that ‘each man’s home is his castle’ and protected him and his information while in the home, but today it is also expanded upon to protect a person’s privacy even while in public.
There are arguments for and against the idea that the US Constitution is a ‘living and breathing’ document. The proponents for this idea believe that the US Constitution needs to be interpreted in the modern societal text, while the opponents believe that it is a distinct set of rights that is the cornerstone of our society and shouldn’t continually be changed.
According to West’s Florida Practice Series TM, in order for a search to fall within the coverage of the Fourth Amendment, “a governmental search must either intrude upon an individual’s ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ or amount to trespass upon an individual’s person, house, papers, or effects in an attempt to find something or obtain information’.
It is the reasonable expectation of privacy that the Court handed down a landmark decision in Katz v. United States in 1967 that the Fourth Amendments protects people, not places. Katz was accused of placing bets and receiving wagering information by telephone, he used a public telephone booth to make interstate wages. FBI agents placed a wiretap outside of the telephone booth and could hear his side of the conversations. Katz argued that this violated his rights because he had the reasonable expectation of privacy, even while in public. It is a value judgment ‘as to the extent to which a free and open society will permit governmental intrusion upon personal privacy in order to facilitate other societal objectives such as effective enforcement of criminal laws’.

Justice Stewart’s assessment was that the Fourth Amendment “protects people, not places” shows the fine line that is walked by law enforcement daily.
Moving forward to 2014, but still using the same example of obtaining information from telephones, Riley, in Riley v. California, was stopped on a traffic violation. While searching him incident to the arrest, the police officer seized a cell phone from his pants pocket and eventually accessed photos and videos that seemed to be in connection with a shooting that occurred weeks earlier. Riley’s motion to suppress was denied. This was eventually reversed when it was decided that police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.
With ever-changing technology, the laws are constantly being revised to take this into account. No one should have to attempt to maneuver the court systems alone. Hiring a top criminal defense attorney such as The Law Offices of Travis Koon is in the best interest of the charged individual. We will fight for the rights of our clients.

Drug Crimes & Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws

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Changing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Charges

As cocaine and other illegal drugs gained popularity in the US during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s the American justice system was faced with growing drug crimes. When a star college basketball player, Len Bias, died of a cocaine overdose in 1986, it shocked the nation and encouraged Congress to pass mandatory sentences for drug charges.

These new, strong laws targeted not only high level drug offenders but also low level offenders such as couriers. Under those laws, multiple convictions for small time crimes handed down long, harsh sentences for many people.

A debate arose that questioned if the severe sentences were necessary for small time multiple drug offenders. Bill Otis, former federal prosecutor felt that “people are in prison for their own bad choices.” While others such as Judge John Gleeson stated “Mandatory minimums, to some degree, sometimes entirely, take judging out of the mix. That’s a bad thing for our system.”

On August 12, 2013 US Attorney General Eric Holder released a memo regarding enhancements on charging mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug cases. He felt there was a need to refine polices for certain non-violent, low-level drug offenders.

The 2013 Alleyne v United States case ruled that for a defendant to be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, prosecutors must conduct an ‘individualized assessment’ to ensure the charges fit the circumstances of the case and must take into account factors such as:
• The defendant’s conduct
• The defendant’s criminal history
• The circumstances relating to the offense
• The needs of the community

Basically, the punishment must fit the crime.

US Attorney General Eric Holder feels that long sentences for non-violent, low-level drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence and rehabilitation and severe mandatory minimum sentences must be reserved for serious, high level violent drug crimes.

It is stated that due to the rising prison costs have resulted in reduced spending in areas such as law enforcement agents, prosecutors and prevention programs.

In this memo it is reminds a prosecutor to decline mandatory minimum sentence if:
• The defendant’s conduct does not involve the use of violence, threat of violence, or other factors
• The defendant is not a criminal organization leader
• The defendant does not have significant ties to large scale drug trafficking organizations
• The defendant does not have a significant criminal history

But rather than just stop at new offenders, the Clemency Project 2014 takes past crimes into account and invites prisoners who committed non-violent drug crimes to apply for early release or pardons.

It is scary to try to navigate the ever changing laws of the court system. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side means you are not alone during this time of uncertainty. At The Law Offices of Travis Koon, we know that all persons have the right to a fair trial, and we will work hard to defend you or your loved ones. Call us today to discuss your case.

http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/ag-memo-department-policypon-charging-mandatory-minimum-sentences-recidivist-enhancements-in-certain-drugcases.pdf