The Defense Group

THE DEFENSE GROUP

CENTRAL FLORIDA'S
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS

FREE CRIMINAL DEFENSE CONSULTING

 

(407) 831-1956
(352) 742-9090


Questions and Answers

Click a question to open the answer.

Am I Under Investigation By A Grand Jury?


Usually, if you are under investigation, the authorities will find a way to notify you — this is when you should seek advice from an experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney, who will be able to guide you in how to handle the investigation process. You will neve3r be required to attend without the opportunity to confer with counsel. Your attorney cannot be with you during your appearance before the grand Jury but can be available outside the Grand Jury Room. You should never simply show up on a Grand Jury invitation or a subpoena without first conferring with an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Defense Group.

CALL US!  [At 407-831-1956  or   352-742-9090]

WE CAN HELP!!.

 

Can A Bail Bondsman Help You Out Of Jail?

A bail, also known as a pre-trial release, can get you or your loved one out of jail while awaiting trial. Bail bondsmen are the “insurance agents” on bonds. For a premium (and, most likely, some collateral) a bail bondsman will agree to come to the aid of the accused, paying their bond and getting them out of jail.

Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Hal Uhrig and The Defense Group have a unique relationship with bail bondsmen, having represented many of them for over 30 years. A bail bondsman (also called a surety agent) is in the business of assessing risk. When they write a bond, their primary focus is the likelihood that the defendant will appear in court when required. These bondsmen know that clients of The Defense Group have chosen qualified and experienced counsel and they are therefore less likely to flee. The Defense Group also has all of our clients sign and we file a waiver f presence that makes it unnecessary for the defendant to take off from work, school or just Life to attend multiple court appearances. This too makes the surety agent feel more secure. As a result of this, sometimes clients of The Defense Group are better able to negotiate a bond with either no collateral, or a reduced collateral requirement to get their loved ones out of jail. For knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense, contact The Defense Group today at:
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090


“The process for getting out of jail is called Pretrial Release. Most people talk about it in terms of bail bonds. One other thing that our firm does, probably more than any other firm in Central Florida, is we represent bail bondsmen. So we’ve got a good relationship with a number of bonding agencies. The way a bail bond works is it’s like an insurance policy. If your bond is $10,000, 10% is a premium, what you pay the bondsmen for the privilege of posting your bond. He keeps that $1,000 and he keeps it “for keeps,” if you will. He’s still out on the hook for $10,000 if you don’t show up. So what he’ll do is he’ll ask for collateral. He may want a second mortgage on your house. He may want credit card stroked, he may want any number of things so that if your loved one doesn’t come to court, you have something at risk. You are going to lose something. Because of our relationship with some of these bonds people, they may ask for no collateral or less collateral, because they know that if the client is hiring us, they’re serious about defending it and their probably going to show up in court.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
Can I Go to Jail for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test?


YES!

If a person refuses to take a breathalyzer test twice, he or she can be penalized with a year in jail.

The first refusal to submit to a breath test will cause a driver’s license suspension for 12 months. If there is ever a subsequent stop for DUI and a second (or subsequent) refusal to submit to the breath test, this is separate criminal offense. It carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in the county jail.

Generally, it is advisable to take the breath test if requested by kw enforcement. If you have had very little to drink, this is a chance to get evidence that may cause the State to drop your charges. If you have been drinking too much and you know it, you are probably impaired enough to support the State’s case anyhow. If you are pretty sure that you are going to “blow high” and your career depends on your driving privilege (especially if you have a commercial license) then you may decide to refuse the test, suffer the higher penalties on your license, but deprive the State of the critical evidence of how much you have had to drink.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a DUI, contact an attorney at The Defense Group using our website or call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 for a FREE CONSULTATION. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and we are able to arrange appointments for nights or weekends.


CALL US NOW!

407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
Do I Have to be Drunk to be Found Guilty of DUI?


NO!

A person does not have to be drunk in order to be considered guilty of a DUI. To be found guilty, one would need to be both in physical control of a vehicle and impaired by either alcohol, drugs, or some combination of the two. To arrest a person on suspicion of DUI, the police need to have Probable Cause he or she is impaired. They accomplish this through both field sobriety exercises and ordinary observation. The initial reason for the stop is often a bad driving pattern (weaving, etc.) This is often the first factor in the police determination of a DUI. The odor of alcohol is not evidence of impairment, but it will cause the police to look more carefully at a driver.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a DUI, contact an attorney at The Defense Group using our website or call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 for a FREE CONSULTATION. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and we are able to arrange appointments for nights or weekends.


“First misconception is I think, that DUI means “drunk driving.” You do not have to be drunk to be guilty of DUI. You merely have to be driving a vehicle or in physical control of it. That includes parked with the engine off, keys in your pocket or in the ignition, sound asleep. That’s still DUI. You’re in physical control of that motor vehicle. If you do that at a point in time when you are impaired from either alcohol or any of the several hundred drugs that are in our statutes, then you are DUI.

Now, what is impaired? If you blow over a .08 on the breath test, that much alcohol, you’re presumed to be impaired. If you don’t blow over a .08, they’ve got to prove that you’re impaired. The way they typically do that is by asking you to take some field sobriety exercises and they make observations as soon as they stop you. Suppose they stop you for a taillight out, they walk up to the window, the officer in his report says, “I noted the strong odor of the impurities of an alcoholic beverage coming from his face. His eyes were bloodshot and watery. His speech was slurred. He was fumbling. He couldn’t get his wallet out. He dropped the drivers license. I asked him to step out of the vehicle, he fell on on the ground.” All of those observations are entitled to show that you’re impaired.

They ask you to do a series of field sobriety exercises, which by the way, you should never, ever, ever, do. Then they write down what they consider clues of impairment from watching you do those things. If they are able to demonstrate in their mind that you’re impaired, they arrest you. Now I would tell you this: in my experience, if it’s late at night and you’ve got alcohol on your breath and you’re behind the wheel of a car and you’re alive, you’re going to jail for DUI. You may or may not be convicted, but that’s pretty much the litmus test.”

We can’t prevent your arrest, but we may be able to present a conviction.

Call us immediately after you are released from Jail.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
Does State Law Handle Marijuana Possession Differently Than Federal Law?


In some cases, yes. The legality of marijuana use, whether medicinal or recreational, has been a much debated issue — with some states declaring certain uses for it to be legal, even if they remain illegal at the federal level. This can seem confusing to someone who is facing charges, and unfamiliar with how these laws work — and that is why seeking advise from a knowledgeable Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney, at the Defense Group, is so important.

Both the federal government and the State of Florida have a punishment code sometimes referred to as the “Sentencing Guidelines.” While the federal authorities are typically only interested in the largest of cases, and usually involving importing either into the country or across state lines. In most cases the federal sentencing guidelines are more harsh that state guidelines.


“Many of the crimes which are illegal in state court are also illegal as federal crimes. Now there’s a lot of controversy going on right now with some of those states that have legalized, if you will, marijuana at the State level. They’re still crimes on the federal level.  Florida has recently approved medical marijuana but not recreational.  Recent statements by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggests that there may be a coming tension between states that have “legalized” (decriminalized under state law) crimes associated with marijuana and the federal drug enforcement authorities. It is still too soon to tell how this will shake out.

If you have any questions, reach our right away to an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Defense Group.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
DUI — Can I Still Face Charges, Even If I Wasn’t Actually Driving?


DUI does not refer to strictly driving. Just being in the driver’s seat while impaired — even if the keys are off — can still be considered DUI.

Central Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at The Defense Group have vast experience in DUI defense. If you have any questions, and would like to discuss your case, contact them today at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090  for a FREE CONSULTATION.


“The first misconception is to think that DUI means drunk driving. You do not have to be drunk to be guilty of DUI. You don’t even have to be “driving.” You merely have to be driving a vehicle or in physical control of it, when your faculties are impaired by alcohol or any of a number of illegal drugs. That includes when your vehicle is parked with the engine off, keys in your pocket or in the ignition, and even if you are sound asleep. That’s still DUI. You’re in physical control of that motor vehicle. If you do that at a point in time when you are impaired from either alcohol or any of the several hundred drugs that are in our statutes, then you are chargeable with DUI.

What is “impaired?” If you blow over a .08 on the breath test, then you’re presumed to be impaired as a matter of law. If you don’t blow over a .08, they’ve got to prove that you’re “impaired.” The way they typically do that is by asking you to take some “field sobriety exercises.” They start to make observations as soon as they stop you. Suppose they stop you for a tail light out. They walk up to the window, the officer in his report says, “I noted the strong odor of the impurities of an alcoholic beverage coming from his face. His eyes were bloodshot and watery. His speech was slurred. He was fumbling. He couldn’t get his wallet out. He dropped his driver’s license. I asked him to step out of the vehicle, he fell on the ground.” All of those observations are intended to show that you’re “impaired.” They ask you to do a series of field sobriety exercises, which, by the way, you should never, ever, ever do, and then they write down what they consider clues of impairment from watching you do those things. If they’re able to demonstrate in their mind that you’re impaired, they arrest you. I would tell you this: in my experience, if it’s late at night and you’ve got alcohol on your breath and you’re behind the wheel of a car and you’re alive, you’re going to jail for DUI. You may or may not be convicted, but that’s pretty much the litmus test. In terms of what’s actually being prescribed, don’t drive when you’re impaired. The simple answer to that is: don’t drink and then drive.”

A few pointers if you are stopped when you have been drinking:

  • Have your license, registration and insurance ready to present to the officer;
  • When the officer approaches, lower your window just enough to provide these documents to the officer.
  • You woke up this morning with the “Right to Remain Silent”—Use it!!
  • Do not get into any conversation with the officer.
  • If the officer asks ANY question, politely and soft spokenly advise the officer that you never speak to police without an attorney.
  • Do not permit the officer to either threaten you or cajole you into answering questions. Even innocent sounding questions like “Is this address on your license still correct” are potential problems. Do not answer!
  • *** You can order from our offices a business card that you can hand to the officer advising him that you have an attorney and that you are declining to say anything at all until after you have had the chance to confer with your lawyer. That way, the officer will not hear you speak  and cannot testify that your speech was slurred.
  • If the officer orders you to roll down your window (remember—you have been drinking and the odor is in your car), politely decline. You are not going to talk with him or her. Why does he need your window down?
  • If the officer orders you to roll it down, comply.
  • When the officer asks if you will perform some Field Sobriety Exercises, politely refuse. The officer may persist and suggest that you can be punished for refusing to take his field exercises. Still refuse (politely.)
  • Talk as little as possible and walk as little as possible.
  • If you are arrested, go quietly.
  • When you get to the police station (or breath testing facility) there will be cameras recording you. Take a seat as soon as you can, and sit steady.
  • When offered the breath test always take the test. Failure to do so can result in a long license suspension and for a subsequent refusal you may get up to a year in jail.

Once you are released from jail, your next move is to contact one of the experienced DUI defense attorneys with The Defense Group.

CALL US At 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
How Are Federal Crime Cases Different From State Crime Cases?


State and federal laws can sometimes differ greatly — and certain offenses will fall under one of either category. It is important, then, to seek out a legal team who understands the differences, with combined experience on both types of cases, to ensure that you get the defense you need.

The Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys, who work with the Defense Group — a team that has vast experience on these types of cases, and is ready to use their knowledge and experience to help clients.


At The Defense Group, we have a member who is designated as “of counsel.” He is not actually an employee, but he is a member of the firm as an “of counsel attorney.” His name is Manny Hernandez. Manny was previously a Supervising Assistant US States Attorney, both in Puerto Rico and in Orlando. He has extensive Federal experience. He knows all the Federal prosecutors. He knows the judges. When I say “knows the judges,” don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that like they’re party animals together and therefore, he gets special deals. He knows what they expect. He knows their procedural idiosyncrasies. He knows what to expect from a sentencing standpoint and that affects the way he handles the negotiations. He is generally acknowledged as one of the top Federal Defense Attorneys in the State of Florida..”
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If you have any problem dealing with a potentially federal criminal offense, contact The Defense Group at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090.


WE CAN HELP!!

 
How Does The Law Handle The Possession Of Different Drugs?


There are many different types of illegal drugs — from marijuana, to cocaine, all the way up to methamphetamines — and they all carry consequences for their possession. The severity of the punishment differs, taking into account a number of facts — Which drug was the accused in possession of? How much of it were they carrying? Likewise, the simple presence of a drug in someone’s bloodstream does not equal possession. In these cases, an experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney will be able to advise the person facing charges.


“The most frequent drug case is the case where either the police have stopped somebody in their automobile, or they’ve gone to their home and they’ve seen or found some kind of drugs. Marijuana, while currently way down on the scale of importance, is still illegal. There’s a lot of popular sentiment for the legalization of it. Unless there’s a large quantity of it, it’s treated less severely than other kinds of drugs. You work your way up. Cocaine, much more serious. Heroin, considered more serious than cocaine. So what are the drugs du jour?  Actually, there are two.

One is methamphetamines. Terrible drug. It will absolutely ruin your life if you get on methamphetamines. Don’t do it. Some people do, and we are called upon sometimes to represent them.

What has really become the drug du jour are the opiate analgesics. These include oxycodone, hydrocodone and several other variations on these opiate pain killers.  Frequently, these are people who became drug-dependent as the result of an accident. They were legitimately prescribed these drugs, they got hooked on them. When the doctor stopped prescribing them they still felt the need for them. They go out onto the street. There’s a black market available for them. Often, you are just the person who needs them and uses them who gets caught initially. They’ll then leverage your trouble to find out who you bought it from and try to work their way up the stream on that.

Possession of drugs is the least important. Conspiracy to deal in drugs is more serious. Actually selling drugs is more serious than that. Where you sell the drugs makes a difference. If you sell them within 1000 feet of a school, 1000 feet of a church, 1000 feet of a playground, 1000 feet of a housing facility–by housing facility I mean the projects, the publicly supported housing facilities–1000 feet of a minute market. If you sell in those places which are designated as more protected, then the offense is more serious. And obviously, the more you sell and the more you conspire to sell, the more serious the offense.”

Some drug offenses call for “mandatory prison sentences” under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. The veritable explosion of the prison systems in the United States is attributable almost exclusively to the number of people imprisoned for drug offenses.

If you are arrested or are being investigated for a drug related offense, immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Defense Group at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090.

CALL AT ONCE!

WE CAN HELP!!

 
How Do I Afford The Criminal Defense I Need?


Affording the fees for an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can be a source of worry for anyone facing charges. The value that an attorney’s knowledge and experience can bring to the case is invaluable — and, often, priced accordingly!

That, however, does not mean that anyone who cannot afford all the fees up front is lost. The Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Defense Group are experienced, knowledgeable attorneys — who are also caring, and willing to work with clients, to ensure that they get the legal help they need, without bankrupting them over it.


“Frequently, whenever someone is arrested, this was not an event in their lives that they were expecting. They don’t have a cookie jar in the kitchen that’s got enough spare change in it to come up with thousands of dollars for a lawyer. They might have $100 for a flat tire or a refrigerator that doesn’t work, but the kind of fees that are necessarily charged for criminal defense come as a surprise. We understand that in today’s economy suddenly having someone stick their hand out and say, “I need,” and the term “thousands of dollars” is included in the rest of that sentence is pretty tough. Whenever possible, we will try to structure a payment arrangement. We don’t have long-term payments, but three or four months in which to stretch out the payments and come together so that we can give you your help right now when you need it, although all the payment is not available right now. Sometimes people need a short period of time to access resources. We do take credit cards, we take debit cards, we take personal checks, we take portraits of Benjamin Franklin, we take all of that.”

Whatever you do, as soon as possible after an arrest call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 to make an appointment for a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss your options.


CALL US NOW!

WE CAN HELP!!

 
How Do State And Federal Authorities Cooperate In Drug Cases?

Do State And Federal Authorities Work Together In Drug Cases?

Very often, people who deal drugs work in “networks” — this leads to both state and federal authorities working together in cases. As Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Hal Uhrig explains, the federal authorities are always on the hunt for the big players, and cooperating with those at the state level can help trace everything back to its source.


Federal drug crimes are implicated particularly in cross jurisdictional offenses. If there’s an importation charge-- if you’re bringing drugs from out of the United States into the United States, that’s going to be a federal charge. If you’re bringing drugs from one state to another state, that’s a federal charge.  If you’re doing any number of things that are also state violations, you’re trafficking in drugs which typically means large quantities, if you’re dealing in kilos instead of grams, the Feds are probably interested.

If you’re dealing in truckloads instead of kilos, I can assure you they’re interested. And what the Feds frequently do, similar to the State but on a larger scale, is they try to work their way up the food chain — from the guy who’s dealing in grams, to the guy who is dealing in ounces, to the guy who bought those, who is dealing in kilos — hopefully eventually getting back to the head of the snake, if you will, and that’s the source whether it’s from out of the country or in the country.”

There is an informal agreement between the federal authorities and the state authorities. If the federal government wants the case, they get it. If they are not interested, the discretion passes to the state prosecutors to decide whether or not to pursue prosecution.

As we can see in the area of immigration, there is no requirement for the state and local authorities to cooperate with the federal authorities. IN practice, there is actually quite a bit of cooperation and information sharing.

If you have any questions, call an experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at The De3fense Group.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
How Is A State Grand Jury Different From a Federal Grand Jury?


A grand jury is, essentially, a group of people who are completely detached from the case; who have nothing to gain or lose no matter the final verdict; and who serve as an impartial, unbiased jury in the case. An experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney will be able to explain to their client how this jury works, and what to expect from the trial process.


“There’s not a great deal of procedural difference in the way they operate. The only difference is that they’ll be hearing evidence of state crimes instead of federal crimes or vice versa. It’s the same concept. A group of politically unattached, dispassionate people listen to the evidence and decide whether or not they believe the state has enough evidence to go forward or not.”

The prosecuting attorney (by whatever name he is empowered) acts as the advisor to the Grand Jury and makes presentation of evidence to the Grand Jury. It has been said, only partly tongue in cheek that a good prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. What that means is that in many ways the information provided to the Grand Jury is provided by and through the prosecutor. While decisions to indict or not are theoretically up to the vote of the members of the Grand Jury, it is fair to say that the prosecutor has a great deal of influence on their decision. Some Grand Juries are empaneled to find facts. Others are politically motivated to either bring an indictment wanted by the prosecutor or to bring back a “no Biul on cases where the prosecutor needs cover.

In any event, NEVER go contrarily as a witness to a Grand Jury proceedings until you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

CALL US AT 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
How long does a DUI or DWI (or BUI) conviction stay on my record?


A DUI conviction or any criminal conviction stays on your record forever. In this day of the Internet, convictions stay on forever. Convictions cannot be sealed or expunged. In addition to the public records, there are companies that mine this information for profit. We have clients who come to us. Seeking to erase a conviction that took place years ago. They may have even paid to have that record was sealed or expunged. Then it shows up on the Internet and they don’t understand. These companies try to extort money from you to get that arrest information, your mug shot for example, your jail record, your booking record, your case information, your conviction taken off the Internet.

This is not illegal. At the time of your arrest, your mug shot was an available item of public information that these companies download and put on their sites. Even though the public record of your arrest has been sealed or expunged, this private record belongs to them. They will negotiate with you to remove this posting from their private site.

As to your public record of an actual conviction (including all DUI and similar convictions, the answer is, it stays on forever.

That’s why it is so important to seek out the best criminal defense lawyer you can find to help you defend your criminal charges.

You also need to be sure that you retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how to deal with these Internet issues, and who can help you get this information removed from the Internet. We can help! We do it every day. We’ll help you if you come to us after a conviction. But if you come to us early enough, hopefully their wont’ be a conviction.

 
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Great Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney?


Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys
and their team at The Defense Group, understand that finances can be a source of worry for many of those seeking a criminal defense attorney. This is why they offer free initial consultations, so potential clients can discuss their case, and understand the value of the knowledge and experience they bring to the table, without any money being spent.

Most of our clients have only seen criminal defense attorneys on TV. Some may have heard from family or friends about an experience they have had. Try to ignore what yo have heard.

Each case is unique. Each set of facts is unique. The law applicable to the facts is constantly changing and responsible and experienced criminal defense attorneys attend seminars throughout the year to keep informed of the changes. Some cases require the taking of depositions (sworn interviews with witnesses, including court reporter). Some cases require experts. Some cases have questions of law that require motions and hearings before the case can be settled or tried.

Each case is different. We provide FREE INITIAL CONSULTATIONS, where we can learn more about your particular case, discuss with you some of the strategies we might use in defending your case, and discuss with you our assessment of the cost. If, at that time the cost we quote is one you are unwilling to pay, then we wish you the best and you owe us nothing. If you find our quote to be acceptable, then we can work on whether there is a payment plan that works for both of us.  If you are shopping online and find an attorney site that lists its fees in a “menu” type format, you should ask yourself how that attorney can set a fair price without knowing anything about your case.

If you have been charged, immediately call one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Defense Group at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
If I just want to plead guilty, why do I need an attorney?


You need an attorney for several reasons. A criminal conviction may have implications that you are unaware of and you need to consider fighting the charges or at least negotiating a plea where you are not actually “convicted. “If you are not a citizen, a plea to even a misdemeanor may result in your deportation from the US. In othe4r cases a plea to a simple misdemeanor may not result in jail but may result in the loss of your driver license for up to two years.
In some cases, you may have an effective defense that could cause the charges to be dropped, but you lose that opportunity if you enter a plea.

Even if your case is one that calls for a plea, an experienced criminal defense attorney could represent you at a sentencing hearing which can assure that you get the lowest possible sentence.

There are times to save money (wait until something you need goes on sale). There are times that the small amount you save is not worth the consequences of acting as your own attorney. You would not do your own dental procedure. You would probably not try to fix the air-conditioning in your car. Why would you pr4sume to do what is best for you in a court of law?

Call an experienced criminal defense attorney before you make these important decisions.

WE CAN HELP!!

 
If The Drugs Are In My Blood, Can I Still Face Possession Charges?


Very interestingly, the law does not consider the sole presence of drugs in a person’s system to be possession. However, this is a very thin line to tread, since other offenses — such as DUI, or the possession of drug paraphernalia — could aggravate the charges.

Interestingly, and importantly, if you are on probation of Community Control, you may be required to submit to urine or blood testing. If you show the presence of drugs in your system, your probation may be terminated and you may be resentenced on the original offense up to the maximum for that offense. This will not be a new conviction for a new crime, but the consequences may seem as bad. You may still windup in prison.
It is always advisable to seek knowledgeable counsel from an Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at 407-831-1956  or   352-742-9090


“Interestingly, while you cannot be charged with a felony if, when they say they find you to be in possession of the drug, they find you in possession because it’s in your blood stream or in your urine. If they do a blood test and they find you to be in possession of cocaine, they can’t charge you with possession of cocaine. There may be an assumption that you must have, at some point in time, possessed it. You must have, at some time, ingested it. But there’s no evidence that you did that voluntarily or you did that while you were within the county or within the state of Florida, so in that case the law is pretty solid that if the only place where they find it is inside of you– Now, if they find a glass container of cocaine inside of you or you flew in from the country and you swallowed it with the idea of getting it out after you got here, they can charge you with that. But not if it’s in your blood.”
If they find you to be in actual or constructive possession of an illegal drug and in addition they find you to have the drug in your system, evidence of that will likely be admissible to prove you were aware of the drugs they found outside your body.

If you are required by your employer to submit to a drug testing program, the circumstances are entirely different. D
Florida is a “right to work” state and your employer (unless you have either Civil Service protection or union protection) has the right to terminate your employment for pretty much any reason (other than a Constitutionally protected status like race or gender.) So, a dirty drug screen might cost you your job. It will not however result in your employer reporting you to the police and them arresting you abased on that same drug test.
If you have any concerns or questions, you should reach out immediately to the experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Defense Group.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
Is it a good idea to “take the 5th"?

Taking the Fifth or claiming your rights under the Fifth Amendment is almost always a great idea. It’s often the smartest thing you can do, but there’s no way you can make that decision without the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The ONLY time you should waive this important Constitutional right is when you are already represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney who has negotiated with the State about your testimony.

Taking the Fifth, how you take it, when it’s taken, where it’s taken is absolutely a critical stage whenever it is taken or said. It’s got to be done properly, it’s got to be done for the right questions, sometimes for every question and if it’s done right, it cannot and should not be held against you. You may sometimes be offered a chance to do a “proffer” to the prosecutor, but in exchange you get what we call “Use Immunity.” That means that it you later go to trial and fight the charges, the State may not use your statements at this proffer against you, except in impeachment if you change your sworn testimony.
Before you can decide whether you wish to take the Fifth or read your rights under the Fifth Amendment, whether it’s in a civil context or a criminal context; for example, in divorce proceedings, very often one spouse will accuse the other of using drugs and questions will be asked. You can take the Fifth Amendment in virtually any proceeding.

It’s essential that you have representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you and/or advise your civil attorney as to the ramifications and the proper way to take the Fifth Amendment or to claim your rights under the Fifth Amendment. The easiest rule to follow is that unless you have consulted with and are represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney NEVER TALK WITH THE POLICE, NO MATTER HOW INNOCENT THEIR QUESTIONS SEEM.

 
Should I be Worried if My Bond is Too High?


Of course, you are worried. If the bond is too high to be able to get your loved one out, action needs to be taken to try to lower the requirements. The attorneys at The Defense Group are experienced in this important task.

In many cases, a bond will start out unreasonably high. However, as a case progresses, the judge will usually lower the bond to something more manageable based on a list of criteria. For example, the judge will probably look at whether or not the defendant has a history of violence. If he or she does not, the judge is more likely to lower the bond, as the defendant would be unlikely to harm others if he or she were able to post bond and leave jail.

The court considers the ties to the community. If you have lived in the Central Florida area for many years, have family here, attended school here, have been employed here consistently, belong to a church or other local organizations, and do not have a history of failing to appear, the court will likely find that you are not a flight risk and lower your bond.
The attorneys at The Defense Group have had the opportunity to seek lower bonds over 100 times over the past 30 years. We are familiar with the factors that are important to the prosecution and the courts. There is never a guarantee of how a judge will rule but it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney working to secure your release.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact an attorney at The Defense Group online or call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090  for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and we are willing to arrange appointments for nights or weekends.

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Should I Blow into the Breathalyzer?


Due to the way an older DUI law was structured, people used to advise anyone who had been arrested for DUI to avoid blowing into a breathalyzer. That way, the police would not be able to prove how drunk someone was.

However, because DUI law has changed since then, the Defense Group now says to always blow into a Breathalyzer. Avoiding the breathalyzer carries such severe penalties that it is almost never worth it.

If you refuse to submit to a breath test requested by Law Enforcement, you be face a DL suspension of 90 days on a first refusal and a year on a second refusal. More importantly, if you have ever previously refused to take the test, your refusal can be the basis for a separate criminal charge for which you may face jail of up to a year.

The prosecution will be able to argue to a jury (should your case go to trial) that your refusal was evidence of guilt because you prevented the jury from knowing how much alcohol was in your system. The argument is that you knew you were over the limit and just obstructed the collection of evidence that would show it. Why would an unimpaired person refuse a test that would prove their innocence?

Sometimes, in some courtroom, we have been successful in keeping the breath results from the jury. In that case there is no penalty for blowing in the machine and the results do not make it to the jury anyhow. IN other cases, especially where the results are not too high, we have been able to argue that the results are not reliable or not accurate as of the time you were driving. There are not many defenses to refusing to take the test. The police typically videotape the procedure where you are offered the test and you refuse. That is a video that you do not want viewed by the jury.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, use our website to contact an attorney at The Defense Group or call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 for a FREE CONSULTATION. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and we are willing to arrange appointments for nights or weekends.

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Was My Loved One Arrested, Or Are They Missing?


Not knowing where your loved one — relative or friends — can be stressful and frightening. People who are arrested are, however, always allowed an opportunity to contact someone — keeping your phone close is important! Contacting the county and state jails is certainly an option, along with asking the authorities for help locating a missing person who could have been arrested. An experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney can also lend their knowledge and experience, in helping you find out your loved ones whereabouts.


“After you’ve checked the various County Jails, you might ask yourself if your loved one is not a U.S. Citizen, is there a possibility that they’ve picked up by ICE? They may have an immigration hold on them. They may actually be in a County Jail, but not listed under the County Jail as having been arrested by law enforcement.

They may have been arrested under a Federal warrant of some kind. If that’s the case they may be in either the Orange or Seminole County Jails that have contracts with the Feds. Or they may have transported them somewhere entirely different. Given a little time your loved one will call you. They will give them an opportunity to make a phone call so don’t get too far away from the phone.

In some cases they can’t call cell phones. If you have a hard line phone, have someone stay near that hard line phone at the house so they can try and call you there. If you haven’t heard from them within a day, I’d call the police and I’d start calling around. Say, “Look it may be a missing person or you may have them, but I can’t find my loved one and I need to let you know that.” You may get help from law enforcement directly.”

 
What if the police tell me that if I cooperate they will “go easy on me”?


Sometimes police officers or agents will tell you “Listen, work with me. We’ll go easy on you.” Sometimes they may be sincere, but you don’t know when it’s true and when it isn’t. NEVER do anything with law enforcement, whether it’s police or federal agents, before you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer representing you. Local police officers and/or federal agents cannot, as a matter of law, bind the prosecutors. They have no authority to offer you “a deal.” You can have the nicest police officer or the nicest federal agent, or people you think are nice, but they really have very little power. They have the “power” to “put in a good word” for you. That can only affect the sentence you are offered, if it has any effect at all. Our advice to NEVER TALK TO THE COPS, applies here as well. If an officer starts trying to “cut a deal” with you for information, simply let the officer know that you never talk to the police without a lawyer but that they are welcome to have the prosecutor talk to you attorney about any ideas that have.

You can’t navigate those waters alone. You must have an experienced criminal defense lawyer before we ever get to the point of discussing whether to cooperate or not. You do not want to even admit that you might have access to any helpful information until you have an agreement, worked out by your attorney. Call us today and let’s discuss the details of your case. We have the experience. We can Help!

 
What Is A Federal Crime?

What Constitutes A Federal Crime?

Where and how a crime is committed can alter whether it will be considered a state or federal offense. The easiest guide is that a federal crime is a violation of a federal statute, passed by the U.S. Congress. Generally, crimes against the government are considered federal crimes, as any intent to harm one’s country is a serious offense. In other cases, however, it might not be completely clear — for example, the degree of brutality or age of the victim in a murder case can elevate it to a federal crime. Some crimes can constitute a crime against both a federal statute and a state statute. You can be prosecuted for both and sentenced for both—and this is not “Double Jeopardy” because the state and the federal government are independently sovereign. The most common example s are drug offenses. Almost every offense that violates a State drug statute also violates a federal drug statute. Drug offenses can be complicated and always call for the consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. In any criminal defense case, it is always advisable to speak with an experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

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“Examples of federal crimes include interstate kidnapping. It can include crimes against the United States.  It includes crimes on federal property.  You may be on federal property inside of Brevard County that would violate both a state statue and a federal crime because of where it takes place.”

 

What Is A Felony?


What Constitutes A Felony Under Florida Law?

Felonies are crimes for which the accused, if found guilty, could face time at a state prison. Felonies in Florida are classified by degree. Third Degree felonies are the least serious, but even they can result in  sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Second degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. First degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of 30 years, unless that are part of a special class of First Degree felonies classified as “PBL”  (punishable by Life imprisonment.) There are Life felonies that specifically can carry sentences of life in prison. Finally are the “Capital” crimes.  These are offenses in the case of murder that are punishable by either death or life imprisonment. In Florida Life” means life. It means until you die.

Dealing with any felony requires knowledge and experience — something the  Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys  at The Defense Group are proud to offer their clients.

If charged with any felony, call an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Defense Group right away to arrange a FREE CONSULTATION.

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407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

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What is a forfeiture?


When the state or federal government believes that criminal activity has taken place, one component is punishment, criminal charges. But another component is forfeiture. They want to seize a vehicle if it’s used during the commission of a crime. They want to seize a house if that was the scene of a crime, for example, a grow house. They want to seize boats, airplanes, conveyances as we call them. They want to seize money. That’s happening all of the time now. They get a drug dog to alert, which of course is complete fraud anyway, because everyone’s money is tainted with drug residue. But they get the dog to alert, and they take money. Sometimes they don’t even arrest the person who has the money, and then they move to seize it. That’s called “civil forfeiture.”

Sections 932.701-932.706. comprise the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. Under this statute the law enforcement authorities are empowered to seize (steal) both personal and real property that has been “an instrumentality” in the commission of a felony. The car that is used to transport drugs is subject to seizure. Even a car, boat or plane that is used to transport a participant in a crime to the crime scene may be forfeited by the police.

One of our senior trial defense attorney spent years as the General Co9unsel for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, training the officers on how to affect a seizure and then litigating in Circuit court the efforts to keep the property. He conducted seminars for the police across the State when he was the President of the Florida Association of Police Attorneys. He understands this game from both sides. Our firm has handled scores of forfeiture proceedings over the past 30 years.

If you have property seized by law enforcement, it’s essential that you get a lawyer that understands the forfeiture laws and proceedings, because forfeiture can be civil, or it can be criminal. It is important that you get help immediately., as you will be given a Notice of Forfeiture when they seize your property, and yo9u have only 15 days to file a claim for your property by certified mail. Your failure to act quickly may cost you your property. Call one of the experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Defense Group to help protect your rights.

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What is a “plea bargain"?


Everyone hears about plea bargains. The better term is “plea agreements.” They’re usually not “bargains.” A plea bargain is simply an agreement as to the parameters of a defendant’s agreement to enter a plea of guilty or in some cases nolo contender, and the State’s agreement as to the sentence they expect that defendant to accept. It’ll determine a lot of the factors that go into what the ultimate sentence or resolution of your case will be. For example, what charges you’re pleading to, (and what charges might be dropped), what the appropriate sentencing guidelines are, what the recommendations will be. Whether there’ll be an appeal waiver or not. What is your role in the offense that is charged. Were you a leader? Were you a manager? Were you an organizer? Was it sophisticated? Was it a breach of a fiduciary duty? Those are just a few of the things that come into play.

Sometimes the prosecutor and your attorney will work out an agreement for you to provide a “proffer” of testimony. If you tell the prosecutor and the lead detective what you know, they may decide that they need you to make their case against a more culpable defendant. An important consideration is whether you are more valuable to the State as a witness or as a defendant.

In addition, the aspects of a plea consider the victims. Are there individuals who lost money because of fraud? If so, what is the agreement as t restitution, and do the victims agree? There are so many factors it’s impossible to discuss now, other than to say that an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical in negotiating the best possible plea bargain, if you will, or plea agreement which is what I like to call it, on your behalf. It is the most important document in your case.

 
What is needed to get a search warrant in Florida?


What’s needed is “probable cause.” This is not a very high standard, it just means that the officer that happened to be at the scene believed that there was criminality afoot and he provides information, in the form of a sworn affidavit, that is then submitted to a judge. The judge is supposed to be a neutral magistrate who considers the content of the affidavit and determines whether it supports a warrant. Does it demonstrate probable cause? The judges just often sign off on it. Under the fourth amendment we have these enormous protections to not be searched, whether it’s in our homes or our persons, in the absence of a warrant or probable cause. Often these sacred protections that we have are violated by the use of search warrants that are not properly filled out, that are incomplete, and that contain false statements that officers put in there that the judges were not aware of at the time. Just because there was probable cause and just because a warrant got signed does not mean that we cannot attack it. It does not mean that that is the end of the case. In fact, that is just the beginning. Now, the Courts tend to be protective of warrants, since they are signed by judges. When we can show that the officer signing and swearing to the affidavit includes information that was false or that he had no firsthand information about, or if he left out important exculpatory information that the judge should have had, then we can sometimes have the warrants declared to be invalid and all of the evidence is thrown out. We are experienced at looking at these warrants, at going through the affidavits. What does it include? Was it sufficient? Did the judge understand when she was signing it that there in fact was probable cause? So, you must have an experienced criminal defense attorney who has analyzed hundreds of these probable cause affidavits in the past, look at them to determine whether they were sufficient on its face or whether it’s something that we can attack.

If a warrant was part of your case, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

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What should I do if asked to take Field Sobriety Exercises by the police?


If you are asked to take a field sobriety test, don’t take it. There are no exceptions to this Rule. Consider it a Rule, not a suggestion. Nobody has passed these exercises since the Earth cooled. No one can pass them, because they are not a “test” that can be fairly scored. They are incredibly unfair. They are designed to make sure that nobody passes them. While the police who have made a DUI stop tell you that this is your chance to prove you are not impaired, if they have asked you to take them they have already decided to arrest you and they are simply looking for more justification for the arrest that are already committed to make. If you try to pass the field sobriety tests in your own home with no alcohol, with no drugs, with no nothing, you still won’t pass.

So, don’t take it. You’re much better off not taking field sobriety tests even if you haven’t ingested alcohol, drugs, legal or illegal, because you won’t be able to pass. The police administering them, whether it’s highway patrol or local police, will do everything possible to interpret everything you do as failing each individual test.

A quick example:
     The “Walk & Turn” exercise has 93 separate components that the police can point to as a “clue of impairment.” If you make two mistakes, you flunk. But wait a minute. If you got 91 out of 93 right on a “test” your score would 97% and you would get an A. On these exercises you get no credit for what you do correctly but because they identify two clues of impairment, you are DUI. Hey may try to threaten you that the jury will be advised that you refused and that you will be convicted. NEVER take your legal advice from the police. NEVER take these stupid exercises.

 
When am I under arrest?


Sometimes the answer seems easy. When the cuffs get slapped on you, and you are unceremoniously loaded into the back of a police cruiser, then you’re under arrest. But it’s not that simple at all. When the police restrain your freedom, when you’re not free to leave, you are “in custody” for a number of important considerations. If a reasonable person in your circumstances would feel that he was compelled to remain, and not permitted to go about his bushiness. Then you may be “in custody.” That triggers all sorts of constitutional rights of protections. For example, once you are “in custody” the police may not question you without first advising you of your right to remain silent. Once you are in custody, your right to access to defense counsel is triggered. So, the facts, the details, the timing of your confrontation with the police or federal law enforcement agency is absolutely critical.

The analysis of these issues is not as simple as you might think. Some of this law is complicated. Your criminal defense attorney will discuss it with you and find out. For example, a police officer tells you “Go sit in my police car.” Are you under arrest? Well, are you free to leave if you get out of that police car and walk away, then yo are not under arrest. If you go voluntarily to the police station and sit in a room discussing your situation with the police, but the door is not locked, and you can leave if you choose, you are not under arrest. But, if you’re on the side of the street and the police officer says, “You stand right there. You sit down on the sidewalk and keep your hands where I can see them,” you are probably in custody in the eyes of most courts.

These are all issues that need to be discussed with your criminal defense lawyer so that all your rights are protected. Not just in a theoretical sense, but in a practical way. Because, depending on when you are arrested certain evidence can be admitted against you and certain evidence can be kept out.

If you are eventually both arrested and jailed, you should discuss the details with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call us today. We can help!!

 
When can the Police use police dogs?


There are three primary circumstances in which the police use K-9 (canine) units in law enforcement.

  • To assist in taking suspects into custody.
    • This includes these of dogs to “track” and locate a suspect who has fled and gotten out of sight of the police. [Think “Cool Hand Luke” or “The Fugitive”] Using an article of clothing or something that carries the scent of the suspect, dogs are pretty effective at tracking the escape route of a suspect and locating the suspect in a hiding place.
    • Dogs are also deployed when a suspect runs and refuses to stop, or refuses to leave a hiding place or building. A police dog can run the suspect down or “encourage” him or her to come out from under a hose or from a hiding place in a warehouse. Suspects are frequently injured in these cases, but unless the dog is used as a weapon to inflict unnecessary injury on a suspect, this practice is lawful.
  • Explosives detection:
    • Whether at an airport or at the scene where an explosive device is suspected, properly trained police dogs can provide an important service in locating explosive devices before they detonate. This is both a law enforcement function and a public safety function.
  • Drug Detection:
    • Whereas the first two circumstances represent a valid and public- interest use of police dogs, the use of dogs as a tool to identify the presence of illegal drugs, in order to permit the police the right to search, is so unreliable and abusive as to amount to fraud.
    • Of course, dogs have more sensitive olfactory senses than you and I.
    • Of course, they can be trained to identify the presence of many substances classified as narcotics or controlled substances.
    • That said, it is also true that K-9 officers and their dogs have a special relationship. There is no doubt that the dog wants to please his handler and there is no doubt that the dog comes to learn that when he (or she) alerts) the handler is happy and even offers a treat. When the dog fails to alert, the handler is disappointed, and the dog knows it (no treat.)
    • There is no standard “alert” behavior the dogs are trained to produce. If there were, a video of the dog sniff might give some insight into whether the dog was alerting to drugs, or sniffing the scent of a nearby rabbit.
    • We have joked that perhaps the dog winked at the handler or gave him the secret handshake. Courts routinely hold that if the K-9 officer testifies that the dog alerted, then the dog alerted.
    • Virtually all US currency that has been in circulation for over 6 months and has passed through the banks in the State of Florida contain residue of illegal drugs. That’s not an opinion—that’s a fact. So, if the dog’s nose is particularly sensitive, it will alert on any car in which any occupant possesses US currency in his or her pocket.
    • The Courts have simply gotten this one wrong. Hesitant to take away what is perceived as a valuable tool of law enforcement to catch the bad guys, the concept that a dog alert produces “probable cause” to search is simply bogus.
    • When the search produces results (location of drugs) the police claim that this is proof of the accuracy of their dog sniffs. Problem is that the only statistics are those created by the arrest. In the many cases where the dog alerts, but no drugs are located, there are no statistics created. The driver or home occupant is released, and no arrest report written. Who then files a complaint that they were searched improperly after they have been released from a scary interaction with the police? Nobody!!

The Defense Group has handled hundreds of dog sniff cases over the past 30 years and we know where to try to attack the use of dogs in the development of probable cause.

 
What Are The Different Types Of Felonies The Law Recognizes?


State and federal laws can dictate what degree of felony has been committed — the classification of a felony can provide a guideline for the judge and jury during the trial, as well as set minimum and sometimes maximum penalties. Having a Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney with The Defense Group. who understands the different degrees and consequences of felonies can be of great help during a criminal defense case.


“Well felonies in Florida come in a number of flavors and degrees if you will. A 3rd degree felony is the least serious, but you can get up to five years in jail for it. A 2nd degree felony is more serious, you can get up to 15 years in prison for that. A 1st degree felony you can get up to 30 years in prison. A 1st degree felony called PBL, or punishable by life, it’s still called a 1st degree felony but you can get up to life in prison for it. You’ve got life felonies which call for life in prison. Then you’ve got capital felonies which can call for either the death penalty or life in prison.

An example of a 3rd degree felony would be a possession of small amount of cocaine, grand theft of over $500, burglarizing a store. An example of a 2nd degree felony would be aggravated battery where you use a weapon to harm somebody. It could include some minor sexual batteries. It could include drug offenses of over a certain amount or if that drug offense is done within a thousand feet of a school.

First degree felonies include trafficking in drugs that’s over a certain quantity, you get up to 30 years, and usually there’s a minimum mandatory that goes with that. A 1st degree felony includes a number of sex offenses and it can include things like attempted murder. A life felony would include some of the sex offenses, particularly involving children. It could include a very large amount of drugs; let’s say over 25 kilograms and second degree murder for example.

Capital, that’s pretty much 1st degree murder and there’s 1st degree murder whether they do or don’t seek the death penalty. Most 1st degree murder cases they do not seek the death penalty because there’s a number of aggravators that have to be taken into consideration. There’s almost a mini separate trial in the event that the death penalty is sought. First the jury decides are you guilty or not, then they make the recommendation as to death penalty or not.”

All felonies are serious. If arrested or even if you believe you are being investigated for a felony offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Defense Group at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090.


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What Happens When Somebody Has Been Arrested for a Domestic Dispute?


If the police find any evidence of violence when they arrive for a domestic dispute – whether it be the victim’s word or just a knocked-over piece of furniture–someone will be arrested. The person who was arrested will not be allowed out of jail for any reason until he or she sees a judge (usually within 24 hours of being arrested). The judge may allow him or her to leave jail, but with a catch. For example, the person might be put under house arrest, have a GPS attached to his/her ankle, or be given an “exclusionary zone” that he or she is not allowed to enter. If a trial takes place, the state of Florida will be the one to press charges against an assumed abuser, not the victim. The alleged victim will be considered no more than a witness, even if no violence has actually taken place.

If you or a loved one is involved in a domestic violence case in Florida, e-mail an attorney at The Defense Group or call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day, and we are able to make nighttime and weekend appointments if needed.


“Many of the clients that we represent are clients that were just involved in a domestic dispute, an argument, a shouting contest, that got a little bit out of hand, but not enough for someone to go to jail. But there is, however, a political aspect to this. That is, that the police have taken the position, for reasons that we kind of understand historically, that if they receive a call to a domestic violence call and they show up and there’s any evidence whatsoever, I don’t care if it’s a neighbor claiming they heard a lot of screaming, there’s a lamp knocked over, there’s not a bruise, there’s no blood and there’s not even a complaining witness, the person who is believed to be the victim is saying no, no, no, you misunderstand, somebody is going go to jail.

An accused is not going to be allowed out of jail until they see a judge at what’s called first appearance. You’re entitled to see a judge within 24 hours of being arrested. You’re not bonding out before that. Your brother’s not coming to bond you out, so you can go back and take that out on whoever you think got you arrested. When you see the judge and he gets a chance to read the report, he then decides okay, “I’m going to let you out but I’m going to put a GPS on your ankle, or I’m going to put you on home confinement, or I’m going to give you an exclusionary zone.” You can’t go within the 500 feet of the following places, including whoever the alleged victim is, and your bond is a certain amount, or whatever. Once the judge decides that, the cops are off the hook. They did their job by putting someone in jail.

Special prosecutors are frequently assigned to do domestic violence prosecutions. They have their marching orders. Don’t give these away, and don’t allow the victim to come in and drop the charges. The victim’s not bringing the charges, the State of Florida is bringing the charges. The “victim” is just a witness. If they’re not a complaining witness, we want to turn them into a complaining witness. We want them to cooperate with us in prosecuting this person who is guilty of domestic violence, in the eyes of the state. Frequently you’ll have a victim, a legitimate victim, who is so afraid of the person who’s been arrested, they run down and try to drop the charges. Perhaps you’ve got a woman who has got a couple of children. She’s financially dependent upon the person who’s beating her up and therefore wants the charges dropped so that he won’t throw her and the kids in the street. Those are legitimate domestic violence charges and there’s a need for prosecution on those.

What has happened, though, is in order to protect the community from those kinds of folks, there’s been a pretty terrible over-reaction. Neighbor hears two people yelling and screaming. Guess what? Married couples, boyfriends, girlfriends, sometimes yell and scream and fight. They sometimes may even push and shove a little bit, but they do so with kind of an agreement. You know, you can’t hit me with a weapon, you can’t make me bleed, but we can yell and shout and push a little bit. You’ll still go to jail for that. Yet, perhaps there was no offense actually being committed. But the police, because of the politics, “put ’em in jail.” Sometimes the prosecution, because of the politics, file the charges. We’re then called upon to come in and help sort that out. ”

There are many collateral consequences to a domestic battery conviction. It can impact future divorce proceedings. It can be the cause of loss of employment. Iy can cause displacement from your home for extended periods of time.

Do not underestimate the importance of defending these charges. Call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 right away.

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What Is A Grand Jury?


When Does A Grand Jury Handle A Case?

A grand jury is, oftentimes, used in cases where the accused is facing charges for a capital — or, sometimes, in “high profile” cases where, for example, a politician is involved. In these cases, an experienced attorney is absolutely necessary. The Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Defense Group have vast experience with criminal defense, and are willing to help.


“A Grand Jury is a method of charging people. It’s sometimes used for political purposes. It’s used in all first degree murder cases. Any case which is a capital case has to be done by Grand Jury indictment. In Florida the system is that the State Attorney has the authority to charge you with almost anything but a capital offense by filing a document called an “Information.”

An Information says “comes now the State Attorney in the name of the State of Florida and charges that you the defendant” with whatever it is they’re accusing you of. If it’s a capital crime you have to take that to a Grand Jury. It’s selected from the community. The State Attorney is the legal advisor for the Grand Jury. They present to them the evidence that’s available and then they ask them to indict.

The joke is that a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich, which simply means that the Grand Jury very frequently gives the prosecutor what they want.
In politically charged circumstances, where perhaps a politician is being charged, they’ll probably use a Grand Jury so it seems less political. The State Attorney says, “Look I didn’t do this. The Grand Jury found probable cause and they indicted him.”

That said, the State Attorney is the advisor to the Grand Jury and it is generally accepted that if the prosecutor wants the Grand Jury to return an indictment, in the great majority of cases, the Grand Jury will do what the prosecutor prefers.

If you learn that a Grand Jury has been convened to discuss some allegation made against you, immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Defense Group for your FREE CONSULTATION.

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407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

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What is an Illegal Search?


This is a very complex question, and the adage that “Every case is different” applies here. The attorneys at The Defense Group spend hours reviewing case law for similar circumstances in order to ask a court to find a search to be illegal.

Oftentimes, evidence can be dismissed when it is determined by the court that the police searched a vehicle, a building or a person illegally. A search is considered illegal if the police have no warrant, lack probable cause that a person is armed, and they are not trying to arrest anyone. Police may enter a building for a search in the case of emergency circumstances–for example, a person calling for help–but this kind of search is extremely limited. If police perform an illegal search, none of the evidence found in that search may be used in court.

Particularly in cases where items seized are critical to the prosecution, the attorneys at The Defense Group file motions to suppress the evidence ion an effort to get the case dismissed.

If you or a loved one suspects that a search was done illegally, contact an attorney at The Defense Group online or call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and we are able to arrange appointments for nights or weekends.


“A lot of our defense work deals around the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. It’s whether or not you were stopped appropriately in your car, and whether or not they searched your car, or your house, or you with sufficient justification. And, with some frequency, we are able to properly defend those by finding that the police simply exceeded their authority.

Many police officers get confused. They forget that they’re law enforcement officers. They think they’re the law. And unless you’ve got a legal justification to stop someone in their car — the fact that it’s 3 am. and they’ve got dark windows and they’re driving in a bad part of town where you consider it to be a high drug area or whatever — doesn’t give you the right to stop them or rouse them and find out what they’re up to.

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407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

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What Is Dual Sovereignty?

Dual Sovereignty Helps Handle State And Federal Crimes
In the case where an action — the crime — violates both state and federal law, dual sovereignty comes into play. This means that, when a crime could potentially be tried in both state and federal court, a decision is made regarding which court will handle it — the sovereignty that decides to drop the case gives up the power to make a decision, allowing the other court to take care of the case. It is important, then, that an accused consults with a Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney. At The Defense Group, we have experience with both courts, in order to better handle a case — no matter which court it is taken to.

CALL US NOW AT  407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090


“It’s possible to have one action violate both a state crime and a federal crime. It’s called the dual sovereignty.  The United States is a sovereign entity.  The State of Florida is a sovereign entity.  Ordinarily, either one or the other will prosecute it and usually it works like this.  If the Feds take it, the State leaves it alone.  If the Feds abandon it to the State, the State makes its own decision whether to prosecute or not, but a federal crime is literally just that.  It’s one which is against the law throughout the United States, may or may not be against the law in Florida.”

Although it is extremely rare, it is possible to face trial in both federal and state courts for a single prosecution. In one case, lawyers at The Defense Group took a drug trafficking case to trial in state court and won. The prosecutor was so upset about losing that he convinced the local US Attorney to charge our client with the federal offense. Although we had prevailed in the Florida courts, our client decided to use other counsel for the federal trial. She lost and went to prison.

Regardless of the jurisdiction, if accused, arrested or even investigated for a felony drug offense, you should reach out immediately for a FREE CONSULTATION with an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Defense Group. Call us at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090.

WE CAN HELP!!

 
What Types of Cases Does the Defense Group Defend?


The Central Florida Defense Lawyers of The Defense Group handle a wide variety of criminal cases, from misdemeanors like petty theft all the way up to murder. Our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys have acted as the defense in numerous drug cases (especially drug trafficking, which carries a minimum mandatory sentence), DUI cases, and domestic violence cases.

We defend virtually all criminal offenses. Misdemeanor offenses are divided in to 1st and 2nd degrees. Felonies are divided in to degrees from 3rd degree (punishable by up to 5 years in prison), 2nd degree (punishable by up to 15 years in prison), 1st degree (punishable by up to 30 years in prison,) 1st degree, PBL (punishable by up to Life in prison,) Life Felony (punishable by Life in prison,) and Capital Felony (punishable by either Life in prison or by the Death Penalty.)

While we have intentionally decided not to take death penalty cases, we handle all other offenses from disorderly conduct to murder. We have in fact handled virtually every kind of criminal offense over the years.

There are some classes of offenses that we represent with greater frequency simply because the number of arrests for these offenses is higher. Because arrests for DUI, drug related offenses, theft related offenses, and crimes of violence (such as domestic battery, aggravated battery or aggravated assault, murder or an attempt at any of these), sex crimes and computer related crimes are among the most common, these are cases we see more frequently. While cases involving a scheme to defraud, white collar crimes, arson, forgery, bribery, etc. are less common, we are still ready to defend them or any other criminal offense.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or are under investigation for any criminal offense in Florida, Contact an attorney at The Defense Group through our online contact form or call us at  407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090 to arrange FREE CONSULTATION. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and we are able to arrange appointments for nights or weekends if necessary.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
When Is The Best Time To Seek A Criminal Defense Attorney


In criminal defense, time can be of the essence. Being able to reach your Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney quickly and efficiently can aid your case, and affect the outcome of it. This is why The Defense Group strives to keep all lines of communication with clients open, even offering bilingual services for Spanish-speaking clients.


“We are available service 24/7/365. If you are a Spanish-speaking client, or even if bi-lingual you are more comfortable conversing in Spanish, we are ready to serve you. We have an attorney who is fully bilingual – and our Senior Legal Assistant is licensed to practice law in Puerto Rico. We have staff members that are fully bilingual and they will be happy to chat with you and make sure that they can talk to you and your witnesses comfortably. If you are an English-speaking client, then we have several options for them. Everyone in our office speaks English.”
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The best time to speak to a criminal defense attorney is as soon as possible. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of speaking to an attorney before you speak to anyone else.

Once you begin to make statements, you are locked in to whatever it is you say. If you change your story later you appear to be dishonest. If you are tricked into making admissions on the record, they are almost impossible to take back.

NEVER, NEVER, EVER, EVER TALK WITH THE POLICE!! No matter how friendly and professional the police officer is, he is not your friend. He or she is just doing their job, but their job is to find someone to arrest and prosecute. If they are talking to you, you run the risk of being that person. An officer will seldom ask you a question, unless it is that officer’s fond hope that your answer will make it possible for him to place you or someone you care about in jail.

Whether you have already been arrested or the police simply stop your vehicle or come to your door, the response should always be the same:

  • Be polite;
  • Be courteous.
  • Salk in a low tone of voice.
  • Be respectful.
  • Politely refuse to have any conversation at all with the officer.
  • Advise the officer that you want to speak with your attorney before engaging in ANY conversation.
  • Don’t fall for the “Good cop-Bad cop” routine.
  • Don’t permit the officer to minimize the possible consequences of talking with them (shaming you about ‘lawyering up’ because he is just trying to figure out what happened and he needs your help.)
  • NEVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH OF YOUR CAR, YOUR PERSON, YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR HOME OR ANYTHING YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER. If the police believe they have the right to search without your consent, they will do so. If you give them consent then they are allowed to search even if it later turns out they had no right to do so.
  • ALWAYS be prepared to exercise your “rights.”
    • The “Right to Remain Silent” is not a right conferred by the police when they give you Miranda Warnings. You woke up with that right. You should always exercise it.
    • The police are trained to ask you questions that will produce answers that do not help you. Don’t try to outsmart them. JUST SHUT UP!

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So, when should you talk to an attorney?  Before you talk to anyone else. As soon as you think you may be a suspect in a criminal event.
It is possible to wait too late to talk to an attorney but it is impossible to seek out advise too early.

Call one of the experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Defense Group at 407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!

 
When Is Marijuana Possession A Felony In Florida?


At What Point Does Florida Law Consider Marijuana Possession A Felony?


Marijuana might just be one of the most debated issues in recent years. While it’s legality keeps being discussed at both the state and federal level, one thing remains true — under both federal and Florida state law, it is not legal. Florida law makes a clear distinction, setting a point at which the person is considered to be holding more of the drug than needed for personal use — at which point, it becomes a felony.

When dealing with cases of drug possession, it is always advisable to consult with a knowledgeable Orlando Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney. The lawyers at the Defense Group are a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys, ready to answer your questions.


“There’s a break point, for example, from misdemeanor to felony — and it has to do with quantity, but that quantity only applies to marijuana.  If you’ve got under 20 grams of marijuana, that’s a misdemeanor — 19.9 grams, maximum penalty a year in jail and maybe $1,000 fine —  20.1 grams you can get 5 years in prison.  There’s got to be a break point.
It may not seem fair for that little bit of a difference, but you’ve got to switch over some place. And the legislature has decided if you’ve got over 20 grams, we’re going to call that a felony — and it’s premised on the assumption that if you’ve got more than 20 grams, you’ve probably got more than you’re using yourself. That doesn’t always hold true. People shop at Costco and they buy cans of goods more than they intend to use in one meal because they get it less per ounce, if you will, whenever they buy it in larger quantities.

You may very well wind up being purely a user, but still having over 20 grams will qualify you for felony sentencing.  There are hundreds of drugs listed in Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes, that are considered controlled substances. Generally, that means that you must possess (and have in your possession proof of) a prescription for the drug you have. The prescription must designate the dosage (5 mg or 20 mg for example). Possession of a controlled substance without immediate possession of the prescription is a formula for arrest. Many of the drugs on this list are considered dangerous enough that the Legislature has passed “trafficking” offenses. This is merely possession of over a certain quantity chosen by the Legislature.  Whether marijuana or another drug, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney f you are arrested for drug offenses.

CALL US NOW!
407-831-1956 or 352-742-9090

WE CAN HELP!!



 
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