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Criminal Law

Pre-Trial Diversion in Florida

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

When an individual who has no criminal record is charged with a crime in Florida, it is possible to keep an arrest to be kept off the record with a program called pre-trial diversion which in Florida is called the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. The purpose of a pre-trial diversion is to give the accused a chance to avoid getting branded as a criminal for life for making a mistake.

In general, crimes up to only third degree felonies are considered for felony PTI and not all third degree felonies are included. In most cases, these are misdemeanors such as petty theft, but even the most minor charge is not eligible for PTI if there is a prior offense. The charge has to be relatively minor and the defendant is not likely to commit a similar or other crime in the future. Excluded offenses (not eligible for PTI application) include but are not limited to:

  • More serious felonies (2nd degree or higher)
  • Attempted residential burglary
  • Felony driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Offense involving more than $5,000 at the time of application
  • Offenses against governmental agencies
  • Organized scheme to defraud
  • Possession of methamphetamine, LSD, heroin, or more than ½ gram of cocaine
  • Robbery
  • Selling, forging or counterfeiting private labels
  • Weapons charges
  • Welfare fraud

Inclusion into the PTI program requires the defendant to allocute to the crime, which is technically an admission of guilt. If the defendant violates the terms of the program, he or she will no longer be entitled to a trial but will go straight to a sentencing hearing. However, if the defendant successfully completes the program to the satisfaction of the Office of the State Attorney, the slate is wiped clean as if it had never happened.

The Florida PTI program is overseen by the Florida Department of Corrections, but an individual will only qualify for it upon referral from the State Attorney’s Office with the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney. As mentioned on the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm, taking on the criminal process can be intimidating as well as confusing, and it would be best to discuss your options with a lawyer before making a move.

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Technical Criminal Defenses for Drunk Driving

Posted by on Aug 17, 2014 in Criminal Law | 3 comments

The law in general is difficult for a layperson (and some lawyers for that matter) to understand, and these include drunk driving laws. There are many, many technical issues that may come up even in the most unambiguous drunk driving charge in any state, something that any self-respecting Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer or Cape Cod drunk driving lawyer will explore for the benefit of their client.

Technical criminal defenses for drunk driving typically center on the field sobriety tests and blood alcohol content (BAC) results because these are usually the linchpin around which a prosecutor will base their case. Depending on the state, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify a test or BAC result for submission to the court. These can include certification of the tester or machine, calibration of the machine, the solutions, replacement of the mouthpiece, and whatever else that can possibly affect the results in any way.

Many lawyers overlook these details, but these can most likely get a drunk driving charge mitigated or even dismissed, especially for defendants who have clean criminal records. Experienced and successful criminal defense lawyers, however, go over these procedures with a fine-toothed comb, especially when the odds are stacked against the client.

The main value of using technical criminal defenses in drunk driving is to introduce reasonable doubt during a trial. The science behind breath tests is far from infallible which is why procedures have to be strictly followed, and criminal defense lawyers know this. If they can prove that there were irregularities in the performance of the tests, they can argue that the results are inaccurate. Once this is introduced into the proceedings, it poses doubt in the mind of a reasonable individual regarding the validity of the charges.

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