Posted On: April 27, 2011

Wife of Dolphins Player Brandon Marshall Jailed for Allegedly Stabbing Him in the Gut

As a Miami-Dade domestic violence criminal defense lawyer, I hear from a lot of male defendants who feel they were unfairly discriminated against because of their gender. When both parties to a domestic dispute present different stories to the police and there’s no other witness, officers who can’t or don’t want to do more investigation will sometimes arrest the man just because there’s a stereotype that women don’t commit domestic violence. A high-profile arrest that took place Friday evening here in South Florida turns that stereotype on its head. The wife of Brandon Marshall, a receiver for the Miami Dolphins, was arrested that night and accused of stabbing him with a kitchen knife. Michi Nogami-Marshall, 26, is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Brandon Marshall is expected to recover after treatment for a stab wound to the abdomen.

Around 4:40 p.m. Friday, Nogami-Marshall called 911 to request an ambulance, but without giving any details. Responders found Marshall with a stab wound to the abdomen. He initially told police he’d slipped and fallen on broken pieces of a glass vase. However, the officers didn’t believe the story because there was no blood in the area. After she was arrested and read her rights, Nogami-Marshall said she had acted in self-defense. Marshall spent the night in a hospital trauma unit and Nogami-Marshall was taken to jail. The couple has had one previous run-in with police, also for domestic violence, from 2009. Then engaged to be married, they were spotted outside Marshall’s condo in Atlanta punching and kicking one another. They were charged with disorderly conduct, but those charges were eventually dismissed. A former girlfriend of Marshall’s, Rasheedah Watley, has told ESPN he choked and stabbed her, and Marshall completed anger management classes in Denver after a domestic violence arrest there.

I suspect there’s more to the story than the media has been able to report. Marshall has acknowledged his trouble controlling his temper in the past, and the Atlanta arrest suggests that both spouses have a history of physical fighting. For Nogami-Marshall’s Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorney, the key question will be whether she was acting in self-defense, as she claimed, or attacking her husband. Unfortunately, it looks like there are no other witnesses to the dispute. This is a common problem in domestic violence cases, because most incidents leading to domestic violence arrests happen behind closed doors. That means police officers and prosecutors have to use their judgment on whose story they think is more believable — or which person they think is most credible. As a South Florida assault criminal defense lawyer, I defend clients aggressively from unfair gender stereotypes or other bad assumptions by police, forcing them to use the evidence and nothing else to make their case in a court of law.

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Posted On: April 25, 2011

Michigan State Police Under Fire for Potentially Unlawful Searches of Cell Phones

As a cyber crime criminal defense attorney, I’ve written here before about the issue of whether and when police officers are permitted to search cell phones, iPods and other personal electronic devices that carry large amounts of data. Because the law on searches and seizures was written long before these devices were invented, settled law doesn’t address the issue of whether the devices are searchable without a warrant for people under arrest. However, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is very clear that police may not randomly search people who aren’t arrested or even accused of a crime. For that reason, I was very interested to see an April 21 article from the Detroit Free Press about a controversy involving the way the Michigan State Police search mobile phones.

Since 2006, the Michigan State Police have had and used a device that searches mobile phones, the article says. The CelleBrite device must be physically connected to a phone, but can then extract data from the phone itself and its SIM card, disable the SIM card (so the user can’t receive calls) and disable the password. Data extracted includes address books, text messages, photos and even deleted information. When the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan originally found out about the devices, it filed a Freedom of Information Act request that confirmed the State Police had the devices. The ACLU then requested records about how the devices are used, saying it had been tipped off that they were not always used lawfully. It was also concerned that the CelleBrite devices were being disproportionately used with people of color.

The state agreed to supply the information but said it would cost $544,680 to provide it to the ACLU, and required a deposit of $272,340 before any documents would be released at all. The ACLU tried for nearly three years to narrow the request enough to lower costs, but the state always replied that there were no documents for the time period it specified, but refused to give dates for when there would be records available. The ACLU published a letter April 13 calling on the state to reveal the information, kicking off a national news story. The Michigan State Police released its own statement that day, saying it has never used the devices without a warrant or consent.

As a cyber crime criminal defense lawyer, I’m glad the ACLU won’t take their word for it. In the world of criminal defense, we know very well that police officers make mistakes or step over the line sometimes. When they are caught, they know they may be disciplined or the case against the defendant will be dropped, which can cause long court battles over basic violations of defendants’ civil rights. It’s not clear whether there’s been misconduct in Michigan, and it will remain unclear until and unless the state police are willing to release these public records at a reasonable price. However, the state police may be losing a PR battle by making themselves look like they have something to hide — even if they really have been following the law. As a cyber crime criminal defense attorney, I hope they have been, because wrongdoing could mean wrongful convictions that can and should be overturned.

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Posted On: April 21, 2011

Two More TV Appearances by Cyber Crime Attorney David Seltzer

I'm pleased to announce that on April 16, I was asked to appear on the morning talk show Fox and Friends to give my opinion as a cyber crime criminal defense attorney. The show produced a segment on a small controversy that erupted after the mother of a six-year-old girl videotaped the TSA patting the child down at an airport. Some people feel that it was inappropriate because of the girl's age, which they thought made it less likely that she would be carrying a weapon, as well as the pat-down's resemblance to child molestation. On the show, I argued that TSA procedures have to apply to everyone, since exempting some groups could raise the risk that terrorists would then use those groups to get weapons on airplanes. I also raised Fourth Amendment objections to alternative search procedures proposed by the other guest.

My other recent appearance was a repeat appearance on RT America's "The Big Picture" with host Thom Hartmann. This show was about the Obama administration's recent call for private industry to create a secure online ID system that would allow online consumers to use the same identification across multiple websites. The administration hopes to eliminate the need for multiple IDs and passwords as well as reduce identity theft, but Hartmann questioned whether it could actually compromise security. I told him I thought it had potential, but could create a large risk of loss and identity theft -- because when the accounts are compromised, every piece of information connected to them could be lost or stolen. These are issues that could eventually affect my practice as a cyber crime criminal defense lawyer.

If you're accused of a crime involving technology or the Internet and you need the help of someone who understands the law as well as the technology, you should call Seltzer Law, P.A. For a free consultation, you can call us 24 hours a day and seven days a week at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) or send us an email.

Posted On: April 20, 2011

Police May Not Use Drug-Sniffing Dogs to Randomly Check Homes, High Court Rules

As a south Florida drug crimes defense attorney, I know police can overstep their authority when it comes to investigating drugs and narcotics. So I was pleased to read about a Florida Supreme Court ruling outlawing a police practice that randomly targets homes for searches. As the Miami Herald reported April 15, the court ruled 5-2 that police officers may not use drug-sniffing dogs to find marijuana “grow houses,” which are essentially indoor gardens carved out of residential homes. The ruling means prosecutors cannot use the evidence found in this manner against Joelis Jardines, a 38-year-old Miami-Dade man who was prosecuted for marijuana trafficking and grand theft. The Florida Attorney General’s office plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jardines came to the police’s attention after an anonymous call to the Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers hotline. A month later, the police took a trained dog to sniff around the front door of his home. When the dog indicated that it could smell marijuana, the police obtained a search warrant, investigated and ultimately arrested Jardines. However, he successfully argued at trial that the use of the police dog violated his constitutional right to be secure in his home. The court’s majority said searching individual residences is distinct from using drug-sniffing dogs in public places like airports. Justice James Perry wrote that the spectacle of a large-scale police search causes homeowners in Jardines’s position “humiliation and embarrassment.” Two justices dissented, arguing that there is no expectation of privacy on a home’s doorstep.

The expectation of privacy at issue here comes from the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, so it’s a very important basic concept of American law. That’s why, as a Miami-Dade narcotics criminal defense lawyer, I’m so pleased that the Florida Supreme Court ruled this way. The home is one of the places where the law agrees that defendants have a reasonable expectation of privacy; a warrantless search of the home would be a violation of that privacy and not permitted under the law. That’s the argument Jardines successfully made in this case. The ruling doesn’t take away police powers to search homes, of course — but it does take away their ability to do so without a warrant. Without the dogs, officers would have had to get a warrant based on the Crime Stoppers tip and perhaps detective work that would have taken longer. As a Fort Lauderdale marijuana criminal defense attorney, I think warrants and other checks on police power are an important way to protect our privacy.

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Posted On: April 19, 2011

Criminal Defense Attorney David Seltzer Appears on TruTV Twice

I'm proud to announce that I've been asked to appear on TruTV (the network formerly known as Court TV) twice in recent weeks. In my first appearance, I was asked for my opinion as a Florida criminal defense attorney on the defense strategy for Casey Anthony. Anthony is the young mother from the Orlando area who is accused of killing her toddler daughter, Caylee Anthony, in one of last year's most widely covered criminal cases.

The second appearance is an update to my previous TruTV appearance, on the subject of James Ray, who is being tried in Arizona for three deaths at a sweat lodge ceremony. I discuss the fact that the case has been continued (delayed), the possible effects on the jury and apparent withholding of evidence by the prosecution.

Posted On: April 18, 2011

South Florida ICE Chief Placed on Leave After Authorities Find Emailed Child Porn

As a child pornography criminal defense attorney based in South Florida, I was very interested to read about a law enforcement investigation of one of its own — in fact, the head of the immigration and customs office in Miami. As the Miami Herald reported April 12, Anthony Mangione, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in South Florida, has been placed on paid administrative leave while authorities from other agencies look into allegations that he received child pornography sent to his home computer. The images came through an AOL account, and AOL initially alerted authorities to the objectionable content. Mangione is not currently charged with a crime.

AOL and other Internet service providers are required by law to tell the Center for Missing and Exploited Children when they find evidence of online child pornography crimes. Based on that alert, the FBI subpoenaed AOL’s records to determine the owner of the email account, then got a search warrant for Mangione’s home in Parkland. Authorities also seized his computer at ICE’s offices. Mangione’s office has made child pornography investigations a priority at ICE, which also handles immigration crimes, terrorism and smuggling. He is suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. One federal official said that could take a while because the computers need to be examined for evidence that Mangione sent, received or distributed illegal images.

The intersection between Mangione’s work and the crime he’s accused of interests me greatly as a child pornography defense lawyer. In December, I wrote about a lawyer in South Dakota who was prosecuted for possession of child pornography he said he was given as part of a criminal defense case. That lawyer was ultimately acquitted, but not before a trial, at which prosecutors did their best to convince jurors he was a fan of child pornography. If something similar happened to Mangione, he could be subjected to the same kind of public trial. This is terribly unfair to people who turn out to be not guilty, because accusations alone can be enough to destroy friendships and harm careers. That’s why, as a cyber crime criminal defense attorney, I hope the FBI and the Broward Sheriff’s office carefully consider any evidence that might exist suggesting Mangione had a legitimate reason for receiving the images.

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Posted On: April 13, 2011

Mother of Miami Heat Star LeBron James Arrested for Battery and Disorderly Conduct

A local incident that’s made the national news caught my eye as a Miami battery criminal defense attorney. As CBS4 reported April 7, the mother of Miami Heat Player LeBron James was arrested early on April 5 for alleged battery and disorderly intoxication outside the Fontainebleau Hotel. Gloria James is accused of slapping a valet at the hotel after he could not immediately produce the keys to her car. Reports said she was very intoxicated and fell down directly after the slap, then was taken into custody. A video shows her arguing with police officers after her arrest. The valet, Sorel Rockefeller, said he intends to sue Gloria James.

According to the New Times Miami, Gloria James had been partying at a club on the night of April 4. She returned to the hotel, where she’d left her car, and asked the valet to retrieve it, but reportedly didn’t claim it for 30 minutes. Eventually, Rockefeller or one of his colleagues left the keys with a cashier. When James returned to pick up the car, she got angry and asked “where are my [expletive] keys,” slapped Rockefeller in the face and fell to the ground. Responding police officers said that when they arrived, she was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, with another woman in the driver’s seat. James smelled strongly of alcohol and her eyes were bloodshot, officers said. She was also reportedly uncooperative with officers, shouting at them that “I don’t trust your kind.” She was released with a promise to appear, and LeBron James told the media that he’s helping to handle it. Gloria James has a 2006 DUI from Ohio, but no other prior charges were reported.

As a Fort Lauderdale assault criminal defense lawyer, I’m pleased that this family has the money to properly defend Gloria James from the criminal charges. A slap may not sound too harmful, but any unwanted touching, no matter how slight, is enough to support a charge of simple battery in Florida. In fact, defendants can face a related assault charge merely for threatening another person with battery, even if they don’t go through with the threat. If the reports are right, that doesn’t look like an issue in this case, but a battery charge is still a misdemeanor crime — and no one wants to see their mother convicted of a crime. Disorderly intoxication is also a misdemeanor, charged against people accused of causing a disturbance while drunk in public. An experienced south Florida criminal defense attorney may be able to defend the charges, or secure a favorable plea agreement, but it’s unlikely that James could do that on her own — especially with the public watching to see if she gets special treatment.

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Posted On: April 11, 2011

South Dakota Supreme Court Rules 100-Year Child Porn Sentence Is Unconstitutional

As a child pornography defense attorney, I was extremely interested to see a news item about a rare reversal of a sentence for a defendant accused of child pornography possession. The Associated Press reported April 7 that the South Dakota Supreme Court has struck down a 100-year sentence for Troy Bruce of Pierre. Bruce was convicted of possessing 55 videos of child pornography in December of 2009 and sentenced to 100 years in prison. The high court found this in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment, noting that people accused of more serious crimes have received shorter sentences. Bruce must still be resentenced by a lower court.

According to the article, Bruce was originally arrested in 2008, when his ex-girlfriend notified police that she’d seen child pornography on his computer. A search uncovered child pornography videos on DVD. All 55 counts against him stemmed from videos stored on one disc. The judge sentenced him to the maximum of 10 years for each of 10 counts, with sentencing suspended for the remaining 45 counts. Under that sentence, the 49-year-old Bruce would have been eligible for parole in 23 years at the earliest. However, the South Dakota Supreme Court found this overly harsh compared to sentences for people accused of more direct sexual crimes against children, including producing child pornography and sexual assault of a child. There was no evidence that Bruce had ever done those things or planned to, the court noted. A concurrence noted that differences in sentencing in South Dakota for child pornography possession are “shocking,” with one defendant serving just 45 days in jail.

Late last year, I wrote about a South Dakota defense attorney who was acquitted of child pornography charges stemming from his work defending someone accused of criminal child porn possession. It might be tempting to conclude that South Dakota has a particularly unforgiving attitude toward child pornography crimes, but as a child porn defense lawyer, I can tell you that federal law and many other states are also disproportionately harsh on child pornography defendants. At the federal level, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has heard from numerous federal judges who believe the guidelines for possession are too harsh, with the average sentence ballooning from 15 months to 102 months over 12 years. As a cyber crime criminal defense attorney, I understand that this kind of harsh punishment stems from society’s revulsion about the acts depicted in child pornography. But I believe it’s more just to consider what the defendants actually did, not what they might want to do.

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Posted On: April 8, 2011

Criminal Defense Attorney David Seltzer Quoted in Teen DUI Article

I'm pleased to announce that I've been quoted in an online article about drunk driving and teenagers. The article on runs down the many reasons teenagers (and everyone else) shouldn't drink and drive, including the risk of death and serious injury, the financial costs, the legal consequences and the toll they can take on teenagers' lives. Of course, I was quoted on the legal consequences for teenagers accused of driving drunk in Florida, who are treated exactly like adult DUIs even though they may be under 18. If you've been accused of driving under the influence, or your teen has, don't wait to contact Seltzer Law, P.A. for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Posted On: April 6, 2011

Woman Charged with DUI After Leaving Coconut Grove Jogger in Critical Condition

A news story on a suspected drunk driving accident caught my eye as a Miami-Dade intoxicated driving criminal defense attorney. According to an April 4 article from the Miami Herald, 32-year-old Corina Gonzalez was arrested last weekend after she allegedly caused a crash that put an 18-year-old in the hospital. Brian Beaubrun was hit by Gonzalez’s Jeep at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday while he was jogging. He was originally reported as dead, but the article said he was in critical condition as of Monday at the Ryder Trauma Center. It wasn’t clear whether Beaubrun was a high school student or a graduate.

The accident was witnessed by Miami Herald employee Alex Fuentes, director of interactive products. Fuentes was a passenger in a friend’s car when he witnessed the accident at the intersection of Virginia Street and West Trade Avenue in Coconut Grove. He and his friend saw the Jeep hit something that flew into the air and were shocked to realize it was a person. According to a police report, Gonzalez was heading north on Virginia Street and had just crossed the intersection with West Trade when she drifted or swerved to the right and hit a parked car. Her Jeep bounced off it and hit Beaubrun, who was jogging on the side of the road. Fuentes and his friend called 911 and waited for an ambulance Gonzalez is facing charges of DUI causing serious bodily injury. No hearing or trial dates were reported.

As a south Florida drunk driving criminal defense lawyer, I would strongly advise Gonzalez or anyone else in her position to get help from an experienced DUI lawyer right away. DUI causing serious bodily injury is a felony, which means Gonzalez is likely to face prison time. This is assuming no further charges are filed, which is still possible at this early stage. It also comes with all of the same penalties of any driving under the influence charge in Florida, which includes a driver’s license suspension, huge fines and fees, DUI school and more. In order to maximize your chances of staying out of prison on this charge and minimize the effects on your job, your family and your life, it’s essential to speak to a Broward County DUI criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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Posted On: April 4, 2011

Parents and Law Enforcement Fight Plan to Cut Staffing for Florida Cyber Crime Unit

Florida Gov. Rick Scott made the news this year when he announced plans to cut funding to the cyber crime unit of the state Attorney General’s office. While this doesn’t harm my private-sector work as a cyber crime attorney, it would reduce the number of staff members in that office from 34 to 15, and investigators from 15 to 6, reducing the number of cases the office was able to bring. Last week, supporters of the office and its work rallied in Tallahassee in protest of the proposed budget cuts, including two parents of children who were abducted and murdered by child molesters. Now, WJXT in Jacksonville reported April 4, the former head of the cyber crime unit has gone before the state Senate’s budget committee, which has indicated that it will work to avoid cuts to the law enforcement part of the workforce.

The Tallahassee rally, held March 29, included Diena Thompson and Mark Lunsford. Thompson is the mother of Somer Thompson, who was abducted, raped and killed at the age of nine by a neighbor in Orange Park. That man, Jared Harrell, came under suspicion after he was charged with 29 unrelated counts of child pornography possession. Lunsford is the father of Jessica Lunsford, who was also nine when she was abducted from her bedroom, raped and killed by a neighbor in 2005. Police later found child pornography on his computer. Both parents spoke about the importance of cyber crime investigators in preventing similar crimes and called on lawmakers to fight for the unit’s funding. WJXT said the Senate budget committee did not guarantee anything, and that the cyber crime unit was still likely to be transferred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — but said cuts to investigation staff were less likely.

As a child pornography criminal defense lawyer, I’m surprised the governor proposed these cuts. The public feels strongly about child sexual predators, which is why we have some very strong sex offender restrictions in Florida even though those restrictions are of questionable value to public safety. It’s not clear whether the cyber crime unit, which hunts down people sharing child pornography through the Internet, could stop senseless crimes like those against the Thompson and Lunsford families. After all, possessing child pornography is not the same offense as creating it, or molesting a child without cameras. As a child porn criminal defense attorney, I know that distinction is very important under the law, even if it’s not always important to the public. But even if it doesn’t increase the risk of crimes against children, cutting funding to the cyber crime unit is certainly a political risk.

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