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Tampa, Florida Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Clean hands are important, but can they land you behind bars?

How many times have you read about the importance of frequent hand-washing with regard to avoiding harmful germs, viruses and infections? You may be like many others in Florida who are aware of this crucial hygiene factor but are so busy in the normal course of an average day that you may not always have time to locate a sink to wash your hands. Like most people nowadays, you probably keep hand sanitizer nearby for quick in-between washings and disinfecting.

In addition to your own hygiene, you may have cause for concern regarding others. Someone who doesn't wash his or her hands often enough could cause you to contract an illness. You may also be surprised to learn certain people's hygiene habits, such as a police officer pulling you over in a traffic stop, could cause you to test above the legal limit for alcohol in your bloodstream if you were to take a Breathalyzer test? As shocking as it may seem, if the testing device picks up the residual alcohol, you might be convicted for drunk driving in court.

Understanding defense options in response to drug charges

Accused individuals should know how to defend against drug charges because so much is on the line when they are facing them. Drug laws vary by state but some common defenses are useful to be familiar with. It is also important to keep in mind that accused individuals always have criminal defense rights and protections regardless of the criminal charges they are facing.

Drug charges carry significant and harsh potential penalties and consequences. Criminal defense options may include challenging the facts as stated by authorities; challenging testimony provided by witnesses; challenging alleged evidence against the accused individual; challenging the charges based on procedural errors such as search or seizure violations; or others.

Drunk driving penalties in Florida are significant

It is important to note that there are two separate types of penalties and consequences individuals accused of drunk driving in Florida may face. Accused individuals may face criminal penalties as well as administrative consequences associated with drunk driving charges. In Florida, accused individuals can have their driver's license suspended and, in addition to administrative penalties, may also face stiff criminal penalties.

Accused individuals who have a blood alcohol content level of .08 or above, or refuse to a take a breath, blood or urine test after being arrested for DUI, may have their driver's license automatically suspended unless they submit a written demand for an administrative hearing that is filed within 10 days following their arrest. Criminally, those charged with drunk driving may face jail, fines, probation, the requirement that an ignition interlock device be installed on their car, DUI classes, community service and impounding their car.

Did you stand your ground then land in jail?

What do you do if you are in a public place, or even in your own backyard for that matter, and a situation arises where another person threatens to harm you? Do you turn around and walk away? What if you firmly believe that turning your back on the angry person will place you at further risk for harm? If you are convinced that your situation may have life or death consequences, can you stand your ground and defend yourself? Do you know what Florida law says about it?

Typically, several types of self-defense laws are on the books of which you should be aware, as the differences can be quite confusing. Florida is actually one of many states that have implemented stand your ground laws. These laws recognize that if you face an imminent threat to your life, you have the right to defend yourself no matter where you are at the time.

How common is drunk driving?

Summer is nearly over and Labor Day is here. Many Americans, including many from Tampa

Bay, Florida, and the surrounding area like to celebrate by going on a vacation or even staying home and hosting a party or barbecue. Inevitably, this means that many will also enjoy a few alcoholic beverages during their time off from work. Unfortunately, this often means an increase in people on the roads drinking and driving.

Alleged marijuana operation in Hillsborough busted

Quite a bit of national news attention lately has been devoted to the so-called "opiate epidemic" that is plaguing our nation, as thousands of Americans turn to heroin and prescription medications in their addictions. However, our readers should remember that even though law enforcement efforts may have turned to focus more carefully on heroin and other "hard" drugs, they will still enforce the drug laws regarding marijuana.

For example, our readers may have seen a recent report from Hillsborough County about a drug bust that led to the arrest of a whole family who were allegedly involved in a marijuana growing operation. According to the reports, on Aug. 1, law enforcement officers searched four different residences. They allegedly discovered that three of the four homes were almost exclusively devoted to marijuana growing operations, while the fourth was reportedly involved in the growing operation as well. A 66-year-old man and his 60-year-old wife were arrested as a result of these searches, as was their 41-year-old son.

Make sure the police in Florida had a reason to stop you

Sometimes in our day-to-day lives it is easy to forget that our nation's laws are based on a constitution that grants individual rights and restricts the rights of the government. However, when it comes to potential criminal offenses in Florida, arrestees are supposed to be immediately reminded of many of those constitutional rights. One of those rights is that law enforcement officers can't just stop anyone they want for any reason.

In most cases, police officers and other law enforcement officials must at least have a "reasonable suspicion" to stop individuals for purposes other than just a casual chat. In other cases, "probable cause" is a requirement. These legal phrases are usually especially important when it comes to drug charges.

What constitutes computer crime?

In the last three or four decades, computer technology has exploded. Many Florida residents join the millions of others across the country, and the globe, who have an online life, and you may be one of them. Individuals aren't the only ones who have joined the digital age. Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies from the federal level to the local level have become involved through the enforcement of computer crimes.

Any number of issues could constitute a computer crime, and it's unreasonable to expect you to know or understand them all. You may discover that you are under investigation, or you may beĀ charged with computer crimes, and it might help to understand what that may mean, especially since it also encompasses crimes that don't require a computer to commit such as fraud or theft.

How is assault and battery handled by the courts in Florida?

It is important to acknowledge that there is a distinction between the terms assault and battery and the two are handled as separate offenses in the courts in Florida. Assault requires the threat and fear of an imminent force and harm on a victim, while battery is unwelcome or unwanted touching, typically resulting in bodily injury to the victim, but also could be of a sexual nature as well.

Specifically, someone accused of assault must have made an intimating act or gesture that invokes fear or intended threat on a victim. There are three levels of assault in the Florida courts including simple assault, aggravated assault and felony assault. State prosecutors will look at the specifics of the case to make a determination on which offense they will charge.

Don't let overzealous DUI charges haunt your life

The summer season is primetime for fun in the sun with family and friends. Between beach outings, barbecues, reunions and many more activities, this can seem like an idyllic time. Many adults also enjoy drinking a few alcoholic beverages during such outings. It's when these beverages spill over into the road, however, that the fun situation can turn into an extremely serious criminal situation.

Being charged with DUI is an extremely serious matter. Penalties are stiff, typically resulting in a license revocation, significant fines, increases in insurance premiums and possibly time in prison. Depending upon your case, you may also have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car or attend courses, both at your expense.

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