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Palm Beach Gardens Criminal Defense Law Blog

Man hit by car was allegedly attacking girlfriend

Allegations of domestic abuse could get you arrested immediately, even though the situation may be complicated. You may have been defending yourself or a victim of a crime, but if the other party makes up a story that the police believe, it could be you fighting for your freedom.

That's why it's so important to work with your attorney as soon as possible. A strong defense can help you protect your rights. Take for example this case involving two people who may have been aggressive toward one another. Although that's the case, only one was arrested.

What should you know about felony charges?

If you're charged with a felony, there are a few things you need to know. First, you have to understand what degree the felony is. Second, you need to know exactly which felony you face. Finally, you need to know if there are any good defenses that you should know about for the alleged criminal act.

Felonies range from third- to first-degree felonies. A first-degree felony is the most serious, while a third-degree felony is less serious. For example, counterfeiting or altering lottery tickets is a third-degree felony in Florida, whereas treason against the state is a first-degree felony.

Signs police look for to make DUI stops

When driving in Florida, you are obligated to adhere to all posted speed limits and existing traffic regulations. Police often make traffic stops with drivers unsure of what particular issues prompted the situation. If you comply with an officer's request to pull over and an officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, you may logically assume he or she suspects you of drunk driving.

Whether you indeed consumed a beer within a few hours of driving or you have no alcohol in your system at all, situations like this often amount to officer's word against yours, and you may have your work cut out for you to try to avoid conviction if prosecutors wind up filing DUI charges against you. Certain driving behaviors alert police officers to possible driver intoxication, and if you know the signs and make good choices, you may be able to avoid legal trouble.

DUIs have long-term consequences that threaten your future

There are many administrative penalties for DUIs, but perhaps more damaging are the penalties that don't come from the law. After a DUI, the charges and potential conviction aren't the only issues you could run into.

It's important to defend yourself against a DUI because of the damage it can do to your reputation. Here are a few ways a conviction could hurt you.

How does domestic violence or accusations affect children?

Domestic violence has a serious effect on children. Even more serious is the effect an unwarranted accusation of domestic violence could have on your life and your children. Imagine them being told that you've done horrible things to their other parent or that they themselves have been victimized without knowing it. Children are impressionable, and accusations could threaten your relationship with yours.

Domestic violence can lead to several issues for children including depression, eating disorders, alcoholism or drug use and criminality. Children exposed to true violence are twice as likely to experience violence when they grow and have adult relationships of their own.

Getting pulled over? Know your rights

You were driving a little recklessly, and you were aware of it. You had too much to drink, but you didn't want to stop. Now, you're seeing flashing lights in your mirror and know you've been caught.

If you're pulled over, you need to know your rights. Taking the right steps now could prevent an arrest or DUI charge in some cases.

Plea bargains can help keep you out of prison

If you're facing trouble with the law, one thing you may want to know more about is a plea bargain. A plea bargain has benefits and downsides. In most cases, a defendant will end up having the opportunity to accept a plea deal; in over 90 percent of convictions, plea bargains were involved. That means that fewer than 10 percent of all charges end up at trial

Plea bargains are important for several reasons. First, they help you limit the time spent on the case, which saves you money. Plea bargains keep individuals out of courts for trial, reducing the overall caseload for the judge and juries. Finally, they help you know exactly which penalties you'll receive, which is safer than going to trial and awaiting an unpredictable outcome.

Facing charges of stalking? You need a serious defense.

In Florida, accusations of stalking are quite serious. If you or a loved one is facing charges or is currently under investigation for this type of crime, you would be prudent to take quick action to defend yourself and your future interests. In many situations, stalking accusations are the result of simple disputes or misunderstandings, but regardless, you have the right to defend yourself.

Florida law considers stalking to be a pattern of actions that falls under the category of malicious behavior. In many cases, this means following one person, calling him or her excessively, showing up at his or her place of work and more. Every stalking case is different, and you have the right to a defense that suits your needs according to the details of your unique case.

Florida legislators seeking changes to drug laws

Legislators in Florida are calling for drug reform, and that reform could be positive for you if you face drug charges. There are bills seeking judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences, which would allow judges more leeway in deciding on a person's sentence. Along with this legislation, lawmakers also hope to increase the total funding for substance abuse treatment. They would like to add another $50 million to the budget for substance abuse treatment alone.

The trouble some are having is that allowing judges to determine minimum sentences or to adjust sentencing per individual could result in public backlash or judgments. There may not be the consistency that is necessary, and that could actually hurt those the bill is there to help. Some individuals, particularly minorities, make up a disproportionate amount of people in trouble for drug crimes, and being able to manipulate mandatory minimums could help reduce the risk of unfair penalties. Unfortunately, without appropriate data collection, it would be hard to tell if those individuals actually were opened to more bias or harsher penalties by removing a minimum requirement.

Double jeopardy protections prevent multiple trials against you

Double jeopardy protection is an important protection for people accused of crimes. This protection prevents you from facing trial twice for the same or similar charges based on the same facts following a conviction or acquittal. This right is given to individuals in the Fifth Amendment of the United States.

Not all cases qualify for double jeopardy protection. For example, if a proceeding doesn't put you in jeopardy of a conviction, it doesn't count. Double jeopardy protection applies to felonies, juvenile delinquency cases and misdemeanors.

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