Facebook and Other Social Media Sites Are Used by the Police & Other Authorities

A hunter in Florida was recently arrested for hunting out of season and hunting an alligator without a permit. Police would never have known about the hunter’s activities if he had not posted an account of his activities complete with pictures on Facebook.

Both Florida criminal charges carry a maximum sentence of 60 days in county jail or a $500 fine.

Needless to say, only a day or two of jail plus the expense of paying bond, court costs, fines, and hiring a lawyer is enough to ruin most people financially. That means that in addition to not breaking the law to begin with, people should carefully consider what they want to say and what they want others to see before they post to social media sites.


Bankruptcy attorneys have recently commented on the likelihood of FB photos or other social media content being exploited by creditors to discover inaccuracies in a debtor’s Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and schedules of assets.

Credit Card Company vs. Elderly Lady…Would You Believe Bank Loses Florida Trial?

Recently at a local county court house, perhaps in Melbourne, Viera, New Smyrna, or Deland, a trial occured in which a credit card company sued an elderly lady over roughly $10,000 in allegedly unpaid credit card debt.

The bank attorney called a witness to appear telephonically from one of the bank’s offices in the midwest. The witness wanted to testify as to the amount owed, the charge off date, the date of the last payment, and so forth.

Under evidentiary law, witnesses can only testify regarding events they have personally witnessed. In other words, if a person did not see a traffic accident, they cannot testify about what transpired in the accident from what they read in a report. Such testimony would be hearsay. However, there is an exception relating to business records. In a situation in which a business regularly maintains records, the custodian of such records can testify to the information in the records, because the custodian of the records has personal experience and knowledge about the policies and procedures that ensure the accuracy of such records.

Under cross examination, the bank witness admitted that she did not work in the department where the records were entered into the system. Nor did she manage anyone entering or maintaining the records. She did not work on the computer systems in which the records were stored. She merely was able to access the records that others created and maintained.

For this reason her testimony was deemed to be hearsay, because she was not a custodian of the records in question. Because she was unable to testify, the bank was unable to prove its case, and the elderly woman was not found to be liable for the alleged credit card debt. A win for the little guy!

What Do You Think a Brevard County, Florida Jury Pool Should Look Like?

As I was leaving felony court in Viera this morning with my client, I saw the entire pool of jurors lining up in front of the elevators to go upstairs for voir dire, also called jury selection.

Out of fifty or sixty people, I saw a single Asian woman. Everyone else that had shown up was white, and most of them looked retired. There were no Hispanics, no African Americans, and no Indians.

This is probably not anyone’s fault. These are the people that showed up to take part in their civic duty and they deserve to be commended. My client, who is not white, said that seeing the panel confirmed his fears about getting a fair trial.

Why Do Defense Attorneys Defend People Charged with a Crime…Why Do Defendants Get Out on Bond?

When people in Volusia and Brevard County, Florida find out I’m a local attorney that handles criminal defense, a lot of people ask why do I want to “defend criminals?” I welcome this question, because it means talking about why America is a great country and discussing the deep wisdom of our founding fathers.

I guess it says something about the success of America, the freedoms we enjoy, the prosperity that many have known, that we have completely forgotten why there are strong constitutional limitations on the power of the police and the power of local and federal governments in detaining, charging, and incarcerating people. We only have to look at countries like Libya, North Korea, or Belarus to remember why our founding fathers wrote “innocent until proven guilty” into the U.S. Constitution.

Here’s some things to consider:

  • In some countries, the police can stop and detain anyone they want, for any reason.  Here in America, the police should only stop someone if there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or reasonable suspicion of a traffic infraction.
  • A person should only be detained for as long as it takes to dispel the suspicion of wrongdoing that lead to the stop or for the length of time necessary to write the ticket.
  • When a person is arrested, it may take months for a trial to occur–if the person is innocent but held in jail without bond, they will have already lost their home, their job, and watched their family suffer without them for months before being cleared of wrondoing…

Bottom line is that for every criminal defense attorney, there is also a prosecutor fighting for a conviction, police and investigators that worked the case, and lab technicians that are analyzing evidence such as DNA. There are correctional and probation officers that may be monitoring the defendant. There may be witnesses that will testify against the defendant. There is only one person working for the defendant to make sure that constitutional limitations on the power of the police are maintained: the defense attorney.

The reality is that when there is strong evidence against a defendant in any given crime, there is not much likelihood that the defendant will escape justice.  In other words, they are not going to “get away with it.”

Instead, the question is what type of punishment will the defendant face.  The defendant may serve a period of probation or possibly go to jail or prison. They may be fined, drug tested, sentenced to do community service, write letters of apology, avoid certain people or locations, and so on.

Many people are troubled by the fact that defendants can often post a bond after initially being arrested. Perhaps people don’t realize that because courts in Viera and Deland are busy, it often takes months before a defendant can have a trial in front of a jury. If an innocent person was charged with a crime and has to wait in the Brevard or Volusia jail for months before the trial, obviously they would lose their home, their job, and suffer in jail surrounded by criminals before even being allowed the chance to mount their defense in front of a Florida jury.

Obviously, many people charged with crimes are not innocent. But some people, while they may be guility of a minor violation, are overcharged. Sometimes the plea offer that is provided is overly harsh. If everyone had to sit in jail until a trial or plea, than people would accept plea deals that are perhaps unfairly harsh–just to get out of jail and back to their lives.

Local judges here in Volusia and Brevard County, FL do not have to offer a bond.  Instead, the judge examines a person’s prior criminal history, ties to the community, and record of appearing at scheduled court dates. The judge also tries to assess the level of risk the defendant poses to the wider community. People with no prior record and who pose little risk to the wider community are typically going to be allowed to pay a bond and be at liberty until they are either found not guilty or sentenced. Obviously, if a person is later found guility, they will face their sentence at that time.

Man Attempts to Escape from Deland Courthouse After Judge Orders Him Detained

An Orange City man on pre-trial release failed a drug test during a court hearing and was ordered into custody by the judge–that’s when he decided to make a run for it. When court personnel attempted to handcuff him, he jumped over the jury box and over the bar, and tried to run out of the courtroom. A bystander tackled him. Two deputies were injured during the struggle.

The incident shows that court personnel face daily risks at the court house.

The man who was in court for misdemeanor charges, now faces felony charges.

Should people be incarcerated for drug offenses? Is it worth the public expense to house drug offenders in jails and prisons. What do you think?

Man Forecloses on Bank for Failing to Respond to His Queries

According to the Huffington Post, a Philadelphia man took advantage of an old law and sued Wells Fargo for failing to “acknowledge written requests within twenty days.”  When he filed his complaint against the bank, it did not respond and he won a default judgment for $1173.00.  He then initiated foreclosure proceedings at Wells Fargo’s 1341 N. Delaware Ave. offices, to collect on his judgment, placing a sheriff’s levy against the office.

A similar law would be very welcome here in Florida, where homeowners are unable to get banks to respond to their letters, modification requests, and other questions.  Visit www.SpaceCoastBankruptcy.com to learn more about how people deal with banks and other creditors.