Stuart Criminal Defense Attorney | Ferraro Law Group, PL

Stuart Criminal Defense Attorney

Get Out Of Jail Early!

happy manIt would be nice if we all carried around a little card that said “get out of jail free”, like when you were a kid playing Monopoly. But real life isn’t a game, and there are no freebies. However, in certain circumstances, you may be eligible for an early release from your jail sentence. A successful case for reducing your sentence results in a shorter amount of jail time to serve.

In January 2014, the White House announced plans for early release of nonviolent prisoners. To be eligible, the prisoner must:

● Serving a federal sentence that would be less due to a change in law or policy.

● Have served 10 years of the original sentence term.

● Be free of ties to organized crime, including gang affiliations.

● Have a small amount of criminal history on your record.

● Have demonstrated good behavior during the part of the sentence served.

● Have no history of violent behavior.

To be considered for early release, you should contact an attorney for help. Developing your case with the factors set out above takes careful analysis and a clear presentation. An effective case for early release includes a demonstration as to how society benefits from the release. A competent criminal defense attorney will present evidence from your case that shows continued incarceration does not serve the ends and means of the purpose for jail time. The lawyers at the Ferraro Law Group have experience reviewing criminal sentences, and know how the facts of your sentence fit within a request for early release.

If you qualify for early release, call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We fight aggressively for your rights and offer a free initial consultation. Call today to schedule an appointment for criminal defense matters.

The Role Of Social Media In Criminal Law

facebookThe use of social media is on the rise, with no end in sight. But did you know what you post to your Facebook or Instagram can have an impact on how a criminal case is decided? Photos, quotes and other stories you post reflect on your attitude and reputation. That reflection is not always positive. For example, if you are charged with a DUI and frequently post photos and other information where alcohol is involved, your fight for a lesser sentence could be compromised. Likewise, if you routinely “check in” at bars or nightclubs while on probation you may risk losing probation depending on the terms.

More and more law enforcement are utilizing social media in their investigations into criminal activity. While most sites offer privacy safeguards, those controls are not always failsafe and what you post online could contribute to how the Judge and jury view you. A USA Today article is illustrative of the issue:

● Selfies: self-portraits are all the rage, everywhere you go you see college co-eds snapping photos of themselves. But when these are posted online, your face becomes more easily recognizable. In cases where the identity of the accused is questionable, the more often you put your picture on social media, the more likely you are to be recognized.

● Disagreements: the internet seems to be overrun with people disagreeing over one thing or another, in a very public forum. Some people simply can’t resist the urge to comment on someone else’s political or personal rants. But singling people out on Facebook may lead authorities to you if and when something unsavory happens to that person.

● Connections: The beauty of social media is that you can easily connect to a lot of people quickly, and once you do there is no shortage of the site “suggesting” with whom you should interact. However, the more “friends” you have in common with people, the more potential witnesses there are to wrongful act.

The moral of the story is to be careful what you post. When in doubt, leave it off your social media sites. In a criminal proceeding, your character becomes your most valuable asset. What a shame it would be to be the cause of your own unsatisfactory result.

If you are charged with a crime, call an attorney knowledgeable about all aspects of criminal defense. Experienced criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast are here to help. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation.

The Debate Over The Death Penalty

prison barsFlorida consistently ranks among the states with the highest number of death row inmates. Our judicial system allows for the legal execution of criminals convicted of the most atrocious crimes. Most often you will find those convicted of brutal murders sitting on death row. But what happens when the evidence is tainted, or just plain wrong? In recent years, scientific developments in the area of DNA testing has led to the exoneration of some inmates condemned to death. It seems unbelievable a person could lose their life due to faulty test results, perjured testimony, or other fails in the criminal justice system.

Perhaps the most horrifying tale of a death row inmate is that of an Oklahoma man sentenced to death, but who suffered a botched execution. To be clear, this is not a case of perjured testimony, or faulty scientific testing. The conviction was solid, it was the execution that was faulty. Specifically, the facts are:

● The inmate was rightfully convicted of a brutal murder, which included burying his victim alive.

● As punishment, the prisoner was sentenced to die.

● In what would have been an historic two execution day in the State, the execution was stopped after the life ending drugs were administered because it became apparent there was a problem.

● That problem is what reports show as a collapsed or compromised vein, which led to an ineffective use of the drugs. The inmate eventually suffered a heart attack and died.

Those with strong views on both sides of the death penalty issue have since come forward to voice their opinions. Proponents argue the prisoner’s victim was not given her Constitutional right to not suffer a cruel and inhumane death while opponents state not providing the inmate the drug manufacturing information contributed to a violation of that Constitutional right. Further, opponents claim once we start taking away rights, the slope becomes very slippery as to how far that taking goes. To be certain, the debate will not likely end soon. And while the loss of any life is unacceptable, it is the job of a criminal defense attorney to make sure the laws put in place are carried out as intended.

If you have been charged with a crime and have questions about the applicability of the law to your case, call our office to speak with a qualified  criminal defense attorney. We help people in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free consultation, call today.

When the Police Make Mistakes

erasing mistakeTo serve and protect. That’s the motto of law enforcement. But what can you do when wrongfully accused, and the reason is due to police error? You can and should take a strong stand for your rights. Fighting back when procedures are disregarded, or evidence tainted puts the authorities on notice that people charged with crimes won’t roll over.

It is just this type of activity that was recently uncovered. A crime lab chemist in Tampa has put thousands of cases at risk. The chemist, who handled evidence for different agencies across the state has been relieved of duty pending an investigation. The claims are:

● The chemist swapped over the counter medications for prescription drugs.

● Investigators discovered the missing pills from an evidence locker.

● Further investigation revealed the cases involving missing pills were all handled by the same chemist.

This revelation has the potential to impact several cases across the state. Those convicted or accused of crimes where this particular staff person should perform their own investigation, to be sure there were no mix ups of evidence in their case. The possibility of replacing evidence with another substance seriously calls into question the state’s case against an accused. The legal team at Ferraro Law Group is skilled at investigating charges of criminal misconduct and developing an effective defense.

If you believe you are the victim of inappropriate police conduct, or misconduct at any stage of an investigation or charge against you, call a criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for more information. Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation. We fight for your rights and take law enforcement’s duty to act fairly seriously.

Weapons Charges

Man behind bars_edited-1With laws like the Make My Day Law, and cases like the Treyvon Martin case making headlines, now more than ever the government is cracking down on gun ownership. We see this tightening of guidelines at both the state and federal level, and are prepared to fight for your right to bear arms. We believe in responsible gun ownership, but understand instances do arise when weapons fall into the wrong hands or a charge is lodged against someone for a weapons related crime. Our talented team of criminal defense lawyers aggressively protects your rights in cases involving guns and other weapons.

To illustrate an incident of gun ownership that went awry, we need to look no further than Polk County. There, a pastor and his wife participated in the purchase of over 40 firearms, some of which ended up in the hands of a drug cartel. The facts are:

● The purchases were made a pawn shops

● The pastor and his wife provided inaccurate information on the purchase forms

● A number of the rifles were late seized by law enforcement officials during armed confrontations with a Mexican drug cartel

The pastor and his wife faced charges for their involvement in getting the weapons into the hands of drug dealers, which included providing false ownership information on the purchase forms. This type of case shows that every aspect of gun ownership is subject to investigation by government officials. When facing an investigation of this type, it is important to have a skilled attorney represent your interests and present the facts in a light most favorable to you. Our team of criminal defense litigators is skilled at analysis of all the facts of your case and applying the law to those facts in a way that is beneficial to you. We work hard to minimize the negative impact a conviction for a weapons related charge has on your future, such as the inability to apply for permits and licenses.

If you have been charged with a weapons related offence, call our office to speak with a qualified  criminal defense attorney. We help people in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. The first visit is a free consultation, call today.

Stand Your Ground: The Defense of Self Defense

BoxingNowhere more than in Florida is the spotlight on self-defense. Time and again defendants are claiming they’ve acted out of self-defense. But with high profile cases, media frenzy and attention given to nearly every move made, being successful when claiming self-defense is an increasingly difficult task. The legal professionals at the Ferraro Law Group are skilled at clearing the hurdles in place when advancing a defense of self-defense.

A recent story shows using the stand your ground law is being used with more frequency. While the Treyvon Martin case may have put the spotlight on the law, there are others availing themselves of the right to self-defense. Marissa Alexander recently learned her ability to claim self-defense will soon be decided. Alexander’s case includes:

● Three counts of aggravated assault.

● Alexander’s claim that she was simply firing a warning shot during an incident with her estranged husband.

● Alexander is currently appealing her conviction, based on her lawyers successfully arguing the evidence was incomplete to                       warrant the conviction.

To use the stand your ground defense, the facts must show that you were in fear of grave bodily harm or death from a perpetrator. Additionally, that perpetrator must be in the process of unlawfully or forcefully entering a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle. As has been shown, the facts can become confusing. What one person perceives as a threat, another may not. It is the job of a competent criminal defense attorney to present your case in a light most favorable to you. We have experience in criminal defense, and in presentation of facts in a clear and understandable way. Being able to artfully articulate the circumstances under which resort to self-defense was necessary is the first step in a successful case.

If you are charged with a crime where you actions were in self-defense, call an attorney knowledgeable about the stand your ground law. Experienced criminal defense attorneys in Stuart and the Treasure Coast are here to help. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Defense for Juvenile Offenders

back of security guardFor offenders under the age of 18 facing criminal charges, the likely forum to defend your case is in Florida’s juvenile justice system. We take a careful approach when defending underage offenders, because we understand the impact a conviction can have on your record at such a young age. Our goal is to help rehabilitate the accused so they can go on to a bright future.

There are certain preconceived notions about the juvenile justice system. We work hard to dispel any misunderstandings about the process and teach young offenders throughout the process. Some common misconceptions are:

● Summer is the time when the highest number of incidents occur: this is not accurate, statistics show incidents of delinquency actually decline in December and also in the summer.

● “Scared straight” programs are effective: studies show these types of programs can actually do more harm than good.

● Most juvenile offenders just need a “wake up call”: research points to the opposite, and shows that severe constraints and full lockdown facilities do not help with rehabilitation and can contribute to future acts of delinquency.

Most instances of juvenile delinquency are harmless, and identification of the type of punishment necessary for the offense is vital. Overcorrecting can lead to rebellion and future offenses. Attempts to scare children into good behavior can act as a turn off and result in rejection of rehabilitative efforts. The attorneys at the Ferraro Law Group value the contributions of the young, and work hard to find programs that fit the case..

If you minor child has been charged with an offense, take the steps necessary to help maintain a good record. Call our office to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. The first visit is a free consultation, call today.

How Traffic Violations Affect You

question marksYour driving record affects your life in more ways than just your ability to drive. A good record can mean lower insurance rates, and a higher credit score. Drivers with an accumulation of points on their records pay more for insurance and can face suspension of their driving privileges. In a mobile society, the ability to drive is a necessity. Going to and from work, taking the kids to Church and school, and being able to visit family and friends are all a part of well-rounded, happy life. Safeguard your right to drive by contacting one of the attorneys at Ferraro Law Group specializing in traffic violations.

Information about points on your driving record can obtained from the Florida Department of Highway and Safety and Motor Vehicles. For example:

● Various driving offenses are assigned a certain point value

● Once a certain number of points accumulates; your driver’s license will be suspended

● The more points accumulated in a certain time period, the longer the suspension of driving privileges lasts

To maintain a good driving record, keep your insurance rates low, and keep your driver’s license you need aggressive representation for any traffic violation. This includes tickets for even the most minor of infractions, up to the more serious offense of leaving the scene of an accident. We examine the facts of your case and identify all witnesses, including the officer that wrote the ticket. You have the right to a hearing, where that officer must appear and give testimony. We are experienced in identifying defects in the citation process, and using those defects to your benefit. Keeping points off your record is our goal, as we explore the options of your case, from remedial opportunities such as driving school to outright dismissal of the charges against you.

Call our office to schedule a free initial consultation with a traffic violation attorney with experience defending traffic tickets. Keep your driving privileges and keep your record clean. Call today to make an appointment.

Assault’s Big Brother: Battery

police with handcuffsSome cases of battery are more obvious than others. An all-out bar brawl, resulting in broken bones and hospital stays is much easier to identify as battery than a simple shove. But both of these examples demonstrate cases of battery. The seasoned lawyers at Ferraro Law Group have experience in battery cases of all degrees. Put this experience to work for you, and fight for a case result in your favor.

Battery is legally defined as:

● An intentional or unwanted touching

● That results in bodily injury

Keep in mind the bodily injury caused by the touching does not necessarily have to be visible. It can be enough for an alleged victim to state they were touched, or the touching hurt them. Unfortunately, it can be enough for the victim to give testimony about the incident, and not provide any physical evidence, to support a conviction for battery. And if there are serious injuries, the charge can be upgraded to aggravated battery. Any of these types of convictions interfere with your life, because a conviction for battery can carry up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00. Protect your freedom and your pocketbook by putting forth a serious defense.

Call our office to schedule a free initial consultation with an effective criminal defense attorney that knows how to minimize the effect of battery charges against you. We develop defensive strategies with your best interests in mind and work with you to tailor a defense for your individual needs. Call today to protect your future.

Aggressive Defense for Charges of Assault

police officerSome things always seem to go together. Batman and Robin, salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, and assault and battery, right? Except just like soap and water are two different things; assault and battery are two components of a common crime often lumped together. Competent criminal defense attorneys are quick not to assume where there is smoke, there is fire, and are capable of crafting aggressive defenses for charges of assault.

An assault is legally defined as an act that includes an intentional threat of:

● An act of violence

● By one with the ability to assert violence

● Accompanied by an act that creates a fear that the action will be carried out

A conviction for assault is a second degree misdemeanor conviction. As with any criminal conviction, your record is affected and casts a negative light on you in your future endeavors for things like employment and other privileges. To minimize the effect an arrest for assault can have on your record, call an attorney specializing in criminal defense for help. Also of importance is the possibility that if an assault occurs between family members, the crime can be classified as domestic violence. Charges of domestic violence make it difficult to maintain a stable home for your family, and you may face the possibility of a lack of contact with your children.

 

Safeguard your record and protect your rights as a parent by calling a criminal defense attorney that knows how to fight charges of assault.  Take a proactive position for your future, and call to schedule an appointment. We offer an initial free consultation for criminal defense matters and always treat you with dignity and respect.