Richard A. Merlino
Criminal Defense Law

Office (954) 467-8989

Mobile (954) 258-6152

About Us

About Richard A. Merlino

Proactive and aggressive.  Mr. Merlino is a former State Prosecutor with over 25 years of experience.  He served between 1993 – 1997 in the Broward County State Attorney’s Office where he worked initially as a Supervisor in the County Court Division and later as a Felony Trial Unit Prosecutor. Richard has tried over 200 jury trials as a Prosecutor and Defense Attorney, ranging from DUI to Murder. After leaving the State Attorney’s Office, Richard handled a variety of Federal Appeals as a partner with Lieberman, Gutierrez & Merlino, P.A. in Miami, Florida. Richard then joined forces with Jeffrey M. Voluck, a career criminal defense attorney who hails from the Philadelphia area, to form Voluck & Merlino, P.L., a firm focused on criminal trial and appellate work in State and Federal Courts with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Philadelphia.  Richard has been selected to be a Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Attorney; representing law enforcement in Police Involved shootings and with regard to charges of malfeasance. Richard is also Florida Death Penalty qualified.


All Federal and State Courts  *  Probation/Parole Violations/ Warrants & Bond  * Major Felonies  *  White Collar Crimes  *  Money Laundering  *  Firearm Charges  *  Drug Offenses  *  Sex Crimes  *  Homicides/Death Penalty Qualified  *  Grand Jury Matters  *  Asset Forfeitures  *  Trafficking  *  Appeals  *  RICO * Seal/ Expunge Records * Reinstate Civil Rights/ Clemency


Member of the Florida Bar  *  Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Attorney  *  United States District Court Northern District of Florida  *  United States District Court Middle District of Florida  *  United States District Court Southern District of Florida  *  United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit  *  United States Supreme Court  *  Former Chairman of Florida Bar Grievance Committee, 11th Circuit  *  Broward County Bar Association  *  Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers  *  National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers  *  United States District of Colorado  *  United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Richard was appointed by a joint committee of Federal judges, Federal Public Defenders, and private attorneys to the Federal Criminal Justice Act Panel for the Southern District of Florida. A handful of attorneys are selected to the CJA Panel regionally and are carefully screened in order to ensure that the attorney possesses the professionalism and experience necessary to handle complex Federal matters. The CJA Panelists are called upon and appointed by Federal Judges to handle any/all Federal criminal cases where a conflict exists with the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

About Us


NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Juris Doctor (January 1993) 

Florida Bar (May 1993) 

Activities and Honors:  Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity Intramural and Interscholastic Trial Competitions’ Coordinator Association of Trial Lawyers of America 

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY,  Miami, Florida, Bachelor of Arts, English Literature (May 1990) with Honors,  Minor, Business Administration   

Activities and Honors: National Dean’s List and English Literature Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society


Former marine sentenced in bribery case: Iraq War veteran Jose Emmanuel Torres wanted the judge to remember his 15 years of spotless military service to his country. A former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer has admitted that he took a bribe from an immigrant and used his position to try to rip off about $250,000 from people he thought were drug dealers. (click here to read the full story)

 Former Hollywood psychic imprisoned, ordered to repay victims $402,700: Olivia Evans’ attorney, Richard Merlino, asked for leniency, writing that she had not really chosen her way of life but was born into it. 

(click here to read the full story) 

Carmel on the Case: Pill Mill Doctor A South Florida doctor is dealing with the possibility of facing the rest of her life behind bars. She could be charged in connection with the deaths of 10 patients. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case. (click here to read full story) 

Chiropractor who shot at Lighthouse Point police station cuts deal: FORT LAUDERDALE—A chiropractor who calmly walked up to a Lighthouse Point police station and opened fire in Dec. 2009 pleaded no contest to an attempted murder charge Wednesday and was immediately sentenced to three years in prison. (click here to read full story) 

Convicted molester cleared of sex accusation with underage girl: FORT LAUDERDALE— Davie teenager Shawn Strawser could have been given life in prison when he was sentenced for child molestation in 2005. Instead he got 15 months, followed by six years’ probation. (click here to read full story) 

 CORAL SPRINGS in killing of passenger in another car Man, 18, charged (click here to read full story)

 Marijuana Growhouse Operation (click here to read full story) 

Ex-Catholic priest arrested for child porn BY DAVID SMILEY (click here to read full story) 

DRAGGING-DEATH CASE Driver, 24, seeking bail: The attorney for a man awaiting trial in the dragging death of a Fort Lauderdale woman asked a judge to let his client post bond. (click here to read full story) 

Broward jury acquit man accused of biting officer By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel (click here to read full story) 

Underground growhouse found: By Lou Elliot Jones (click here to read full story) 

 Alleged DNA miscalculations by Broward crime lab could reopen slew of cases.

High Flying Car Dealership Manager Sentenced

Police raid more than 20 marijuana sites in Lewiston, Auburn area

Second man charged in Lewiston-Auburn federal marijuana raid


State of Florida vs. L.M. Case #: 11-018248-MM-10-A Charges I. Disobeying Lawful Order/Direction of Law Enforcement Officer; II. Driving Under the Influence. October 15, 2014 International Hedge Fund Operator stopped by police after allegedly driving through crime scene on a roadway by driving through yellow crime scene tape and past illuminated marked units at roadblock was acquitted by a jury on all charges including the DUI. Result: NOT GUILTY VERDICT, ALL COUNTS 

State of Florida v Patrick Powers Case # 85-000645 Charges Count I. Grand Theft 3rd Degree Count II, Forgery, 3rd Degree March 19, 2014. The Florida State Clemency Board, consisting of the Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General, Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, and Commissioner at Agriculture, Adam Putman, voted to grant a four-time convicted felon a FULL PARDON, restoring his civil rights in full, despite the Florida Department of Parole’s report objecting to same. Result: Full Pardon 

State of Florida Vs. Kyle Brooks Case #: 13-005425-CF-10-A Charges: Possession of Ecstasy and Drug Paraphernalia- April 17, 2014 Officers located a felony amount of Marijuana and MDMA in Defendant’s cooler. Upon Defendant’s Motion to Suppress before trial challenging the basis of the search, the Court granted the Motion finding that the officer violated Kyle’s 4th Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures and suppressed all drugs seized by law enforcement. Result: State Dismissed All Charges 

US v. Osvaldo Cuello Case #: 86-511-cr-Ryskamp Charges: A Miami police officer found guilty of racketeering and drug charges. Main Defendant in “Miami RiverCops Case.” Represented in Federal Parole Termination Hearing. Parole was Terminated. Mr. Coello is now a free man. Result: Parole Termination 11/22/2013 

State of Florida v. Gabriel Perez Case No: 11-006451MM10A Broward County Court; Judge John Fry (February 2, 2012) CT 1: DUI VERDICT: NOT GUILTY & CITATIONS DISMISSED BY COURT Major Airline carrier executive arrested for DUI Acquitted by a jury after state’s theory of impairment was successfully challenged, client was facing termination after 33 years with the airline and risked loss of his accrued benefits if he was convicted.   

State of Florida v. Daniel Scala, ET.AL. Case No: F10-020301E Miami-Dade County Circuit Court; Trial Judge Darrin Gayles (March 28, 2011 – April 4, 2011) CT 1: GRAND THEFT, FIRST DEGREE VERDICT:  GUILTY OF LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE:  GRAND THEFT, THIRD DEGREE  (STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS VIOLATION MOTION PENDING) Defendant was charged in a multi-count, multi-defendant mortgage fraud case involving multiple defendants.  Client was alleged to be a straw buyer of a luxury condo unit in a high rise on Miami Beach.  Client was acquitted of Grand Theft, 1st degree, and found guilty of a lesser included offense. 

State of Florida v. Charles V. Kertesz Case No: 2010MM002200AXXX Palm Beach County Court; Trial Judge Barry Cohen (March 5, 2011 – March 6, 2011) CT 1: STALKING VERDICT:  HUNG JURY/MISTRIAL Defendant was charged with stalking a Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office detective’s wife.  The trial resulted in a mistrial-hung jury. 

State of Florida v. Christina Rodriguez, Case No: 09-005482MM-10-A Broward County Circuit Court, Ginger Lerner-Wren CT I:DUI (October 5, 2010) VERDICT: NOT GUILTY Christina is a registered nurse, and due to an arrest for DUI, she may have lost her nursing license if convicted. The Broward Sheriff’s Office DUI Task Force deputy’s testimony and video of the DUI investigation was successfully challenged and Ms. Rodriguez was acquitted. 

United States of America v. Neville Neil Thompson; Case No: 1:10-CR-20080-WMH U.S. Southern District of Florida; Senior Judge William M. Hoeveler (May 24 – 27, 2010) CT I: 21 U.S.C. § 963-Consp. to Import Controlled Substance CT II: 21 U.S.C. § 841-Poss. w/intent to Dist. Controlled Subst. VERDICT: JURY ACQUITTED HIM OF ARMED TRAFFICKING, AND FOUND HIM GUILTY OF LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES.  Mr. Thompson was charged with Armed Trafficking over 50 kilos of Marijuana, together with a 924 (c) (Firearm) count, after a go-fast boat was boarded off the coast of Florida en route from the Bahamas.  Mr. Thompson allegedly was to accept delivery of the drugs and was armed.  He was acquitted of armed trafficking. 

State of Florida v. Hasco Logan, Case No: 2008-011890-CF10A Broward County Circuit Court, Judge I. Holmes (March 30 – April 5, 2010) CT I: CT II: RESIST/ARREST W/VIOLENCE; BATTERY ON POLICE; DISORDERLY CONDUCT VERDICT: NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS A Broward jury acquitted Mr. Logan after he allegedly spit, kicked, and severely bit the cheek of a Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective during a struggle at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.  

State of Florida v. Eugenio Spitalieri, Case No: 2008-CF-001500 Lake County Circuit Court, Judge G. Richard Singletary (November 16 – 20, 2009) CT I: CT II: MURDER VERDICT: GUILTY OF LESSER OFFENSES Mr. Spitalieri was charged with two counts of murder after shooting two individuals in the back after they attempted to steal his money and drugs.  Mr. Spitalieri was found not guilty of both counts of murder, but was found guilty of lesser included offenses. 

State of Florida v. Everett Leon, Case No: 07-020777-CF-10A Broward County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Gates (March 30, 2009 – April 1, 2009) CT I: MURDER VERDICT: NOT GUILTY Mr. Leon was charged with murder after firing a .357 Magnum and striking a front passenger in a vehicle traveling parallel to his vehicle in the head.  Upon asserting self-defense, whereby Mr. Leon was challenged to a fight by four occupants of the other vehicle, chased, and threatened with various deadly weapons, he was acquitted by a jury.  

State of Florida v. Abdelaziz Hamze, Case No: 07-10490-CF-10A Broward County Circuit Court, Judge Andrew Siegel CT I: MURDER  (March 9 – 23, 2009) VERDICT: NOT GUILTY Mr. Hamze was charged with striking an individual while driving a vehicle and dragging her two and a half miles to her death.  The jury acquitted Mr. Hamze of murder, but found him guilty of lesser crimes.  

State of Florida v. Jeffrey Frye, Case No: 2600-CF-00322-A-P Monroe County Circuit Court, Judge Luis Garcia CT I: CT II: CAPITAL SEXUAL BATTERY (January 20 – 27, 2009) VERDICT: NOT GUILTY ALL COUNTS Grandfather charged with rape of a child in his care over a long period of time.  A variety of issues challenging the veracity of the allegations were challenged successfully.  

State of Florida v. Volney Mondelus, Case No: 07-002031-CF-10A Broward County Circuit Court, Judge Jeffrey Levenson CT I: MURDER; CT II: ATT. MURDER (October 22 – 27, 2007) VERDICT: NOT GUILTY ALL COUNTS Mr. Mondelus was identified by two state witnesses as allegedly being the triggerman sitting in the rear of a vehicle during a drive-by shooting.  The credibility of the State’s two material witnesses was challenged and an alibi defense was presented successfully. 

Recent Trials, Continued

State v. Claudia Cruz

Case No: 14-006366MM10A, Broward County Court, Judge Chris Pole, Count I: D.U.I., JURY VERDICT: NOT GUILTY, March 3, 2015.  Client, a Fortune 500 Internet Sales Exec. stopped and arrested for D.U.I. provided breath samples of .123 and .117. Intoxylizer's maintence protocol succesfully challenged, as well as the officer's overall investigation. 

State v. Victoria Acencio

Case No: 15-008273-CF10A, Broward Circuit Court, Judge Haimes, Charges: Possession and Manufacturing of Cannabis (Grow House).  Prior to trial, Judge granted our Motion to Suppress all of the State's evidence due to a finding of an ilegal search and seizure of the premisses. Case dismissed and not appealed by the State, June 28, 2016.

United States v. Jose Aguilar Lopez

Case No: 13-20911-CR-Bloom, Miami Division, Judge Bloom, Charges: Title 46 Possession and Conspiracy to Traffick/ High Seas in Cocaine. Defendant interdicted on high seas off the Pacific Coast of Central America by United States Coast Guard. Sniper shot out vessel's engines. All captured on video. Coast Guard located over 900 kilos on-board. Verdict: Guilty. 

State v. Betram Hadley

Case No.: 13-006631CF10A & 12-016157CF10A, Broward County Circuit Court, Judge McCarthy, Charges: Burglary of Dwelling (both cases), Habitual Offender Qualified. State originally sought 30 years in Florida State prison as a habitual offender for both cases, but the State's DNA evidence placing our client at each scene was challenged and initiated a county-wide inquiry into the handling of DNA evidence by the Broward Sheriff's Office Crime Laboratory. Client was released, time served. Article.

United States v. Jacinto Rodrigo

Case No: 15-DEA-610857, DEA Fofeiture of Aircraft allegedly used in association with cocaine trafficking. Forfeiture mitigated and the aircraft was returned to our client.

State v. Victor Thomas

Case No.: 14-002065MM20A, Broward County Court, Judge Robert Diaz, Count I: Battery. VERDICT: NOT GUILTY, July 26, 2017. Condo Owner accused of assaulting and battering condo maintenance worker in condo common area. Multiple state witnesses succesfully challenged. 

State v. Raydel Cornelio

Case No.: 14-005525CF10A, Broward County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Lynch, Charges: Count I.Crim Use of Personal ID, Count II. Organized Scheme to Defraud, Counts III-V, Grand theft, VI Insurance Fraud, $20K-100K. Client's Motion for Downward Departure from sentencing guidlines granted. Client was spared jail time which called for up to 70 years in prison, and recieved probation. Client was a military veteran who ran a scheme to defraud the Veterans' Administration.

United States v. Pasquale Rubbo


Case No.: 17-CR-00417-RBJ, District of Colorado, Judge B. Jackson, Charges Involving Conspiracy to Commit Mail/ Wire Fraud. Sentencing pending, August 2018. Article.

United States v. Banguera-Colorado, Marceliano

DC Case No.: 15-CR-00238-VMC, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Case No.: 16-17714, Tampa Division, Title 46/ High Seas Cocaine Trafficking case succesfully appealed on issue of District Court refusing to grant client minor role variance as a ship-hand on board cociane smuggling vessel. Appeals Court returned case to District Judge for re-sentencing.

United States v. Santos Gonzalez Cahvec

Case No.: 17-CR-60050-RNS, Miami Division, Judge Robert Scola, Charges: Title 46/High Seas Possession and Conspiracy to Traffick in Cocaine.  Client's vessel interdicted several hundred miles off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, Central America.  US Coast Guard seized over 1000 kilos of cocaine on board.  Client had re-fueling coordinates and Sat phone in his possession.  VERDICT: GUILTY. 


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Philadelphia Office

1500 Market Street
Suite 2727
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Toll Free (844) 377-7424

Fort Lauderdale Office

101 NE 3rd Avenue, Lobby Suite 110, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Office (954) 467-8989 / Cell (954) 258-6152


HELPFUL LINKS Jeffrey Voluck Broward Clerk of the Court Miami-Dade Clerk of the Court Palm Beach Clerk of the Court Southern District of FL Clerk of the Court Florida Bar FBI DEA Homeland Security Florida Department of Law Enforcement Broward Sheriff’s Office Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office Miami Dade Police Florida Highway Patrol Federal Bureau of Prisons Florida Department of Corrections


Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in the Tri-County Area!
My husband had two drug cases, one in Miami and one in West Palm Beach. Mr. Merlino has been a life saver and changer for my husband and our family. Not only did he save my husband from serving Jail time, but he guided him in the right direction to turn his life around. Mr. Merlino has proven to be not only a great attorney, but a caring person outside the courtroom. Mr. Merlino has the confidence and strength that one needs in desperate times inside the courtroom, and out. I would recommend Mr. Merlino to anyone who is in need of a strong defense and some well deserved guidance in living on the right path.

Posted by anonymous  May 8, 2014

One of the few GREAT lawyers that CARE!

I was referred to Mr. Merlino from a good friend. As soon as he got on my case he got to work immediately and started discussing strategy to win my case.  After a few months my case was over and I was a free man. I owe everything to Mr. Merlino and now I can be the family man I wanted to be and show my kids the right way. If you need a GREAT lawyer this is the one to go to! 

Posted by anonymous  July 28, 2012

Really great, caring lawyer

Mr. Merlino was with me since the time I hired him through helping me to early terminate my probation. I really liked that when I called, even though his paralegal Barb is also excellent, I always got to speak directly to my lawyer which made me feel so much better. He is a great guy, its obvious he really cares. Soft on eyes too!

Posted by Jessica  March 28, 2018

Always prepared and well in time......there's no guessing....

We wrote several years back about working with Mr. Merlino but wanted to make another review. As experts in the field of mental health and substance abuse, one of the things that really resonates for us when working with Mr. Merlino is that he is always well prepared and way before the night before the hearing. I understand sometimes things resolve at last minute, but truly frustrating when working with other crim. def. attys and its last minute, running around crazy to handle things. Mr. Merlino does not disappoint, he is always well prepared and with time to spare! True pleasure!

Posted by Advocate  March 28, 2018

Best Attorney- hands down!

Some would say I have a colorful past. Several attorneys I met with prior to Mr. Merlino weren't very optimistic. Mr. Merlino made me feel like I had a fighting chance. He took my case and got me the best possible outcome. I was looking at serious jail time and ended up with probation. I owe Mr. Merlino my life and am forever in his debt. I will never hire any other attorney... only Richard Merlino! He IS THE BEST.

Posted by Larry  May 8, 2014

Truly respectful and a consummate professional to work with--an excellent criminal defense attorney!

Rich Merlino is truly a consummate professional. I have worked in close conjunction with him as an expert witness on numerous cases and he is a gentleman and a scholar. So often I see attorneys ending their representation with the client when they are sentenced and this is never the case with Rich. He often takes the time after long, arduous trials or plea negotiations to go over the disposition of the case and the terms of what the client may now have to do, he truly cares it is so obvious! As for his litigating skills, barred none one of the best I have seen. He has a keen sense of when to negotiate and when to full on litigate, he has very good intrinsic skills, is always prepared days before and a real gem to work with. We have a lot of lawyers in Fort Lauderdale no doubt but if your looking for an excellent criminal defense attorney this is your guy!!!!

Posted by Advocate Counseling October 2, 2013

A Life Saver

I was charged with Manslaugher...stemming from a bar fight.. I am not proud of that time in my life, but I am greatful that I had the best lawyer, Richard Merlino. He fought for me and for my life. I was acquitted of the charges. Saying those words today, still amaze me. He is the best, if you are looking for a top notch attorney, look no further.

Posted by Jose  February 22, 2013

Richard Merlino is the man for the job!

Mr. Merlino is the best of the best! I will never hire another attorney. He saved my life! Posted by anonymous  January 18, 2013

A man you should hire!

Mr. Merlino Represented me on a criminal traffic case that could have violated my 2nd degree probation, facing 20 years. How he managed to get this taken care of without my probation or judge finding out is still a mystery. I put my life in this mans hands and he delivered extremely quickly and went above and beyond. I highly reccommend this man to anyone who has a problem that needs to be taken care of!! Not only that he returns calls promptly and will throuroughly explain everything that is happenning. Posted by Josh  December 27, 2012

One of the few GREAT lawyers that CARE.

I was referred to Mr. Merlino from a good friend. As soon as he got on my case he got to work immediately and started discussing strategy to win my case.  After a few months my case was over and I was a free man. I owe everything to Mr. Merlino and now I can be the family man I wanted to be and show my kids the right way. If you need a GREAT lawyer this is the one to go to!Posted by anonymous  July 28, 2012


We have built out a brand new office space on the ground floor (Suite 110) of the 101 Tower,  across the street from the Fort Lauderdale Federal Courthouse.