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Tampa, Florida Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

The consequences of refusing a breath test during a DUI stop

By now many of our readers in Florida probably know that one of the basic elements of a DUI traffic stop is for the investigating police officer to ask the suspect driver to submit to a breath test using a device commonly known as a breathalyzer. Such a request is just part of the DUI investigation, along with asking questions of the suspect and asking the suspect to take part in field sobriety tests. While most people understand that it is usually best to cooperate with law enforcement officials when legal and constitutionally valid requests are made, some may think that it is best to not cooperate in order to avoid incriminating themselves. Under Florida law, there are consequences for refusing a breath test during a DUI stop.

Our readers may not know that by the very act of getting a driver's license, the law states that individuals have given "implied consent" to submit to a breath test when asked. Thus, drivers have already agreed to give a breath test by way of getting their driver's licenses. So, when a driver refuses to submit to a breath test during a DUI stop, the driver will be warned by the investigating police officer about the consequences of doing so.

What is drug paraphernalia?

Most of our readers in Florida know that there are many different drug charges that people could face when it comes to the possession, manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs. Despite the leniency that some other states are beginning to show when it comes to these issues, particularly with marijuana, Florida maintains a strict stance on illegal drugs. But, there are other items related to illegal drugs that a person could possess that might lead to criminal charges as well, such as drug "paraphernalia."

So, what is drug paraphernalia? Well, in essence, it is any type of item that a person might possess for the use or distribution of illegal drugs, but it may depend on the context of the possession in question. For example, people who use marijuana might typically smoke it by using rolling papers or pipes. When those items are found in a person's possession when that same person is also found to be in possession of marijuana, that individual could face a drug paraphernalia charge as well.

Shouldn't your defense strategy include your own investigation?

Many criminal defendants in Florida are presented with a set of facts and some basic evidence that the prosecution will use to attempt to prove the case and may think that they have no chance at presenting a sound criminal defense. But, in many cases, that simply isn't true. Shouldn't your defense strategy include an investigation of your own into the alleged facts behind the purported crime?

At our law firm, we know that any given case could have multiple versions of the alleged events that occurred. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are more likely to present those facts and the evidence they will use in a light that makes it hard for a criminal defendant to justify the time and effort it might take to push the case all the way to a jury trial. However, those facts and the evidence must be evaluated with a critical eye - one that is looking out for the criminal defendant's rights.

Watch out for these police DUI questioning tactics

Getting stopped by a Florida police officer while driving  is often nerve wracking. Many people immediately feel their palms begin to sweat and their heart rates increase as they stop their vehicles and officers approach. In this situation, you may run through the possible reasons for why police may have stopped you.

Though you may initially believe that the officer will tell you that you have a tail light out or that you missed a stop sign, you may feel shocked when the officer begins acting like you have something to hide. Before you know it, the officer may be asking you questions about drinking and driving.

Hillsborough County in the NFL spotlight after recent arrest

Anyone who follows professional football may think that there are players getting arrested all the time. And, while it may seem like there are regular reports about NFL players who get arrested or who otherwise have run-ins with the law, it is important for all of our readers in Florida to remember that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. Even famous NFL players have the right to present a criminal defense in court.

That is what one well-known NFL player will likely be planning in the aftermath of an arrest in Tampa Bay recently. The player, Reuben Foster, is a former first-round draft pick who was, up until his recent arrest, playing for the San Francisco 49ers. However, after Foster's arrest in Tampa Bay on November 24 on allegations of being involved in a domestic violence incident, he was released from the 49ers.

Know your constitutional rights when facing drug charges

Florida residents are likely to be familiar with many of their constitutional rights in the event that they are arrested and face criminal charges. For example, we all know the "You have the right to remain silent" line, and most people also know that law enforcement officials cannot simply search anywhere they want. However, there are nuances to all of the constitutional rights that a criminal defendant can exercise in an investigation and in the aftermath of an arrest.

Criminal cases that involve drug charges are some of the most likely types of cases to involve potential constitutional violations. Many drug cases start because alleged illegal substances are discovered during a search, either of an individual or of a car or home. In all of these circumstances, if a search warrant was not obtained by law enforcement officials prior to the search, there may be constitutional issues that can alter the outcome of the case.

What are the requirements for search warrant?

Many drug arrests occur without any type of warrant being involved in the case. That's because there are many exceptions to the constitutional requirement that a warrant is needed to effect an arrest or search. However, there are still some cases that are based on extensive law enforcement investigations, in which the authorities do take the step of obtaining a search warrant.

The most important requirement for procuring a search warrant is that of "probable cause." This is a term that many of our readers in Florida have probably heard before, perhaps in television shows or movies. However, this term has very important real-world implications. The probable cause requirement for warrants comes directly from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which references the term.

Defense options when you have already been "labeled" by the media

For those Florida residents who remember the times of getting the majority of their news from the Sunday paper, it can be a shock to see the amount of "news" reports that are available these days. We are living in a time of instant reaction, and oftentimes the news reports we see may seem slanted or biased to some people. However, this type of "labeling" has been the default-mode for years for reports of criminal arrests.

Take, for instance, the recent arrest of a woman in Florida for child neglect. The reports indicate that the woman, who is the mother of a six-year-old boy, was arrested after her young son was found by himself on the night of Halloween trick-or-treating alone. The report about this arrest is completely one-sided, including statements from witnesses and parents of other trick-or-treaters who found the young boy. There are no reports of statements from the woman who was arrested as to why her son was by himself when he was found.

DUI enhancements make a bad situation worse

Florida is among the states with the most severe drunk driving laws in the country. This may be because Florida has many tourist destinations, and without these firm laws, matters could deteriorate quickly, placing residents and visitors in danger.

Whether you are a resident or a tourist, you would be wise to know the potential consequences of a drunk driving conviction, including jail, fines and loss of your license. You should also be aware that the court can enhance, or increase, those penalties if certain factors exist at the time of your arrest.

Overview of field sobriety tests and DUI charges

There are hundreds of Florida residents who face drunk driving charges each year. DUI is one of the most common criminal charges that a person can face, so it is important for our readers to know what will occur during the investigation of a potential DUI arrest. One important feature of such an investigation is field sobriety tests.

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with field sobriety tests, having seen generic versions of these tests on TV or in movies. The tests are not conclusive, but are used by police officers to attempt to gauge a person's intoxication during a DUI investigation.

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