Florida Family Law

Two Ways A Dismissal Is Different From Getting Your Record Cleared

Anytime you do something drastic, you wonder just how lasting that impact of new actions may be down the road. For instance, if you decide to get serious about your health and start making changes to diet and exercise, you should only expect these changes to last as long as you are practicing healthy habits. This is a positive long term effect, but not all actions have this same kind of result. A good example is an arrest, and your natural inclination to wonder if the arrest will have any kind of effect on your future. The answer depends on the type of case, the outcome of the case, and a few other factors.

Criminal cases are usually disposed of by a finding of guilt or innocence, or the charges get dropped (dismissed). If your case was not dismissed, you can take steps to have the record cleared. But, when doing this it is good to know the difference between a dismissal and an expungement (clearing) of your record. Here are two ways a dismissal is different from an expungement:

  • A dismissed case is the same as if the case was never filed. You cannot be found guilty or innocent of a case that was never filed, so if you get a dismissal there should be no notation of anything other than the dismissal.
  • A case that gets expunged has the effect of removing the charges from public viewing of your record. This means a search should not yield any results with data about the arrest or case.

To get an expungement you do have to meet certain requirements. One way to get an expungement is to successfully complete a term of probation. If you do that, you may be able to get an order from the Court that clears the matter from your record. For more information, call our office. We will review the facts of your case and let you know if you qualify for an expungement and can also handle the paperwork for you. Do keep in mind though that even with an expungement there may be some law enforcement officials that are still able to see your record. So, it is important to know why you want an expungement before you make a request for one, and we can help with that too.

For help with questions about how to clear your record, 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.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Probation

VOP probation technical violation

Probation is an excellent option if you can follow the rules.

If you have been placed on probation then you know that there are certain things you can do and certain things that are prohibited. You probably also know that if you do something that is prohibited you can be charged with violating your probation. A probation violation or VOP is a new charge that you have to defend, and with every violation comes the risk that your supervision will be revoked. All of this is should sound familiar if you have been arrested and negotiated a plea that included a term of probation. But there are also some things about probation that are not as obvious, but just as important.

Five things you might not know about probation, but should if you are considering agreeing to a term, are:

  • You might be subject to a random drug test, even if you were not arrested on a drug charge initially.
  • If you have been ordered not to “associate” with someone who is engaging in criminal activity, which might extend to minor violations. It is clear that you should stay away from hanging out with people who are dealing drugs or committing armed robbery, but what happens if you are out with a friend who gets arrested for public intoxication? That might be considered “associating with someone engaged in unlawful activity”.
  • Not all scientific proof has to be supported by an actual scientist. So, if you fail a one of the random drug tests mentioned above, don’t expect to get an opportunity to cross examine someone with scientific knowledge about the test itself.
  • Staying out past curfew can be a violation, and as easy as it is to lose track of time, this is a pretty common violation but one that gets little attention.
  • If you are caught committing a new crime, it might not be the best idea to enter a plea to that charge because doing so might be used as evidence in the case against you for VOP. You have to be very careful about how you respond to violation charges, or you risk digging a deeper hole.

The idea of going on probation sounds easy enough, but the little nuances described above show some of the complexities that must be considered first. If you have questions about probation or have been charged with a violation of probation, call us for help.

 

For more information about probation and VOP, call us today to schedule an appointment. One of our experienced criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast is here to help you and your first visit is a free initial consultation.

A Three Point Update On Medical Marijuana

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Medical Marijuana is still the exception, not the rule in Florida.

In November 2016 the most publicized issue at the voting polls was the choice of president, but there were more issues on the election ballot than just the race for the White House. Most states had local issues to decide and here at home one of those issues was the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Known as Amendment 2, the measure passed with just over 70% of the vote. But the “yes” vote was not an all clear to do as one wishes, and in the months that have followed there have been additional questions that have arisen, and getting answers is imperative if anyone is expected to act within the letter of the law.

A quick three point update on the status of medical marijuana in Florida includes the following information:

  • Of key concern to law enforcement officials is clarification on when, where, and how a dispensary will operate. This type of clarification is needed if law and order is to have any place within this new law.
  • What type of use will be permitted, vaping or smoking?
  • Growers have a large stake in the final version of the law, because they have invested a significant amount of time and money on this issue.

The State’s lawmakers have been tasked with implementing a law that operates in the way the voting public expected. The problem is that it is difficult to write a law that encompasses every voter’s needs or wants. The end result could be a law that sees a lot of legal challenges before there is any set groundwork for what is legal and what is illegal. In the meantime, we will keep our eyes on this very important issue, so we can provide accurate advice when required. It is also important to remember that the law will not give a blank check for things like distribution, possession, or other illegal drug activity. If you have questions about the status of medical marijuana or have another drug crime related mater that needs attention, call our office. We have experience defending people charged with drug crimes and will aggressively defend any charges against you.

For more information about drug charges, call our office. Schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

Two Elements of Every Drug Bust

RJ Ferraro has defended against drug possession 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 over 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.

A Three Point Explanation Of Trump’s Immigration Order

The moment Donald Trump took office he began signing Executive Orders. This type of action seemed shocking to most of the nation (but perhaps not unexpected) in that many of the orders appear to revoke important rights. One of the most hotly debated Orders is the one regarding immigration and the acceptance of refugees into the United States. Trump has long said he will take steps to keep the country’s borders safe, and along with his proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border, attempting to keep refugees out of the country appear to be how he plans to achieve this goal. But not everyone agrees with his tactics, and the flurry of pen marks put to Executive Orders in the first few days of Trump’s Presidency has caused not only uproar, but a lot of confusion.

If you are wondering what type of impact Trump’s immigration order will have, here is a three point explanation:

  • Refugee resettlement into America has been suspended for four months under the Order. Entry into the country by predominantly Muslim nations has also been suspended for three months.
  • If a person falling into this category is already in the United States and decides to leave, the Department of Homeland Security has said those individuals will be granted re-entry. However, this could be decided on an individual basis and not a blanket rule covering everyone who fits these criteria.
  • The number of refugees who will be allowed to enter the country has been decreased from a previously allowed number of 110,000 to 50,000.

The legality of this particular Executive Order is unknown in some respects, but settled in other areas. For example, the President does have the authority to decide issues on refugee entry, but may lack the power to deny immigration based on an applicant’s nationality. Our country is one of checks and balances, to ensure no one person holds all the power. Whether any of Trump’s initiatives will be challenged remains to be seen, and some may be fearful of their job security if they try. After making statements that attorneys for the Justice Department would not offer the President a defense in the event his orders were questioned in Court, Trump removed Sally Yates as the country’s attorney general. Amidst all this uncertainty, you need legal advice you can count on when you have a question. Whether your question has to do with immigration or some other act, you can rest assured our office stands ready to help.

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

Three Benefits To Expunging Your Criminal Record

If you have ever applied for a job, a loan, filled out an application to get into school, or tried to rent an apartment you are familiar with the forms and know that some contain information about your past. Part of that information is your work or educational history, but part of it is also about your criminal record. Most things you apply for in today’s society require you to answer a question about your arrest and/or conviction record. If you have a record you have to check the “yes” box, but if you do not have a record or have taken steps to have it cleared you can confidently check the “no” box when answering this question.

One benefit to having your records expunged is that you say you have not been arrested, but three other benefits to expungement include:

  • You might enjoy a better interest rate on loans and/or insurance.
  • You can apply for and obtain certain licenses if you do not have a record.
  • More job opportunities will open up for you when you are able to report that you do not have a criminal record. Admission to certain schools and universities might also depend on whether you have a clean record.

The process to have your record expunged is a legal one, and our team of criminal defense attorneys knows how to make the request. We can also let you know the possible outcome of a request to expunge your record, because in some instances the data is still visible to certain agencies. So if you are trying to get a job within certain governmental agencies, it is important to know whether an expungement will still be found. We can also help you if you have been denied benefits due to having a record, and what you can do about that denial. If you have questions about how to clear your record, how an expungement can help you, or what to do if you believe you have been unlawfully discriminated against, call our office. We will go over your case with you, and let you know your options.

If you questions about how to clear your record, 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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