Articles Tagged with Broward criminal defense lawyer

Most folks know that misdemeanors are “minor” offenses (at least in comparison to the more serious felony tier of crimes). However, that doesn’t mean the impact on your life will be minor.

In fact, you can face heavy fines, jail time, and reverberating effects in other areas of your life that have the potential to plague you for years to come.Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

If you are arrested for a misdemeanor offense in Broward County, it’s important to invest in legal counsel. Our primary goal is usually for our client to walk away without a conviction, but even when that’s not possible, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help negotiate the charges down to a lesser offense, fight for reduced penalties, and soften the impact on your daily life.

Florida Misdemeanor Penalties

Under the umbrella of misdemeanors, there are two tiers of severity:

  • First-degree misdemeanors. The maximum penalties for 1st degree misdemeanors in Florida are punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.
  • Second-degree misdemeanors. The maximum penalties for 2nd degree misdemeanors in Florida are punishable by a maximum 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.

(There are also non-criminal violations that are typically issued via citation that carry possible fines and other penalties, but usually no jail time.)

Penalty schedules for misdemeanor and felony offenses are laid out in F.S. 775.082 and schedules are spelled out in F.S. 775.083.

But it’s possible your penalties could even exceed this if certain enhancements apply. This could happen because of aggravating circumstances (you used a gun, the alleged victim was a minor, etc.), you have prior convictions, etc. In some cases, first-degree misdemeanors can be leveled up to third-degree felonies – meaning all of the sudden, you’re facing the possibility of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

In addition to this, judges can require completion of costly diversion programs, community service, house arrest, substance abuse treatment and monitoring, loss of driver’s license, etc. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the offense, a misdemeanor charge or conviction can have a ripple effect on your life – in a pending divorce case, child custody issue, an immigration matter, or with your professional license. You could also be kicked out of school, be disqualified for certain loans, and passed over by certain landlords.

All of this is why hiring a Broward criminal defense lawyer to represent you with your misdemeanor is imperative. The State of Florida does provide you with legal counsel if you cannot afford one yourself – but only if you are facing the possibility of jail time. And while there are many dedicated, experienced lawyers working for the public defender’s office, the amount of time and resources they dedicate to your case is likely to be less than what a private lawyer can devote. When we’re talking about your future, that’s not something you want to skimp on. Continue reading

Navigating the Florida criminal case process is overwhelming for anyone arrested in the Fort Lauderdale area. Working with a dedicated Broward defense lawyer who knows the law, the local players, and the legal strategy most likely to help you prevail is essential. Broward defense lawyer

That said, we do like our clients and their families to have a basic understanding of how the case is going to proceed from start to finish. It’s worth noting that this process is applicable to state-level cases, not federal. Further, every case is different. One thing they all have in common, though, is that studies show the sooner you hire an experienced criminal defense team, the more favorable the outcome. (One analysis found that criminal defense attorneys in one large city helped reduce the murder conviction rate of their clients by 19 percent and reduced the probability of their client receiving a life sentence by 62 percent. Overall time served in prison was reduced by 24 percent.)

Our battle-tested criminal defense team is prepared to go to bat for each and every one of our clients, whether they’re facing felony or misdemeanor charges.

Arrest and Notice to Appear

This marks the start of your Florida criminal case. If an office of the law (typically a police officer or sheriff’s deputy) has probable cause to reasonably believe you committed a crime, they can make an arrest. Sometimes, this is predicated on the basis of an arrest warrant that has been written and signed by a judge. Other times, it stems from evidence gathered while officers are patrolling or responding to specific calls for assistance. Continue reading

If you’re searching Broward criminal defense attorneys for hire, you’re likely wondering how much it’s going to cost. You’ve probably heard at least one attorney advertisement with the phrase, “We only get paid if you win.” Important to note: This does NOT apply to criminal defense lawyers – and for good reasons, which we’ll explain more later.Broward criminal defense attorneys

However, those with limited financial resources still have options.

If you’ve been arrested in Fort Lauderdale, it’s important to both carefully plan your next move and try your best to stay within budget. The right attorney can help you do that. Attorneys are ethically bound to only charge “reasonable” fees for their services. If their charges are excessive, they could face action from the state Bar Association.

Here, we’re going to break down how payments to Florida criminal defense lawyers work and what you can expect when hiring an attorney.

Your Right to Free Counsel

Most people have heard the phrase, “You have the right to an attorney… If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you at no cost…”

This is part of the “Miranda Warning,” a required statement made prior to custodial interrogations (questioning that occurs after police have arrested or detained someone). However, people mistakenly assume that this right to free legal counsel applies to all criminal defendants. It does not.

Let’s start with the fact that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is what gives criminal defendants the right to counsel – regardless of whether they can afford it – in federal prosecutions. However, most criminal prosecutions in Florida occur at the state level, pursued by state-level prosecutors, who are referred to as state attorneys. The right to counsel was not applied to state prosecutions for felony offenses until the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright. The incorporation doctrine applied this right to state felony cases, but it does not apply for certain misdemeanors.

In Florida state-level prosecutions, you do have the right to a state-appointed criminal defense lawyer if:

  • You are facing jail time AND
  • You cannot afford one on your own.

If you can afford to hire your own lawyer, it’s a good idea to do so. We have known excellent criminal defense lawyers working for the Florida Public Defender’s Office. However, they are often carrying heavy caseloads, and may not have a great deal of time to dedicate to your case. Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer is typically to your advantage.

It’s a common misconception that because you aren’t appointed a criminal defense lawyer that you don’t need one. While lower-level misdemeanors may not involve jail time, a conviction can often have a significant impact on your life – one that a qualified criminal defense lawyer can work to substantially mitigate. It is typically to your advantage – financially and otherwise – to hire a Broward criminal defense lawyer even for misdemeanor cases.

Why Can’t Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers Be Paid on a Contingency Fee Basis?

The phrase, “We don’t get paid unless you win” refers to a contingency fee arrangement with an attorney. Continue reading

There is a reason insurance costs double when you add a teen driver to your plan: They’re high risk. Inexperienced, irresponsible and prone to distraction, they’re far more likely to make errors and behind the wheel. They’re three times more likely to cause a fatal crash per mile driven, according to the CDC. Sometimes, poor choices may lead them on the wrong side of the law, requiring the services of Broward juvenile defense lawyers.Broward juvenile defense lawyer

A recent survey by auto research firm Co-Pilot indicated Florida teen drivers are among the riskiest in the nation.

The metrics used in the study authors’ risk assessment:

Here in Florida, 8 percent of teens admitted to forgoing a seatbelt, 6 percent said they drink and drive and 36 percent said they text and drive. Although they may be juveniles, they can still face substantial criminal penalties for violating traffic and safety laws, particularly if someone is hurt or they cause damage to property.

Some parents assume that they can allow their child to go through the Florida juvenile justice system unaided by legal counsel to “teach them a lesson.” The presumption is the consequences won’t be significant or truly impact the rest of their lives anyway. This is incorrect. There are ways for teens to “learn their lesson” without being thrown to the mercy of the courts without adequate legal representation. Continue reading

As a Broward defense attorney, I generally advise people never to talk to police without a lawyer present. This is true whether you’re innocent or not. Even those who don’t believe they are suspected of a crime should use great caution.Broward defense lawyer

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution prevents anyone from being compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself or herself. You have the right to remain silent. You need to tell them your name, but you don’t need to answer questions about where you’re going, where you came from, what you’re doing, where you live, whether you’re a U.S. citizen or here lawfully. You shouldn’t lie or run. Stay as calm as possible. But be crystal clear that you’re exercising your right to silence. Request a lawyer before you agree to answer any other questions.

Some people are concerned this makes them seem guilty. Especially when they’ve done nothing wrong, it can be tempting just to talk. After all, police can be intimidating and these encounters can cause all kinds of anxiety and most people just want it over with. But here are 6 reasons you really need to refrain from talking to the police at all without your lawyer present. Continue reading

Assault and battery arrests in Florida may arise from a quickly-evolving altercation, but have the potential for long-term impact on one’s life.

These cases may be charged by prosecutors as either misdemeanors or felonies. F.S. 784.03 outlineBroward Criminal Defense Lawyer s felony battery in Florida as occurring when a person intentionally and actually touches or strikes someone against their will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. One can also be charged with a felony if they have a prior battery conviction. As a third-degree felony, it carries a maximum five-year prison term. First-degree misdemeanors, meanwhile, carry a maximum one-year in jail.

One high profile battery arrest in South Florida recently involved an actor in the hit movie, “Straight Outta Compton.”  It was the big budget biopic that was about the early life and career of the members of the legendary rap group NWA.  The film was about the lives of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Suge Knight, Easy-E, and others.
Continue reading

Federal authorities recently made dozens of arrests in Broward County for alleged trafficking in drugs and guns. In all, officials filed federal charges against 29 defendants in 23 separate cases, which ranged from narcotics trafficking conspiracy, narcotics trafficking and firearms-related offenses. That’s according the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which released a statement alleging defendants sold nearly 300 firearms to undercover officers. Among those weapons: AKs, AR-15s, revolvers, pistols, sniper rifles and short barrel rifles. Defendants are also accused of sales of heroin, cocaine, flakka, marijuana and oxycodone to undercover agents. gun

The release indicates federal authorities worked closely with local officials in Pompano Beach to conduct undercover surveillance and gather intelligence. DEA Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright said this case is illustrative of the fact that crime is often inter-related, and where there are drugs, there are often illegally possession/ dealing of firearms and other offenses.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know that many defendants in these cases are facing numerous federal charges of varying seriousness. These kinds of cases, both because of their complexity and the potential for decades-long prison sentences, necessitate the assistance of an experienced defense lawyer.  Continue reading

The so-called, “War on Drugs” has been an irrefutable failure in so many respects, to the point many states and municipalities have been actively working to de-criminalize possession of marijuana and related non-violent offenses. However, this does not meant that those caught with the substance can expect a break. marijuana

The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-marijuana advocacy group, reports that since June 2015, numerous cities and counties in Florida have taken marijuana policy into their own hands to reduce the chances that consumers of marijuana are going to be arrested or jailed. Those include measures taken by: Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach, Key West, West Palm Beach, Broward County, Wilton Manors, Palm Beach County, Volusia County, Orlando, Tampa, Osceola County, Alachua County and Port Ritchie. (Specifically here in Broward County, commissioners voted unanimously to give police the option to issue a $100 civil fine rather than arrest those caught with 20 grams or less of the drug. However, police still have the choice to make an arrest, at their discretion.)

But the question is whether laws like this are actually making a real dent. According to a new report by The Human Rights Watch, there continues to be a drug possession arrest in the U.S. every 25 seconds.  Continue reading

In November, a Broward County Sheriff’s Office crime lab analyst being investigated for missing drugs resigned. That was almost two years after discrepancies arose with regard to the amount of cocaine evidence she had been working on. When the office came up 0.4 grams short, an independent analyst was asked to re-check her work. By then, the amount had shrunk by 5 grams. Then a random sampling of her work was done, and it was discovered one was off by 12 grams. Her supervisor was forced to resign. scale1

Now, with questions raised about the 5,800+ drug cases she worked during her nine-year tenure at the agency, the Broward New Times is taking a closer look at what it alleges were lax policies and poor oversight at the crime lab.

This is potentially a big deal, as it could result in thousands of Broward drug cases either being reopened or thrown out completely. A few grams may not seem like a major deal, but when it comes to criminal prosecutions, it is significant because it could mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, a few months in prison versus several years.  Continue reading

Following a scathing report criticizing treatment of mentally ill defendants who languish sometimes for years in the criminal justice system (and six times longer than a person with comparable charges in regular court , the Broward State Attorneys Office devised a partial solution: A mental health diversion program that would get people out of the criminal justice system.sad

The idea, modeled after a program launched in Miami-Dade in 2008, focuses on treatment – rather than incarceration – for those who are mentally ill. Non-violent offenders without lengthy rap sheets who have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness would be vetted by the state attorneys office. Those accepted would receive housing support, therapy, medication management and other assistance. Those who successfully complete the program (in six months to a year) would be allowed to have the criminal charges dropped.

It’s a start, critics say, but so far, the program has accepted just one applicant. What’s more, even when it reaches capacity at 60 defendants, that’s not going to make much of a dent when there are an estimated 1,200 cases overflowing in felony mental health court. Plus, there is no guarantee of assistance to those who are already enmeshed in the system, charged with minor felonies.  Continue reading

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