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Tampa, Florida Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

What does it mean to suppress evidence in a criminal case?

Many of our readers in Florida may have heard of a motion to suppress in a criminal case. However, this type of legal jargon can sometimes cause confusion for criminal defendants facing charges in Florida. So, what does it mean to suppress evidence in a criminal case?

Well, in plain terms, to suppress evidence means to keep the evidence in question from being used against the defendant in the case. The genesis of such an effort is for the defendant and defense attorney to carefully review the evidence that has been gathered by law enforcement officials and determine what evidence the prosecutor intends to use to prove each element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because a law enforcement officer gathers evidence does not mean that the prosecutor will actually use it in court. But, the prosecution is compelled by the law to turn over all evidence in the case.

A basic understanding of a DUI traffic stop

You're driving home after a fun night out with friends, and all of a sudden, you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Next thing you know, you're outside of your vehicle, submitting to breath tests for a suspected DUI. This is scary, and you are probably unsure of what happens next or what you should do. 

Every Florida driver has rights, even when suspected of drunk driving. It's smart for you to know what these rights are and what you should expect from a DUI traffic stop. This can help you recognize problems and fight back against potentially unfair treatment. No matter the circumstances of your traffic stop and arrest, you have the right to fight the charges against you with a strong and thoughtfully prepared defense strategy.

What are the consequences of refusing a breath test?

Generally, Florida drivers know that they have to obey traffic safety rules such as driving below the speed limit and stopping at red lights. What they may not know is that they have consented to a breath test in exchange for their driving privileges.

These tests, frequently known as Breathalyzer tests (for a brand name of one device police sometimes use) allow the police to document a driver's blood alcohol content, or BAC. When Florida drivers get their licenses, they agree to submit to a breath test if they are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.

Dealing with aggressive prosecution of drug charges in Florida

Our readers probably know that Florida is a hotspot in America when it comes to law enforcement and prosecution crackdowns on illegal drugs, whether it is drug smuggling, dealing, manufacturing or just plain possession. There is no doubt that the plague of illegal drug use has ravaged millions of families in our country, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement officials can trounce a person's constitutional rights in pursuit of attempting to win the "War on Drugs."

If you are arrested on drug charges in Florida, you will face an aggressive prosecution effort. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors do not see drug crimes as "victimless" crimes. They will put forth their best effort to get a severe sentence in almost any drug crime case they are involved in. They may believe that deterring others from being involved with illegal drugs is the goal, or they may believe that individuals with drug problems can chose another option, even if there is significant scientific evidence that drug and alcohol addiction are diseases.

Firefighter from nearby county faces human trafficking charges

"Human trafficking" is a term that can include a wide variety of alleged criminal activity, including conduct involving sexual offenses and even forced labor. The term comes with a certain amount of "shock value," which is probably why law enforcement officials and prosecutors are prone to using it - anyone accused of being involved in human trafficking likely becomes instantly tainted with an image of guilt in the public.

According to recent reports, a firefighter from nearby Hernando County is facing several charges that law enforcement officials say are tied to human trafficking activities. The reports indicate that the suspect, a 38-year-old male, is a lieutenant with the fire rescue department and had been so employed for 14 years. He was arrested on earlier this month. He faces charges of kidnapping, as well as a charge involving "lewd and lascivious behavior" with an individual who is between the ages of 12 and 16.

What can I expect if pulled over for suspected DUI?

You know that if you go out, have a few drinks and then proceed to drive home there is a possibility that you may be pulled over and charged for driving under the influence. It is the chance any Florida resident takes when choosing to drink and drive. If you know what to expect during a DUI traffic stop and what your rights are, it can make going through such an experience a little less frightening.

So, what can you expect if pulled over for suspected DUI? You can expect police to ask you a lot of questions, ask you to submit to blood-alcohol level testing and ask you to participate in field sobriety testing -- among other things.

What happens during a criminal trial?

Although it is not as common as it used to be, many criminal cases do proceed all the way to a jury trial. These are complicated, expensive and detail-oriented affairs for all parties involved. From a defendant's standpoint, it is important to understand the necessary steps that occur in a trial. So, what happens during a criminal trial?

The first step is oftentimes the most crucial - selecting a jury. Some of our readers may have actually been called for jury duty before and, therefore, may have had a first-hand encounter with this step in the trial process. Typically, a large number of nominally eligible individuals are called into the court and, through the process of elimination, the number is whittled down until the right number of jurors are in place, who promise to be "unbiased" in their consideration of the evidence that is presented.

The basics elements of a drug possession charge

Most Florida residents probably think that a drug possession charge is relatively straightforward: when a person is caught with illegal drugs, that person will face a drug possession charge. However, oftentimes there is more to these charges than such a simplistic process. In Florida, our readers need to be aware of the basic elements of a drug possession charge.

For starters, the material that is seized by law enforcement officials - which is alleged to be an "illegal" drug - must actually be what the police officers believe it to be. Law enforcement officials receive extensive training in order to be able to identify illegal drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, oftentimes just be looking at it or smelling it. However, that type of identification alone typically will not hold up in court. The material must be tested to verify its authenticity.

Avoiding the significant penalties in a DUI case

Drunk driving arrests are so common that many people probably think that these are relatively minor incidents. But, while such arrests - for first-time offenders - are typically misdemeanors, which means they have a lower level of potential penalties involved, the all-encompassing penalties, beyond just what is involved from a criminal justice standpoint, can be significant.

For instance, some people probably think that serving a year under probation supervision, if convicted of DUI, isn't that big of a deal. However, think of how such a sentence will impact your life: you will be required to report regularly to a probation officer; you will likely be prohibited from visiting locations where alcohol is served, such as bars; and you will likely be required to attend substance abuse or alcohol counseling. These are time consuming obligations, which must be fulfilled to avoid probation violations.

What are the lawful circumstances for an arrest?

Facing criminal accusations is no easy matter to address. From the moment an officer places you under arrest, you may have major concerns about your future. Of course, at that exact moment, your mind may be reeling from a variety of emotions, and you may not feel able to even think straight.

Though feeling overwhelmed during this time is understandable, a clear mind and focus on the details of the arrest may do you many favors later. Doing your best to remember your arrest could prove useful in the event that an officer made a mistake or did not follow proper procedure when taking you into custody.

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