Although Florida added a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana, the possession of marijuana without a medical card is still a criminal offense. Possession of less than twenty (20) grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine. Simple possession of over twenty (20) grams is felony with up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
In criminal defense a common question is whether a deferred prosecution and a deferred adjudication mean the same or are different. Jurisdictions use different language for similar or even the same legal concepts. This can make legalese confusing for those new to the criminal justice system or the geography.
In Florida, a person can seal or expunge criminal records but only once in a lifetime and only if the charge(s) qualifies. Not all charges can be sealed or expunged. The Petition to Expunge or Seal must be filed in the county where the case originated. In Florida, expunging a case or sealing an arrest or case are different things.
In criminal and traffic defense a common complaint from an accused individual or their family is that the arrest affidavit, arrest report, accident report or citation contains one or more errors. For example, if there is a DUI accusation with a child in the car but the officer marks on the DUI citation that there were no passengers under the age of 18 or marking "no injury" on a traffic ticket in a case involving a near fatality. (actual examples). The ugly truth is that the police, deputies and troopers filling out these documents are people too and they make mistakes. Unfotunately, typographical or similar errors will usually not lead to a case being dismissed.
The term 'Statute of Limitations' (SOL) refers to the time period under which a case can be brought. If the time passes, then the SOL operates to bar the case and the plaintiff is out of luck. There is a SOL for almost every type of case. In criminal cases, the time limit is expressed in a term of years depending on the offense. Sometimes people feel that if it took several months to receive a criminal citation, then that should be enough to have the case dismissed. Unfortunately, so long as prosecution is started within the time frame allowed then, a delay of several months will not win the matter.
In a criminal case, it is not uncommon for a person accused of a crime for the first time to want to keep their record clean or not have a criminal record whatsoever at the conclusion of the case. Unfortunately, if there has been an arrest or the officer instead issued a Notice to Appear, sometimes referred to as a written arrest, then there is already a record. That record will be that the person stands accused of whatever charge the police suggested.
Though the Stand Your Ground law was enacted a few years ago, the burden of proof had never been ultimately decided by the Florida Supreme Court. The procedure in a Motion to Dismiss based upon immunity had been established.
A frustrating issue defending those accused of Driving Under the Influence or DUI, has been the lack of a definition of the word "impaired" in the standard jury instructions. Without a breath, blood or urine result or sample the State of Florida must prove that the person is "impaired" in order to convict a person of DUI. This is especially true if the accused is DUI by drugs or prescriptions. However, the Florida Supreme Court in issuing jury instructions has sought fit to leave the word "impaired" undefined.
Whether "keep and bear" arms means to openly carry or carry at all has been debated. However, it is a criminal offense to open carry in Florida. As with most things in the law, there are exceptions. For example, if a person is engaged in or going to or from hunting, fishing, camping or on a target range, that person can openly carry. These exceptions are affirmative defenses. There is also the obvious cop exception. Recently, an appellate court decided whether Florida's prohibition on the open carrying of firearms was in violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Domestic violence has made a lot of headlines recently and by now most of us have seen the ads the NFL felt compelled to bombard us with. My office defends those accused of the criminal charge of domestic violence but we also represent victims seeking injunctions and proceeding with divorce or dissolution of marriage.