Florida’s Criminal Justice Laws Disappoint Criminal Attorney Ron Chapman

West Palm Beach, Florida - Changes to Florida's criminal justice laws were announced in 2019,  but some advocates are disappointed in the results. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is no exception. The group responded to the latest changes in Florida by calling the reforms, “a bad joke”.

FAMM is a criminal justice policy and advocacy organization that “seeks to create a more fair and effective justice system” which “respects our American values of individual accountability and dignity while keeping communities safe”. Their goal is to try to influence the government to work towards legislation that is fair but not unduly harsh. Improved legislation would give those convicted of smaller crimes a better chance to turn their lives around by halting the cycles of criminal activity that some vulnerable groups may find themselves caught in.

During the 2019 session of the Florida Legislature, there were small notable changes made to the State’s criminal justice laws. None had the impact advocacy groups were hoping for.

Highlights of the amendments made to House Bill CS/HB 7125 — Administration of Justice - include:

  • Theft will become a felony at $750, up from $300.
  • Driver’s license suspensions and revocations have been reformed.
  • Time limitations to report a crime have been extended from 72 hours to 5 days. Victims now have three years to apply for victim compensation instead of 1 year.
  • Licensing boards for barbers, cosmetologists, and contractors can no longer reject applicants for non-violent crimes occurring more than five years ago.
  • Prosecutors are no longer obligated to direct-file charges against 16 or 17-year-olds to the adult criminal justice system for specific offenses.
  • Criminal penalties for certain alcohol and gambling offenses have been reduced.
  • The court is allowed to order, or the DOC can transfer offenders to administrative probation if the offender is a low harm risk to the community and has completed at least half of their term of probation.

A full list of the changes, which came into effect October 01, 2019 (unless otherwise noted), can be seen here.

In a statement, FAMM State Policy Director Greg Newburn said the group had been hopeful “the legislature would finally tackle meaningful sentencing reform this year”. He stated, “FAMM is disappointed that lawmakers missed another opportunity to fix real problems in Florida’s criminal justice system”.

Ronald Chapman is a Palm Beach County criminal defense lawyer who knows all too well how criminal justice legislation can adversely affect those who are accused, convicted, or are at risk of being wrongfully convicted.

In one stunning case, Chapman successfully defended a man who had been coerced into confessing to the murder of a 54-year old Vietnam Vet. Although the prosecution thought they had an easy conviction on their hands, Chapman, the accused man’s lawyer, was skillfully able to convince the jury there was enough reasonable doubt not to convict. As a result, Chapman’s client was found not guilty of murder.

But what if Chapman had not been able to defend his client successfully? The 25-year old - a man with few resources who had recently moved to Florida to start a new life - might have been convicted of a murder that he had witnessed but didn’t commit. In this case, Chapman - an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer, was able to save his client from being held responsible for a murder he didn’t commit, thus altering the course of the man’s life.

“Fortunately for my client, the jury saw the several flaws in the prosecution’s case which resulted in my client not being convicted of murder and then returning to his home in Michigan a few days later,” Chapman explains.

With some of the current issues being identified within Florida’s Criminal Justice Law by advocates like FAMM, a good criminal defense attorney like Ron Chapman is the best chance an accused person has at getting a fair trial and outcome. In short, an effective criminal defense lawyer should be a thorough investigator, a fearless negotiator, and provide a technically sound legal argument. But most importantly, they must be able to win at trial, especially when the case is serious. These are skills that not every trial lawyer has.

As Chapman notes, “The outcome of a criminal case is often dependent upon the skill of the defense lawyer handling the case.  That includes having knowledge of the law as well as knowing what to do and what not to do in a courtroom.”

Ron Chapman has 30 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer. He represents people accused of committing a wide range of crimes in both State and Federal Court in Florida. Those crimes include DUI, battery, economic crimes such as theft and dealing in stolen property, animal abuse, traffic crimes such as reckless driving, murder, manslaughter, crimes against children, federal crimes involving guns and drugs, sex crimes, crimes against the elderly, appeals, and violations of probation.

If you or someone you know requires the assistance of a proven criminal defense attorney, look no further than the law firm of Ronald Chapman. Call him today at (561) 832-4348 or visit his website at https://www.justiceflorida.com/. His professional team is available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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