Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

A Breakdown Of The Common Charge Of Drunk Or Disorderly Conduct

It is no secret that Key West is full of bars, restaurants, and other hang outs where alcohol is served. It is also no secret that many tourists, as well as locals, engage in what is considered “bar hopping”, and that to do this you have to walk along a public walkway to get from place to place. If you have been drinking, and then take to the sidewalk to go somewhere else, you might face charges for Disorderly Conduct. Of course, this all depends on how you are acting, but it is not uncommon for people who have been drinking to engage in loud speech or to become involved in conversations that easily turn combative. To passersby, this type of behavior can seem disorderly, and when that happens near a law enforcement officer, the chances are high that you will be questioned and possibly charged with drunk or disorderly conduct.

A breakdown of the charge of drunk or disorderly conduct, referred to as Disorderly Conduct, in Florida is that:

• No person shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of others.

• No person shall be intoxicated and endanger the property of others.

It can be hard to understand just what constitutes disorderly conduct under this law, because most bars and restaurants are public places and serve alcohol. So, how then can a person drink while out to dinner and not be guilty of disorderly conduct? The key lies in the behavior of the person and how that behavior impacts others in the area. This generally happens when a person who has had too much to drink instigates a fight, or commits some act that damages property. These cases are fact specific, and are decided on a case by case basis.

If you have questions about drunk or disorderly conduct, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

What Happens If I Resist An Arrest?

In recent months, the national news has been filled with stories about police force and debate over whether the actions of a suspect play any role into how aggressive the authorities are when making a routine traffic stop or when approaching a potential suspect on foot. Tragically, several recent stories have ended with either a suspect or police officer’s death, and it does not seem like a workable answer is close. With this national spotlight, it is important for everyone to understand their rights, but to understand those rights within the context of police questioning, or even an arrest. It seems as though if a suspect makes a sudden movement, appears to be reaching for a weapon, or refuses to show their hands when asked, the situation will quickly escalate. Unfortunately, when police interaction with every day citizens escalates, the end result is one that is violent and perhaps even deadly.

If you are charged with resisting arrest, the damage you do to your case depends on whether the resistance was with or without violence. Resistance with violence includes things like kicking, hitting, punching, or using a weapon in an attempt to obstruct an officer from making an arrest. Resisting arrest without violence is still an obstruction of the officer’s attempt to make an arrest, but no violent act is included. In either case, the prosecution will have to prove certain things in order to obtain a conviction for resisting arrest. This could include showing the following things:

• The officer had the authority to make the arrest.
• The person resisting did so during an attempt by a person with authority to make the arrest, and knowingly engaged in an act that would obstruct the lawful execution of the arrest.

This can be a tough standard for the prosecution to meet, because it requires the prosecution to establish the defendant’s state of mind. This part of the test can be tricky, but other requirements, such as what actions constituted the resistance, can be minor. For instance, a simple tightening of your muscles to make it more difficult to be placed in handcuffs could be seen as resistance. Refusing to sit, stand, or make any other movement the officer directs is also considered resistance. And, of course, providing false or misleading information to an officer when asked a question is deemed resisting arrest. If you have been arrested, and part of the charges in the case against you includes resisting arrest, call us for help. We know what to do to minimize the impact this type of case has, and look forward to helping you today.

Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West for help with criminal defense. Contact our office today for more information about what to do next.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

What Are The Different Types Of Marine Life Violations?

Have you ever sat down and read one of those “craziest laws” lists? You know, the kind that says it is against the law in Texas to sell your eyes, or that in Mobile, Alabama it is illegal to spit orange peels on the sidewalk. Many of these types of laws are outdated, and rarely enforced. But that does not keep these strange and bizarre laws off of the books. While these are extreme examples, and it is unlikely that anyone would ever receive a ticket for committing one of these acts, it illustrates the point that knowing the laws will help you to avoid a violation. This is especially true if the violation is a Marine Life Violation, many of which are misdemeanor crimes and enforced daily.

In Florida, there are miles upon miles of coastline and also inland areas that offer a wide variety of outdoor activities. Many of the activities include interacting with wildlife, so it is important to know what you are allowed to do, and what acts can get you in trouble. Here are some examples of common marine life violations, which could take place with some frequency in Key West:
● Having too many lobsters.
● Undersized grouper, which is a common violation for many recreational fishermen.
● Excessive watercraft speed within a designated fish management area.

Most marine life violations occur without any intent on the part of the offending party to commit a violation. This is, in large part, due to the lack of knowledge about what constitutes a violation. Many times an event is planned, and the participants’ only intent is to have fun with friends and family. However, that fun can quickly take a turn for the worse when wildlife or marine life enforcement officer hands over a ticket that now must be defended, or if you receive a Notice to Appear. If you have received a marine life violation citation, call our office for help.

If you have questions about marine life violations, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West. Call us today for help.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

What Type Of Notice Is Issued For A Marine Life Violation

One of the cornerstones of the American judicial system is that of receiving notice of things that have an impact on your life. This concept could be said to date back to the days of the Boston Tea Party, where the cry of the citizens was “no taxation without representation”. It is a simple fact that most people want to know how the law applies to them, and that ample notice of the rules we are all expected to live by is given. The theory is that unless you are made aware of what is expected of you, you cannot be expected to comply. This concept includes having a general understanding of what the laws are, and is different than being notified with events in your individual case. When thinking of your own case, of chief concern is the desire to be notified of important events, such as when and where you are required to appear in Court. It is imperative to have this information on hand, because the failure to appear in Court is a violation as well, and not showing up will only exacerbate your legal troubles.

With a wildlife violation, the notice given is one that requires the offender to appear as follows:

● At least one initial appearance in Court will be required.
● A notice to show up in court for a misdemeanor wildlife violation is common, and you should give the matter serious attention. While not an arrest, but rather a notice to appear in court, you should take special care to put the appearance requirement on your calendar and appear with competent counsel by your side.

If you do not appear when noticed to do so, you will have to defend the failure to appear, as well as the wildlife violation. This can put you in a precarious position, because you will enter the courtroom with one strike against you in the eyes of the judge. In many judges’ opinions, failing to appear in Court when directed to do so is disrespectful and frowned upon. We understand that receiving any type of ticket is scary, but things only get worse when ignored. This includes a ticket that requires payment of a fine (and the option to challenge the ticket in court), and a Notice to Appear for a misdemeanor violation. Rather than put yourself in the positon of having to defend yourself for multiple charges, call our office today for help. We will put you at ease by taking on your case with the confidence and know-how that is required to reach satisfactory results.

If you have questions about wildlife violations, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Is It A Crime to Catch An Undersized Fish or Too Many Lobster?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is tasked with protecting the state’s natural resources, including fish, wildlife, and the environment. This goal of the Commission is to accomplish this task, while still provide a safe and inviting environment for people to enjoy. The Commission is staffed with law enforcement officers who patrol onshore and offshore areas, as well as wildlife areas across the state. These officers have the legal authority to conduct investigations and issue citations for any violation that is discovered. That said, you might be wondering just what type of citation might be issued, how you receive notice of a violation, and if committing a violation is a crime.

The Florida law on the issue provide for penalties and fines for wildlife violations. Some examples of violations include:

● Combining federal bag limits with state bag limits. It is your responsibility to make sure the size is right.
● Having too many fish or lobsters.
● With regard to spearfishing, the use of powerheads, bangsticks, and rebreathers is prohibited. Spearfishing in restricted areas is also a violation.

If you are charged with a marine life violation crime, versus receiving a civil ticket, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and be required to appear in court to answer the charges. The requirement to appear in court for this type of case is a little bit different than what most people experience for other matters. Failing to appear when noticed to do so is also a misdemeanor. If you have received a wildlife violation ticket it is crucial that you contact an attorney right away. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to let you know what type of defense best fits the facts of your case, and will explain the consequences of this unique type of criminal charge.

If you have questions about wildlife violations, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

Three Ways To Have A DUI Charge Reduced

A DUI conviction can have serious consequences, such as causing your auto insurance rates to go up and causing harmful points to accumulate on your driving record. In order to avoid these consequences, it is imperative that you aggressively defend any DUI charge against you. While being arrested, and especially being arrested for DUI, is frightening, the case can come to a satisfactory outcome. In the most extreme of circumstances, you might be able to get the case dismissed, but the more frequent outcome is that the charge is reduced.
But just what type of lesser charge can you expect? The answer depends on the specific facts of your case, and how those facts are presented to the prosecution. Many times, a successful outcome is one where the charge is reduced to a lesser moving violation charge, but not something as minor as a mere parking ticket or simple careless driving charge. That said, most reductions in charges mean a less severe impact on your driving record and also on how your insurance company views the violation.

With this information in mind, the next thing to consider is just how to go about getting a DUI charged reduced. Three ways to have the charge reduced include:

● Negotiate with the prosecution for a reduction in the charges, which usually requires you to enter into a plea agreement. Part of the plea agreement may require to you go on probation, and probation will have its own set of rules to follow. For instance, most probationary terms in DUI cases include the requirement that the defendant have an interlock device installed in their car. The interlock is a device that requires the driver to blow into it before the car’s ignition will start, if the device detects a certain level of alcohol, your car will not start for a period of time.
● Develop the evidence in your case in such a way that the prosecution is left with no choice but to reduce the charges. This could include attacking the way in which the breath test was administered and showing that there were other errors made on the part of the police. This is accomplished by a thorough investigation into the facts and an intensive work up of all of the pieces of evidence in your case.
● Provide proof that the breath test result was a false positive, which oftentimes is done by offering alternatives for the result, such as the existence of another substance in your system. Again, this requires a thorough examination into the specific facts of your case, and a clear presentation of those facts to the prosecution.

The alternatives will not necessarily work in every case, and there may be other ways for you to get the charges against you reduced that are not outlined about. The key is to find the facts that are best for you, and then give those facts to the prosecution with a compelling argument as to why the charges should be reduced. To get up this seemingly insurmountable mountain, the skill of an experienced DUI defense attorney is needed.

If you have questions about how to have a DUI charge reduced, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West to schedule an appointment today.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) key west Uncategorized

What To Do If You Get A DUI While On Vacation In Key West

Key West is a popular vacation destination, so popular in fact that many cruise ships make Key West one of their ports of call. With so many historic sites, shopping, world class restaurants, and bars it should come as no surprise that a fair amount of drinking goes on by people who make Key West one of their vacation stops. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from work and enjoying the sand and surf, but too many times people behave differently when they are on vacation than they do in their everyday lives. It is important to remember that even though Key West has a laidback atmosphere, there are still laws in place that must be followed.

When coming to Key West and renting a car, whether for a day stop from a cruise or for a longer vacation, the rules of the road still apply. This means if you bar hop one too many times and then drive, you can be arrested for DUI. Having to defend a DUI received while away from home on vacation presents several challenges, the biggest of which is the difference in geography from your vacation spot to your home. These issues can follow you home, which is why it is important to resolve them so you do not have to make a return trip to Key West for Court. The key is to consult with a Key West attorney as soon as possible.. Always look for alternative forms of transportation if you plan on drinking while on vacation, but if you do get pulled over and cited for DUI while in Key West, be sure to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney before heading home. Here are some benefits to talking with an attorney while you are still in town:

● A repeat trip to Key West to provide the background information on your arrest can be avoided, which saves you time and expense.
● It can be difficult to put your trust in someone you have not met, but if you take the time to plan a short meeting with a defense attorney before your vacation ends, you feel more comfortable once you do return to your home state.

Vacations are meant to be relaxing, and full of fun. But, sometimes things do get a little out of control. When that happens, call on the experience of a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney for help. If you take the time to find out your options before leaving Key West, you will take a little bit of the stress associated with being arrested for DUI off your shoulders.

If you have questions about what to do if you get a DUI while on vacation in Key West, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West. Call us today to talk about your case and learn what to do next.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

The Difference Between BUI And DUI Is More Than Just A Letter

In Florida, and especially Key West, there are ample opportunities to take to the water and spend the day at sea. Many times, this type of outing involves alcohol, and when mixed with boating, the results can be similar to those when a person drinks and then drives a car. Just like alcohol can impair a driver’s ability to operate a car, the same can be said of someone who is drinking while behind the wheel of a boat. When you are pulled over and arrested for drinking and driving, the charge is a DUI, but when a boat is involved, the crime is referred to as a Boating Under the Influence. In both cases, it is important to aggressively defend the charges against you, but there are some differences between the two types of charges that might affect what type of defense strategy you decide to use.

The BUI statute defines a BUI as an event where an operator of a vessel is doing so while under the influence of alcohol or a substance that impairs the operator’s mental faculties. And, like a DUI, the BAC level for a BUI is 0.08%. But, here are some major differences between a DUI and a BUI that should be taken into consideration if you are charged with BUI:

• Who is the operator? With an automobile it is usually pretty clear who was driving, but on a boat most of the occupants take turns at the wheel and this can make it hard to pinpoint who was driving and when.
• Is probable cause a requirement? With a traffic stop, many of which can lead to a DUI arrest if the officer initiating the stop has cause to believe the driver has been drinking, reasonable suspicion is necessary. But with a BUI, there is no such requirement. An officer can board a boating vessel at any time. This is because there are extra precautions that must be taken when boating, such as having enough life jackets on board for every passenger, which gives an officer the right to stop a boat and make a safety check.
• Are the punishments for refusing to submit to a breath or blood test the same with BUI? No, the punishment is not the same in the two types of cases and that is because with a DUI a refusal can result in loss of your driver’s license, but with a BUI the punishment for refusal is imposition of a monetary fine.

Of course there are other differences between a DUI and a BUI, and it is important to partner with a defense attorney that knows the distinctions. The facts of your case will dictate the way you defend the charges, and we can help.

If you have questions about boating and drinking, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

Is Driving While On Drugs The New DUI?

When most people hear the phrase “driving under the influence” the image that most frequently comes to mind is that of a person who takes the wheel after having too much alcohol to drink. But there are other substances that can impair a person’s ability to properly operate a vehicle, and being caught driving while one of these substances is in your system can lead to an arrest. If you are pulled over, and the police believe you are on drugs, or taking things that can cause you to have difficulty driving, you will likely be arrested and charged.

With a number of states legalizing marijuana, it is possible that we will start seeing more people being charged with a drug-related crime if they are also driving while smoking. The increase in arrests associated with impaired driving in this regard has led some to wonder if driving while on drugs can be considered the “new DUI” and a lot of discussion has been had on the issue. For instance, an article discussing the subject had this to say:

• Studies show that driving with marijuana in your system is no more likely to cause an accident than driving without having partaken in the substance. This finding was based on statistical data, and in no way promoted the concept of driving during or after smoking marijuana.
• One conclusion drawn was that the impact smoking marijuana while driving is more difficult to determine than the influence drinking alcohol has on a person’s driving abilities.
• Detection of THC, the major component of marijuana, can be made for several days after a person has smoked pot. In contrast, alcohol leaves the system over the course of several hours and cannot be detected days later. This makes it hard to figure out how detrimental smoking marijuana and driving can actually be, because detection of the substance may come days after consumption. So, if you are in a wreck and tested for substances, marijuana may appear in your system even if you have not smoked in a few days. This fact could make it difficult for the prosecution to claim your driving pattern was impacted by smoking marijuana.

What this study shows, and the center of much of the debate around legalizing marijuana, is that the law does not currently provide a broad enough scope to include certain activities within the definition of “impaired driving”. The example used was that of driving after smoking, and the study went on to state not all laws include for treatment of this type of violation because the use of legalized marijuana is relatively new. If you have been charged with DUI as a result of smoking marijuana, it is crucial to investigate the facts so you can develop a defense that makes sense for your case. We can help.

If you have questions about driving while impaired, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West. We offer initial consultations by phone, and are just a call away.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

What Is An Administrative Suspension Of My Driver’s License, And How Do I Fight It?

Most of us rely on our cars to get to work, take our kids to school, go to Church, or any other of a number of daily activities. If you do not have a driver’s license, your ability to lawfully drive is put at risk, and you may end up having to rely on a friend or family member for transportation. If you do not have a reliable friend or family member, you may have to resort to public transportation or get around by taxi or another paid service. Having to resort to such measures for your day-to-day travel can be frustrating and become expensive. So, if your driver’s license has been suspended, it is critical that you take the steps necessary to fight for your right to drive and maintain at least a limited right to be on the road.

One of the most common causes of driver license suspension is in the case of a DUI. If your license is taken away from you as a result of being arrested for DUI, you have to act fast to fight that suspension. This type of license suspension is an administrative suspension that accompanies the criminal DUI charges, and it has to be defended just as aggressively as you defend the criminal portion of the DUI case. Here are some things you can do to fight the administrative suspension of your driver’s license when you get charged with DUI:

• Within ten days of the arrest, make a request for administrative review of your license suspension.
• Attend the administrative hearing, and present evidence in your favor as to why your right to drive should not be taken away from you.

Doing these things requires fast action on your part, as soon as you are arrested for DUI. You should also be prepared to assist your attorney in putting together facts that demonstrate your need to maintain your driver’s license, and provide any documentation or other tangible evidence in your possession that supports your position. The type of evidence needed varies from case to case, because no two cases are the same. A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney will know what types of things are beneficial to your case, and will help you gather the evidence needed. In many cases, even if you are not given back your license, you can obtain a limited right to drive. If you are given a limited right to drive, there are certain restrictions on your driving capabilities. Our office has experience helping people defend not only the criminal DUI charge against them, but also in pursuing remedies regarding your right to drive. We make sure you understand the case as it applies to your particular set of circumstances, so you can receive an outcome that meets your needs.

If you have questions about DUI’s or you’re driving privileges, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.