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Fourth Amendment Probable Cause for a Warrantless Arrest

A police officer cannot arrest a citizen without a warrant based upon a hunch or mere suspicion. He must have “probable cause”. The US Constitution‘s Fourth Amendment[1] requires a warrant for a person or his property to be “seized” or searched by a government agent.  The law has developed allowing government agents to conduct warrantless […]

The Sixth Amendment, One Amendment, Six Constitutional Rights

Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment contains rights beyond the well-known right to an attorney in criminal matters. There are six constitutional rights in the Sixth Amendment.  They are procedural rights designed to protect an individual’s inalienable natural rights of life and liberty found in the Declaration of Independence. The Sixth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, […]

Expunging & Sealing Florida Criminal Records

Criminal Record

It is difficult to get a job in today’s economy, especially for an individual with a criminal record. For those with a criminal history in Florida[1] there is a process for some individuals to clean their records. For eligible individuals there are two potential outcomes for clearing a Florida criminal history. One is for the […]

The Fifth Amendment’s Grand Jury: A Proud & Lost Protection of Liberty

Grand Jury Room

The Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights mandates government procedures to protect the natural, inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness recognized in the Declaration of Independence. The amendment contains five protections for these natural rights. The Fifth Amendment’s first protection requires the federal government to use a grand jury to […]

The Fifth Amendment: Procedural Protections for Natural Rights

The First United States Congress proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution in 1789. The states ratified ten of the proposed amendments: The Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment contains five procedural rights. If the government seeks to take someone’s life, liberty or property it must follow the Fifth Amendment’s rules. The Fifth Amendment “No person […]

Interstate Extradition in the United States

US Custody Fugitive Extradition

Every State of the United States has legal authority regarding people present within its boundaries. A State does not have authority over a person present in another State. For example: If a person is wanted for a crime committed in Illinois is found in Florida, an arrest can only legally be made by Florida law […]

Entrapment as an Affirmative Defense to Criminal Charges

FBI Entrapment

“Entrapment” may be a defense to criminal prosecution if a government agent induced a person to commit a crime which the person was otherwise unlikely to commit. Investigation and prosecution of certain crimes can be difficult unless members or agents of law enforcement participate in elements of the prohibited activity.  Examples are drug sales, prostitution […]

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence: Observation vs. Inference

evidence

There are two types of evidence at a trial: direct and circumstantial. One, if believed, directly proves a fact; the other allows a fact to be inferred. In court a trial is held to determine specific facts and the legal implications of those facts. In a criminal trial, the question is if the defendant broke […]

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and the Founders’ Faith in Grand Juries

State Attorney Angela Corey

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution…”  Thomas Jefferson The death of Trayvon Martin during an altercation with George Zimmerman prompted calls for a national discussion about race relations that went all the way to […]

Gideon v. Wainwright, 50 Years Later, Did Clarence Gideon Write His Appeal? Part 2

Gideon Petition to US Supreme Court

Clarence Earl Gideon had an eighth grade education and a long criminal history. He had been sentenced to prison for the fifth time. Upon his arrival he began to study law for long hours in the prison library. As the story goes, eventually, with a pencil and paper he scratched out an appeal to the […]