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2023 END OF YEAR RECAP CRIMINAL DEFENSE

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense

As we continue along in 2024, it is time to reflect on our hard work and some of our most successful criminal defense cases over the past year. Here are just a few of the highlights:

1. Attempted Murder and Robbery Charges Dropped

Our client was accused of attempted murder and robbery wherein the victim was shot in the back. Our client maintained his innocence. Gretchen Cothron, defense attorney and forensic scientist at Bernhardt Riley, did a deep dive into evidence pertaining to our client’s cellphone data. Ms. Cothron was able to prove that our client was not at the scene of the crime when the robbery took place. Specifically, she showed that the client had received a cellphone call two minutes prior to the time of the robbery, a call which “pinged” off a cellphone tower that was more than twenty minutes from the area of the robbery. Shortly after this information was presented to the prosecution, the prosecution dismissed the attempted murder and robbery charges.

2. Battery and Violation of Injunction Dropped

Our client was falsely accused of both battery and subsequently violating a no-contact injunction in the battery case. Ms. Cothron discovered evidence that our client was not in the state of Florida on the date (and week prior to the date) of the alleged incident. Ms. Cothron presented this evidence to the prosecution, while also highlighting suspicious activity by the alleged victim due to the accusation being made over a month after it allegedly occurred and after our client had ended the relationship with the alleged victim. The prosecution dismissed both cases.

3. Driving Under the Influence Dropped

Our client was charged with driving under the influence. The arresting officer reported that he pulled our client over for having a license plate tag frame that “obscured” the words “myflorida.com” and “sunshine state” on the license plate. Ms. Cothron filed a motion to suppress the traffic stop as unlawful. Included with the Motion, our criminal defense team created an exhibit that proved many of the license plate tags sold by Florida did not even contain the language obscured by the frame. Ms. Cothron argued in the motion hearing that a license plate frame was not illegal if it did not obstruct the tag’s identifying number and letter sequence. At the motion hearing in court, Ms. Cothron summarized her argument before delving into the motion, at which point the prosecution dismissed the case. All charges and citations were dropped.

4. Driving Under the Influence Reduced to Careless Driving

Our client was pulled over by law enforcement for making an improper left turn and nearly causing an accident. After reviewing all the evidence, including body-worn camera footage from the deputies, Ms. Cothron argued that the evidence showed that our client was not intoxicated, but was unable to perform the field sobriety exercises to the deputies’ approval due to age and infirmary. Gretchen also pointed out to the prosecution that the client did not appear intoxicated on videos and spoke clearly. After reviewing the evidence, the prosecution agreed with Gretchen and reduced the case to a careless driving infraction.

5. Arson Client Received Mental Health Diversion Resulting in Case Being Dismissed

Our client was charged with Arson of a Dwelling. Our criminal defense team worked together with the client and their family to gather an explanation for the events. Ultimately, Ms. Cothron was able to demonstrate to the prosecution that our client had suffered a debilitating injury which led the client into a deep depression, resulting in the incident. We were able to reach an agreement that not only avoided prison but allowed our client to receive mental health assistance as part of a diversionary program. After our client successfully completed the program, the court dismissed the charges against our client.

6. Racing on a Highway Case Dropped

Our client was charged with engaging another vehicle to race on a highway. After reviewing the evidence, Ms. Cothron determined that the evidence did not show that our client was racing but was merely reacting to the other driver. Ms. Cothron convinced the prosecution that it did not have the evidence to prove the case before a jury and the prosecution dismissed the case.

7. Battery Cases Dropped (Various)

Law enforcement officers generally arrest someone when they are called out to a domestic violence scene. Arrests can, and do, happen even when the alleged victim and alleged aggressor told law enforcement that no battery occurred, and neither party wished to press charges against the other party. We have had numerous clients who were arrested for domestic violence, but we were able to speak with the prosecutors on the cases and have the charges dropped prior to trials. In three separate cases, people who were visiting Florida were arrested for domestic battery even though the alleged victims told law enforcement that the person arrested had not committed battery on them. In those cases, we were able to speak with the prosecutors and have them drop the cases without the clients having to travel back to Florida to resolve the cases. We also had several cases wherein couples were arguing, and a non-related person called law enforcement. The couples did not want to press charges against each other, but law enforcement still arrested one of them. We were successful in convincing the prosecution to drop charges in all of those cases as well.

8. Felony Resisting Arrest with Violence Case Reduced to Misdemeanor Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Our client was accused of almost running over a law enforcement deputy with their vehicle. Our team presented to the prosecution several witnesses who contradicted the deputy’s claims that our client intentionally tried to run him over. Prior to trial, the prosecution reduced the case to a Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest Without Violence, and ultimately our client accepted the state’s reduced offer.

9. Felony Cases Reduced to Misdemeanor Cases

We had a number of cases this year wherein we convinced the prosecutors to reduce charges from felonies to misdemeanors, so that our clients would not be convicted felons. Some examples are as follows:

  • Felon Carrying a Concealed Weapon at an Airport reduced to Misdemeanor Carrying a Concealed Weapon
  • Felony Child Abuse reduced to Misdemeanor Delinquency of a Minor
  • Burglary reduced to Trespass
  • Felony DUI reduced to Misdemeanor DUI
  • Felony DWLS reduced to Misdemeanor DWLS
  • Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon reduced to Misdemeanor Battery
  • Aggravated Assault with a Firearm reduced to Misdemeanor Improper Exhibition of a Firearm

10. Criminal Traffic Violations Reduced

Driving is considered a privilege in Florida and the loss of a driving license can have far-reaching implications and collateral damages such as loss of employment. This year we advocated for numerous clients who had received criminal traffic charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and were successful in working with the clients and the prosecution to have the cases reduced to reckless driving. We also successfully advocated for clients who had been charged criminally with driving while their license was suspended, and in those cases, we were able to work with the clients and state so that the clients were able to obtain valid licenses and the state dropped or reduced their cases to non-criminal traffic infractions. Our team continues to fight for our clients’ rights, and we are excited for the success that 2024 will bring. If you find yourself in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact Bernhardt Riley for a consultation.