Legal Principles | Ferraro Law Group, PL | Page 3

Legal Principles

Three Strikes, You’re Out! Three Ways To Probation Is Violated

When you agree to go on probation in order to avoid going to jail for a criminal charge, it is critical that you fully understand the terms of your probation. If you are not clear on what is expected it will be near impossible to follow the rules. And, if you are not following the rules you can face being charged with a probation violation as well as being punished for the origi8nal criminal charge. Some of the terms of your probation will be easily understood, but others are less clear. Make sure you know what is expected of you prior to entering any agreement by having a qualified criminal defense attorney help you.

When probationary terms are set you can count on the state giving you a list that contains the terms and conditions of probation. While every case is unique and has its own requirements, the most common requirements include:

  • Timely and in person reporting to your probation officer.
  • Keeping your probation officer advised of your whereabouts, which includes a requirement of notifying your officer of any new home or work address.
  • Making sure pay the fines associated with your case as they become due.

Failing to do any of the above three things will lead to a violation of your probation. This will create a new charge that requires a defense and you will also face the full range of punishment for the original charge. If you are uncertain as to what you are allowed to do while on probation, ask. Your probation officer should be able to provide answers, but the best source of information is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. We are experienced with the different forms of probation violations and can develop a defense that works for you.

If you have been charged with a probation violation, call a competent criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for help. We offer aggressive representation for criminal charges. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Get Out Of Jail Free: A Lesson In The Requirements Of Bail

When you are arrested for a crime it is desirable to get out of jail as soon as possible, and stay out of jail during the pendency of your case. The way to accomplish this is by posting bail. Bail is set by the judicial system, and is usually in an amount too high for the average worker. Luckily there are options. A bail bondsman can help you post bail, so you can get out of jail and get back to your life. It is a much less difficult task to defend a criminal case if you are out of jail and have the freedom to meet with your attorney on a regular basis.

When deciding on a bondsman, make sure the person or company you use is reputable and licensed. Dealing with an experienced company will make the experience less cumbersome and will give you the knowledge needed to stay on track with your case. You will be expected to do the following:

● Appear at every scheduled court appearance, so you bail isn’t revoked.

● Pay the bondsman a percentage of the bail amount set, in exchange for the bondsman posting the bail on your behalf.

While you do have the option of posting a cash bond, if the amount is out of reach a bondsman may be your only answer. The amount of bond will vary from case to case, but the Court generally looks at factors such as the nature and severity of the charges against you, whether this is a first or subsequent offense, and the likelihood you will leave the jurisdiction before your case is final. If the bail amount set in your case is too high, you can ask the Court to make a reduction. Doing so requires a persuasive argument, and is best made by a trained criminal defense attorney. If you or a loved one has questions about bail reductions or how the process works, call our office today.

For more information on posting bond, call a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for help. Call us today to schedule an appointment that includes a free initial evaluation of the facts of your case.

 

Florida House Bill Stiffens Texting and Driving Law

police officerFlorida House Bill 1 is on the agenda for this year’s legislative session.  It stiffens penalties for texting and driving and also carves out exceptions for emergency personnel  and navigation among others.  This bill would change a ticket for texting and driving to a non-moving violation which would have substantially higher fines than the current law.  It would also double those fines if the infraction is committed in a school zone.  Most importantly, it does not require that this ticket be issued as a secondary action.  In other words, if this Bill passes you can be pulled over for texting and driving.  And of course, once you are stopped, an officer may look to see what else is in plain view in your vehicle or ask you for consent to look around.  While there are certain exceptions for the issuing of the ticket, by the time the officer has determined if an exception exists, you will already be pulled over and communicating directly with them.  So, be careful out there, and don’t text and drive!  Doing so could land you an expensive ticket or worse if you have any other shenanigans going on inside your vehicle!

That’s News To Me: New Laws

At the beginning of the year a host of new legislators took office across the country, and most of their constituents expect some major changes. From areas of taxes to security, and immigration the likelihood we will see significant changes to policy is high. In Florida, some important changes have already taken place though, and the list below is a sampling of what’s new.

Changes to criminal law, as it pertains to the obligations of law enforcement personnel include the following:

● Sex offender laws: college campuses are now required to notify students when a registered offender is on campus, and the range of punishment for sex offenses involving minors has been increased.

● Traffic laws: the penalties for leaving the scene of an auto accident have also been increased.

  • BWI (boating while intoxicated): there are now provisions that allow for those persons accused of BWI to take required safety courses online.

It is important to know when changes in laws take place, because sometimes the new rules require you to do or not do certain things. In other instances though, the laws change in a way that are beneficial to those charged with crimes. Such as a new law that allows for a 78 year old man to finally receive compensation for wrongful imprisonment. We stay on top of all the changes, so we are in the best position to help you when needed.

If you have questions about changes to criminal laws or how laws apply to the specific facts of your case, call an experienced defense attorney for help. Skilled criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast are here to help you reach solutions that work. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

I Said I’m “Not Guilty”

If you have been arrested for a crime, a million questions go through your mind. Your first order of business is getting out of jail, which will usually include the need to find a bail bondsman. Once you are out of jail and trying to get back to your regular life while defending serious criminal charges, you will need to figure out what to do next. This means you have to determine what type of defense will work for your case, and how much you might pay in fines and penalties. Coming up with an effective defense strategy includes deciding whether you want to enter a plea and possibly go on probation, or enter a not guilty plea and set your case for trial.

For DUI cases your first order of business is to request an administrative hearing to keep your driver’s license, or obtain a modified license that gives you some ability to drive. As for the criminal part of a DUI case, you will need to explore the possibilities involved with entering a plea. Knowing the types of pleas will enable you to make an informed decision:

● Guilty pleas should only be entered in the most sever of case, or where they are required as part of an agreement to go on probation. Most probationary terms include a provision whereby a guilty plea is made, but upon successful completion of probation the charges are reduced to a lesser offense and no finding of guilt is made.

● Not guilty pleas will mean your case proceeds to a hearing. In the time between the entry of the not guilty plea and the hearing, the evidence of your case will need to be prepared so it can be presented to the Court for review.

  • A plea of no contest means you are not contesting the charges against you, but you are not admitting them either.

The type of plea you enter will depend on the facts of your case. Your plea agreement will also depend upon the offer made by the prosecution. Before entering any plea though, you will need to have your case carefully analyzed so the choice you make works for you.

If you have questions about how to plead in a criminal case against you, call an experienced defense attorney for help. Skilled criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast are here to help you reach solutions that work. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

“You Put Your Weed In There”

Drug charges are serious offenses, but there are varying degrees of seriousness. It all depends on the type of drug, and your level of involvement. For instance, possession is a less serious charge than distribution, and possession of marijuana is not as severe a charge as possession of a substance like cocaine or methamphetamine. The range of punishment will also vary depending on whether this is your first, or a subsequent offense.

The best thing you can do is to arm yourself with information, which includes knowing possible outcomes of your case under the relevant law. Here are common questions, with possible outcomes for drug related charges:

  • What will happen to me if I am a first time offender? The range of punishment for first time offenders is much less than for repeat offenders, but could still include jail time.

● Does the type of drug matter? Yes! Punishment and fines are generally lower for cases involving “lesser” drugs than cases involving substances that are considered “harder”.

● Should I negotiate? The specific facts of your case will dictate what type of defense strategy to employ.

 

Regardless of the level of severity of your case, it is important that you are prepared. An effective defense includes one where you are well-informed. Developing a solid defense requires a thorough investigation, analysis, and application of the law to the facts of your case. The prosecution has leeway in things like reducing charges, which can result in a lower range of punishment. The evidence gathered in your defense plays an important role in how much leeway the state is willing to exercise. Make sure your defense is airtight by partnering with a trained criminal defense attorney.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime, call our office to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney. We help people charged in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Call today to schedule an appointment for a free initial evaluation of your case.

I Can Finally Breathe Again!

Having a criminal record can interfere with your ability to obtain employment and certain other privileges. Without a job it will be difficult to support yourself and your family. The weight of the knowledge that your past follows you around can cause undue stress and anxiety, leading you to settle for less than you deserve. In certain circumstances though, you can get a fresh start and breathe again. If you are eligible to have charges against you erased from your record (expunged), you can face your future with confidence.

The law in Florida that allows a person to wipe the slate clean contains certain requirements. To expunge a criminal record, you must show one of the following:

● An arrest was made, but no charges were ever filed.

● The case against you was dismissed.

● A not guilty verdict was entered.

If you meet any one of these requirements, it is in your best interest to seek an expungement of the charges. Once expunged, the record of the case is no longer visible to most people or entities that initiate a search. You are also able to check that box that says “no” when asked on an application if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. One word of caution though, certain governmental agencies might still have access to your record, so it is always a good idea to be up front about your past when dealing with these groups. To make sure an expungement will have the impact you desire, partner with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. And, breathe again.

 

For more information about clearing your record of past criminal charges, call our office. 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.

Do Not Pass Go, Go Directly To Jail!

Being placed on probation can be the best way to avoid serving time in jail, but it can also be the best way to land yourself in jail. If you fail to abide by the terms of your probation, the likelihood you will be required to serve time is very real. In order to avoid this possibility, consult a skilled criminal defense attorney for help.

Florida law treats probation violations seriously, and so should you. The basics of probation are that you do not receive any other tickets, that you check in with your probation officer as scheduled, and that you pay your fines on time. Failure to do any of these things could result in a new arrest and new charges, not to mention the revocation of your probationary term. When that happens, the prosecution will seek to have the punishment for your original offense imposed, including any jail sentence. The best ways to avoid a violation of probation include:

● Obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and traffic signals.

● Keep track of all appointments with your probation officer, and schedule your other daily obligations around these appointments.

● If you are unsure if an action will violate a term of your probation, ask before doing!

The sentence you receive for a probation violation depends on the unique facts of your case, and the type of violation. Violations can be technical (such as a missed appointment), or related to a new charge (such as receiving a DUI ticket while on probation). To avoid the requirement of having to serve jail time, which is a common part of nearly all probation violation cases, you must present a solid defense. We investigate the facts of your case and present the evidence in a light most favorable to you. Doing this ensures your satisfaction with the result, as well as giving you a clear understanding of what to expect.

If you have questions about probation violations, call our office to learn more on how to defend the charges. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

It Wasn’t Me! Liability For Passengers’ Actions

We learn from an early age a popular way to try and stay out of trouble is to blame someone else. As we get older though, it becomes clearer that the best way to avoid punishment is to avoid the offensive action. When you are out with your friends, volunteering to be the designated driver is a smart choice. The problem is that your friends are not also making the choice to forego drinking. Being pulled over for DUI when you are sober is a frustrating experience. The way this can happen is by having passengers in your car with open containers of alcohol. In those instances, you must be aware of your rights and how to defend these serious charges.

Florida open container laws provide punishment in the following circumstances:

● Alcohol within the driver’s reach that is open is a violation of the open container statute. The charge is a moving violation, and is not criminal in nature.

● The law is not limited to vehicles. It is possible to be cited for violation of the open container law simply by carrying an open container in a public place.

● The prohibitions against transporting an open container does not apply to bottles or cans that have not had their seal broken. So, you are within your rights to put an unopened bottle of wine in the passenger seat on your way to a gathering.

An open container conviction is a misdemeanor, and has a fine of up to $500.00 and possible jail time. Because it might be difficult for the officer to determine who the alcohol belongs to, it is best to not allow your passengers to get in your car with an open beer or other alcoholic beverage. One of the worst things that could happen is for the officer to be so unsure as to who has been drinking an open container of alcohol that he requests the driver to submit to a field sobriety test. If you have made the smart choice to be a designated driver, go one step further and make the smarter choice to have your friends finish their drinks before getting in the car.

If you have questions about open container laws, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We aggressively defend you and work to maintain your driving privileges. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.

Can A Sober Driver Be Arrested For DUI?

Being charged with DUI is a frightening experience, it is made even more so when you are not under the influence of alcohol when pulled over and arrested. Most people would be surprised to learn that not every person charged with DUI has been drinking. There are instances where the field sobriety test result is a false positive, due to improper equipment maintenance or even the existence of legal substances such as certain prescription medications.

In one highly publicized case, a sober driver was charged with DUI after the officer hit her! In the summer of 2014 a Wisconsin woman was arrested for DUI after an officer ran a stop sign and plowed into her car. The case unfolded like this:

  • 25 year old Tanya Weyker was hit by an officer who ran a stop sign.

● Weyker was injured in the incident, and therefore unable to participate in a field sobriety test.

● The officer made an arrest of DUI despite the lack of a test result showing a BAC over the legal limit.

A blood test later revealed Weyker was not under the influence, but the experience was long and difficult. Instances such as these show that mistakes are made all the time, and sober drivers can be wrongfully accused of DUI. In Weyker’s case her injuries included a broken neck, which prevented her from taking a field sobriety test. Other factors that might prevent a driver from agreeing to a field test include age, or physical disability. Even then, if the test is taken a false positive may still happen if the test isn’t administered properly. For an analysis of your case, call a qualified DUI defense attorney with experience reviewing the testing process and examining all the components of your case.

If you have been charged with DUI, call a competent criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for help. We offer aggressive representation for criminal charges. Call us today to schedule an appointment that includes a free initial evaluation of the facts of your case.