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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.

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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.

twitter-292994_1280-300x200The internet and social media have facilitated communication around the world immensely. However, with the greater reach of communication, there is greater scrutiny on what is and isn’t considered free speech. While certain speech is protected regardless of whether a person says it or posts it, some speech is not protected and may lead to prosecution.

Threats to commit bodily harm or kill someone, for example, are not considered free speech, whether it’s posted online or sent via a letter. This may also include hate speech which crosses the line into a threat. It is also illegal to make false reports or make a firearm threat against a group of people.

Another type of online crime that has emerged is sexual cyber harassment, which includes posting explicit images of someone without their consent. The crime is informally known as “revenge porn”. Even if a former spouse or love interest intentionally shared the explicit images, it is illegal to post them.

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Our cell phones contain a lot of personal information, from credit card numbers to our bank info, photographs, text messages, call logs, and more. Should all of this information fall into the hands of the wrong person, it may be used against an individual.

A part of the Miranda rights states a suspect has the right to remain silent. But what about smartphones? Can your phone “speak on your behalf”? Are law enforcement officers allowed to force you to turn over your phone and online records?

The simple answer to this is no, a police officer cannot simply seize your phone. Since your phone belongs to you, a warrant is required for an officer to seize it or look at it. The same thing applies for access to phone records from your wireless provider.

textDrive-2-300x200Next week, several new laws will go into effect in Florida. Among these new laws is the expansion of the state’s texting while driving law. Motorists will be prohibited from using their wireless mobile devices while they are driving through designated school crossings, a school zone, or a construction/work zone. This means drivers are not allowed to even hold their phone or mobile device while driving through these zones.

In addition to the expansion of the texting while driving law, two additional laws are worth mentioning. SB 1080 is aimed at the issue of hazing in universities. Individuals who plan hazing acts or solicit others to participate in hazing may be charged with a third-degree felony if the hazing ends in permanent injury. The bill would also grant immunity to individuals who call security on campus or 911 to request medical assistance due to a hazing incident.

SB 96 would upgrade killing or causing great bodily harm to police, fire or search-and-rescue dogs or police horses from a third-degree to a second-degree felony. The bill would also increase the maximum jail sentence from five to fifteen years.

dui-300x244Anyone who gets behind the wheel when they are impaired is running the risk of being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) as well as putting their lives and those of others at risk. Though a DUI has serious penalties which include having a license suspended, fines, or spending time in jail, a fatality due to drunk driving comes with even more serious implications. A driver may be charged with what’s called DUI manslaughter if a person or even an unborn child passes away due to the driver’s actions.

In Florida, DUI manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony. The charge may be escalated further based on factors such as the number of victims, the driver’s recorded blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level following the crash, and the driver’s possible criminal or driving record, to name a few. Should the driver be convicted of DUI manslaughter, he or she may be sentenced to at least four years in state prison.

This update is published by The Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, a Fort Lauderdale 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.

computer-1591018_1280-300x196With close friends and family, borrowing their belongings such as an item of clothing or perhaps a video game or two is common. However, if the relationship goes south for whatever reason, the person whose items were borrowed may accuse the borrower of stealing their belongings.

How does borrowing differ from theft? Theft means a person intended to commit a criminal act. If, for example, a person simply forgot they had the item in their possession and never returned it, a prosecutor may not be able to bring up a theft charge.

Prosecutors may have trouble proving that the borrower’s intention was indeed to steal an item rather than borrowing it. Even if a person quietly kept the item with the hopes its original owner would forget about it, for example, chances may be slim that a court of law would accept “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the intention was to steal.

I didn’t believe it until I read about it in several different media reports. A six year old Florida girl was arrested and charged with battery. Apparently she threw a temper tantrum in class, resulting in law enforcement being summonded. They handcuffed her, transported her to the juvenile detention center (fancy name for “kid jail”) and then she was fingerprinted. As if that wasn’t enough humiliation, they also had her mugshot taken.

What country are we living in? Who in their right mind would ever order this to occur? The answer to “Who would do this?” is… Officer Dennis Turner, from the Orlando Police Department. Fortunately, we are now hearing that he broke protocol by not contacting his commander. I say, “Fortunately,” because I’d hate to think that this is the standard operating procedure in that jurisdiction. I would lose sleep knowing that this is the norm.

For what it’s worth, the child’s grandmother alleges that the girl suffers from sleep apnea and hasn’t been sleeping much lately. She believes the child’s behavior resulted from sleep depravation. Additionally, I’ve seen plenty of photos and video showing the size of the six year old child. She’s tiny. Think about the smallest Huxtable kid or grandkid. Yeah, that’s about right.

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