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jamie-street-UtrE5DcgEyg-unsplash-300x225A new federal law aimed at banning animal cruelty acts is now in effect. Known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT), President Donald Trump signed the law last week. With this new law, acts such as impaling, burning, drowning, suffocating, or causing animals any serious bodily harm are prohibited. Offenders may receive as much as seven years in prison.

With the signing of PACT, a 2010 law loophole is closed which prohibited creating and distributing animal crushing videos but failed to make the cruelty acts in these videos illegal. The videos often involve individuals killing, mutilating, or torturing defenseless small animals and were shared over the Internet.

Should you wish to read more about the animal cruelty law and how it made its way to being signed, read the Sun-Sentinel article at the following link: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-federal-law-now-bans-animal-cruelty-20191202-zftrlvfcvbabhdknr5kcdmorqm-story.html.

firearm-300x200Although it’s not a common sight, it is legal for a person to carry a gun if they have a fishing pole and happen to be at a beach or lake based on existing Florida open-carry laws. To anyone enjoying a leisurely day at the beach, this may seem jarring. A Palm Beach Police Department chief wants to do something about this.

The police chief wants the Florida legislature to pass a bill prohibiting a person from openly carrying a firearm if they’re within 1,500 feet of a school, government building, house of worship, guarded beach, or a school. Gun rights activists believe the bill may go too far.

It’s important to note that while Florida is not an open-carry state, the law does allow for a person to carry a firearm while they’re on their way to or enjoying an activity like hunting or fishing.

smartSpeaker-300x203If you use a smart speaker, you’re likely familiar with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or, in the case of Apple iOS, Siri. These devices are frequently “listening” for input from a user and may record brief snippets of voice data to improve services and voice recognition. In this case of Alexa, it may end up becoming a witness to a possible crime.

A Florida couple got into an altercation which resulted in a man allegedly murdering his girlfriend. The man states the woman’s death was an accident. However, detectives believe that an Alexa-enabled device known as the Amazon Echo Dot may provide clues into what transpired by examining the voice recordings it may have captured.

This is not the first time voice assistant devices have been used in criminal investigations. A pair of cases in two different states also involved Amazon Echo devices.

guns-300x200The United States Attorney General recently proposed a new initiative aimed at better enforcing the U.S. gun background check system, coordinating state and federal gun prosecutions, and ensuring that prosecutors review records rapidly to demonstrate when a defendant is unable to own a weapon due to issues with their mental health.

Called Project Guardian, the program will allow prosecutors to coordinate with law enforcement officials on a local and state level to evaluate possible federal charges should a suspect be arrested for possessing weapons, if there is a belief a gun was used to commit a violent crime or drug trafficking offense, or if the suspect is believed to be a member of a violent gang.

The program allows alcohol, tobacco, and firearm office agents across the country to either create new procedures or update existing protocols to bring federal charges against individuals attempting to get a gun from a firearms dealer by lying. Prosecutors will concentrate in particular on criminals with violent histories, who are members of the gang, or who have faced charges of domestic violence. Furthermore, United States attorney’s offices would also need to promptly enter details into government databases regarding individuals who are unable to possess guns due to reasons of mental health.

mj-300x199Lawmakers in Florida are working hard to keep pace with Florida’s constantly changing cannabis and hemp industries landscape. As lawmakers build the foundation for a vote on adult use next year (commonly known as recreational marijuana), some recently proposed bills may result in forbidding recreational marijuana, while others would focus on a less strict approach to drug sentencing.

Among these bills is SB 670, banning marijuana smoking in state parks. Miami Beach already took a stance on this by prohibiting marijuana smoking in public, including parks and beaches. A Florida lawmaker is now seeking to expand on this law and extend it to the entire state. SB 670 would ban all types of smoking as well as vaping within state parks. Should the bill become law, it would go into effect in summer 2020.

Another bill known as HB 399 would reduce minimum sentences for crimes involving marijuana. The House bill would permit judges to deviate from Florida’s minimum sentencing standards for crimes involving marijuana sales and trafficking. Although the legislation would still provide rules, more discretion would be granted to judges to make decisions case-by-case on sentences.

marijuana-300x200After Florida made hemp legal back in July of this year, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office made the announcement it would cease prosecuting most minor marijuana charges since the substance is almost identical from hemp.

Even with these developments, Miami Beach recently passed an ordinance banning people from getting the urge to smoke weed or hemp in public. Florida’s ACLU had criticized the new restrictions, saying that the law could have a disproportionate impact on children and people of color. The group argued that making the offense a felony was unnecessarily harsh as the city could dissuade people from public smoking just as easily with a civilian warning system.

Despite the concerns, Miami Beach has proceeded with the ban. With the new law, anyone seen smoking cannabis, hemp, or marijuana on a public right-of-way may receive a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of sixty days in county jail.

metoo-2859980_1280-300x200With the #MeToo movement more important than ever, there may be individuals curious as to whether sexual harassment itself is a crime. Is it possible to receive jail time for sexual harassment?

To get a better understanding of this, it’s worth defining what constitutes sexual harassment. Will giving a person of the opposite sex be considered sexual harassment? How about hugging a coworker?

At its essence, sexual harassment is behavior that is “unwanted”. This may include comments or touching a person. Though sexual harassment is often seen as something men do to women, a harasser can be male or female and they may harass another person regardless of their gender. Although it can happen anywhere, legal recourse for sexual harassment when out on the street may be limited.

selfDefense-300x177In many cases, people accused of a violent Florida criminal offenses may not be guilty. State law clearly emphasizes that individuals seeking to protect themselves, family members, or other individuals from harmful threats are, in most cases, not in violation of the law.

Being unclear about what constitutes self-defense rights in Florida may cause a person to make poor decisions following an altercation when they need to defend themselves or when they are discussing the altercation with law enforcement. Having a clear understanding of the right to defend yourself will put you in a better position should an altercation situation ever arise.

A physical altercation may happen in a public or private setting at any moment. Perhaps someone feels you bad-mouthed their team watching a sports game or a spouse becomes aggressive during an argument. A self-defense claim will only work if you weren’t the instigator in the fight turning physical.

graffiti-1380108_1280-300x169Chances are you have some degree of familiarity with the term “vandalism”. “Criminal mischief”, on the other hand, may seem vague. In its simplest terms, criminal mischief is a form of vandalism, just like vandalism can be deemed criminal mischief. Florida’s criminal statute generally defines criminal mischief as intentional and malicious behavior intended to destroy the personal or real property of another party. Because it is so common, graffiti is closely intertwined with criminal mischief charges, as the simple act of spraying a can of paint onto a property may be interpreted as being sufficient to “destroy” the property.

Should criminal mischief result in property damages valued at no more than $200, or if it causes under that amount in total damage, then it may lead to a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The charge may be upgraded to a first-degree misdemeanor should the damage be greater than $200 but remains under $1,000. Misdemeanor charges may result in receiving a one year jail sentence and the alleged perpetrator(s) may receive a fine of anywhere between $500 to $1,000. Furthermore, a judge may order that the property owner be repaid for the destroyed property’s value.

This update is published by The Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. Areas of practice include criminal defense, white collar crimes, drug crimes, fraud, DUI, sex crimes, domestic violence, and more. With over two decades of experience, Mark is committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for his valued clients under difficult circumstances. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 954-500-0003 in Broward or 305-674-0003 in Miami.

drinks-300x165
After a tough day at the office or an exhausting work week, you may decide to head to the bar for some drinks and unwinding. Speaking of drinks, altercations are common. This means there may be criminal charges involved depending on what happens during the fight, resulting in charges like disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, or aggravated battery, for example.

Disorderly conduct is a way of saying the peace has been breached. When you are out in public, you’re expected to behave in a way considered decent. Because bars are public places, becoming involved in a bar fight means it is possible to be charged with disorderly conduct for disturbing the peace. This second-degree misdemeanor charge may result in fines and a jail sentence.

When an individual consumes an excessive amount of alcohol and becomes belligerent to those around them, it may result in disorderly intoxication. Bar owners and law enforcement officers have the authority to ask a person to leave if they believe a situation may escalate. Should the situation turn physical and an injury occurs, a second-degree misdemeanor may be charged.

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