Shoplifting

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but intent can get you convicted of shoplifting. Intent to steal can get you in trouble—you do not even have to leave the store to get arrested for shoplifting.  Furthermore, a jury only needs reasonable doubt to convict you of shoplifting—they do not need to go as far as beyond the shadow of a doubt for this crime. The best way to avoid a shoplifting charge is in the words of Dan Baird:  “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”  However, if you do find yourself with an arrest for theft, seek competent legal counsel to work with prosecutors towards an outcome best suited for all parties involved. Read More

Drug Schedule

The US government keeps drugs on a schedule as determined by the abuse rate as follows: Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous with highest potential for abuse and high potential for severe psychological or physical dependence—heroin, LSD, ecstasy, etc. Schedule II drugs have less potential for abuse and include cocaine, methadone, and OxyContin. Schedule III drugs have a lower abuse rate and include Tylenol with certain amounts of codeine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone. Schedule IV drugs have an even lower potential for abuse, and include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien. Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse, and include Robitussin AC with certain amounts of codeine, Lyrica, and Lomotil. If you are living 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

Lights! Camera! Arrest! – DUI Stop Footage

If the cops catch it on camera, you could catch it in fines and jail time with a DUI charge.  Cop cams add at least ten pounds of stupidity to your field sobriety test, especially when viewed in a courtroom. In Florida, you do not have to take a field sobriety test.  You will get arrested, but you do not have to give police all the funny footage of you doing stupid pet tricks on the side of the road.  Or you can do the field sobriety test and get arrested anyway. If you are arrested for DUI, they can ask you to do a breathalyzer test.  If you refuse the breathalyzer, you lose your license for four to six months period if it is your first time.  The second time, it is a misdemeanor. However, if there is an accident with injury, that gives law enforcement probable cause to take a blood sample from you. A DUI charge means you probably got caught and there is evidence against you.  It is a conviction with fingerprinting and a criminal record…and the prosecutors of this area are very professional at doing their jobs. The way to avoid a DUI charge is […] Read More

Stick with the Script for Prescription Drugs

Medicine is usually most effective if you take it on schedule; however, if you take a scheduled drug, put it in a pill case in your purse and fail to bring the doctor’s prescription with you, which can create some legal side effects you might not necessarily want. If the prescription is on the pill bottle (and you are the patient for whom the medicine is prescribed) and you have the pill bottle with you, fine, but a lot of people like to put their drugs in pill cases so they remember to take them on the right days at the right times.  That is fine also, as long as you have the prescriptions with you as well. 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 prove later that you were living better through chemistry under a doctor’s orders. If you take a scheduled drug, keep the doctor’s prescription with you.  Read More

Old Enough to Know Better

Are you old enough to know better? Did you do it anyway? The phrase, “old enough to know better,” applies to a lot of DUI defendants.  Just because you are old enough to know better does not mean you lack rights, however.  People can make mistakes at any age, but one bad decision does not have to necessarily lead to another. A DUI charge means you probably got caught and there is evidence against you.  It is a conviction with fingerprinting and a criminal record.  However, you do not have to put yourself in a worse position by shutting down choices.  Seek legal counsel for the best possible outcome of a bad situation.  A defense attorney can properly assert your rights and work with prosecutors to find an appropriate resolution. Old Enough-2-Know Better is the name of the band I am in with my brother, Stephen.  We are Old Enough-2-Know Better, but we enjoy playing and singing anyway!  If you would like to hear us live, we will be in Palatka tonight at the Island Restaurant at 7:30 pm. Read More

Amenities as a Guest of the State

If you do not eat your vegetables at home, you can get them in prison.  Florida’s inmates work on over 53 different farms, gardens, and University of Florida food and agricultural facilities, harvesting about 10.4 million pounds of produce, including broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, greens, peas, watermelon, and other fruits and vegetables.  If farming, roadwork, or institutional laundry or cooking is not your occupation of choice, you may want to talk to a defense lawyer before you are serving time as a guest of the State. A gated community is not for everyone, especially when the bars do not allow you to come and go as you please.  I always thought I would like jail.  I could get a lot of reading done and would not be interrupted by phone calls, but the loss of freedom is more than an exclusion of distractions.  If you have any legal issue with a prison time, it is good to have an attorney. A defense attorney can help you work with the prosecution on choices to get the best resolution possible.  You may have made bad decisions, but you do not have to put yourself in a worse position by shutting down choices.  Seek […] Read More

Why Defend?

Why be a defense attorney?  Because it keeps the people on the other side honest.  By protecting the rights of the defendant, we protect rights for everyone. In criminal cases, if the police think you are guilty, they may find something to arrest you for that you know nothing about.  In foreclosure cases, plaintiffs were making stuff up and having robo-signers sign off on it.  In consumer cases, zombie debt collection is a business model for going after debt that has been long dead.   Because attorneys get involved, people’s rights are protected.   Read More

Right to an Attorney

You have a Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal case, not in a civil case.  That does not mean you should avoid hiring an attorney for cases of home foreclosure, credit card debt, or divorce.  Decisions in a legal conflict can be difficult to make on your own.  Attorneys remove the emotion so their clients can take the necessary steps to move through a legal problem. You may not be able to see every legal angle as effectively as an attorney, plus, you have to follow the rules and procedures of court—if you do not know what the rules and procedures are, you may miss opportunities to present key elements of your case.  The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish. A lawyer can reframe the situation into business terms to help you look at the possible choices and consequences. The more you know, the less stress you have about the unknown.  Seek competent legal counsel to learn what choices you may have and to review the legal process of your case. If you think you cannot afford an attorney, contact […] Read More

The Three D’s & Our Public Defenders

Attorneys deal in the three D’s—Debt, Death, and Divorce.  Generally those are not happy circumstances and so lawyers enjoy such titles as “weasel” or “shark” or “blood sucking attorney.”  Those terms can make for humorous attorney jokes, and sometimes we deserve some of that reputation.  However, when you are in trouble, whether it is civil or criminal, you want the best weasel or shark or blood sucking attorney you can find to obtain the best result possible under the circumstances.  Our Public Defenders are not the least of these. Legal Counsel is so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee.  Contrary to what some people believe, attorneys working in the Public Defenders office are not attorneys who received bad grades in law school or could not find jobs elsewhere.  They are some of the best public servants we have.  They cannot pick and chose their cases.  They take all qualified applicants regardless of the charge or defendant.  They are also in Court working criminal cases with the State Attorney’s office almost every day.   Read More

Not ‘As Seen on TV’

Representing yourself is easy…as long as there is a script and a producer.  A real court; however, is NOT ‘as seen on TV.’  It is not the Jerry Springer Show or Judge Judy, and a real court case can take longer than the 43 minutes of a TV episode. Do-it-yourself is great for raising a Chia pet, but in a legal matter, you can go in there, mess up the presentation of your case, and put yourself in a position where no one is able to fix it.  Res Judicata means that when a case is decided, it is decided (an attorney cannot help you after final judgment).  Online legal forms may save you attorney fees…and cost you your case. The more you know, the less stress you have about the unknown.  Seek competent legal counsel to learn what choices you may have and to review the legal process of your case. If you think you cannot afford an attorney, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, they have a lot of pamphlets you may find helpful.  The Legal Aid website is http://www.jaxlegalaid.org/stjohns.html.   Read More