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Tampa, Florida Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Underage college students could face serious penalties for DUI

For many Florida students, heading to college or university is the first step into adulthood. Many students will have their first taste of true freedom and adulthood responsibilities in the first few years of their higher education. However, while college students are adults, there are some things they cannot legally do until they turn 21. This includes the purchase and consumption of alcohol.

Drinking and driving is always a crime, regardless of your age. However, underage drinking is also a crime under state law, regardless of whether the student is living independently as an adult or not. For many college students, alcohol is a small part of the college experience, yet a one-time mistake can still lead to serious legal repercussions. For students under the age of 21, fighting a DUI is an important step to protecting future interests.

Criminal defense options for drug paraphernalia charges

Drug possession and drug paraphernalia charges can be serious charges carrying stiff penalties and consequences. Because of the serious nature of drug paraphernalia charges, it is important to be familiar with criminal defense rights and options and how to challenge the charges. Drug paraphernalia charges can be used to place accused individuals in a difficult position.

There are many innocent, everyday, uses for items termed drug paraphernalia by authorities. Items such as baggies, scales or disposable plastic pens are items that may lead to possession of drug paraphernalia charges, though they may be used for legal purposes. That is why it is important to examine the facts of the situation, witness statements and police conduct associated with the charges the accused individual is facing.

Deputy charged with domestic battery

Domestic assault charges are both sensitive and serious charges which is why it is important to understand the legal resources available to parties involved in a domestic violence situation. Recently, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy was arrested and relieved of duty without pay following domestic assault allegations. The deputy was accused of choking and beating her spouse, as well as holding a gun to her wife's head.

The 29-year old deputy was arrested after her spouse alleged multiple incidents of abuse dating back several months. The deputy was charged with a felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of domestic battery by strangulation and domestic violence battery. According to authorities, the deputy's wife suffered multiple injuries. The deputy had been with the sheriff's office for eight years.

Assistance moving through a diversion program

Our law office represents those who are accused of drug crimes in the Tampa area and who, for whatever reason, want to take their cases before a judge or jury. When we take a case to trial, we do everything we legally and reasonably can do to get the best result possible for our clients.

However, as this blog has discussed in previous posts, sometimes it is simply not in the best interest of one of our clients to try a case, particularly when that person has a shot at getting in to a local drug diversion program. These programs are great opportunities because, provided the person who gets in to the program follows the rules, they can end with a very light sentence and, in many cases, no criminal conviction at all.

Do you have to take field sobriety tests?

There are certain things you are legally obligated to do if a Florida police officer pulls you over in a traffic stop. For instance, if the officer asks to see your driver's license and vehicle registration, you are obligated to meet the request. When you obtained your driver's license in this state, you also implicitly agreed to take chemical tests that a police officer may lawfully request. Should you refuse such a request, you will incur automatic administrative penalties, which often include a driver's license suspension.

Do you know, however, that you do not have to submit to requests to take field sobriety tests? Such tests are entirely voluntary, and there are no additional administrative or legal penalties for your refusal. However, some say it's best to cooperate with lawful requests for field sobriety tests to avoid legal complications down the line if prosecutors wind up filing criminal charges for DUI. Knowing what to expect in such tests and where to seek support when needed can help lessen your stress in such situations.

Am I sunk if I blew over a .08 at the station?

Many people in the Tampa area, particularly if they are going through the legal system for the first time, may think that if they blew over the legal limit at the police station, then they may as well plead guilty to the ensuing DUI charge because there is proof that they were intoxicated.

The problem with this strategy is that even if a first-time offender does escape jail time and some of the more serious consequences of a drunk driving conviction, they still will likely have to worry about probation, fees and a license suspension. Moreover, there may be other fallout in one's personal and professional life simply due to the fact that the person was convicted of a crime.

How do drug diversion programs work?

This blog has on previous occasions reported how even people who hold steady jobs and live what seems to be an upstanding life wind up getting in to trouble for possession of or even selling illicit drugs or prescription drugs that were not obtained lawfully.

Indeed, many people in the Tampa area are quietly struggling with drug addiction as they go about their lives, and no one really knows it until they get arrested on drug charges. Unfortunately, a conviction on these charges can cause a person's life to spiral even more out of control, as a conviction could mean jail time, probation, and perhaps more importantly, the loss of key professional and personal opportunities that can help keep a person out of the addiction cycle.

Three charged with dealing in cocaine

Drug charges come in several forms, depending upon the type of drugs involved, the amount of the drugs and other factors. While drug possession charges can be serious when they involve marijuana, the penalties are worse when the drug in question is heroin or another drug that state and federal laws classify as more dangerous. More serious than possession are charges of drug trafficking.

Three men were arrested and face trafficking and other drug charges after what police described as an undercover sting operation in the Tampa area. According to reports, a law enforcement agent arranged to meet with a man for a cocaine deal. He met with two men at a car, where they handed over a backpack containing more than two pounds of cocaine. The two were arrested on the spot. Police said the car was registered to a third man, a Tampa-area attorney, whom they arrested and charged as part of an alleged drug trafficking operation.

Former law enforcement officer, son, facing battery allegation

Florida authorities in a city near Tampa arrested a former sheriff's deputy and his son on charges related to what the police described as a case of road rage. In addition to battery charges, police have filed other charges against the duo, including a criminal confinement charge.

According to police, the former deputy and his son were called to the scene of what may have started as an argument between the alleged victim and a third party about the alleged victim's driving. The pair started to argue with the alleged victim.

Does my Florida DUI affect my out-of-state license?

With the brutal cold up north, ice storms and blizzards, no one can blame you for wanting to escape to the beautiful warmth of Tampa. In fact, you are among thousands who travel south during the harsh winter months of the north, and few are disappointed with what Florida has to offer winter-weary visitors.

Unfortunately, the warmth and relaxation of the climate here in Florida often creates an urgency for guests to cram as much vacation into their visit as possible. This may mean partying, and such parties may end with someone getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Because Florida is a popular destination for vacationers, law enforcement is serious in its handling of drunk drivers. Not only that, but your home state may have something to say about your arrest.

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