Jail Time Is No Holiday

The criminal justice system of St. Johns County has not always been a tourist attraction.  When Henry Flagler came to town, the Castillo de San Marcos imprisoned Native Americans.  (During the American Revolution when Florida was a British Colony, the Castillo incarcerated several signers of the Declaration of Independence.)  Mr. Flagler built the Romanesque Revival jail on San Marco that looked so good, tourists mistook it for one of his hotels.  Today that Old Jail is a Trolley stop and with a gift shop.  Even the once-courthouse (a.k.a. the ‘Casa Monica Hotel’) now hosts visitors eager to stay overnight, instead of the accused hoping not to become guests of the State. Though Florida jails have picked up many standard amenities since Flagler’s day (like air conditioning, running water, ventilation, and electric lights), jail time is no holiday.  If you are accused of a crime and facing jail time, exercise your right to legal counsel to ensure your rights are properly asserted.  Do not accept maximum lodging in that kind of gated community; instead, use your right to a defense attorney who can work with prosecutors towards a correct resolution.   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

Assault & Battery

“Assault” and “Battery” are not synonymous.  Per Florida Statute, Assault is “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”  Battery is all that plus actual injury. Words mean things, and if they are threatening, they could mean jail time.  An Assault Charge is a Second Degree Misdemeanor, which can result in 60 days in jail plus a $500 fine.  However, once you stray into Felony territory, a Third Degree Felony for Felony Battery can mean five years of prison…and no, you still do not get to control the TV. If you are facing time behind bars other than bartending school, seek competent legal counsel to learn what defenses may be available to you.  Prison food could be better than your wife’s cooking, but it is complicated to have pizza delivered. Read More

Legal Ammo

Big Bad Wolf had done time for harassing the Three Pigs and mugging Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.  He was out on probation until Chicken Little spotted a box of ammunition in Big Bad’s house and called the police. The ammo belonged to Big Bad’s coyote cousin, who had left it after his road runner safari.  Big Bad did not possess the gun that it went to, nor did he have that firearm on his property.  Even so, it is illegal in most cases for a felon to have ammunition, so the police dragged Big Bad Wolf off to jail. Big Bad’s defense attorney was very anxious to argue that the evidence did NOT meet the legal requirements of “ammunition.”  The legal definition of ammunition includes powder; however, this particular Acme Ammo did not have powder; instead, it contained very small pellets, tiny spheres visible under a simple magnifying glass. The Prosecutor offered three years. Big Bad and his lawyer turned that down. Then the Division Chief threatened “Habitual Offender Status” for sentencing, AND an additional charge of “Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.” Though Big Bad Wolf had good legal ammo, no one can actually predict the outcome of […] Read More

So Wrong!

Sometimes people commit crimes and sometimes cops lie.  Neither is supposed to happen, but the gap between what is supposed to happen, and what does happen could mean the difference between incarceration and a lesser punishment, depending on the situation. In criminal cases we could be talking real estate versus jewelry:  do you get a corner cell or wear an anklet?  If you are facing criminal charges, it could be worth your freedom to explore your defense options.  Even if you know you are guilty and prepared for punishment, get a second opinion from competent legal counsel.  While you may represent yourself in court, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help the punishment better fit the crime. Just because you are guilty does not mean you have to accept the maximum penalty.  Good legal counsel will review your case from all angles, including police reports and witness statements. Sitting on Santa’s lap when you are 40 is not your best move, neither is accepting a large fine or jail time without at least looking at your possible legal defenses. The best way to avoid criminal charges is not to commit the crime.  If you have committed a crime, […] Read More