There is virtually no doubt among legal authorities in any American state, including Florida, that a criminal record relating to what is considered a major crime (a rape, robbery or drug trafficking offense, for example) should permanently attach to a defendant.
A landmark decision that may have a huge impact on people in Florida was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 22. The decision will greatly expand the privacy protections that people enjoy under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Evidence against some people in Florida facing criminal charges might be based on eyewitness identification, but this is not always reliable. In one case in California, a man spent eight years in prison on a rape conviction and was released after being exonerated on DNA evidence.
Some people in Florida who have been convicted of a crime might be innocent. In around 3 to 5 percent of cases involving capital crimes, such as rape and murder, people are exonerated when new DNA evidence is discovered. However, several researchers wondered what the percentage was for other types of crimes ranging from drug possession to aggravated assault and armed robbery.
Florida residents who are victims of domestic violence may be able to seek relief through both civil and criminal courts. For example, a person would ask for a restraining order or injunction from a family court. Domestic violence occurs when an individual commits an act of violence against a partner or former partner or anyone who is a family member either biologically or through marriage.
Floridians who are accused of a crime may be required to stay in jail before their cases go to trial. In some instances, this is because the judge believes that the accused is dangerous and allowing them to move freely in society would put others in danger of harm. However, there are situations in which individuals charged with nonviolent crimes languish in jail because they just do not have the funds to post bail.
Up to 90 percent of criminal cases in Florida and throughout the U.S. are resolved by plea bargaining. Plea bargains are attractive for some defendants because they allow them to get a lighter sentence. For prosecutors, plea bargains save time and energy that can be focused on more serious matters. As a general rule, the courts don't mind if the parties involved in a case can resolve it on their own.
News sources report that Florida's open carry law, which bans openly carrying firearms, has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. The lower court's ruling was upheld by the high court when it refused to hear the case on a writ of certiorari. This means that Florida's existing ban on openly carrying weapons will remain in place.
Black men in Florida and across the United States have good reason for concern when facing sentencing in a criminal case. A study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission has shown that in many cases, Black men receive longer sentences than those of white men convicted of the same or similar crimes. On average, the study found that the sentences of Black men are 19.1 percent longer than those of white males with similar convictions when examining sentencing data collected between 2012 and 2016.
Some nonwhite defendants in Florida may be under more pressure to accept a plea deal and might receive less favorable terms than white defendants. According to a study that looked at misdemeanor cases in Wisconsin, the likelihood that white people will have a misdemeanor dropped, dismissed or reduced is 74 percent higher than it is for black people.