Monday, November 4, 2013
Friday, July 19, 2013
First and foremost, many of my clients are in fact NOT GUILTY of the crime they are alleged to have committed. This fact cannot be overstated. Just because the police have arrested a person and the State Attorney's Office has filed formal charges, it does not mean the prosecutors are correct. Rather, it could mean - based on the "limited" evidence they have at the time - the State believes there is sufficient evidence to arrest and formally charge a person.
Often times after my full and careful review of ALL the facts in the case, reviewing all the participants involved with their biases, motives, history and characteristics, and after a detailed review of the law, it becomes clear that my client should not have been arrested and that no formal charges should be filed or if filed, the charges should be immediately dropped. It is very very rewarding to me, and of course to my clients and their families, when I am able to show the State that the charges are not legally warranted and they agree to immediately drop the charges.
As residents of the State of Florida and the United States, we have rights provided to us by both the Florida and United States Constitutions. Specifically, we all have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. It is very important that law enforcement strictly abide by and follow these laws which protect us all. At times, my clients have had their "rights" violated by law enforcement. It is my responsibility to my client and to our community as a whole to not let these violations go unchecked but rather address these violations in a court of law and make sure my clients' rights and the community's rights are properly respected and protected.
Yes, sometimes my clients are in fact guilty; they did commit a crime, and they do need to be punished. However, sometimes what a prosecutor or a Judge feels is an appropriate sentence is not what I feel is a fair and appropriate sentence in this particular case. By learning everything about my client and how they came to be in my office, I can better advocate for him/her and explain why my sentencing recommendation is more appropriate. Often times my client's childhood, medical issues, employment, child-care responsibilities, substance abuse dependency, and other factors are very relevant and important in arriving at a fair case resolution and sentence.
Finally, just because a person is accused of committing a crime or actually commits a crime does not necessarily make them a bad or horrible person. My clients are usually first time (and never again) offenders who made a mistake or bad choice. I truly enjoy helping them AND their family members through the often stressful, scary, and embarrassing legal process.
I am always truly honored and proud when a former client refers a family member or friend to me to help out in their time of need. I do not take this trust lightly.
As always, I will work hard, be honest, and give my clients the honest straightforward answers they deserve.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
- 21 and over, it is legal to drink.
- Valid license, legal to drive.
- Illegal - to be IMPAIRED and driving.
Impaired does not mean you are drunk, smashed, hammered, snockered, or sloshed. A police officer ONLY needs to have probable cause (i.e. an opinion) that your normal faculties are impaired by alcohol.
In other words, if you are stopped, and there is an odor of alcohol on your breath, then there is a good chance you will be arrested for DUI. That is the bottom line. You need to know this so you can decide if it is worth taking the risk. (By the way, it's not worth the risk.)
Here's a typical scenario, you leave the restaurant/club/ bar/house after having one drink. While driving you reach for your phone, by doing so, you momentarily swerve in the lane. A cop sees you swerve, pulls you over, smells alcohol on your breath... The DUI process begins.
You may think you can smooth talk your way out of an arrest or you may think you will ace the field sobriety exercises. But you would be wrong. It's late at night. You're tired, scared, and nervous. Additionally, you may have that bum knee or you're wearing high heels. Even if you do well on the exercises and you are polite to the officer, the bottom line is this : You driving + Odor of alcohol = You will almost certainly be arrested for DUI.
Don't Drink then Drive. Don't be the "designated driver" and just have "one". If you do, you will be putting yourself in jeopardy.
Instead, get a cab, have a true designated driver, leave your car (it will be fine), call a friend, plan ahead.
Be Well! Be Safe! Be Smart! Thank you for your continued support.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
During the initial consultation, many clients have asked me the million dollar question, "Should I hire an attorney for this case?" My answer is almost always, "Yes, you should." Here are my top 5 reasons why a person who is arrested should hire an attorney:
- YOU DIDN'T DO IT! - This is the best reason to hire an attorney. The police have arrested you because they think or believe you have broken the law. This doesn't make it true. Sometimes the police make honest mistakes or are given faulty, inaccurate, or incomplete information which leads them to arrest you. Some crimes, like DUI, are opinion crimes, meaning the police officer forms the opinion that you are DUI and arrests you based on a totality of factors. As you know, opinions can be challenged and have been known to be wrong....
- INVESTIGATE THE FACTS- Often times an attorney can gather important evidence that may have been overlooked or not available to the police at the time of the arrest. By immediately interviewing witnesses, taking videos and photographs, documenting injuries, obtaining cell phone or text records, etc. an attorney can obtain and preserve key evidence that can sometimes prove a person has been wrongly accused or falsely implicated in committing a crime. This is a time sensitive endeavor because some evidence can be destroyed or become unavailable.
- REDUCE STRESS- Getting arrested can be VERY stressful for the arrested person, his/her family, friends, employer, etc. The stress level can be further exacerbated when the arrested person does not know the legal process and/or what to expect. People generally fear the unknown. Meeting in person with an attorney, right after an arrest, is critical to reducing ones stress level. A good attorney will explain the criminal court process and the anticipated timeline of events for this particular type of case. Furthermore, explaining some possible/probable outcomes will alleviate much stress and fear of the unknown.
- COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES- Aside from the criminal consequences of an arrest, there are many other issues resulting from an arrest. Do I need to tell my employer? If I am a student, do I have to tell my school or college? Will I be kicked out of school or kicked off campus? Will my apartment complex evict me? How will this affect my future? An attorney will explain these potential collateral consequences and create a strategy and game-plan to protect your interests.
- WHAT IF YOU COMMITTED THE CRIME? - If a person had a lapse in judgment or made a bad decision and in fact committed the crime, this person needs an attorney as much as, or even more than a person who "didn't do it". In these situations, the attorney advocates and argues not only about guilt or innocence but also what is a FAIR and JUST punishment based on the unique facts and circumstances of this case and the person accused. Many times after carefully reviewing all aspects of the case, putting the incident in context, and looking at the history and characteristics of my client, I can show the prosecutor and/or the Judge that my recommended sentence is more appropriate in this particular case. This can result in a person admitting to their guilt, but receiving an appropriate punishment that is fair and commensurate with their actions.
Thank you for your continued support.