Archive for October, 2009

Painter arrested for not having a sign?

October 12, 2009

Maybe that’s why they were arresting him because it is kind of ignorant to be a painter without a sign. So, what have I been preaching? The judges are finally speaking out. 52,560 victimless “crime” arrests, aka, “quality of life” misdemeanors over the last four years in Miami are dismissed by the court. Here is the story:

Miami house painter Alexis Marichal was driving his work truck when police pulled him over, placed him under arrest and sent him to jail for a night.
His crime: not having a business sign on the side of the vehicle.
In court later, the judge dismissed the charge after Marichal proved he had purchased the sign and was a legitimate painter.

“I told [the police officer] that I’m not a delinquent, that I’m a hard-working man,” said Marichal, 34. “I told him, `How many people and kids are being raped and how many women are beaten, and I’m being arrested?’ ”

Some high-ranking judges and county commissioners are asking the same thing.

With criminal-justice resources being squeezed more every day, the county is studying whether to decriminalize 18 minor infractions like the one that netted Marichal. They include selling flowers by the side of the road, drinking beer near a liquor store and being in a park after hours — all seemingly minor misdeeds, yet all on the books as crimes punishable by jail time.

Judges say the county ordinances clog court dockets and jail cells with little benefit, but police argue they are important for preventing more serious crime. A report is due to the County Commission this month.

“We’re being forced to operate almost like a factory,” Miami-Dade Chief County Judge Samuel Slom told a County Commission committee. “We are handling cases that have no business being in a criminal courthouse.”

Since 2005, police in Miami-Dade County have charged 52,560 people with such “quality of life” misdemeanors. All were processed through the county’s overtaxed court system — where the vast majority saw their charges dismissed.

Records from 2005 to early August 2009 show that more than 40,000 cases of commercial vehicle sign violations, drinking within 100 feet of a liquor store and roadside vending were filed. Yet about 93 percent of the charges were dismissed by a judge or dropped by prosecutors, and only about 7 percent resulted in convictions or withholds of adjudication. Amazing.

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Local media defends victimless crime enforcement

October 7, 2009

Mr. Lyons of the Sarasota Herald Tribune basically said you shouldn’t run from Leos. I’ve said that over and over and over. There is no reason that you should run from Leos, but having that said, I have to disagree with Mr. Lyons about a couple of issues. First, he is branding me as a “death penalty for not having a bike light” guy. He’s right. I want to see the police dash cam video and audio, if the guy on the bike was on the sidewalk, the police had no reason to question him or detain him for not having a light. If he was in the road, it’s different. Second, the guy is dead, man. Maybe the taser didn’t cause his death, but he probably would still be alive if he didn’t have this police encounter and shocked by the taser. Mark Lipinski, Attorney at Law, in Bradenton, has made a living over the last 25 years, by suing the Bradenton Police Department. He has had clients brutalized by other agencies but the BPD is at the top of the list with problem after problem. Mr. Lyons, let’s not shrug this case off, so fast. First, let’s see the dash cam video/audio and then let’s hear from the witnesses. This is the kind of stuff that happens when LeAs concentrate on victimless crimes. No victim, no crime. They killed a guy who didn’t hurt a victim or steal property or destroy someones property.

15 years for shoplifting while hungry

October 5, 2009

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — A Bartow homeless man with a long criminal record received a 15-year sentence for stealing a box of cereal and a can of evaporated milk.

Mark Anthony Griffin was sentenced as a “prison release re-offender,” which stiffens penalties for defendants convicted within three years of prison release.

Griffin has more than 50 prior convictions — most on minor charges like trespassing, disorderly intoxication and petit theft.

He rejected a plea deal that would’ve given him 3 years in prison and 2 years of probation.

At the Sept. 25 sentencing, Griffin’s brother said his record came from a long history of alcohol abuse.

While out of jail awaiting trial in the cereal case, Griffin picked up four additional charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Um, Ok, maybe this judge just got tired of seeing this homeless guy over, and over, and over again. So, he sentences him to 15 years in State prison for a multitude of victimless crimes that have been committed over many years.  Maybe this judge figures that he won’t see the guy again in his courtroom  until after the judge retires. But, judge, the State prisons are at capacity. They can’t take any more non-violent offenders. So, maybe all of us in Florida should try something different.