Legal Principles

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

medical marijuana is on its way

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.

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.

.

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.

One More Piece Of Personal Data You Need To Know About

If you have ever spent any time at the beach you know that you leave a footprint in the sand for every step you take, and that as soon as the tide rolls in your footprint is erased. But in real life it is not as easy to remove all traces of where you have been and what you have done. For instance, if you are arrested for a crime or receive a traffic ticket, there is a record of that event that can be pulled up by the authorities with the click of the mouse. Depending on the severity of the charges, you might find yourself in hot water with the police if you are pulled over for another infraction. However, there are ways you can “erase” previous charges, but you have to qualify for the process. The procedure is referred to as records expungement, and with certain types of cases it removes all reference to a past incident from public view. But be careful, just because the public can no longer search your record, that does not mean certain governmental agencies and personnel no longer have access.

If you are considering asking the Court to expunge your record, call us to make sure you qualify and that the results will be what you need. This is also a good time to learn about one more piece of personal information that may soon be available to you, and how detailed your online footprint could become. Google plans to implement a feature that allows a user to see the following:

  • You will soon be able to enter your own name in the search box, while signed in to your account, and pull up a history of your activity.
  • Recent websites visited on both your PC and smartphone will be revealed.
  • A feature similar to your smartphone’s “find your phone” app will also be available, and it could help you to protect the data you have stored on your phone. This will give you more security and increase your privacy.

Police and other agencies use the internet during investigations all the time. This new feature will help you to see what others can see about you, which can be beneficial if you are facing criminal charges. More Courts and Judges are allowing the use electronic information as evidence, and knowing what the other side could potentially “dig up” on you will help to develop and effective defense.

Allow an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast to help you if you have been arrested. Your first visit is a free initial consultation and we work with you to come up with a strategy that is tailored to the facts of your case.

Four Documents You Might Need To Replace, And Who To Ask For Help

Every U.S. citizen is given a social security number at birth, and this number stays with you your entire life. This is the number the government uses to identify you for things like paying taxes, applying for student loans, and can be linked to any criminal history record you have acquired. Other important forms of identification include your birth certificate, passport, and driver’s license. All of these things are needed when leaving the country, or getting on an airplane. If you do not have the proper identification when asked to present same, you can be detained and not allowed to travel or continue a trip you have already started. The inability to move freely from state to state, or to get on a cruise ship or take a flight to another location seriously hampers your freedom. But if you have misplaced your license or had it taken away, you might be wondering if there is something you can do in order to obtain a replacement. The answer is yes.

One of the most common ways to lose your license is to get a DUI. With every DUI case there is also an administrative proceeding that deals with your driver’s license, which is taken away from you during an arrest for DUI. You can get a modified license, but you can also obtain a state issued ID and forego your right to drive during your DUI case. Our suggestion is to seek administrative review of the suspension of your driving privileges and obtain a limited license, but if you fail to make that request in a timely way you will not be able to do so and may only have the choice to ask for an identification card. Aside from this type of ID, here are four other types of identification you may need to have replaced:

  • Social security card.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Medicare card.

The government can issue a replacement, but you have to fill out the proper forms when making this type of request. If your request is related to a document that has been taken from you as a result of a DUI or drug charge, it is smart to seek the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney when making your request. Vital information about your case may be required, and a trained DUI and criminal defense attorney will know what answers to provide. For more information, call us today.

If you have questions about DUI defense, and how it relates to your driver’s license or state ID, 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.

 

Five Things You Should Do If You Are Pulled Over

Any time the red and blue lights of a police patrol car come into focus in your rearview mirror, you might be inclined to panic. Getting pulled over for a traffic violation is not only inconvenient; it can lead to harmful consequences as far as your ability to drive is concerned. Depending on the type of citation you receive, the punishment can include imprisonment and loss of your driver’s license. With a DUI you might also face other punishments or be made to participate in certain educational courses in order to resolve the case against you.

One of the scariest thoughts that might run through your mind if you are getting pulled over and have been drinking is that you could be arrested for DUI. In any traffic stop, but especially if there is a chance you might be asked to submit to a field sobriety test it is helpful to know how to act. Here are five things to keep in mind if you are pulled over and think it is possible the officer will question you about whether you have been drinking:

  • Remain calm and answer the officer’s questions politely.
  • Do not offer any information other than what was asked of you, the more you say the more chances you give law enforcement to dig further and ask more questions.
  • Do not make any sudden moves, and if you have to reach into your purse or behind you in the back seat make sure the officer knows your intentions.
  • Do not give permission to have your car searched, because doing so will mean that anything found is fair game and can be used against you.
  • If you pass the field sobriety test and are permitted to go on your way, take a moment before you pull back out into traffic, letting the officer go ahead of you if possible. This will not only give you a chance to gather yourself, but will also allow the officer to proceed in front of you and keep you out of his or her line of sight.

A DUI is a serious charge with serious consequences. If you are charged with DUI you will have to defend your right to drive as well as the criminal charges against you. Many cases can be resolved by agreeing to certain terms, but these can be inconvenient or impose a hardship on you or your family. For help limiting the impact DUI has, call our office today.

If you have questions about DUI defense, call our office to learn your options. Schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

 

Three Things Obama May Do For Drug Offenders Before Leaving Office

It is no secret the prisons are too full, and that many of those behind bars could better benefit from rehabilitation or other program aimed at putting an end to criminal activity. The problem is that some of the sentencing laws are so strict, that even the most non-violent offender can end up serving time. The debate on how to fix this problem has been ongoing for quite some time, and it seems that there may be some relief around the corner.

President Obama has backed legislation that would reduce or eliminate sentences for non-violent drug offenders. US News reports on the issue, and outlines three ways a non-violent drug offender may benefit from this new law if it passes:

  • An inmate’s sentence might be shortened by 10 days, for every 30 days the inmate spends in a rehabilitation program.
  • The end portion of a sentence would be eligible for service outside of the confines of a prison, by allowing an inmate to serve the ending part of their term in a community based program.
  • The ultimate outcome for some would be that their sentences are reduced by as much as 25% of the original term.

There are eligibility requirements for these benefits, the biggest being the requirement that the inmate allow an assessment of their tendency to commit crimes (particularly violent crimes) in the future. For those inmates who have results showing a low propensity to become a repeat offender, rehabilitation programs in lieu of jail time may be offered. Of course there will also be requirements for those that participate in the program, and a misstep could mean no reduction in sentence. For years there has been a need to reform the prison system, and make sure that the punishment fits the crime. It has been argued that it is senseless to lock up a non-violent, youthful offender instead of offering that person a chance to change. Just how this issue will finally play out before election time remains to be seen, but you can be sure our office will be watching. We stay on top of the latest news, and legal rules and regulations, so we can offer competent advice.

 

For more information about criminal defense, 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.

Two Ways Mixing Alcohol With Marijuana Increase Your Chances Of DUI

On the other side of the country a couple of states have legalized the use of marijuana. The issue is current, and one that makes the news on a regular basis. Questions about whether the tax revenue raised from marijuana sales have significantly increased the money in the state’s coffers, and whether driving after smoking is the same as driving after drinking are frequently asked. But there is another issue that is making its way to the spotlight, and that is the issue of the impact of smoking and drinking at the same time. More specifically, opponents of marijuana legalization claim mixing the two can be deadly to the user or to other motorists if the user drives after mixing these substances.

Several studies have been done, with more underway, on just how dangerous it is to mix alcohol and marijuana. Part of these reports outlines two things to keep in mind if you add driving to the equation. These two things are:

  • Response times are slowed when using either substance, and using them together can cause an even slower reaction behind the wheel. This can cause accidents, and ultimately lead to charges of not only DUI but also drug charges.
  • The effect of alcohol on a person can be that the driver is over-confident, while use of marijuana yields the opposite result. Marijuana can cause paranoia, and mixing those feelings with feelings of being unstoppable creates a dangerous driving situation.

It is thought that mixing the two substances increases the likelihood of being in an accident, but the data is conflicting. So, while the odds of being involved in a car wreck if you drink and smoke remain uncertain, what is clear is the way law enforcement view the behavior. If you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI and the officer also believes you to have been smoking marijuana, you will also face drug related charges. In order to minimize the negative impact this combination has on your ability to drive and to remain out of jail, call us for help. We will investigate your case and explain your options, while aggressively fighting for your freedoms. Call today to find out more.

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

Credentials_Slider_1
Credentials_Slider_1
Credentials_Slider_2
Credentials_Slider_2
Credentials_Slider_3
Credentials_Slider_3
Credentials_Slider_7
Credentials_Slider_7
Credentials_Slider_5
Credentials_Slider_5
Credentials_Slider_4
Credentials_Slider_4
Slide 7
Slide 7