Questions and Answers About South Florida DUI, Criminal, Domestic Violence Cases and Home Insurance Claims
Many of those charged with a crime in Florida have little experience with the law, and they naturally have many questions. From information about how the local legal system works to the possible consequences of your charge, find answers to many common questions here.
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Can a criminal no contact order be modified?
Yes, criminal no contact orders can be modified or dismissed by the judge. However in order for this to happen, the alleged victim will have to appear in court to explain to the judge why he/she wants the no contact order either modified or dismissed.
Even if the alleged victim asks for the no contact order to be modified, the judge can still say no. This is likely to happen if there is a longstanding history of abuse between the parties. If that is the case, it could even result in more anger management sanctions on the defendant.
What is Batter’s Intervention Program?
Batter’s Intervention Program is a 26-week course designed to address the root causes of domestic violence and prevent participants from committing acts of domestic violence in the future.
It is monitored by the Department of Children and Families and costs between $700 and $1,000 to complete.
To get into batter’s intervention program you have to go through an initial assessment, which includes a psychosocial evaluation, to determine if you need any additional mental health or substance abuse treatment.
You also have to sign a contract admitting responsibility for your actions and follow strict rules on class behavior and attendance.
There’s a one-time orientation followed by 26 straight weeks of group counseling sessions.
If you are interested in learning more about batter’s intervention program, or how it applies to your specific case, give us a call at 754-999-2499.
What are the penalties for violating a criminal no contact order?
The consequences for violating a no contact order are not good.
The state attorney could file a separate criminal charge against you for violating the order, which is considered a misdemeanor crime.
The judge could hold you in contempt of court for violating the order.
Or, if your criminal case is still pending, the judge could revoke your bond—meaning you’d go back to jail.
If you’re on probation and you violate the order, it’s considered a violation of probation—meaning your probation will be revoked and you’re looking at the maximum sentence.
If you have violated a no contact order, or are worried about violating one, call our office at 754-999-2499 so we can help you figure out the best course of action for you.
What is the difference between a restraining order and a no contact order?
While both a restraining order and a no contact order mean you have to stay away from a particular person, they are still very different. A restraining order is civil and it’s own separate case against you, where as a no contact order is pursuant to a criminal case against you.
Let’s say you have a domestic violence charge against you. That is a criminal charge, and the judge is most likely going to issue a no contact order. The longest it can last is for the duration of the case plus 12 months of probation after the case is over.
A restraining order is a separate action altogether. If someone files a restraining order against you and the judge grants it, it can last for as long as the judge decides—even if that means forever.
Another important difference to note is that with a no contact order you don’t lose your access to guns, where as if a restraining order is granted against you, you are no longer able to have any guns.
What is a no contact order?
If you’ve been arrested for any domestic violence charge, there is usually a no contact order issued against you. The court issues this order in order to protect the alleged victim.
Under a no contact order you are prohibited from going within a set distance, usually 500 feet, from the victim’s home, place of work, or any other place they are likely to be.
It’s very important that you not violate a no contact order because it will only make things worse for you. You can violate the order by phone, over the computer, or third party contact on your behalf. But the bottom line is don’t do it. It will cause you more problems and make defending your case a lot more difficult.
What is a civil restraining order?
A civil restraining order is a court order used to protect people from another person. There are many different types of restraining orders. They can be issued for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, repeat violence, or stalking.
If a restraining order has been granted against you, you cannot go within a certain distance of the person who filed the order against you for as long as the order stipulates. This could be for a week, a month, a year, or even forever.
You won’t be able to call, email, text, or go through third parties to contact this person.
If there is a restraining order against you, by law you can no longer own or possess any firearms. Having a restraining order against you can also hurt your ability to move, or get a job.
If a restraining order has been filed against you, get in touch with our firm for a free strategy session to see how we can help you.
What’s the difference between a public defender and a private attorney?
The biggest differences are time and resources.
A public defender is employed by the state. They are required to take every case assigned to them. What does that mean? They have a HUGE caseload. They might be assigned to upwards of 200 cases at a time. And the more cases they have, the less time they are going to spend on yours. They might miss a critical element just because they’re so bogged down with other cases. Also—a public defender gets paid the same amount no matter how many cases they get stuck with, or how many cases they win/lose. They don’t have the same incentive to help you. They don’t have a business based on referrals.
You want someone who has a long-term interest in your success, and unfortunately, public defenders don’t.
Public defenders also have fewer resources. Their means of helping you are limited by what the state gives them access to. They don’t have an array of superior resources available such as private investigators, the way a private attorney does.
The best legal defenses take time and research. That’s why you are better off going with a private criminal attorney –one who can devote as much time as is necessary to win your case, and who has the resources to get the job done right.
The police didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. What does that mean for my case?
After an arrest a lot of clients will come in telling me that the police didn’t read them their Miranda Rights, and want to know what whether that will help their case. The thing with Miranda Rights is that they don’t kick in right away.
The cops are required by law to read you your Miranda Rights before conducting a “custodial investigation.” What does that mean? It means that you have to be in a situation where: 1) You’re not free to leave, 2) You’re being asked questions by a government agent (a cop), and 3) The questions you’re being asked would get an incriminating response out of you. So if the cops arrest you without asking you any questions, technically they don’t have to read you your Miranda Rights.
Now, of course there are times when the cops don’t read your Miranda Rights when they’re supposed to, and that’s another reason why you need an attorney. An attorney will tell you when you’re rights have been violated based on the information you provide.
I got a call from a police officer wanting to talk about a situation, what do I do?
If the police are calling wanting to talk to you about a situation, you want to call a criminal lawyer right away. I get this question very often, and no matter how friendly the officer may sound on the phone I cannot stress enough that you DO NOT WANT TO SPEAK WITH THEM. Don’t call them back until you have an attorney.
Whatever they say will be used against you. And they will use tactics to get information out of you.
For example, let’s say the cops call you regarding a domestic violence charge and you say “Yeah, I was there but he/she is making it all up to get custody of the kids.” This does way more damage then you think.
Your first mistake is that you just admitted you were there. The prosecution is required to prove that you were at the scene of the crime in every single case and you just did their job for them.
Your second mistake is that you just limited your defense. Stand Your Ground and self-defense laws in Florida are very defendant-friendly, but based on what you said to the cop they are no longer applicable to your case.
It’s impossible to know you’re making these critical mistakes if you don’t know the ins and outs of the law. That’s why your absolute best bet in this situation is to call and attorney. A good criminal defense attorney will make sure the police don’t trick you into giving up important information that will hurt you. Also – anything your lawyer says to the cops CAN’T be used against you.
We can advocate on your behalf. In some cases I’ve been able to convince the officer to close out a case as unfounded without an arrest.
Can I represent myself?
You can represent yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The legal system can be very complicated to navigate. There are all sorts of documents that need to be filed, and court and criminal procedures in place that you need to comply with. It’s not something you learn overnight, and you don’t want to let lack of knowledge, or failure to comply with a simple procedural rule hurt your case in any way. Good attorneys undergo years of training and experience. Through this experience we have acquired the tools and resources you need to best defend your case. Schedule a complimentary strategy session with my firm and we’ll go through your case with you to help you figure out the best way forward.
How do I choose the right criminal attorney?
There are two key factors to focus on: rating and reviews. Reading about the experiences of former clients will give you a good idea of who the attorney is, how well he treats his clients, and how he handles his cases. I recommend using Avvo.com, which is an excellent attorney directory. Google is also a great source for local reviews.
Once you’ve found a couple of highly rated attorneys in your area, definitely set up an initial consultation to discuss your case. During this consultation the lawyer should be focused on educating you about the process and coming up with a solid plan of attack for your defense.
*THERE SHOULDN’T BE ANYTHING HIDING BEHIND THE CURTAIN. THE BEST LAWYERS WILL LAY OUT THE FULL PLAN OF ATTACK RIGHT AWAY INSTEAD OF GIVING YOU A SLIVER OF INFO AND PRESSURING YOU INTO HIRING THEM ON THE SPOT.
What do I do if a loved one is arrested?
Having a loved one arrested is not easy. It’s an emotional and difficult time. That’s why I’ve broken it down to 5 simple steps you can take to offer your loved one the best help possible.
- Call an attorney so that they can help you every step of the way. The right attorney has a team of paralegals, bondsman, investigators, expert witnesses, therapists, and resources you need to help you and ensure your loved one has the best defense possible.
- Get the person out of jail. This can be done either by paying the full bond amount at the jail, or by calling a bail bondsman and paying 10% for them to bail you out. If you pay the full bond to the jail, that money will either be returned to you when the case is over, or it will be transferred to pay for court costs. The money you pay to a bail bondsman, you don’t get back and that is their fee for bonding the person out of jail.
- Once the person is out of jail, make sure he/she writes down very specific details about what happened. Criminal cases can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months depending on the seriousness of the case. Over time, memories can fade and it’s important to put everything you remember into writing. The police officers are trained to write their reports with very specific details to help them remember months later at a deposition, motion or trial. You should do the same.
- Gather a list of any potential witnesses and evidence – Often times, police officers don’t conduct a full and complete investigation. Instead of trying to find out the truth of what happened, they will try to make a quick arrest to close the case. It’s essential to immediately speak to defense witnesses, take pictures of the scene, request 911 calls and prepare for your defense.
- Hel them get back to their normal life – After being arrested, it’s very important a person resume their normal daily life - work, school, or taking care of family.