D.H. (not his real initials) and his friend came to Florida from a small New England town to work. Both were young men in their early 20s. They were simply trying to earn some money in a hard economy.
D.H. and his friend worked at replacing shelving and displays in retail stores. The work involved extensive travel.
D.H. and his friend were staying at a motel between I-95 and the Turnpike. This is a high travel area featuring businesses which cater to traveling cars, buses and trucks. Unbeknownst to D.H., the area was also frequented by members of the criminal element who are seeking easy “marks”.
On 5/31/11, D.H. had his throat and face cut by “Daniel”. D.H.’s friend was also cut when he attempted to help.
Fort Pierce Police immediately responded to the scene. “Daniel” told the police that he had acted in self-defense; and that he believed he was being robbed.
The police never interviewed D.H., because he was hospitalized in intensive care. Nor did the police bother to ask D.H.’s friend what happened.
Attorney Garland immediately conducted a criminal background check of “Daniel”. It turned out that “Daniel” had seven prior felony convictions, including a felony battery which occurred some 300 yards from the incident in this case. “Daniel” had attacked a man with a pair of wire cutters, causing serious head trauma (an attack which was eerily similarly to the incident involving D.H.).
Attorney Garland found out that “Daniel” had been to prison twice before. He had been released from prison on 9/30/10.
“Daniel” had somehow managed to convert a 2-year prison sentence for dealing in stolen property, false information to a pawnbroker, and grand theft into a “close custody” commitment. “Close custody” is usually reserved for violent offenders serving serious time or for those who continuously violate prison rules. This information was readily available from the Florida DOC website.
Upon presentation of this information, the State agreed to a $10,000.00 bond – an extraordinarily low bond, given the nature of the offense (robbery) and the fact that D.H. was from a distant state. It was significant that D.H. had no criminal record and legitimate employment which had brought him to Fort Pierce.
The defense investigation did not stop upon D.H.’s release from jail on bond. The defense continued monitoring “Daniel” and documenting his past criminal activities.
It turned out that “Daniel” was arrested on 6/5/11 for aggravated battery. The police report said that “Daniel” was trying to force the victim “to find a drug dealer because he wanted to rob him”. The victim described “Daniel” as “talking crazy” and thought that “he is capable of committing murder due to drug use clouding his judgment”.
Once the State Attorney’s office received this additional evidence of “Daniel’s” true colors, the case against D.H. was dropped 6/18/11. D.H. is a free man seeking to expunge this unjust arrest from his record.
MORAL: No person wants to feel pigeon-holed by some event in their past. Many people will make a mistake and move on with their lives. Those having a true criminal mentality are not inclined to “learn” from these mistakes. An experienced criminal defense attorney can see the real truth through the habitual criminal’s smokescreen.
In this case, the police were quick to arrest an innocent man for robbery, because it was easy and it closed the case. D.H. was not conscious, due to his injuries, and could not argue for his own innocence. It is often the role of the defense attorney to conduct the full investigation which the police failed to do. The truth, once revealed, will set the prisoner free.