Crimes Archives - Page 2 of 2 - The Law Offices of Travis Koon, PLLC

Talking About Your Case On Social Media

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If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Please believe me when I tell you this… posting on social media will harm your case!  If you are arrested and waiting trial, stop posting on all social media sites.  Never, never, never post anything about your case; I recommend you stop posting all together.

Even if you think you are saying something completely irrelevant, the prosecuting attorneys are watching your sites closely to find anything they can use against you; a picture of you with a drink, a picture of you with a friend, a comment on someone else’s photo… they will find it all.

If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that only your friends will see these posts, nothing is private on social media; the entire reason for social media is to share information.  Several courts have ruled that even though the privacy settings are on, social media postings are not private.  Facebook and Twitter even warn users of this in their privacy policies.

Let’s say you are fighting a DUI case, and on your Facebook page there was a picture, taken years ago, of you holding a drink… maybe it’s a good picture and you decide to change it to your profile picture.  The attorney for the other side may see you holding the drink and now he will ask the judge for full access to all you social media accounts.

“A survey of over 1,200 police agencies around the country showed that a whopping 80 percent of officials said they’ve used social media to collect evidence in criminal cases––the majority of which indicating that the information they find there helps them solve crimes faster than they would otherwise.”[1]

Some information that can be obtained from social media is:

  • Background information, witnesses and suspects
  • What the suspect was doing in the weeks, days, or hours before the incident
  • A possible location of a suspect
  • Incriminating photos
  • Information that may support the argument that your actions were planned or thought about prior to the incident
  • Posts or pictures that may incriminate you in a more serious crime or illegal activity

Something so little can have huge ramifications on your case.

If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Some real-world universal laws also hold true in social media.  If you post something that may be damaging to your case and then delete it, you can be charged with destruction of evidence, this is a serious charge.

In the case Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., it was argued that Lester and his attorney had removed evidence from Facebook that showed his prior use of anti-depressants and his medical history.  The court granted a warrant for Facebook to release all information, and a complete search was done of Lester’s Facebook account.  A 32-page report was written and presented to the courts.  Imagine a detailed account of everything you have ever put on social media.

So I say to you one last time… If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

If you need a Florida attorney, call us at The Law Office of Travis Koon.  We deal with criminal defense cases all throughout Florida with offices in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, and may be able to help you with yours.

[1] http://stangllaw.com/facebook-posts-can-hurt-criminal-case-wisconsin/

Self Defense

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It seems to be a universally accepted fact that a person has the right to defend themselves against the perceived threat of bodily harm or death, even when the force used in defense would normally considered to be crime to do so.

Many laws vary from state to state, this article is giving a general overview, and an attorney should always be consulted in any legal issue.

Findlaw defines the argument of self-defense as:  “The right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence”.  [1]

This may seem like a straight-forward means of defense, but it rarely is.  There are many questions that surround this definition and need to be answered in each case.  What is considered a sufficient level of force?  At what point has the perceived victim gone beyond that point?  Could and/or should the person first attempted to retreat?  What if the victim provoked the attack?  What if the threat wasn’t really there?  This defense is more complicated that it seems on the surface.

The use of self-defense must be similar to the level of threat in question.  In other words, a person can only use as much force as needed to stop or remove the threat.  A victim cannot kill a person for slapping them across the face.

Self-defense justifies the use of force when it is used in response to an immediate threat, but one must stop using force once the threat has ended.  Any use of force by the victim after this point is considered to be retaliation and not self-defense.

Some states say the victim should first make an attempt to avoid the violence before using forces, but many have removed this clause and the “stand your ground” defense can be used.

The state of Florida condones the stand your ground defense and can be found in statute 776.012, which states:

…a person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have the duty to retreat before using or threating to use such force.

A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm…[2]

As stated earlier, the laws have many interpretations to each person and each situation, and an attorney should always be consulted when a person is being charged with a crime.  The Law Offices of Travis Koon are Florida attorneys that understand the ins and outs of Florida law, with offices located in Lake City, Miami, and Gainesville.  Call us today if you need legal consultation or have questions regarding your case.

[1] http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-law-basics/self-defense-overview.html

[2] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0776/0776.html

New Florida Laws for 2015

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

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.

Statute of Limitations

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It is amazing how a mistake from your past can still haunt you today. A ‘statute of limitations’ is the deadline for filing a lawsuit or being charged with a crime. Most must be filed within a certain amount of time and once the time on a case runs out, the legal claim is no longer valid.

The reasoning behind a statute of limitations is to ensure convictions only happen when the physical or eye witness evidence has not deteriorated over time; people’s memories fade, or change as the years pass. It is believed by some that if the criminal has been living in the public and maintaining a ‘reformed’ life, that after a reasonable amount of time, he/she is to be free from arrest and conviction.

The time that a person can file a lawsuit varies on the type of claim and the state in which it will be filed. For criminal charges, prosecutors cannot charge a person for a crime after the specified number of years has passed. But some crimes, such as murder, are considered so serious that there is no statute of limitations.

The case against the famous filmmaker Roman Polanski is still on-going. He is accused of a child sex crime that occurred in Poland in 1977, and he is still fighting this charge. In the same year, he pled guilty and served 42 days in jail. In 1978 he moved to the United States for fear a judge may overrule his plea bargain and sentence him for a longer period of time.

Some examples of a crime committed in Florida and that statute of limitation associated with each are listed below. Please remember this is just an example; contact a qualified attorney for questions regarding your specific situation.

• Felony crimes that result in death, or felony crimes that are punishable by life in prison = no statute of limitations
• First degree felony = 4 years after the crime has been committed
• Other felonies = 3 years after the crime is committed
• First degree misdemeanor = 2 years after the crime is committed
• Second degree misdemeanor = 1 year after the crime is committed

Please don’t assume that just because the statute of limitations has expired that you cannot be charged with a crime; in certain instances the statute of limitations clock stops running and can be restarted again at a later date this is referred to as “Tolling,” meaning a person can be charged of a crime even after the allotted years have expired.

The laws can be very confusing. If you are charged with a crime that happened years ago, contact our office immediately. We are The Law Office of Travis Koon and are Florida attorneys that handle criminal cases. We have offices in several cities that can evaluate your case. If you need a top notch criminal defense attorney in Gainesville, Lake City, or Miami, you need to call us now.

Drug Crimes & Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws

Posted by | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes | No Comments

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