A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why Everyone Should Have A Fire Extinguisher

From the Sun Sentinel:

Miami-Dade man reports fire, arrested when officials find pot lab in home

A man who reported a fire at his Miami-Dade home was arrested Monday when emergency officials discovered a marijuana hydroponics lab, authorities said.

Roy Diaz, 31, reported the fire about 6:45 a.m. in the house he shared with his wife and child in the 26000 block of Southwest 192nd Avenue, said Detective Nelda Fonticiella, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Firefighters quickly put out the flames and discovered 53 mature marijuana plants worth about $400,000.

Diaz was treated for smoke inhalation and then arrested on charges of trafficking in marijuana, grand theft of electrical power and child endangerment. Authorities have not determined the cause of the fire.

But I'm sure it smelled funny.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Is Jail Always The Answer?

CNN.com reports that jail and prison populations rose 2.6 percent last year.

The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group, reports that the U.S. incarceration rate in 2004 was the highest in the world, at 724 per 100,000 population. Second was Russia, at 532 per 100,000.

From the story: "More than 1,000 inmates were added to the nation's prisons and jails each week from June 2004 to June 2005, according to a report issued Sunday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Two-thirds of the nearly 2.2 million total inmates were in state or federal prisons, and the rest were in local jails.

Other statistics released in the report include:

The population in federal prisons rose nearly 3 percent, to 184,484 inmates, in the 12-month period;

In the past 10 years, the nation's prison and jail population has risen by more than 600,000;

The increase of 33,539 jail inmates over the 12-month period was the largest increase since 1997;

At mid-year 2005, nearly 60 percent of offenders in local jails were racial or ethnic minorities, a statistic that has not changed in the past decade;

At mid-year 2005, nearly 4.7 percent of black men, nearly 2 percent of Hispanic men, and 0.7 percent of white men nationwide were in a prison or jail.

Female inmates represent about 13 percent of the jail population, a 2.5 percent increase over the past decade;

So where are we going?

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please go to www.tannebaumweiss.com.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Couple Arrested For Asking For Directions

What can I say?

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore City police arrested a Virginia couple over the weekend after they asked an officer for directions.

WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team reporter David Collins said Joshua Kelly and Llara Brook, of Chantilly, Va., got lost leaving an Orioles game on Saturday. Collins reported a city officer arrested them for trespassing on a public street while they were asking for directions .

"In jail for eight hours -- sleeping on a concrete floor next to a toilet," Kelly said.

"It was a nightmare," Brook said. "I was in there thinking I was just dreaming and waiting to wake up."

Collins reported it was a nightmare ending to a nearly perfect day. He said the couple went to a company picnic and watched the Orioles beat Kansas City. It was their first trip to Camden Yards and asked two people for directions to Interstate 95 South when they left.

Collins said somehow they ended up in the Cherry Hill section of south Baltimore. Hopelessly lost, relief melted away concerns after they spotted a police vehicle.

"I said, 'Thank goodness, could you please get us to 95?" Kelly said.

"The first thing that she said to us was no -- you just ran that stop sign, pull over," Brook said. "It wasn't a big deal. We'll pay the stop sign violation, but can we have directions?"

"What she said was 'You found your own way in here, you can find your own way out.'" Kelly said.

Collins said the couple spotted another police vehicle and flagged that officer down for directions. But Officer Natalie Preston, a six-year veteran of the force, intervened.

"That really threw us for a loop when she stepped in between our cars," Kelly said. "(She) said my partner is not going to step in front of me and tell you directions if I'm not."

Collins reported the circumstances got worse. Kelly pulled 40 feet forward parking next to a curb and put his flashers on while Brook was on the phone to her father hoping he could help her with directions. Both her parents are police officers in the Harrisburg, Pa., area.

"(Brook's father) was in the middle of giving us directions when the officer screeched up behind us and got out of the car and asked me to step out. I obeyed," Kelly said. "I obeyed everything -- stepped out of the car, put my hands behind my back, and the next thing I know, I was getting arrested for trespassing."

"By this time, I was completely in tears," Brook said. "I said, 'Ma'am, you know, we just need your help. We are not trying to cause you any trouble. I'm not leaving him here.' What she did was walk over to my side of the car and said, 'Ok, we are taking you downtown, too.'"

Collins said the couple was released from jail without being charged with anything. Brook is now concerned the arrest may complicate a criminal background check she's going through in her job as a child care worker.

Collins said police left Kelly's car unlocked and the windows down at the impound lot. He reported a cell phone charger, pair of sunglasses and 20 CDs were stolen.

Baltimore City police said they are looking into the incident.