Florida’s white collar criminal defense and criminal appeals attorneys might be interested in a bill that’s currently being considered by the Florida House of Representatives. HB 691, which was taken up by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee as of February 20, 2013, adds some new, and very important language (in bold):
(2)(a) Any person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent, commits the offense of fraudulent use of personal identification information, which is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Unless the person flees or another circumstance makes it impracticable, a law enforcement officer shall, before any arrest for an offense under this subsection, afford the person an opportunity to explain his or her possession or use of personal identification information and how the use or possession is not willful and without authorization. A person may not be convicted of an offense under this subsection if the law enforcement officer did not comply with this procedure, or if it appears at trial that the explanation that the person gave is true and, if believed by the officer at the time, would have indicated that there was no violation.
I don’t know about you, but I find that absolute defense language highlighted above very interesting. A similar version of the bill is currently in the Florida Senate (SB 840). Unfortunately, the Senate version does not contain the highlighted language contained in the House version. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see which version of the amendment, if either, passes.