Cyberbullying is a very real concern that affects the health and safety of every young person on the internet. The mistreatment and harassment of others in chat rooms, through private messaging and on social media platforms is now a major public health concern, and, as a result, new statutes in Florida can bring strict penalties to students convicted of this type of criminal activity.
Someone died violently and police believe that you killed him or her. When police arrested you, they told you that you face charges of either murder or manslaughter. Your fear of not knowing what happens next increases dramatically due to not understanding what you could be facing.
As marijuana is legalized in more and more states, Florida residents may wonder what methods law enforcement officers will use to determine if drivers are impaired by the drug. Currently, six states have marijuana tests for drivers, but, according to a study by AAA, those tests have no scientific basis and should be scrapped.
Florida residents are likely familiar with cases involving innocent individuals who were freed from prison after spending years behind bars. These wrongly-convicted individuals are usually exonerated when new evidence emerges or witnesses change their stories, but they are sometimes released after prosecutors have conducted reviews of their questionable cases. A National Registry of Exonerations report released on Feb. 3 revealed that 149 prisoners were exonerated in 2015, and the researchers gave much of the credit for this record figure to prosecutors who have established conviction integrity units.
On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor issued a memorandum announcing the government's intention to more vigorously and cohesively prosecute workplace safety crimes in Florida and nationwide. The effort is expected to increase investigations into safety violations by employers, particularly when worker fatalities are involved.
Crowding and budgets are among the issues that can affect detention facilities in Florida and other states. In recent years, these pressures may have contributed to alternative solutions being formulated for dealing with various individuals facing charges for legal infractions. One of the positive outcomes is that youth detentions have dropped dramatically. Although the United States still has the highest rate of juvenile detention in the world, these rates decreased by 41 percent between 1995 and 2010. The number of youths in detention facilities on a given day had dropped by more than 34 percent during that period as well.
While sending young offenders to juvenile hall might not be the best choice for rehabilitation, some alternatives also have problems that can cause more trouble than they solve. Residents in Florida may be surprised to know that the number of teens incarcerated in juvenile detention centers has dropped by half in the past 16 years. More young people are being put on probation, but this has its own set of challenges that can lead to detention.
In many instances, a person convicted of a minor crime in Florida may be given an alternative sentence in place of incarceration. Alternative sentencing is based on the presiding judge's discretion and could include a pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication, community service, restitution, fines, probation or a suspended sentence. The type of alternative sentence a defendant receives is often based on his or her age and criminal background, the type of crime committed, how victims are affected and if the defendant is remorseful.
Florida residents may be surprised to learn that the overwhelming majority of criminal cases are settled by negotiated plea agreements. While crime dramas on television generally culminate with a dramatic trial, less than 10 percent of criminal cases in the real world are heard by a jury. Plea agreements must be accepted by the defendant, prosecutor and judge before they can go into effect, and all of these parties may have good reasons to eschew a trial.
Although Florida officials may take a tough stance on crime, those facing legal action are entitled to proper interpretation of the laws used to make decisions about their cases. Vague language can create confusion as officials in different jurisdictions make different decisions based on their unique perspectives. This concern has even affected the Supreme Court of the United States in recent years as the Armed Career Criminal Act, a 1984 federal law, has led to challenges in interpreting a vague phrase. In fact, Justice Alito was the only dissenting vote in the 8-1 decision that deemed the phrase to be unconstitutional because of its vagueness.