Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Does AVVO really work?

I really do not know if, the biggest lawyer advertising service really works.  Other attorneys and my former clients refer most of my clients to me.  I do not accept all the cases that are referred to me or all that contact my office.  I have to believe that I can work with the client to achieve the client's goals.  If for some reason I do not believe I can work with a client I happily refer them to other lawyers who might be a better fit.  If I was going to hire a lawyer I would ask a friend or relative for a referral, I would not be searching randomly online for something this important.  I guess there is a new philosophy on this as claims their research indicates that 65% of family law clients search for an attorney online.  Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cops Talking to Prosecutors

District Attorneys, State Attorneys, or whatever they are called in your area are the component of the criminal justice system that prosecutes individuals  accused of crimes on behalf of the people. 
In Florida, the State Attorney has the authority to also investigate crimes by summoning witnesses to appear before them, §27.04, Florida Statutes, 2015.  The usual process is the State Attorney issues a subpoena to a witness requiring them to appear before the State Attorney to be interrogated in connection with some type of crime. 
A significant aspect of my law practice is representing police officers in criminal and civil matters.  I regularly receive calls from police officers that have been asked to appear before a State Attorney.   These  appearances usually come about when the State Attorney is assisting an internal affairs investigator.  My clients are either witnesses to alleged police misconduct or are in someway involved in the misconduct.  This certainly makes for a sticky situation .  Either my client is suspected of doing something wrong or is going to be asked by the State Attorney to testify against a fellow officer.  Although the State Attorney also compels civilians to appear before them, my comments here apply specifically to police officers. 
The State Attorney regularly issues subpoenas to appear for pre-trial conferences, interviews and trials.  If you receive a proper subpoena to appear before a State Attorney you must appear.  Of course you will appear with your attorney at your side if the appearance is related to your conduct or a fellow officer’s conduct.  The good news is when appear and provide testimony you will be given immunity.  Any conduct you admit to cannot be used to prosecute you for a crime.  The only exception is perjury.  If you lie to the State Attorney you can be prosecuted for perjury.  The State Attorney can only prosecute you for the crime being investigated if they develop evidence independent of your testimony.  So if you appear  before the State Attorney pursuant to a subpoena and admit to a crime you cannot be prosecuted for that crime, subject to the aforementioned. 
Another instrument the State Attorney has used in South Florida to get around granting immunity is the so-called “request.”  A request to appear is not a subpoena and therefore does not provide you with immunity.  The State Attorney has sent these requests to officers via subpoena issuance systems as well as by mail.  The request states that your appearance and testimony are voluntary.  If you appear voluntarily and admit to a crime you can be prosecuted for that crime.  Your internal affairs can also use these statements against you.  In other words, this type of request is an invitation for you to come down and hang yourself.  Think of the request as a length of rope. When you appear voluntarily you put the rope around your neck.  When you open your mouth voluntarily you are jumping off the platform.   

So what do you do if you get one of these requests to appear before  the State Attorney?  Call your union representative or attorney immediately.  Do not call the State Attorney and certainly do not appear voluntarily.  Allow your attorney to work with the State Attorney to resolve the issue in your best interests. 

Patrick J. McGeehan, Esq. is a criminal defense and family law attorney in Miami, Florida. He has over 20 years of law enforcement experience in the South Florida region. Mr. McGeehan was a police instructor in several areas as well as a court certified expert witness in D.U.I., speed measurement, accident reconstruction and other law enforcement fields. Mr. McGeehan has been featured on numerous national news networks, radio and print media regarding his legal work. He can be reached at the Law Offices of Patrick J. McGeehan, P.A., One Biscayne Tower, 2 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 3760, Miami, Florida 33131, 305-577-4933,;