No parent ever plans to receive that call, but it happens to thousands of parents in the United States each year. You receive a call informing you that your child has been arrested. Instantly, you are overwhelmed with what to do – this is normal. Most individuals are not aware of what steps to take immediately after their child’s arrest. But, the actions you take could make a difference.
Steps to Take After the Arrest
Naturally, the best way to ward off trouble is to be aware of your child’s actions and where he or she is at all times. Even the best parents have trouble keeping track of their teenagers, however, and not all teenagers are forthcoming about their intentions with their parents. Once the arrest occurs, here is what you need to do:
- Realize that even good kids can get in trouble. Just because your child has been arrested does not mean that this will become an ongoing issue, or even that your child is bad. Even good children are arrested. Your child could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time – so never assume the worse.
- The police are not on your side. No matter what law enforcement tries to tell you, the police are not on your side. When you arrive at the police station, do not assume that the police officers will help you set your child free or that they even care if your child goes free. Police officers will not care what a great student your child is or how great his or her performance record has been in the past. Instead, they are only concerned with the facts of the case here and now. Do not disclose anything to law enforcement, even if they attempt to say they are on your side or understand what you are going through. Anything you say could still be used to hurt your child’s case.
- Be respectful and cooperate as much as you can. While police are not on your side, the worst thing you could do for your child is be disrespectful to law enforcement or appear as though you are not cooperating. While you don’t have to give them every detail, you will need to provide them with your name and identification. You also need to remain calm, regardless of how heightened emotions may be. Always be respectful, calm and polite each time you speak with police – even if you are telling them that they cannot search your home without a warrant.
- You may have limited rights. As a parent, you may still have limited rights. Sometimes a parent can be present for questioning, but, depending on your child’s age, you may be barred from entering the interrogation room.
- Contact an attorney. Regardless of what the crime may be, or even if you think your child is innocent, contact an attorney who has experience with juvenile crimes.
Contact a Jacksonville Attorney
If your child or teen has been arrested for a crime, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today. We can assist you with your juvenile crime case. Schedule a consultation or call us to be there during your child’s interrogation at 904-356-8618. You can also fill out our online contact form with your questions.Read More
The “insanity” defense is widely used in TV dramas and is popular among court cases shown in local and national news. While it seems like a quick way to get away with a crime, claiming insanity as a defense is much more complex – and unrealistic – than people realize.
One accused of a crime may acknowledge that he committed the crime, but argues that he is not responsible for doing so because of a mental illness. In these cases, he is pleading “not guilty by reason of insanity.”
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity and Diminished Capacity
While the defense is based on a person’s diminished capacity, this is not the same as “reason of insanity.” Both will assess the overall competency of the defendant, but there are key differences that must be noted if you plan to use such defense in your own case.
The biggest difference is that the “reason of insanity” defense is a full defense. In other words, you are pleading not guilty because you lacked the mental capacity to understand your actions or realize what you were doing was wrong. Diminished capacity is not a full defense. Instead, you are pleading guilty, but to a lesser crime, because of your diminished mental capacity.
The History of Such Defense
This defense is not new – in fact, it has been around for some time. Society has mixed feelings on the insanity defense; in the legal field, it has been an ongoing topic of debate. On one hand, many feel that criminals should be punished for their crimes, but not when they need treatment. On the other hand, many also feel that, just because some criminals need treatment, this should not necessarily mean that they can get away with their actions without punishment. Instead, it is preferred that they receive treatment and be held accountable for their crimes.
The M’Naghten Rule
A legal test for insanity was devised in 1843 in the M’Naghten case. When the defendant used the insanity defense and was acquitted, the Queen of England demanded that a stricter set of rules be used to decide if a defendant was truly insane at the time when the crime was committed.
This standard is now used by jurors across the country. They will hear medical testimony regarding the defendant’s state of mind and, unless otherwise convinced that the defendant truly suffered from a mental condition or illness, the defendant will be found sane.
Insanity Defenses Do Not Mean You Go Free
Even if one is acquitted of a crime for insanity, that person is not necessarily freed. Instead, one will be institutionalized until the facility feels that the defendant is no longer suffering from mental illness, or a threat to society. Some individuals could spend the rest of their lives in a mental health facility receiving treatment.
It is Best to Devise a Defense Strategy with an Attorney
You will need to discuss your own defense strategy with a criminal attorney. Even if you feel that you had diminished capacity or a mental illness, your attorney will help you decide if that is the right strategy to use in your own defense. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today regarding your case. We’re available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at 904-356-8618 or via our online contact form.Read More
When you are looking for a DUI attorney in Florida, you will most likely speak with a few attorneys before picking one to represent you. Consultations, which are typically free, are the best way to get to know a prospective attorney – and to decide if he or she is the right fit for your case. The best and most qualified attorneys will always welcome and appreciate client questions. It is important to remember that while you are interviewing the attorney, he is also interviewing you, since he will need to decide if he can take the case.
To get the most out of your consultation and ensure that you’re hiring the best DUI attorney, you need to know which questions to ask. This way, you can make an informed, calculated decision.
Questions to Ask When Narrowing Down Your Choices
These questions will help you to narrow down your choices and pick the right attorney for your case:
- How many years have you been in practice? This is very important. Newer attorneys do not always know the tactics of state attorneys when prosecuting DUI cases. You want an attorney who has several years of experience – more specifically, several years defending DUI cases.
- How much experience do you have with DUI cases? An attorney with 20 years of experience may not have 20 years of DUI defense experience. Some attorneys just dabble in DUI defenses to earn a little extra for the year. You want to know how competent the attorney is in DUI offenses specifically, and how many years, as well as the number of successful cases, he or she possesses in this area.
- Do you have experience with a case like mine? Every case is different and there are circumstances that will make your case unique. You want to know if your prospective attorney has had experience with cases that are similar to yours in order to do the job right.
- Who will be handling my case? This is critical. When you deal with larger firms, you may meet with a named partner in the firm, but that named partner may not be the person you actually have handling your case. Often, cases are handed off to other attorneys in the office, with the majority of your communications handled through a paralegal, rather than your attorney. Knowing who you will interact with, as well as who will represent you in court, is very important.
- What do you predict for my case? While no attorney can predict the future, a good attorney will be honest and upfront about what to expect in your case. He or she can give you an idea of what penalties you are likely to encounter and which negotiations are reasonable. This is very important to ask, because any attorney who cannot give you an honest expectation may not be an attorney you want representing your claim.
Speak with a Florida DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. We can assist you with your case and give you the opportunity to meet with an attorney through a no-obligation consultation. Call now at 904-356-8618 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.Read More
In Florida, there is a criminal process that must be followed in all cases – including domestic violence. If you are accused of domestic violence, a state attorney may charge you with an accusation of crime using one of two ways:
- Filing and information, or
- Impaneling a grand jury to return a true bill.
What is important to realize is that if you are arrested, law enforcement is not in charge of the criminal process. They arrest you for the alleged crime, but they cannot charge you with the crime. Instead, the state attorney or assistants must make charges in criminal cases.
The Accusatory Process
Domestic violence cases are very complex. It will start with a complaint – whether it is from a spouse or domestic partner – to the local police. The police will investigate and may bring you in for questioning. It is important that, at this stage, you contact a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can ensure that you do not self-incriminate during the questioning process. He or she can also ensure that you are not being accused of a crime which you did not commit. Sometimes, allegations of domestic violence come about out of spite; even so, there is often limited evidence to prove the case other than the alleged victim’s testimony.
After you have been arraigned for domestic violence, you will be entitled to a reasonable bond. This amount is set by the court. Generally, you will need to post bond with the court, where the bond is a binding agreement to pay money if you do not appear for your scheduled court date. Bonds can be cash or a surety – depending on the bond total and the judge’s discretion. Surety bonds require the assistance of a bondsman. This individual will file a bond with the court on your behalf, which guarantees your appearance. If you are arrested for additional offenses after the bond, your original bond can be revoked without notice.
After your first appearance, your attorney will assist you with the bond process and can advise you as to which method is best, depending on the charges and bond amount set by the court.
Case Filing Decision
The state’s attorney office will review the case filing package on your case, typically within two weeks of your arrest. If you are already in custody for the domestic violence case, then they may make their decision within 21 days. If you are not in custody, the actual decision will take 30 days to finalize. Once the state has enough information, the Clerk’s Office will post the charges; you will then be notified of your arraignment date.
Defending Your Case
Domestic violence cases are very complex. Additionally, there are many emotions involved in these types of cases. It is important that you have a criminal defense team by your side that understands these cases, as well as the process in which you will be charged. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today regarding your domestic violence arrest. You can schedule a consultation 24 hours a day by calling 904-356-8618 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.Read More
If you are charged with a DUI in Florida, you not only face jail time, but may face penalties, attorney’s fees or fines. Determining the cost of your own DUI will depend on numerous factors – especially if you are facing subsequent charges in addition to the DUI. The costs will also vary depending on the caliber of attorney you hire, and whether or not he or she can negotiate a lesser charge.
Aside from the social stigma of a DUI conviction, there is a huge financial burden that most people do not realize. In Florida, it is considered a DUI offense to drive, attempt to drive, or be in charge of a vehicle on a public road when you have a blood or urine alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. Therefore, you could be charged with a DUI even if you are not physically driving the car, or, for example, if it is parked and running on a public street.
What are the Fines and Fees Associated with a DUI in Florida?
The penalties for a DUI in Florida will vary depending on the offense, but the following generally apply:
- First Offense: Fines and penalties range from $500 to as high as $2,000.
- Second Offense: Fines and penalties range from $1,000 to as high as $4,000.
- Third Offense: Fines and penalties range from $2,000 to $5,000.
It Is Not Just the Fines and Penalties
While you will pay fines and penalties, these are not the only costs associated with a DUI. You may face jail time – which costs you money. You will also be required to install an interlock ignition device (IID), which comes with an installation and monthly fee. You will also be responsible for maintaining and servicing the IID.
For the first offense, you can face six to nine months in jail. Your third offense, however, carries up to one year in prison. Also, your license will be suspended, which means that you will encounter further costs in public transportation or ride-sharing with others until you have a license to drive.
It Is Not Just the Financial Burden
Most people do not realize the burden that comes with a DUI conviction. If convicted, you will have a criminal record, which must be disclosed on job applications. Even if your DUI happened three years ago, it could affect your ability to get a job – especially if that job requires driving, or if your employer needs to insure you.
Speak with a DUI Defense Attorney
To avoid the harsh penalties, jail time and other burdens associated with a DUI conviction, contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. can assist you with your case. Call us to schedule a consultation 24 hours per day, seven days per week at 904-356-8618 or fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.Read More
In the United States, you are entitled to your privacy. You are also entitled to protections from government intrusions, but there are limits to such privacies. State and federal officers are allowed to search your premise, car and other property in order to obtain illegal items or evidence of a crime. However, they must follow specific rules when exercising this right.
What Police Are Allowed to Do
Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, police and federal officers are allowed to engage in reasonable searches and seizures of your personal property. In order to prove that their search is “reasonable,” they must show that it is likely a crime has occurred and a search will find the evidence of that crime – known as probable cause. In some situations, the police must first prove their reasonable suspicion to a judge and then receive a warrant from that judge before their search can be carried out. However, police are not required by the law to have a search warrant while conducting a search.
Police are also allowed to search and seize items when they believe there is no legitimate expectation of privacy. For example, if you do not have a private interest in the items, police can take them. Determining if you had an expectation of privacy can be complicated to determine. If you have incriminating evidence in plain view – meaning police officers do not have to search for it because they can clearly see it – you may have no expectation of privacy. Also, storing items in public places are considered no longer private; therefore, police can search and seize items in public without a warrant.
Police are also allowed to use first-hand information or tips to justify their search of your property. But, police are required to prove that the information they used was reliable before they conduct their search. They cannot just take the word of an individual without verifying the information.
Lastly, police are allowed to extend their search with or without a warrant if:
- They feel it is necessary to protect the safety of others
- They feel it will prevent the destruction of evidence
- They discover more evidence that is in plain view
What Police Cannot Do
It may seem as though police can do a lot when it comes to searching your private property and items, but they have plenty of restrictions as well. Just some of the things police officers cannot do include:
- They cannot perform a warrantless search if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that area.
- If the evidence was obtained through an unreasonable search or illegal search, that evidence cannot be used against you in court.
- Police cannot use evidence that results from an illegal search to look for more evidence.
- Police cannot search your vehicle unless they have a reasonable suspicion it contains evidence or illegal items – if they confiscate the car, they can search it.
- Unless the police have reasonable suspicion that you were involved in a crime, they cannot search your person.
- Police cannot obtain a search warrant on false information and they must believe in the statements presented to the judge as evidence for a warrant.
Were Your Rights Violated? Contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney
While police know what laws they must obey, it doesn’t mean they always follow them. If you feel you were subjected to an unlawful search or seizure, you need a criminal defense attorney to assist you with your case. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today. We can assist you with your defense. To schedule a consultation 24 hours per day, call 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.Read More
The double jeopardy protection is spelled out in the United States Constitution. It protects a defendant from being charged with the same crime more than once – but there are exceptions to this rule. Not all cases qualify for double jeopardy and there are instances where a person can be charged with the same crime even after they have been acquitted the first time. Therefore, it is important that you understand how this protection works, the eligibility requirements, etc.
The Basics of Double Jeopardy
Double Jeopardy is a clause in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. It provides that no person shall be charged with the same offense twice. Most states have guarantees that defendants will not appear in a court for the same crime more than once – and even those states that do not express this guarantee will follow the protection of the Fifth Amendment.
The reason for double jeopardy is complex, but includes the following:
- It prevents the government from using its resources to wear down innocent individuals and convict them.
- It protects individuals from the financial and emotional turmoil of multiple prosecutions for the same crime.
- It preserves the finality of criminal proceedings.
- It restricts prosecutorial discretion.
- It eliminates judicial discretion to impose punishments that are not prohibited by law.
Does My Case Qualify for Double Jeopardy?
There are only specific types of cases that will qualify for this constitutional protection. If a particular proceeding doesn’t place an individual in jeopardy, then subsequent proceedings are allowed – and it is no violation of their rights.
The Supreme Court has established that the right of double jeopardy is not limited to capital crimes; instead, the protection extends to all felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile delinquency adjudications – regardless of the punishment.
Also, it is not a question of if jeopardy has attached, but of when jeopardy attaches to a case. This is a critical question because the government can take actions before it attaches, such as dismissing an indictment to prevent double jeopardy. In a jury trial, jeopardy attaches once the jury is sworn in. For bench trials (trials without a jury), jeopardy will attach only when the first witness is sworn in. If the defendant accepts a plea with the prosecution, jeopardy does not attach until that plea has been accepted by the court.
It is important to remember that jeopardy only protects you from the same offense – and what the same offense may be can be easily skewed by the law. State and federal courts will first determine if the same facts have already been litigated and if the case is the same transaction. If they feel it is not, you could be charged with other crimes associated with a crime for which you have already been acquitted.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a crime and you feel that jeopardy attaches to your crime, you need an attorney. Contact the Jacksonville criminal defense team at The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today. Call us for your consultation at 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.Read More
It says it in the Miranda Warning: you have the right to remain silent and you have the right to an attorney. This warning is a staple in police shows on television, but it is also something that is said in real life to inform a suspect or individual being arrested of their rights. If you are being arrested, you do not have to speak to the officers and you can request counsel. Even if you cannot afford such representation, you have the right to legal counsel and the courts will provide you with such counsel. The criminal justice system, however, can be complex, and understanding how your rights work and how to invoke those rights is not always as clear.
Invoking Your Right to an Attorney
Police will often ask if you will waive your right to counsel and speak with them – telling you your chances are better if you just settle the matter. You may feel that if you want to prove your innocence, you shouldn’t ask for an attorney. This is not the case.
It is imperative that you always have an attorney present any time you are being questioned by the police. This is even truer if you are innocent. Attorneys know the legal system and know how to handle police interrogations. Your attorney can inform you of every step you will face in the arrest and arraignment process and they will also ensure that you do not incriminate yourself accidentally.
Even if you have waived your right to an attorney earlier on in the conversation, you can invoke your right at any time. You can tell the questioner that you will not answer any more questions until counsel is present – and you will need to inform them that you wish to contact an attorney.
What if You Cannot Afford an Attorney?
You do not have to be of high financial means to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one or do not have one, a court-appointed attorney will be provided to you for counsel. This individual may not arrive as quickly as a private attorney and sometimes it can take as many as 24 hours to meet with one.
What an Attorney Does for You
In a criminal case, your attorney works as your advocate. They are there to protect you from the start all the way until the end. They work on your behalf and look out for your best interests – no matter what. Your attorney will explain to you what you are being charged with, potential penalties you could face and how the court process will pan out based on the type of case. Your attorney will be present during questioning and ensure your civil rights are not violated.
If you go to trial, your attorney will work to negotiate an ideal plea bargain or argue your case in court – proving your innocence.
Do Not Underestimate the Power of an Attorney – Contact One Now
If you have been arrested or you are being questioned by the police, contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney right away. An experienced attorney advocating on your behalf is critical. Call The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today at 904-356-8618 to schedule a consultation or ask a question online.Read More
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), there are classifications for drugs in the United States comprised of five schedules. These schedules are based on the potential for abuse and if the drug has been accepted for medical purposes or not. Each schedule is governed by different rules regarding the sale, possession, use and production of those drugs in that schedule. The punishment will depend on the schedule of the drug.
The Federal Drug Schedules
These drug schedules are critical in a criminal defense case. If you are found in possession with the wrong classification of a drug, you could face more serious penalties. The schedules include:
- Schedule I – These are at a high risk for abuse and dependency. There is no medical use for these drugs and possession of them can lead to very strict penalties. Schedule I drugs can include things like psychedelics, heroin, and cannabis.
- Schedule II – These drugs also have a higher potential for abuse and dependency, but unlike Schedule I, these drugs are allowed in medical practices. These can be issued under a legal medical prescription, but are heavily regulated. Some examples of Schedule II drugs can include morphine, methadone, Adderall and Ritalin.
- Schedule III – Schedule III drugs are moderate in terms of abuse and dependency and are not as heavily regulated as Schedule II. They are used in acceptable medical practices and you can be issued a legal prescription for Schedule III drugs. These drugs include things like Marinol, ketamine and steroids.
- Schedule IV – There is a low potential for abuse and dependency with Schedule IV drugs and they are used in medical practices. Some examples of Schedule IV medications include Xanax, Ambien and Valium.
- Schedule V – These are even lower for abuse and dependency and have accepted medical practices. They can include cough syrups with codeine.
Being in possession of a Scheduled drug will determine the penalties you can face if you go to court. Schedule III, IV and V drugs are all accepted in medical practices and if you have a valid prescription, you cannot be charged with a drug crime. If, however, you don’t have a prescription, you could be charged with possession – and depending on the volume, you could have possession with intent to distribute.
In Florida, scheduled drugs are governed under Florida Statute Section 893.03. The penalties for possession of CDS will depend on the type of drug and the amount of that substance found. The penalty can be the same regardless if possession was actual or just constructive. Some drug offenses carry felony charges, while others may carry only a misdemeanor charge.
If you are found in possession of a Schedule I drug, you will face a felony of the first degree and you can face up to 30 years in prison.
Arrested for a Drug Crime? Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a drug crime – whether you are found with Schedule I or even Schedule IV drugs – you need to contact an attorney. The penalties for drug offenses are harsh in the state and you could face several years in prison. Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today for a consultation at 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form.Read More
You have seen plenty on the news these days regarding guns used in violent crimes and politicians questioning gun control. But, no one seems to address just where these guns used in crimes come from. As far as the state is concerned, more guns mean more crime. Some states are already taking action (according to a recent Washington Post article) to enact stricter gun control laws to limit how guns are purchased and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. But, these efforts are easily undermined.
Already the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has concluded that most of the guns used in the United States were purchased in other states before being used to commit a crime in a separate state. They compiled data in 2014 showing where guns were purchased and then later used in another state for crimes.
California had more than 1800 guns purchased and used elsewhere, while Texas has more than 2800 and Florida more than 2500. Georgia had the highest number at over 3200 guns purchased in their state, but used in another for a crime. According to this data, the ATF has determined that Georgia is the largest importer of gun crimes in the country.
States with more people will have more gun shops, which is why it isn’t surprising that there were so many purchases in states like California, Texas and Florida. But, it is clear that state populations do not always have the deciding factor. When you look at New York, for example, it has the fourth largest population in the country, but it doesn’t have the highest number of exported guns. Georgia is the 8th biggest state in the country, but is the highest for gun exports.
Some states have stricter gun laws, such as New York, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts.
Once the ATF compared per capita rates to the numbers of guns, it appears that more than 72 percent of guns purchased in one state were used in that same state for a crime – meaning most crimes with guns all stay in the same state or neighborhood.
One interesting thing that came from the ATF’s study is the timeframe. The ATF determine that the time between when a gun is purchased and when it is used in a crime is over 10 years. That means people are not purchasing guns with the purpose of committing a crime; instead, the guns are used much later.
Were You Arrested for a Gun Crime?
Florida has strict penalties for crimes committed with a firearm and often you will be charged with a felony offense. If you have been arrested or you are being questioned for a crime involving a weapon, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side. Contact the Jacksonville criminal defense team at The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. at 904-356-8618 for a consultation. You can also ask us a legal question online by filling out an online contact form.Read More