Personal Injury and Criminal Defense FAQ

What if the car accident was partially my fault? When do I have a legitimate premises liability claim? What is the first step I need to take after a dog bite? We answer questions like these and many more on our personal injury Frequently Asked Questions page.

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  • What is an Arrest and Booking Report?

    Picture of handcuffs

    What is an Arrest and Booking Report? 

    Why just tell you when I can show you, click here. As you can see, the A&B is the official report written up usually by the arresting officer in criminal case. The first page will provide some biographical information, including name, address, DOB, employer, place of birth and school last attended. There will aslo be identification information including, height, weight, eye color, race, sex and tattoos (distinguishing marks).  There will also be a section which provides for the basic geographical and time information for the incident that is being written up.  

    Officer's Version of Events Is Not Always Accurate

    Now on to the more exciting and important sections, the statues which the officer believes were violated and the brief summary written by the officer explaining why he/she believes a crime was committed. It should be noted that an officer does not file charges, they make the arrest. The criminal statutes named on an A&B may not be the final charges filed by the State Attorney's Office. 

    An A&B is not evidence in your trial, it does how ever provide very important information. The officer will attempt to recite why he/she believes probable cause existed for the persons arrest. Remember, "beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt" is the standard for a conviction in trial, a police officer only needs probable cause to arrest someone. The officer's written account can be used against them if they try to change their story when testifying in a hearing or trial. A skilled criminal defense attorney will know how to use all available information to direct the cross examination of a police officer and make sure the "real" story is being told.  

    The A&B provides an attorney the initial look at what the officer believes happened. In a DUI, the officer will put down his observations, as you can see in the sample A&B provided. Other crimes may involve victims or witnesses, some of their statements to the police will be in the summary and their names will be on the A&B. By reading the A&B an attorney can begin to devise any motions they may believe appropriate and start piecing together the strengths and weaknesses of a case.  

    Be Polite To The Police

    Often any incriminating statements you may make will be in the A&B, so it is best to try to keep your mouth shut and if you feel the need to answer in just a yes or no manner, please be polite. It makes it more difficult for your attorney to negotiate a good plea deal when your police report is full of f-bombs directed at the police. 

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding a Criminal Case in Florida

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.  

      

  • Why Was My License Suspended?

    SOME REASONS FOR SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF DRIVERS’ LICENSE IN FLORIDA

    • Possession, sale, trafficking in controlled substance,  FS 322.055 and 322.056 (1), 322.27(6).
    • Violation of noncriminal tobacco regulations by a minor, FS 322.056.
    • Delinquency in child support obligations, FS 322.058, 322.245.
    • Driving privilege suspended or revoked in another state or foreign country, FS 322.24, 322.27 (E).
    • Non-compliance with traffic court directives, FS 322.245.
    • DUI or similar offense; conviction, test refusals, FS 322.25, 322.26, 322.2616 (.02 & under age 21).
    • Violation of financial responsibility laws (car insurance), FS 324.251.
    • Not complying with court penalty laws regarding traffic tickets, FS 318.15.
    • Murder or manslaughter resulting from operation of a motor vehicle, FS 322.26 (1)(2).
    • Using a vehicle to commit a felony, FS 322.26 (3).
    • Leaving the scene resulting in death or injury, FS 322.26 (4).
    • Perjury, false sworn statements or affidavits to DMV, FS 322.26 (5).
    • 3 convictions of reckless driving in 12 months, FS 322.26 (6).
    • Sex offense effected through use of motor vehicle, FS 322.26(7).
    • Catch all provision- courts’ discretion- serious offense, FS 322.22 (8) and FS322.27 (2).
    • Points, FS 322.27 (3).
    • Incompetence to drive (not defined), FS 322.27 (1)(c).
    • Violation of any traffic law resulting in crash causing death, personal injury or minimum $500.00 property damage, FS 322.27 (1)(b).
    • Fraudulently obtained/use of drivers license, FS 322.27 (1)(d).
    • 2nd  conviction in 5 years of not stopping for school bus, FS 322.27 (1)(f).
    • Habitual traffic offenders, FS 322.264, FS 322.27(5).
    • Car theft conviction, FS 322.274(1).

    *This list is for educational purposes only and not to be intended as legal advice. All statutes should be checked to make sure all information is current and an attorney should be consulted for any further questions.

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding a Criminal Case in Florida

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883. 

  • How can I fight a driving under the influence (DUI) charge?

    No driver ever wants to see those blue lights flashing in their rearview mirror, but if you know you had a drink or two before driving, you may be particularly frightened—and for good reason. Driving under the influence carries serious penalties in Florida and—whether you feel drunk or not—if you were drinking, you could be over the legal limit to drive. But just because you were caught doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself against the charge.

    Possible DUI Defenses

    Although you may feel like you’ve been caught red-handed, it may still be worth fighting your DUI charge. While it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, it is also illegal for police to violate your rights when they stop, test, and arrest you. Some possible defenses against a DUI charge include the following:

    • Illegal traffic stop. You can only be pulled over by police if you have broken the law, such as by speeding or driving recklessly. You cannot be pulled over just because the police saw you leave a bar, for example. An exception to this law is for random sobriety checkpoints. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that DUI checkpoints are legal.
       
    • Botched sobriety tests. If a sobriety test, such as a heel-toe test or a breathalyzer, is improperly administered, the results can be thrown out. If a blood sample is not taken by a licensed technician or the sample is not properly handled or stored, that test could be inadmissible.
       
    • Miranda violations. You must be informed of your rights when you are arrested for a DUI, just like for other crimes. If an officer fails to issue the proper Miranda warning, the arrest could be overturned in court.
       
    • Medical conditions or medication. Certain medications—or even common household mouthwash—could register on a breathalyzer as alcohol. Fatigue or neurological disorders could cause a person to fail a field sobriety test. A police officer at the scene may not believe you if you protest, but a DUI attorney can present this evidence later in court.

    Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, there may be other defenses against your DUI charge.

    Always Consult an Attorney

    There is too much at stake to give up when you are arrested for DUI. A DUI conviction can have serious repercussions, including losing your license, losing your auto insurance, and even losing your job. Call the Clifton Law Office as soon as possible to discuss possible defenses in your Jacksonville DUI case.

  • What will my defense attorney do for me?

    Most people have heard the phrase “You have the right to an attorney,”—even if only on TV—but how many people know what a defense attorney actually does during criminal proceedings? We explain the role of a criminal defense attorney and why you should seriously consider hiring one if you are facing drug or driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Florida.

    What a Defense Attorney Does

    You have rights when you are arrested and charged with a crime. The right to an attorney is an important one to be aware of because it is the job of your attorney to ensure that all of your other rights are protected. The following are just some of the things a qualified defense attorney will do for you at each stage of a criminal proceeding:

    • If you are under investigation for a crime but have not yet been charged, an attorney can advise you on what you should and shouldn’t say, protect you from illegal searches, and generally make sure your rights are not violated.
       
    • Once you are charged, your attorney may be able to get the charges dropped if there is insufficient evidence. If the charge stands and a judge orders that you be detained until the trial, your attorney can argue for a reasonable bail amount for your release.
       
    • The prosecutor is likely to offer a plea bargain, where you plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. Your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to get you the best possible deal and will advise you on whether you should take it or go to trial.
       
    • If your case does end up going to trial, your attorney will, of course, argue for your acquittal. Representing yourself in a criminal trial is never a good idea, particularly when you are facing jail time. Your defense attorney will gather evidence, call witnesses, question the state’s case against you, and utilize various other legal strategies to get you the best possible outcome.
       
    • If you are found guilty, your attorney will argue for the lowest possible sentence given the charges against you. He may call character witnesses to help convince the judge that you do not deserve the maximum sentence.
       
    • If he believes there is cause, your attorney can begin the process for an appeal to try to get the verdict overturned.

    It is important to realize that an attorney who has been with you on your case from the time of your arrest will be much better prepared to fight for you than an attorney who joins after your trial has already begun.

    Criminal Charges Must Be Taken Seriously

    If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, drug possession, or drug dealing in the Jacksonville area, call the Clifton Law Office. If our experienced criminal defense attorney believes he can help you, he will take your case and fight for your right to fair treatment by the criminal justice system. Call us today. 

  • What makes a search illegal?

    In Florida and across the country, you have certain rights under the U.S. Constitution; however, you cannot protect your rights if you don’t know what they are. What are police allowed to do at a traffic stop, for example? Can they enter your home without your permission? If you were caught with drugs, there’s a chance it was the result of an illegal search. We explain the Fourth Amendment here.

    Your Fourth Amendment Rights

    Added to the Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to protect citizens from arbitrary and unwarranted searches and seizures of property by the government. It is the basis of modern laws regarding search warrants, wire-tapping, stop-and-frisk, etc. Specifically, the amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” This means that police officers or federal agents must have a good reason to initiate a search and must have a warrant to do so.

    What This Means When Police Are at Your Door

    In order to enter your residence to conduct a search, a police officer or federal agent must meet one of the following standards:

    • Has a search warrant. A search warrant is a legal document issued by a magistrate or judge that authorizes police officers to search a premises. In order to obtain a warrant, the prosecutor must prove to the judge that it is likely that a crime has been committed or is being committed on the premises (probable cause).
       
    • Is able to justify a search without a warrant. In certain situations, police may enter and search a premises without a warrant. Some examples include being in hot pursuit of a suspect or believing someone’s life is in danger.
       
    • Has your consent to search. If you grant law enforcement permission to enter and search your home and they find something, it will be considered a legal search.

    Car Searches Fall Under Less Restrictive Laws

    The Fourth Amendment applies primarily to searches in your home. Law enforcement has more freedom when searching your car. As long as they have probable cause, they can search your car without a warrant, and it’s not hard for them to claim probable cause. It may be enough for an officer to claim he saw you swerve out of your lane or that he smelled marijuana in your car. However, it may be possible to argue that drugs found in a car were the result of an illegal search, depending on the specific facts of the case.

    Clifton Law Office Will Leave No Stone Unturned

    When you face drug charges, I will investigate every possible defense to the charges, including the possibility that evidence was obtained illegally. Contact me as soon as possible after your arrest so that I can help you every step of the way.

     

  • What is a plea bargain and should I agree to one?

    A criminal case—from arrest through sentencing—can take months to work its way through the system. Due to an overburdened justice system, the legal process is a slow one and prosecutors and judges are highly motivated to resolve cases and clear dockets as quickly as possible. One way they do this is through plea bargaining. A plea bargain—also known as pleading out or taking a deal—is an agreement between the prosecutor’s office and the accused in which each side gives something up in order to conclude the case.

    How Does a Plea Bargain Work?

    The purpose of a trial is to determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence and, if he is found guilty, to issue a sentence. With a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty or “no contest” in exchange for a lesser charge or a reduced sentence, thereby avoiding court altogether. A no contest plea is a way for a defendant to accept a sentence without having to declare that he or she is guilty.

    Should I Take a Plea Bargain?

    There are advantages and disadvantages to plea bargains. Depending on the consequences you face, it may make sense to accept a deal. On the other hand, your case may be solid enough to be successful at trial. This decision should never be made without consulting a criminal defense attorney; however, we discuss some points for and against here. The main advantages to plea bargaining include the following:

    • Quick resolution. In some cases, a plea deal is offered soon after an arrest. If the terms are acceptable, the case can be resolved within days of the original charge. Even when it doesn’t happen that swiftly, plea bargains resolve cases much more quickly than going to trial.
       
    • Guaranteed outcome. No matter what evidence you have to show your innocence, the outcome of a trial is never a sure bet. With a plea bargain, you know exactly what to expect and even have some say in the outcome.
       
    • Less costly. It takes a lot less time for an attorney to negotiate a plea bargain than to prepare a case for trial, so taking a deal could end up costing you less in legal fees.

    If you are innocent of the charges, you obviously do not want to plead guilty just to save time and money. The downside to plea bargaining includes the following:

    • Criminal record. A plea deal goes on your record as a criminal conviction, even if you plead no contest. This can affect all aspects of your life, including your ability to get a job.
       
    • Opportunity for coercion. In an effort to conclude a case quickly, a prosecutor may pressure or even threaten a defendant to accept a plea. Sometimes, even innocent defendants end up pleading guilty under the pressure.
       
    • Potential for court rejection. Plea deals are non-binding on the court meaning you might think you have a deal only to have the court reject it and you are forced to go to trial anyway.

    Talk to Your Lawyer

    No matter how persuasive a prosecutor is or how many threats he makes, you should never accept a plea deal without talking to your criminal defense attorney. At the Clifton Law Office, we have the best interests of our clients in mind and we will help you reach a decision that makes the most sense for you. Before you do anything, call our office.