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You Have the Right to Remain Silent

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

You Have the Right to Remain Silent Fool!

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT | USE IT

Most people view the fifth amendment as a shelter or haven for individuals who have committed a crime. Invoking your right to remain silent is typically viewed as an admission to criminal conduct. After all, if you have nothing to hide in you have nothing to worry about speaking to the police. Right? You couldn’t be more wrong.

10 REASONS TO NEVER SPEAK TO THE POLICE

  1. If the police already have enough evidence to arrest you, they are going to arrest you no matter what you say. If they don’t have enough evidence, you will probably provide them with enough evidence to arrest you………. even if you are innocent.
  2. There is a reason the United States Supreme Court makes police officers warn you that you have a right to remain silent before they ask you questions. It is because speaking to the police is a bad idea nearly 100% of the time………….. even if you are innocent.
  3. The prosecution cannot introduce evidence at a trial concerning you exercising your right to remain silent. The prosecution will cherry pick your worst statements out of context and use them against you in court.
  4. There is no way it can help. I have seen thousands of people talk their way into getting arrested. I have seen one (1) client give a statement and not end up arrested.
  5. If you are guilty, or innocent, you may admit guilt with no benefit in return. If you admit guilt up front, you lose the ability to negotiate a more favorable plea.
  6. Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth, you will always give the police some information that can be used to arrest and convict you.
  7. Even if you are innocent, only tell the truth and say nothing incriminating, there is still a chance that you will be convicted if the police officers do not recall your statements with 100% accuracy.
  8. Even if you are innocent, only tell the truth and say nothing incriminating, there is still a chance that you will be convicted if the police officers do not recall their questions with 100% accuracy.
  9. Even if you are innocent, only tell the truth, say nothing incriminating and your statement is transcribed, audio or video recorded, you can still be convicted if the police have any evidence that any of the statements you made are false. Even the little white lies.
  10. There are over 10,000 pages of federal criminal statutes and thousands of pages of state statutes. There are in an infinite number of factual scenarios where speaking to the police freely might implicate you in some sort of crime that you did not even know existed.

After all that, remember, you have the right to remain silent.  Exercise that right.

WHY WAS THE FIFTH AMENDMENT CREATED?

The Fifth Amendment was created to protect the innocent, not the guilty. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can take the word of Justice Frankfurter, former associate justice United States Supreme Court. “Too many, even those who should be better advised, view this privilege as a shelter for wrongdoers. They too readily assume that those who invoke it are either guilty of crime or commit perjury in claiming the privilege.” Ullmann v. United States, 350 U.S. 422, 426(1956). “The Fifth Amendment’s basic function[s] … is to protect innocent men … who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances. ” See Ohio v. Reiner, 532 U.S. 17, 20(2001).

You Have the right to remain silent. Use it. Refuse to speak with the police without an attorney present. I was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2004. Over the length of my career, I have personally had one (1) client that I allowed to speak to the police during the investigation stage.  A colleague of mine has also allowed (1) client to speak to law enforcement during the investigation stage. Our 2 cases are the only 2 that I am aware of where speaking to law enforcement prior to the filing of charges helped the situation. Those were once in a career cases. I know that I’ll never see another like it.

SOURCES

Please note that I stumbled across this topic while doing legal research for a case. I saw a YouTube video by Regent University Law Professor James Duane which is posted above. It was very informative and I would like to generally site to his video as my source for much of the above information contained herein. Although it has always been my opinion, and almost every criminal defense attorney’s position, that you have a right to remain silent and you should use it.

For additional information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525

 

DUI Manslaughter Defense

DUI Manslaughter Defense

Analysis of Postmortem Specimens

Strict Liability vs Causation

Florida had a strict liability DUI manslaughter statute until 1986.  All the state needed to prove was that the defendant was driving while impaired, was involved in a car accident and somebody died as a result of the car accident. It did not matter if the defendant was at fault for the accident. The legislature amended the DUI manslaughter statute in 1986 to include the element of causation.

Constitutional Issue with Strict Liability

The problem with the strict liability DUI manslaughter statute, in my opinion, was that the criminal culpability for a misdemeanor DUI and the criminal culpability for a DUI manslaughter was equal. A good argument could be made that the strictly at liability DUI manslaughter statute violated the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution as a cruel and unusual punishment. The current DUI manslaughter statute requires the state to prove the following: 1) driving under the influence; 2) an accident resulting in death and 3) and that the defendant was somehow at fault for the accident. The causation element must be proved independent of impairment.

Not My Fault Defense

Defending DUI manslaughter cases is difficult under any circumstances. It is human nature to look for somebody to blame when somebody dies before their time.  It is also human nature to not speak ill of the dead.  However, a legally viable defense to DUI manslaughter is that the decedent was at fault for the accident even though the defendant was driving drunk. The defendant would be guilty of DUI, but not DUI manslaughter in that scenario. The “not my fault defense” is a particularly difficult proposition to sell to a jury. In essence, you are saying to the jury “Yes, my client was driving drunk. Yes, my client was involved in a fatal car accident. However, the car accident was the dead guy’s fault.”

Theory vs. Reality

Nobody ever gets screwed by the law in a bar exam essay question.  However, this is not a law school exam question. Defense attorneys need to stop thinking about legal theory and focus on where the rubber meets the road.  Technically, the defense bears no burden of proof, but if this is your defense, you are going to need to show some solid evidence.  The jury is looking to blame somebody and there is a good chance that it is going to be the defendant and also you could get a Dui Lawyer Orlando to help you rest your case, so everything is easier.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to use this defense if it did not have a strong factual basis.  The risk of alienating the judge and jury by blaming the victim without any serious basis is too great.

Where to Find the Evidence

The autopsy report from the County Medical Examiner’s Office is a valuable source of information for the defense. Please note that the Medical Examiner’s Office may be called something different in another state.  Biological specimens, such as blood and urine, are preserved during the course of an autopsy. Toxicology testing is performed on the specimens. The results of the toxicology tests may show that the was under the influence of some sort of drug or alcohol at the time of the accident.

It should be relatively easy to establish whether the decedent was under the influence of a drug at the time of the accident. The postmortem blood sample will identify the drugs in his or her system at the time of death. Postmortem quantitative analysis of controlled substances in a decedent’s blood is another topic for another time. The biggest problem that defense attorneys run into when trying to evaluate the culpability of the decedent is the quantitative analysis of ethyl alcohol in the decedent’s blood.

No matter what methods are used, using the BAC at the time of autopsy in order to determine the decedent’s impairment at the time of the accident is an educated guess at best and gross speculation at worst.  The reason for the uncertainty is because alcohol can be produced or destroyed in between the time of death in the time of the autopsy. Autolysis is defined as the self digestion or destruction of an organism’s own cells through the action of its own enzymes. This begins to occur within hours of an individual’s death and his present throughout the vast majority of the vascular system within hours. The result is an environment which supports the endogenous production of alcohol. Multiple environmental factors contribute in determining if endogenous alcohol is produced or the extent of the endogenous production. The two most significant are typically time and temperature.

Postmortem BAC Testing is Never Ideal

We obviously want the BAC to be as accurate as possible. In an ideal world we would like to have a blood sample taken from the decedent as soon as possible after the accident and a second blood sample taken 45 minutes to an hour after the first blood sample with both being prior to death. If that is the case, we would probably not need to use the postmortem sample.

If possible, the first thing that the defense attorney should do is check the decedents medical records in order to determine if a BAC screen was ordered by a doctor at the hospital. You may have to request a subpoena duces tecum if the medical evidence from the hospital is not provided in discovery.  Sometimes individuals die on the scene or on their way to the hospital so this is not always available. If there is no antemortem sample, the defense attorney has to be able to assess the reliability of the autopsy sample.

Additional Reading

Postmortem analysis of biological specimens for ethyl alcohol is very complicated.  Try as I might, I cannot say it any better than it is said on this website: BAC Analysis in Postmortem Specimens. Another good website for forensic science in general is The Truth About Forensic Science

Remember that it is the State’s burden to prove that the defendant was at fault for the accident. If you can put on strong evidence that the decedent was impaired it is up to the State to rebut that.  There are simply too many variables for the toxicologist to credibly testify as to a definitive state of impairment at the time of the accident.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

Right to Trial by Combat | Bad Idea

Trial by Combat

Trial by Combat | R.I.P Rowdy Roddy Piper

“He Who Represents Himself has a Fool for a Client”

The quote above is attributed to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It might surprise you, but almost every lawyer hires another lawyer to represent him in any type of legal proceeding. Notwithstanding our 6th Amendment rights, when faced with real estate closings, traffic tickets, divorce and yes criminal defense, attorneys typically hire other attorneys. There are numerous reasons why a lawyer would hire another lawyer to handle his/her case.   Initially, lawyers recognize when their legal issue is outside the scope of their own expertise. However, the main reason that most attorneys would never represent themselves is because we know that we lose the perspective that makes our services valuable. We know that litigation gets personal. An independent attorney acts as a buffer between our bad ideas and the court. Basically, we need somebody to tell us “no” and/or to shut up. Some noteable self representation failures include:

Trial by Combat

The most recent self representation failure involves an attorney, representing himself, filing a Motion for Trial by Combat.   The motion is relatively well written.  The argument is based on common law.  For simplicity, common law is the law that the United States inherited from England.  Most states have some type of enabling legislation stating something similar to the following: “The common law of England as in effect July 4, 1776 shall be the common law of the State of_______.”

The basic argument is that trial by combat was legal under the common law of England as of July 4, 1776.  Trial by combat was later made illegal in England, but New York has not specifically prohibited the practice.  Accordingly, the attorney, representing himself, demanded that he be afforded his right to trial by combat.

Download (PDF, 364KB)

The motion, by itself, is a glaring example of why an attorney should not represent himself.  No reasonably competent attorney would file this motion on behalf of their client work injury lawyers.  For the author’s sake, I hope that the judge hearing this case has a very good sense of humor.  If the judge doesn’t find this funny he might be in for a rough ride.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

 

Constitutional Right to a Speedy Trial

6th Amendment Speedy Trial

“Your Honor, the State requests a continuance.”

Florida has two speedy trials rules.  The right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution is made applicable to the State of Florida through the Fourteenth Amendment.  Additionally, Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191 provides additional protections in excess of those that are constitutionally required.  I am only going to focus on the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial in this post.

Constitutional Right to a Speedy Trial

The Sixth Amendment states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”  The very first sentence guarantees a right to a speedy trial.

The term “speedy” is not precisely defined nor is it subject to a precise definition in any of the subsequent case law interpreting the speedy trial provision of the Sixth Amendment.  The trial court is required to conduct a four prong analysis of the facts surrounding the delay in order to make a determination as to whether the defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated.  The United States Supreme Court established the four factor test in the case of Barker v. Wingo.  The four factors are 1) the length of the delay; 2) the reason for the delay; 3) whether defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial and 4) the degree to which the defendant has been prejudiced by the delay.  When the court conducting the analysis, the court is required to assign a certain “weight” to the factor in order to conduct a”balancing test.”  The ultimate question is, do the factors weigh in favor of the defense or the state?

According to lemon law attorney, a defendant’s right to a speedy trial begins with the earliest of the following: 1) the defendant is arrested or 2) when charging documents are filed.  The first factor, delay, is relatively simple.  If there is 1 year between arrest/filing and bringing defendant to trial, the delay is presumptively prejudicial.  However, this does not always warrant relief.  The amount of the delay is simply a threshold which must be crossed in order to examine the other three factors.

The second factor is the reason for the delay.  Who caused the delay?  If the defendant caused the delay, that weighs strongly in favor of the state.  For example, Whitey Bulger knew of an indictment and fled.  He concealed his location and identity for approximately 16 years.  Since he, as the defendant, was responsible for the 16 year delay, the delay factor weighs overwhelmingly in favor of the prosecution.  If the state is the cause of the delay, the court must determine whether the state was diligent in prosecution, negligent in prosecution or  operating in bad faith.  Bad faith will almost always guarantee relief for the defendant.  Negligence weighs in favor of the defendant and the weight increases as the delay increases.

The third factor is whether defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial.  Basically, as a defendant, you have to ask for a speedy trial in order to get it.  However, if the defendant does not know about the charges, the defendant cannot be taxed for his failure to assert his right to a speedy trial.

The fourth factor is prejudice to the defendant.  The defendant, under most circumstances must make a showing that his or her defense has been impaired by the delay.  The shorter the delay, the more likely defendant will need to show specifically how he or she has been prejudiced.  The courts do not mandate that a defendant be able to specify the exact nature in which he or she has been prejudiced in cases with extraordinary long delays.  The courts recognize that memories fade, exculpatory evidence becomes unavailable and, simply, time wears away at a defendant’s ability to present a defense.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286