Traffic Stop

No one wants to have themselves or someone they care about hurt by an impaired driver.  The best answer to “How many drinks have you had?” when confronted in a traffic stop is a truthful “None.”  It is not okay to say “None” if that is not true.  You have no obligation to answer that question, and you can tell the law enforcement officer “I am not going to answer that question.” If the law enforcement officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests you can decline; however, you will most likely (if not absolutely), be arrested for suspicion of driving while impaired.  By the time the officer makes the decision to ask you to perform those tests, he or she has already made many other valid observations and the field sobriety tests are just additional evidence to be used against you. Use good judgment in driving and in asserting your rights.   Read More

Rights to Remember If You Are Arrested

Remember high school civics class, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights?  You may not have exact recall of Pythagorean’s Theorem or the meaning of onomatopoeia, but remembering you right to remain silent and your right to an attorney can be useful if you are arrested. If you are arrested, you do not have to answer questions and you can end an interrogation by stating that you wish to remain silent.  Speak up to say you want to remain silent.  Defendants can hurt their case by saying too much, and good legal counsel can help you work with prosecutors on an outcome that is best for everyone. The Florida Bar provides a free online pamphlet called “Legal Guide for New Adults” (available at http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBConsum.nsf/48e76203493b82ad852567090070c9b9/34557641d4c2f7c885256b2f006c5753?OpenDocument) which covers criminal charges and a variety of non-criminal subjects.  The language is in layman’s terms and its topics apply to new adults as well as those a little older than 18.   Read More

Hands to Yourself – Shoplifting is a Crime

Playing in a band is a good way not to think about work; however, there can be common themes, like criminal defense of shoplifting and the Georgia Satellites song I sing, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” Shoplifting is a crime of intent.  Intent to steal can get you convicted of shoplifting…even if you do not leave the store.  Watch what you are picking up.  Appearances count, on surveillance videos and mug shots.  Furthermore, a jury can convict on reasonable doubt (not beyond the shadow of). Shoplifting charges come in different sizes and degrees depending on the value of the item stolen.  Petit Theft applies to items worth less than $300, and Grand Theft applies to items worth $300 or more.  Grand Theft falls in Felony territory. 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.   (Our band is called Old Enough-2-Know Better (OE-2-KB) and our next performance is at the Corner Bar at Gypsy Cab February 26th at 7:30 pm.) Read More

Living in Captivity on Salisbury Steak

The Department of Corrections provides meals, housing, and a limited wardrobe—all within a gated community.  Regardless of the fine amenities offered to the guests of the State, you may want to exercise your Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel before you learn first-hand what day of the week features Salisbury steak. Captivity as a penalty for crime is a fairly modern concept.  Before that, they just executed people.  Once European countries had to quit sending their bad populous to America, prison systems gained popularity, and even a spirit of rehabilitation. I have been to jail many times…but not as an overnight guest of the State.  Regardless of all the reading time and the team-building opportunities you could capitalize on while inside, the loss of freedom is more than an exclusion of distractions.  If you have legal issues that involve a major fine or jail time, seek competent legal representation.  A defense attorney can help you work with the prosecution on choices to get the best resolution possible from unfortunate circumstances.   Read More

Too Much Time On Your Hands?

Remember cafeteria meals, lining up, and roll call?  Prison is like that, but with armed guards.  Lock-up is not where you want to be if you can be somewhere else.  A criminal defense is not a denial of guilt, but a way to pursue your best outcome in a bad situation. What you failed to learn in kindergarten you can get in court:  discipline and something to do with your time.  Judges can find a little public service for you to do or some nights locked up away from home.  Seek competent legal representation who can work with prosecutors for the best resolution possible.   If you have too much time on your hands this Saturday night, come check out our band OE-2-KB (Old Enough-2-Know Better) playing at Beef ‘O’Brady’s in Palatka at 9:00 p.m.   Read More

When It Rains It Pours – DUI Charge

Tim Deegan is not the first celebrity booked on a DUI.  But his recent arrest is a reminder of our rights in wrongs. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge means you probably got caught and there is evidence against you.  It is a conviction 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. 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 suited for everyone. When it rains, it pours if your rights are not properly asserted, but you do not have to make a bad situation worse by shutting down options.  Seek competent legal representation if you are facing serious fines or jail time.   Read More

Egging Felony

Egging a car can be a felony.  If the paint on the car is damaged, the cost could be more than $1,000 to repair, and Halloween high jinks can result in jail time. Trick-or-treating is tough if you are behind bars.  The St. Johns County School District offers a free online link to a guide about the law for youth and parents at http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/parents/know_the_law.pdf.   Read More

Intent to Steal

Shoplifting is a crime.  Perhaps you know this and have eliminated loss promotion from your retail regime.  All it takes is intent to steal to make an arrest for shoplifting—you do not necessarily have to leave the store without a receipt. Shoplifting charges come in different sizes and degrees depending on the value of the item stolen.  Petit Theft applies to items worth less than $300, and Grand Theft applies to items worth $300 or more.  Grand Theft falls in Felony territory. Watch what you are picking up, and remember, attention to hair and make-up could improve your appearance for security guards and mug shots alike.   Read More

Bond

Almost all arrestees are entitled to a bond.  There are two purposes for a bond, the first one is to guarantee your attendance to Court Appearances and the second is to protect the public.  A Normal Person charged with DUI gets $500 or ROR (Released on Recognizance), and Crazy Ax Murderer either has no bond or $10 million. Within 24 hours of getting arrested you are to be brought before a judge for “First Appearance.” The judge looks at the probable cause affidavits (arrest affidavits) and determines a proper bond. Typically, the court has a schedule of general charges and bonds; however, you can request a “bond hearing” in an attempt to reduce the bond.  A Bond Hearing is a mechanism to make arguments that the defendant WILL appear and is NOT a danger to the public. You may want consult legal counsel.  A defense attorney represents you and works to get an appropriate penalty to fit your action, as opposed to simply accepting the maximum penalty.   Read More

Arrest V. Notice to Appear

What is the difference between Arrest and Notice to Appear?  Not much . . . except the handcuffs, free ride to jail, nice used jumpsuit, and bond. When you are arrested, the Court takes jurisdiction over you because you are officially served by handcuffs. Within 24 hours of getting arrested you are to be brought before a judge for “First Appearance.” The judge looks at the probable cause affidavits (arrest affidavits) and determines a proper bond. Typically, the court has a schedule of general charges and bonds. You can request a “bond hearing” in an attempt to reduce the bond. Almost all arrestees are entitled to a bond. There are two purposes for a bond the first one is to guarantee your attendance to Court Appearances and the second is to protect the public. Normal Person charged with DUI = $500 or ROR (Released on Recognizance), and Crazy Ax Murderer either no bond or $10 million. A Bond Hearing is a mechanism to make arguments that the defendant WILL appear and is NOT a danger to the public. A notice to appear can be served by a Deputy or given instead of arrest. A notice to appear is sometimes given with a criminal traffic […] Read More