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Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Four Domestic Violence Myths Busted!

Domestic violence is a serious matter, and it is on the rise across the country. Notably, when criminal charges are filed, the situation can become confusing, because not all of the rules are clear and a lot of people are unsure about what types of behaviors rise to the level of domestic violence. Likewise, it is also unclear about when the police have the authority to step in an regulate an incident. Just like most things where a little bit of information leads to a larger amount of misinformation, there are many myths out there about the domestic violence laws and consequences. In order to understand this type of crime, it is important to know what is truth and what is merely urban legend or myth.

Here, we bust the top four domestic violence myths busted:

1. I started the case, so I can stop it any time I want. This is a common thinking among alleged victims or other people who called the police. This is simply not the case. Many times, once the wheels are set in motion, they are difficult to stop. This means that if a case is initiated out of anger, or an escalated argument, the consequences may be that certain family members are not allowed to see each other until the case completes. This is why it is so critical that when possible, parties are able to “cool off” before taking any action. When one of the adults of the home is no longer permitted on the premises, due to a No Contact Order, a real hardship on the family can take place. When children are not allowed to spend time with both parents under the same roof, or without third party supervision, the entire family dynamic changes.
2. Domestic violence is not an issue where I live. It can be easy to believe that problems considered undesirable only happen to other people, and in other neighborhoods. But, the truth is that domestic violence knows no geographic limitations. Cases arise across nearly every financial and educational demographic, and no location is immune.
3. To be considered “violence,” the physical contact has to be done with malicious intent. This is not accurate, but it’s a common thinking. In Florida, any physical contact against the will of the other person can meet the definition of battery.
4. Drugs and/or alcohol are usually involved in most domestic violence cases. While it is true that drugs and/or alcohol can help to escalate a situation, instances of domestic violence occur when people are clean and sober, as well as when they are not. Other factors are often present, such as a pattern of abuse or a psychological component that has gone unchecked. Do not look for drugs and/or alcohol to be the main indicator of a domestic violence incident.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is crucial to defend the charges quickly. This is especially true if kids are involved, or if there are other extenuating circumstances that require you to remain in your home with your accuser. We have experience investigating all types of criminal charges, and will help you develop a defense that fits the facts of your case.
Contact our office for answers to your questions about domestic violence. Let an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West help you today. We offer initial consultations by phone, and are just a call away.

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Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

What’s The Difference Between A No Contest And A Not Guilty Plea?

It is pretty well-known, or can be easily determined with a quick online search or an afternoon spent at the movies, that when a person is charged with a crime, at some point they enter a plea to the charges. There are a few choices when you enter a plea, and you need to understand the different types of pleas in order to make the right choice for you. You can enter a Guilty Plea, a Not Guilty plea, or a Plea of No Contest. Entering a Guilty Plea is pretty self-explanatory; it means that the defendant is agreeing they committed the act with which they are charged. But, the difference between a Not Guilty Plea and a Plea of No Contest is not quite as clear.

Here are the key differences in pleading Not Guilty versus pleading No Contest to a charge in Florida:

1. When you enter a Not Guilty Plea you are formally denying the charges, with no wiggle room for an admission or for speculation as to what type of plea you are entering.
2. When you enter a Plea of No Contest, you are neither denying nor admitting the charges. Instead, a No Contest Plea is a statement that you do not contest the charges against you. You are not admitting guilt, but you are admitting the basic facts.

The legal consequences of each type of plea is reason enough to understand the difference, so you can enter a plea that won’t end up hurting you in the long run.
A No Contest Plea is frequently used when a defendant wants to avoid having to go to trial, and also does not want the plea used against them later, if the case becomes difficult to defend. Also, a Guilty Plea can be used against a person in a civil lawsuit. So, a No Contest Plea will be best for a defendant who is resolving a case that could lead to a lawsuit, such as battery. A Not Guilty Plea will not ultimately lead to a trial, so you have to be confident in your position if you decide to make this choice. During a trial, you will be required to present evidence that supports your position, and then allow either the Judge or jury to weigh the evidence and come to a conclusion. History buffs will remember that one of the most famous Not Guilty Pleas entered in the history of criminal law is the one entered by O.J. Simpson, when he was charged with murder. In that case, the entry of a Not Guilty Plea resulted in a historically long trial, with an ultimate jury verdict of Not Guilty as well.

If you are not sure what type of plea makes sense for you, call our office for help. It is our job to review the facts of your case and analyze them alongside the law, and then provide you with sound advice on how to proceed.

If you have questions about how to plea in a criminal case, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

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Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Three Rules On Records Expungement

The technology at our fingertips gives us the ability to search and share a lot of information quickly. Smartphones, tablets, and other devices make it easy to find things online with a simple search, and sometimes those that take advantage of this super technology do so for the wrong reasons. Identity theft is a huge problem, as are security breaches at lending institutions and even within your email account. The problems recently reported with hacked emails and other technological breaches do teach us important lessons though, and one of those is that what you say and do is always available to those with an internet connection. If you have not posted anything embarrassing on Facebook, or tweeted something you now regret, the chances of you being worried about your electronic footprint are probably low. But if you have things in your past you’d rather not be made public, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do to keep your personal information private. And, if the data you want to keep out of public view involves a crime, you have probably thought about how you can “clear” your record. Fortunately, there is a way for this to be done, but there are some guidelines in place that you have to follow.

Pursuant to Florida law, you can ask the Court to expunge your record, but here are three of the rules for this process that you need to understand:

● If you were arrested but never charged, you can ask the Court to clear your arrest record.
● If you were arrested and charges were filed, but those charges were later dismissed you can ask for an expungement of your record.
● If you were arrested and charges were file, but you were eventually found not guilty of the charges, you can seek an expungement.

If your case involved going on probation, you can ask for an expungement of the record once you have successfully completed all of the terms of your probation. Another important thing to know is that expungement is usually a process that only first-time offenders use, and the type of charge is also a factor. The benefit of having your record expunged is that the data is no longer visible to public view. Call us today. We will go over the facts of your case, and let you know if this option is available to you.

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

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Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Two Problems With Domestic Violence Cases

When people are arguing, it is not uncommon for things to quickly escalate. Any time emotions are involved, there is a good possibility that things said or done are taken out of context, and this can lead to misunderstandings that get out hand fast. In some instances, these emotions become so overwhelming that some type of violence is also involved. If that happens, there may be a claim of domestic violence made, and this type of criminal case presents problems that do not exist in other criminal matters.

When a claim of domestic violence is made, it sets in motion a chain of events that is difficult to stop. Two problems that this presents in domestic violence cases are:

● If 911 is called, someone is going to jail. It is the policy of most law enforcements agencies that, if the police respond to a domestic violence complaint, someone is going to jail. Unfortunately, this arbitrary rule also applies when someone else makes the complaint, like a neighbor or passerby.
● A domestic violence arrest can often lead to a judge issuing a No Contact Order. This means that you can have no contact with the alleged victim, including sharing the same residence or speaking on the phone. This, of course, can pose a significant hardship on a married couple or family.

These problems are unique to domestic violence cases, and can present obstacles to defending this type of case. Our goal is to respect the safety needs of you and your family, while still aggressively defending your case. Our office does not condone domestic violence, but we do understand how the emotional aspect of these types of cases can wreak havoc with the laws that have been put in place to protect potential victims. In order to walk this fine line, it is essential to gather all of the evidence and put on the strongest defense possible. For answers to your questions about domestic violence, and how it can impact your daily life, call us today.

Again, once the domestic violence machine is set in motion, it is hard to stop. But, our law firm has a lot of success returning our client’s lives back to normal. We can work to get the No Contact Order lifted, and we can work to get the case dismissed or reduced.

If you want more information about how to defend a domestic violence charge, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West to schedule an appointment today.

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Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Can I Be Detained Without Also Be Arrested?

Any time you see the red and blue lights of a police cruiser come on in your rear view mirror, or are approached by the police for questioning, a dozen questions go through your mind. You might be wondering if you will be arrested, and if so, how you will defend yourself. Or, you might have concern over whether certain things you say will come back to haunt you later, and the thought of exercising your “right to remain silent” could cross your mind. Being arrested brings up all of these thoughts, and more, but what if you are not actually arrested and only detained?

The questions surrounding detention generally center on how long you can be detained, without an arrest, before you are allowed to be on your way. While the police do have the authority to detain you without actually making an arrest, there are some guidelines. For example, if you are pulled over for speeding, it is reasonable to expect that you will not be permitted to drive off until the officer finishes writing the citation. But, if you were detained longer than you believe was reasonable, you might consider the following:

• The initial reason for the detention. If the police detained you longer than was necessary to perform the initial reason for the stop (e.g. running a red light), the detention may be improper.
• New reasons for a detention. If, however, the police observed or suspected a new offense (e.g. smelling marijuana after conducting a traffic stop for running a red light), they continued detention may be okay.
• Whether a reasonable person, in your situation, would have felt free to leave. In many cases you are free to go, once the officer tells you that you can leave. In other cases, a reasonable person would have felt they could leave. And, in some circumstances, no reasonable person would have felt free to leave. Any time you voluntarily agree to hang around, you will be hard pressed to argue you were kept without reason.

The facts of each case are different, so you have to develop a defense that fits the specific circumstances of your case. When you believe you have been unlawfully detained, you have to show that you believed you were not permitted to leave without the officer’s consent and that no reasonable person in your situation would have felt free to leave. We can help by examining the factors present in your case and coming up with a defense that makes sense for you.

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

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Drug Crimes Uncategorized

How Are Drug Cases Classified?

If you are arrested for a drug related offense, you need to know what you are facing, and this starts with figuring out the exact charges against you. Some drug charges are misdemeanors, while other cases are classified as felonies. Likewise, there is a host of different charges, ranging from possession charges to more serious charges, like possession with intent to distribute.

The way your case is classified depends on the following things:

• The amount of substance involved.
• The type of substance involved.
• Whether you have a prior record.

Generally speaking, a possession charge is made when the defendant has a controlled substance on their person, and the prosecution is able to prove that the defendant knew or should have known the substance was on their person and that they had control over the substance. This is easiest for the prosecution to do when the drugs are found on your person, rather than in a location related to you. You could also be charged with possession if drugs are found in your car or home. If you have enough control over your house or car and drugs are found there, there is a chance you will be charged with possession.

There are number of factors that determine if the charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony. One of the most important factors is the amount of drugs found and what type of drugs were found. Possession of under 20 grams of marijuana, for example, is classified as a misdemeanor, while possession of cocaine falls into the felony category. The distinction is important, because the range of punishment is less for misdemeanor cases than it is for felonies.

There are also classifications within the categories of misdemeanor and felony. As you might expect, the more severe the degree of charge filed, the more severe punishment you face. If you have been arrested for a drug related offense, call us for help. We will work with you to develop a defense strategy that is the most likely to minimize the impact drug charges can have on your life.

Contact our office for answers to your questions about drug defense. Let an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West help you today. We offer initial consultations by phone, and we are always just a call away.

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Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

What Is An Assault, And How Is It Different From A Battery?

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in front of a television, or at the movies, has probably heard the legal phrase “assault and battery.” This phrase is commonly used to describe an incident where one person causes physical harm to another person. But in reality, these are two different crimes, and if you have been charged with assault and battery, it is important to know the distinction.

The word “assault” sounds like a physical act, and one that causes injury. The truth is that an assault does not necessarily have to be physical, the key is that the act (or word used) create a threat of imminent danger. Whether there was actually any imminent danger to the person assaulted is measured in terms of what the “victim” thought might happen. An assault is usually a lesser charge than the charge of battery, which is the actual act of causing harm. When trying to determine the difference between an assault and a battery, it can help to think of it like this:

• An assault is the threat to do harm that is made, which can be by the words used or actions that fall just short of inflicting an injury.
• A battery is the actual act that carries through with what was threatened.

Because the battery is what actually causes an injury, it is usually the more serious of the charges. In order to develop an effective defense, it is crucial to examine all of the facts of your case, and emphasize those that cast your behavior and actions in a favorable light. For an assault charge to stick, it is not necessary that you actually followed through with the threat, just that the person claiming to have been threatened thought you would do so. As you can imagine, defending this type of charge requires taking testimony from your accuser and arguing whether what you said or did was likely to cause a fear of harm. As for the battery portion of the case, some physical evidence of an injury is usually needed in order for a conviction to be made. If you have been charged with assault and /or battery, you need to act fast to get a qualified defense attorney in your corner. The sooner you start to investigate the facts of your case, against the legal backdrop, the sooner a viable defense will begin to emerge.

If you have questions about assault and battery or other criminal cases, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

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Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

Why The First Ten Days After A DUI Arrest Are So Important

One of the most devastating parts to many DUI cases is the possibility that you will have your driver’s license suspended. If your license is suspended, you will not be permitted to drive, and this can be a real hardship on you. Without the ability to drive, you may have to rely on a friend or family member to take you where you need to go, or you may even have to resort to taking a cab or calling a driving service. The expense of finding other forms of transportation can quickly add up, and it would be much better if you were able to drive yourself. It is possible to still drive, even if you get a DUI, but you have to act fast.

If your license was taken away when you were arrested for DUI, you can make a request for an administrative review of the suspension. However, you only have a limited time within which to make this request, so quick action is needed. You have ten days after the day of your DUI arrest to seek an administrative review, and these ten days are important because:

● If you miss the deadline, you are not able to make a late request for review of your license suspension.
● If you do not make a request for review, one will not be given, and this means your license will be suspended for the time set by the court in your case.

In a good number of cases where timely review is made, the driver is granted a modified right to drive. With a modified license you are able to go to and from work, school, church, doctor appointments, and to see your attorney. The benefit of getting a modified license is that you are still able to drive for necessary purposes, and this allows you to take care of the things that you need to take care of every day. For more information about modified driver’s licenses, the deadline to make a request for review of your license suspension with a DUI, and what you are allowed to do if you are given a modified right to drive, call us today. We will look at the facts of your case and let you know what evidence should be presented at the administrative review hearing, and make sure you are prepared for the matter. It is worth noting this part of a DUI case is separate from the criminal portion, but it is just as important to take an aggressive position in both parts of your case.

If you have questions about DUIs and your right to drive, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

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Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

How Repeat DUI Cases Are Different From First Offenses

If you have been charged with a crime in the past, you are all too aware that being arrested again can mean more trouble the second or third time around than it did the first. The more often you are arrested, the more harsh the penalty. And, if all of your prior cases are driving violations, you run the risk of losing your driving privileges. If you are not able to drive, it can be hard to get to work or school without imposing on friends or family, and this can get really old really fast. So, it is important to know how a repeat case is different from a first offense, and what you can do if you are charged a second or even third or fourth time with the same charge.

A repeat DUI is different from a first time DUI in the following ways:

• The potential time you might have to spend in jail with a first offense is between six and nine months, and you may not be incarcerated at all the first time around. But if this is your second DUI, you are looking at nine to twelve months in jail, and for a third time offense the jail time can be up to one year.
• A typical fine for a first time DUI is between $500.00 and $2,000.00, but is between $1,000.00 to $4,000.00 for a second case and $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 for a third time offense.
• You can lose your license from between 180 days to one year for the first DUI you get, but a second offense carries the possibility of loss of your driving privileges for 5 years and a third case goes up to ten years. The amount of time your license is suspended for can be reduced, and you might also have the possibility of obtaining a modified license.

The differences in possible jail time, loss of license, and fines you have to pay for a first time DUI vs. a repeat case are severe. The best way to avoid a repeat offense is to designate a driver or take a cab. But, we understand that even with the best planning, things happen. If you have been charged with a subsequent DUI, it is crucial that you partner with the right defense attorney quickly, and aggressively defend the charges against you. We can help.

If you have questions about first or subsequent DUI charges, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

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Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

What Is An Interlock Device, And I Will I Have To Get One?

DUI cases are different for every person. For instance, not everyone is a first-time offender, or perhaps in your case you refused to take the breath test and this is not always the case. The facts of your personal case can dictate what type of defense strategy you are going to use, but you should also have a basic understanding of some of the more common outcomes that are possible. A good example is for a case where the defendant agrees to go on probation and agrees to abide by certain rules and regulations while on probation. While the terms of probation are different for each case, it is not unusual to have a few of the same or similar requirements from case to case.

One of the most common terms of probation for a first time DUI case is the requirement to have an interlock device installed in the driver’s car. An interlock is a device that requires the driver to blow into it before the car’s ignition will start. The idea is that if you are on probation for DUI, you will not be able to drink and drive again if your car will not start. Some of the other characteristics of an interlock device are:

● The technology used in the device is such that if your BAC is over a certain level, the car will not start. A typical level for most devices is 0.02.
● The device registers your BAC, and keeps a log of the results. This log might be reviewed by the court or by a probation officer.
● The device can be costly to have installed, but you may be able to arrange to make payments to the company responsible for the installation.

It is possible that you may be required to have an interlock device installed in your vehicle as part of your probation, even if you are a first time offender. This might happen if your BAC was significantly over the legal limit, or if there are other extenuating circumstances in your case. If you are a repeat offender, it is even more likely the court will order that an interlock device be installed in your car as part of your plea agreement to go on probation. For help with your case, and to make sure the terms of probation you must follow are something you can do, contact our office and let us handle your defense.

If you have questions about DUI defense and interlock devices, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West to schedule an appointment today.