On April 1, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 2020-91 and Executive Order 2020-92 in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is Florida’s “stay at home” order, and it goes into effect at 12:01am on April 3 and expires on April 30.
While many people envision times of martial law with tanks in the streets and soldiers with rifles instructing people to stay in their homes, this is not necessarily what a declaration of martial law would mean during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, when asked about California governor Gavin Newsom’s comment that he would consider declaring martial law if necessary, Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said that any utilization of martial law would be “a humanitarian mission to support health and safety.”
Martial law is a concept that dates back to the earliest days of our democracy. If martial law is declared, military authority takes precedence over the governance of the state and federal executive, legislative and judicial branches. The President and Congress each have the power to declare martial law at the federal level, and governors can declare martial law when permitted by state constitution.
As a criminal defendant, in Florida and elsewhere, you may be unsure of the role of the prosecution in your case and how prosecutors are expected to conduct themselves when they obtain evidence that points towards your innocence. In many cases, prosecutors have a tendency to be laser-focused on securing a conviction, but the US Supreme Court (and Florida state courts) have made it clear that prosecutors have a duty to seek justice, which in certain circumstances may require them to disclose evidence to the defendant that could result in dismissal.
In Florida, once you’ve been arrested, booked (i.e., administrative and procedural processing that takes place at a police station, such as fingerprinting, record search on one’s criminal history, personal search, property confiscation, mug shots, etc.), and either put into police custody or released from custody, you should be given notice of an arraignment proceeding that will take place within 24 hours.
If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, then — in all likelihood — you’re concerned about the progression of your case and what strategies the prosecution might employ so as to find you guilty. Though many Americans are at least vaguely familiar with the basics of criminal litigation thanks to the popularity of entertainment media on such cases (i.e., police procedurals and shows about State prosecutors), character evidence issues are still relatively unknown to the general populace.
If you’ve been accused or charged with a criminal offense in Florida, then you may be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of litigation. Unlike many civil disputes, prosecution for a criminal offense is fundamentally high-stakes — you could not only be subject to various fines and other regulatory penalties (i.e., loss of professional licensing, etc.), but could also be facing a term of imprisonment.
Have you been accused of (or charged with) the crime of theft? In Florida, theft is a felony offense in some circumstances, and convicted offenders could face significant penalties that include a term of imprisonment, fines, and more. Further, a conviction could have a negative influence on how you are perceived in your community, which could seriously affect how easy it is for you to integrate socially and secure a thriving career.
The general public often perceives drug trafficking as an offense that is premised on the act of selling, distributing, or marketing illegal substances, but drug trafficking laws are broader than many realize. In the state of Florida, those who possess a significant amount of a given substance may be found criminally liable for drug trafficking and subjected to a minimum mandatory sentence, even if there is no evidence that they intended to distribute the substance to others.
In Florida, and throughout the country, jury selection is a critical process in criminal litigation. If done properly, favorable jury selection will maximize your ability to avoid criminal liability and will position you advantageously in negotiating a potential compromise solution without having to continue to trial.