December 30, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes

Florida’s Legislative session normally takes place early in the year, but when pressing issues come up or when there isn’t enough time to deal with some topics, our legislation holds special sessions later in the year. While this year our legislation passed and amended various laws during regular and special sessions, a few laws aren’t taking effect until the beginning of 2023.

This article will cover the details from the regular and special legislative sessions, two new laws that are taking effect right after New Year’s Eve, and delve a little into murder charges since Miya’s Law came about from her tragic murder.

The Legislative Sessions

Florida’s legislation meets every year for 60 consecutive days for their regular session either (1) after the first Monday in March of odd-numbered years or (2) on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in January in even-numbered years.

Other than regular sessions, Under Florida’s Constitution, Florida’s legislature may be convened by special sessions. This can be called by either Florida’s Governor or by a joint proclamation issued by both the House Speaker and the Senate President. An extension of the regular and a special session requires a 3/5’s vote from each house.

This year, during both regular and special sessions held, the Legislation passed, and Governor DeSantis approved, various laws taking effect at the beginning of the New Year. Some of these laws include:

  • A revamp of the Florida Appellate Courts.
  • Miya’s Law; Strengthening Lodging Standards.
  • Lobbying Restrictions for Former Government Officials.
  • Toll Credits for drivers with 35 or more toll road trips in a month.
  • Disaster Assistance when residential properties are rendered uninhabitable for 30 days.
  • During December’s special session, the legislation approved an end to the controversial practice of assigning benefits for property insurance.
  • Budget allocations of $300 million with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for land preservation.
  • Publication of notices on County Websites.
  • A decrease in Worker’s Compensation Rates.
  • A new training program for school librarians to help them select school library materials.
  • Screening for congenital cytomegalovirus in newborns who fail hearing tests.

Miya’s Law

SB 898 was enacted after Miya Marcano, a 19-year-old Central Florida resident, was found dead in a forested area near her apartment complex. Miya is believed to have been killed by a maintenance worker from Arden Villas who improperly used a master key to enter her apartment.

The maintenance worker was Armando Caballero who was 27 years old at the time. He had a history with law enforcement, was obsessed with Miya, and was found dead when the Orange County Sheriff’s office went to his apartment with an arrest warrant. Caballero had previously been pushy with another woman, going as far as throwing a weight through her window.

The bill looks to protect residents from apartment buildings by requiring employers to run background checks on all their employees by January 1st, 2023, and to keep a log accounting for the issuance and return of keys used in dwelling units. The background check must include both a criminal history and a sexual offender registry check. Apartment landlords must also give tenants at least a 24-hour notice before entering the unit to perform a repair.

The bill also looks to help combat human trafficking by prohibiting lodging establishments, like hotels or motels, from charging hourly rates for their rooms. According to research that the legislation considered, human trafficking for commercial sexual activity normally takes place in lodging establishments. The law provides an exception for late fees and is codified under Florida Statute Section 509.098.

The bill passed both the House and the Senate with zero votes against it and was approved by the Governor to help tenants feel safe in their own homes. It is now codified under Florida Statute Section 83.515.

To read more about Miya Marcano’s Case, you can head over to our blog.

Effects of Miya’s Law

Under the new law, landlords of public lodging establishments or apartment buildings are required to run a background check on each employee as a condition of employment. The screening must be performed by a consumer reporting agency and must include both a screening of the potential employee’s criminal history records and sexual predator and offender’s registry in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This law gives landlords the right to disqualify employees from employment if they have been convicted, found guilty, or entered a guilty or no-contest plea to either (1) criminal offenses involving the disregard for the safety of others, or (2) criminal offenses involving violence, including, but not limited to, murder, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, home-invasion, and stalking.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, if a landlord does not comply with the new law, a tenant may be granted a civil remedy. Depending on the specific facts, this can include a variety of different solutions such as lease termination or withholding of rent. To better understand your rights, contact a civil remedies attorney to assist you with any issues with your landlord.

Revamp of Florida’s Appellate Courts

HB 7027 created a sixth appellate district and modifies existing court boundaries. The Florida Supreme Court made a recommendation to the legislation in 2021 for the creation of another district court of appeals (“DCA”) and the expansion of the judiciary.

This recommendation came after the creation of a DCA Workload and Jurisdiction Assessment Committee. The committee analyzed Florida’s courts and prepared a final report recommending the creation of a new district and the expansion of Florida’s county court judgeships. The Florida Supreme Court certified the committee’s recommendation to further enhance the efficiency and access to appellate review, the professionalism of the judiciary, and the public trust in the court system.

The new appellate district will be based in Lakeland and will realign the current boundaries of the First, the Second, and the Fifth Districts. The new district will be composed of the 9th, 10th, and 12th Circuits. This bill adds seven new appellate judgeships and one additional county court judge.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of preserving a trial’s record for appeal in a criminal case, you can head over to our informative blog here.

To learn more about Criminal Appeals and where Direct Appeals occur in Florida, read our page on Direct-Appeals.  

Murder Charges

Attempted murder charges are taken extremely seriously in the state of Florida. If the State can prove that the accused committed the murder, the defendant may spend the rest of their life in prison or could even face the death penalty in some situations.

Under Florida Statute Section 782.04, Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being. For a First-Degree Premeditated Murder charge, the State needs to prove the following three elements during trial:

  • The alleged victim is dead.
  • The death was caused by a criminal act of the defendant.
  • There was a premeditated killing of the victim.

While there are possible defenses to such violent crimes, including self-defense, defending others, or defense of property, it is important to understand the law to know if the defenses may be applicable in your situation.

To learn more, read about how to NOT get away with murder.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime and believe your constitutional rights might be implicated or that an appeal to a criminal conviction may be necessary, it is important to seek out the help of an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney.

The right legal advice can be the difference between jail and freedom. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have the skill and experience to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.      

Written by Jesus Lozano

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