48391881 - rolled newspaper with the headline changes in legislationSeveral New Florida Laws Take Effect in 2016. Here’s How Some Could Impact You,

Our State Government passed 279 bills so far this year. Many already took effect. Others are waiting in the wings to shortly impact Florida residents and businesses.

When it comes to our State Government, just remember “What happens in Tallahassee doesn’t stay in Tallahassee.”

That’s why Duval, Clay, St. Johns County and surrounding community residents need to be vigilant and knowledgeable about legislative actions.

As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, I make it a practice to keep up with new laws. I’m always knowledgeable about laws that impact my client’s rights and their cases.

Roundup of New Laws That Got My Attention

SB 228 – Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer, bill SB 228 definitely caught my interest. This bill removes aggravated assault from a list of offenses used to sentence people to mandatory 10-20-life penalties.

Now a Judge may consider mitigating circumstances and many other factors to sentence someone below what use to be a minimum mandatory prison sentence. This allows Judges to use his or her discretion on a case by case basis instead of the one size fits all approach for minimum mandatory prison sentences.

SB 636 – Evidence Collected in Sexual Offense Investigations

This bill tackles the enormous backlog of untested rape kits. Now, Law Enforcement Agencies must submit rape kits within 30 days of the start of their investigations for testing. Kits must be tested within 120 days.

Faster results from the tests will help to quickly identify and confirm a sexual assault suspect plus exonerate the innocent.

HB 703 – Vessels

Now, boaters have stronger rights against unreasonable safety equipment stops. The law also redefines the definition of careless operation of vessels. Basically, the law allows boat operators to determine what’s safe for their passengers, such as bow-riding.

Keep in mind, that Florida Fish and Wildlife officers can still make a stop if they feel passengers are endangered due to speeding or overloading.

HB 633 – Public Food Service Establishments

Now, there are improved rights for churches, schools and nonprofits who want to hold a food festival, contest or cook-off. This is a huge win for Northeast Florida given the increasing amount of food events I’ve seen in the area.

As long as the event doesn’t last more than three days, organizations won’t have to pay a licensing fee or be subject to inspections from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

There’s plenty more we could talk about. With nearly 300 new laws, we’d be here all day and I need to move on to helping my clients win their cases.

If you’re inclined and have some time on your hands, you can visit the 2016 Bill Summaries webpage, https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2016/, and read about all the bills passed by your Representatives.

If you want to find out if any of the new laws could impact you or a situation you’re facing give me a call, 904-567-3113.

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