Criminal Defense

Three Ways Clearing Your Record Can Help

Websites and smart phone apps like Facebook and Instagram are a lot of fun, and a good way to share your life with your friends and family, but not everything about your life should be made public. Certain things are best left private, but with easy access to online documents it is getting harder and harder to maintain your privacy. When the information that is available to anyone with a connection is damaging to your reputation or could harm your chances of getting a job, it is time to take steps to get that information out of public viewing. One way to do this is to seek an order of expungement, of any criminal cases where you were a defendant.

Three ways having your records cleared can help you are:

  • When you get an order of expungement to clear your record, potential employers or landlords will not be able to find information about cases against you when doing a background check. This might mean the difference between getting that dream job, or being able to rent in a desirable part of town.
  • An order of expungement will keep telemarketers from finding out information about you and selling that information to companies that create “lists”.
  • Having your records expunged ensures your private information is not visible to the public, which can help if you want to keep your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Identify theft is a huge problem and the more data that can be found out about you by a simple internet search, the worse off you might be when trying to protect yourself.

In order to be eligible for an expungement, the facts of your case must meet certain legal requirements. We know what the facts include, and how to determine if they exist in your case. If so, we know how to file the paperwork to ask the Court to grant your request for an order of expungement, and then fill you in on the impact of that order. It is important to know that not everything is subject to being expunged, and for the things that you can get off of your record, some governmental agencies may still have access.

For answers to your questions about records expungement, call a competent criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for help. We offer representation for a wide range of offenses, call us to schedule an appointment.

The Top Two Ways To Violate Probation

Agreeing to go on probation is a good way to stay out of jail if you have been charged with a crime. But, it only works if you are able to stick to the terms of your probation. When you do that, you get the benefit of the bargain you made, which most times includes a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. However, if you make a mistake, it can cost you your probation and more. A probation violation is a new charge, so you will now have to defend that charge and the original charge. And when you violate probation, you are likely to be punished to the full extent of the law for the initial charge filed against you. So, knowing what to do while on probation becomes of the upmost importance, and we are here to help get you through this phase of your case successfully.

The first step to making sure you don’t commit a probation violation is in knowing what constitutes a violation. The top two ways to violate probation are:

  • By committing a new crime. Any new crime is a probation violation, and you will then be defending the new crime, the original crime, and the crime of probation violation. If you need to change your circle of friends to stay away from opportunities to get in trouble, we recommend you do so. You will be happier in the end, when you are successful on probation, and can move forward with things that matter.
  • Committing a new crime is an actual violation of probation, but there are also things that are classified as technical violations that will cause your probation to be revoked. The biggest technical violation is falling to pay fines and costs. If you are having financial difficulty, let your attorney know so alternate arrangements can be made if possible. It is also a technical violation to miss an appointment, or fail to check in when scheduled. We recommend you put all important dates on your calendar, and refer to it regularly so you know when and where you are supposed to be taking action to comply with the terms of your probation.

For more information, call our office. We will help you to understand what is expected of you and answer any questions you have about what you can or cannot do while on probation. And, if you have been charged with a probation violation, we can help there too.

 

For more information about probation, call our office today. Contact us today schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. The first visit is a free initial consultation.

Three Ways Social Media Can Hurt Your Defense

For those of you that still rent DVD’s, a recent movie became available, telling the story of fast food giant McDonald’s. The movie focused on the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc’s interaction with the brothers as Kroc built the McDonald’s empire. Sadly, the McDonald brothers lost out in the end, and their downfall was reminiscent of another pair of brothers who had a great idea and then saw it slip through their hands. The other doomed duo is the Winklevoss brothers, who famously took Mark Zuckerberg to task for “stealing” Facebook. When Facebook was first rolled out, it was for the exclusive use of college students. However, and as we all know, it has grown exponentially since that time. Facebook has millions of users, all of whom take to the site daily (sometimes multiple times a day) to post a photo or a few lines about what they are currently doing. This is fun and can be a good way to stay in touch with out of state friends and family, but it can also get you in trouble if your posts are of a certain type.

Three ways social media can hurt your defense are best illustrated by looking at a DUI case. Consider these things:

  • If you post a photo or check in to a bar or other place where alcohol is served, and are later pulled over for drinking, your posts can be used as evidence against you in a DUI prosecution. So, before you pose with a shot or a glass of wine, think about how that photo could incriminate you.
  • If you don’t make a post, but a friend tags you, that friend’s post can be used against you. Be careful about who you give tagging rights to, and ask to approve a photo before being tagged. If you get tagged without being asked, you can remove the tag and help to eliminate incriminating information.
  • A time frame can easily be established by following your social media activity. So if you get behind the wheel shortly after having a few drinks, it will be hard to argue that you had “sobered up” before driving.

Some things you can do to minimize the impact social media has on defense of a criminal action is to stay off sites until the next day, or make your accounts private. Even then, there are ways to access your data. And, we understand that taking part in events often times includes posting on social media. For those times where you are not able to keep damaging information off the internet, we can help. Our job is to analyze all of the evidence and create a defense that will work for your case.

 

For more information about DUI cases, call our office today. Contact us today schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. The first visit is a free initial consultation.

Three Factors That Could Influence A Boating And Drinking Case

Drinking and driving is not reserved only for driving a car. There can be cases where a defendant is arrested and charged with boating and driving. This is a common type of case in Florida, where there are plenty of spots to hit the water, so it is important to understand the charges. There are some similarities between a DUI and a BWI, but there are also some factors that are unique only to BWI that might help with your defense.

Some of the typical defense that are raised in DUI cases have to do with the breath test results, such as challenging the way the test was administered or showing that there was another substance in the driver’s system that gave off a false positive. A BWI has unique factors that might lead an officer to believe you have been boating and drinking, such as:

  • Having spent too much time in the sun, which can affect your body’s physical properties.
  • Not drinking enough water while out in the sun, which can lead to dehydration.
  • Being a novice boater, which might mean you are driving erratically.
  • Choppy waters, which can lead to becoming sea sick.

If you are facing a drinking while boating charge, let us help. The type of defense you use could be similar to a DUI case, but with additional evidence needed. Our team of experienced DUI and BWI defense attorneys knows how to develop a defense for this special type of case that will fit the facts of your case. The possible punishments for BWI are not as harsh as those that accompany a DUI, but can still be disruptive to your life. You can also take steps before going out on a boat, like designating a driver. The risks of danger are high when water is involved without involving alcohol, but if drinking is part of your boating experience it may just pay off to have someone else take the wheel. Even so, we understand not all plans go as predicted, and are here to help you if you have been charged with drinking while boating.

If you have questions about BUI and DUI defense, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

 

Two Reasons To Clear Your Record

Being arrested for a crime is something that can follow you around for a lifetime, and have negative implications on several areas of your life. This can make it hard to get a job, rent an apartment, get into school, or maybe even buy a car. Your criminal record contains information about the crimes you have been arrested for, but there are things you can do to have those things removed from your record. Asking for an expungement can help you down the road for years to come, and is well worth the effort if you qualify for an order of expungement.

To determine if you qualify for an expungement you first need to know the outcome of cases against you. If you had a case dismissed, you will qualify for an expungement of the charges. If you went on probation and were successful, you should also qualify for an expungement. The type of charge filed against you plays a role too, so let a knowledgeable attorney look at your case. Here are two good reasons to seek an expungement if you qualify:

  • The original crime will no longer show up on your record.
  • When there is no crime on your record, people who are doing searches will not be able to find out about your past. This can help with employment, but also offers you a level of personal privacy that is sometimes lacking in today’s digital and online age.

The inability to see your record is limited to those who perform public records searches. There may still be entities and individuals who can see your record, like some law enforcement agencies. But if you are not trying to get a job with the police force or in a state or federal office, this should not make much of a difference. If you are considering seeking an expungement of your record, let us tell you if you qualify. If you do qualify, let us handle the procedure for you, and explain it to you in full so you feel confident in your choice to ask that your record be cleared.

If you have questions about how to expunge a criminal record, call a competent criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for help. Call us to schedule an appointment.

Four Things About Probation You May Not Know

Not everyone is well versed in the law, but there are some basic things that are well known. For example, most people know that if a couple gets divorced and they have kids, decisions will have to be made about custody and support. But the intricate details of those decisions are the lesser known things that should be left in the hands of a capable attorney to help determine. In criminal cases it is common knowledge that probation is a good way to resolve a case without having to go to jail. Most people are even aware that there are certain rules and requirements that have to be followed while on probation, and if those rules and requirements are not followed then the probation can be revoked. But there is more to probation and a probation violation than these basics, and knowing a few things can help you make decision about whether probation is right for you.

Four things about probation violations  you may not know include:

  • The State is not put on a timeline to pursue the violation. There is no “statute of limitations” for a probation violation.
  • The Judge is the one who hears the case regarding your violation, there is no right to present evidence about whether a violation occurred to a jury.
  • The State does not have as heavy a burden of proof to meet in order to prosecute a violation. This is different from other criminal charges, where the burden of proof on the State is greater.
  • You may not be allowed to “get out of jail free” while waiting for a hearing on the violation.

Staying the course while on probation can be hard, but when you know the risks it is worth the effort. If you have been arrested for a crime and are considering probation as an option, let us review your case to see what options are available to you. Or, if you have been charged with or arrested for violating probation, call us today for help. We will get to the bottom of the facts and aggressively defend the charges. Most times a violation and the new charge that led to the violation are related, and letting a qualified attorney handle both is more efficient.

If you questions about probation violations, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for answers. Your first visit is a free consultation and we work with you to reach results that fit your needs.

 

Four Possible Penalties For Violating Probation

Violating probation is a serious thing, which can land you in serious trouble. When probation is violated the defendant is taken off of probation, and has to prepare for a legal battle regarding the initial charge as well as a few other charges. The end result could be a stiff financial fine, jail time, or probably both. If you are charged with violating probation you need to give the matter all of your attention, so you can get a result that works. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help.

Four possible penalties for violating probation, other than revocation of the probationary term, are:

  • Your will be charged with the crime of probation violation. This is a separate charge from the original charge you were facing, and has to be defended separately.
  • Whatever act resulted in the violation will also be a new charge against you. So not only will you have to defend the violation allegations, but also the new crime that has been committed.
  • The original crime will now have to be defended in full, as you can no longer rely on probation as a resolution to the initial charges filed against you.
  • You will have to pay costs and fees for all of these cases, which adds up quickly. You might also face jail time for each of these charges, which may mean you have to spend some time behind bars.

Most probation violations are actual violations, which happen when a new crime is committed. But there are also technical violations, and those might be more difficult to spot. Things like not paying fines or failing to abide by some of the administrative terms of your probation are considered technical violations. In our experience people who commit a technical violation do so unknowingly. This is why when we take on your case and negotiate a term of probation on your behalf, we sit down and talk with you to be sure you understand all of the terms fully. If there is a question, we give you answers that make sense. If you have been charged with violating probation, let us help minimize the damage. Or if you have been charged with another crime and are wondering if probation is the right answer, give us a call to find out more.

For answers to questions about violations of probation, call an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Skilled criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast are here to help you today. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

Two Unique Facts About Probation Violations

It is pretty common knowledge that if you agree to go on probation to resolve a criminal case against you, you have to do certain things. You also have to refrain from doing certain things, like getting into more trouble. If you are caught doing something you are not supposed to do, such as staying out past curfew or failing to take Court ordered rehab courses; or if you do something you are not supposed to do, like get arrested for a new crime, your probation can be revoked. When probation is revoked the defendant has to figure out how to resolve the original case against them, defend the new case charges, and also defend the probation violation charge. This can be a lot to take in, but with the right criminal defense attorney by your side you can get through this process.

But there are some things you need to know about probation violations when you are helping to develop your defense, because this type of crime is different from other crimes. Two unique facts about probation violations are:

  • You do not get to present your case to a jury. The judge will decide whether you are guilty of a violation, and this can be somewhat scary for some people. Facing a Judge can be intimidating, but we are not afraid to put on an aggressive defense for you to the Judge.
  • The prosecution does not have to meet as high of a burden of proof as they do in other types of criminal cases. This can make it difficult to defeat their proof, but that does not mean it cannot be done or that satisfactory results are out of reach.

The best thing you can do if you are placed on probation is to make sure you understand all of the terms. If you have a question, ask your attorney. A skilled attorney will be able to not only negotiate terms you can live with, but will also be able to explain those terms to you clearly. Our team of criminal defense attorneys is ready to help you with a successful probation today, and can also help if you have been charged with a probation violation.

For help with probation or probation violations, call our office to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney. We help people charged with all sorts of crimes in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Call today to schedule an appointment.

Five Factors That Affect Breath Test

Breath Test DUI Attorney

RJ Ferraro has defended against DUI convictions since 2001

The breath test is the most common way police officers make a determination that a driver has had more to drink than is legally allowed before operating a vehicle. Once an officer observes a driving pattern that is indicative of drunk driving, the car can be pulled over the drive questioned. If the questioning leads the officer to believe the driver has had too much to drink, he or she can ask the driver to submit to a breath test. When the breath test results show an alcohol concentration in the driver’s system of 0.08% or more, a ticket and arrest for DUI can be written. This type of scenario makes it critical for every driver on Florida roadways to know a few things about how breath tests work, and what types of things can have an impact on the test result.

Five factors that affect breath tests in DUI cases are:

  • The calibration of the machine. This is not a factor that is under the control of the driver, but is still a factor just the same. If the machine is not properly calibrated, it will not give off an accurate result.
  • Personal physiological traits such as the driver’s metabolism and mouth temperature. These are things that are still not within your control, but are unique to you specifically. It is important to identify and work through any special circumstances related to you personally. Sometimes medical evidence is needed to support a claim of this type.
  • Whether you blew into the machine in short breaths, or one long breath. Believe it or not, this does make a difference in how the result is computed.
  • What you have eaten just prior to the test.
  • Whether you suffer from certain medical conditions that can “fool the machine.”

An experienced DUI defense attorney knows where to look for factors that help bolster your defense, and can point these things out to the prosecution. Keep in mind though that just because these are possible parts to your defense, not all will apply in every case. We take the time to review your case as it applies only to you, and develop a defense that is tailored to your needs.

For answers to questions about breath tests, call an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Skilled criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast are here to help you today. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

Two Elements To Every Drug Bust

Drug Defense Attorney

RJ Ferraro has defended against Drug convictions since 2001

With all of the focus on the legalization of marijuana in Florida, some important information on other types of drug charges may be getting overlooked. Remember that the crack down on drugs is not limited to pot, and even if you are engaged in legal activity regarding marijuana, there are still plenty of illegal activities as far as other substances are concerned. Once final, the legalization of marijuana will apply only to that substance, and if you are caught with cocaine, methamphetamine, or any other banned substance you can be arrested and brought up on drug charges.

Two parts to every drug bust, that is the responsibility of the State to prove in order to get a conviction against you, are:

  • That you were knowingly in possession of the drug in question.
  • That you were able to exercise control or ownership of the drug in question.

 

These two requirements mean that it is not sufficient to show that you possessed an illegal substance, you must also have done so both knowingly and willingly. These are difficult standards to prove and require an in depth analysis into each facet of your case. The prosecution will work hard to show that you knew you had the drugs on you, and that you did so of your own willful act. Our job is to dispute the evidence offered by the State, and minimize the possible range of punishment you face. This is done through careful investigation and persuasive argument. When an error is made by the prosecution, we point that out to the Court and make sure you get the benefit of a lawful proceeding against you. All cases are different and some are resolve by plea negotiation while others require a trial to prove the truth of the matter. You also need to know that the law defines possession as either actual or constructive. With actual possession it can be more difficult to rebut the presumption you knew you had the drugs on your person. Constructive possession, on the other hand, is a type of possession where the substance is simply near your and/or within your control. For more information about what to do if you are charged with drug possession, call our office.

If you have questions about drug possession cases, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for answers. Your first visit is a free consultation and we work with you to reach results that fit your needs.

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