MUGSHOTS.COM owner Arrested

For years, this blog has been commenting on the problems with websites who obtain police booking photos and disseminating them for pecuniary gains. Mugshots.com owner, a Palm Beach County resident, was recently arrested for a violation of the California law prohibiting the tactics Mughots.com were implementing.

If you are new to this, essentially when someone is arrested, a local law enforcement agency will take a booking photo and make it a part of the court record. In Florida, in most instances, this would become a public record that would be normal to be published. Websites like mugshots.com and Bocabusted.com will take the information from the Sheriff’s office page and place it on their own page. Long after their cases over, even if the case is dismissed, or their found not guilty their picture and information remains. The accused then turns to these independent websites and ask them for removal. In many instances removal may not happen unless you pay them a fee.

California case says they made millions

According to this Palm Beach Post article, mugshots.com earned more than 2.4 million in fees between 2014 – 2017.   This is just one company. The sad truth is that there are several companies just like this that use the same tactics. The accused then ends up having to pay several sites to have their name cleared from the Internet.

1st Amendment Right

Many of these companies argue that the First Amendment allows them to publish true information. After all, the booking photo is based on an arrest, not on a conviction. The hardship comes into play, when someone who is innocently arrested, has their case dismissed, even have their case expunged by the court, has a record of an arrest by a private company.

New Florida Law

Starting July 1, 2018 Florida Statute 943.0586, it makes it illegal for these companies to publish or disseminate booking photos (mugshots) and asking for a fee to remove it.   All you will have to do is request in writing that it be removed.   If a record is not removed within 10 days it could subject the company to civil penalties.

Expungement

if your mug shot is online you will want to contact each site that has it displayed. Moreover, you will want to seal or expunged your case.   This process will remove any arrest (if eligible) from public viewing from the clerk’s website and from FDLE.

Drive Baked, Get Busted? Not really….

In this great story, by Wanda More, of WPTV News Channel 5, the reality behind the “Drive Baked, Get Busted” billboard on 95 is exposed.     Ms. Moore did an indepth investigation by interviewing the Martin County Sherrif William Snyder about the myth of DUI on Marijuana.   Additionally she sat with me to discuss legal defenses and what the future might hold.

Marijuana tests are not accurate

One of the key topics in this story is that there are no breathalyzers for Marijuana used/approved in the State of Florida.  The only way to determine if THC (active componant in marijuana) is in somebody’s system is by a blood or urine test.

The problem with these tests is that they can’t accurately tell when the THC is in the system because it is looking for an inactive metablolite.  It more just states it was in your system.

Marijuana Can Stay in your system up to 30 days

Marijuana can stay in your system over 30 days.  As mentioned by Sheriff Snyder, the purpose of the test is to prove you were under the influence while driving, not sometime within 30 days.

Your not out of the woods

By no means am I condoning driving under the influence of marijuana.  You could also be subject to other charges such as possession.   Futhermore, if you cause an accident and someone is injured or dead, you may be subject to a forceable blood draw.

Time will tell

Sheriff Syner is right, we need science on our side.  This means we need to develop an accurate way of determing the active level of marijuana in someone’s system at the time of driving.   More importantly, we need to have that method tested over and over to insure it’s accuracy.  As I stated to Ms. Moore, we should look to other states who have recreationally allowed marijuana to see how they are handling it and find the best ways, and test those methods continually.

Getting caught with your pants down, DUI style!

In another case of weird DUIs, a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a man for reckless driving, and started a DUI investigation. It turns out the man was wearing only underwear that stated “breathalyzer” on it.   It also said “Blow Here” and you can guess where.

So one would beg the question, was anybody else read implied consent.   Furthermore, did he in fact give a breath sample?   The real question is was there a phrase on the back of his underwear says “Insert Head Here”?

Almost as weird

it’s hard to tell which is weirder, the case above, or the Canadian man who ate his underwear to get out of a DUI.   That’s right a man thought if he ate his underwear, it would soak up the alcohol.   That is not a sound defense, although, he was acquitted. There are many defenses to DUI I do not advise the underwear defense.

GROW YOUR GARDEN, BUT BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU GROW

Now that Marijuana can legally be prescribed in Florida under 381.986, it doesn’t mean you can grow your own medication. Under Florida Statute Section 893.02(15)(a) it is illegal to produce, prepare, propogation, compound, cultivate grow or covert marijuana. Under 893.1351 it’s a second degree felony, punishable up to 15 years.
So how can anyone legally grow Marijuana? You must get a Florida Marijuana Growing License. Look online, there are many companies that will assist someone who is interested. Per floridamarijuanagrowinglicense.com you need the following to get a license:
• A grower’s nursery must be at least 30 years old. The business should also possess at least 400,000 plants.
• An applicant should be able to prove they can manage the huge start up expenses and the bond needed for your medical marijuana dispensary to be licensed. You must also convince the licensing officials that your business will run for at least 2 years without going bankrupt. The startup cost is usually $2 million and a non-refundable fee of $63,000 is needed.

Maybe you should stick to tomatoes….

Apples to Oranges – the Dangers of Comparing Your Case to Another

In today’s world, everybody is a comparison shopper. With the advent of the Internet, it takes all of about two seconds to find out where the best deal is. You can go online and compare store prices between all the big-box retailers. If you are going to buy a car, you can go to websites like truecar.com that are in the business of telling you what others in your area paid for a car you’re looking at.

It’s dangerous to be a comparison shopper when it comes to any personal legal issue you may have. There are no websites like truecar.com for legal issues. You can’t gauge what the best outcome is for your case based on what another person in your situation received.

Criminal Case Plea Offers

Nothing scares me more than when a criminal defense client tells me he or she talked to a “friend,” “relative,” or even worse a fellow inmate, that has advised them what they should get as far as a plea offer or a result on a case. The reason is those people don’t specifically know the facts of your case, the laws applicable to it. They also do not know the temperament of the judge, mitigating reasons, aggravating factors, or any other intangible fact that all play a role in determining the outcome of your specific case.

Criminal defense attorneys have taken a significant amount of time to go through schooling to understand the law and how to apply it in very specific situations. I cannot stress enough each case is different. Now, it is true many first-time offenders and up with the same plea offer or outcome for a case, and that should not be ignored however it shouldn’t be set in stone that that will be the same result for you.

Instead of relying on your friend, relative, or fellow inmate to get your legal advice, the first step you may want to take is to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to get a feel for what the possible outcome could be. Although no attorney should tell you what you should be getting the first time they meet you, they can get a feel for what the results could be. In my book “My Loved One Has Been Arrested; What’s Next?”, I address some of these issues.

In my Special Report, Top 5 things Criminal Defense Attorney’s Don’t Want you to Know, I give you additional tips on how to interview the right attorney for you so you can make the best decision on how to proceed with your case.

What the Heck is my Personal Injury Case Worth?

Personal Injury Claims

Have you noticed the billboards on I-95 advertising “Joe Blow attorney got me $1 million dollars,” and it shows a picture of someone giving a thumbs up? If you’re injured in an accident and you have the expectation that this will be the same result for your injury case if you hire that firm, you will be sadly mistaken.

Just like in the examples above there are several different factors that make in injury case unique. So, the truck accident that cripples an individual will definitely have a higher value than the fender bender in the Publix shopping center. Many factors are involved in determining the value of a personal injury case. You can read about what makes your case more valuable in my book “What the Heck is My Case Worth? And Why Billboard Advertising can be Deceiving.”

Apples to Apples

Remember, no case is exactly the same.   Automatically thinking you’re going to get the same result with your case compared with another is only setting yourself up for disappointment, or in the alternative it can leave you missing opportunities to have a better result. To avoid this stress, hire an experienced attorney in the area specific to your case, and use their wisdom and expertise to guide you to the best result.

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