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

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Florida's Solution To The Depression: Criminal Justice Legislation

Tuesday (March 3) marks the beginning of the 2009 legislative session.

On Floridians minds?

Jobs

Tourism

Health Care

Homeowner's Insurance

Property Taxes

Paying the next bill

Keeping their homes

Living a normal life

Not to worry, Tuesday Florida's legislature gets to work.

They know better though. All of these priorities pale in comparison to what we all really need:

More criminal justice legislation.

Our wildly popular Governor has made it clear:

"Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of Floridians."

See, here's the rub: criminal justice legislation is easy. Make a misdemeanor a felony, increase a penalty, create a new offense, give prosecutors and police more unbridled power to search, seize, arrest, file, prosecute, convict, and you get the prize - the right to stay in office. Remember that the goal in public office is not to foster change or say what people need to hear, at least in Florida, it's....public safety.

Pay no attention to the fact that the Florida Prosecuting Attorney's Association has pleaded with the legislature not to pass any legislation that creates any new offenses. They know better. John and Mary Public are not interested in any of the priorities listed above, they just want more criminal offenses. That will solve.....well.....something I guess.

Here's three examples of Florida's path to recovery:

Authorizing arrest without warrant when a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that individual has committed act of driving under influence or unlawfully exhibited his or her sexual organs in public, allowing state attorney investigators to give traffic tickets, and allowing security guards to detain and search individuals.

There's more. More minimum mandatories, more criminal offenses. Just another year.

Now I'm not in public office, and no, I'm not in a position to have to pacify the public, drunk on law & order. I'm on the ground, and I know that most if not every person I speak to is concerned about the economy.

Can't Florida Legislators do what they do in past years? Listen to what the prosecutors want, and do it? Just leave criminal justice be for a year?

The answer is no. The other problems, too difficult to solve, and as a result, not on the agenda. In Florida, House of Representative members run every two years. Our real problems can't be solved in a year or two. Criminal Justice can be tinkered with, and easily modified.

How is one supposed to run for election on the notion that they are working on solving big problems?

Who wants to hear that?

Anyone in Florida want to hear that?

Naaaah.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com

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2 comments:

  1. Its really f-d up when the legislature imposes more and harsher criminal laws over the objection of prosecutors.

    We had that happen up here in WV just recently. The legislature added an enhancement to 1st degree sexual assault (our rape statute). It carries an indeterminate sentence of 15-35 years. The enhancement applies if the victim is under the age of 12 and the perpetrator over the age of 19, and increases the penalty to an indeterminate 25-100 years. (Here, indeterminate sentence means the judge doesn't say how long your sentence is, just that its say 15-35 years. You're eleigible for parole after 15 and can't be held more than 35, but you only get done early if the parole board says you do.)

    THe problem is that the 25-100 really ties the hands of prosecutors when it comes to plea deals. Nobody is going to accept a plea to that; might as well roll the dice at trial and hope you get lucky. And the prosecutors know that. Plus, even in slam dunk cases the prosecutors want a plea not only to avoid the work involved in such a trial, as well as the off chance of an acquittal, but more so to keep from having kids testify about sexual assaults--which is a rather traumatic reliving of their suffering.

    Of course, the legislature knows best what penalties to impose, so over the objection of prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys they pushed it through. And now we have more trials in cases where we shouldn't have had them, and more kids have to testify about getting raped. Good stuff!

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