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|Four Questions to Ask When Looking for a Criminal Attorney||
Do They Listen Well?
When searching for an attorney, you want to find one that is a good listener. If the attorney seems distracted while you are talking with them, is yawning, looking around the room, fidgeting with something, or otherwise just not listening to you, don't give them your time or your money. If they aren't listening to your case, how will they be able to present it before a court of law when your livelihood may be on the line? Look for a lawyer that maintains good eye-contact, looks up your case online, acknowledges your statements with a nod or a short verbal response, and that makes you feel like you are being listened to. In other words you want to go with an attorney you feel comfortable with. The lawyer you hire will be a part of your life for the next several weeks to several years. Don't make a stressful situation worse by hiring someone you don't get along with!
Do They Present Themselves Well?
The old saying is true, first impressions matter! An attorney's job is to present themselves, as well as yourself, in front of a judge and a jury of your peers. Legally, you are not able to be discriminated against based on how you present yourself--but law and order do not govern the subconscious mind. The jury may be influenced in ways that they aren't aware of if your attorney uses crude language, dresses like a slob, has messy hair, or just generally doesn't present him or herself well (and by extension, you too). Try to find a criminal defense attorney that speaks confidently, has good posture, dresses well, and looks, overall, to be a professional.
Do They Have Experience With Your Particular Case Area?
Ask yourself this question: if you wanted to build a house and had the choice between an architect that builds water parks, an architect that builds corporate offices, and an architect that builds houses, which architect would you choose? Clearly, you would choose the architect that's built houses before! This analogy translates over into the field of law as well. You wouldn't hire an attorney that does water rights cases if you are in need of a criminal attorney. Take it a step further and try to find somebody that has handled your specific case before. There's nothing like experience to back up an attorney. For example, if you have been arrested for a DUI in St. Petersburg ask your lawyer how many similar cases has he/she handled? Is the attorney familiar with criminal procedure in the county you were arrested? Does he/she regularly attend continuing legal education classes on that subject to stay in front of new defenses or laws? Does your criminal defense lawyer have the courtroom experience you need to fight your case? These are just a few of the many questions you will need to ask to find the right lawyer for your particular charge.
Do They Have a Good Track Record?
Keeping with the architect analogy, you wouldn't want to hire an architect who's been building houses that are ugly, overpriced, or otherwise poorly constructed. In the same way, you wouldn't want an attorney that's consistently lost cases for previous clients. Thus, just like it's a good idea to look into an architect's portfolio to make sure that they perform with quality, you'll want to check into the attorney's case history to be sure that they have a history of favorable outcomes. While no lawyer wins every case, you want to feel confident that your criminal defense attorney has motion and jury trial experience.
In conclusion, while there may be more questions you want to ask your potential attorney, this is a good starting guide. Talk to multiple, local lawyers in your area that have experience in what you have been charged with. Don't go with the cheapest attorney just to save money, rather only go with him/her if you feel comfortable with them and feel confident that they can help. Likewise, don't automatically assume that the most expensive lawyer is the best. Finally, if any attorney guarantees you a result or promises you anything, run, don't walk from their office!
About the Author: Vincent Imhoff is a writer and Los Angeles criminal lawyer who acts as a managing partner at Imhoff & Associates, P.C. He earned his law degree at Chicago-Kent College and his undergraduate degree at Lewis University. When he isn't writing or practicing, Vincent finds time to ski on his favorite slopes and get some jogging in.
|Five ways to choose the right Florida Car Accident Attorney||
The first thing that you can do when it comes to finding a lawyer is to get a recommendation off a friend or a family member. All you need to do is look around and ask. Often this is one of the best ways of doing things simply because you know that you can trust the judgment of someone who is close to you.
There are many Personal Injury lawy firms now who will advertise themselves on the Internet. All you need to do is take a look at their website and see what their lawyers are like. It is important to phone up the firm as well and make an inquiry. This way you will be able to find out more information about them and what services they can provide for you when it comes to your case.
You are more than likely to see a few lawyer advertisements both online and on television. If you do find these, then make sure to write down the number and keep it in mind.
If you want, you can take a look at reviews online (such as on yelp.com or avvo.com) and see whether or not a particular lawyer is going to be your best option when it comes to your car accident case. Everyone wants to make sure that the people they are working with can provide them with a competent service, therefore it is a good idea for you to make sure that you hear what others have to say about a particular firm.
The legal field is a small world. If you have another lawyer (such as a criminal defense attorney), then you can speak to them about getting someone who specializes in this particular area of law. Many people may prefer to go through their current lawyer for advice when it comes to important things like this.
|Saint Petersburg man calls 911, requests Kool Aid and weed||
Bored last Sunday, Saint Pete resident Jarvis Sutton, 34, was in the mood for three things: drugs, food and drinks. While that itself is not a crime, what he did next landed him in hot water.
The suspect proceeded to call 911 alomost 80 times throughout the day, requesting Kool Aid, "weed" and various food items. Eventually, police had enough. An officer wrote in his arrest report "The defendant admitted to calling 911 because he 'wanted Kool-Aid, burgers and weed to be delivered to him,' ".
The suspect was arrested and charged with "misuse of the 911 system". To make matters more interesting, on the way to jail the suspect began chewing the metal cage in the police cruiser.
Mr. Sutton has had several arrests in Pinellas for charges such as possession of marijuana, battery on a law enforcement officer, failure to appear, trespassing, and a violation of probation among others.
|Tampa man tried to kill victim before his rape trial||
As reported in the Tampa Bay Times, a 27 year-old man is accused of hiring a hit man to murder a woman and her daughter. The woman? An alleged victim of the man who was all set to testify against him at there upcoming rape trial.
Demetreius Morris was awaiting the trial in a Tampa jail. He sent out several notes to an unknown individual saying that he wanted to hire someone to kill the victim of a sexual assault charge he was preparing to fight. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, these notes were intercepted (and there are signs all throughout the Orient Road jail saying that all non-legal mail will be read).
The suspect was facing a rape charge from September when DNA matching him was found on the victim.
The 70 year-old victim was by a man with Mr. Morris' DNA when she was giving him a tour of a church.
The police had previously gotten DNA from the Defendant when he was found guilty of a 2002 lewd and lascivious act on a child.
While he was in his Tampa jail cell he began writing a series of notes to the unnamed source. Between April 12 and April 21st, he wrote multiple times wishing to have the victim killed before the May 8th trial date. He "corresponded via hand-written notes to the listed witness expressing his desire to have a 'hit' placed on the victim and the victim's daughter." per the Sheriff's Office.
How was he going to pay the hit man? With our tax dollars of course! He promised to pay the bill with his social security money that he was scheduled to get.
As of this writing, his May 8th trial date for rape is still going. Mr. Morris now finds himself facing an additional charge: solicitation to commit murder, a first degree felony punishable by up to thirty years.
|Florida woman arrested for DUI, claims she wasn't driving.||
26-year old Kimberly Martin of Florida was arrested early Thursday morning by the Marion County Sheriff's Office. There release gave a few more details.
An eyewitness saw Ms. Martin "speeding into the parking lot and slammed on the brakes in front of the gas pumps". When the mother of four got out of the car, she was reeking of alcohol and had three small children in the backseat.
The eyewitness proceeded to take the keys away from the DUI suspect and police were called to the scene.
The suspect performed field sobriety exercises and failed them, per the police report. She was arrested on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence and during a search incident to arrest, she was found to have an oxycodone pill on her. The Sheriff's office then charged her with a possession of a controlled substance. Later, the suspect took the breathalyzer test where she blew a .21 (the legal limit in Florida FYI is a .08-she blew almost THREE times the limit)!
The children, ranging in ages from 9 years to six months, were given to a family member.
What seemed like an open and shut case got a little weirder. In a jail house interview with the Ocala Star banner, the suspect continued to swear she was not driving. Rather, she claimed it was every wife's arch-nemesis, the mother-in-law, who was actually driving.
Per the suspect, she was on her way to jail to bond her husband out. While on the way, she got in an arguement with the driver, the mysterious mother-in-law. At the gas station, the mom stormed off, leaving Kimberly alone. The only problem with this story is that there was a witness to Ms. Martin driving, nobody saw this mother-in-law and she was not seen on the gas station video!
Despite this stellar defense strategy, Ms. Martin may have even bigger problems. The police arrested her for the offenses of DUI, possession of oxycodone and tampering with evidence. These new arrests violated her probation . Ms. Martin was actually on probation at the time for ANOTHER DUI as well as a sale of a controlled substance.
While it looks like the suspect may be facing a long jail/prison period, in reality, these charges could have been much, much worse. In many Florida counties, getting a DUI with children in the vehicle results in an additional charge of child abuse. Also, she could have had additional charges such as traffic offenses or giving false information to a police officer.
|Yo Quiero Battery: Florida man arrested for battery with a burrito||
A brief blurb from the smoking gun website shows that literally anything can be used in a fight. As a result, a Florida man has been charged with a battery by striking another person with a Taco Bell burrito...
"Fourth Meal" or Felony?
36 year-old Eric Brown smashed the beef and bean concotion into a 16 year-old boy during a domestic violence incident in a Port St. Lucie household on February 15.
The juvenile victim told police that he was having an arguement with his mother when the defendant, his brother-in-law, asked the mother to bring him the burrito.
The defendant then proceeded to throw the burrito with force, striking the teenager in the face with the quasi-food item. The police report dryly noted that the victim had "burrito cheese, sauce and meat all over his clothing and face."
The battery suspect told the police that while he "delivered" the burrito, it was deserved because the victim was cursing at and being rude to his mother.
The newly arrested defendant then unwisely told the police that he was going to "knock the victim out" and "take care of him" when he got out.
The article does not say if the defendant had any prior battery convictions. If he did have at least one prior conviction after July 1, 2001 or two prior convictions before that 2001 date, the suspect could now be facing a third degree felony, felony battery. A normal battery as described above (no permanent or severe injuries and no use of a weapon) would qualify as a misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in a county jail). A third degree felony would mean the suspect is now facing up to five years in prison for the crime.
Finally, if the victim heard the defendant's threats to "take care of him" and that was construed as an attempt to intimidate or influence the victim, the suspect could be facing a Tampering with a Witness charge. Tampering with a witness, Florida statute 914.22 is also a third degree felony with the same potential of a five year prison term.
|Florida Lawyer's mugshot ironically ends up next to his ad||
According to a blurb in the aba (American Bar Association) journal, Florida DUI Lawyer Thomas L. Edwards was arrested on multiple charges including Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage among others.
In an ironic marketing twist, the lawyer's mugshot ended up next to his Gainesville law firm ad where he is seen smiling (though in a nice suit instead of jail garb). Making matters worse, this same attorney was interviewed by The Gainesville Sun back in 2007 when the subject of bad-looking mug shots came up.
"Mug shots, unfortunately, are never good pictures. They've usually got people who are in compromised positions," said Gainesville defense attorney Thomas Edwards.
"They arrest you and you're not looking so good. They're not going to give you a plastic comb. They are not going to concern themselves if you look like crap."
Short of someone turning themselves in at the jail, most people can't prepare for getting their mug shot taken, Edwards said.
Legally, he added, there's nothing a defense lawyer can do about a bad mug shot except make sure it doesn't prejudice a jury that will hear the case.
Based on his calm, smiling mugshot, this DUI attorney might have practiced looking good for the camera.
While it is common to read articles about celebrities and politicians getting special treatment when breaking the law, the reality for lawyers, doctors or other professionals is often different. While most people assume that the "good old boys" club protects its own, that is usually not the case.
Here in Pinellas County, if an assistant state attorney or public defender gets arrested, many times the case will be transferred nearby (such as Hillsborough) to avoid the appearance of impropriety. These same lawyers, rather then getting kid glove treatment are often judged harsher then others would be. This is because the media is sure to report on these arrests and the aftermath.
In this case, it is too early to guess what may happen. Mr. Edwards was asked to comment and through his assistant gave the following statement: "Under the American criminal justice system all individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty."
|Florida Computer crime, how you can protect yourself!||
A guest post by another criminal defense lawyer, detailing computer crimes and steps one can do to protect themselves from theft or fraud...
Computer Crime and You: The Money Mule Epidemic
About the Author: Vincent Imhoff is a writer and Los Angeles criminal attorney who acts as a managing partner at Imhoff & Associates, P.C. He earned his law degree at Chicago-Kent College and his undergraduate degree at Lewis University. When he isn't writing or practicing, Vincent finds time to ski on his favorite slopes and get some jogging in.
When we think of the Wild West, we think of cowboys and bandits, saloons and jailhouses, and a landscape filled with adventure and danger. The internet is not so different. The World Wide Web offers a landscape that is still largely untamed, with criminals loitering on the borders of the net, looking to scheme and scam their way to riches--much like the bandits that used to outrun sheriffs in our classic depiction of the time. One interesting parallel to be drawn is the bank heist, where the masked bandit would wave a gun around and leave with bags full of money. Even into the 21st century, bank robberies of this sort survived, though they are slowly being replaced by heists of a different kind. These heists don't involve guns, masks, or getaway cars. Instead, they now fall under the category of computer crime, and employ the use of complex codes, swift keystrokes, and a willing participant: you.
SpyEye and Zeus
Instead of guns, hackers are committing computer crime using toolkits to send viruses out to computers all over the world with the aim of infecting the victim's machine and stealing their credentials and banking information. The most commonly used toolkits are named SpyEye and Zeus, and they have recently become so available that authorities are having a harder time distinguishing who is carrying out these attacks. Generally hackers will secretly and remotely install these products onto your computer. They may steal from you, but generally they target large businesses, and run a program that will automatically withdraw money from their account. This is where they recruit outside help, posing as a legitimate business.
Bloomberg's online magazine ran a story in August of 2011 (indicative of how long this has been going on) that centered on a woman named Christine Palmer, who was down on her luck and desperate for a job when she received a callback from a company called CS Office Services. What she didn't know was that CS Office Services doesn't exist and only served as a front for an elaborate hacking scheme that utilized the SpyEye/Zeus toolkits. Palmer's job duties required processing online transactions, and she was able to perform them on one occasion. $98,000 was deposited into her Bank of America account in the morning on a Thursday, and she received instructions to withdraw and then transfer a large majority of it, though she was told she could keep $1,800 as a transfer fee. Bank of America caught on to what Palmer hadn't and halted the operation, freezing her account and claiming that Palmer, though unknowingly an accomplice of the computer crime, was responsible for repaying $9,000 that she'd withdrawn and transferred overseas.
A Money Mule
In the past, the job that Christine Palmer was duped into taking would usually have been performed by an Eastern European students with a J1 visa, either knowingly or unknowingly. Some underground parts of the web even openly advertise the services of what is known as a money mule, a go between that helps to launder money for a percentage of the cut--just like Palmer did. Because of the way that laws regarding computer crime work, these money mules are held responsible for the funds that they move, being charged with crimes such as scheme to defraud. Meanwhile the original hackers generally sit back in a foreign country and let the money come in, untouchable due to anonymity and jurisdiction laws.
If it Sounds Too Good to Be True...
The good news is that many of the folks who actually are unwittingly duped are not slapped with harsh fines or charges, though their involvement in computer crime can affect credit standing and lead to criminal charges. The hiring of an experienced computer crimes defense lawyer may help ensure your punishment is minimal at best. It all depends. So how can you protect yourself from becoming a mule? The best rule to follow is: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." The internet is a wild and dangerous place at times. Protect yourself and your computer at all costs, and don't get duped into becoming a money mule.
|Star college tight end suspended after DUI arrest.||
According to head coach Steve Sarkisian, the football star will be immediately suspended from all team activities while the university completes its investigation. This most likely means that Mr. Seferian-Jenkins will not be able to finish spring football.
After Tuesday practice, head coach Steve Sarkisian released a brief statement. Sarkisian said the university "will make the decisions necessary based on our team rules and our school's policies that are fair to him and fair to us, and we will move forward and we will support him,"
According to the Seattle police, the suspect was involved in a one-car accident Saturday night. Officers found the suspect outside his car, disheveled, with a bloody nose and he showed signs of being impaired. He was then arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Austin made second-team All-PAC Ten honors last year after his 69-catch, 850 yard performance. Only a junior, he is already his school's all-time reception leader for tight ends. He is also a finalist for the Mackey award, given annually to the nation's top tight end.
As of the time of this writing, Austin's punishment is unknown. However it is a safe bet that he will be on the field August for his team opener.
|Bradenton man arrested for theft of lube||
Rudy Marenco, 21, of Bradenton, was spotted by a Spencer's employee examining a bottle of "Orgasmix" personal lubricant inside the store at DeSoto Square mall. The employee then found an open, discarded box that previously contained the "Orgasmix".
The employee quickly confronted Mr. Marenco who pulled out the $7.99 product and apologized for shoplifting. Orgasmix, described on Spencer's website as an enhancement gel made to increase women's pleasure, turned out to be the suspect's downfall. Despite his regret, local police were called and he was arrested for the theft. To add insult to injury, police found marijuana in his pocket and proceeded to add the drug charge to him.
Felony petit theft is found under Florida Statutes 812.014(3)(c). Depending on this suspect's prior theft convictions, the simple shoplifting of a $7.99 product may result in a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison! As a shoplifting defense attorney, I have seen people being sentenced to prison for relatively minor thefts.
A felony petit theft does not score many points in the Florida criminal punishment scoresheet. However, many judges get frustrated with a repeat theft offender and may sentence harshly.
The scoresheet mentioned above is an important way in how the state of Florida determines how long or if a defendant should be sentenced to prison. That will be a subject for the next blog.
|St. Petersburg to ban synthetic marijuana?||
As first reported on the Baynews Nine website, it may soon be against the law to sell synthetic marijuana (also known as K2 or "spice") in the St. Petersburg city limits. The Mayor, Bill Foster, wants to move forward on his plan to ban the sales of this so-called drug.
Claiming that it is "frying people's minds" the Mayor also wants the possession of synthetic marijuana to result in a civil infraction or even an arrest. As of this writing, the city council's Public Safety committee has given the Mayor permission to have his city attorneys write up that law.
As previously written about in the Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg and in particular Williams Park downtown has seen a large uptick in violence and drug abuse. Williams Park and the surrounding area has been overridden by the homeless population, many of whom smoke spice and panhandle or commit crimes (such as prostitution or robberies) for money. Much of that crime is being blamed on this new drug.
Synthetic marijuana is made of a legal plant, which is dried and ground up. It is then mixed with various chemicals that can produce mind-altering effects. The problem is the chemicals/plants are not regulated and while individually these chemicals are not safe, when they are mixed together, the results can be even more dangerous and unpredictable.
Depending on a person's body chemistry and the spice itself, the drug has been blamed for violent behaviors, hallucinations, vomiting and rapid heart beat. This is ironic as the drug claims to produce a mellow high, much like marijuana.
Saint Petersburg is merely following in the footsteps of a state law, passed in 2012 that actually bans some of the chemicals found in spice. That law has proved mostly ineffective as the manufacturers merely change up some of the chemicals. This keeps them from breaking the law but may result in unknown chemicals in unknown amounts being ingested by the smokers.
Meanwhile these city attorneys are studying similar bans recently enacted in Pasco and Hillsborough county for further guidance.
In Florida, marijuana, like many illegal drugs, falls under Florida statute 893.13. Spice or K2 will most likely not be enforceable under that statute. That is because as mentioned above, the chemicals in spice are being changed often, making the detection of this synthetic marijuana difficult. Any prosecution for spice under 893.13 would likely be overturned as vague. Unlike marijuana or other drugs under that statute, K2 is not readily defined.
It is more likely that a civil infraction/arrest for possession of this drug would not be overturned. If the St. Petersburg city lawyers craft a carefully guided proposal banning the sale of spice this too should pass constitutional muster.
|Clearwater man gets prison for his role in police chase||
The 22-year-old man pled guilty to multiple charges including grand theft of a motor cehicle, DUI with property damage, fleeing and eluding and child abuse in front of Pinellas circuit court Judge Keith Myers. In addition, the defendant's driver's license was also revoked for life.
The chase, which lasted 14 minutes, occurred all through St. Petersburg back on July 9, 2012. The defendant was spotted by members of the Gulfport police department in a stolen SUV and began to chase him to 38th avenue North before looping back south.
The chase ended when the suspect hit a PSTA bus and then crashed into a house. The defendant's two-year-old son was in the backseat and another passenger was severely injured. This particular case was credited for the reason that the Gulfport police department revamped their chase policies.
Among his many charges, the defendant was charged with child neglect/child abuse even though the child was not beaten or harmed. In Florida (and in Pinellas in particular), a parent driving under the influence of alcohol can be charged with child abuse or neglect as the theory is this puts the child in harm. Every county handles these cases differently. Some state attorney offices will not press forward, while other counties will punish the defendant's severely for that particular charge.
|Pinellas County, Florida Violation of Injunction Orders: how you can protect yourself: Part Two||
We have previously written about Violation of Injunction orders (see here) and the different types of injunctions available. In this blog, we are going to continue the discussion on how to actually file for an injunction...
Information on filing an injunction in Pinellas County is not difficult to find. To began, you must first file a petition. This is usually free to do. The Petitioner can file this in the county that he/she resides, where the incident took place or where the Respondent lives. A Petition that is filled out must contain the Respondent's first and last name, your name (though you CAN write "confidential" for your address if you want to keep that a secret) and a brief summary of the violence/stalking you allege occurred. One may also provide other papers/evidence such as police reports, photographs and/or other judicial orders that help your case. This is called supporting documentation. Finally, one must include the Respondent's address and/or as much information about him/her as you can. You can complete a Sheriff's Information Sheet. Once that is completed, a Sheriff's deputy will "serve" both a copy of the Petition and the Judge's order to the Respondent.
After you have filed a Petition, a Judge will then review it. The Judge will make one of three decisions. The Judge can: (1) agree that you need protection and immediately grant the Temporary Injunction Order, (2) rule that your Petition does NOT meet the Florida requirements for an Injunction but will allow a hearing to determine a final ruling or (3) will rule that your Petiton does not meet the Injunction requirements and will NOT grant you a hearing. Option number three rarely happens and at the hearing for option number two, the assigned Judge will determine if an Injunction is warranted based on testimony from you, the Respondent and any eye-witnesses to the alleged actions that may be available. It is at this hearing that you will want a Violation of Injunction lawyer to give you the best chance of success.
Violation of an Injunction
After an order for an injunction has been ordered what happens if the Respondent continues to contact/harass the Petitioner? This may be the criminal charge of a Violation of Injunction. If the harassment continues, the police are usually called to make a report. Even if the police don't feel that there are grounds to make an arrest, the Petitioner may still go to the Clerk's office and fill out an Affidavit in Support of a Violation of Injunction if one wishes to pursue this. This can then be shared with the Judge or the state attorney's office.
From the Pinellas County website, some reasons for a Violation of Injunction from a Respondent may include such things as:
1. Committing violence (such as a domestic battery) against the Petitoner.
In conclusion, both applying for or defending oneself against an injunction can be a complicated process. With an experienced Pinellas violence injunction lawyer by your side, you will be better prepared to deal with both the Court and with getting your life back on track.
|Drunk Tampa man arrested for riding shopping cart at Walmart||
From the channel 10 news team website, a Tampa man is facing felony charges for a joyride in a "borrowed" Walmart electric motor cart...
Timothy Carr, 48, had a few drinks and decided that he wanted to spice up his night. His night ended in jail where he was arrested for disorderly intoxication, felony retail theft and DUI for taking a motorized shopping cart for a spin...
Police were called out to a Tampa Walmart last Sunday in reference to an intoxicated man. When the officers arrived, they found the suspect in a shopping cart driving through the aisles and knocking over merchandise. He was seen drinking alcohol from a bottle he swiped from the store.
The man was arrested for retail theft after he admitted he had no money for the alcohol he had stolen. While the amount taken was not enough to be charged with a felony grand theft he was still charged with a felony because he had multiple petit theft priors.
Florida statute 812.014(3)(c) deals with a case like Timothy Carrs. While he stole a misdemeanor amount of goods, he was still charged with a third degree felony. This is because under the above statute, he can be charged with a felony theft if he had two or more prior retail theft convictions.
DUI on a scooter?!
As a Saint Petersburg DUI attorney, clients are often amazed about what the law considers a vehicle. A Driving Under the Influence charge can come about from a motor vehicle, lawn mower, truck, scooter, golf cart and even a bicycle! Florida State Statute 320-01 goes into the definition of a "motor Vehicle" as follows:
320.01 Definitions, general.--As used in the Florida Statutes, except as otherwise provided, the term:
At first glance this statute appears to not allow for bicycle or electric motor scooter DUIs. However, a closer look at the Florida Driving Under the Influence statute reveals that you merely need to be in actual physical control of a VEHICLE on a public road and not a MOTOR vehicle. Hence the Defendant in the above article could be charged with the scooter DUI as long as he was on a public road for at least part of his joyride. Our prediction? The drinking and driving charge won't stick as there is scant evidence that the suspect was ever on a public road as well as the fact that jury members in most Florida counties often do not like to convict their fellow citizens for non automobile drinking and driving cases!
|Pinellas County, Florida Violation of Injunction Orders: how you can protect yourself!||
Getting an injunction against repeat or domestic violence is one way that men or women can protect themselves against physical or emotional harm from known suspects. But what is an injunction and how can it protect you? What is a violation of injunction and how can you avoid being charged with this serious crime?
A recent blurb on the smoking gun legal website had to do with a domestic violence allegation. An Ohio woman was at a courthouse seeking a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend. When the judge left the room for a moment, the surveillance camera captures the man brutally attacking the woman, chasing her around the room and even battering his own mother when she tried to intervene! The man was eventually tased by deputies and charged with numerous offenses. Needless to say, the woman's injunction against violence was granted.
What about injunctions in Florida? What needs to be shown in order for a judge to grant an injunction order? In this state an injunction for protection (or a "restraining order"), is a Civil Court Order that places restrictions on a person (known as a "Respondent"). This Order is placed because the Respondent is accused of violent actions (or sometimes threats) against the victim (known here as the "Petitioner"). This injunction starts when a Petition is filed with the Court by the Petitioner and a hearing is held. An injunction may have different orders that a Respondent must follow or he/she can be charged with a violation of an injunction. This restraining order may include provisions that the Respondent must move out of his/her house, that he must keep a certain distance from the Petitioner and/or no physical contact between the two parties.
The Four Types of Injunctions in Florida
1. Injunction Against Domestic Violence:
Defined under Florida Statute 741.28, "Violence or stalking that has occurred, or that the Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of, between individuals who are spouses, former spouses, or persons related by blood or marriage who are residing or have resided together as a family, or individuals who are residing together or have resided together as if family, or individuals who have a child in common". For example, this type of Injunction can be between a man and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend (if they are or were living together), brother and sister or baby mama and baby daddy. Generally, the Petitioner only needs to show one instance of violence to get the restraining order granted.
2. Dating Violence:
This is generally stalking or violence that occured or that the Petitoner has reasonable belief that there is imminent danger of occurring between people who have (1) who have dated within the last six months, (2) are sexually involved and/or (3) have a continuous relationship that is more then just a business or social frienship.
3. Injunction Against Sexual Violence:
This type of restraining order is often the strictest and hardest to get granted. To qualify for this type, the Petitoner must show at least one of the following: He or she must have reported the incident to the police and cooperate fully with them or the Respondent was sentenced to incarceration and he/she is due out of prison within 90 days. Not just any crime is allowed to count however. The Respondent must have been incarcerated as a result of a sexual battery or a felony where a sex act was committed or attempted. If this strict criteria is not met in full, then the sexual violence injunction will not be granted by a Judge (though the Petitioner may qualify for one of the other injunction types).
4. Injunction against Repeat Violence:
Defined under Florida Statute 784.046, unlike the domestic violence injunction, there must be two (2) or more seperate acts of violence and/or stalking with at least one incident within the past six months. This may be the most common type of restraining order and is used for relationships of a non-domestic or non-romantic nature. Neighbor to neighbor, or classmate to classmate would be an example of this type of Injunction.
In part two of this entry, we will discuss further on how to file for restraining order and also what to do if you are charged with a violation of injunction. In the meanwhile, if you or a loved one needs further information about injunctions in Pinellas county please review the pinellas clerk website, which gives more details and forms that can be filled out immediately.