Three Strange Criminal Law Stories From Florida

As a follower of and writer about the criminal law, this author often reports on strange criminal law stories from the State of Florida. Here are a few of my favorite vintage stories I would like to share with a wider world.

Orange County. Florida: Veteran’s Day weekend, 2010, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department became a national laughingstock when it was reported that sheriff deputies and members of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation carried out a series of warrantless raids against local Orlando barbershops that made history for arresting 35 people on misdemeanor charges of “barbering without a license,” after having spent several months investigating the matter. A records check revealed that in the last ten years only three people in the entire state of Florida had been sent to jail on such charges. In the instant cases, many of the warrantless sweeps entailed officers swarming the barbershops that had children inside and putting the barbers in handcuffs and “perp walking” them to police vehicles. At least one felony arrest was made when one of the raids netted a barber with an unlicensed handgun. We learn further that all the barbershops were in the African American and Hispanic neighborhoods.
This startling report makes one wonder whether those neighborhoods are known for being hotbeds of “criminal barbering?”

New Port Richey, Florida: This strange story is also from 2010. As many of you know, “Four Loko” is a caffeinated alcoholic drink. A New Port Richey man drank four bottles and then went on a naked rampage. Police report that the 21-year-old man ran barefooted out of the back of his home to a house a few blocks away, smashed a sliding glass door and ransacked the home. He next took off his clothes, defecated on the floor and ripped the oven door off its hinges, according to Pasco County deputies. At another house a woman arrived home to find the naked man smeared with blood, sleeping on her couch. She called 911. According to a report, when deputies arrived, the man allegedly said: “Why am I being arrested? I didn’t steal anything.” He was charged with two counts of burglary.
The headline to this little story could have read: “Loko Gone Loco.” It is probably best to stay away from this dangerous product.

Hernando County Jail, Florida: 2011. Strange things happen in jail. A jail inmate in Hernando County didn’t have enough honeybuns to pay off a gambling debt and was paid off with a punch in the face. The inmate admitted he lost a football bet with a fellow prisoner. The loser of the bet said he went to bet winner’s cell to give him the bear claws he owed him, but he was short four honeybuns. The bet winner was not happy about being stiffed on the bet and punched the loser so hard that he had to be hospitalized. Yes, the winner of the bet and the puncher. was arrested on a battery charge.
If this had been casino gambling the bet loser could have wagered: I’ll see your one bear claw and raise you four honeybuns…

Criminal Law Terms – What Is Strict Liability?

Whether you study criminal law or have become involved in a situation where knowledge of the law is critical, it is helpful to know the terms used during a case. The more you know, the better you will gain an understanding of the situation and how it affects you or your loved ones. Strict liability is a term you may hear in connection to a criminal case. What does it mean?

Strict Liability: a Definition

Where strict liability is concerned, prosecutors do not always seek to prove a person’s guilty mind (also known as mens rea) to connect him or her to the offense. In other words, the defendant may not have set out to commit a crime, but actions involved that led to the occurrence of wrongdoing could lead to a conviction of the person in question. A person may be ignorant of the law, yet may still face conviction.

Examples of Strict Liability

Such laws were created centuries ago as a means of holding factory owners accountable for a variety of safety hazards and ensuing accidents. These days, strict liability is used more often in minor offenses where a defendant is not necessary a criminal, but not entirely blameless.

  • Parking Violations – A driver parks his/her car in the wrong place. Regardless of the reason – emergency or otherwise – strict liability allows for the issuance of a citation.
  • Violations Involving Minors – A person buys an alcoholic beverage for a minor, or an 18-year-old has intimate relations with a younger, albeit consenting, boyfriend or girlfriend. Strict liability may work in these cases and lead to a conviction.
  • Manslaughter – A person unknowingly or accidentally causes another person’s death. While the defendant did not intend for this to happen (i.e. not intent to commit first-degree murder), he/she is not wholly blameless.
  • Violations involving dubious situations – In some actual cases, people who have offered services (selling alcohol, distributing prescriptions) may be found liable of wrongdoing.

Strict liability is designed to hold people liable of wrongdoing, even though these people are not generally viewed as criminals. The punishments meted out for such offenses may not be severe, but if convicted a person could end up paying fines, doing community service, or serving jail time. It basically depends on the offense. If you find yourself or a loved one in a situation where strict liability applies to something that involves you, you will need a criminal lawyer who can help.

Criminal Law Deterrents – California Lets Criminals Out Early For Budget Reasons?

It is no secret that when it comes to the California budget deficit that it appears that this state may actually fall off into the sea, and that when it does it will be human error and have nothing to do with the mighty San Andreas Earthquake Fault rupturing in its 150-year cycle. Now, the California state government is over $24 billion in debt and is desperately trying to find places to cut costs anywhere it can.

One of the major cost for the California State Budget is the prison system. So the state legislators have decided that if they let criminals out early they can save a ton of money and layoff prison guards. This is unfortunate in the middle of a recession because if you let people out of prison and there are no jobs, you are giving them an economic incentive to go out and commit more crimes, at a time when we are also reducing police budgets.

That simply does not make sense. Additionally, if they enroll and go back to community college to learn a new skill, well, there are budget cuts there too and they are cutting classrooms, teachers, and curriculum. There are waiting lists for most classes now. Meaning retraining for parolees is not in the cards either.

Further, the detective departments at the major police departments are also cutting their forensic crime laboratories. So, as these criminals commit crimes, there will be no way to catch them, of course, there will be no cops to come pick them up, and there will be no prison guards to guard them anyway. Does any of this really makes sense?

What about criminal Law deterrents?

One of the reasons we have punishments in criminal law is to prevent crime. But if people can commit a crime and they will not be punished, or the punishment is so small, that is in reality of the criminal mind at least a justify of risk and reward and so, they’ll continue to commit more crimes. Please consider all this.