Sunday, August 19, 2007

Legislating Away Murder

In last year's first legislative session for Florida Governor Charlie Crist, the "Anti-Murder Bill" became law. The running joke was "are you for or against murder?" The bill passed the first day of session, and was signed into law immediately.

Seems to be a question about what it says. The Anti-Murder Act says in sum, that a judge has to make certain findings before letting a "violent offender of special concern" who has been alleged to have violated their probation, out on bond. I ask everyday whether there are any "violent offenders" that are not of "special concern."

Recently, a guy with a lengthy criminal past was let out on bond in Florida and subsequently killed a police officer. Now Governor Crist is publicly questioning whether the judge failed to follow the Anti-Murder Act.

He didn't.

The suspect was arrested at least 20 times by age 24 and violated probation in the past, but was not on probation at the time of this arrest, as required by the Anti-Murder Act.

He followed the law, let a guy out on bond, who then killed someone. Not just anyone, a cop, with a family.

It's every judge's fear. It happened, and there is no law that can prevent this tragedy from happening. None.

Why, because people arrested for misdemeanors, even first time offenders, have subsequently bonded out and killed people.

We will never legislate away murder, unless we amend the Constitution to remove the provision entitling the criminally accused to reasonable bail.

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 visit