Spring Breakers Beware & More for Rossen Law Firm’s March Newsletter:
Spring Break Season in South Florida is among us. Every year people - particularly college students - flock to South Florida for Spring Break to crowd the beaches from Miami to Fort Lauderdale to West Palm. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, this year doesn't look much different - many hotels & beach resorts are booked to capacity through April.
What does Spring Break in South Florida have to do with the law? We're glad you asked.
Spring break is a time that many young people vacationing in south Florida decide to "let loose." This year, perhaps more than ever, police and local officials have been warning people that laws, rules and regulations will be enforced during the spring breakers season. This includes laws that always apply as well as specific coronavirus precautions.
What's NOT allowed during Spring Break in South Florida this year?
- Think before you flash: Public indecency will not be tolerated on South Florida's beaches - this means no exposing of male or female sexual organs or breasts. Police say people can expect fines or even criminal charges.
- No alcohol allowed on the sand: This goes for South Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach. Police also warned they'll crack down on underage drinking and fake IDs.
- No dropping off or picking up people on A1A Ocean Drive along Fort Lauderdale Beach: Any driver who drops off or picks up a passenger on A1A will get a citation. The designated drop off and pick up site is Las Olas Oceanside Park.
- No tents or canopies on Fort Lauderdale Beach: Fort Lauderdale officials say they'll crack down on these.
- Annoying drunk people: Public disturbances by drunk people can lead to citations and arrests for spring breakers. To avoid an arrest, people should leave bars and restaurants if asked, and should not return to a business if they were asked to leave.
- Maskless entry into businesses: Contrary to popular belief, South Florida (as us locals know) does have mask mandates. If spring breakers refuse to wear masks while in Florida on Spring break, they could be looking at up to 1 year in local jail. Businesses are allowed to enforce mask policies, and if a person refuses to comply and police are called, the person could face a criminal trespass charge.
- Being out after midnight in Miami: While Broward and Palm Beach counties have decided not to enforce a curfew, Miami will have a 12am to 6am curfew in place every day.
- Buying liquor after 10pm in Miami: That's right, Miami will be stopping packaged liquor sales at 10pm city wide, and at 8pm in the Art Deco Design District.
Fun in the Sun? It seems a bit more complicated this year. While we’d hate for anyone’s vacation to end with an arrest or any form of legal trouble, Rossen Law Firm is here and ready to help you if you or a loved one are charged with a crime while on spring break in Florida. Learn more at: https://bit.ly/SoFloSpringBreak
Wrongful St Patrick's Day DUI arrest in Downtown Fort Lauderdale:
Why You need a Lawyer BEFORE you’re arrested in South Florida: How you can go from a witness to a suspect in an instant
Police may approach you asking for a witness statement if you happened to witness a crime. Without you knowing it, however, they may actually be bringing you into their office to investigate you as a suspect.
This year, one of our clients witnessed a devastating motorcycle crash. The motorcyclist ended up passing away. Our client witnessed the accident. When he saw the motorcyclist veer off the road and crash, he pulled over, checked on the individual, and called the police. He then stayed on scene until police and paramedics arrived. He did everything a good samaritan should do.
A few days later, he's driving to work early in the morning and notices that he's being followed by an unmarked police car. Scared, he did a quick Google search and found our office. He talked to Partner Attorney David Tarras, and explained the situation. He asked if he should talk to the police officer or what he should do if he gets pulled over. David was able to offer advice and let him know that he shouldn't speak to the police alone under any circumstances.
This is an example of a situation in which it is important to hire an attorney before being arrested. Is it fair? No. But will it help protect you and your rights? Absolutely.
Unfortunately, police may ask you for a witness statement only to suddenly flip the table on you and choose to make you a suspect in a criminal investigation - as they did with our client. Or maybe police have even told you that you're under investigation, but they just want to talk.
Police will approach you as a friend and say that you can ‘help them, help you.’ This is always a lie - police have no authority when it comes to "giving you a deal" - only a Florida state prosecutor or a federal prosecutor can help you when it comes to any form of protection, or a deal for cooperation or non-prosecution.
This is one of the many reasons you need a lawyer to help you protect your rights, even if the situation appears "harmless." You have a right to remain silent for a reason, and it's important you maintain that right unless you have an attorney present with you.
In the story above, our client did nothing wrong and actually made a significant effort to do the right thing - but then a few days later, Broward Sheriff's Office Detective Sherry Slagle-Grant was targeting him as a SUSPECT in a vehicular homicide case. Thankfully our client hired us immediately so he never spoke to the detective alone.
This helped him immensely as the detective pulled more shady tactics soon after our client made a statement. You can learn more about that online.
Murder Rewards UPPED as Florida Murder Rates Increase
With Murder rates increasing in parts of Florida, rewards for tips that result in homicide suspect arrests are now allowed to reach up to $9,500. Broward is among the counties with the most homicide cases in all of Florida, and Miami-Dade recently reversed a 20-year declining murder case trend. The hope is that the increased reward will help bring more attention to unsolved cases.
In the past, the maximum reward for a tip resulting in a homicide arrest in Florida was $5,000. The new announcement from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in February nearly doubled the maximum reward. Crime stopper organizations in Florida previously offered rewards between $1,000 and $5,000 for anonymous tips providing information that leads to arrests.
“Florida has experienced historic crime rate lows. But unfortunately, we have seen in certain parts of our state significant increases in murders,” Moody said during a recent news conference. She said safe, prosperous and happy lives can be a " reality in every Florida community with the help of those that are willing to stand up and report information.”
According to Florida Attorney General Moody's office, murders in Florida went up 16% in the first 6 months of 2020 alone - with Broward County among the counties with the highest murder rates in all of Florida. In December, Miami-Dade County also reported seeing a sharp increase in murders in 2020 - with more than 30 more murder cases in 2020 than in 2019. 62 of the people killed in Miami-Dade in 2020 were 21 and younger. There had been a 20-year trend of declining murder rates in Miami-Dade until 2020.