It is not against the law to drink and drive in the state of Florida. It is, however, illegal to drive while impaired. Under Florida law, anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher is considered legally impaired. That means that the individual cannot fully appreciate how the alcohol is affecting their normal faculties, including their cognitive and physical abilities.
Being pulled over by the police is an intimidating experience. However, by understanding DUI law, an individual can ease some of the anxiety and possibly prevent from incriminating themselves.
If a police officer suspects a driver of a DUI, the driver must act with caution. It is important to never divulge any details that can lead to self-incrimination, such as admitting to drinking in a bar or discussing the night’s activities in detail. Certain answers can lead to an arrest and be used later in court. It is best for the driver to remain polite and state that questions will not be answered without the presence of an attorney.
There are certain things a driver is required by law to tell a police officer, such as their name and driver’s license. However, a driver is not required to tell the officer where they are coming from or where they are headed.
The officer may request a field sobriety test if they suspect a DUI. While they may not state so, field sobriety tests are strictly voluntary. A driver can refuse to take a field sobriety test, which can involve balancing on one leg or reciting the alphabet backwards. Field sobriety tests rarely help drivers suspected of DUIs, considering the fact that even sober individuals often struggle to do the tasks involved in these tests.
Breathalyzer, Blood, and Urine Tests
If the officer decides to arrest the driver for a DUI, it is then that they can request a breathalyzer. Unlike field sobriety tests, refusing to take the breathalyzer can affect the outcome of a DUI case. Florida employs an implied consent law, which means that DUI suspects who have been arrested are required to take a breath, blood, or urine test. Refusing a chemical test can result in an automatic six-month license suspension and could still result in a DUI charge.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney is Key
If you have been arrested for a DUI, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. The Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong, PA can assist you with your DUI defense and represent your case in front of the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles division to help you keep your license. Call for a no obligation case evaluation at 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form to get started.Read More
More often than not, a consumer does not bounce a check with criminal intentions. Instead, the consumer usually does so simply by accident. The consumer will then pay the bounced check fee to their financial institution, as well as to the company they wrote the bad check to, and move on. However, when a consumer purposely bounces a check or knowingly writes a check that will not clear, can they go to jail for their actions?
Understanding the Legal Issues of Bad Checks
There are criminal penalties under Florida law for writing bad checks, but these laws only apply to individuals that continue to bounce checks – not when a consumer bounces a single check. When multiple bad checks are written, and on purpose, the individual could face criminal and civil penalties. Here is a quick breakdown of the two:
- Civil – The individual may be forced to pay the victims (that is, the individuals who received the bad checks) restitution. This amount could include the original amount of the check, attorneys’ fees, and additional funds for any financial hardship the bounced check may have caused the victim.
- Criminal – A person can be prosecuted for writing bad checks, especially if prosecutors can prove that the individual knowingly wrote bad checks with the intent to defraud a person or company.
Bad Checks are Considered Check Fraud
Check fraud is illegal in the United States. If a person is arrested, the prosecution must prove that:
- The individual wrote the bad check with the intent to defraud the check’s recipient,
- The individual knew the check would not clear with their financial institution, and
- The individual did actually write the check (it was not the result of identity theft).
What About Post-Dated Checks?
When a check is post-dated (written for a future date), and the recipient accepts that check knowing that it is post-dated, it is not considered check fraud. An example of this is with payday loan companies. Payday loan companies have been known to tell individuals that if they write a post-dated check and that check bounces, the individual has committed check fraud. They use this statement as a way to scare individuals into paying for past due loans; however, it is not accurate. Payday loans fall under a separate category of loans, and because these companies accept post-dated checks knowing it will not clear, it is not considered check fraud under Florida or federal law. Nevertheless, note that the individual can still be sued in civil court for defaulting on their payday loan.
Have You Been Arrested for Bouncing Checks? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
Being arrested for check fraud is serious. If you have been arrested for writing bad checks, contact the Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, PA for a no obligation case evaluation. We can explore your legal options today. Get started by calling 904-356-8618 or by filling out an online contact form.Read More
The majority of first-time offenders in the state of Florida commit misdemeanors. Unfortunately, most first-time offenses are due to poor decision making, but can still sometimes result in felony charges.
It is important that a first-time offender seek representation from a skilled criminal defense attorney, regardless of how minor the offense. While it is true that the penalty for a first offense is less harsh, it does not mean that the prosecution will not seek the maximum punishment possible.
What are Common First-Time Offenses?
The most common crimes committed by first-time offenders in Florida include:
- Domestic Violence – This can be between a husband and wife, domestic partners, and even roommates.
- Public Intoxication – Also known as “drunk and disorderly,” this offense involves a person who is visibly drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs in public.
- Assault – Assault is when harm or offensive conduct is taken against another person, either by threat or by physical violence.
- DUI – In Florida, DUIs (driving under the influence) are extremely common. Anyone that is operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher can be arrested for a DUI.
- Marijuana Possession – While some states have legalized marijuana, it is not legal to possess marijuana in the state of Florida. Possession is often charged as a 1st degree misdemeanor; however, an individual can be charged with a felony if they are caught carrying more than 20 grams of marijuana or have 25 or more marijuana plants.
- Petit Theft – In Florida, petit theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s property when the property is worth more than $100 but less $300. It is considered a misdemeanor offense.
- Criminal Mischief – Criminal mischief can include any offense against property, such as damaging or defacing property. This can include graffiti, vandalism, or any form of destruction (with the exception of arson).
- Criminal Trespass – Criminal trespass is the willful entering of someone’s property without license, invitation, or authorization.
- Solicitation – Also referred to as prostitution, solicitation is putting a person’s body up for sale for the purpose of sexual acts. First-time offenders are often charged with a 2nd degree misdemeanor; however, future offenses could result in a felony charge.
- Driving on a Suspended License – These offenses can include misdemeanor charges, fines, and additional license suspension times.
First-time offenders are often able to avoid the full extent of their crime’s punishment with the right criminal defense attorney. It is imperative that first-time offenders seek out a criminal defense attorney to avoid the life-long consequences of a conviction, which can include making it more difficult to find employment, get a home, or even join the military.
Arrested as a First-Time Offender? Contact the Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, PA
If you have been arrested for a first-time offense – whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge – do not risk your freedom. Instead, contact the Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, PA for a case evaluation. Call 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form to get started now.Read More
The primary purpose of criminal punishment is to deter a prospective criminal from committing a crime in the first place. If a crime is committed, punishments are designed to deter that criminal from committing another crime in the future. While criminal penalties may be harsh, not all convicted criminals are sent to jail or prison. Sometimes a criminal may be allowed to go about their daily lives under specific restrictions and supervision.
Probation is a set of conditions that must be followed as part of a punishment. The rules for how probation works are strict, and not all crimes qualify for probation either. Just some of rules probation entails include:
- It is reserved for minor (misdemeanor) crimes and first-time offenders. Juvenile offenders may also receive probation. Individuals convicted of serious crimes are unlikely to get probation.
- Probation can be used for all or a portion of a criminal’s sentence. For example, 30 days may be served in jail, while an additional six months are served on probation.
- Probation will require the individual to meet with a probation officer regularly.
- The individual will only be permitted to do certain things, such as go to work, attend counseling sessions, etc.
- Sometimes a person may be required to wear ankle monitoring devices while on probation.
Violating the terms of probation is a crime in the state of Florida, and one that comes with serious consequences. There are numerous ways an individual can trigger a probation violation, but usually a violation occurs when conditions of probation are not followed properly. Some common violations can include:
- Not completing assigned community service hours
- Not attending court-ordered counseling sessions
- Not paying court fines or restitution to the victim on time or in the full amount specified by the court
- Not attending scheduled court hearings
- Not obtaining or maintaining employment
- Not reporting to a probation officer or frequently showing up late –or not at all – for regularly scheduled appointments
- Leaving the city or county without permission from the courts
- Visiting individuals or areas that are prohibited as part of the terms of probation, such as visiting individuals with known gang affiliations
- Being arrested for or committing another crime
- Selling, testing positive for, or possessing illegal drugs
What Happens if Probation is Violated?
If the terms of probation are violated, a probation officer will often give a warning for a first offense. A subsequent violation can result in the probation officer reporting that violation to the court, and the court will require the individual to attend a hearing to determine if they can remain on probation or if they will return to jail to serve out the rest of their sentence. If the judge determines that the individual is likely to violate probation again, or their violation was serious, they make revoke probation or add more time to the probation term.
Have You Violated the Terms of Probation?
If your probation officer has given you a warning or you have violated the terms of your probation, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, PA can help. We can defend your violation case and represent you in front of a judge. Call 904-356-8618 or complete an online contact form now for a consultation.Read More
Under the Sixth Amendment, an accused individual has the right to a jury trial if they are accused of a serious offense. However, some criminal defendants may wonder if they can waive that right and opt for a bench trial instead – a trial overseen and determined by a judge.
A jury typically consists of six to 12 individuals that have limited to no legal background. Instead, they receive their legal guidance from the judge. If a judge determines the trial, they have a thorough understanding of the law and therefore will follow what the law states. While it may seem as if the judge would be less advisable route, leaving a decision up to a jury with no legal background (with jurors who may judge by emotion) can sometimes lead to a less favorable verdict.
Waiving a Sixth Amendment Right
The right to a jury belongs to the defendant, not the court. Therefore, it is the defendant’s choice to choose a judge or jury for their trial. To waive the right to a jury trial, a defendant must:
- Consent (along with their attorney) to waiving their Sixth Amendment right,
- Know what they are giving up, and
- Prove that the waiver is voluntary.
Benefits of Choosing a Bench Trial
When choosing a bench trial, there are several advantages for the defendant, including:
- It will move faster than a jury trial. This is because attorneys do not have to go through a jury selection or wait for jury deliberations.
- A judge has years of experience in the courtroom and knows things that average jurors do not. For example, a judge may not let a witness statement weigh as heavily on their decision as a jury would, since judges know that eyewitness identifications are not always reliable.
- A judge is more likely to be impartial because they are required to follow a Code of Judicial Ethics. If they feel they cannot be impartial, they must recuse themselves from the case – otherwise, they give the defendant an opportunity to file an appeal in the future. Knowing that the judge must be impartial, a defendant will not have to worry about emotions or personal feelings getting in the way of their final decision.
Disadvantages of Choosing a Bench Trial
While a bench trial has its benefits, it also can have serious disadvantages, including:
- A judge will not sympathize with the defendant like a jury will; therefore, a defendant may not receive a favorable verdict.
- A judge may choose a harsher verdict. For example, if a case has the option of a lesser charge or a more serious charge, the judge’s impartiality may force them to opt for the harsher crime, while a jury may be more likely to be guided by emotion and choose the lesser charge.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney First
Deciding whether or not to use a jury or opt for a bench trial is something that you must discuss with your defense attorney. Selecting your method of trial is a key component in your defense strategy, and is something your attorney must help you decide. If you have been arrested, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today. Schedule your consultation by calling 904-356-8618 or by filling out an online contact form.Read More
The “Stand Your Ground” law has unleashed a swirl of debate since the 2012 controversial, high profile death of Trayvon Martin. It is a complicated subject that incorporates our right to self-defense into Florida’s legal landscape. Since its inception in 2005, the law has been commonly invoked in cases ranging from home invasions to domestic abuse. Understanding the “Stand your Ground” law is integral to understanding the legality of your actions should you be involved in an act of self-protection with a firearm.
Duty to Retreat
The foundation of the “Stand your Ground” law was born from the opposing concept of “duty to retreat.” Duty to retreat was derived from a common law stating that it is a person’s responsibility to do whatever possible to remove himself from a physically threatening situation. Conflicting with the idea of justified self-defense, duty to retreat claims any and all steps should be taken to avoid a physical altercation in an impending conflict. The “Stand your Ground” law, on the other hand, does not impose any requirement to retreat if threatened. It is a law that, as its name implies, permits you to stand your ground and defend yourself, another person, or your property.
Inception of the “Stand Your Ground” Law
The “Stand your Ground” law was created because of concern that duty to retreat leaves little opportunity for self-defense. The new law states that a person has the right to physically defend him or herself or another person without legally being required to attempt to flee first. The idea behind the law is to protect potential victims of assault who legally use force to defend themselves against harm. In certain circumstances, the “Stand your Ground” law allows you to avoid a trial by claiming self-defense.
The justification of “deadly force” to protect yourself is especially useful in cases such as home and vehicle invasion. These cases in particular demonstrate that having nowhere to retreat leaves only self-defense as an option.
Despite its aim to protect those acting out of self-defense, the “Stand your Ground” law has been a source of debate since its inception by Governor Jeb Bush in 2005. Critics of the law claim it is promoting gun ownership and a vigilante atmosphere. It has been hailed by opposition as the “shoot first and ask questions later” law. Meanwhile, defenders define the “Stand your Ground” law as a fundamental human right to defend your home, your family, and yourself.
Timothy Armstrong – “Stand Your Ground” Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges after using force to defend yourself from threat or harm, it is in your best interest to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney right away. Finding a legal team with knowledge, tenacity, and experience is imperative to obtaining the outcome you deserve. Attorney Timothy Armstrong has been successfully defending clients in Duval County and Northeast Florida since opening his practice over ten years ago. He has defended clients with charges ranging from misdemeanors to homicide, and he wants to help you. Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong for a free consultation about your case.Read More
Heroin is arguably one of the most addictive drugs available today. Its use has reached epidemic proportions in Florida over the past three years. While statistically in decline for the first half of the 2000’s, heroin’s comeback has been linked to Florida’s crackdown on “pill mills,” the illegal supplying of prescription drugs. In response to increased demand, trafficking from Mexico has also recently increased.
Heroin is transcending specific demographics, with abuse by college students and suburban teens on the rise. The ignorance about its dangers and how quickly the body can become addicted are also contributing to the recent spike in use. Education is key in halting the growth of widespread use. While all drugs can negatively impact a user’s life, heroin can be especially devastating to a person’s physical and emotional well being. There are few addictions more difficult to break. Additionally, getting caught with heroin can ruin a young person’s entire future.
Pill Mill Crackdown
With a reputation as “the nation’s medicine cabinet,” Florida was inundated with clinics illegally prescribing pain medication. Rogue doctors supplied drug seekers from all states, contributing to rising overdose death tolls in Florida and around the country. In the past few years, Florida’s aggressive crackdown on these pill mills has simultaneously resulted in a statistical increase in heroin use and deaths. Addicts no longer able to feed their addiction through prescription meds have found an increase in heroin availability as supplies from Mexico have increased. The CDC reported a 33 percent increase in heroin crime labs between 2012 and 2013. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported an 89 percent increase in Florida’s heroin-related deaths occurring since the pill mill crackdown.
The penalties for heroin possession are dependent on the circumstances of each case. Considered a third degree felony, possession may result in a maximum five year prison sentence, $5,000 in fines, suspension of driver’s license, and a permanent criminal record. Plea agreements may help lessen sentencing.
Selling and Trafficking Heroin
Florida drug trafficking laws are designed to be especially harsh. Simple possession of heroin may very well be considered “trafficking” if the amount meets the criteria. The statute places guilt on “any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings (the drug) into this state.” If found guilty, an offender’s punishment is dependent on the amount of heroin in possession, as well as any previous criminal history. However, a minimum sentence of three years in prison is mandatory.
Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong – Drug Charge Defense Attorney
Florida is known for its tough stance on drug matters. Even a small amount in your possession can lead to lengthy prison time. Aggressive criminal defense attorney Timothy Armstrong has successfully defended countless drug charge cases in Florida. From smaller misdemeanor charges to armed drug trafficking, Mr. Armstrong’s skill and experience is your best chance at getting charges reduced or dismissed, or at receiving an alternative sentencing option. Finding a talented, knowledgeable attorney with extensive experience in defending drug charges is paramount in protecting your freedom. Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong today.Read More
Possession of any type of firearm is a controversial topic in this country today. Florida legislation has leaned heavily toward defending each citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Upon researching the law, you will find there are no requirements to register your firearm. However, in certain situations it is mandatory to carry a license. With a strong stance on the ability to protect yourself and your family, Florida has implemented laws allowing access to self-protection as well as sport.
Purchasing Shotguns and Rifles
In Florida, permits are not necessary to buy or carry a shotgun or rifle, as neither is considered a “concealed weapon.” The only requirement is that the individual must be at least 18 years old. The gun dealer, however, is lawfully required to hold a license. If you purchase a shotgun or rifle, you will be subjected to an initial background check and approval of transfer from the Department of Law Enforcement. However, members of the military and law enforcement are exempt, as well as permit holders from other states.
Because handguns are considered “concealed weapons,” a license is necessary to buy and carry them. In this case, the requirements are as follows:
- You must be a U.S. citizen
- You must be at least 21 years old
- You must have never been convicted of a felony
- You must have never been convicted of a misdemeanor
- You can provide sound reasoning for carrying a weapon
It is legal to transport a handgun in your vehicle provided it is kept in an area that is inaccessible to passengers, such as the trunk. The handgun must also be stored in a secure case. The law regarding shotguns and rifles is more lenient. These may travel openly in a private vehicle, within legal parameters. These parameters include traveling for:
- Target and recreational shooting
- Hunting and trapping
- Professional purposes, including gun repair and sales
Florida law allows minors to carry a firearm, including BB guns and air guns, with the
permission and presence of a legal guardian. If your child participates in any sort of sporting or hunting, you or a certified instructor must accompany him. However, in the privacy of your own home, a minor is forbidden to handle any gun if it is loaded. If a child is found with a loaded firearm, breaks the law while in possession of it, or is injured or injures another, the owner of the gun will be prosecuted as a felon.
Contact the Law Office of Timothy Armstrong
If you have been charged with any type of firearms or weapons offense, it is imperative that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to gun charges. Your attorney should have a strong understanding of Florida’s gun laws and experience representing clients in weapons charges. Timothy Armstrong has successfully defended countless clients against all types of criminal offenses, including gun charges. As your defense attorney, Mr. Armstrong will work tirelessly to advocate for your rights and tackle your case with knowledge and skill. Serving clients in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, and Columbia counties, Mr. Armstrong and his team pride themselves on professionalism and prompt service. Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong today.Read More
People continue to flock to the Sunshine State because of its natural beauty, beaches, culture, warm climate, and a multitude of things to see and do. After the particularly high rates of violent crime in the eighties and nineties, Florida’s dangerous reputation has become more of a perception than a fact. However, there is still quite a bit of work to be done before Florida gets removed from the top of the dangerous state and city rankings.
Eleven of the nation’s top cities for violent crime are in Florida. While violent crime in Florida has been on a gradual decline since the mid-nineties, the state continues to hold its ranking as one of the most dangerous states in the country. The Florida cities holding the number one, two, and three spots for violent crime are Miami Beach, Orlando, and Daytona.
Florida’s Crime and Corresponding Socio-Economic Statistics
- Number of violent crimes per 100,000 people: 487.1
- Rate of poverty: 17.1 percent
- Percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 28.8 percent
- Number of property crimes per 100,000 people: 3,276.7
What is Responsible for Florida’s High Crime Rates?
The question of “why” has frustrated Florida’s law enforcement for thirty years. Although much of the crime in the eighties and nineties was blamed on the introduction of crack-cocaine, reasons for high crime in more recent years is less clear. Drug abuse remains high, but it no longer leads the way for violent crime. Florida is the leader in violent crimes against the homeless, and it has a much higher property crime rate than the national average.
In addition to a high incidence of drug abuse, Florida also experienced an increase in firearms-related deaths since the 2005 inception of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Critics of this controversial law claim that it encourages violence and justifies the use of deadly force. However, gun-related deaths have leveled out since the spike, and supporters of “Stand your Ground” dismiss a link between the law and the temporary spike. According to a report by NPR, some “Stand your Ground” states see an increase in homicides after the laws are enacted, but not every such state sees the increase.
However, the news is not all bad.
According to data taken from the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, reported rapes have decreased by over 28 percent since 1993, murders have also fallen 28 percent since their peak in 1989, and high-school graduation rates have risen nearly 20 percent since 2003. Although Florida continues to remain near the top of the charts for many kinds of violent crimes, the above statistics are hopeful. Crime rates often escalate relative to an increase in population; however, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Florida.
Timothy Armstrong – Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with any type of violent crime, you should hire skilled legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Florida is tough on crime, but violent crimes are handled with an even heavier hand. As a former prosecutor, TImothy Armstrong has valuable insight into the prosecution’s tactics in criminal cases. He will fight aggressively and tirelessly to get the most favorable outcome possible for your unique circumstances. Don’t let hiring the wrong lawyer cost you your freedom. Violent crime charges should not be taken lightly. The legal team at the Law Office of Timothy Armstrong will work hard to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong today.Read More
Although drunk driving is always a serious offense, first time offenders are often ordinary people with no criminal history. For this reason, DUI penalties are strict enough to discourage future offenses but not so strict that they completely alter the individual’s life. However, second, third, and fourth offenses are considered less of a “mistake” and more of a habitual problem. Therefore, second and subsequent offense penalties become increasingly strict.
With every DUI, Florida law takes specific measures to decrease the potential of a second or third offense. The defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and previous DUI history are factored into each case. Florida law also bases the severity of penalties on the amount of time between arrests. Each subsequent DUI offense has compounding consequences, with the hope of breaking offender cycles.
For first time offenders, the initial consideration is blood alcohol content. A reading of 0.08 percent or higher constitutes an illegal amount of alcohol in the blood. If the reading is below 0.15 percent, the offender may face up to six months of jail time, a 180 day license suspension and up to $1,000 in fines. Any BAC above 0.15 percent will increase the penalty to a maximum of nine months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
If an individual is convicted of a second DUI offense, he or she will receive a minimum ten day jail sentence (maximum of nine months) and a $2,000 fine. An installation of an ignition interlock device is also mandatory with a second conviction. If it has been more than five years since the original conviction, there is a maximum license revocation period of 180 days. However, if it has been less than five years since the first DUI, the offender’s license will be revoked for at least five years. In these cases, prosecuted second offenders may apply for a hardship license after one year.
A third DUI conviction is a felony with a mandatory sentence of 30 days to a year in jail. A third DUI means that an ignition interlock device will be required for two years. Fines may increase to $5,000 and the offender’s license will be revoked for an extended period of time. If it has been over ten years since the previous offense, the license revocation period may be up to 180 days. However, the offender may be subjected to a five year license suspension if both prior convictions occurred within five years of each other. If the third offense is within ten years of the last offense, the driver’s license will be revoked for ten years. In both cases, offenders may not qualify for a hardship license for up to two years.
Florida considers third and subsequent DUI convictions to be a felony. With a prison sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine, felony DUI offenses are a permanent black mark on the offender’s criminal record.
The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong Can Answer Your Questions
Multiple DUI offenses are often accompanied by other serious issues, such as addiction, depression, and possible property damage and physical injury. These confusing social and legal issues can be traumatic for everyone involved. If you have been arrested for DUI more than once, you will need a solid legal plan. With prior experience as an Assistant Public Defender, Timothy Armstrong understands the complexities of multiple DUI convictions. He and his legal team have successfully defended countless DUI cases, including those involving multiple DUIs. In addition to several lines of defense, there are also alternative sentencing options available. Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong today.Read More