Henry Flagler built the Romanesque Revival jail on San Marco Avenue.  It looked so good people mistook it for a hotel.  The “guests” inside, however, had amenities like overcrowding, hard labor, lack of electricity, and limited to no plumbing.  The St. Johns County jail today is not what it used to be. Highlights of modern Florida jails include the basics:  a sink, flushable toilet, bunk, artificial lighting, and ventilation.  Also, inmates are required to bathe at least twice a week, and if you are in general population, you are allowed to shower daily.  It is not the Casa Monica, but it is a lot better than it was. Still, if that kind of gated community is not your ideal living space, and you have been accused of a crime, you may want to speak to an attorney regarding your housing.  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.   Read More

What If I Cannot Afford An Attorney?

There are many situations in which having legal counsel is beneficial; however, robbing Peter to pay your attorney…probably not a good idea, besides, you may not have to cover the legal fees yourself, depending on your financial circumstances. In a Criminal Case The Sixth Amendment gives you the Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal defense.  Legal Counsel is so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee. In a Civil Case That Constitutional right to an attorney does not extend to civil matters (such as divorce, landlord-tenant dispute, or foreclosure defense).  We are fortunate in our area to have St. Johns County Legal Aid, a local non-profit agency that primarily serves the most vulnerable demographic of our population, aiding awareness of legal rights and options in matters of debt, foreclosure, housing, elder law, family law, and many other civil subjects.  Their motto is “A Wealth of Justice for Those Who Have Neither,” and they mean it. 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, they have a lot of […] 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

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

Why Defend a Foreclosure?

Why Defend a Foreclosure? In 99% of foreclosure cases, the client did not pay.  So why defend them?  The goal of a foreclosure defense is to modify the loan or work something else out.  NOT to say the client is innocent or to get a free house.   When the recent foreclosure crisis started, plaintiffs were making stuff up.  Then they were having people sign off of documents that they had no knowledge of.  “Linda Green” was apparently Vice President in charge of robo-signers for a number of different banks, along with “Bogus Assignee.” Homeowners knew they owed money, they knew they had not made payments, but they had no idea what their lender was doing to compromise their rights as debtors.  Many Florida homeowners went into foreclosure without ever questioning their lenders.  Thus they gave up rights as well as opportunities to seek a resolution with the best benefit to them. Because defense attorneys got involved in the foreclosure crisis, people’s rights were protected, and plaintiffs are doing a better job.   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

Quit Smoking without Jail Time

Some people use the patch to quit smoking or chew nicotine gum, but one California woman took a criminal approach:  she slapped a cop.  No smoking gun in this crime…no smoking at all in the Sacramento County jail, which was why she assaulted a uniformed Deputy Sheriff:  so she could get locked up long enough to quit.  Hopefully 60 days will do it. There are ways to quit smoking that do not involve the justice system, finger printing, and a criminal record.  Generally if you are facing jail time or a fine, a defense attorney can help you work with prosecutors for the best possible resolution, but if you are trying to quit smoking, save the expense of legal fees.  There is free online help at http://www.smokefree.gov/, as well as other resources. Read More

Under the Influence of Legal Counsel

If you thought “Gather Go Get” was a difficult process for a Florida Driver’s License, try reinstatement after a DUI.  You might need more than just your documents in order; with a Driving Under the Influence arrest, you might want to also bring along a legal defense. Here is a brief rundown of consequences after a DUI conviction, as provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: 1st DUI – 180 days to 1-year revocation effective on conviction date. 2nd DUI – Second offense not within 5 years from prior conviction will result in a 180-day to 1-year revocation.  The second offense within 5 years from prior conviction will result in at least a 5-year revocation. 3rd DUI – Third offense not within 10 years of second conviction will result in a 180-day to 1-year revocation, unless the last 2 of the convictions fall within 5 years in which case a 5-year revocation will apply, and you are not eligible for a hardship license.  A third offense within 10 years of second conviction will result in a 10-year revocation. 4th DUI or Subsequent DUI Conviction – You must serve 5 years of this revocation period before being […] Read More

Not Everyone Can Be Lindsay Lohan

Some people should not drive.  Lindsay Lohan is probably one of them.  After she accepted a plea deal for her latest crash, the Judge suggested to her:  “Don’t drive.” Not everyone can be Lindsay Lohan.  Not all bad drivers go to luxury lockdown in a resort rehab.  Many motorists face jail time and fines after an arrest, and often those penalties are worse without a defense attorney. The prosecutors of this area are very professional at doing their jobs.  A defense attorney can help you work with the prosecution on choices to get the best resolution possible.  Even Lindsay Lohan has legal counsel.  If you are going to drive like her and follow her lead into the courtroom, bring a lawyer the way she does. Read More

Defense Attorneys – Why We Do What We Do

It is a dirty job, but somebody has to collect the legal fees!  And there is more to it. The problem is, there can be mistakes in procedure and mishandling of evidence.  The other problem is, the Prosecutors cannot do their jobs properly if Defense Attorneys fail to their jobs the right way…and then you could have a criminal walk.  The right to legal counsel is part of the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution along with the right to a fair trial.  Defense Attorneys are obligated to represent their clients to the best of their abilities not just for the sake of the Bar Oath, but also to ensure that justice is served. There are no guarantees in court.  If I could predict the outcome of trials, then I would quit being a lawyer and go play Lotto.  We guarantee nothing except the best representation we can give. Read More