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https://www.floridacriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/files/2020/03/CO_2020.03.23_Web_Banner_COVID19_1440X960_image-1-2-300x200.jpgIt was perhaps only a matter of time. The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced it is pursuing legal action in federal court against a fraudulent website allegedly taking part in a wire fraud scheme that aims to benefit from the uncertainty and widespread fear associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The action follows the DOJ decision to place illegal conduct associated with COVID-19 as a major priority to detect, investigate, and prosecute.

By paying a shipping charge of $4.95 using their credit card information, the fraudulent website was claiming to provide consumers access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits. However, such kits do not exist nor are they being distributed by the WHO.

The United States filed the expected suit recently to shut down the website right away while the website and its operators are being investigated. In doing so, the government uses a federal provision that requires federal courts to impose injunctions to prevent potential victims of fraudulent schemes from being affected.

SoL-300x200A bill intended to abolish the statute of limitations on sexual harassment against minors recently made its past the Florida Legislature on its way to being evaluated by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Also known as “Donna’s Law” and named after a survivor of alleged sexual assault by a former high school teacher in the early 1970s when she was 15, CS/HB 199 was received with unanimous approval in the Florida House and Senate.

Under the state’s existing law, a victim of sexual assault who is age sixteen or older is required to report the assault within a 72 hour period following in the incident. If the victim does not report it within 21 hours, they will run into a statute of limitations deemed restrictive. It took the woman who inspired the bill several decades to come forward but because of the statute of limitations, she was not allowed to seek justice.

WHAT HAPPPENED

Recently, a man boarded a Jet Blue flight from New York City’s Kennedy Airport bound for Palm Beach, Florida. Prior to boarding he had been tested for the coronavirus and was awaiting test results. He failed to disclose that information to anyone from the airline. While on the flight, the man learned that he tested positive for the deadly virus. The crew and 114 passengers were stuck on the tarmac for hours awaiting instructions from health officials. Jet Blue has permanently banned the passenger from all of their future flights, indicating that the passenger, “…put their “crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided.” The coronavirus positive patient is currently in isolation at this time.

Many have been wondering whether the passenger should face criminal charges for his actions. Law enforcement are reportedly looking into that issue right now. What do you think?

hands-2906458_1920-300x200After passing the Florida Senate recently with unanimous votes, the bill aimed at making changes to guardianship law inches closer to becoming law. The bill was introduced after a guardian in Central Florida attempted to place do not resuscitate (DNR) orders on clients without having received their permission. It will now be evaluated by the House.

Known as HB 709 and SB 994, the bill will make restrictions on what guardians can and cannot do while also adding greater supervision to cases where elderly and vulnerable patients are being cared for by guardians.

Should the guardianship bill receive the necessary votes in the House, it will then be evaluated by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. During summer 2020, the governor requested a probe into Florida’s guardianship program following the criminal investigation into the guardian making the DNR orders.

kuanish-reymbaev-4uAmz2HyPKc-unsplash-300x200A six-year-old was recently arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery for an alleged tantrum at school after kicking and punching school employees. Since the incident, Florida lawmakers have added an amendment to a bill requiring law enforcement departments to have policies on what steps to take when it comes to arresting children below the age of ten.

The amendment, as well as its corresponding bill, made it through Florida House with unanimous approval. The school safety bill would permit law enforcement to look into and potentially press charges against individuals that report tips that end being false via Florida’s app known as FortifyFL. Furthermore, the bill elaborates on how school superintendents may have their salary withheld if their school district does not properly comply with safety laws implemented after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

To read more, visit https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2020/03/04/florida-house-passes-school-safety-bill-after-adding-requirements-for-arresting-kids/.

samuel-freeman-2YGUWSXjiEQ-unsplash-300x240The Florida Senate recently gave its stamp of approval to the Second Look Act, a measure that could result in 4,000+ juveniles that are currently incarcerated eligible to have their sentence evaluated. These reviews may end up with the juvenile(s) being released.

Also known as Senate Bill 1308, the Second Look Act would allow individuals convicted of crimes to apply for a sentencing review, provided the conviction happened before they were 25 years of age. Furthermore, those who were sentenced to life sentences for committing murder or conspiracy to kill will not be eligible.

The Second Look Act still has to clear a hurdle in the Senate Appropriations Committee before it will receive a chamber vote and be sent to the House. According to the source Washington Examiner article, the bill is likely to face resistance.

jay-rembert-LcAaVZXDTkI-unsplash-216x300After a shooting at high school in 2018, a Florida statute that requires judges to prohibit those considered dangerous from possessing firearms has been used more than 3,000 times since its implementation. Yet, around the state, the law is applied unevenly.

Dubbed the “red flag” gun law, its advocates believe that prior to its existence, it was often challenging to remove firearms from individuals that may have made threats or were having mental issues. With the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, investigators allegedly did not respond to reports that the shooter was in danger of carrying out a massacre at the school. Even if investigators had responded, it is possible that the shooter would have been allowed to keep his weapons because, advocates argue, he did not have a record of felonies or compulsory, long-term psychiatric obligations.

Those that oppose the reg flag measure believe the law is a violation of the right to bear arms as well as the right against the property being seized unlawfully.

woman-865022_1280-300x200A bill that’s currently going through the Florida Legislature is taking aim at displays of public nudity. Known as HB 675, the bill would upgrade certain types of indecent exposure into felonies, allowing law enforcement officers to arrest individuals without requiring a warrant and without the officer(s) having witnessed the indecent exposure themselves.

Supporters of HB 675 believe the bill goes a long way in dealing with individuals that are repeat offenders while those that are against it believe it could affect homeless individuals or people dealing with a mental illness.

Currently, acts of public nudity are largely deemed a misdemeanor under Florida law and require officers to obtain a warrant before they can arrest a person unless the officer(s) were witness to the crime. The misdemeanor may become a felony if the offender commits an act of “lewd” indecent exposure in front of a minor.

sofia-sforza-AEP4lyBafBs-unsplash-300x200Hundreds of thousands of photos are shared online via social media. Some of these photos may contain firearms, as children and teenagers pose with these weapons which may be illegal. Despite the risks and dangers, there isn’t much that can be done in pursuing legal action against due to insufficient evidence that could lead to an arrest.

This may soon change after the introduction of SB 656, which received unanimous approval by the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week. The bill would allow law enforcement officers to arrest juveniles that may be possessing firearms illegally and sharing them in videos or photos via social media. Officers would be able to arrest without the need for a warrant provided there is probable cause that the individual has possessed the weapons illegally.

Florida law does not allow anyone below the age of 18 to possess a firearm unless they are doing shooting or hunting with an adult.

dog-705820_1280-300x169For many, pets are another member of the family. Aside from Florida’s animal cruelty laws, there isn’t much for pets that may be part of a domestic violence situation. This may soon change with a Florida bill filed in the House and Senate.

With SB 1082/HB 241, family pets would allow victims of domestic violence to have temporary custody of their pets. The bill addresses a common situation where perpetrators often threaten to cause harm to the pet as a way to psychologically control the victim. Although court-issued restraining orders are vital in providing protection for people that are facing domestic violence, Florida law does not currently specify that family animals are protected when these orders are issued.

According to a report by the Senate about a fifth of murders in Florida are the product of domestic violence. Close to 40% of battered women reported that they did not leave an abusive situation because they were concerned about the safety of their pets. The measure allows a court to grant temporary care and possession of the animal to a petitioner in a domestic violence injunction.

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