Drug Crimes Uncategorized

When Will Marijuana Be Legal In Florida?

Not that many years ago the State of Colorado decided to legalize marijuana, for limited purposes. A handful of states soon followed suit, and there are now at least two dozen states with some form of legalized marijuana on their law books. Florida allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and this step has led many to wonder when states will begin to adopt measures that legalize the use of marijuana for multiple purposes. The question is a good one, because until clear lines are drawn in the sand, there remains the possibility of being arrested and charged with possession. Possession charges can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of marijuana, but, in most cases, it’s a misdemeanor. Given these chances, it is smart to keep informed about what is in store for us all as far as the legalization of marijuana is concerned.

An article on the subject had this to say about what we can expect now that medical marijuana has been given the green light in Florida:

• Just because legalization of the substance for medical purposes has passed, do not expect many of those that are in need of medical marijuana to receive it quickly. This is because some of the rules and regulations that will govern how this law works have not yet been drafted, and they are not slated to be drafted for a few more months yet.
• Once everything is in place, a patient must first establish a three month relationship with a physician before a prescription can be written.
• Terminal patients are entitled to a different strength prescription than patients who do not suffer from a terminal illness.

With these rules in place and more to come, it is easy to imagine a legal world full of confusion when it comes to marijuana-related cases. If you have been charged with possession or another marijuana related crime, it is best to get an experienced attorney to help you. While many of the laws surrounding possession remain unchanged, there may be defenses possible to your case that simply did not exist a few short years ago. Let us help you find a defense strategy that works, and take on your case with skilled and thoughtful representation.

If you have questions about how to handle a drug charge, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West. Call us today for help.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

An Update On Gun Laws In Florida

For better or for worse, the deadly shooting of Trayvon Martin, and the subsequent George Zimmerman case, put Florida front and center in the national spotlight on several important topics. Chief among these topics was what rights a person has to use deadly force, whether there is a duty to retreat before using such deadly force, and whether the gun and weapons laws are doing enough to protect innocent citizens. These are, no doubt, important issues and we could all benefit from a quick overview of the gun laws in our state.

Florida gun laws attempt to balance the rights of individuals to carry guns with the rights of people to remain free from the hazards presented by irresponsible gun ownership. The laws also attempt to reconcile the need for enforceable rules among parties to special relationships, like an employer and an employee. The legislature has given an employer the authority to allow or disallow employees from carrying weapons in the workplace, and there are also provisions for ownership by the legislators themselves. In many instances, these special provisions will not apply to the average gun owners, but these standard rules of ownership will apply:

● Short barreled rifles, shotguns, and machine guns are illegal to own.
● There is a 3-day waiting period for ownership.
● Persons under 21 years of age and convicted felons are not allowed to own a firearm.
● It is a felony to possess a firearm on or near a school.

In addition to the Florida state laws on gun ownership, there are also federal regulations that must be followed. If you are a gun owner and need information about your rights, or if you have been charged with a weapons related crime, call our office for help. We will investigate the facts of your case, and fight for your rights. We tackle issues like illegal gun ownership, incidents involving both concealed and open carrying of a weapon, and any other rights that go along with being a gun owner. Our goal is to protect your rights within the bounds of the law.

For help with gun charges, contact our office today. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Is My Cell Phone Safe From A Search?

Today’s cell phones are more like mini-computers than they are phones. The amount of data you can search, store, and share from your phone is immense. With the capabilities of modern cell devices, it is no wonder that most of us use our phones for work, recreation, and research. When you are able to pull up an image or vital information just by turning on your phone, your daily tasks can be completed much quicker, and with a high level of accuracy. But what do you do if your phone contains incriminating texts, emails, or photos? Is your cell phone and the things you have chosen to store on your phone, safe from a search?

A 2014 case from the country’s highest court has spoken on this issue. The State Supreme Court ruled as follows:

• Search of data contained on a cell phone is not permitted without a warrant.
• Your tablet or laptop is also likely to be protected by this ruling.

For these reasons, and others discussed at length by the Court, it was ruled that the search of a cell phone is not allowed. The Court was careful to point out that a lot of the information contained on a cell phone is just as private as what one might have in their home and made reference to the America’s early desire to prevent unwarranted searches. The court made special note of the fact that many of us store not only general information on our cell phones, but also information of a more intimate nature. The Court reasoned that it is the expectation of privacy in the more personal things being stored on a cell phone that are deserving of protection. Opposition to this ruling was quick to point out that warrantless searched have historically been permitted, for safety reasons. However, in the instance of a cell phone search that danger does not exist, because as sophisticated as cell phones have become it is unlikely they can be used as a weapon. If you have additional questions about this evolving area of the law, call our office for answers.

If you want more information about what the police can and cannot do with your cell phone, call our office today. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Three Reasons To Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested you might be tempted to try and find a way out on your own and represent yourself in Court. You are allowed to proceed in this fashion, but if you do, you will be held to the same standards of an attorney. This means you will be expected to be familiar with all of the court rules and procedures, including when to appear in court and how to introduce evidence on your own behalf. This is tricky for some lawyers and even more so if you do not have the education or training to undertake these tasks.

So, while the law does allow a defendant or party to an action to act as their own attorney, it is not advisable. Here are three good reasons to hire a criminal defense attorney instead:

• Many criminal defense attorneys focus their practices on a few areas of the law and after time have built up a working relationship with the prosecuting attorneys. This relationship becomes beneficial when negotiating terms of punishment, because after people have worked together for a time, it is common to know what to expect. It is also gives you the ability to anticipate what type of strategy will be used in the case against you, so an effective defense can be presented.
• The terminology used in legal cases is almost like a foreign language, and you can expect the judge and prosecuting attorney to use words you may not know. Cases can move quickly, and if you are uncertain about the meaning of what is being said or written, it is hard to defend yourself.
• Without knowing the rules of evidence, you will not know what to do to keep harmful pieces of information from being admitted against you and may also not know how to be sure the good evidence does find its way to the court. When the cards are stacked against you in this way, it is difficult to be effective when defending your case.

So, while it might seem like a money-saver to represent yourself, you can actually end up with a bad result and spending more to get it fixed. If you have been arrested for a crime, even if it seems minor, call us for help. We will make sure the defense fits the facts, and will work with you to reach satisfactory results.

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

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Should I Let The Police In Without A Warrant?

The rights given to us by the amendments to the United States Constitution have been under scrutiny lately because some of those rights are hot button political issues, and our country just saw an extremely hot Presidential election. Another important right that gets a lot of press is the right to remain secure in your home, free from an unreasonable search or seizure. In that regard, the right to bear arms has been hotly debated in recent weeks and months.

The 4th Amendment grants this right, but knowing how it works in real life is a lot different than what is shown on television or in the movies. If you have ever thought about whether it is a good idea to let the police perform a search without a warrant, the answer is no!

Here’s some additional information about what can happen if the police knock on your door:

• You can step outside your home and still visit with the officer, at least to learn the reason for the visit. Perhaps the reason for the visit is to find out information about activity reported in your area, and if you not involved the information you provide can help keep your neighborhood safe.
• Even if the incident that brought the police to your home, is minor such as a false security alarm or a concern about excessive noise, you may be asked to let the police step inside and perform a search. Rather than allow that to happen, you can usually resolves minor issues by making a quick apology for the inconvenience.
The bottom line here is that if the police do not have a warrant, do not let them enter. But, be sure to remain calm and polite, and contact an attorney as soon as possible if the matter escalates.

If you have questions about search warrants, call our office for answers. Allow an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West to help you today.

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

Can My Silence Be Used Against Me?

When the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, you could almost hear the cheers from criminal defendants across the nation. It seemed as though the government was finally going to be made to recognize the individual rights of a criminal defendant. Chief among these rights is the right to remain silent, because as we have all heard by now “anything you say can and will be used against you.” But, over the years since the Miranda case was decided, the rights that were seemingly guaranteed by this landmark decision have slowly begun to erode, and people are left wondering whether its better to remain silent or explain themselves to the police. One of the most difficult decisions when you are being placed under arrest is whether to remain silent or talk, because there is a common feeling that exercising the right to remain silent is seen as an admission of guilt.

Thus, we all question whether we should provide some sort of response to police questioning, or whether our silence will be used against us and if so, what Miranda rights truly remain? Here are a few tips about remaining silent:

• While it is your right to keep a tight lip, the police may look upon it with suspicion. Many people believe that if you have nothing to hide, then there is no reason to keep quiet.
• If you decide to remain silent, it is improper to use that silence against you as “proof” of your guilt. This can best be explained as an extension of your right against self-incrimination (referred to as “taking the 5th”). There is no requirement that you divulge incriminating information, and your remaining silent helps to protect that right.
• If your case goes before a jury, you should expect the judge to admonish the jury that your silence cannot be used against you.

In theory, this is how it works, but as the first bullet point makes clear, it can seem suspicious. Given the fine line between drawing attention to yourself through silence and simply wishing to exercise the rights guaranteed to you, it is best to call on a qualified attorney if you are concerned about this issue. We represent people charged with various types of crimes with all sorts of fact patterns. We know how to help, and we are here to offer aggressive defense of any charges against you.

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

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Uncategorized

Why You Should Question The Traffic Stop In A DUI Case

If you have ever received a speeding ticket, or known someone who has, you have probably heard more than one version of the events that led up to the traffic stop and the eventual ticket. In many of these cases it might seem like there is no question but that the driver was driving faster than the posted speed limit, and little can be done to fight the charges. If this sounds familiar, you might also have the same idea about a traffic stop that leads to a DUI arrest. One might think that challenging the reason for the stop can seem nearly impossible, because most people believe it is the driver’s word against the officer’s word. But, questioning the traffic stop is a crucial part of our firm’s DUI defense. Here are some reasons why you should consider making the argument.

Most often, a DUI is the result of being pulled over by a police officer, being asked for impaired driving, and being asked take a breath test. The legal blood-alcohol limit in Florida is 0.08, and it does not take much for many drivers to reach this level. Sometimes, there is a limited defense to challenge the accusation that the driver was impaired. But, if you are able to show the police officer did not have a valid, lawful to conduct the initial traffic stop, you can suppress all of the subsequent evidence against you, including field sobriety exercises and the breath test.

Here are some other considerations regarding the traffic stop that leads to a DUI:

• What was the reason for the stop, and how was it articulated by the police? Believe it or not there are standards that have to be followed, and if the police do not show the stop was within the letter of the law, anything that transpired after you were pulled over should not be used against you.
• The standard for pulling you over (reasonable suspicion) is much less than the standard that must be met in order to make an arrest (probable cause). It is important to distinguish between the two and pinpoint what standard was used for your stop.

A DUI conviction can mean loss of your driver’s license and even possible jail time. So if you have reason to believe any part of the process was improper, you should question it during the defense of your case. We can help – call us today to find out more.

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

Criminal Procedure Uncategorized

What Is The Three Strikes Law?

The phrase “three strikes and you are out” is well-known among baseball players and fans. When the player at bat swings and misses for the third time, their turn is over, and they are considered “out.” This phrase also has meaning in the legal world, especially in the world of criminal law. In order to gain a better understanding of the three strikes law, take a look below.

In Florida, the Three Strikes Law works like this for habitual felony offenders:

• If you have been convicted of two or more felonies you can be punished under the Three Strikes Law. When your case is considered a “third strike” case, the Court has the power to impose extended prison terms. Depending on the charges against you, this might mean a life sentence.
• If you have been previously been convicted of two or more felonies, or another qualifying offense, you are classified as a habitual offender. The Court is empowered to impose enhanced punishments in these instances, especially if the felony for which you are being sentenced was committed while imprisoned, or during a term of supervision.

Harsh sentences are imposed under the Three Strikes Law as a way to deter future bad acts. The thought is that if a defendant is made to endure the maximum possible punishment, or close to it, the likelihood that a crime will be committed is decreased. Given the severity of the possible range of punishment in these circumstances, it is critical to enlist the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Once you are labeled a habitual offender, not only do you face these enhanced punishment possibilities, but that label may follow you long after you serve your term.
This can make it hard to get a job and provide for your family, leaving you with few attractive options for making ends meet. For help, call our office.

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