Florida Legal Researchers and Analysts, Attorneys

Legal Specialists and Attorneys in Florida

Sarah Ellen Cox is a personal injury lawyer in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information, please click here.


Magdalena Ewa Cuprys is a lawyer in immigration law. For more information, please click here.


Richard Ehrlich is an expert in Estate Planning and Probate Law. For more information, please click here.


Terik Hashmi is an experienced business consultant for the legal industry. A lawyer by training, he advises clients on marketing. For information, please click here.


Richard S. Lehman is a pre-eminent practitioner, writer, analyst, and instructor in the area in the area of tax. For more information, please click here.


Patrick Michael Megaro is a specialist in Criminal Law. For more information, please click here


“The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is available online. Recently, the library has been updated with articles and videos, including an instructional series. “The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is a public service created by criminal defense lawyer Patrick Megaro. Mr. Megaro is a Criminal Defense Attorney with offices in Orlando, Florida. The library contains all of Mr. Megaro’s Criminal Law articles and videos. There is also a “search” feature that allows users to search the videos and articles by keyword. The Library is organized by different sections, Videos, Articles, News and an Archive. See https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/

Book on Online Reputation Management for Lawyers

Business Consultant Terik Hashmi announced the completion of his book on Online Reputation Management for Lawyers. More Info.

Petition filed with U.S. Supreme Court to review life sentence for marijuana offenses

Florida Attorney Patrick Megaro filed a Petition for Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Corvain Cooper, who has been sentenced to life for marijuana-related offenses. More Info

Immigration Attorney prevails against DHS in Asylum Case

Over the objections of DHS, attorney Martha Cuprys prevailed in a disputed asylum case and got relief for her client. More Info.

New series of six videos on the impact of “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017”

Richard Lehman of Lehman Tax Law announced the release of the first of the six videos which will reflect on all the changes that resulted from the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” (also referred to as “Trump Tax Cuts”). Each of the six videos represents an important subject regarding the Internal Revenue Code and they will be relevant to many taxpayers, both foreign and domestic. READ MORE

In case you needed a reminder to carefully plan your Estate ....

Richard Ehrlich, a highly respected Estate Planning specialist in Florida, commented on the recent decision of the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, in a dispute over a gentleman’s estate. READ MORE

More Posts

Law Firm announces Essay Competition in Honor of the late Criminal Defense Attorney Deron Castro

  

Deron Castro, a New York criminal defense attorney par excellence, departed this Earth too soon and too suddenly in late July 2018. He will not be forgotten by his family, his children, his colleagues whose respect he earned, and his many grateful clients whom he served in over 24 years of his law practice. He sought justice for many unjustly accused. He took more than 90 criminal cases to trial, winning the vast majority of them.   

In his honor, Halscott Megaro, P.A. will be hosting its Annual Essay Writing Competition, which is open to all current full-time and part-time enrolled students in an ABA accredited law school. One winner will be selected and will receive a $1000.00 scholarship award from the Deron Castro Memorial Scholarship. READ MORE.

U.S. Court of Appeals schedules oral hearing in case of controversial shooting of Jayvis Benjamin

The law firm of Halscott Megaro announced that an appeal involving the shooting of Jayvis Benjamin will be heard by the Court of Appeals. In January 2013, Lynn Thomas, a police officer in Decatur, Georgia shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old black college student, Jayvis Benjamin. 


Benjamin had allegedly stolen a car and crashed it in a residential front yard. Officer Thomas shot and killed Benjamin after he exited the vehicle through the window because the door would not open. The facts as to what exactly happened when Benjamin exited are in dispute. The police cruiser’s dashboard video of the incident is inconclusive, the shooting took place off-camera.


A civil grand jury recommended officer Lynn Thomas be indicted for Benjamin’s death. In March 2016, however, the District Attorney decided not to charge the police officer, supposedly because its investigation concluded that a struggle had ensued. See news report https://decaturish.com/2016/03/reports-avondale-estates-officer-will-not-be-charged-for-shooting-unarmed-man/


Officer Thomas was subsequently promoted to Police Chief in 2016. See the news report at https://decaturish.com/2016/07/avondale-estates-officials-defend-hiring-police-chief-who-shot-unarmed-man/


With the assistance of attorney Patrick Megaro, Benjamin’s mother filed a lawsuit over the death of her son in May 2016 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (civil rights violations) in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, alleging Excessive Force, Negligent Hiring/Training/Retention of Employment Services, and Wrongful Death against Avondale Estates Police Department (AEPD) Sergeant Lynn Thomas, Officer Thomas Gillis, Chief Gary L. Broden, and The City of Avondale Estates. All of the defendants except for Lynn Thomas were dismissed from the case. Lynn Thomas successfully moved for summary judgment (a decision based on the pleadings and available evidence before an actual trial), resulting in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.


The Court of Appeals determined on August 3 that oral argument is necessary in this case. The issues in the case are essentially as follows: whether there are material facts in dispute that preclude summary judgment, especially where the issue is excessive force, and whether deadly force was justified under the circumstances in which Jayvis Benjamin was not being arrested for a violent offense, was not armed, and did not attack Lynn Thomas.


Patrick Megaro, the attorney for Benjamin’s family, noted that he appreciates the opportunity to explain the disputed issues to the Court. “This case has been controversial and divisive. Facts are in dispute. Hopefully the hearing before the Court will clarify the issues for a just resolution of the matter.”

This incident has been widely reported and commented on in the press. Based on the published articles and opinions, it appears that to this day the facts are still controversial and disputed. The many news articles about the incident include, apart from the two articles referred to above: 


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “DeKalb DA: Cop won’t be charged in controversial shooting,” https://www.myajc.com/news/crime--law/dekalb-cop-won-charged-controversial-shooting/Rf5YuWCDyIY321rHX2m8GN/


New York Daily News: “King: A Georgia cop gunned down unarmed black student Jayvis Benjamin nearly three years ago — so why no grand jury hearing?,” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-georgia-won-indict-fatally-shot-black-man-article-1.2466691


The appeals case is MONTYE BENJAMIN, and on her own behalf as administratrix for the estate of her Son Jayvis Ledell Benjamin v. LYNN THOMAS, Court of Appeals Docket #: 18-10204 (United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit).


About Attorney Patrick Megaro


Patrick Michael Megaro is a partner at Halscott Megaro PA. His primary areas of practice are criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, civil appeals, and civil rights litigation.

Tax Lawyer reminds U.S. taxpayers with undeclared foreign assets of upcoming IRS Deadline

Tax Attorney Richard Sam Lehman is reminding taxpayers that the IRS “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program” (OVDP) is ending September 28, 2018


Many American citizens and residents have placed funds in foreign bank accounts all over the world. Some may be unaware that such bank accounts must be declared to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Other may intentionally hide such accounts from the IRS. There is a legal requirement that all of these foreign bank accounts be reported to the United States on an annual basis, and that United States income taxes be paid on all of these bank deposit funds.


Until now, taxpayers with such foreign bank accounts had an opportunity to report such accounts and come into compliance with reduced penalties under the IRS “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program” (OVDP). OVDP is a voluntary disclosure program for taxpayers who have hidden foreign bank accounts, and wish to avoid potential criminal liability and/or substantial civil penalties. It begins by providing IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) with the taxpayer’s name, address, taxpayer identification number and date of birth. IRS then issues a “pre-clearance letter” and taxpayers proceed with a more complete disclosure in the form of a summary letter with exhibits (“Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Letter”). But soon this program will end. After September 28, 2018, taxpayers will no longer be able to receive IRS clearance in advance (CI) to avoid severe penalties. It is thus extremely important for taxpayers to take advantage of clearing their unreported foreign bank deposits and other assets in the waning days of the OVDP.


Richard Lehman, a highly respected Tax Law specialist based in Florida, today reminded U.S. taxpayers of this September 28, 2018 deadline for reporting hidden foreign bank accounts, and recommends that affected taxpayers seek expert tax advice based on their specific circumstances.


Mr. Lehman explains: “The closing of the OVDP does not indicate any change in IRS enforcement priorities. Investigating offshore tax evasion remains a top priority for the IRS. The IRS enforces offshore compliance with information received under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which is the network of intergovernmental agreements among the U.S. and other countries, as well as sources such as the Department of Justice’s Swiss Bank Program. Furthermore, the applies data analytics to make it more difficult to hide bank accounts offshore.”


The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires that foreign financial institutions report the foreign assets held by U.S. taxpayers, or be subject to withholding on withholdable payments. FATCA is an important tool to fight tax evasion through foreign assets, requiring U.S. taxpayers with foreign financial assets outside the United States to report such assets.


Mr. Lehman explains that taxpayers who fail to report under the OVDP by September 28 may be subject to much more severe penalties. “Depending on a taxpayer’s particular facts and circumstances, the following penalties could apply:  A penalty for failing to file the Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as an “FBAR”). Generally, the civil penalty for willfully failing to file an FBAR can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the total balance of the foreign account per violation. Even non-willful violations can still be subject to a $10,000 penalty per violation.”


There are several other penalties that may apply. There is a penalty for failing to file Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts. The penalty for failing to file, or for filing an incomplete return, is the greater of $10,000 or 35 percent of the gross reportable amount (with certain exceptions). Further, there is a penalty for failing to file Form 3520-A, Information Return of a Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner. Taxpayers must report ownership interests in foreign trusts. The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or for filing an incomplete return, is the greater of $10,000 or 5 percent of the gross value of trust assets.


Mr. Lehman concludes that “it is extremely important for taxpayers who have foreign bank deposits and other types of foreign assets to take advantage of the waning days of this program while they still have the opportunity. Otherwise they may face tax evasion charges with prison terms of up to ten years and a fine of up to $500,000. If you control such unreported foreign assets, then now is the time to seek expert tax advice.”


Further information:


Mr. Richard Lehman’s video about The IRS’s FATCA, Streamlined Compliance Procedure and other Amnesty Information is at https://www.lehmantaxlaw.com/fatca-streamlined-compliance/


Mr. Lehman’s video about The IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQnH7Vx0jRM. This presentation was recorded live on October 2, 2014 during the CPA Academy Live Webinar. The objective of this presentation is to advise practitioners and taxpayers of new IRS' rules and regulations governing the report and the taxation of income from foreign bank accounts and foreign assets; and the penalties and relief provisions resulting from the holding of unreported foreign assets and foreign bank accounts by United States taxpayers.

IRS website about the OVDP https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/2012-offshore-voluntary-disclosure-program


The IRS maintains a web page with Q&A about the closure of the program at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/closing-the-2014-offshore-voluntary-disclosure-program-frequently-asked-questions-and-answers


The IRS web page about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/corporations/summary-of-fatca-reporting-for-us-taxpayers

Florida Immigration Attorney Magdalena Cuprys wins Immigration appeal

Immigration Lawyer Magdalena Cuprys of the law firm Cuprys and Associates announced today that the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled in her client’s favor regarding a removal (deportation) proceeding. On appeal, citing Matter of Serna, the Board finds that mere possession of an altered immigration document, without intent to use it unlawfully, is not a “crime of moral turpitude.” The Board therefore reversed the Immigration Judge’s determination that the person should be sent back to Mexico on those grounds. 


Ms. Cuprys had sought a so-called “cancellation of removal” for her client L.R. (originally from Mexico) under Section 240A(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which is a relief that allows a person who does not have legal status to remain here if he or she has been here for 10 years, has not committed serious crimes, and if removing him or her from the country would be a hardship for U.S. citizens or permanent residents such as children or other close relatives.


In the initial proceedings, the Immigration Judge found that L.R.’s possession of a fraudulent I-94 (a document that shows the authorized stay of a foreign person in the U.S.) was a “crime involving moral turpitude.” The Board of Immigration Appeals notes that “crime involving moral turpitude” is a class of offenses involving reprehensible conduct committed with a culpable mental state. 


The Board of Immigration Appeals explains: “In Matter of Serna, … we held that a conviction under 18 U.S.C. 1546 (1982) for possession of an altered immigration document with knowledge that it was altered, but without its use or proof of any intent to use it unlawfully, is not a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude.” Here, L.R. pled guilty to possessing the document, but there is no indication that he intended to use it unlawfully. Thus, the Board reverses the Immigration Judge’s finding that L.R. is removable, and remands for further proceedings.


Ms. Cuprys is a recognized immigration attorney based in Florida but represents clients not only in the United States but from outside of the U.S. as well. One of the firm’s experience that they provide is the representation in removal proceedings cases. With over a decade of experience, the law firm provides clients with the confidence that their cases will be handled by an expert who understands their needs and how to obtain their goals.


Ms. Cuprys stated “we are pleased with today’s ruling for my client. Some of the immigration case we see are very difficult because of the ever changing government policies, therefore the Department of Justice needs to act quickly to issue guidance on these issues. Otherwise, courts will be inundated with motions swamping a court system that is already facing a backlog. However, as promised, my law firm and I are committed to providing our clients with every available resource that is available to us.”


Magdalena Cuprys received her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law. Before law school, she completed two bachelor’s degrees, one in Political Science and one in Latin American Studies, at the University of Chicago. (AB Degrees Political Science & Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago).


Magdalena Cuprys is the principal attorney of Serving Immigrants (Cuprys & Associates), a full-service immigration law firm offering a complete range of immigration services to both businesses and individuals. The law firm is uniquely qualified to manage the most contentious and unusual immigration needs. Ms. Cuprys’ website is www.servingimmigrants.com. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), see http://www.ailalawyer.com/english/AttorneyDetail.aspx?P=19738&A=40169. Her professional LinkedIn profile is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/magdalena-cuprys-265534a/

Seminar on Online Reputation Management (ORM) for Lawyers in Washington, DC a success

Online Reputation Management has become a crucial issue for sole attorney practitioners and small law firms.


Business Consultant Terik Hashmi taught a one-day seminar in Washington DC on July 8 at a convention hotel, specifically for lawyers on how to manage their Online Reputation.


Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become a major issue, especially for sole practitioners and small law firms. With today’s internet, it has become very easy for anybody, not just actual clients, to post negative information about lawyers. In fact, the overall impression is that most comments and reviews are at least in part negative. Combined with economic pressures, this has created an issue of utmost importance to legal practitioners.


“Online Reputation Management is an issue that attorneys cannot disregard,” explains Mr. Hashmi. “I have been in the profession long enough to have seen what has happened since the early 1990s. The problems for the profession result in large part from law schools cranking out too many lawyers, and the internet developing and creating free or low-cost alternatives to lawyer services such as free websites with all kinds of legal information.”


The about 30 participants had many questions and concerns, including:


-“What to do about negative comments on review sites such as Yelp.” Mr. Hashmi in general recommends not to voluntarily engage with such sites because there are always the so-called “vandals” who post negative information just for the sake of posting negative information (cyber vandalism). Previously, vandals spray-painted subway trains. Today they post negative comments on the internet.


-“I do not have time to keep up with the internet.” Mr. Hashmi responded that this attitude carries great risks as life on the internet goes on regardless. One may not even notice what information is being posted on the internet, and only wonder why income is going down. In many cases, the answer can be found by googling one’s name.


-“What to do if an attorney as been sanctioned by the bar or a court (reprimand/suspension).” Today, in the age of the internet, the attorney disciplinary system has become a serious problem especially for sole practitioners and small firms, as disciplinary sanctions such as reprimands or suspensions are published widely on the internet and never go away. Consumers “research” on the internet, meaning they run a Google search. Hundreds of attorneys are sanctioned every month by the disciplinary systems, and many bar associations publish these sanctions on their websites and in press releases. The result is that they appear at the very top of any Google search. This situation is aggravated by the fact that most attorneys are focused on running their law practice and have no positive information published to counterbalance the negative posts.


Mr. Hashmi has researched these issues for many months, and has interviewed many experts in online reputation management, reputation management companies, and practicing attorneys. He is preparing a book based on his research, which will be published in the coming weeks.


About


Terik Hashmi is a business consultant serving businesses in the marketing realm. Among his clients is an Online Reputation Management company. He previously published a book on successfully applying for jobs (published by TIA publishers, Germany, available on www.amazon.com). He holds two bachelor degrees in Political Science and in Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs (Miami University, Ohio), a Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (Cleveland, Ohio), and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from McGeorge School of Law (Sacramento, California). He has assisted notable businesses and people, including former President of Venezuela, Carlos Andres Perez, to prevent his forced removal from the U.S. and potential execution at the hands of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Terik Hashmi is a former Professional Basketball Player during the 1988-1989 season (European A League – “Club Centz” Luxembourg), where he had the opportunity to compete and travel throughout all European nations.


Additional news about Terik Hashmi can be found at:  

https://attorneygazette.com/terik-hashmi%2C-consultant#63a6f99b-e82f-47bb-bfc9-8349f91933f4

Attorney Patrick Megaro prevails on Appeal in traffic stop case

Orlando, FL (August 2018) Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Megaro prevailed on appeal in a case where a police officer stopped the vehicle of Mr. E.L. without justification. The Law Firm of Halscott Megaro PA announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit largely agreed with the arguments of Mr. Megaro, that the police officer had no good reason (“probable cause”) to stop E.L. The opinion of the three judges of the Court was unanimous (“per curiam”). READ MORE.

News

The Orange County Register publishes analytical Expose about Corvain Cooper.

The Orange County Register publishes analytical Expose Corvain Cooper

Orange County, California (September 2018) – On September 10, 2018, The Orange County Register published a detailed analysis of the case of Corvain Cooper, whose only hope to ever get released from prison is a clemency grant by President Trump or a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. While such dire prospects would indicate that the most violent crimes are involved, Cooper’s offenses are non-violent marijuana offenses. But he had two prior offenses, which resulted in the application of the “three strikes law.”


The Orange County Register article was researched and written by journalist Brooke Edwards Staggs, who is a general assignment reporter with a focus on covering the politics, business, health and culture of cannabis. For this article, Staggs interviewed the mother of Corvain Cooper, other family members, and Cooper’s attorney, Orlando-based Criminal Defense Lawyer Patrick Megaro. Patrick Megaro has represented Cooper pro bono since 2014. Megaro has ceaselessly pursued justice for Cooper, but now it is down to two options – President Trump or the U.S. Supreme Court.The article quotes Megaro: “I’m just hoping that somebody, somewhere — whether that’s in the White House or across the street at the Supreme Court — sees that this particular sentence is complete madness.”

The article then summarizes the appeals that Patrick Megaro has initiated on Cooper’s behalf:
“Megaro appealed Cooper’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in 2016 the justices declined to hear it. Still, two decisions made by California voters while Cooper has been in prison serve to give Megaro and Cooper hope. First, in 2014, voters approved Proposition 47, reducing many drug crimes to misdemeanors. Under that new law, Cooper’s conviction for possession of cough syrup with codeine was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor. Then, in November 2016, voters approved Proposition 64. In addition to legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, the measure reduced or eliminated nearly every marijuana-related crime. And in May 2017, Cooper’s felony marijuana charge from 2009 was reduced to a misdemeanor. Earlier this year, Megaro went back to federal appeals court in North Carolina and explained that Cooper’s two prior felonies were no longer strikes. But they refused to reconsider his sentence. In July, Megaro filed a newpetition with the Supreme Court. And, last month, they got one bit of potentially encouraging news, when Solicitor General Noel Francisco requested more time to submit the government’s response to Cooper’s petition. … As they wait to hear back from the Supreme Court, Megaro is also appealing Cooper’s case to the White House — for the second time.”
It all began when Corvain Cooper was charged in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring transactions. A special information was also filed against Cooper, alleging two prior felony convictions for possession of drugs (one for marijuana, one for codeine cough syrup) in the California state courts. The filing triggered a mandatory life sentence without parole. The reason for the unusually harsh sentence is the so-called “Three Strikes” law.  These laws require a person guilty of committing a drug felony and two other previous drug felony convictions to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison.  The “Three Strikes” law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or drug felonies, and limits the ability of these offenders to receive a punishment other than a life sentence.


Background


The underlying court cases are United States v. Cooper, 624 Fed.Appx. 819 (4th Cir. 2015), and United States v. Cooper, 714 Fed.Appx. 259 (4th Cir. 2018). According to a press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “from in or about 2004 through January 2013, Cooper was involved in a drug conspiracy that trafficked marijuana from California to the Charlotte area. Court records show that Cooper was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least one thousand kilograms of marijuana as well as money laundering conspiracy and structuring financial transactions through banking institutions to avoid IRS reporting requirements. Cooper, along with two co-defendants, Evelyn LaChapelle and Natalia Wade, were convicted of all charges on October 18, 2013, following a three-day trial.” He was sentenced to life in prison on June 18, 2014. See https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/pr/california-drug-trafficker-sentenced-life-prison-drug-conspiracy-and-related-charges


The Orange County Register article is available online at https://www.ocregister.com/2018/09/10/this-man-will-spend-life-in-prison-for-a-marijuana-conviction-unless-donald-trump-or-the-supreme-court-helps-him/


A Wikipedia article on Three-Strikes Law is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-strikes_law


An online petition urging the President to grant Corvain Cooper clemency and release him from prison is at https://www.change.org/p/donald-trump-release-corvain-cooper-from-life-imprisonment-without-parole-for-marijuana


About Patrick Megaro


Patrick Michael Megaro is an attorney at Halscott Megaro PA. His primary areas of practice are criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, civil appeals, and civil rights litigation.


Website: https://www.appealslawgroup.com/our-attorneys/patrick-megaro-esq/
The Megaro Criminal Law Library:https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/
Attorney Profile: https://criminal-defense-attorney.squarespace.com/patrick-michael-megaro-esq/
Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-michael-megaro-%E2%AD%90-877b284/
Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/patrick-michael-megaro 

As a public service, Criminal Lawyer Patrick Megaro sets up “The Megaro Criminal Law Library”

Patrick Megaro, a respected Criminal Lawyer based in Orlando, Florida, announced today that “The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is now available online. The library is a public service and contains all of Mr. Megaro’s Criminal law articles and videos. In addition, there is a “search” feature that allows users to search the videos and articles by keyword.


Mr. Megaro explains that he started out with a Blog with his written articles and commentary, but eventually, “with the growth of the content, it became too unwieldy and difficult to search. I thus decided to organize all of the information more efficiently, and use an index service so that users can search the Library by keyword.”

Mr. Megaro is providing all this information as a public service, free of charge. “I have focused on this area of law for more than 20 years, and at this stage in my life and experience, I would like to share with the public, law students, and my peers all the knowledge I have acquired. I sincerely hope that some of my esteemed colleagues in the profession will find the materials useful for their own law practice.”


The Library is organized by different sections, Videos, Articles, News and an Archive. The most recent featured article of Mr. Megaro is about “How to Preserve Error At Trial in Florida: An Appellate Lawyer’s Practice Tips (PART 1).” In that article, Mr. Megaro addresses the problem when an error at trial is not properly preserved for appeal. In legalese, that is something like “This issue before us was not properly preserved for appellate review and is therefore not now cognizable.  Affirmed.”  Mr. Megaro explains that “appellate lawyers cringe when we see these words written, especially in our own case decisions.  This means that no matter how brilliant the trial attorney was, they did not make a specific, timely objection at the trial level, which has effectively waived their client’s right to appeal that issue.” The law requires that any error during trial be properly preserved. Thus, a lawyer must be specific with the objection so as to inform the trial court of the perceived error.”  State v. Garza, 118 So.3d 856 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013). It means that the attorney must spell out WHY he or she objects (be it in a motion, a post-hearing memorandum of law, a written notice of objection, or an argument on the record at the appropriate time why something is legally erroneous). Further, such objection must be SPECIFIC. Finally, the objection must be TIMELY and CONTEMPORANEOUS.  This means that the attorney must immediately object when something is coming into evidence – sometimes before and after.


The Megaro Criminal Law Library is available to the public, free of charge, https://TheMegaroCriminalLawLibrary.com


About Patrick Megaro


Patrick Michael Megaro is an attorney at Halscott Megaro PA. His primary areas of practice are criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, civil appeals, and civil rights litigation.

Website: https://www.appealslawgroup.com/our-attorneys/patrick-megaro-esq/

The Megaro Criminal Law Library:https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/

Attorney Profile: https://criminal-defense-attorney.squarespace.com/patrick-michael-megaro-esq/

Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-michael-megaro-%E2%AD%90-877b284/

Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/patrick-michael-megaro

“The Megaro Criminal Law Library,” now updated

“The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is available online. Recently, the library has been updated with articles and videos, including an instructional series.


“The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is a public service created by criminal defense lawyer Patrick Megaro. Mr. Megaro is a Criminal Defense Attorney with offices in Orlando, Florida. The library contains all of Mr. Megaro’s Criminal Law articles and videos. There is also a “search” feature that allows users to search the videos and articles by keyword. The Library is organized by different sections, Videos, Articles, News and an Archive. 

Patrick Megaro is providing all this information as a public service, free of charge. “I have focused on this area of law for more than 20 years, and at this stage in my life and experience, I would like to share with the public, law students, and my peers all the knowledge I have acquired. I sincerely hope that some of my esteemed colleagues in the profession will find the materials useful for their own law practice.” Mr. Megaro explains the idea of the Library. He started out with a Blog with his written articles and commentary, but eventually it became too unwieldy and difficult to search. He therefore decided to organize all of the information more efficiently, and use an index service so that users can search the information by keyword.

The newest addition to the Library is Mr. Megaro’s “instructional series.” In his first article in his instructional series, veteran criminal defense attorney Patrick Michael Megaro comments on Martin v. State, an appellate decision from the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, dealing with recent changes to Florida’s self-defense laws. Florida legislature’s amendment to section 776.032 marks an important shift in self-defense laws in the state of Florida. As the Martin court explained “[t]he Florida Legislature's amendment to section 776.032 added the following provision: (4) In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection (1).” The Martin court went on to explain that “as it now stands, the State bears the burden of disproving, by clear and convincing evidence, a facially sufficient claim of self-defense immunity in a criminal prosecution.”

This is obviously a very important change in criminal cases involving self-defense claims. Before the amendment, criminal defendants in Florida who wished to assert self-defense had the burden of proof. It was the defendant that had to convince the jury that their actions were justified due to self-defense. After the amendment, the defendant only has to present a facially sufficient claim of self-defense, a very low bar. The burden of proof now rests on the prosecution to show that there was no justification for self-defense, and the burden is by clear and convincing evidence, one step below beyond reasonable doubt, but still a very significant hurdle.

The Court went on to address whether the amendment applies only to cases going forward or retroactively to all existing criminal cases. “Statutory amendments may take one of three forms: substantive, which are usually applied prospectively, or procedural or remedial, either of which may apply retroactively to pending proceedings”, the Martin court explained. The court discussed that “[i]n the context of criminal cases specifically, ‘substantive law is that which declares what acts are crimes and prescribes the punishment therefor, while procedural law is that which provides or regulates the steps by which one who violates a criminal statute is punished.’” 

Finally, the court noted that “[i]n Florida, statutory changes to the burden of proof—the change at issue here—are invariably deemed procedural in nature for purposes of retroactive application.” Therefore, “[s]ubsection (4) now ascribes to the State what had, under common law precedent, been the defendant's burden of proof. That is not a substantive change. Neither the substantive rights of a successful claim of immunity nor the necessary elements of proof to establish a claim of immunity were altered by the June 9, 2017, amendment.” Thus, the amended standard of proof in self-defense cases applies not only to future cases, but also to existing cases and even those cases under appeal. The case is Martin v. State, Case No. 2D16-4468, (Fla. Dist. Ct. App., 2nd District, May 4, 2018).

The article will be published in full in The Megaro Criminal Law Library at https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/ and on the Blog of Mr. Megaro, https://patrickmegaroblog.blogspot.com/

Changes to Florida’s self-defense laws

In his first article in his instructional series, veteran criminal defense attorney Patrick Michael Megaro comments on Martin v. State, an appellate decision from the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, dealing with recent changes to Florida’s self defense laws.

Florida legislature’s amendment to section 776.032 marks an important shift in self defense laws in the state of Florida. As the Martin court explained “[t]he Florida Legislature's amendment to section 776.032 added the following provision: (4) In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of self defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection (1).” The Martin court went on to explain that “as it now stands, the State bears the burden of disproving, by clear and convincing evidence, a facially sufficient claim of self-defense immunity in a criminal prosecution.”

This is obviously a very important change in criminal cases involving self defense claims. Before the amendment, criminal defendants in Florida who wished to assert self defense had the burden of proof. It was the defendant that had to convince the jury that their actions were justified due to self defense. After the amendment, the defendant only has to present a facially sufficient claim of self defense, a very low bar. The burden of proof now rests on the prosecution to show that there was no justification for self defense, and the burden is by clear and convincing evidence, one step below beyond reasonable doubt, but still a very significant hurdle.

Martin case went on to address whether the amendment applies only to cases going forward or retroactively to all existing criminal cases. “Statutory amendments may take one of three forms: substantive, which are usually applied prospectively, or procedural or remedial, either of which may apply retroactively to pending proceedings”, the Martin court explained. The court discussed that “[i]n the context of criminal cases specifically, ‘substantive law is that which declares what acts are crimes and prescribes the punishment therefor, while procedural law is that which provides or regulates the steps by which one who violates a criminal statute is punished.’” 

Martin court noted that “[i]n Florida, statutory changes to the burden of proof—the change at issue here—are invariably deemed procedural in nature for purposes of retroactive application.” Therefore, “[s]ubsection (4) now ascribes to the State what had, under common law precedent, been the defendant's burden of proof. That is not a substantive change. Neither the substantive rights of a successful claim of immunity nor the necessary elements of proof to establish a claim of immunity were altered by the June 9, 2017, amendment.” Thus, the amended standard of proof in self defense cases applies not only to future cases, but also to existing cases and even those cases under appeal. The case is Martin v. State, Case No. 2D16-4468, (Fla. Dist. Ct. App., 2nd District, May 4, 2018), available at https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5709431534236501779&q=martin+v+state+&hl=en&as_sdt=4,10&as_ylo=2017.

The article will be published in full on the Blog of Mr. Megaro, https://patrickmegaroblog.blogspot.com/

Law Blog of prominent Orlando Criminal Law Defense Attorney

Blog is publishing two guest articles by criminal defense attorney Patrick Megaro


Orlando, FL (August 2018) – Respected Orlando Criminal Defense attorney John Guidry, II has served the community by defending the criminally accused since 1993. Among his numerous awards and accolades are “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” and “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando” (2016). To provide information to the public, Mr. Guidry maintains a Blog with matters of crucial importance in the area of criminal defense, questions such as “Must an Alleged Victim Show Up in Court?” and “Can I Be Convicted If There’s No Evidence?


Mr. Guidry is now publishing a series of two guest blog articles on his Blog. The first of the articles is “How to Preserve Error At Trial in Florida: An Appellate Lawyer’s Practice Tips (PART 1)”, written by fellow Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Megaro. In the first article, just published on the Blog, Mr. Megaro addresses the problem when an error at trial is not properly preserved for appeal. In legalese, that is something like “This issue before us was not properly preserved for appellate review and is therefore not now cognizable.  Affirmed.” Mr. Megaro explains that “appellate lawyers cringe when we see these words written, especially in our own case decisions.  This means that no matter how brilliant the trial attorney was, they did not make a specific, timely objection at the trial level, which has effectively waived their client’s right to appeal that issue.”

The law requires that any error during trial be properly preserved. Thus, a lawyer must be specific with the objection so as to inform the trial court of the perceived error.”  State v. Garza, 118 So.3d 856 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013). It means that the attorney must spell out WHY he or she objects (be it in a motion, a post-hearing memorandum of law, a written notice of objection, or an argument on the record at the appropriate time why something is legally erroneous). Further, such objection must be SPECIFIC. Finally, the objection must be TIMELY and CONTEMPORANEOUS.  This means that the attorney must immediately object when something is coming into evidence – sometimes before and after.

Mr. Megaro then continues with specific advice about common issues that arise during the course of a trial. One of those issues is the suppression of evidence. Explains Patrick Megaro: “If you move to suppress evidence prior to trial, make sure you make another objection at the time the evidence is introduced in order to preserve the objection.  You can make the objection at the time of introduction by incorporating your prior arguments, and by making any new arguments that came up during the trial (such as authenticity, foundation, etc).”

The second part of the blog articles is forthcoming shortly.


About Attorney John P. Guidry, II


The Law Firm of John Guidry is dedicated to defending the rights of the criminally accused.  Mr. Guidry has defended thousands of citizens arrested on a wide variety of crimes.  This aggressive, intelligent criminal defense work started with an Accounting Degree, then a Master's Degree, then a Juris Doctorate, all with Honors, then admission to the Florida Bar (1993). Website: https://www.jgcrimlaw.com/

Mr. Guidry’s legal blog is at https://www.orlandocriminaldefenseattorneyblog.com/


About Attorney Patrick Megaro


Patrick Michael Megaro is an attorney at Halscott Megaro PA. His primary areas of practice are criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, civil appeals, and civil rights litigation.


Website: https://www.appealslawgroup.com/our-attorneys/patrick-megaro-esq/

The Megaro Criminal Law Library: https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/

Attorney Profile: https://criminal-defense-attorney.squarespace.com/patrick-michael-megaro-esq/

Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-michael-megaro-%E2%AD%90-877b284/

Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/patrick-michael-megaro

As a public service, Criminal Lawyer Patrick Megaro sets up “The Megaro Criminal Law Library”

Patrick Megaro, a respected Criminal Lawyer based in Orlando, Florida, announced today that “The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is now available online. The library is a public service and contains all of Mr. Megaro’s Criminal law articles and videos. In addition, there is a “search” feature that allows users to search the videos and articles by keyword.


Mr. Megaro explains that he started out with a Blog with his written articles and commentary, but eventually, “with the growth of the content, it became too unwieldy and difficult to search. I thus decided to organize all of the information more efficiently, and use an index service so that users can search the Library by keyword.”


Mr. Megaro is providing all this information as a public service, free of charge. “I have focused on this area of law for more than 20 years, and at this stage in my life and experience, I would like to share with the public, law students, and my peers all the knowledge I have acquired. I sincerely hope that some of my esteemed colleagues in the profession will find the materials useful for their own law practice.”


The Library is organized by different sections, Videos, Articles, News and an Archive. The most recent featured article of Mr. Megaro is about “How to Preserve Error At Trial in Florida: An Appellate Lawyer’s Practice Tips (PART 1).” In that article, Mr. Megaro addresses the problem when an error at trial is not properly preserved for appeal. In legalese, that is something like “This issue before us was not properly preserved for appellate review and is therefore not now cognizable.  Affirmed.” Mr. Megaro explains that “appellate lawyers cringe when we see these words written, especially in our own case decisions.  This means that no matter how brilliant the trial attorney was, they did not make a specific, timely objection at the trial level, which has effectively waived their client’s right to appeal that issue.” The law requires that any error during trial be properly preserved. Thus, a lawyer must be specific with the objection so as to inform the trial court of the perceived error.”  State v. Garza, 118 So.3d 856 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013). It means that the attorney must spell out WHY he or she objects (be it in a motion, a post-hearing memorandum of law, a written notice of objection, or an argument on the record at the appropriate time why something is legally erroneous). Further, such objection must be SPECIFIC. Finally, the objection must be TIMELY and CONTEMPORANEOUS.  This means that the attorney must immediately object when something is coming into evidence – sometimes before and after.


The Megaro Criminal Law Library is available to the public, free of charge, https://TheMegaroCriminalLawLibrary.com