Our Criminal Defense FAQs

Do I need to hire an attorney or will one be assigned to me? What if I don’t have any money? Should I just accept the DA’s offer? Before making a serious mistake when you have been charged with a crime, read our criminal defense Frequently Asked Questions.

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  • How Much Federal Prison Time Will I Actually Serve?

    Chalk writing of days in hashmarks

    Days Actually Served in a Federal Prison Sentence

    Without getting into all the things that may influence how much time is actually served on a federal prison sentence, I am providing a quick equation a person can use and a recent Good Time Credit chart. 

    Every client I have had who was facing prison, was trying to calculate exactly how long a sentence may be. It obviously helps when trying to decide on a plea deal or not. It can be useful in trying to prepare for the inevitable. Unfortunately prison is a reality in the criminal justice system.

    Good Time Credit Chart

    This LINK will lead you to a Good Time Credit Chart. 

    You can also use the following equation to calculate:  (# months sentence) x (30.5, a split between 30 and 31 days months – don’t even try to think about Februarys – inmate will be happy if they get out a few days earlier than predicted) x .85 = # days to serve with Good Time Credit

    Next, once you have the number of days to serve, use this website, 2d table down to add the number of days to the arrest date to come up with the estimated release date. http://cgi.cs.duke.edu/~des/datecalc/datecalc.cgi

    ​If You Have Any Questions Regarding A Federal Criminal Case

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

  • What are the Federal Mandatory Minimums for Drug Cases?

    barbed wire around a prison

    Mandatory minimums in federal sentences can often times be brutal. A person facing their first ever serious charge could be looking at a decade or more in prison. Below is a basic summary of some common drug mandatory minimums, this information was taken from the Untied States Sentencing Commission's Overview of Mandatory Minimum Penalties.

    The term “mandatory minimum penalty” refers to a federal criminal statute requiring the imposition of a specified minimum term of imprisonment.20 Mandatory minimum penalties vary in length depending on the offense type and specified criteria, from two years for aggravated identity theft, to life in prison for certain drug trafficking offenses. 

    The mandatory minimum penalty applies if the instant offense of conviction involves a specified element of which the offender is found guilty. In the case of drug offenses, these triggering characteristics include manufacturing, trafficking, importing or distributing a particular type of drug at quantities above a specified threshold. For example, a person convicted of trafficking 28 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base (crack cocaine) is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of not less than five years, whereas a person convicted of an offense involving 280 grams is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years.

    Common Drug Mandatory Minimum Penalties

       5 Year Mandatory  10 Year Mandatory
    Heroin  100 Grams or more  1 KG or more
    Powder Cocaine  500 Grams or more  5 KG or more
    Cocaine Base (crack)  28 Grams or more  280 Grams or more
    Marijuana  100 KG or more  1000 KG or more
    Methamphetamine (pure)  5 Grams or more  50 Grams or more
    Methamphetamine (mixture)  50 Grams or more  500 Grams or more

     

    Getting Out From Under a Mandatory Minimum 

    Not all offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty are sentenced to the minimum term of imprisonment specified in the statute of conviction. Under the current system, a sentencing court can impose a sentence below an otherwise applicable statutory mandatory minimum penalty if: (1) the prosecution files a motion based on the defendant’s “substantial assistance” to authorities in the investigation or prosecution of another person; or (2) in certain drug trafficking cases, the defendant qualifies for the statutory “safety valve”.

    ​If You Have Any Questions Regarding A Federal Criminal Charge

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

  • What Happens If I Don't Show Up For My Court Date?

    Police lights on top of car

    First thing first, if you have an attorney and you are considering avoiding a court date or actively fleeing a jurisdiction, please contact your attorney so you can understand exactly what the consequences are in your case. I'm going to talk about some general consequences, but your attorney will have more insight regarding who your prosecutor is, what your particular charge is, your criminal history and who the judge is. All of these being very important factors to consider. 

    Should I Skip My Jacksonville, Florida Criminal Court Date?

    NO! If you have been released on bail and have a court date, whether is be arraignment, pretrial or sentencing, and you are required to be there, then get your self to court. An old boss of mine you to always say "what is the first rule of holes?" "When your in one, stop digging." Your already in a hole with a criminal case so don't make it worse. 

    Consequences of Jumping Bail in Jacksonville, Florida

    • You lose any money that you may have put up for bail.
    • A warrant will most likely be issued, which means, law enforcement may be knocking on your door and actively looking for you. Believe me, people never get picked up on a warrant when it is convenient for them, it's always Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, your mom's or kid's birthday or in the middle of a date that was going well. 
    • When you are arrested on the warrant, most judges in Jacksonville will issue a no bond, meaning you will sit in Duval County Jail until your case is resolved.  
    • Both Florida and Federal law provide for a separate charge to be filed if you fail to appear for court. You could actually have a new charge and prison time. 
    • You will lose favor with the Judge. Depending on your case, you may have to actually stand in front of the Judge some day and have him either sentence you or accept a negotiated plea deal you have worked out with the prosecutor. If the Judge knows you as someone who doesn't respect the law or his/her courtroom, you have now dug yourself a deeper hole.
    • You will lose favor with the Prosecutor. Depending on your case, you may want to negotiate an plea deal with the State. This will only become more difficult if you show a willingness to disregard the law and avoid the consequences of your actions. 

    I Missed A Court Date, Now What Do I Do?

    Call your attorney or hire one. Your attorney can find out if a warrant has been issued. Often a motion can be filed to have the warrant removed and have you appear in court willingly. Or an attorney can arrange to have you turn your self in, safely, and work on getting another bail set. There are always arguments to be made and reasons one might miss a court date. Don't make it worse by ignoring the situation and waiting for the police to come find you. As a defense attorney, I have more arguments to make to keep you out of jail if you are honest, willing to turn yourself in or appear in court and are humble and apologetic to the Judge. 

    Take care of yourself and stop digging. 

    If You Have Questions About A Criminal Case

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

  • What is RDAP and How Can it Help a Federal Inmate?

    Barbed wire fence at prison

    Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP) 

    • A 500 hour program where inmates are placed in a class that lives together, separated from the general prison population.
    • Takes six to twelve months to complete.
    • Inmate must have (1) verifiable drug abuse problem (2) No ‘serious’ mental health issues (3) within 36 months of release (4) agree to participate (sign agreement) (5) appropriate security level.
    • Inmate cannot have a crime of violence. 

    ​A qualified attorney will request the Court to recommend RDAP and other programs in the Court's sentencing order. 

    Early Release Based on Successful Completion of RDAP

    Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 227(d), an inmate who is sentenced for a non-violent offense, has a substance abuse problem and successfully completes a residential drug abuse treatment program, may qualify for an early release not to exceed twelve (12) months   

    Inmates Who Are Not Eligible for Early Release

    • INS/ICE detainees.
    • Inmates with prior felony or misdemeanor convictions within 10 years of the sentencing date for their current case; for homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, kidnapping or child sexual abuse offenses. 
    • Inmates whose current offense has an element of physical force, carry, possession of a firearm, sexual abuse offenses. 
    • Current offense that by it’s nature or conduct present a serious potential risk or physical force against the person or property of another. 
    • Offenses for which a guideline enhancement was applied to the offense level for the use or threatened use of force or firearm.

    If You Have Questions Regarding A Federal Criminal Case

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

  • What is "Safety Valve" in Federal Sentencing?

    Drug Free Zone Sign

    What is "Safety Valve" in Federal Sentencing?

    In short, "safety valve" allows a federal criminal defendant charged with certain drug offenses to be sentenced below a minimum mandatory if the requirements of the statute are met. It is one of the only ways, short of providing cooperation with the federal government, that a defendant can avoid the often life shattering minimum mandatories in the federal system

    18 U.S.C. §§ 3553(f)(1-5) states notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of an offense under section 401, 404, or 406 of the Controlled Substances Act or section 1010 or 1013 of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, the court shall impose a sentence pursuant to guidelines promulgated by the United States Sentencing Commission under section 994 of title 28 without regard to any statutory minimum sentence, if the court finds at sentencing that:

    • the defendant does not have more than 1 criminal history point, as determined under the sentencing guidelines, §3553(f)(1);
    • the defendant did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon (or induce another participant to do so) in connection with the offense, §3553(f)(2);
    • the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person, §3553(f)(3);
    • the defendant was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, as determined under the sentencing guidelines and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, as defined in section 408 of the Controlled Substances Act, §3553(f)(4); and
    • not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the defendant has truthfully provided to the Government all information and evidence the defendant has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the defendant has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Government is already aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement, §3553(f)(5).

    ​If You Have Any Questions Regarding Federal Criminal Defense

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