If you have been charged and convicted of a DUI in Florida, that’s not necessarily the end of the story. Depending on the circumstances and the details of your trial or plea deal, there could be an opportunity to appeal the conviction or the sentence – but you’ll need a good DUI defense lawyer to be successful.DUI appeal attorney

It’s important to note that not all cases will be ripe for appeal, and simply not liking the sentence or the permanence of a DUI conviction on your record won’t be enough. Typically, there has to be some kind of error made during the trial or sentencing in order to file a successful appeal of a DUI conviction. Because there are stringent time limits (usually just 30 days post-conviction) in which to file, it’s imperative you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Recently in Escambia County, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld a 15-year prison sentence for a man convicted of a 2013 crash that resulted in the death of a passenger. Defendant was convicted of DUI manslaughter, which under F.S. 316.193 carries a maximum penalty of 15 years, as it is a second-degree felony. The fact that he was also convicted of DUI property damage meant that his sentence was longer than most for first-time offenders, though the judge did allow him to serve these terms concurrently (at the same time) rather than consecutively (back-to-back).  Continue reading

The day after a gunman fatally shot 17 people at a high school in South Florida, most of American teenagers returned to school. And when they did, a number of so-called “copycat” threats were made, posted on social media, scrawled on bathroom walls and called into school administration offices. Regardless of how serious these individuals are, they need to know that such actions can have very real criminal consequences, even for minors. Police, prosecutors and school districts are not likely to assume such assertions are idle. If anything, there will be a tendency to overreact, despite the fact that we know 15- and 16-year-olds (the most common perpetrator in these cases) aren’t developmentally mature and don’t always make the best decisions. criminal defense lawyer

  • In South Carolina, we saw a 9th grade student arrested after allegedly posting a photo of himself wearing a partial mask, holding what appears to be an assault rifle above a caption that says, “Round 2 of Florida tomorrow.”
  • A sixth-grader in Broward County was arrested for writing a note threatening to bring a gun to school and “kill all of you.” She had slipped the message underneath the principal’s door and later gave a confession to administrators.
  • In Brooklyn, New York, two 16-year-old boys were arrested for threatening to shoot up their school less than two hours after word spread about what happened Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  • A Brevard County student was arrested after posting a photo on Snapchat of herself holding a gun, above the caption, “I’m coming to space coast, watch out.”
  • In Ohio, a high school student was arrested for a social media post referencing the Parkland shooting. He is facing a felony charge for inducing a panic.

The list goes on and on, and includes everything from students posting photos of unloaded guns to actually bringing weapons to school. In Collier County on Florida’s West Coast, officials reported 27 school threats in less than two weeks after the shooting. USA Today reports more than 600 copycat threats have been made against schools throughout the country (about 70 daily).  Continue reading

It’s become increasingly common in Florida DUI cases for prosecutors to rely heavily on the investigation and testimony of drug recognition experts (DREs). These are police officers who are specially trained to recognize the signs of impairment in drivers who are under the influence of drugs. DUI defense

Last year, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that for the first time, drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk. Forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had used a legal or illegal drug, surpassing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol. It’s worth noting that researchers were unable to definitively say there was a causal link between the presence of those drugs and the crash, or even that the drugs were present in levels that indicated impairment.

F.S. 316.193 makes it clear that no driver is allowed to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any substance – legal or otherwise – if it impairs his or her normal faculties. But while legislators have created a per se limit of intoxication that pertains to alcohol consumption (0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath), no such cut-off exists for drug impairment. That means the question of whether someone is “under the influence” is often a subjective question that comes down to the observation of the arresting officer – who has more credibility in a courtroom with DRE certification. That does not mean the assertions made by that officer are correct. Our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys encourage all defendants to remain respectfully silent during questioning and ask to speak to a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Continue reading

Florida state lawmakers are mulling drug crime reform, specifically a series of bill that include provisions allowing judges more discretion for sentences that currently require minimum mandatory sentencing and increases of substance abuse treatment funds.drug crime defense attorney

The chances signal a turn away from the hard-line stance so many lawmakers took in the 1980s and 1990s when the so-called “War on Drugs” was in full swing. Those efforts have largely proven ineffective, with many policy leaders agreeing hard-line sentences for low-level drug offenses didn’t lower use and didn’t keep the rest of us safer. In fact, all it did was decimate low-income, minority communities, which were disproportionately on the receiving end of enforcement.

Now, The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports the legislature appears somewhat split on criminal justice reform, with roughly half supporting these changes and half digging in their heels to maintain the status quo. Supporters of the bill say it will help bridge the gap of racial disparities that exist when it comes to enforcement and penalties for these offenses. Continue reading

In a per curium ruling, the Florida Supreme Court upheld an appellate court decision rejecting defense challenges to blood sample collection of suspects in felony DUI cases. It was a case watched closely by many Florida DUI defense lawyers because had the court ruled in defendant’s favor, it could have meant the potential for numerous successful challenges to pending DUI cases. Now it appears there will be no change.DUI defense

The DUI conviction was a high profile one which you may recall involving a South Florida polo mogul and a recent college graduate in his early 20s. Defendant is serving a 16-year sentence following conviction on charges of DUI manslaughter after the fatal crash killed the young man, who drowned after his vehicle was launched into a canal.

This is one of a string of challenges he has mounted to fight the validity of the charges and his subsequent conviction. His South Florida defense attorneys argued people subjected to DUI blood tests in Florida have no opportunity to make sure the blood samples are scientifically reliable. Further there are no guidelines for the type of needle used and no independent assurance that testing labs will discard samples that are clotted or irregular prior to felony DUI cases going to trial. Continue reading

Hazing, which years ago may have been considered little more than a normal rite of passage in some school-age circles, is now considered a felony offense in Florida. criminal defense attorney

F.S. 1006.63 states that hazing can be any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for numerous purposes, including (but not limited to) initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a post-secondary institution.

That’s what is charged against nine college students at Florida State University, accused of hazing a 20-year-old fraternity pledge to the point he suffered fatal alcohol poisoning. His BAC at the time of death was 0.447. To put that into perspective, the threshold for intoxication for drivers is 0.08. The fraternity brothers, aged 20 to 22, are charged with college hazing causing injury or death, a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Continue reading

A South-Florida-based tech company founded by a non-attorney promises to allow drivers to effectively fight their traffic tickets from their smartphones. Playing what is essentially a game of averages, the startup app launched a service that offers drivers resolution to their traffic ticket for a fee that is 15 to 20 percent less than the ticket fee. The app then contacts someone in a network of independent lawyers, who then fight the traffic ticket. If the attorney loses, the app will refund the driver’s money. If they win, then they pay more than they might have for beating the ticket, but walk away with a clean driving record. criminal defense lawyer

This has not gone over well at all with the Florida Bar or several criminal defense law firms. The biggest problem with this app is that it is not a law firm. It is not operated by attorneys. Florida statutes are very stringent when it comes to restricting who may offer legal advice to people seeking counsel. The Florida Bar has received complaints claiming the tech start-up is effectively practicing law without a license. The attorneys who have been working with the app have reportedly had grievances filed against them, with requests to have them disbarred.

The tech company, operational in 28 Florida locations and 15 California locations, has reportedly helped to resolve millions of traffic tickets. It is suing both private criminal defense firms as well as The Florida Bar, which it alleges have helped anti-competition by dragging out its investigation for nearly a year. But private defense attorneys say the company is engaged in the unlicensed practice of law, which is not only against the ethics laid out by the Florida Bar, it’s also against the law. The Florida Bar voted last month to pursue litigation against the tech firm for violating its rules. As for criminal charges, none are pending at the moment, but, Florida Statute 454.23 stipulates the unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law in Florida by anyone who holds himself or herself out to be qualified to practice law or who pretends to be or willfully takes/ uses any name, title or description implying they are qualified, is a third-degree felony. A conviction carries up to five years in prison. Continue reading

The grand jury system is one that is often confusing for Florida criminal defendants. It is not as public as a trial, and the defense doesn’t have the same opportunity to present its case as it would in an actual trial.criminal defense lawyer

As noted by The Florida Bar, the grand jury system was formed as a kind of shield from unjust prosecution by determining whether there is sufficient evidence to indict the defendant and also to serve as an investigating body with subpoena power. They will have between 15 and 21 people, and at least 12 need to concur in order to obtain an indictment. An indictment is the initiation of the criminal prosecution, but it’s not required in all cases. In Florida, the involvement of a grand jury is only required when a person is being tried for a capital offense (i.e., one that could result in a death penalty sentence), but they are also sometimes used in cases that are high-profile or controversial. If your case is going before a grand jury, you be in contact with the best criminal defense attorney you can find.

The process isn’t perfect, as recent events out of Tallahassee show, and having an experienced legal advocate on your side is imperative. As The Tallahassee Democrat reported, defense attorneys were highly critical of the procedures (or rather, the apparent lack thereof) when 80 Florida State students were packed into a third floor waiting room over the course of two days and more than 20 hours total while waiting for the possibility that they may be called to testify before the grand jury.  Continue reading

Felony convictions against a man accused of killing two while driving drunk were reversed recently by an appellate court in Illinois, which ruled the DUI testing after his arrest was unconstitutional. DUI defense lawyer

Although this issue takes place outside of Florida, it’s one motorists in the Sunshine State have had to grapple with as well. It was a very similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 with Missouri v. McNeely. That was a landmark case in which the court ruled that when it comes to drunk driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in one’s blood stream is not sufficient grounds to argue exigent circumstances in every case that would justify conducting a blood test absent a warrant. In other words, there may be some cases in which a warrantless blood draw is justified, but it has to be based on more than just the fact that alcohol quickly leaves the body.

Even with that instruction, courts across the country continue to grapple with these questions, trying to balance the scales between the rights of the accused and gathering all pertinent information in these serious felony cases.  Continue reading

Is it possible for your vehicle to be a deadly weapon? Although it might seem a straightforward question, given the fact that a vehicle could in fact be deadly if it’s used to run another person over, the answer isn’t clear when it comes to Florida law. The state appellate courts have reached different conclusions on this front, and the Florida Supreme Court is slated to issue a ruling on one such case, meaning it could settle the issue. criminal defense lawyer

The distinction between vehicle and deadly weapon is significant because it holds the possibility of an additional 15 years to one’s prison sentence if convicted of using a deadly weapon against another person.

In 2004, justices with the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a motor vehicle isn’t something that can be commonly considered an instrument for use in combat against another individual. Based on that ruling, a South Florida appellate court last year ruled that a 30-year sentence on a manslaughter charge imposed on a Fort Myers man for repeatedly running over a woman in 2008 should be reduced to 15 years. (However, he’ll still probably serve 30 years, given that he was also given 30 years for leaving the scene of a deadly accident.)  Continue reading