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Fort Lauderdale domestic violence arrests are among the more common Broward County criminal offenses.Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney

In a single recent year, there were more than 5,600 reported allegations of domestic violence in Broward – with 450 each from Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Police Departments, according to FDLE.

But an allegation doesn’t equal an automatic arrest, and nor does an arrest equal an automatic conviction. You must take the charge seriously, of course, but the proof burden is on prosecutors — and domestic violence cases are notoriously tough to prosecute, particularly when the defendant has a good attorney. There are several strategies that can be employed by a highly-skilled Fort Lauderdale domestic violence attorney which have proven extremely effective in minimizing the fallout this will have to your life.

It Starts With Fact-Finding

To determine which strategy will be most effective, a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer is likely going to want to know more about:

  • Did the alleged victim have any wounds? If so, what was the nature of those wounds? Were they old or new? Were they examined by a medical doctor – and when?
  • Did you make any incriminating statements – to witnesses, to police, in jail, etc.? (We always urge clients as much as possible to ZIP IT – before, during, and after arrest. Defendants almost never  explain their own way out of a jam. Let your attorney do the talking.)
  • Was there a 911 recording? Surveillance footage? Cell phone recordings? If so, to what extent does it undermine your case?
  • What was the condition of the scene when police arrived? Any evidence of a violent episode?
  • What was the emotional state of both parties when police arrived? Did either party appear intoxicated?
  • Does the accused have any history of violence, either toward the accuser or others?
  • What were the officer’s observations? Which version of events does it seem to support?

Once we have all this information, we’ll explore which domestic violence defense strategy makes the most sense for your Broward domestic violence charges.

Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Strategies

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A Fort Lauderdale DUI arrest has the potential to do more than halt your driving privileges. It can result in jail time, major fines, and close the door to many opportunities – including those years down the road that may not even be on your radar yet. It can be tough to wrap your mind around the fact that one mistake made in a moment of poor judgment can have such a serious and lasting impact – but it’s true. The best way to minimize a negative outcome and long-term implications (some of which you may not have even realized existed) is to hire a Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney. Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer

While driving impaired is often a one-time error for a lot of people, it’s something police in Broward County come across a fair amount. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), there are roughly 1,300 DUI arrests in Broward in an average year. Along with assaults, drug arrests, and theft, it’s among the top 5 most common criminal charges filed in Broward County.

Florida DUI Statutes

F.S. 316.193 is the primary Florida DUI statute. It spells out the criteria for determining driver impairment and the potential penalties.

One of the first things people want to know after a DUI arrest is, “Am I going to jail?” The answer is, “Probably yes, at least for booking. But how long you stay there – and the seriousness of the other penalties you face thereafter – depends on a number of factors that are going to be specific to your case.”

If it’s your first offense, you’re over the age of 21, don’t have a BAC of 0.15% or higher and you didn’t cause an accident, hurt anyone, or have a child under 18 in the car, you’re most likely facing a second-degree misdemeanor. You’ll be looking at fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, up to 6 months in jail, up to 1 year of probation, 50 hours of community service, vehicle impoundment, possible interlock ignition mandate, and completion of a DUI substance abuse course. Continue reading

Fishing and Florida go hand-in-hand. But if you’re cited or arrested for a Fort Lauderdale fishing violation, hiring a criminal defense attorney is a smart move. Even if it’s a seemingly minor offense, hiring a Fort Lauderdale fishing violation defense attorney ensures you minimize the risk of substantial fines, potential jail time, revocation of recreational privileges, and lasting damage to your reputation on your permanent public record. Fort Lauderdale fishing violation defense attorney

If anglers are cited for commercial fishing violations in Fort Lauderdale, securing legal representation is all the more critical. Not only will you be facing far heavier fines, your livelihood will be at stake.

There are an estimated 47,000 registered recreational boats in Broward and another 1,050 commercial boats. By and large, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is the agency responsible for policing Fort Lauderdale fishing violations. That said, it’s not unheard of for other agencies to get involved. For instance, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has a Marine Patrol Unit that patrols the extensive coastline, inland waterways, canals, and hundreds of acres within the Everglades. The BCSO can arrest you for certain Florida fishing violations (though it’s more often a citation/notice to appear). You’ve also got to be mindful of federal fishing regulations.

On the scale of criminal severity, Fort Lauderdale fishing violations may not seem as serious as a battery or firearm arrest. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t have an impact on your life. What’s more, fishing violations can actually be charged as Florida felonies, depending on where you are, the type of animal involved, and whether you’ve got a history of prior fishing vior going over the bag limit with something like a red snapper in the Atlantic, you’re going to face a fine of $500/person. But if you are unlawfully harvesting stone crabs, even a first-time violation is a $1,000 fine. It’s also considered a Level Four FWC violation, the most serious, and can be charged as third-degree felonies, which carry a maximum 5 years in prison.

Top Fort Lauderdale Fishing Violation Defense Attorney

Richard Ansara is recognized as a top Fort Lauderdale fishing violation defense attorney.

Clients have attested to the effectiveness of his legal representation in this niche area of Florida law: Continue reading

When it comes to Fort Lauderdale domestic violence offenses, there is not a single charge that encompasses all. Domestic violence incidents are not a monolith. Neither are the potential criminal charges they carry. As a longtime Broward domestic violence defense lawyer, I can explain in a bit more detail the different types of Florida domestic violence charges, and when they cross the line from misdemeanor into felony territory. Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyer

Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony

Felonies and misdemeanors are two classifications of crimes that differ in severity, procedure, and punishment.

In general, misdemeanors are less serious (but that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious or worth the investment of a vigorous defense). It carries a maximum incarceration of one year, to be served at a city or county jail. You may have heard that you are entitled to a defense lawyer if you cannot afford one, but that is not true in Florida unless you are facing the possibility of incarceration. But jail time isn’t the only penalty that matters – particularly when we’re talking about a domestic violence conviction. You could lose your right to own a firearm, be excluded from certain employment and housing opportunities, and have the permanent stain of a violent crime on your record.

Felony offenses are considered more serious. They involve the potential for more than one year of incarceration, to be served at a state prison. That doesn’t mean you absolutely will be sentenced to a year or more, but the possibility is there, particularly with crimes of violence. Additionally, felony convictions may permanently bar you from ever owning a gun, voting, job and housing opportunities, some federal assistance programs, and more.

If the offense, misdemeanor or felony, involved an element of sexual violence, those convicted may have post-incarceration and post-probation/parole requirements, such as registering their residence with the government – information that will be available to the public.

Understanding Domestic Violence Laws

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Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyers know that even when the evidence against you seems overwhelming, there are always strategies to minimize the damage. Some clients are surprised at how effective a skilled defense lawyer can be, particularly when they know their actions may have crossed certain legal boundaries.Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer

According to recent state law enforcement data, there were an estimated 1,300 DUI arrests in Broward County in a single recent year. But arrest doesn’t mean guaranteed conviction – particularly if you prioritize legal representation.

A Florida DUI conviction can have serious consequences — for your freedom, your finances, and your future. Even if you know you were in the wrong, do not simply resign yourself to pleading guilty to DUI until you have first consulted with a Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney. We can explain exactly what a guilty plea to F.S. 316.193 will mean for you, and offer possible defense approaches that could work substantially in your favor.

Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Strategies

Not every defense strategy will work for every situation. That’s why it’s important to have a lawyer look at the individual facts of your case, compare it to existing law, and map out potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Some of the elements we’ll be examining closely:

How did the officer handle the stop?

Drivers can’t be pulled over for absolutely no reason. The officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver violated the law — either a traffic law or some other. They can’t merely stop you on a hunch or gut feeling. They have to be able to clearly articulate good cause for their action. DUI checkpoints may be the exception, but even then, certain rules must be followed. If the stop was invalid from the start, any evidence gleaned thereafter can be tossed.

What kind of field sobriety tests were administered?

Standardized field sobriety tests are frequently used in DUI stops, but they aren’t an exact science — and police aren’t scientists or medical professionals. There are many peer-reviewed studies by actual scientists who concluded field sobriety tests may only be accurate 30% to 60% of the time. Courts allow them to be used as evidence to support an officer’s conclusion, but they aren’t mandatory (the way breathalyzer tests are per Florida’s implied consent law). Nor do they paint a complete picture, even if they are accurate. Our defense team will look closely at the type of test, the methodology, and the results. Continue reading

If you are arrested for domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale, you may also soon be served with a domestic violence injunction. We understand that you may not want anything to do with that person anymore anyway. You’ll gladly stay away – so why bother fighting back? Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense lawyer

If you are the subject/respondent in that case, allowing an injunction to go unchallenged can have substantial consequences in your life. A few things to consider:

  • If a domestic violence injunction request is not contested, it will probably be granted.
  • Your movements will be restricted. You may be prohibited from being in certain places at certain times – and even accidental mistakes can have serious penalties.
  • A permanent domestic violence injunction will almost certainly have an impact on child custody. Even if you don’t lose parenting time rights, arrangements for pick ups and drop offs will inevitably be more complicated.
  • A domestic violence injunction will become part of the permanent record. Even though the proof burden is less for an injunction than it is a criminal conviction, it will stay on your permanent record all the same – will all the adverse affects that carries. It will impact your reputation, your financial situation, your relationships, your freedom, and your future. It could have negative implications in job searches, rental/housing agreements, and future romantic partners.

So as our Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, not staying in contact with your accuser may be a great idea. But not fighting back against a domestic violence injunction is a bad one.

Types of Domestic Violence Injunctions

Domestic violence injunctions can be civil or criminal. As our Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, F.S. 741.30 notes that domestic violence injunctions can be issued incidental to a criminal case or a person can request one even if no arrest as been made. Continue reading

A Florida bill that would have required drivers who refuse to submit to breathalyzers to immediately install ignition interlock devices has died in the House committee.Broward defense attorneys DUI breathalyzer

Broward defense lawyers had been greatly concerned that the proposed Florida DUI law would run afoul of 4th Amendment Due process rights.

HB 39 and its companion bill, SB 260, would have required any driver arrested for DUI who refuses to submit to a lawful breath test to automatically be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This would be done at the driver’s own expense – which can cost anywhere from $670 to $1,610 The first refusal would result in a one-year license suspension and subsequent incidents of refusal would result in an 18 month license suspension. The DMV would require such placement before issuing a permanent or restricted driver’s license related to such refusal.

For those who may be unfamiliar, ignition interlock devices are small, electronic devices (about the size of a cell phone) wired to a vehicle’s ignition that require the driver to provide a breath sample negative for alcohol before the car will start. Drivers may also be periodically required to provide a breath sample to ensure they aren’t drinking while driving.

The reason this particular bill rankled Broward defense lawyers is because it appeared to impose a penalty right after arrest – not as a punishment following conviction. People arrested are innocent until proven guilty. This is a fundamental foundation of our criminal justice framework. To impose a penalty on someone incidental to arrest, when they are still presumed innocent, is a violation of due process. Continue reading

A new rule for Florida domestic violence investigations requires police responding to such calls to ask a dozen mandatory questions.Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorney police talks to domestic violence victim

New Mandatory Florida Domestic Violence Questions

If police in Florida (including Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties) are called to the scene of a suspected domestic violence incident, they are now required to ask the suspected victim ALL of the following questions:

  1. Has the other person ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon?
  2. Has he/she/they ever threatened to kill you or your kids?
  3. Do you believe he/she/they will try to kill you?
  4. Has the other person ever choked you or attempted to choke you?
  5. Does he/she/they have a gun or could they easily get one?
  6. Is the other person violently or constantly jealous? Or do they control most of your daily activities?
  7. Did you leave or separate after living together or being married?
  8. Is the other person unemployed?
  9. To the best of your knowledge, do you know if the other person has ever tried to kill themselves?
  10. Do you have a child the other person believes is not his/her/their biological child?
  11. Have they ever followed you? Spied on you? Left threatening messages for you?
  12. Is there anything else that worries you about your safety? If yes, what is it that worries you?

This information must be detailed in a written report that clearly indicates the alleged offense is one of domestic violence. That report – which will ultimately become public – is then given to the officer’s supervisor and filed with the agency. If the person answers “yes” to any of the first 4 questions or the last question, they’re referred to a the nearest domestic violence shelter. Same if they answer yes to at least 4 of questions 5-11. Even if they answer “no” to all questions, it’s at the officer’s discretion whether to refer them to a shelter or DV advocate.

But just because officers are required to ask these questions doesn’t mean the person is required to give answers.

And if you are the person suspected of being the aggressor, we understand it can be tempting to jump in and correct or clarify – particularly if the person being questioned is giving police incorrect or misleading information. However, this is a good time to exercise your right to remain silent. Keep in mind that officers aren’t just listening to the answers of the person to whom they’re speaking. They’re watching your reactions too. Anything that could be interpreted as aggressive or intimidating (even just slightly raising your voice or talking over someone) is going to be noted and could be used against you in a court of law. The very best thing to do here is stay silent, calm, and leave the talking to a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney.

New Police Protocol Promoted by Gabby Petito’s Parents

As a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorney can explain, this new line of mandatory police questioning in Florida domestic violence investigations is the result of Senate Bill 1224, the Gabby Petito Act. The 22-year-old New York woman was reportedly slain by her boyfriend in Wyoming while the two were on a 2021 cross-country trip that originated in Florida. About a month after her death, her boyfriend took responsibility for her death in a note before committing suicide in a Florida swamp. Continue reading

Push notifications – those pop-up alerts on your phone generated by apps when you aren’t using them – are now being used by federal and state police in criminal investigations.

As a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, it’s my job to stay up-to-date on the ways in which Florida criminal investigations are evolving – which they are doing constantly as technology advances. Push notification intel, metadata generated by the app companies, are one we expect will catch more than a few folks by surprise. Already, their use has raised alarm among privacy experts. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer push notification investigations

Also known as “push alerts,” they’re pretty much standard with use of any modern smartphone. They essentially “wake up” the phone to alert users to important updates or news, without the user having to constantly keep the phone on (and also without the user’s interaction). When they are sent, they generate a small string of code, known as a push token. That little bit of data is stored on servers owned by Google and Apple (out of reach of users), which can be requested or subpoenaed by police to pinpoint the email addresses, device, and location of individuals suspected of crimes. It can also tell investigators who you’re talking to and sometimes the content of those communications.

It’s been used on apps like Talkatone (a phone service) and encrypted messaging apps like TeleGuard and Wickr. Although these apps promised users it would save no data, developers still crafted a system of collecting push tokens linking back to users through push notifications. Police have even been able to successfully obtain the two-factor authentications for these apps by requesting coding from the tech companies.

Although some of this information has been simply handed over to law enforcement upon request, company polices are slowly shifting to require court orders before doing so. But as a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer can explain, that doesn’t necessarily ensure your data will be private – especially because such policies can often be sidestepped if the police are asserting “exigent” or emergency circumstances.

Although advocates say this data is mostly used for cases involving child pornography, kidnapping, and homicide, it’s not limited to those. The Washington Post was able to identify at least 130 search warrants and court orders that law enforcement agencies had submitted to Facebook, Google, Apple and other technology firms for push alerts data. Those included criminal investigations into cases involving drugs, guns, and the events of Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

For those arrested for domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale, one of the first questions is, “How much jail time will I get?” Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorney

As Broward domestic violence lawyers, it’s impossible to say for certain without examining the specifics of your case, but what we can say is this:

  • You will probably be held in jail at least until your first appearance – even in misdemeanor domestic violence cases. Ideally, that first appearance is within 24 hours of the arrest, though it can take longer if the arrest occurred early in the weekend or right before a holiday.
  • You will likely be granted the opportunity to be released on bail. However, your release will probably be dependent on a number of special conditions, such as having no contact with the alleged victim, relinquishing possession of any firearms, and possibly GPS monitoring.
  • An arrest doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be convicted or even charged. Hire a defense lawyer who can engage prosecutors in talks early, presenting factual defenses, legal issues and mitigating circumstances. This can sometimes sway prosecutors early on not to file charges or to file lesser charges – both of which minimizes your risk of jail time.

Now, let’s say you are convicted for domestic violence. You will probably serve some jail time, but the exact amount can vary widely.

One of the reasons for that is that “domestic violence” doesn’t refer to a single crime. It can involve anything from threats, harassment and stalking to kidnapping, sexual battery or felony battery. What differentiates it as an act of domestic violence is the relationship between the two parties. A violent act is considered one of domestic violence if the accuser and accused are family or household members who live together or used to live together as a family OR they share a child together (regardless of whether they ever lived together). Continue reading

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