Hey Guys (And Gals)…

Hey guys (and gals), if you have a problem, you deal with it, right?  The same is true for a DUI arrest. A DUI is a serious problem.  Treat it seriously. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge means you probably got caught and there is evidence against you.  It is an arrest with fingerprinting and a criminal record.  However, there are things you can do—regardless of guilt—to take a sober step in a more positive direction.  One is to get legal representation. Make sure the penalty fits the crime.   There is a range of penalties for DUI, depending on the circumstances, and the prosecutors of this area are very professional at doing their jobs.  You are likely to get the maximum penalty if your rights are not properly asserted.  A defense lawyer can help you work with the prosecution to find a resolution best for everyone. You do not have to make a bad situation worse by shutting down options.  Seek competent legal representation to help you deal with a serious problem.   Read More

Anything Can Happen – 2 Examples

Anything can happen; it is what you do about it that counts. Example 1: A man walked into a fast food restaurant and ordered food.  He waited and waited, and when he finally got his food, the manager gave him his money back.  Thus the manager made a bad situation (slow service) better by giving the customer a free meal. Example 2: A man walked into a motel room…what he did not know was it was part of a sting operation.  As soon as the man said the magic words, a bunch of big guys came through the door and tackled him.  Thus the man was in a bad situation (accused of solicitation), but he used his Sixth Amendment right to an attorney who worked with prosecutors to help weight the mitigating issues, and the result was a punishment that fit the crime. Certain charges have unintended consequences.  Sometimes you can make the case go away, but something else may be affected, like still having to pay a civil ticket or not allowed to have a firearm. Do not make a bad situation worse by limiting your choices.  Just because you are accused of a crime does not mean you […] Read More

Courtroom Experience

The St. Johns County courtrooms are getting updated—huge TV sets are being installed.  With A/C, big TVs, and plenty of seating, the question is, which courtroom do you want for the Super Bowl? Not every person’s experience in court is as grand as a Super Bowl party.  While the courtrooms are physically comfortable, they can be an intimidating scene.  There are some very serious people who look like they know what they are doing, and there is a guy with a gun. You might not be up for this.  While you have the right to represent yourself in court, you may want to seek competent legal counsel before going in front of that big screen TV and the Judge. Attorneys remove the emotion so their clients can take the necessary steps to move through a legal problem.  A lawyer can reframe the situation into business terms to help you look at the possible choices and consequences.  Furthermore, the more you know about the legal process, the less stress you have about the unknown. If you think you cannot afford an attorney in a civil case, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, […] Read More

The Balance with Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement has to protect the public and people’s property and people’s privacy.  The problem is Officer Friendly is not always friendly, and we pay them to this job.  There is a balance because we want the bad guys to get caught. You have a right to privacy to a certain point…then the police get to search you if they have probable cause.  Police can make a traffic stop over, and then start a conversation to see if you say something stupid. How many times is gut suspicion right?  Cop hunches are invaluable, but you have to go the right way with them.   Read More

How To Stop The Questioning

If you have been arrested, silence during police questioning can be golden to your defense.  If you wish to remain silent, tell the police you want to invoke your right to do so, and then all questioning must stop. If you are arrested, identify yourself to the police officers, and if you do not want to make a statement or answer questions, let them know that.  Your silence can be in the best interest of your defense.  Furthermore, anything you do say can be used against you in court.  It is NOT like on TV:  law enforcement officers cannot offer leniency for your written or spoken testimony. Talk to an attorney.  You have the right to legal counsel if you are charged with a criminal offense.  If you are facing heavy fines or jail time, rely on a defense attorney to make sure the penalty fits the crime.  Do not accept the maximum penalty just because you do not know better.  Seek competent legal counsel to work with prosecutors for a correct resolution. The right to remain silent can be a sound foundation to a criminal defense.  Talk to your attorney regarding the details of your case to discuss possible […] Read More

Bar Tab & DUI Fines

A DUI is an expensive bar tab.  Fines for DUI convictions start at $500 and run into thousands of dollars, depending on how many times you have been convicted, your blood alcohol level, and if you had a minor in the car with you.  Those are just the penalty expenses, which do not include court costs, legal fees, insurance increases, and possible labor hours lost due to incarceration and/or community service, and/or DUI education. A DUI is a serious charge.  Treat it seriously.  A DUI charge is an arrest, finger printing, and a criminal record…not to mention the financial inconvenience (and possible injury or loss of life).  Any time you are facing heavy fines or jail time, make sure the penalty fits the crime.  Do not accept the maximum penalty just because you do not know better.  Seek competent legal counsel to work with prosecutors for a correct resolution. There are a lot of things you can do with $500 plus.  Paying for a DUI might not be the top of your list.  The best choice is prevention—do not drive while intoxicated and get stuck with a bar tab you cannot afford. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. […] Read More

Are You On Drugs?

Bring your prescription with you.  A lot of people like to put their drugs in pill cases in their purses or suitcases so they remember to take them on the right days at the right times.  That is fine, as long as you have the prescriptions with you as well. If you are living better through chemistry, be sure to keep your prescription handy. Though a scheduled drug may be legally prescribed to you, if you do not have that prescription with you, you could still be arrested for possession of a controlled substance and have that arrest on your permanent record even if you can show later that you had a doctor’s orders to take that drug.   Read More

What Are You Doing for Spring Break?

“The best way to remain in charge of your own life is to know the law and obey it.” –Judge Alexander and Judge Wolfe. Unsupervised teenagers sometimes wind up in juvenile court.  That is not a good place to be during Spring Break.  “I wasn’t doing anything…” those are often the first words of a juvenile defendant…and nothing good comes after those words when the story is told in the courtroom.  “We were just hanging out…” then the trouble begins. What you fail to learn at home you can get in the juvenile justice system:  discipline and something to do with your time.  You do not have to live with your parents—the Juvenile Justice System will feed you, and give you clothes, housing, and activities—but that may not be your first choice of lifestyle. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with numerous youth organizations and sponsors, offers a booklet, “Know the Law, A Guide for Youth & Parents,” available online at http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/parents/Know_the_Law.pdf.  It is easy to read and a lot shorter than Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Have a safe and happy Spring Break!   Read More

A Good Choice in a Criminal Arrest

One bad choice can lead to another…but it does not have to.  If you have criminal charges against you, legal counsel can be a good choice in an unfortunate situation. The Sixth Amendment gives you the Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal defense.  Legal Counsel is deemed so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee. Yes, you would have been better off if you had not allegedly committed a crime in the first place, but sometimes Captain Obvious picks inopportune times to not show up.  Good legal counsel can help you work with prosecutors towards an appropriate penalty or fine. The problem is, there can be mistakes in procedure and mishandling of evidence.  The other problem is, without proper legal representation, you could receive the maximum penalty.   A criminal arrest is bad—no matter if you are a celebrity like Vanilla Ice, or just plain vanilla—but you do not have to put yourself in a worse position by shutting down choices.  Seek legal counsel for the best possible outcome in an unfortunate situation.   Read More

Where Is Your Prescription?

Some drugs are on a schedule.  Do you have a prescription…and do you have your prescription with you? No US doctor writes scripts for cocaine, not legally, but there are other Schedule II drugs that are considered to have legitimate pharmaceutical use.  The key is that you have to have the prescription in order to be legal with that Schedule II drug.  Though a schedule drug may be legally prescribed to you, if you do not have that prescription with you, you could still be arrested for possession of a controlled substance and have that arrest on your permanent record even if you can prove later that you were living better through chemistry under a doctor’s orders. Keep your friends close, and your prescriptions closer…and keep your friends out of your prescriptions. Read More