Once the state charges you with a crime, you are in “the system.” This process often includes arrests, bookings, first appearances, pre-trial hearings, and maybe even pre-trial jail time. The prosecutors’ jobs are to make their cases quickly. They have nothing to lose if you fail to retain skilled counsel, and everything to gain. They use tactics—like intimidation and anti-defendant plea bargains—to move their cases. You are just a case file to them—but to quality defense lawyers, you are so much more. The counsel of a criminal defense lawyer is your constitutional right, but choosing a skilled Florida defense attorney is your key. It opens the door to an excellent defense, which can lead to significantly lessened charges or even a dismissal.
What Is at Stake?
All criminal charges are serious. But what’s at stake depends on the nature of your charges: Are they misdemeanor or felony charges, or both? With any charge—despite how small it may seem—you stand to lose something, and the loss is probably greater than you realize. Quickly retaining skilled counsel will help you minimize these risks.
In Florida, misdemeanors are any crimes for which the maximum punishment is one year in jail or less. Still, misdemeanors are crimes, which means they can include arrests, fingerprints and booking, missed work, a criminal record, etc.
Florida law provides for two categories of misdemeanors: first and second degree. The maximum penalty that the state can impose for any particular misdemeanor crime determines its degree. A first-degree misdemeanor levies a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Second-degree misdemeanors subject defendants to maximum penalties of 60 days in jail and $500 fines.
Examples of Florida’s first degree misdemeanors include:
- DUI/drunk driving
- Driving with a suspended license (second offense)
- Reckless driving
- Marijuana possession (less than 20 grams)
- Examples of Florida’s second degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple trespass
- Lack of valid driver’s license
- Driving on a suspended license with knowledge
- Harassing phone calls
In Florida, felonies carry minimum penalties of more than one year in jail and thus constitute more serious crimes. In these cases, retaining skilled counsel will almost always make the difference between imprisonment and freedom.
Examples of felonies include:
- Drug possession (except marijuana)
- Sex crimes
- Child abuse
In Florida, penalties for some felonies include life imprisonment and execution. The sooner you retain skilled counsel, the better. With each passing day, lawyers can do less and less to help you.
All Florida crimes are defined by statute. Find them here. (Title XLVI, Chapters 775–896)
License suspension: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for six months to one year (even in the absence of a conviction, if you refuse a chemical test).
Jail time: Your maximum possible jail time depends on factors other than the mere offense of intoxication:
- Six months for a standard DUI
- Nine months for blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more
- Nine months for having any passengers 18 or younger
- One year, if the accident caused property damage or minor injuries
- A standard, first-offense DUI: $500 to $1,000
- If your BAC tested 0.15 percent or more, or a passenger younger than 18 years old was present: $1,000 to $2,000.
- DUIs where you inflicted serious bodily injury on another: as much as $5,000.
In addition, you will probably face probation, community service, ignition interlock device requirements (IID), and vehicle impoundment.
What Can a Lawyer Do for My DUI?
If the state has charged you with a crime, don’t wait! A lawyer may do more for you than you realize. Our experienced legal team at Meldon Law has many ways to defend against DUI charges, which may reduce or dismiss them altogether.
Experienced lawyers may, for example, enter some affirmatives defenses on your behalf. An affirmative defense allows your lawyer to show that, although you admit to driving while impaired, the offense was necessary, unavoidable, or less bad in light of other circumstances. In certain cases, successfully arguing these defenses can significantly reduce the penalty. Examples include:
- Driving was necessary to prevent some greater evil
- Driving was necessary to escape serious bodily injury or death
- The driver did not know she ingested an intoxicating substance (for example, she drank spiked punch at a party)
- The driver has an honest belief that he was sober (that, for example, he took a prescribed medication but believed the effects wore off)
Furthermore, police officers can make mistakes—in the course of their stops—that hamper the ability of the state to prosecute you. Examples include improper stops, inaccurate field sobriety tests, improper training for administering field tests, etc. Experienced attorneys understand all of these defenses and will help you mount the best defense possible.
Financing available. Attorney referrals accepted.
Don’t Wait—Call Meldon Law Today.
Defendants often accept bad plea deals simply because they failed to hire quality legal representation to protect them. Don’t make that mistake.
Contact us at our Gainesville or Fort Lauderdale law offices today. We handle cases in Ocala, the Greater Gainesville area, and ALL of central and south Florida, including Miami-Dade County.
They have also recently written the DUI Guide Book for South Florida, Ways to Possibly Avoid A DUI Charge or Conviction. You can request your free copy today. This book, written by these experienced DUI defense criminal trial lawyers, gives insight into what a DUI charge is, what it takes to be over the legal limit, ways the State can prove the charge, and possible legal defenses.
703 North Main Street Suite A
Gainesville, FL 32601
Phone: (352) 614-4007
Fax: (352) 373-8400
Office Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm
FORT LAUDERDALE OFFICE
1 East Broward Blvd #730
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Phone: (888) 441-1191
Fax: (352) 373-8400
Office Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm
24- hour answering service is available in both offices.