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State attorney's office drop gun charge against cop

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Posted on March 19, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Prosecutors from the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office officially dropped charges against a female police officer charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. The arrest affidavit alleged that reserve Homestead Police Officer Jenna Maldonado pointed her firearm and verbally threatened her boyfriend at a Super Bowl party. As a result of the incident, Maldonado was terminated from the police department. The Miami criminal lawyer representing the defendant was able to secure a no action for his client. The outcome did not save her job, but prevented her from becoming a felon and possibly spending time behind bars.

The defendant's boyfriend filed a complaint with the Homestead Police Department. The department conducted an investigation and arrested the defendant on February 23, 2010. The arrest affidavit alleged one count of aggravated assault with a firearm. The charge is a third degree felony; however, the charge also carries a three year mandatory prison sentence. Typically, after an arrest is made, a copy of the arrest affidavit is sent to the state attorney's office to undergo the pre-filing process. In ordinary cases, the arrest affidavit is sent to the felony screening division and assigned to one of the prosecutors in the division. On the reverse side of the affidavit is a list of witnesses and addresses. The felony screening attorney uses this information to subpoena the witnesses to the office in order to take their sworn testimony. Once the screening attorney has reviewed the evidence, talked to the police officers and civilians involved, they have four options. First, the prosecutor can file the charges that were listed on the arrest affidavit. Secondly, the prosecutor can increase the charges. Third, the prosecutor can bind down the charges to a misdemeanor in which event the case will be heard in county court. Fourth, the prosecutor can find insufficient evidence and decide to no action or not file the charges.

Not all cases go to the felony screening unit. More severe charges are sent directly to the circuit court division prosecutor who will be handling the case in circuit court. Some cases go to specialized units depending on the charges or the person who was arrested. Serious drug trafficking cases, such as, large scale cocaine trafficking, marijuana trafficking or oxycodone trafficking cases will be sent to the narcotics division for screening. Cases involving public officials, such as police officers, will be screened by the Public Corruption Division. Sometimes defendants are bettered served if their cases go directly to the division or to specialized units. The prosecutors tend to be more experienced and use a discerning eye when evaluating cases.

Experienced Miami criminal defense lawyers sometimes have the ability to secure no actions for their clients depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. Many times there are defenses to charges that the prosecution may not be aware of. The defenses can arise from video surveillance tapes or independent witnesses that can recount the events. If an effective attorney can convince the prosecutor that a client acted in self-defense or was not present at the time of the offense, a no action can be secured. The benefit of a no action is that the criminal process which is sometimes protracted will come to end generally between thirty and forty days. Another benefit is that the no action will allow the client to go through the expungement process and have the case removed from public record.

Gun Charge Dropped Against Fired Homestead Police Officer, South Florida Times.com, March 19, 2010.
Categories: Violent Crimes
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