October 13, 2016
As the only certified specialist in the criminal law, according to the Florida Bar, Attorney Stephen Cobb has represented more military service members and veterans in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties than any other certified criminal law specialist. This includes the defense of the largest mass murder case which went to trial several years ago in Okaloosa County.
Additionally Cobb was the first criminal defense attorney to use brain imaging for sentence mitigation for military service personnel with brain injuries due to deployment and PTSD for charges including felony domestic violence, computer solicitation of sex from minors, other sex offenses, alcohol and drug cases, and even cruelty to animals cases. There are a large number of cases where Attorney Cobb has used SPECT brain imaging in order to give the judge a legal reason to impose a sentence focused on treatment rather than just punishment. He wears many hats as a certified specialist in criminal law.
To become a certified criminal defense attorney, one doesn’t get there without handling serious and complex cases at trial. Over 99% of all lawyers in Florida are not certified because they do not have trial experience. Attorney Cobb can find his way to the courtroom and actual jury trial and he knows exactly what to do when he gets there.
However, Attorney Stephen Cobb finds the most fulfilling part about his career is to help military service personnel with brain imaging based sentence mitigation. There are some cases where the charge is so serious and the defenses are so weak that something else is needed to get this person treatment that works versus a long, tax dollar wasting prison sentence.
SPECT brain imaging can prove all of the rule 3.992(b) grounds under the Brain disorder Specialized Treatment Mitigator established by the Florida legislature. For a long time, the military and the government kept the full extent of brain damage due to deployment a secret. Now, just about everybody knows about it. In Okaloosa County there is even a veteran’s court as well as a few other veterans’ courts across Florida. Unfortunately, virtually no criminal defense lawyers in the state routinely use the SPECT brain imaging to help their military service personnel and veteran clients. It is suspected the reason is because some attorneys want to keep more of the legal fee by avoiding the diagnostic evaluation fee that specialized brain imaging clinics charge.
Others say it’s due to lack of experience. Attorney Stephen Cobb says “after 25 years, it’s without a doubt because criminal defense lawyers lack the skill necessary to perform brain imaging based sentencing departures. They just simply don’t know how to do it.”
As a result, Cobb has handled more criminal defense cases using SPECT brain imaging than any other criminal defense lawyer in the world. In fact, most of the people who have been brain imaged have been military service personnel. There is not one military member who Attorney Cobb has had evaluated whose results showed a normal healthy set of brain images. “These active-duty service personnel and veteran victims are not getting the medical attention they deserve when it comes to their brain health,” Cobb says.
Military service members and veterans get the low budget diagnostic evaluation that may make budget cutting politicians happy but they are not providing the treatment that these service members so desperately need. They deserve more from their country and their legal counsel after they’ve been arrested. Attorney Stephen Cobb prepares every criminal case for every military member on two fronts. Number one, every case is going to trial and number two, every case will settle. This way he is as prepared as possible to produce the best outcome for military clients and for their families.
How Are Military Cases And Military Arrests Different From Civilian Cases Or Arrests?
Each branch, the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, US Army, the Coast Guards have their own specific regulations in addition to the United States Code of Military Justice. For example, one thing that makes a military client’s legal situation different is that they risk court-martial. They also risk separation or discharge from military after the civilian case has concluded. In some cases, people have been involuntarily separated from the military before their case concludes in the civilian court system. Military personnel can also suffer demotion with potential loss of rank and a pay cut on top of that. They risk something that doesn’t sound like it’s that serious known as a written reprimand that could greatly impact their career.
So, active duty military people have to deal with two cases. The civilian criminal arrest triggers an immediate secondary consequence that could result not just in having a criminal record but a consequence that could damage or destroy their career in future. Unfortunately, military service personnel are often misled by the system. Their training is used to manipulate them into bad plea bargains especially if they are first offenders. The most common example of this is the use of misleading diversion programs that make people jump through more hoops than a negotiated dismissal. A lot of defense lawyers with less experience talk about how great diversion programs will be for their clients without even bothering to consider that a negotiated dismissal in the form of a contract could be vastly superior. This is an especially important consideration for military personnel.
This is routinely seen in domestic violence cases. “Diversion” is dangled in front of the service member like a carrot. They are told “you won’t lose your right to have a firearm and you will be able to stay in the military.” However, in reality they are being treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed crap. Here is the difference.
A typical diversion program in Florida will acquire a military service member to jump through a number of hoops over a long period of time – six months to a year. For example, the diversion program will last 6 months to a year while having to jump through a bunch of different hoops. If any one of those hoops is missed, boom: the diversion program is over. You will be re-prosecuted and could be sent to jail. Now compare that to a negotiated dismissal which is much easier on the wallet and happens within days instead of 6 to 12 months of constant counseling, reporting, and several types of fees, costs and service charges. Thousands of dollars are saved and the case will be dismissed with none of the burdensome and financially painful hoops to jump through. That’s a big difference.
For active duty members, you are dealing with the civilian criminal case and your criminal record is at stake. At the same time, you are facing impact from a criminal arrest on your career and future no matter which branch of the United States Armed Forces that you happen to be in; whether you’re stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt or Duke Field in Okaloosa County with the Air Force or maybe the Army’s 7th Group Special Operation at Hulbert in Marines, the Navy or the Coast Guard.
For more information on Military Cases In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.