FAQ

Questions to ask your potential lawyer

Questions To Ask Your Potential Lawyer

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Deciding on a lawyer can be an extremely difficult and oftentimes daunting task. How do you know what to ask, and who will best fit your legal needs? Before you decide on a lawyer to handle your case, you want to have a list of questions to discuss during your free or low-cost consultation.

Below are nine questions to ask your potential attorney before making your choice.

1. What is your education, work experience and practice areas?

2. How long have you practiced law in the State of Florida?

3. Have you won any awards or other industry recognition?

4. Have you ever been sanctioned for, or accused of, attorney misconduct?5. Can you provide me with reviews and references from former clients and other attorneys familiar with your work?

6. What is your plan for my case?7. How long do you estimate this case will take?

8. What is my role and responsibilities?

9. What are the fees and expenses?

Call (407) 476-4111 for a free consultation to determine if you are a good fit for our firm.

How to Handle Your No Contact Order and Your Domestic Violence Charge

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 When there is a no contact order placed against you, it is an extremely difficult time. Here are some frequently asked questions and helpful answers for you. If you are ever unsure about anything, contact your attorney and ask for his/her advice.

There is a no contact order in place against me, what does that mean?

A “no contact order” means you are prohibited from having any contact with the alleged victim, directly, indirectly. You cannot see or visit the alleged victim, you cannot call, you cannot write or e-mail the alleged victim. You cannot drive by their residence. Contact through a third party can also be a violation of the court’s order. Even if you attend the same church, temple, mosque, school, or other function that the alleged victim is attending, you should not go to that event. No contact means no contact.

What happens if I violate the order?

You will be arrested and have a higher bond set, or possibly have no bond. You may also have additional charges brought against you for violation of a domestic Violence order or injunction.

How will anybody know if I violate the order?

There are many ways the court can determine if you have violated a no contact order. Eyewitness testimony, phone records, social media and voice mail can provide evidence that you have violated an order. Letters and e-mails can also be shown as evidence. The burden of proof can be considered relatively low.

What if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges?

The State of Florida makes a decision to proceed with the charges or not. The alleged victim can contact the State Attorney’s or an attorney to file a Declination of Prosecution, which is the first step in resolving the case in your favor. The order will still be in place and will not be removed until the case is over or the court modifies it. Any modification of this condition requires a motion before the court and must be filed by your attorney.

Will I violate the no contact order if the alleged victim invites or initiates contact?

Yes. If the order states that there is to be no contact and you communicate back with the alleged victim, you will be in violation of that order.

Will I violate the order if we continue to live together?

Yes. If the order states that you must maintain separate residences or must not have contact with the alleged victim, then you are in violation of the order if you continue to live together.  Even if the alleged victim invites you to come home, you will violate the order. Only the judge can change or dismiss an order.

What if I own the house where we both live? Do I have to move out of my own house?

Not necessarily. If you own the house or lease (meaning that your name is the only name on the deed or lease), you will need to ask your attorney to have the conditions of your release modified so you may safely and legally get the alleged victim out of your home or pick up your belongings. Make sure you ask your attorney or the judge for this special condition, but if you do not own the house or lease, you must not ask to have the alleged victim removed.

Is there a violation of the order if I am required to vacate the residence, but I move in with the alleged victim at another address?

Yes. You must not move in with him or her at another address.

What if the alleged victim continues to come and see me at my place of business or new home?

Politely refuse to see or speak with the alleged victim and immediately contact your attorney. Go to a separate room or part of the building and shut the door. Have a co-worker or friend politely tell the alleged victim that there is an order in place, that you can have no contact with the alleged victim, and to please leave the premises. You can also file a petition to have an injunction against the alleged victim. You can call the Domestic Relations Division of the Orange County Clerk’s Office at (407) 836-2054 to get more information on filing an injunction.

What if I want to see my children and the alleged victim is the one living with them?

You must go through the court system to get visitation of your children when there is a no contact order in place.

How can we get the order removed?

Once the case is resolved, all conditions of your release are no longer enforceable. You may request your attorney to file a motion with the court to modify the no contact order.

What if the court has ordered no-hostile contact?

No-hostile contact means you can see or visit the alleged victim, you can call, you can write or e-mail the alleged victim. You may also share the same residence. You cannot have any contact with the alleged victim that rises to the level of violence or hostile behavior. The alleged victim will largely get to decide what is and is not hostile contact.

Definitions of Commonly Used Terms in Criminal Law

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Acquittal – A release, absolution, or discharge of an obligation or liability. Commonly in criminal law, this can happen when a jury finds a defendant not guilty of a criminal charge.
Adjudication – Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree; the judgment given. This term is common used when a judge finds and adjudicates a defendant “Guilty.”
Adjudication Withheld – A court decision at any point after filing charges to continue court jurisdiction but stop short of conviction. The court will not reopen unless the person violates a condition of behavior.
Affidavit – A written declaration of facts, confirmed by oath of the party making it before a person with authority to administer the oath.
Affirmed – In the practice of appellate courts, the word means that the decision of the trial court is upheld.
Appeal – A proceeding brought to a higher court to review a lower court decision.
Arraignment – The hearing at which the accused is brought before the court to plead to the criminal charge in the indictment, affidavit, or citation. He/She may plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or where permitted “nolo contendere.” (See Preliminary Hearing.)
Bond – A written agreement by which a person insures he/she will pay a certain sum of money if he does not perform certain duties properly. (See Cash Bond and Surety Bond.)
Capital crime – A crime punishable by death.
Cash Bond – A written agreement in which a defendant, or another person on the defendant’s behalf, ensures he/she will perform duties as outlined by the Court while awaiting trial by depositing bail money (cash) with an authorized official equal to the bail bond set by the Court.
Citation – A writ or order issued by a court or law enforcement agency commanding the person named therein to appear at the time and place named; the written reference to legal authorities, precedents, reported cases, etc., in briefs or other legal documents.
Concurrent sentences – Sentences for more than one crime that are to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other.
Consecutive sentences – Successive sentences, one beginning at the expiration of another, imposed against a person convicted of two or more violations.
Conviction – A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.
Court Appointed Counsel – Government lawyer who provides legal defense services to a person accused of a crime who cannot afford a private attorney. The defendant must be declared indigent and is responsible for paying an application fee and any reduced legal fees assessed by the Court. See also Public Defender.
Defendant – The person charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution.
Extradition – The surrender of an accused criminal by one state to the jurisdiction of another.
Felony – A serious criminal offense. Under Florida law, it is any offense punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year or death.
Grand Jury – A jury of inquiry whose duty it is to receive complaints and accusations in criminal matters and if appropriate issue a formal indictment.
Hearing Officer – (also known as a Magistrate) Judicial officer exercising some of the functions
of a judge.
Judgment – The official and authentic decision of a court of justice upon the rights and claims of parties to an action or suit submitted to the court for determination.
Jurisdiction – The power or authority of a court to hear and try a case; the geographic area in which a court has power or the types of cases it has power to hear.
Jury – A certain number of citizens selected according to law and sworn to try a question of fact or indict a person for a public offense.
Lien – An official claim against property for payment of a debt or an amount owed for services rendered.
Magistrate – (also known as a hearing officer) Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge.
Misdemeanor – A criminal offense lesser than a felony and generally punishable by fine or by imprisonment other than in a penitentiary. Includes criminal traffic violations.
Motion – A request made to a court or judge which requests a ruling or order in favor of the applicant.
No True Bill – This phrase, endorsed by a grand jury on the written indictment submitted to it for its approval, means that the evidence was found insufficient to indict.
No Bill or Notice of No Information – Issued by the State Attorney when the charges against a defendant are dropped prior to formal charges being filed by the State.
Nolo Contendere (No Contest) – A plea made by a defendant to a criminal charge, meaning he/she will not contest the charge, allowing the judge to find him/her guilty. This is also known as a “plea of no contest.”
Nolle Prosequi – This Latin phrase means that the prosecution or State Attorney will no longer prosecute the criminal case. In some circumstances, the case can be again be brought up for prosecution.
Non-jury trial – Trial before the court but without a jury; also known as a “bench trial” –which is a reference to a judge’s “bench.”
Opinion – A judge’s written explanation of a decision of the court or of a majority of judges.
Order – A mandate, command, or direction authoritatively given. Direction of a court or judge
made in writing.
Ordinance – A rule established by authority; may be a municipal statute of a city council or a county statute of a county commission, regulating such matters as zoning, building, safety, matters of municipality, etc. An ordinance violation can be criminal or non-criminal. A violation could be punishable by a court appearance, a fine, and possibly by confinement in a county jail.
Plea – The written or verbal response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. The defendant’s answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.
Preliminary hearing – (also preliminary examination) A hearing by a judge to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be held for trial. (See Arraignment.)
Pretrial Conference – Conference among the opposing attorneys and the judge called at the discretion of the court to narrow the issues to be tried and to make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.
Pretrial Diversion – The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic, or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.
Probable cause – A reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed; the typical basis for lawful searches, seizures, and arrests.
Probation – An alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offense to stay in the community, usually under conditions and under the supervision of a probation officer. A violation of probation can lead to its revocation and to imprisonment.
Prosecutor – A trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case and the interests of the state in civil matters. In criminal cases, the prosecutor has the responsibility of deciding who and when to prosecute. They are also known as a State Attorney.
Public Defender – Government lawyer who provides legal defense services to a person accused of a crime who cannot afford a private attorney. The defendant must be declared indigent and is responsible for paying an application fee and any reduced legal fees assessed by the Court.
Recuse – The process by which a judge is disqualified from hearing a case, on his or her own motion or upon the objection of either party.
Regional Counsel – (also known as the Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel)
Government lawyer who provides legal defense services to a person accused of a crime who cannot afford a private attorney. The defendant must be declared indigent and is responsible for paying an application fee and any reduced legal fees assessed by the Court.
Released on own recognizance – (also known as ROR) Release of a person from custody without the payment of any bail or posting of bond, upon the promise to return to court.
Remand – To send a dispute back to the court where it was originally heard. Usually it is an appellate court that remands a case for proceedings in the trial court consistent with the appellate court’s ruling.
Restitution – Returning to the proper owner property or the monetary value of loss.
Reverse – An action of a higher court in setting aside or revoking a lower court decision.
Revoke – To cancel or nullify a legal document.
Sentence – The punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime.
Stay – A court order halting a judicial proceeding.
Subpoena – A command to appear at a certain time and place to give sworn testimony upon a certain matter.
Subpoena Duces Tecum – A court order commanding a witness to bring certain documents or records to court.
Summons – A document commonly used to commence a civil action or special proceeding; the means of acquiring jurisdiction over a party.
Surety Bond – A written guaranty which is purchased from a bonding company (bail bondsman) by the defendant or on his/her behalf, to guarantee some form of performance, including showing up in court.
Trial – A judicial examination of issues between parties to an action. The issues could be
presented solely to the judge for a ruling or also to a jury of the defendant’s peers. (See Jury.)
Vacate – To set aside.
Verdict – A conclusion, as to fact or law, which forms the basis for the court’s judgment.
Warrant – Most commonly, a court order authorizing law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search. An application seeking a warrant must be accompanied by an affidavit which establishes probable cause by detailing the facts upon which the request is based.
Writ – A judicial order directing a person to do something.

 

Policing for Profit

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GOOD-Cops-Main

Civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize your property, sell it and use the money to fund agency budgets. This means your car, cash, real estate or other property can be taken from you even if you are not convicted or charged with a crime.

I’m sure you are wondering how your property can be taken from you if you are not involved in any criminal activity. The answer to that is: Civil forfeiture is basically a way for the courts to try inanimate objects for their involvement with criminal activity. That is why civil forfeiture actions are in rem proceedings, which means “against or about a thing.”

Originally, civil forfeiture was created to drain resources from powerful criminal organizations, but today it has become a way of funding for law enforcement agencies and has also led to personal gain.  According to a 2003 article in the St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Bay police seized and kept cars for their own use. “The seized fleet consisted of some 42 cars, including a Lincoln Navigator, a Ford Expedition, and, Police Chief Bennie Holder’s favorite, a $38,000 Chevy Tahoe.”

In Florida, law enforcement must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the property being seized was related to criminal activity. Although this is a higher standard than most other states, it still puts property owners at a disadvantage. This is because unlike a criminal forfeiture case, in which the government has to prove someone is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standards in a civil forfeiture case are much less rigorous. According to the Institute for Justice, “law enforcement in Florida still receives 85 percent of the funds generated from civil forfeiture.”

It is also a misconception that most people who have their property seized are wealthy. Some low-income families who do not have the resources to get their property back are also targeted by law enforcement. Regardless of socioeconomic status, it is not fair that likely innocent people are being stripped of their property without ever being convicted of a crime.

 

For more information, please read:

The Institute for Justice’s Initiative to End Policing for Profit

The Huffington Post article “Above the Law: New DPA Report Finds ‘Policing for Profit’ Gone Wild”

Financial or White Collar Crimes

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corporate crime

White collar crimes involve deceiving individuals, organizations or companies of their money. This type of crime is non-violent and usually occurs when a person in a position of trust abuses his/her power. Some examples of white collar crimes include, but are not limited to:

  • Fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Electronic or cyber crime
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Embezzlement
  • Blackmail
  • Forgery
  • Tax Evasion

Although these crimes do not cause physical harm, they may carry heavy consequences. In Florida, penalties can include:

  • Second Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and/or fines not exceeding $500.
  • First Degree Misdemeanor: Jail sentence up to 1 year and/or fines not exceeding $1,000.
  • Third Degree Felony: Imprisonment up to 5 years and/or fines up to $5,000.
  • Second Degree Felony: Imprisonment up to 15 years and/or fines not exceeding $10,000.
  • First Degree Felony: Imprisonment for up 30 years or possible life imprisonment and/or fines not exceeding $10,000.

An aggravated white collar crime is defined under the Florida White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act as “engaging in at least two white collar crimes that have the same or similar victims, results, accomplices, intents, or methods of commission, or that are otherwise related by certain characteristics showing the offenses are not isolated from each other.” An aggravated white collar crime is a first degree felony.

It is important to hire a defense attorney if you are charged with or believe you are being investigated for committing a white collar crime. Common defenses include 1) Challenging or disproving the state’s case and 2) Entrapment, which is when law enforcement induced someone to commit a crime that he/she would not have committed otherwise.

For more information on the different types of white collar crimes, please visit: http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=36300

Drug Trafficking Mandatory Minimums

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When it comes to drug trafficking charges, a person does not have to actually sell a drug in order to break Florida’s drug trafficking laws. Different drugs carry a different minimum mandatory prison sentence based on the weight of the drug. For example, possession of 1 gram or more of LSD can result in a >1 but less than 5 gram Trafficking in LSD charge.

Minimum mandatory prison sentences do not usually receive “gain time,” or a reduction in prison time for inmates who display satisfactory behavior , educational attainment or participate in other incentive programs. Click here for more information on types of gain time.  Cases involving drug trafficking charges, however, are entitled to gain time. This is because the court in Mastay v. McDonough, Florida Department of Corrections, 928 So. 2d 512 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006)held that drug trafficking charges are eligible for gain time, just  not discretionary release.

Drug trafficking offenses are taken very seriously, with mandatory minimum sentences that range from 3 years to 25 years in prison. If you are arrested for trafficking, it is crucial to contact an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney to represent and defend you in court.

The chart below shows the minimum mandatory sentences for trafficking in various drugs:

Offense
(Knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into
the state, or who is knowingly in actual
or constructive possession of:*)
Drug AmountMandatory Minimum Sentence & Fine
Cocaine28 - 200 grams

200 - 400 grams

400 grams – 150
kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
Marijuana25 - 2000 lbs or 300 - 2000 plants

2000 - 10,000 lbs or 2000 - 10,000 plants

10,000+ lbs. or 10,000
plants
3 years, $25,000 fine

7 years, $50,000 fine

15 years, $200,000 fine
GBL1-5 kilograms

5-10 kilograms

10+ kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
Phencyclidine28 - 200 grams

200 - 400 grams

400+ grams
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
Methaqualone200 grams – 5 kilograms

5 - 25 kilograms

25+ kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
Amphetamine or methamphetamine14 – 28 grams

28 – 200 grams

200+ grams
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
Flunitrazepam4 – 14 grams

14 – 28 grams

28 grams – 30 kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

25 years, $500,000 fine
GHB1 - 5 kilograms

5 - 10 kilograms

10+ kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
Morphine, opium, oxycodone,
hydrocodone, hydromorphone, or any
salt, derivative, isomer, or salt of an
isomer, including heroin
7 - 14 grams

14 - 25 grams

25 - 100 grams

100 grams - 30 kilograms

30+ kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $500,000 fine

25 years, $750,000 fine

life imprisonment without parole
LSD1- 5 grams

5 - 7 grams

7+ grams
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $500,000 fine
Phenethylamines10 – 200 grams

200 - 400 grams

400+ grams
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $250,000 fine
1,4-Butandediol1 - 5 kilograms

5 – 10 kilograms

10+ kilograms
3 years, $50,000 fine

7 years, $100,000 fine

15 years, $500,000 fine

Possible Penalties and Defenses for Driving With a Suspended License

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In Florida, a driver’s license may be suspended for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:
• Failure to pay a traffic fine.
• Failure to pay child support.
• Failure to maintain insurance.
• Reckless driving.
• Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
• Accumulation of traffic points.

A person who is caught driving with a suspended license may face serious consequences. A person driving under a suspended license with knowledge of the suspension can be charged with a criminal offense. Under Section 322.34, Florida Statutes, a first offense for driving with a suspended license (with knowledge of it being suspended, canceled or revoked) can result in 60 days jail and a fine of up to $500.00.

A person driving under a suspended license without knowledge of the suspension can receive a civil citation, where they must pay a fine.

Driving with a suspended license—either with or without knowledge—also counts as one of the “Three Strikes” toward being labeled a “Habitual Traffic Offender.” If an individual receives three convictions within five years for, among others charges: Driving with License Suspended (even if you are not arrested) Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Fleeing and Eluding that individual will be labeled a “Habitual Traffic Offender” and lose their license for five years. If charged with a subsequent Driving with License Suspended offense while a Habitual Traffic Offender, this offense is a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Contact an Orlando experienced criminal defense attorney for a free consultation if you have been accused of driving on a suspended, canceled, or revoked license. You may be able to contest the charge or minimize penalties.

Some possible defenses include:

• Challenging the validity of the traffic stop.
• The accused was not aware that his license was suspended (in which case, under Florida law, the charge must be reduced to a non-criminal traffic violation).
• The accused’s Florida driver’s license had been reinstated or adequate reason existed to believe it had been reinstated.

Frequently Asked Questions After an Arrest

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ARREST_2540291b

1. What rights do I have?

Whether you are an adult citizen or non-citizen, you have certain constitutional rights after you are arrested. Before the law enforcement officer questions you after an arrest, he or she should tell you that:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say may be used against you.
  • You have a right to have a lawyer present while you are questioned.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.

These are your Miranda rights, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If you are not given these warnings, your lawyer can ask that any statements you made to the police not be used against you in court.

You also have a right to know the crime or crimes with which you have been charged and the identity of the police officers who are dealing with you.  Not every officer is forthcoming about this information, even though is your right by statute. You also have the right to communicate by telephone with your attorney, family, friends, or bondsperson as soon after you are brought into the police station as practicable. The police are allowed to complete their booking procedures before letting you use the telephone.

2. If my Miranda Rights weren’t read, does this mean my charges will be dropped?

This is one of the most common questions I receive in my law practice.  Many people think that simply because the police failed to read them their rights, that the case is going to be automatically be thrown out. This is not true. Typically, the only thing that would happen if the rights were not read is that anything that said in response to police questioning after an arrest could not be used against you in your case.

Very frequently, officers have gathered all the information that they need PRIOR to the arrest and will not question suspects after their arrest and, thus, Miranda never needs to be read.    When the police have questioned you without reading your rights and, for example, you made a statement, that statement would not be able to be used in the case against you.  In most situations, it is best to not answer questions without having an attorney present.  If you ask to speak with an attorney, an officer must immediately cease questioning you.

Another common situation is where a suspect voluntarily provides information to the police that is not in response to a question.  In this situation, Miranda would typically not apply.  Miranda is a complicated area of the law with lots of rules and exceptions.  It’s best to consult with an experienced defense attorney to determine if your Miranda rights were violated in your situation.

3. What happens at an Initial Appearance?

Within 48 hours of your arrest, a judge will hold a preliminary hearing to decide whether there is “probable cause for your arrest” or enough evidence to support the charge against you. If the judge finds that there is “probable cause” for the charges — enough evidence that a reasonable person could be convinced that you committed the crime – then the judge will set the terms of your release.  The terms of release normally include a monetary bond set by the judge at the initial appearance and can also include other restrictions like checking in with a Pre-Trial Release Officer, not using or possessing weapons or not having any contact with the alleged victims of the case.

4. What is bail and how is it set?

The amount of bail bond – money or other security deposited with the court to insure that you will appear.  When setting the terms of your release, the judge will consider the seriousness of the offense with which you are charged, any prior failures to appear in court (even for traffic tickets), any previous criminal record, your ties and connections to the community, as well as the probability that you’ll appear in court.  Florida law provides that for most cases bond should be set in at reasonable amount that is attainable by the defendant.  However, in reality, oftentimes a judge may set bond at an amount too high for a defendant to afford.  A criminal defense attorney can file a motion with the court asking the judge to reduce the bond and/or modify the conditions of release (such as not having any contact with the victim).

I just got arrested on a DUI – what’s next?

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Driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance. Those under 21 years old can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is 0.02% or over and commercial drivers can be charged if their BAC is 0.04% or over.

After you are charged with a DUI, you may feel confused, upset and fearful. It is very important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

 

Things to consider after getting out of jail for DUI….

License Suspension

Keep in mind that in every DUI in Florida, there are two separate cases that flow from the same offense. In addition to criminal penalties and charges, you will also have a separate civil case filed against you with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

You have 10 days from the date of arrest to do one of two things. First, you or your attorney  can request an Administrative Hearing (formal or informal) in order to determine if the officer had probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. The second option is to forfeit your right to a review hearing in exchange for having a Business Purpose Only (BPO) license issued immediately. This option only applies if you have never had a prior DUI administrative suspension or DUI conviction. You must enroll in DUI School and show proof to DHSMV in order to obtain your BPO license. Failure to request either option within 10 days of your arrest will result in you losing your right to challenge the suspension.

What is an Arraignment on a DUI?

At an arraignment the judge court will inform you of the charges against you and give you the opportunity to plead guilty, no contest or not guilty. A guilty plea or no contest plea will place you at the mercy of the court and the judge find you guilty and will sentence you right then and there in the courtroom–the judge could even send you to jail. There is normally no advantage to entering a guilty or no contest plea at arraignment, especially if you haven’t spoken with an attorney yet to examine the possible weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. If you miss your court date, hiring an attorney can be a crucial move. An attorney can get sometimes negotiate away a failure to appear and get a suspension of your license cleared.  Furthermore, if you hire a DUI attorney, he can waive your appearance at your arraignment and Pre-Trial Conference court dates so that you do not have to attend if you do not want to.

Trying to resolve your case without an experienced DUI attorney is generally not a good idea. Before entering a plea, at a minimum, you and your attorney should review all of the police report, watch the roadside video (if available) as well as the video taken at the breath center to determine the strength of your case.

Is jail time mandatory if I am convicted of a DUI?

No. Not for the first conviction. However, for a second conviction within five (5) years of a prior conviction, a minimum imprisonment term of ten (10) days is required. For a third conviction within ten (10) years of a prior conviction, a minimum imprisonment term of thirty (30) days is required by law.

Can my charges be reduced?

Sometimes, a skilled DUI attorney can get a  DUI “reduced” to the charge of reckless driving (alcohol related).  This is not actually a reduction of charges; rather, it is an amendment.  DUI in Florida carries with it a mandatory minimum penalty which requires an adjudication of guilt.  If someone has been adjudicated guilty, it means they have been convicted.  When someone enters a plea of no contest to reckless driving, Florida Law does not require the judge to adjudicate that person guilty; rather, the judge may withhold the adjudication which means that person has not been “convicted”.  Moreover, unlike a DUI conviction, the disposition of a reckless driving charge usually does not increase ones insurance rates, does not carry a mandatory driver’s license revocation with it, and it can be sealed at a later date in many cases.   A judge is not authorized to “reduce” a DUI charge to reckless driving.  This can only be achieved through plea negotiations with the prosecutor.  An experienced DUI attorney can use knowledge of the law, effective use of motions and artful plea negotiations to attain a “reckless driving” plea offer for his client.

DUI PENALTIES

Unlike the penalties for most other misdemeanors, the minimum statutory penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida can be very severe and involve various types of punishment, including, but not limited to any of the following:

MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM DUI PENALTIES IN FLORIDA

 

1x Conviction:

Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty  Comments
Jail None Six Months – Max. Nine months if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle- Max. Year if crash
Probation Early Termination One Year
Driver’s License Suspension Six Months One Year
Community Service Fifty Hours Discretionary
Impoundment Ten Days Thirty Days
Ignition Interlock None Six Months – Required if .15 or above, or minor n vehicle
DUI Counterattack Class Required
Victim Impact Panel Required
Fine $500 $1,000 – $1,000-$2,000 if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle

 

 2x Conviction within 5 Years of Previous DUI Conviction:

Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty  Comments
Jail Ten Days Nine Months – Max. Twelve months if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle 
Probation Early Termination One Year
Driver’s License Suspension Five Years
Community Service None None
Impoundment Thirty Days
Ignition Interlock One Year – Two Years if .15 or above, or minor n vehicle
DUI Counterattack Class Required
Victim Impact Panel Required
Fine $1,000 $2,000 – $2,000-$4,000 if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle

 

2x Conviction with Previous DUI Conviction Outside of 5 Years:

Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty  Comments
Jail None Nine Months – Max. Year if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle 
Probation Early Termination One Year
Driver’s License Suspension Six Months One Year
Community Service None None
Impoundment Ten Days Thirty Days
Ignition Interlock Year – Two Years if .15 or above, or minor n vehicle
DUI Counterattack Class Required
Victim Impact Panel Required
Fine $1,000 $2,000 – $2,000-$4,000 if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle

 

3x Conviction within 10 Years of Previous DUI Conviction:

Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty  Comments
Jail Thirty Days 5 years – If upgraded to felony then Max. Five Years Prison
Probation Early Termination 5 years – If upgraded to felony then Max. Five Years Five Years Probation
Driver’s License Suspension Ten Years – eligibility for hardship driver’s license after 2 years
Community Service None None
Impoundment Ninety Days
Ignition Interlock Two Years
DUI Counterattack Class Required
Victim Impact Panel Required
Fine $2,000 $5,000 – $4,000-$5,000 if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle

 

3x Conviction with Previous DUI Conviction Outside of 10 Years:

Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty  Comments
Jail None Year
Probation Early Termination One Year
Driver’s License Suspension Six Months One Year
Community Service None None
Impoundment Ten Days Thirty Days
Ignition Interlock Two Years
DUI Counterattack Class Required
Victim Impact Panel Required
Fine $2,000 $5,000 – $4,000-$5,000 if .15 or above, or minor in vehicle

 

4x Conviction of DUI or more:

  Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty  Comments
Jail None Year – If upgraded to felony then Max. Five Years Prison
Probation Early Termination One Year – If upgraded to felony then Max. Five Years Five Years Probation
Driver’s License Suspension Lifetime Revocation
Community Service None None
Impoundment None  None
Ignition Interlock None None
DUI Counterattack Class Required
Victim Impact Panel Required
Fine $2,000 $5,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New law makes traffic ticket quotas illegal in Florida

150 150 Joel Leppard

florida-flashing-headlights-speed-trap-free-speech1

It is not uncommon to see police officers implementing speed traps in areas where the speed limit drops drastically within short distances. Sometimes, officers feel the need to implement these speed traps in order to meet monthly traffic ticket quotas.

Fortunately for motorists, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law this week that forbids local governments from having ticket quotas. The law will take effect on July 1 and requires law enforcement to submit reports to the Legislature if their traffic ticket revenues cover more than one third of the costs of operating their agencies. They may also be audited and face investigation by the state attorney general.

Supporters of the law believe that it will ensure transparency in government and prevent the exploitation of motorists.

To learn more, read the full article on: http://www.wesh.com/news/new-law-makes-traffic-ticket-quotas-illegal-in-florida/33089614

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