Questions to ask your potential lawyer

Questions To Ask Your Potential Lawyer

Questions To Ask Your Potential Lawyer 1920 1080 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

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.

Joel Leppard, winner of Avvo Client Choice Award

Congratulations to Joel Leppard for being named Avvo Client’s Choice Award Winner for 2016, the second year in a row

Congratulations to Joel Leppard for being named Avvo Client’s Choice Award Winner for 2016, the second year in a row 1920 1080 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

Orlando attorney Joel Leppard received this prestigious accolade based on the number, quality and breadth of client testimonials associated with his profile. This prestigious award is presented to attorneys who receive the highest ratings from their clients on Avvo.com, the world’s largest online attorney rating and review service. The Avvo reviews praise Joel for his confidence, his knowledge of the law, his attentiveness, his quick response time, and his dedication to his clients. The reviews also mention that he gets results, even when other attorneys are willing to give up. Here is a recent example.

Avvo has also given Joel a rating of “Superb” based on client reviews, over 25 attorney endorsements and his professional record.

Joel takes pride in treating every client’s legal problems as if they were his own. He has all five star reviews on Facebook, Google + and Yelp.  With a “Superb” Avvo rating and a passion for helping those with legal problems, Joel is grateful and honored to serve so many worthy and incredible clients. He looks forward to continuing to do so for the remainder of 2016!

Call (407) 476-4111 for a free consultation!

Avvo - Rate your Lawyer. Get Free Legal Advice.

Leppard Law - Best DUI Attorney Orlando

DUI “Counterattack School” Class Information

DUI “Counterattack School” Class Information 1920 1080 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando


All those convicted of a DUI must enroll and complete a DUI Counterattack course (also known as DUI School or DUI Counter attack school).  Many of my clients are curious about what the DUI class entails.  The following information is typed almost verbatim from a 3 page DUI Counterattack School Florida Safety Council handout.  I hope you find this helpful! -Attorney Joel Leppard

Page 1 – Evaluation/Class Assignment Receipt

In order to satisfactorily complete the DUI Program you must attend all scheduled class sessions, complete all homework, attend all evaluation appointments and pay all fees. You will not receive a certificate of completion until you meet all these requirements and must complete all requirements within 90 days.

If you are seen to be or test to be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or if you test at any level on an alcohol breath test or refuse to comply with a test, you will be asked to leave the class or evaluation. Per Florida Statute, you will be required to pay 100% of the enrollment fees and be required to begin the enrollment process again.

In order to avoid a penalty for failure to make your evaluation or class appointment, you must contact the program in person no less than five business days prior to the appointment. With good cause, this program will allow you to reschedule to up 48 hours after your appointment. If you are ill and under a doctor’s or dentist’s care. If there is a serious illness or death in your immediate family, or if you are involved in a natural disaster, you will be rescheduled without additional charge: however, you will need to bring documentation to verify your absence or conflicting court dates or jail.

DUI photo

Evaluation information (your date, time and evaluator will be listed here):

  1. If you fail to attend this appointment, you will be charged a penalty fee as required by Florida Statute. Late or absent fees in the 90 days after enrollment are $75 for the first occurrence and $153 for the second.       If you fail to return for your evaluation within 90 days of your first enrollment date, you will forfeit all fees and will have to begin the enrollment process again.
  2. If you are 5 minutes or more late for your appointment, you will not be seen and penalties for absence will be incurred.
  3. If checked, you MUST bring the following information to your evaluation appointment. Failure to have this documentation will be considered an absence and penalties, as outlined above, will apply (these have lines in front of them, not letters as the auto-format is putting below):
    1. Copy of breath/blood alcohol results, or documentation of refusal
    2. Proof of social Security and driver license numbers
    3. A copy of your probable cause/arrest affidavit
    4. A copy of your court order (if applicable)

Class information (your class dates and times, along with the room number will be listed here):

  1. All classes start on time. Once roll is taken, no one will be admitted to class.       If you miss a class because you are late, you have to reschedule and complete the entire class schedule with no credit for sessions attended.
  2. If you miss any class session, you will be required to begin the class again, from session one. You will not receive credit for classes attended.       You will be charged a reset fee unless you can document “good cause” as defined above. Reset fees are established by Statute and are:       Level 2 — $60 (1st); $120 (2nd); $238 (3rd) and Level 1 — $40 (1st); $75 (2nd); $153 (3rd).
  3. If you fail to attend class and do not reschedule your class within 90 days of your original ENROLLMENT date, you will forfeit all fees paid and begin the enrollment process again.       Notice of this failure is sent to DHSMV. If you refuse to comply with all class requirements or are disruptive in the class, you will be asked to leave and will forfeit all fees and be required to completely re-enroll.

(This ends the first page, where it shows when your 90th day is, your receipt number and the fee you have paid for the class. You are then required to sign and date the first page.)

Page 2 – DUI Program Rules and Regulations

General Information

All fees must be paid prior to receiving a class schedule.

Failure to provide accurate information may result in additional program requirements and additional fees. Please be honest.

You must be alcohol and drug free for all appointments, including registration.

Per Administrative Rule, a DUI Program may refuse to enroll any person who is unwilling to comply with the rules and procedures of the program or who is unwilling to make a full disclosure for purposes of an evaluation.

Evaluation Requirements

Florida Statutes require a substance abuse evaluation of anyone enrolled in a DUI Program. This evaluation will be accomplished in part by having you complete questions concerning your drinking and/or drug use habits, questions about your personal life, and questions about your DUI history. If you have any questions about these forms, you may speak with an enrollment officer.

The DUI Program is State certified to provide DUI education programs and complete DUI evaluations. All Evaluators, SSS Evaluators and Instructors are State certified and are under direct Clinical Supervision. After completing paperwork, you will be given an appointment with a State certified Evaluator who will complete various forms that relate to your responses.

A determination will be made if referral to a DCF licensed (or exempt by Statute) substance abuse treatment program will be required. There will be additional fees for this treatment as outlined in Florida Statutes.

90 Day Completion Requirement

Per Administrative Rule, any client who returns to the program more than ninety (90) days after the original enrollment to complete all or part of the program will have to re-enroll completely, including payment of all program fees. The following requirements must be completed within the 90 day period:

  1. Enrollment paperwork
  2. An evaluation with a State certified DUI evaluator
  3. An appropriate, mandated DUI education program.

If you fail to complete any part of these requirements within the 90 day time period, you will forfeit all fees and will not receive credit for any component completed.

Per Administrative Rule, anyone entering the DUI Program (voluntarily, court ordered or as a requirement of DHSMV) is required to complete the educational requirements and obtain an evaluation within 90 days of enrollment. If your DUI conviction is dropped or dismissed but your Administrative Suspension remains valid, you must still complete the DUI Program within 90 days. Failure to do so may result in a notice of cancellation to DHSMV and repayment of the full fee upon re-enrollment.

Class Completion Requirements

  1. Attendance at all classes, on time and in sequence.
  2. No alcohol or other drug use within 24 hours of class.
  3. Completion of all assignments.
  4. Payment of all fees.

If you receive a class schedule prior to completion of your evaluation, you will not receive a certificate of completion until you complete all components of the DUI Program.

Transfer to Other DUI Programs

You must attend a DUI Program in the county where you work, live or attend school. You may transfer your DUI requirements from or to this office to comply with this requirement. Failure to complete official transfer paperwork may complicate your completion of the DUI Program. The transfer fee is $25.

Orange County Florida Safety Council Location:

Florida Safety Council Driving Under Influence

Florida Safety Council
1505 E. Colonial Dr.
Orlando, FL32803

Page 3 – DUI Program Rules and Regulations continued…

Confidentiality Requirements

The confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse records is maintained by this office in accordance with Federal Law 42 CFR (Part 2) as well as State requirements. This program may not say to any outside person that you attend this program or disclose any information which identifies you as an alcohol or drug client unless:

  1. The client consents in writing.
  2. The disclosure is allowed by Court order.
  3. Information regarding child abuse or neglect is obtained.
  4. The disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit, or program evaluation.

Information concerning any alcohol or drug client may not be used to criminally investigate or prosecute that client. Violation of confidentiality is a crime.

Program Fees:

ALL Program fees are non-refundable. Complete Program fees, including reset fees, are posted in the enrollment area and appear below.

If you come to your evaluation appointment or to any scheduled class under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or are uncooperative or disruptive and asked to leave evaluation or class, you will be required to pay ALL FEES AGAIN, per Florida Statute. In cases of documented financial need, a fee reduction or payment plan may be available.

Grievance Procedure

Any individual who wishes to file a grievance regarding services may do so in writing within 30 days of the date of service delivery. Correspondence should be directed to the Director of the DUI program at the address listed on this form. Client rights violations may be reported to DUI Programs Office.

Additional Information Required prior to your evaluation:

  1. A copy of your arrest ticket which indicated B.A.L.
  2. A copy of your probable cause/arrest affidavit.
  3. If applicable, a copy of your court order
  4. One form of ID.


Level One enrollment:

$233 (Includes $5 DRI fee) *Note: online registration adds a $7 fee for a total of $240.*

Level Two enrollment:

$363 (Includes $5 DRI fee)

Class Reassignment: Level One

$40      1st reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$75      2nd reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$153    3rd reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$233    Any class reassignment more than 90 days after enrollment

Class Reassignment: Level Two

$60      1st reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$120    2nd reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$238    3rd reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$363    Any class reassignment more than 90 days after enrollment

Evaluation Reassignment: Level One

$75      1st reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$153    2nd reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$233    Any evaluation reassignment more than 90 days after enrollment

Evaluation Reassignment: Level Two

$75      1st reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$153    2nd reassignment within 90 days of enrollment

$363    Any evaluation reassignment more than 90 days after enrollment


Evaluation not associated with DUI Program enrollment $150

Transfer fee                                                                                       $25

Administrative refund fee                                                                  $25

Processing referral to different treatment agency fee                      $15

State assessment fee                                                                        $15

Duplicate certificate fee                                                                    $5

Per page copy fee                                                                              $.25


The driving record can be ordered at cost through the Florida Safety Council office ($19.95). Please call for driving record prices. The driving record must be under 30 days old and reflect lifetime record.

This is the end of page 3, which ends the rules and regulations, and you have to sign and date that you understand and received the rules.

If you’re curious about the costs of a DUI in Florida, please click here. 

If you have any questions about the charge of Driving Under the Influence, contact Leppard Law at 407-476-4111 with any questions about your DUI.

Why Civil Rights Are Important

Why Civil Rights Are Important 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Foster v. Chatman, a death penalty case where prosecutors excluded every African-American from the jury pool based upon bogus pretexts. The prosecutors even circled the race of the African-American jurors and highlighted the African-Americans as “definite NOs.”  The prosecution excluded one African-American woman because her age was so close to the defendant but she was 15 years younger and the prosecutors included 8 white jurors whose age was close to the defendant. There are many more examples like that, you can read more about Justice Sotomayor and the jury selection bias case here.

In Florida, a 2000-2010 study of juries in Sarasota and Lake Counties found that 1) juries formed from all-white jury pools are 16 percentage points (or 22.7% more likely)  to convict black defendants than white defendants, and 2) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member.   See “The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials” for more information.

Along the same vein, in the New Jim Crow Chapter 5, Michelle Alexander argues that the mass disfranchisement of largely minority felons is akin to the poll taxes, literacy tests and other forms of racially motivated voter suppression utilized after the Civil War.  If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s an eye opening read. (Amazon link here.)

I think a big takeaway from these example is how important it is to get disenfranchised Persons of Color back in the jury pools.  However, here in Florida we have moved in the opposite direction in the past five years.  In 2010, Gov. Rick Scott reimposed the lifelong denial of civil rights to convicted felons, unless pardoned by the Governor himself.  Florida law is unique, insofar as the convicted felon must be pardoned by the Governor and a majority of the publicly elected State Cabinet in order to restore one’s civil rights after being convicted of a felony (and pretty much everything is a felony these days). It’s so bad that the UN is convening a panel to determine if the U.S. is violating international civil rights standards set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).  If you are interested in helping, the ACLU is working toward reinstating automatic restoration of civil rights and you can sign their petition in support of voting rights here (*link no longer available as of January 12th, 2021).

Justice photo

New Cybersecurity Bill Passed by Senate Creates Privacy Concerns

New Cybersecurity Bill Passed by Senate Creates Privacy Concerns 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando


A new bill called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. Its main goal is to stop hackers by getting companies to share information with the federal government about any cyber attacks they face. Basically, CISA works by works by letting companies share “cyber threat indicators” with the Department of Homeland Security, which then sends out a red alert to warn other people of the threat.

You may be thinking: Don’t companies already have initiatives in place to share threat information? Yes. But what makes CISA different is that Homeland Security can now share the report with the National Security Agency and other spy agencies.

One huge concern is that nowhere in the bill does it say customers’ personally identifiable information has to be left out of the report. In fact, of the countless amendments made to the bill, one necessary amendment that actually failed on Tuesday would have made it mandatory to remove that information before a company could share information about threats.

Here’s another catch: Although a company’s cooperation in sharing information is voluntary, the bill gives companies a nice incentive to do so by eliminating legal liability. For example, if a company ends up sharing too much information about its customers, it won’t have to worry about private lawsuits or antitrust laws.

CISA opposers believe that the bill ignores the goal of encouraging companies to increase their cybersecurity standards and puts more responsibility on a “generalized public-private secret information sharing network.” In other words, opponents say CISA creates a new law in the wrong places.

Learn more here: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/27/452338925/senate-approves-cybersecurity-bill-what-you-need-to-know

Florida’s Harsh 10-20-Life Law on the Road to Reform

Florida’s Harsh 10-20-Life Law on the Road to Reform 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando


Florida’s harsh 10-20-Life mandatory minimum sentencing law is on a long road to reform, but small steps are being taken to give judges more authority in certain cases.

The 10-20-Life law strictly punishes anyone who is in possession of or actually uses a firearm while committing a crime by imposing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, 20 years, or 25 years to life depending on the nature of the crime. For example, if a person simply pulled out a weapon while committing a crime, he or she would have to serve 10 years in jail regardless of the circumstances.

One example of why the 10-20-Life law is too harsh is the August 2010 case involving Marissa Alexander. Alexander shot what she called a warning shot near her ex-husband, who was physically abusive towards her and sent her threatening text messages. The shot did not hurt her ex-husband, yet Alexander was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. Under the 10-20-Life law, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison despite having no criminal past. Fortunately, after serving just 3 years in prison, Alexander was released due to a faulty jury instruction in her case.

Although things ended well for Alexander, this is not the typical outcome in most cases. That is why the proposal of a new bill (HB 135) by Florida legislators is a great step in the right direction.  The bill, called the Self-Defense Protection Act, makes exceptions to certain mandatory minimum sentences if the defendant had a justifiable reason to use a firearm.

The bill will not eliminate the entire problem, of course. Some defendants will still be harshly punished under the 10-20-Life law because judges cannot change the sentence to match circumstances, but at least progress is being made and judges will be able to act fairly in the cases in which it applies.

Supreme Court Case Could Result in Change in Florida’s Death-Penalty Laws

Supreme Court Case Could Result in Change in Florida’s Death-Penalty Laws 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

Florida, Delaware and Alabama are the only states that do not require a unanimous jury decision when sentencing someone to death.  A U.S. Supreme Court case with a ruling expected in 2016, however, could change Florida’s death penalty procedure.

Timothy Hurst, a man currently on Death Row for murder, is appealing his death sentence. Jurors in his case recommended death by a 7-5 vote, but Hurst’s attorneys argue that allowing this sentence without a unanimous jury is a violation of Hurst’s Sixth Amendment rights.

The sentencing of hundreds of other people on Florida’s Death Row could be impacted if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hurst. Former Jacksonville State Attorney Harry Shorstein said the impact of the issue could be avoided if it is fixed legislatively instead of in court.

Legislation that would change the law to require a unanimous jury recommendation of death has already been introduced into the Florida House and Senate, however. The issue with both bills is that they have been sponsored by Democrats, and the majority of people in the Florida House and Senate are Republican.

Rep. Rob Bradley, who is on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, does not believe legislation regarding the death penalty is likely to pass during the 2016 legislative session. He voted for a similar bill in 2015, but the legislation went nowhere in the House.

Bradley personally believes that the Supreme Court will deem Florida’s sentencing procedures unconstitutional in the Hurst case, which makes it more likely that the issue will be dealt with in the 2017 regular session.

For more information, please read: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2015-10-11/story/former-jacksonville-state-attorney-joins-others-calling-change-florida.

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

How to Handle Your No Contact Order and Your Domestic Violence Charge 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

 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

Definitions of Commonly Used Terms in Criminal Law 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

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 drug 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

Policing for Profit 150 150 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando


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”