August 2012 Archives

August 25, 2012

DNA Leads to Arrest of a Man Accused of Sexual Battery

A former mayoral candidate was arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina based on an arrest warrant that accused him of the crimes of armed sexual battery, burglary and robbery. Baxter Tisdale is currently in custody in South Carolina awaiting extradition to Miami, Florida to face the charges. Once Tisdale arrives in Miami, his case will be set for an arraignment before a circuit court judge. He will either be represented by a privately retained Miami criminal lawyer or an attorney from the Miami-Dade County Public Defender's Office. Tisdale waived extradition which will speed up his return to South Florida to face criminal charges.

When a defendant is arrested outside of the jurisdiction charging him or her with a crime, the extradition process must be complied with prior to the defendant being returned to the jurisdiction. A defendant can either waive or contest extradition. Waiving the process will allow for a more speedy return to the place from where the allegation occured. If a defendant does not agree to waive extradition, the prosecuting body must present the warrant to the jurisdiction holding the defendant and must be able to establish that the person in custody is the correct person sought in the warrant for committing an offense.

Tisdale is facing life in prison for the incident which occurred in the early morning hours on February 18, 1986. Court documents reflect that the defendant committing a burglary by entering the victim's residence without permission with the intent to commit a sexual battery. The defendant allegedly entered the victim's bedroom where she was sleeping with her seven month-old son. He is alleged to have placed a knife to her throat and raped her. Tisdale purportedly pushed her onto her bed, placed a pillow over her face and assaulted her sexually for approximately two minutes.

After the assault, the victim was treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital Rape Treatment Center in Miami, Florida. As is typical in most rape cases, hospital staff completed a rape treatment kit on the victim. As part of the process, DNA was collected which was later found to match that belonging to Tisdale. Defendants in most cases are required to provide a DNA swab upon being found guilty by a jury or entering a plea to certain offenses, typically felonies. The arrest warrant does not mention how the defendant DNA became part of the data base, but it is believed that he provided his DNA in another unrelated criminal matter. While the victim could not identify her attacker in a line-up, she did recall seeing him around the neighborhood. Even without a positive identification, the prosecuting authority will still have a solid case against the defendant based on the DNA evidence. Tisdale left Miami in 1986 and moved to Rock Hill where he has a criminal history for theft, petit larceny and driving with a suspended license. It is not clear whether he DNA became part of the data base as a result of those criminal offenses.

Police: Rape Victim Feared for Her Life with Knife to Throat, HeraldOnline.com, August 17, 2012.

August 13, 2012

Wide Receiver Arrested and Loses Job

Former Dolphin receiver Chad Johnson was arrested on domestic violence charges Saturday and then soon thereafter lost his job. According to police reports, Johnson allegedly head-butted his wife during a heated argument. Apparently, Evelyn Lozada, Johnson's new wife, found a receipt for condoms in the trunk of the car. The argument escalated to the point that the defendant purportedly resorted to physical violence. After the encounter, the alleged victim ran to a neighbors house where she called 911. Police arrived at the scene and discovered that the victim had a laceration on her forehead. The police found Johnson driving around the neighborhood when he was stopped and arrested for misdemeanor battery, a common charge in domestic violence cases. This not the first arrest in recent times for Miami Dolphin players accused of domestic violence.

Johnson was taken to jail and appeared at a bond hearing the following day. The bail was set at $2,500 and the judge issued a non-contact or stay-away order. Johnson, like other defendants arrested for domestic violence could not post bail immediately which is uncommon for most criminal charges. In domestic violence cases, defendants are required to appear before a bond hearing judge prior to their release from custody. There are two reasons for the delay in domestic violence cases. First, the delay allows for a cooling off period. More importantly, the judge has to issue the stay away order thereby causing a defendant to have to wait until the next available bond hearing to see a judge prior to release. The criminal lawyer representing appeared at the jail upon Johnson's release and ferreted him off to an unknown location.

A first time arrest for domestic violence is not normally a catastrophic event for a defendant with a clean arrest record. Of course that depends on the severity of the domestic violence and the charge(s) levied by the state attorneys's office. Typical charges for domestic violence include misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor assault, aggravated assault, felony battery or aggravated battery. Depending on the actions of the defendant and the injuries sustained by an alleged victim will often dictate what charges will be filed by the prosecution. The disposition of the case will be determined by the level of the offense charged, the victim's injuries and most importantly the victim's position as to how the case is to be resolved.

First time offenders of the domestic violence laws represented by a qualified criminal attorney can usually receive the benefit of a pre-trial diversion or pre-trial intervention program. If a defendant enters and successfully completes the program, the prosecution will nolle pros or dismiss the charges at a future date. Johnson will most likely not be eligible for the program as he has a previous domestic violence arrest back in his junior college days. He was placed on probation and ordered to take anger management classes. As long as the victim cooperates in the case, Johnson will most likely be looking at probation with more classes. Defendants who are eligible for the program are required to complete the a domestic violence program consisting of 26 to 28 classes which generally takes 6 to 12 months to complete. Of course defendants do not have to accept the program of probation and can opt to go to trial. Defendant who prefer this course of action mst retain counsel that is experienced in a criminal trial setting.

Ex-Dolphin Chad Johnson Posts Bail on Domestic Charge, Miami Herald.com, August 12, 2012.

August 6, 2012

IRS Losing Money to Identity Theft

With mortgage fraud and Medicare fraud reportedly under control, the federal government once again has its hands full. The new fraud on the street involves identity theft and refund checks being stolen from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to reports, the IRS has already lost an estimated $5 billion to individuals committing identity theft with expectations that another $21 billion may be lost over the next 5 years. While losses in no way compare to losses accrued through mortgage and Medicare fraud, the federal government is concerned. As the IRS begins to uncover the frauds that have occurred, the number of indictments involving stolen tax returns and identity theft will escalate. Criminal defense lawyers in Miami will be representing more and more clients involved with these offenses as the federal government figures out how to detect them.

The IRS is having difficulty detecting fraudulent tax refunds. According to the IRS, they discovered approximately 940,000 fraudulent returns last year preventing losses exceeding $6.5 billion. However, the IRS also reported that there could be as many as another 1.5 million fraudulent returns that went undetected. The IRS explained that the reason the fraudulent returns went undetected is because individuals are filing refunds on the behalf of deceased individuals, children and others who would not file a tax return. The IRS have specific examples of tax fraud and identity theft that they have found particularly disconcerting. For example, the IRS found that one address in Michigan was used to file 2,137 returns which in turn yielded $3.3 million in refunded money. As ususal, Florida made the list. Three addresses in Florida filed in excess of 500 returns which caused the IRS to return $1 million to each locaion.

The IRS claimed that they have difficulty in verifying returns because they attempt to process and return funds as quickly as possible. Individuals can file returns before employers and financial institutions have to submit withholding and income documents by the end of March. In sum, the IRS is offering refunds before they can verify whether the returns are being filed truthfully. The IRS made a point of saying that at present they are able to detect the majority of the identity theft tax fraud, but they are concerned of the exponential growth of the problem. The agency is actively pursuing those who commit fraud with increased assets and man-hours. The IRS along with inspector general has asked Congress to give them access to other resources that will help them more effectively fight the fraud.

In an effort to fight identity theft and tax fraud, the IRS has already begun to implement new measures. They have implemented screening filters which will not allow for refunds to be returned until a person's identity can be verified by the agency. According to the IRS, the new system has prevented $1.5 million in fraudulent returns. Another safeguard is a program that identifies social security numbers of deceased individuals. Senator Bill Nelson has approved a bill that will provide increased protections for social security numbers. Persons previously affected by identity theft will be given a special identification number to deter repeat offenses. Another billed passed by the House of Representatives is seeking to enhance the criminal penalties for identity theft and tax fraud.

IRS May Have Lost Billions to Identity Theft, Huffington Post.com, August 2, 2012.

August 1, 2012

Family Members Arrested for Marijuana Trafficking

Numerous members of the same family have been arrested and charged in federal court for trafficking in marijuana. A father and four sons have been indicted for owning and operating 20 hydroponic grow houses in the Miami area since 2004. Although all of the defendants were indicted, one of the sons remains at large and is listed as a fugitive. All of the defendants who are in custody were ordered into pre-trial detention by the magistrate presiding over the case. The defendants are either being represented by a privately retained criminal lawyers in Miami, Florida or defense attorneys appointed by the court. According to court documents, the grow houses reaped in millions of dollars of profits during their operation.

According to the prosecutor handling the case, the defendants harvested the hydroponic marijuana, then transported it to New York where is was sold for approximately $9,000 a pound. The investigation was upgraded to more than a routine narcotics case when information came to light that a couple of homicides were linked to the marijuana trafficking case. The main homicide case was related to a drug rip-off that occurred in 2009. Several armed men arrived at one of the grow houses claiming to be police officers. During the armed home invasion robbery, the gunmen charged into the home and stole approximately 40 pounds of the marijuana. The home owners reviewed surveillance tapes from the home security system and were able to recognize one of the home invaders.

One of the four sons allegedly hatched a conspiracy to kidnap and kill the identified home invader. The identified man was driving his white van in the vicinity of Southwest 127th Avenue and 187th Street when he was carjacked. He was forced to the rear of the van shot several times and dumped on the side of the road. The van was then stripped and burned leaving no evidence behind to assist in solving the crime. Detectives are also investigating a murder in West Kendall that is linked to the marijuana trafficking operation. That victim is believed to been suspected of stealing pot plants from one of the grow houses. Another the reason the case became so high-profile is because a Miami-Dade police officer was accused of being involved in the drug trafficking ring. That officer has been suspended with pay since 2009 pending the completion of the investigation.

Narcotics detectives claim to have come very close in the past to catching the defendants red-handed , but came up empty. By not catching the defendants actually operating the marijuana grow houses, they are relying on informants and cooperating witnesses to prove the case. While the facts alleged by the prosecution seem to imply that they have a strong case, there is no direct physical evidence that will link the father and his sons to the trafficking case or the murder for that matter. The prosecution is rather relying on circumstantial evidence provided in the form of testimony from paid informants and defendants seeking sentencing reductions based on their cooperation in the case. The defense attorneys representing the family members will undoubtedly rely very heavily on cross-examination techniques to seek acquittals on behalf of their clients.

Murder Undid Family's Hydroponic Marijuana Operation, Authorities Say, Channel 6 News Online.com, August 1, 2012.