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Uncategorized

How a Lawyer Can Defend You After a Marine Life Violation Charge

Key West offers abundant opportunities to enjoy marine activities, whether you are a deep-sea fishing or flats fishing enthusiast. But it’s easy to run afoul of the vast network of Florida laws protecting fish and other marine life. Anything from not having the right license to going over the maximum lobster catch allowed could land you in trouble. You could receive a ticket or you could be charged with a misdemeanor for a more serious violation, such as spearfishing with a bangstick or powerhead.

Your first line of defense is learning the rules that pertain to your activity. For saltwater activities in the Keys and elsewhere in the state, review fishing rules and regulations before leaving shore.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is the agency that monitors and enforces state and federal statutes. FWC officers patrol on and offshore and can issue citations or conduct investigations concerning marine-life crimes. If you are stopped by FWC officials, be polite but explain that you would like to have your lawyer present for any questioning. At that point an officer should stop questioning you. Even if an officer tells you that you are facing only a small fine, do not take the promise at face value. The officer could be hoping you will give up additional information. Contacting a lawyer right away can save you in fines and other penalties, including probation or even jail time.

The most serious hunting and fishing violations can result in months of jail time and hundreds of dollars in fines. Contacting an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable in federal and state marine life laws can help you avoid an unpleasant outcome.

Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive experience fighting for his clients in marine life violation cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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key west Warrants & Arrest

Five Reasons Not to Talk to the Police Without a Lawyer (and What to do About it if You Did)

Despite the Miranda warnings familiar to every TV crime show audience, people in custody often talk to police and prosecutors without an attorney present. But the TV shows are right: If you are under arrest, you should never submit to police questioning without the presence of an attorney who has experience defending clients in criminal matters.

Here are five reasons why you should consult an experienced criminal lawyer:

  • Your lawyer knows your rights — Often defendants think they are required to give police anything they ask, particularly if they are convinced it will help their case. Not only should you not answer questions without a lawyer, but you should never submit to DNA testing, allow searches or hand over anything to law enforcement without asking a lawyer first.
  • Police and prosecutors may say they want to help you but their goal is to convict — The U.S. justice system is intentionally adversarial, with police and prosecutors seeking convictions while defendants and their lawyers fight to have charges dropped or win acquittals. Any offer to help you in exchange for information should be viewed with suspicion. You need a lawyer to analyze the potential value of cooperation.
  • You may be helping law enforcement build a case — Sometimes defendants, to please their interrogators, give information that is later used against them. Just because an official offers to give you a better deal for cooperating doesn’t mean they are bound by it. Police are allowed to make promises during interrogations and break them. The presence of a lawyer during interrogation puts a check on such practices.
  • Your lawyer can protect you during an interrogation — A good lawyer will advise you on what questions you should or should not answer. He or she will also see through police ploys, such as a friendly offer of a can of soda that is later confiscated to test for DNA. Likewise, when police ask an unfair question or one whose answer could incriminate you, your lawyer can object before you have a chance to give information that could hurt your case.
  • If you’re not in custody, anything you say still can be used against you — Even a routine traffic stop can be investigatory, triggering the requirement that police give Miranda In Florida, you are required only to identify yourself during a traffic stop and to hand over license and registration information when police ask for it. Answering further questions can be declined on the grounds that you request the right of counsel.

When retaining counsel in a criminal defense case, look for a lawyer who has successfully defended clients facing criminal charges in Florida and specifically in cases similar to yours.

Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive successfully fought for his clients and their rights in criminal defense cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

What a DUI Conviction Could Cost You

A DUI conviction, in addition to carrying stiff penalties such as jail and driver’s license suspension, can be hurt your finances. The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that the total cost of a DUI conviction, including fines, insurance increases and attorney fees, is typically around $8,000. This alone is incentive to seek out the best counsel to mount a careful defense — if avoiding jail and license suspension isn’t reason enough.

These are some of the out-of-pocket costs you may face:

  • Fines — For a first conviction in a DUI case, the fines are $500 to $1,000 — and double that amount for DUIs for blood alcohol content of .15 percent or more. The fines also increase if you’ve had previous DUI convictions.
  • DMV charges — The DMV will charge fees for any driving records you require, as well as other fees associated with reinstating your license or temporary licensing.
  • Probation costs — If you’ve been sentenced to probation, you may have to pay fees associated with drug testing, telephone reporting, monitoring and other administrative costs.
  • Community service — Your sentence or plea agreement may also include community service with the option to pay the hourly rate for the work instead of completing the service.
  • Alcohol education program — In Florida, drunk driving sentences can also require completion of an alcohol education program, for which you will be charged nearly $300.
  • Towing and impoundment costs — Even if you’re not convicted, you may have to pay for your car to be towed and impounded, which is standard procedure after a DUI arrest.

So it’s clear that a win in court — or even a fair plea deal — can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Hiring a knowledgeable lawyer who has successfully defended clients in DUI cases can make all the difference. These cases can be complex and many criminal defense lawyers don’t have experience with the nuances of the process. A skilled attorney may be able to have charges dropped or reduced and, even if you are convicted, can help you minimize the penalties and the long-term consequences of a DUI on your record.

Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive experience fighting for his clients in DUI cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Categories
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

What Are Your Options After Being Charged With a DUI in Key West?

When you’re arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, you must deal with the criminal court charges as well as the mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.

A typical DUI arrest occurs after a traffic stop, which could be due to a violation like running a red light or speeding or to the driver swerving or showing other signs of impairment. Police can also arrest an impaired person in a parked vehicle if that person is in control of the vehicle with keys in proximity. An officer can request that a driver participate in a field sobriety exercise and may also ask to administer a Breathalyzer test or a blood test if the driver shows signs of impairment.

As in other states, the legal threshold for impairment is blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. For drivers ages 21 and under, the law considers a BAC of .02 percent as impaired. Even first-time DUI convictions carry stiff penalties, such as 90-day license suspension, jail time, fines and reinstatement fees and the loss of student loan eligibility.

With so much at stake, engaging a skilled lawyer with successful experience defending DUI cases is critical. Your lawyer may call into question the probable cause for the traffic stop, the validity of the breath test, the conditions of the field sobriety test and the timing of the blood alcohol test. Alternatively, your lawyer may advise you to accept a plea deal that reduces the charge to reckless driving. Every case is different and your lawyer will consider all of the facts before advising you on your best options.

Another legal problem to be resolved is that after a DUI arrest, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your driver’s license. Your lawyer can petition the DHSMV for a civil hearing to seek reinstatement of your license due to hardship, which requires proof of enrollment in DUI school and, in some cases, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to six months.

Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, are a team of attorneys and paralegals who have handled many DUI cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Categories
battery

What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in Florida?

In Florida, assault and battery are two separate crimes, despite often being linked together. Both carry potentially serious penalties, including incarceration and fines. The difference is that assault refers to a threat that causes fear of harm, whereas battery is an unwanted touching or causing of physical harm.

An incident can be both assault and battery — a threat combined with unwanted contact — or just one of the two. Imagine a scenario in which someone is slapped from behind. If they didn’t see it coming, they weren’t fearful. In such a case, there would be a battery but no assault.

Both offenses may be charged in varying degrees. Ordinary assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, while aggravated assault — one that involves a deadly weapon — is a third-degree felony. If the deadly weapon is a firearm, then a distinct charge applies: aggravated assault with a firearm — a crime that carries a mandatory minimum three-year prison term.

Simple battery is a misdemeanor in Florida and carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or 12 months’ probation and a $1,000 fine. Aggravated battery requires the intent to do serious bodily harm or the use of a deadly weapon and carries a sentence of up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.

If you’ve been charged with assault and/or battery, your best recourse is an experienced, skilled lawyer who will review the facts of your case and determine a defensive strategy. Potential defenses include showing that the incident was accidental or otherwise unintentional, that the alleged victim gave consent for physical contact or that the action was made in self-defense, in defense of someone else or of property.

Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive experience successfully defending clients in assault and battery cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.