Law enforcement for decades has been treating drug addiction as a crime. Our legislators just do not understand addiction. Drug addiction is a treatable condition and incarceration almost never solves the problem. When a person comes out of prison as a convicted felon, with no job, little opportunity and no money, most of the time, they return to using heroin, pills or cocaine. The system is not set up to help people. Law enforcement is a business. The prison system is a business. The more people that are arrested, the more those businesses thrive.
The heroin epidemic is a direct result of the police crackdown on opiates like Oxycontin, Oxydodone, Percocet and the other pills. They should have seen this coming. There were thousands of people addicted to pills. When the police cracked down on the pain management doctors and the pharmacies, what did they expect? Of course people turned to the easily available alternative, heroin. Now we have a heroin epidemic. No big surprise!
The answer is to address the fundamental problem of why people become addicted. How did they get addicted? What can we do to help them, not what can we do to put them in jail. Prosecuting the suppliers is an endless war that will never be won. There is a demand fueled by addiction. Someone will step up to fill that demand. Would we even have drug Cartels if the Government had gotten on the front end of this problem?
As a criminal defense lawyer here in Sarasota, I come into contact with addicts. I understand how easily they got addicted. Many addicts are normal people who had a car accident and got addicted by the treating doctors helping lawyers build up a personal injury file. Few people intentionally try to become an addict. It is not something they set out to do. Increased penalties is not the answer. More prisons is not the answer. The answer in intervention and treatment. People are dying every day from drug addiction. There is a new toxic pill on the market here in Sarasota that can instantly kill you. If you have a relative that is addicted to heroin or has been arrested for possession of heroin I may be able to help. These people need help, not prison. All inquiries are confidential.
There was a shooting Sunday night in Sarasota and the police did not arrest the shooter. Apparently, according to news reports the deceased instigated a confrontation and shot at a man. The man returned fire and the original shooter was killed. Since the second shooter was not arrested and merely returned fire, self defense weighed heavily. Florida has a stand your ground law and for sure if someone is blasting away at you, returning fire seems to be in order. Every case is different but in this latest one, returning fire ended the threat. Knowing when you should use deadly force is important. Just because you can legally use deadly force does not mean you should. Many times people get arrested and have to let the Courts sort it out. If you can resolve a conflict without using a gun, by all means do so. Taking a life is a serious matter and just because you can, does not mean you should. Taking a life with deadly force should be the last resort and only when absolutely necessary to protect your own life or the life of someone else. Getting involved in a shooting is an expensive proposition.
In Florida there are over a million people with concealed weapons licenses. There are a lot of people walking around with pistols. Alcohol and guns do not mix. If you go out drinking or partying, do not carry. Leave the gun at home. Carrying a concealed weapon into a bar is illegal and your concealed weapons license has limitations. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so whenever possible, walk away. As a criminal defense lawyer I have defended lots of people who did not. Road rage is another huge problem. Never display a gun in anger. Never threaten someone with a gun, loaded or not. You don’t want to get charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. Use your head. Stay calm and don’t let someone provoke you.
I am a huge believer in the Second Amendment. You have a right to protect your family, your business and your home. Most of the time, by the time the police show up, it is too late. Having said that however, as a gun lawyer, I can tell you, if you can, avoid the problem. We live in dangerous times with terrorists attacking innocent civilians and I truly believe that an armed citizen if a good thing. If you have a crisis and have to use deadly force, for God’s sake, before you make a statement, call for a free consultation at 941 366 3506
Does the Truth Really Matter?
More and more people are beginning to believe that in criminal cases, the truth is a fleeting thing. As a criminal lawyer, I question jurors all the time in the process of qualifying them to serve on a criminal jury. Their opinions about the Court process most of the time are based on media reports and TV shows they watch. The media seldom gets it right and TV crime shows almost always get it wrong. In this great Country, you are presumed innocent. In fact, most judges even before a trial starts read the “presumed innocent” instruction to the jury. The problem is the most members of the public and most jurors, in my experience only give lip service to the concept of the presumption of innocence. This is particularly true when it comes to sex offenses and offenses involving children. In the criminal trials I have tried in the last few years, in almost every case, half of the jurors have been excused by the Court because of their strong feelings about crimes involving children, particularly sexual battery cases and lewd and lascivious cases involving children. The problem is trying to convince jurors that the truth really does matter. You have to overcome years of instilled prejudice against a person accused of a serious sex crime. The State has a tremendous advantage and in almost every criminal case jurors have to be educated to the realities of the criminal justice system. How do you get to the Truth?
The search for the truth starts long before trial. In any criminal case, immediate and thorough investigation is a must. You cannot count on the police to disclose favorable evidence. You cannot count on the prosecutors to disclose any fact that hurts their case and helps your defense. There is a rule called the “Brady rule” that in theory requires a prosecutor to disclose favorable evidence. That rule is routinely violated with no real adverse consequences for the individual prosecutor. Hardly ever does a judge do anything if a violation occurs. It is up to the individual criminal defense lawyer here in Sarasota to not only find the truth but prove it. Witnesses get coached, particularly child witnesses. Children are easily led and will often do what a parent or prosecutor suggests. An angry parent or spouse can easily slant the facts or cause the child to exaggerate the truth, and jurors who start a case already prejudiced are easily misled by passionate presentations by a prosecutor hell bent on getting a conviction. Hard work, thorough investigation and creative cross examination is a good start in the search for the truth. Does the witness have a Facebook account? Has the witness posted something on the Internet? Has the witness sent an email to a relative or friend about the events in question? Has the witness been coached? Are there emails that can help your case? Does the witness keep a diary? Does the witness have a motive to lie? Has the witness lied before? Does the witness have a reason to lie now? Do they have a reputation for making up things or exaggerating the truth? Has the witness said something before that conflicts with what they are saying now? Does the witness have a mental problem? Is the witness Bi-polar? Will they crack on the witness stand?
There is an old saying, “The truth will set you free”. That may be true but getting the truth before the jury takes decades of experience. They cannot teach experience in law school and that experience only comes from years and years of practice. Experience in prosecuting cases does not convert into experience in defending cases. Those are two totally separated concepts. I have defended cases for over thirty years in Florida and Federal Courts. Getting a good result, winning a trial or saving someone’s life is no accident.
We live in a different world now. Modern technology has made it easy to commit a crime by accident. This is particularly true when it comes to communication over a smartphone. Young women now sometimes are sexually aggressive. This begins as early as middle school and particularly in high school. It is particularly confusing when it comes to “Sexting”. In high schools now girls sixteen and seventeen years old often send sexually explicit texts, including photographs, videos and “pics” showing themselves in various stages of undress, often nude. For an adult man engaged in “sexting”, confirming age is absolutely critical. It is not unlawful for a young adult woman to send naked pics or sexually stimulating videos. It happens often in the adult dating and social media sites. A man could meet a young woman in a bar, engage in conversation and then later exchange pics. In a bar you would normally assume the person is an adult of drinking age. What if that person later turns out to be sixteen or seventeen years old? All of a sudden it becomes felony possession of illegal images. A seventeen year old can engage in actual sex with a man under 24 but it is a crime to ask a seventeen year old to send a dirty pic. The law is really confusing and a trap for the unwary.
You have to know the actual age of people you are communicating with. Do not be bashful. They have phony identification to get into bars. Demand proof of age before sending or receiving anything sexually explicit. In Sex Stings, undercover cops will ask for a “pic”. Sending a dick pic to someone underage will land you in jail. Sarasota and Manatee County are long overdue for another “Sting”. As a sex crime lawyer I see lives ruined all the time by a single moment of indiscretion. Sexting in high school can ruin a student’s life forever. Imagine starting life as a registered sex offender. Imaging going into prison at the age of 18 or 19. Imaging being on sex offender probation for simply sending or receiving a video from a girl you thought was an adult. These cases are defensible and getting in touch with a lawyer who does this type of case is important. Not all criminal defense lawyers are experienced in sex crime defense and experience does make a difference. If you have any questions, call attorney Peter Aiken for a free consultation at 941 366 3506
It breaks my heart to see so many people here in Sarasota addicted to heroin and pills. The Florida legislature has opted to spend some money here in Sarasota to help solve the problem. The Legislature has also has passed some legislation to increase the alternatives to prison for some drug addicts as well as the mentally ill. The public really needs to be informed about the tragedy of drug addiction. Bernie Sanders has made it the focus of his campaign and even Hillary Clinton is jumping on the band wagon. It is more than a political issue. It is a crisis all across this great Country.
Why are so many people on heroin here in Sarasota? The crackdown on opiates like Oxycontin, Percocet and Oxycodone pushed people to the cheaper alternative, heroin. Law enforcement simply did not understand the problem. There were housewives, mothers, teachers and accident victims that had become addicted to the opiates. The pain management clinics pumped out millions of pills. When the crackdown came, the Florida drug database, many of the clinics were shut down or went out of business. That left the addicts with a terrible addiction and no supply. It is no surprise that heroin quickly filled the gap.
I have been defending drug crimes all my professional life. I have first hand experience in dealing with addicts. It is a problem that strikes almost every American family in one form or another. Treatment, not jail, is the answer. Help, not prosecution or persecution, is the answer. Education, not incarceration, is the answer. Tampa is decriminalizing possession of small quantities of marijuana this week. That is a good start.As a Sarasota criminal lawyer, but more importantly as a father, a grandfather and man who has been touched by a family member being addicted, I can tell you, jail does no good at all. We have to have sensible intervention to solve the problem. People are dying daily all over Florida from Heroin. If you are an addict and have been arrested call today at 941 366 3506
Why was I arrested instead of her?
I hear that all the time. As a Criminal Defense Attorney, I have been handling domestic battery cases for over thirty years. Most of the time when the police go out on a domestic call, it results in an arrest. The police are afraid that if they do not arrest someone, after they leave, the situation will escalate to something more serious like aggravated battery or worse yet a homicide. The police have a zero tolerance when it comes to domestic 911 calls. Most of the time they arrest the man instead of the woman who may have started everything. A domestic violence arrest can have serious consequences. You may sit in jail on a ridiculous bond. You may lose your job and worse yet get a no contact order that keeps you out of your own home. It is critical that you get a lawyer that knows the ropes when it comes to domestic cases.
In my experience, most of the time alcohol is the cause of the problem. People who otherwise get along fine may go nuts when they are drinking. A simple discussion on something really not important can turn into a name calling hissy fit or brawl. The wife may throw something, kick, scream or scratch and all the husband may be doing is trying to calm her down by holding her arms in self defense. When the police arrive they generally talk to the wife first and often have made up their mind by the time they talk to the man. Female officers tend to side with the woman in domestic cases. The police look for signs of injury like red marks or scratches or scrapes. If one person has signs of injury, it is a huge factor in who gets charged.
In cases where a divorce is about to be filed, or pending, the wife may set the entire thing up to gain an advantage. An arrest of the husband usually gives her possession of the house and cars. A no contact order or a high bond gives her a huge advantage. You need to hire a good criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Divorce lawyers are not necessarily criminal lawyers and often know little about the criminal laws. I have been doing criminal law for over thirty years. I know how traumatic a divorce can be understand the system and how often one sided it can be. I feel the pain of a false accusation.
If you get charged with battery, aggravated battery or assault in a domestic situation call today at my Sarasota office for a free consultation. It cost nothing to just talk. You can reach me at my office next to the Courthouse or simply call 941 366 3506