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February 2013 Archives

Can Juvenile Criminal Records be Expunged?

angry teen threatening someoneFor various reasons, juveniles are treated differently than adults are when they commit criminal infractions. The juvenile criminal system functions to serve two primary purposes. First, it aims to hold juveniles accountable for behavior that breaks the law. Second and perhaps far more importantly in many cases, it aims to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and set them up for success as adults.

Texting While Driving Increasing in Severity

A bill introducing a ban on driving while texting has received bipartisan support as it passed its first hurdle on the way to becoming law in the state of Florida. For some lawmakers in Florida, simply issuing a citation or traffic ticket for texting while driving is not enough when there have been reported accidents because of texting negligence that have resulted in deaths. In such cases, some Florida politicians are calling for a charge of vehicular homicide to be introduced when drivers causing accidents are known to have been texting. This comes with a close regard to the fact that many studies have shown drivers engaged in texting are more oblivious to their surroundings on the road than those impaired by drugs or alcohol that are behind the wheel.

Hit and Run Awareness Kicks Off in central Florida

Florida Highway Patrol met with families who have lost a loved one in a hit and run accident on Monday. The meeting was designed to bring closure to the loved ones, and also to bring awareness to the hundreds of thousands of drivers that pass through Central Florida. FHP reported that there have been over 70,000 hit and run accidents in the state of Florida during 2012. Out of that total number, over 17,000 people were injured, and in 168 of the cases reported last year, the driver of the hit and run vehicle killed someone before they left the scene of the accident. The loved ones of these victims want the public to know that their family members were real people, with real lives. One example that is all too real is the case of Aaron. He was riding a moped along Goldenrod Rd. when a light-colored sedan hit and killed him, and then left. FHP refers to these fatal crimes as the driver using their vehicle as a weapon with fatal results. 

The Status of Questionable Breathalyzer Results

man holding a breathalyzerThe Florida Supreme Court is preparing to vote on a case that could change the way drunk drivers are prosecuted in the state. Three offenders who were charged with DUI after they submitted to breathalyzer tests are questioning the software used in their arrests. The only breath-alcohol-testing machines permitted for use in Florida are made by CMI, Inc. The debate is occurring over how to legally obtain the software documentation the equipment uses. The defense insists that a subpoena of the results should be sufficient. The company contests that additional procedures, including court certification and approval of the subpoena, is necessary. Also called "Uniform Law," the defense claims that this pertains to individuals -- not to documents. 

Overturning the Progress of Red Light Cameras in Florida

The state of Florida's House Economics Committee voted in favor of beginning the process of taking away the right of local counties and cities to use cameras to catch drivers running red lights. Each year, critics and supporters of the controversial red light traffic signal cameras argue over the use of the cameras to collect fines and reduce the number of traffic accidents in Florida. Local government's currently have the right to collect fines of $158 per traffic offense using video as evidence of an offense being committed. Supporters of the use of the cameras claim studies and evidence from counties and cities using the cameras show traffic accidents are reduced when red light cameras are installed at intersections. Critics of the cameras claim in response that public safety is not improved enough to permit the invasion of privacy thought to be committed by installing red light cameras; many critics also believe the cameras are used to impose fines too large for the violation committed and are only placed to make money for governments. 

Shifting the Perception of Domestic Violence

An Orange County woman won a measure of justice after years of waiting. Her ex-husband received a 20-year prison term followed by 10 years of probation for hitting her in the head and attempting to choke her. Reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson case, the defendant made headlines as he held off police for hours in a residential area. The hard-fought case came after several setbacks. Prosecutors delayed filing charges. The victim was chastised by the courts when she asked for an order of protection. The defendant acted as his own lawyer, which enabled him to contact his wife. Her home was demolished by tear gas, so she rented a room in another home after her divorce. But at 58, the woman found the courage within to press through. She doesn't think she could have persevered if she were younger. During the first six months of 2012, domestic-violence homicides increased 29 percent from those in 2011 in Florida. One professor observed that many victims don't even contact the police and cited the complexities of domestic violence dynamics.

Community Service Not a Priority for Some Celebrities

Four years ago, the singer, Chris Brown was charged with attacking his girlfriend, Rihanna in a rented Lamborghini on a Los Angeles street. Brown pled guilty to the charge, but Brown's attorney asked if he could finish his community service in Richmond, Virginia where his mother lived. The judge agreed, and Brown was allowed to complete the remaining 180 hours under Police Chief Bryan Norwood. Community service is defined as uncompensated labor for a community service agency, which is a not-for-profit corporation that is designed to improve social welfare and agrees to accept community service. The LA judge gave Brown five years of probation for the assault that occurred four years ago, but after the prosecutor saw the paper work from Virginia, he wants Brown to repeat the last 180 days of community service.

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