Legal Principles | Ferraro Law Group, PL | Page 11

Legal Principles

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Stuart Florida DUI and Your License

Stuart Florida DUI Lawyer

RJ Ferraro is a Stuart Florida DUI Lawyer ready to put his experience to work for you.

How will a Stuart Florida DUI Affect Me?

A DUI in Stuart Florida can have lasting impacts on your criminal record and your life.  A DUI in Stuart Florida will result in the suspension of your driver’s license, which can make it very difficult to find and maintain employment.  In Stuart, there is really very little in the way of public transit.  The financial consequences of a DUI in Stuart Florida can be long lasting.

How will a Stuart Florida DUI Affect my License?

A conviction for a first DUI in Stuart Florida will include a driver’s license suspension for 6 months.  If you blew into the breathalyzer, you can get a hardhsip license after 30 days without a license.  If you refused to blow in the machine, you will have to wait 90 days for a hardship license.  If you get a Stuart Florida DUI, you can only use a hardship license for work or necessities of life.  A Stuart Florida DUI should be taken very seriously.  No license for 30 to 90 days can often mean no work, no paycheck and no way to pay the rent.

A conviction for a second Stuart Florida DUI within 5 years of the last one will normally exclude you from obtaining any kind of hardship license for at least one year.

The Ferraro Law Group has Stuart Florida DUI Attorneys that are experienced  in handling Stuart Florida DUI cases.  We are not afraid to fight Stuart Florida DUI cases aggressively for you.  Call us today to represent you in your Stuart Florida DUI.

Stuart Florida DUI, Martin County Florida

Stuart Florida DUI is no different than a DUI anywhere else in the State of Florida.  Whether the State can prove the elements of a Stuart Florida DUI is up to the jury that is deciding the case.  That is why it is important to hire a Stuart Florida DUI lawyer that is experienced in handling DUI Trials.  A Stuart Florida DUI must be proven by the State Attorney beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.  A Stuart Florida DUI can be proven in either or both of 2 ways:

Stuart Florida DUI Normal Faculties

First, you can be convicted of a DUI if you are intoxicated to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired.  Normal Faculties that are considered in a DUI case would include but are not limited to a person’s ability to walk, talk, follow directions, physical appearance and ability to operate a motor vehicle.  Every Stuart Florida DUI Case is different and some normal faculties may appear more impaired than others in each Stuart Florida DUI.   Usually there is a video tape in a Stuart Florida DUI case of at least the roadside tests and often of the driving pattern as well.  The Stuart Florida DUI Video is often the best or worst evidence in a DUI case.  Most people have seen an impaired person and most will be able to look at a Stuart Florida DUI video and form an opinion on whether or not the driver is DUI.

Stuart Florida DUI, Breath or Blood Alcohol Level

Another way that a Stuart Florida DUI can be proven is by establishing that a driver has a blood or breath alcohol level of a .08 at the time that they are driving.  This .08 is the same calculation that is used whether it is breath or blood being tested.  The means of testing is very different.  In a Stuart Florida DUI case, Blood can be drawn by consent, by warrant or even without a warrant in certain circumstances.  But most commonly, a breathtesting instrument is used to determine the breath alcohol content.  If you have been arrested for a Stuart Florida DUI, contact the Ferraro Law Group and let us put our experience to work for you.

Stuart Florida DUI

Stuart Florida DUI

Obscure Traffic Law Alert!

Traffic Law Violation

Be sure to come to a complete stop, or you are committing a traffic law violation even without a stop sign.

In case you didn’t know, it is a traffic law infraction to cross a sidewalk without stopping first with all four tires when leaving a parking lot – even if there is no stop sign.  This traffic law is a civil infraction, which means you can’t go to jail for it, but you can be fined.  And, it is a reason for an officer to pull you over and investigate whether he thinks anything fishy is going on.

Just last week here in Martin County, a local DUI and traffic law judge sentenced a man to a $500 penalty for crossing a sidewalk without stopping first. It was late at night and there was no vehicle or pedestrian traffic on the roadway or sidewalk.  In that case, the officer wrote the traffic ticket and after engaging the man, also arrested him for DUI.  His prior driving record was insignificant.  The man exercised his right to a trial by a jury of his peers on the DUI.  The jury found him Not Guilty of DUI after hearing and seeing all of the evidence.  But juries don’t decide the facts on noncriminal traffic law violations, and they never decide the penalties – that’s for the judge to do.

The $500 dollar fine that the judge imposed was the maximum sentence for that traffic law violation.  Was the maximum penalty imposed because the judge felt so strongly about drivers failing to stop at a sidewalk with no traffic in the middle of the night; or was it punishment for being found Not Guilty of a DUI by a jury of his peers?  Regardless of which reason motivated the judge to rule this way, we as citizens get to decide if this is the brand of justice we expect and want from our local judges?  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  You’re turn to be the judge.  What do you think about it?

The Life Cycle of A Criminal Case

R.J. Ferraro, III.  Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

RJ Ferraro has been practicing Criminal Defense since 2001.

Navigating the Criminal Justice System can be a daunting task for a person who has never been in trouble before.  One of the most frustrating aspects is the lack of information or direction on what could happen next.  This is a short guide on the life cycle of a criminal case.

Every criminal case starts with an arrest.

An arrest may or may not include a trip to the county jail.  Sometimes on misdemeanor offenses, the officer may elect to give you a Notice to Appear in Court rather than take you downtown.  If he gives you a Notice to Appear, consider it your lucky day (sort of).  With a Notice to Appear, you will not have to post a bail bond, and your name will not show up on most arrest lists that are picked up by the local newspapers, publications and online resources that search for and publicize criminal histories.

If you are brought to jail, you will be booked and processed.  If a bond has been set, you can generally be bonded out within a matter of hours.  Bond can be posted in the form of paying cash, utilizing a bondsman’s services for a fee (generally 10% of the total bond amount), or by putting up property as collateral.

If a bond has not been set, or if you cannot afford the bond, you will attend your First Appearance in Criminal Court within 24 hours of your arrest.  At the First Appearance, the judge will tell you the charges you were arrested on and the bond amount, and he will appoint a public defender if you so request one.  Judges in some jurisdictions will conduct a bond hearing at this time to determine if the bond as initially set is appropriate.  Judges in other jurisdictions will not change the bond at First Appearance.

Within a few days, the Clerk of Court will forward the arrest affidavit and bond information to the State Attorney’s Office.  The State Attorney will appoint a lawyer to prosecute the case.  Generally, within a few weeks, the prosecutor will decide whether to prosecute you for the crimes the officer arrested you for, or whether to add or remove charges.  One of the most important timeframes in your case is the time prior to the prosecutor filing formal criminal charges against you.  A good lawyer will begin reaching out to the prosecutor at this time to see what if anything can be done to minimize the damage.  Once criminal charges are actually filed, convincing the prosecutor to change or remove charges can become more difficult.

Criminal Court Appearances

Within about a month from the arrest, you will have an arraignment.  The purpose of the arraignment is for you to plead Guilty or Not Guilty.  The judge will appoint a public defender at this time if you so request one.  It is very important for you to have at least consulted with an experienced criminal lawyer prior to your arraignment to get an idea about what you might be looking at.  We plead all of our clients Not Guilty upon being retained, absent unique circumstances.  This alleviates the necessity for you to appear at the arraignment hearing.

The Discovery Phase and Motions Practice follow an arraignment.  A good criminal lawyer should file a demand for all of the evidence against you.  The prosecutor will have 15 days to respond and provide a copy of all evidence in his possession once the formal charges are filed.  This should include witness names, addresses and statements, physical evidence, reports and even evidence that might tend to show you are not guilty.  In reviewing the discovery, if it becomes apparent that the facts are not in dispute and they do not amount to a crime, you may be in a position to file a Motion to Dismiss.  If it appears that some evidence may have been obtained improperly, you may be in a position to file a Motion to Suppress that evidence.  Other motions may also become apparent upon reviewing the discovery.

Most jurisdictions will require you to attend some type of criminal court calendar call within about a month after the entry of a Not Guilty Plea.  At this hearing, the judge will want to know if you are ready for trial, if you would like to change your plea to Guilty or No Contest, or if you need more time to prepare.  If you need more time, the judge will decide whether or not to give it to you, or to just set your case for a trial.  If you do not request a delay or in some other way delay the case, the prosecutor must bring your case to trial within 90 days for a misdemeanor, 175 days for a felony.  If that does not occur, you may take steps to push the case to trial immediately, or possibly have the case discharged.  This is a tricky concept that requires some precision.  It is best to speak with your criminal defense lawyer prior to initiating any litigation with regard to the speedy trial rules.  If you request a delay at the calendar call, the judge will generally place your case on an upcoming criminal court calendar call a month or two out.  Your request to delay will do away with the speedy trial requirements.

Your Options In a Criminal Case

Once the discovery phase has been completed and all pretrial motions are resolved, the case will be ready for trial.  You may receive plea offers along this process, and you should communicate with your criminal defense lawyer regularly about your options.  If you do not want to take a deal as offered, but you also do not want to go to trial, you can enter a plea to the Court.  With a plea to the Court you are asking the judge to decide what the appropriate sentence will be.  The judge can sentence you up to the maximum for the charges filed against you.  If you do not want to take a deal or plea open, and if there is no legal reason for your case to be dismissed, you will have a trial.

During the trial, the judge will be the decider of law (which laws apply), and the jury made up of people from within the community will decide which facts to believe.  The jury will evaluate the evidence, including the witness statements to determine if the prosecutor has proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.  If he has not, then you will be determined Not Guilty and you will be discharged.  If he has, you will be found guilty and the judge will determine the appropriate sentence.  At the sentencing hearing, you can present evidence for mitigation purposes and you may have family and friends testify on your behalf.

Timeframe for a Typical Criminal Case

Usually, a misdemeanor takes about 3 months from start to finish.  A felony will generally take about 6 months to a year.  The overview above is just that – an overview.  While most criminal cases follow a similar track, every Defendant has a different situation, goal and expectation.  The lawyers of the Ferraro Law Group have handled thousands of criminal cases since 1974.  While we have seen most of the issues that arise in a criminal case, we take a customized approach to each client’s needs.  We pride ourselves in keeping you informed at every step of the process.  If you are currently facing prosecution on the Treasure Coast or Palm Beaches of Florida, or if you need a referral for a great lawyer in your area, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

The Attorney Client Privilege

Lawyer/Client Privilege

Your Lawyer will keep your secrets.

What is the Attorney/Client Privilege?

When people learn that I practice criminal defense, the common response is, “wow, you must have heard some crazy stories!”  And the truth is, I have heard some pretty crazy ones.  But you won’t hear any of them from me!

As a lawyer, I am bound by the Attorney/Client Privilege.  That means that if someone comes to me for legal advice, I can’t repeat what they tell me and I can’t be compelled to testify about it.  There are some exceptions to the Attorney/Client Privilege.  First, if you tell me you are about to hurt someone or commit a crime in the future, the Attorney/Client Privilege won’t cover that.  Also, if there is a third person listening in, then that waives the Attorney/Client privilege as well.  Finally, if you testify in court that you told me something, or to do something, the Attorney/Client Privilege is waived to the extent needed to respond to the allegations.  But other than that, my lips are sealed!  All attorneys are covered by the Attorney/Client Privilege, and all haven taken an oath to honor the Attorney/Client Privilege.

What does the Attorney/Client Relationship Mean?

Because the Attorney/Client Privilege protects you, there is no reason to lie or distort the truth when you are speaking with your lawyer.  It can cause your defense to get off track, or it can cause time and energy to be wasted pursuing the wrong issues, rather than the ones that really matter to your case.  Listen to your attorney’s questions and answer them.  We are asking them for a reason.  We are not here to judge, we are here to help.  And if we don’t get the right information, we could miss potential issues or defenses.  That doesn’t mean you have to start your initial consultation with every fact and life experience from birth until the moment you walked in the door to speak with your lawyer.  A well trained lawyer should know what issues to look for and should be asking you simple questions to help them to get an understanding of which issues may affect your case.

If you have been arrested or are under criminal investigation, get a lawyer early and consult with them often.  And remember, if you consult the lawyers of the Ferraro Law Group about your case, you can trust that your story is safe with us!

How Long Does Your Criminal Record Last?

Stuart Florida Seal and Expunge Record Lawyer

I may be able to seal or expunge your record.

Forever.  Unfortunately, that possession of alcohol charge that you picked up your freshman year will still show up on your record when you go for that first job interview.  One way to put yourself back on an even ground with the guy competing for that job is to seal or expunge your record.  If you seal or expunge your record, you can legally say you were never arrested.  And for the most part, if you seal or expunge your record, it won’t show up when a prospective employer does a criminal background check.  There are some exceptions.  For example, if you are applying to work in fields that have contact with children or the elderly (generally schools and hospitals), those industries will still have access even if you seal or expunge your record.  Or, if you are trying to get admitted to the Florida Bar, it also will have access even if you seal or expunge your record.While the end result of sealing or expunging your record is very similar, whether you are eligible to seal or expunge your record depends on how your case was resolved.

What makes you eligible to seal  expunge your record?

You can expunge your record if you have no prior convictions and you were found Not Guilty, the case was not prosecuted or otherwise dismissed, or it was sealed ten or more years ago.

You are eligible to seal your record if you have no prior convictions and you were not convicted in the instant case.  If the Court withholds adjudication, you are still eligible to seal if you are otherwise eligible.

What excludes you from sealing  expunging?

You are not eligible to seal or expunge your record if you were convicted of the offense, or any other criminal offense in the past.  Additionally, you can never seal or expunge a DUI and certain other crimes set forth in the Florida Statutes.  You can only seal or expunge one case in your life (although sometimes multiple cases can be sealed or expunged together if they are related to each other).

Give us a call.  We can usually tell you in 5-10 minutes whether or not you are eligible to seal or expunge your record. 

 

What’s your Florida Criminal Score???

Just like your credit, your golf game and your fantasy football league, how you score in a Florida criminal case may affect the rest of your life!  In its infinite wisdom, and in an effort to take discretion away from local judges, the Florida Legislature created a scoring system known as the Florida Criminal Punishment Code to set the parameters for sentencing people that are convicted of Florida Criminal felony offenses.

Martin County Stuart Florida Criminal Lawyer

RJ Ferraro is a Martin County Stuart Florida Criminal DefenseI Lawyer ready to put his experience to work for you.

Each crime has a designated offense level, one being the lowest, ten being the highest.  For example, Possession of Cannabis (more than 20 grams), is a level one offense.  Home Invasion Robbery with a deadly weapon, Treason and other Life Felonies are level 10 offenses.  Once you hit level 7 (56 points) or any combination of crimes that scores 44 points or more, a Florida criminal prison sentence is mandated unless you have a legal reason for a downward departure.  In addition your prior record is also included in the equation, as well as other multipliers depending on the facts of the case.    Florida criminal law mandates that the minimum amount of time that you must serve in prison equals your total score, minus 28 x .75.

Many people think that the minimum score is what they are supposed to get.  This is not always the case.  While the judge can’t sentence under the score without a legal reason in a Florida Criminal, he can sentence above the score, all the way to the statutory maximum.  For example, a Burglary of a Home is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and is also level 7 offense which scores 56 points.  It requires a minimum of 21 months in a Florida Criminal prison even if it is a first offense (56-28x.75=21).  Therefore, the Florida Criminal Law Judge is given a sentencing range of 21 months to 15 years and cannot go below or above that without legal reason to do so.

There are only a few reasons to depart from the Florida Criminal Law Guidelines lawfully.  If you, a family member or friend is facing prosecution for a Florida felony, it is extremely important that you are aware of the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Score and the possible reasons to depart.  Knowing your score will help you to determine your best options in resolving your criminal case.

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