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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.

DUI

Arrested? 4th Amendment Illegal Search and Seizure

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

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

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

Young woman pulled over by cop for DUI

DWLS Attorney

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Have you or a loved one had your license suspended? In many circumstances, the individual never knows that the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles suspended their license. Have you been pulled over by a police officer and arrested for Driving While License suspended pursuant to Fl. Stat. 322.34? If that person is charged criminally, that individual will face up to one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. If that person is arrested for Driving While License suspended 3 times within a 5 year period that person will be deemed a Habitual Traffic Offender and subject to a five year Florida Driver License revocation.

I have provided the link so that you can look up a Florida Driver License to see if it is valid.

Attorney [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] Travis Koon
352-729-1211 Office/Cell
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Lake City, Florida
Criminal Defense Attorney
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What type of criminal penalties do you face for a first time DUI Conviction in the State of Florida?

Posted by | Criminal Defense, DUI | One Comment
  1. DUI FIRST TIME CONVICTION FINES: For someone who is convicted of the criminal offense for a DUI and it is their first time being convicted the individual would face a fine not less than $500 or more than $1,000, plus mandatory court costs.  If the individual has a blood or breath alcohol level of .15 or higher or if the accused has someone in the car with them that is under the age of eighteen then they would face a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,0000, plus mandatory court cost usually ranging from $150 to $600.
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