Thursday, March 2, 2017

DUI Penalties

DUI Attorney Seminole County

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, it is important to understand the potential serious penalties a DUI conviction can carry.  Even if this is your first DUI offense, a DUI conviction can effect you personally, professionally, and financially.  Unlike most other criminal offenses, a DUI requires mandatory sanctions that leave Judges with very little discretion.

Because of the harsh penalties that can result from a DUI conviction, it is important for you to consider consulting with an experienced Seminole County DUI Attorney.  

DUI Penalties

  • Criminal Conviction: even if this is your first criminal offense, a Court is required by law to impose a criminal conviction.  This means that you will have a permanent mark on your background that will not be able to be sealed or expunged.
  • Probation: the Court is required to impose a period of one-year of supervised probation.
  • Fines: the Court has discretion to impose a fine of no less than $500 to a maximum of $1,000 plus court costs and costs of investigation.
  • Jail: although not mandatory for a first DUI offense, the Court has the discretion to impose a sentence of up to 6-months in the County Jail and up to 9-months if you had a breath alcohol level in excess of 0.150%.
  • Ignition Interlock: if you have a breath alcohol level in excess of 0.150%, the Court is required to order the imposition of the ignition interlock device on any vehicle you routinely operate for a period of six-months.
  • Drug and Alcohol Counseling: following completion of your Court ordered DUI classes, you will be required to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation.  If recommended, you will be required to participate in treatment.  Failure to do so could result in loss of your driving privileges.
  • License Suspension: for a first offense, the Court is required to suspend your driving privileges for a period of six-months up to one-year.
How the Court chooses to impose the above penalties will depend heavily on the facts of your case and your background.  Having an experienced Seminole County DUI Attorney fighting for you will also have an impact on your case, and could mean the difference between a DUI conviction and having your charges reduced or dismissed.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Orlando Criminal Defense and DUI: How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Fight to Preve...

Orlando Criminal Defense and DUI: How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Fight to Preve...: Criminal Defense Attorney Very often when I consult with a potential client, I will routinely hear, “I will give you a call once I get a c...

Orlando Criminal Defense and DUI: How to Fight Your Orlando DUI

Orlando Criminal Defense and DUI: How to Fight Your Orlando DUI: DUI Attorney Orlando If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you undoubtedly are experiencing feelings of uncertainty and angst...

How to Fight Your Orlando DUI

DUI Attorney Orlando

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you undoubtedly are experiencing feelings of uncertainty and angst.  A criminal conviction for DUI can effect you personally, professionally, and financially.  Even if this is your first DUI, the penalties can be severe.

With so much on the line, it is important for you to consult with an experienced Orlando DUI Attorney who has experience and knowledge of Florida DUI laws.  This experience could mean the difference between a criminal conviction and having your charges reduced or dismissed.

DUI Penalties

Unlike most other criminal cases, DUI offenses leave the Court very little discretion when it comes to sentencing.  For a first-time DUI offender, some of the potential penalties that they may face include:
  • Conviction: even if this is your first criminal offense, the Florida Legislature requires the Court to enter a mandatory conviction.  This means that you will have a permanent criminal record that will not be eligible to be sealed or expunged.
  • Probation: mandatory 1-year probation
  • Fines: for a first-time DUI, a conviction can result in a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 plus court costs and costs of investigation.
  • Jail: although not mandatory, the Court has the discretion to sentence a first-time DUI offender to jail for a period of six-months.
  • License Suspension: the Court must suspend the convicted person’s driving privileges for a period of not less than six-months up to one-year.
  • Ignition Interlock: for a first-time DUI offender, if you had a breath alcohol level in excess of 0.150, the Court is required to order you to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you routinely operate.
  • Substance Abuse/Alcohol Treatment: you will be required to undergo an alcohol/substance abuse evaluation and participate in any treatment that is recommended.

DUI Defenses

1. Challenging the Basis of the Stop
In most cases, a DUI begins with a law enforcement officer stopping your vehicle.  In the State of Florida, the law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to stop your vehicle.  Many of our clients are stopped for the following infractions:
  • Failing to Maintain a Single Lane
  • Speeding
  • Following too closely
  • Weaving
If we are able to establish that the law enforcement officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, than any and all evidence that is collected by law enforcement will be suppressed which will result in your case being dismissed.

2. Challenging the Officer's Observations Relating to Impairment
In almost every DUI arrest affidavit, the arresting officer will indicate that he/she observed the suspect to have red and glossy eyes, slurred speech, and the odor of alcohol.  Although these can be indicators of impairment, there are also many other explanations available that may have nothing to do with the consumption of alcohol.  For example, red and glossy eyes may be a direct result of the client's occupation and any issues related to speech could be a result of a speech impediment.  

3. Challenging the Reliability of the Results of the Field Sobriety Exercises
DUI Prosecutors utilize the results of field sobriety exercises to establish impairment.  However, it is important to keep in mind that the results offered by the law enforcement officer are merely there subjective observations.  In some cases, dash-cam videos are available to challenge the officer's interpretation of the facts.  In cases where a dash-cam is not available, factors we explore to consider the reliability of the results of the field sobriety exercises include:

  • Weather conditions
  • Is the area well lit
  • Were the exercises completed on a flat surface or was the roadway crowned
  • What type of footwear was the client wearing
  • Did the client have a medical condition
  • Age of the client
4. Challenge the Breath Test
In the State of Florida, anyone who provides a breath alcohol test in excess of 0.08% is presumed impaired.  However, the issue becomes whether or not the test was reliable.  Prior to the administration of the breath test, the law enforcement officer is required to advise the client of the implied consent warning and observe the client for 20-minutes before the test can be administered to ensure that the client does not burp or regurgitate.  Failure to follow this protocol can result in the breath test being suppressed.  Other issues that are researched include whether the breath test machine has been properly maintained and calibrated.  

Like many States, Florida allows law enforcement to conduct DUI Checkpoints to combat drunk driving.  However, there are very strict guidelines and procedures that law enforcement must follow when conducting DUI Checkpoints.  Failure to follow the guidelines and procedures can result in your DUI charge being dismissed.

Experienced DUI Defense
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, keep in mind that there are many deadlines that must be adhered to.  Failure to act quickly could prevent you from raising defenses enumerated above.  For this reason, it is important for you to contact an experienced Orlando DUI Attorney immediately after your arrest to discuss your case and begin work defending your rights.  If you have been arrested for DUI, call us today at 407-473-1233 to discuss your case.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Fight to Prevent Charges From Being Filed

Criminal Defense Attorney

Very often when I consult with a potential client, I will routinely hear, “I will give you a call once I get a court date.”  Although this may seem like sound judgment; the truth is, waiting that long can be devastating to your case. 

As a former prosecutor, I understand that the typical criminal investigation involves a law enforcement officer making an arrest, oftentimes on what is barely probable cause, and then turning the case over to the State Attorney’s Office.  From there, a Prosecutor will review the charging affidavit, many times without consulting with any witnesses, and then make a formal charging decision.  The problem is that the decision is made solely on what is contained within the four corners of the charging affidavit.

Rather than waiting for a court date, much can be gained from attacking a case at the intake phase before the Prosecutor ever makes a formal charging decision.  When I sit down with a potential client, I like to gather as much information as possible, including witnesses and alibi witnesses who may help dispel the charges early on.  Over the years my office has had much success in discussing cases with the Prosecutor early on that has resulted in the State filing a No Information.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is important to remember that time is of the essence.  An experienced Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney may be the difference of whether charges are ever filed against you. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Drug Possession

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime, you need to understand that the potential consequences can be quite severe.  A conviction for a drug charge can result in prison time, lengthy probationary periods, high fines, and suspension of your driving privileges.  An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid these dire consequences. 

Whether you have been charged with possession, possession with intent to sell, or drug trafficking, an experienced drug crimes lawyer will explore some of the following defenses to fight your case:

Illegal Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a safeguard of justice and protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures of either self or property by government officials.  In this scenario, a skilled drug crimes lawyer will evaluate your case to determine whether law enforcement had probable cause to stop your vehicle or to search your car or your person. 

Constructive Possession

To establish constructive possession, the state must show that the accused had dominion and control over the contraband, knew the contraband was within his presence, and knew of the illicit nature of the contraband. Brown v. State, 428 So.2d 250 (Fla. 1983).

Insufficient Evidence

When charged with a felony drug offense, the State is charged with the burden of proving that the recovered substance is in fact the illicit drug that law enforcement claims it is.  This means that the State will be required to send the substance to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to have the substance tested and weighed.  In a number of cases, the substance either doesn’t test positive for what it is alleged to be, doesn’t meet the weight requirement for a trafficking offense, or simply doesn’t get tested at all.  In any of these scenarios, and experienced drug crimes lawyer will move to have your charges dismissed.

Entrapment

In the State of Florida, there are two types of entrapment defenses: subjective and objective.
    
          Subjective Entrapment

To establish a subjective entrapment defense, a drug crimes lawyer would need to establish that law enforcement induced their client to commit an offense that they were not otherwise predisposed to commit.  Pursuant to Florida Statute §777.201, the accused must establish the following elements by the greater weight of the evidence:
  1. the accused was induced or encouraged by law enforcement or a law enforcement agent (such as a confidential informant) to engage in criminal conduct in order for law enforcement to obtain evidence of the commission of a crime;
  2. the accused engaged in such criminal conduct as a direct result of law enforcement inducement or encouragement;
  3. the person who induced or encouraged the accused was a law enforcement officer or a person engaged in cooperating with or acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer;
  4. the person who induced or encouraged the accused employed methods of persuasion or inducement so as to create a substantial risk that the crime would be committed by a person other than the one who was ready to commit it; and
  5. the accused was not a person ready to commit the crime.
Once the Court finds that the defense has met their burden, the burden shifts to the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was predisposed to commit the alleged crime and that the accused’s predisposition to commit the crime existed prior to and independent of the inducement or encouragement by law enforcement.

           Objective Entrapment

Objective entrapment is applied in cases involving egregious law enforcement conduct and is evaluated under the due process provision of the Florida Constitution. The defense of objective entrapment requires reviewing the totality of the circumstances in order to ascertain whether police conduct offends canons of decency and fairness.

In cases where these defenses are not available, other options that can be explored include drug court and pre-trial diversion.

Drug Court

Most jurisdictions offer drug court programs aimed at rehabilitation of the offender.  These programs typically range from 7 – 18 months.  In order to be deemed eligible to participate in a drug court program, the offender must meet the following criteria: (1) must have a serious drug/alcohol problem; (2) be a non-violent offender; (3) not previously terminated from a drug court program; and (4) be charged with a felony drug related charge (possession, purchase, or obtaining prescriptions by fraud).

Pre-Trial Diversion

This program is offered for first-time offenders who charged with possession of small amount of drugs.  The pre-trial diversion program requires the offender to complete drug treatment, undergo random drug screens, complete community service hours, and pay a fine.  Successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program will result in the criminal charges being dismissed.

Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense, it is important to seek the advice of a competent and skilled criminal defense lawyer.  We will be able to evaluate your case and look for defenses that may not be obvious to you.  Call today at 407-473-1233 to schedule your free and confidential case review.