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criminal law

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.

Three Common Mistakes DUI Defendants Make

Even though there are plenty of television shows and movies about the law, the reality is not as glamourous. There is no red carpet rolled out for attorneys when they show up to Court, and there is usually not a “smoking gun” of evidence. And just because Marisa Tomei was able to catch the prosecuting attorney off guard in My Cousin Vinny, times like these are few and far between in the real world. So it is not surprising to learn that when people are arrested and charged with a crime, they are not sure how to act or what to do next. Fortunately, there are attorneys who have experience defending certain types of crimes, and when you partner with one of these attorneys you can have a good shot at getting a good result in your case.

Three common mistakes DUI defendants tend to make, which could have a negative impact on their case, are:

  • Waiting too long to do anything after the arrest. We understand that being arrested and made to spend any amount of time in jail is trying, and that when you bond out all you really want to do is rest. But if you wait too long to call for help you may miss out on certain protections. In a DUI case the biggest risk you take by waiting too long to call a qualified attorney for help is the loss of your driver’s license.
  • Talking too much at the scene. Keep in mind you have the right to remain silent. And, just as you’ve seen on TV or in the movies, you can exercise that right.
  • Driving without a license. The temptation to drive when your license has been taken away is probably due more to the fact that you have places you need to go rather than just an urge to break the law, but whatever the reason, driving without a license is a big no-no; in any circumstance. But, when you have been arrested for DUI and continue to drive without shoring up your driving rights, you accomplish nothing other than brining on more trouble.

A DUI case is not a hopeless case. There are plenty of defenses available, and it is likely one will work for you. We have helped other people challenge breath test results, negotiate favorable probation terms, and avoid jail and we can help you too!

For more information about DUI defense, call an experienced defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We offer an initial consultation for no charge, and look forward to working with you.

Five Tips For DUI Cases

When faced with a problem most of us like to have a plan of action to get the problem resolved. This may range from coming up with a budget in order to save for a vacation to keeping track of what we eat each day in order to lose weight. If you are trying to fix something around the house, you might look at some DIY videos and then try to make the repair on your own. Most times though, for these and other issues, turning to a professional is the best idea. If the situation you are facing is an arrest for DUI you need to know that this type of case involves possible jail time, payment of criminal fines, or loss of your driver’s license, call a skilled DUI and criminal defense attorney for help. And if you are interested in knowing a bit about how the process works before you sit down with a lawyer, take a look below.

Five tips for DUI cases are:

  • Maintain your car in good repair, which might help you to avoid being pulled over for a burned out brake light. Sometimes DUI arrests begin with something this simple and a little routine maintenance can save you a big headache.
  • If you are pulled over, be polite to the officer. The fastest way to have things spiral out of control is to become belligerent or agitated.
  • Watch what you say, and answer only the question asked. Do not offer additional information, and do not think you are going to be able to “talk your way out of a DUI ticket”. The officer may appear friendly, and may be nice enough person, but in this instance the officer is not your friend.
  • If you have been arrested before for DUI, decline to take a breath test is you are pulled over again.
  • Be aware that things like breath mints and gum won’t alter your BAC level. That said, there are some over the counter and even prescription medications that can impact a breath test. If you have taken any medication, be sure to tell your attorney what it was as soon as possible.

A DUI means you lose your license, at least until you work out other arrangements. These arrangements have to be requested right away though, or you do end up going without a license to drive. It is no fun to be without your driving privileges, so act fast by calling a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney today. A qualified attorney will also be able to help you minimize the other possible penalties, such as fines and potential time behind bars.


For more information about DUI’s, call an experienced defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We offer an initial consultation for no charge, and look forward to working with you.


Three Interesting Facts About How Breath Tests Work

Most DUI arrests are made after a driver “fails” a breath test. This means the driver has taken a breath test, and the results show more alcohol in their system that what the law allows. Florida’s threshold figure is 0.08%, so if you register a BAC over that amount you can be arrested and charged with DUI. Breath tests are scientific test, and thus subject to scientific scrutiny. There are also other challenges you can make to a test’s results, which may or may not require introduction of highly technical scientific evidence.

Here are three interesting facts about how a breath test works in a DUI case:

  • The officer has to observe you for a full 20 minutes before the test is administered. If this timeframe is not followed, the test results may not be valid. And if you are able to prove that your test was not administered properly and thus the results invalid, you might be able to get the charges against you dismissed. If you are not successful in getting a full dismissal of the charges, there is a good chance you will be able to have the charges reduced.
  • You have to blow a certain amount in order for the test to get an accurate read. A minimum of 1.1 liters of breath is needed for most machines to put out a reliable result. If you blow less than this amount, your test results may not be accurate.
  • Most machines are set to default for the lung capacity of males, which means females and those with smaller frames are at a disadvantage. This type of error can result in a false positive.

There are other ways to challenge breath test results, and we can help pinpoint those ways by taking a good hard look at your case. Our experienced team of DUI defense attorneys knows where to look, what to look for, and how to use the data gathered to your benefit. If you have been charged with DUI, call us today for help. We take an individualized approach to your case, so the defense fits the facts.

For help with questions about DUI’s, 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.


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 Common DUI Penalties

It is common knowledge that if you are arrested and face a criminal charge, there will be consequences. But the punishment for criminal violations vary from case to case, depending on the type of charges filed against you. For a DUI case you can expect to have to fight for your freedom, and also for your right to drive. But, there are other possibilities, and it is helpful to know what you are facing so you can make informed decisions about how to defend your case.

Five of the most common DUI penalties, when the driver is a first time offender, are as follows:

  • Payment of a fine that can be as high as $2,000.The amount varies because people have different levels of alcohol in their blood (the BAC), and the fine is sometimes tied to that figure. The higher your BAC, the higher fine you might expect to pay.
  • The need to agree to go on probation as a way to resolve the case against you, which might mean you have to do some community service or attend driving school. In some instances the defendant will also have to attend drug and/or alcohol treatment programs. The exact terms of your probation depend on the specific facts of your case.
  • If you are not a candidate for probation you can face up to six months in jail, depending on the facts of your case. The possible jail term increases with subsequent cases, and may even be increased if there are extraordinary circumstances for a first time offender.
  • Your car might be impounded at the arrest scene, and you will have to pay a fee to get it back. This is not necessarily a penalty, but it sure can feel like a punishment to have to jump through hoops and pay fees to recover your vehicle.
  • You will have your license taken from when you are arrested, but you can ask for it back or ask that you be granted a limited right to drive. Many first time offenders are granted this limited right, but that is not always the case for subsequent offenders or cases where there are other factors.

In order to minimize the penalties, call a qualified DUI defense attorney. We have experience defending all levels of DUI cases and can help you too. We know how to challenge breath test results, and also how to question whether the initial stop was valid. These are things you will want to consider as part of your defense, and we will let you know what else is needed.

For help with defending DUI charges, 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.

A Few DUI Basics

DUI cases are two part cases; the first part is the criminal action against you, and the second part is an administrative proceeding regarding loss of your driver’s license. A successful outcome requires you to defend both parts, which requires a skilled DUI defense attorney. In order to get a good outcome, you need to move quickly and call an attorney right away. This is partly because if you want to get your license back, or at least get a limited license; you have to make a request for administrative review within ten days of the arrest. If you let this deadline pass, you will not be eligible for a limited license. Acting fast is also necessary because you are facing potential jail time, and large fines. The sooner you start talking over the facts of your case with a qualified attorney, the sooner you will have an idea of what to expect. And, let’s face it, knowing what to expect when your freedom and finances are at stake can offer comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable time.

A few basics about Florida DUI matters involve the following things:

  • When you get arrested for DUI you will have to go to jail for a little bit of time. Release usually happens about 8 hours after you are taken in, and you will need to call a friend or family member to help bond you out of jail. You might also have to take steps to get your car out of impound if it was taken to an impound lot at the arrest scene.
  • You will be given a temporary paper license during the arrest and release process. This is not a license that lets you drive forever, and you do have to take steps to get your license back or to get a modified license. If you are caught driving without a license, and only have the paper license on you, you will face additional charges.
  • Many DUI cases are resolved by the defendant agreeing to go on probation. The terms of probation in your case will be unique to you, but typically involve the requirement that you have an interlock device installed in your car. There is an expense associated with having this device, so you need to be prepared to budget for this expense during your case. You also need to be prepared to abide by the other terms of your probation, because if you do not, your probation can be revoked and you will be in more legal trouble.

If you have been arrested for DUI, act fast to protect your rights. We know what needs to be done, and can handle the matter for you so you can get back to your life.

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.

Two Possible Changes To DUI Interlock Rules

Ignition Interlock being considered by Florida Legislature

The Legislature is back in session, considering changes to current DUI Laws

The requirement to have an interlock device installed in your car if you get a DUI has historically been reserved for cases where the BAC was significantly higher than the 0.08% limit (at .15%) or if the driver was transporting a minor child at the time of DUI arrest. However, there have been pushes for changes to these requirements, and that movement seems to be gaining ground. A recent proposal to make the interlock requirement apply to all first time DUI offenders, even those who do not have a BAC as high as .15% and/or are not driving with a minor in the car, has passed its first hurdle in the State Legislature. If the initiative continues forward, there could be changes coming to the rules that apply to when an interlock is required and when it is not required.

If passed as it stands now, two of the changes to the interlock rules in DUI cases would be as follows:

  • A first time offender would be given the chance to withhold adjudication if they make the choice to have the device installed.
  • This means upon passage of the probationary term, the Court would be required to release the defendant without having entered a conviction on the charges.

These changes would drastically change the way DUI plea negotiations are entered, and could also change the outcome of a potentially huge number of cases. In order for these new rules to become effective, the proposed bill must go through two more stages of legislative review. If passed, Florida will now be in the majority of states with this type of requirement, as over half of the states in the nation currently have this type of system in place. We know how important it is to you to know what to expect if you are arrested for a crime, especially one that jeopardizes your freedom or ability to drive. We also know there is a lot of information available on the internet, through friends, or from well-intentioned family members and that this information can be hard to sift through to get to the bottom line. That is why we are here to stay on top of any legal changes, and to advise you when needed. Our team of DUI defense attorneys has experience in cases with all sorts of fact patterns, and knows how to help you too.

If you questions about DUI’s and interlock rules, 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.

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.