I have helped clients who have been wrongly convicted of crimes, who have had their rights infringed upon, or who simply were trying to turn their lives around. For some it was as simple as helping them to keep their license, for others it was simply a chance at redemption. Below are just a few examples of where I have made a difference in people's lives.
Car hits Train; DUI with Damage reduced to Reckless Driving; No Conviction!
Client allegedly ran car through a lowered cross bar and slammed into the last car of a moving train late at night in San Marco. The car was essentially demolished. The deputy that arrived spoke with client after paramedics were finished with him. He smelled alcohol on the driver's breath who was unable to do well on the filed sobriety exercises and was arrested for DUI and take to jail. At the jail he was not offered a breath test because he was not allowed admittance by the nurse. The officer transported him to the hospital where the officer alleged he refused a blood draw request. We filed a motion to suppress the refusal of a blood draw as unauthorized because the breath test was not impractical or impossible. We showed the State that even if we were to lose the motion, the client claimed no blood was ever requested and at trial would show the deputy could not remember details about his request for a blood draw and that he left the client with hospital security and went home just moments after arriving at the hospital because he was already way over his shift departure time. The State reduced the charge to Reckless Driving with no conviction.
DUI Crash with High Blood Alcohol Level Reduced; no conviction!
Client alleged to crash her car into a tree. When paramedics arrived they took a blood sample. The police obtained an arrest warrant for DUI with enhanced blood alcohol level when the blood returned from the lab .236, almost three times the legal limit. Although the affidavit to obtain the warrant asserted client was seen in the vehicle, the first officer on the scene could not remember where the client was when he arrived. Without proof of the client as driver and a potentially false warrant affidavit, the State reduced the charge to Reckless Driving with no conviction.
Third DUI Dropped; Significant Jail Time Avoided
Client was arrested for her third DUI in less than two years. She was on probation for her second DUI. She was facing significant jail time. Client was standing at her car inside the open driver's door when police arrived because she had been fighting in the street with the girl who had been her passenger. The police asked about the fight and let the passenger go. Client was given field sobriety tests and arrested for DUI. We filed a motion to suppress evidence from an unlawful arrest. No crime occurred in the officer's presence because client was not "in or on" the car for purposes of being in "actual physical control." We also averred that all her statements were inadmissible because she was never read her rights and this was not a traffic stop. She was in custody for purposes of the Fifth Amendment when the officer let the passenger go but would not let the client call her friend to pick her up and said "No friend is going to come get you. You are not going anywhere." The motion was granted. The State dropped the case.
5 Year Suspension Removed; License obtained; Felony Reduced to Misdemeanor
Client came to us with an HTO (Habitual Traffic Offender) 5-year suspension and was charged with a new Felony Driving on a Suspended License charge. He was facing significant jail time in one county. First, we moved to Vacate and Set Aside the his previous conviction in another county which gave him the HTO. It was initially denied but we moved to reconsider and appeared before the court and were successful. This removed the HTO from his license. He obtained a new license and we appeared for the felony. The State reduced the charge to a misdemeanor charge of No Valid Driver's License which does not result in a new HTO designation. He paid fines.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Dropped after Appeal
Our client was operating a vessel with several people on board near the Sisters Creek Marina and was stopped for violating a Manatee Wake Zone. He complied with the officer's request to display each required piece of safety equipment and was then taken ashore to do field sobriety exercises which he failed. He was arrested and charged with BUI. We filed a motion to suppress all evidence because there was insufficient reasonable suspicion to detain our client to go ashore and take the field sobriety exercises. His bloodshot, watery eyes were from a day on the water. The smell of alcohol on his breath was merely a sign of consumption, not impairment. The open containers were not a sign of impairment. His use of the gunwale for balance while retrieving each safety item for the officer was not a sign of impairment but of good, smart boating. The court agreed at the hearing but only suppressed (kept out of evidence) the field sobriety exercises, letting the State still introduce his refusal of a breath test and all other evidence gathered after the detention. The State appealed the court's ruling. We cross-appealed arguing the court's ruling of suppression was correct but the order should suppress all evidence after the detention, not just the field sobriety exercises. We won on both issues on appeal. The charge was dropped.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Dropped
Our client was arrested on the Fourth of July. He was out celebrating at the landing with several friends. His friend, the owner of the vessel, untied the boat and navigated them to open waters in the St. Johns River. Once they were in a safe area, the captain placed the throttle in idle and went to the bow of the boat to pull in the bumpers. However, he forgot to turn on his 360 degree navigational light, as required by law. The vessel was observed by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers without proper illumination, so they approached the vessel. Our client was sitting on the bench chair, next to his girlfriend, behind the steering wheel and near the throttle. When FWC approached, he leaned around the center console to tell the captain what was happening. The FWC officers noticed our client with his hand on the wheel of the vessel, so they assumed he was the one in actual physical control of the vessel. After a subsequent investigation, he was arrested for Boating Under the Influence.
We filed a motion to suppress evidence based on the fact that our client was not in actual physical control of the vessel. An evidentiary hearing was held. Both FWC officers testified, as well as our client’s girlfriend and the captain of the boat. After the hearing, the judge ruled in our favor, finding that our client was not in actual physical control of the vessel. After the ruling, the State dropped the case against our client.
DUI Crash with High Blood Alcohol Level Reduced; No Conviction!
Client was leaving a Jaguars game and was involved in a traffic crash in which he allegedly hit a parked trailer. He stopped to check the damage. Police arrived as he and his passenger were outside the car looking at the damage. The police arrested him for DUI and he blew three times the limit. But the police could not find where the accident happened. We prepared a motion to suppress statements prior to proof of corpus delicti (proving a crime even happened) and any statements protected by the Accident Report Privilege which protects statements made at a crash investigation as compelled because the law requires one involved in an accident to tell the investigating officer what happened. Without his statements, the State had no proof he was the driver of the vehicle. We also prepared a Motion to Suppress the breath test for an Unlawful Arrest. The State could not arrest for a DUI unless it occurred in their presence except in an accident case. The State had no crash scene so had no crash investigation to support the arrest. The State reviewed our motions (we never even had to file them) and reduced the charge. Client pled No Contest to Reckless Driving and the Court Withheld Adjudication of Guilt.
Driver flees scene; DUI reduced, No Conviction; Resisting Arrest charge dropped
Client drove away from the scene of the stop of her vehicle when her boyfriend driver ran off after being stopped. Though she had had too much to drink and drive – the reason her boyfriend was driving – she moved to the driver’s seat and drove two blocks to her house. While walking into her apartment, the officer who had been searching for the driver stopped her and arrested her for DUI and Resisting an Officer for trying to run into her apartment ahead of him. Through aggressive defense work including setting the case for trial, the State eventually agreed to reduce the DUI to Reckless Driving for no conviction and dropped the Resisting charge.
NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT IN DUI CASE
Client was prosecuted for DUI after being stopped for horrible driving and failing field sobriety tests. She refused a breath test. At trial, we called her friend and a T-Mobile records custodian as witnesses. Our trial theme was the client's "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." She had learned earlier in the day that her mother's cancer was inoperable and she had only 3-6 months to live (she passed about six months after the arrest). Then that night while commiserating with her girl friends, her boyfriend broke up with her via text message. She was emotionally distraught and drove home. On video, her driving was horrible; she went outside the line a few times and almost hit a wall barrier exiting JTB onto I-295. The officer followed her with video all the way to Beach Blvd. where she straddled two lanes and almost turned right from the left turn lane. She did fairly well on the field sobriety tests, but took 15 steps instead of nine on the Walk and Turn test and put her foot down several times on the One Leg Stand test. She was arrested and refused a breath test when offered one at the jail. The arresting officer was a DUI enforcement officer. The breath test operator only noted a smell of alcohol and bloodshot/watery eyes. At trial, we entered her cell phone records showing she was texting during the time the officer followed her and recorded the horrible driving. We had prepared the jury in jury selection to know the difference between saturated weaving indicating a condition (intoxication) and momentary lapses in driving and corrections indicating inattentiveness (texting). The records also showed her last text occurred four minutes before the arrest was made, proving the DUI investigation took less than four minutes. We put on our client's friend who was with her the entire evening and got into evidence her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. We had prepared the jury in jury selection to understand that emotional stress and trauma can effect one's motor skills and attentiveness. We stressed the DUI enforcement officer was in the business of looking for a crime even if one didn't exist. We showed the breath test operator was trained to observe signs of alcohol impairment and got him to admit that an odor of alcohol on one's breath and bloodshot/watery eyes may be signs of ingestion but not impairment, so he had to admit he observed no signs of impairment by alcohol on our client. In the end we argued all the jury had was an opinion. We had prepared them in jury selection by getting them to confess they could never convict anyone if the only evidence a crime even happened was an opinion. The jury took 44 minutes in deliberations and returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Reduced
Client was operating a vessel with several friends coming in from a day at sea. He was stopped by Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers. Sobriety tests were conducted on the FWC vessel in the harbor with boats coming and going around them. He was arrested and refused a breath test. We showed the tests were invalid when done on a bobbing vessel in the harbor. We set a hearing on the Refusal charge. The State capitulated and reduced the charge to Reckless Operation of a Vessel and dropped the Refusal charge.
HTO Status Removed and New License Obtained
Client retained our services to help remove a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status and assist him in obtaining a new driver license. We broke the process down into three (3) easy steps for the client. First, we reviewed his driving record. Upon review, we realized that he had several “failure to pay” issues. He paid these to minimize the effect of the outstanding debts. Second, we filed a motion on several tickets that had not yet been paid, and requested the judge withhold adjudication of guilt on the various charges so that he would not receive points added to his license. Finally, with all other driving record issues cleared, we filed a motion in the above numbered case to temporarily set aside a plea of not guilty to the charge of driving on a suspended license that our client had entered in 2011. These driving on suspended license convictions act as a “strike” that can lead to a HTO status. The State agreed to not object to the temporary withdrawal of his plea, on the condition that he obtain a new license and not pick up any new charges while this case was being resolved. Once the plea was withdrawn, we contacted the DMV in Tallahassee to remove his HTO status. Client has successfully obtained a new license and restored his ability to drive.
Battery and Aggravated Child Abuse charges Diverted and Dropped
Our client had an argument with his wife and knocked a phone away from her; it struck their child. Unwisely the State charged our client with Battery and Aggravated Child Abuse. The State offered probation for a guilty plea. We refused. After months of showing the State the charge required "an intentional act' and that the facts supported only an accidental act, the State diverted the case to a pretrial diversion program. Our client completed the requirements and charges were dismissed.
Teacher charged with Unlawful Use of Computer to Lure a Child Not Convicted and Not Designated Sexual Offender with Reduced Charge
Female schoolteacher client was accused of trying to lure a male student via computer instant messaging. Although inappropriate sexual banter, the messages were not explicit and did not "lure" the student. My client was an upstanding woman in her community going through a difficult time in her marriage. After lengthy negotiations, the charge was reduced to Unlawful Use of a Communication Device. This prevented my client from being designated a "sexual offender" and saved her from a lifetime of rules, regulations, and harassment by neighbors. She was not convicted and was placed on probation.
Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon Dropped
Our client was accused of pointing a gun at the victim stating "i'm gonna blow your brains out." We discovered the victim had identified the gun and the State was about to file charges. We intervened and showed the State that the victim had been making unwanted sexual advances toward our client's girlfriend. We admitted our client owned the gun but had never pointed it or used it against the victim. We also proved the victim was making arrangements to leave the State. We had the girlfriend confirm our version of events in writing. We convinced the State not to file formal charges by getting involved early on and doing the work up front. The State dropped all charges.
Grand Theft charges Dropped
Our client owned a window blind company. He contracted for a job and was paid half the contract fee in advance. The "victim" called the police when the work was not performed timely. The detective obtained a warrant and arrested the client and the State Attorney's Office prosecuted him. He didn't commit the crime. Although it may be a breach of contract not to perform the work, it is only a crime if the person intended not to perform the work at the time the money was received. We showed our client fully intended to perform but the manufacturer couldn't perform because of the odd shape of the windows. Our client contacted a lawyer in St. Augustine who was supposed to communicate to the victim a settlement offer. He never did. When the detectives contacted the lawyer he said he didn't remember the client, so they issued the warrant. We showed email communication to and from the lawyer and the manufacturer showing our client's efforts to perform or pay restitution to the victim. the charges were dropped.
Unlicensed Real Estate Broker Charges Dismissed
Client and his partner brokered a sale of a chain of 21 Papa John restaurants in Jacksonville through their Georgia restaurant sale/brokerage firm. Since the transaction included real estate in Florida and neither held a Florida real estate license, they were charged with unlicensed real estate broker activity. One partner was arrested without warning and they called me for help. I was able to get the other partner’s arrest warrant withdrawn and eventually get both cases dropped.
DUI dropped after Successful Veteran’s Court diversion
Our client was arrested for DUI after committing several traffic infractions at a high rate of speed. His breath alcohol level was well above the .08 limit at .25. A conviction would result in a 10 year driver’s license suspension and a minimum of 30 days in jail. During our interview with him we discovered he was a USAF veteran whose alcoholism was service related. We filed a motion to refer him to Veteran’s Court. After a hearing, the court approved him for Veteran’s Court. After 12 months of successful Veteran’s Court treatment, the case was dismissed.
DUI Dropped, New Career Saved
Client, a recent college graduate eager to start his new career, was pulled over for speeding. The Deputy claimed to smell the odor of alcohol on our client’s breath, that our client had bloodshot and watery eyes and that his speech was slurred. He was asked to step out of the vehicle so that the Deputy could conduct a DUI investigation. Per protocol, the Deputy read our client his Miranda warnings and asked if he had any questions. Our client responded by asking “yeah, can I call a lawyer?” to which the Deputy stated “well, one’s not really available right now.” The Deputy then proceeded to question our client and conduct field sobriety exercises. Halfway through the field sobriety exercises, our client again asked if he could call his father to call a lawyer for him, moved toward his car, and was arrested.
Several attempts were made to negotiate a disposition in this case before the State Attorney filed formal charges. They were not receptive to the idea. As a result of filing charges, we filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence based on a violation of our client’s Miranda warnings, and a lack of probable cause to arrest our client. After a hearing on the motion, the Judge ruled in our favor based on a lack of probable cause to arrest and a violation of his right to counsel. “If the suspect invokes [the right to counsel] at any time, the police must immediately cease questioning him until an attorney is present.” Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 453 (1994). The police video of the Deputy’s field investigation for DUI shows that our client made an unequivocal request for an attorney, and the Deputy simply ignored that request.
After the Judge issued her ruling, the State Attorney dropped the charges against our client. Throughout the process he lost out on 5 potential job offers because of the pending case. Now that the charges have been dropped, he should not have a problem starting his career.
DUI Dropped, College Career Saved
Client was sleeping in his car at the Castillo De San Marcos fort parking lot in St. Augustine. His engine was revving. Police knocked on his window and got him out of the vehicle. He was highly intoxicated. He was a foreign student in college locally on a sports scholarship. We showed the police had no reasonable suspicion to request he exit his vehicle. Before the hearing, the State agreed to defer prosecution. Upon completing community service hours, the State dropped the case. The client was able to keep his student visa and graduated from college.
Two DUI Pleas Set Aside, Charges Reduced
Two different clients pled guilty to DUI charges at their first appearance hearings in jail, were sentenced and placed on probation. During probation, they each contacted us. We filed motions to overturn their pleas. We were successful in getting their guilty pleas overturned after investigating the circumstances of each of the DUI cases and their strengths and weaknesses, we were able to negotiate both of the DUI charges to be reduced to charges of reckless driving for both clients. They both avoided convictions and no longer have a DUI on their record.
License Issues Cleared Up; Avoided Criminal Charges
Client contacted us because his drivers license was suspended from several tickets in Jacksonville, Miami-Dade County, and in Illinois. We reviewed his driving record and were able to clear up the issues in Illinois and Miami-Dade. We filed motions in the Jacksonville civil ticket cases as well as the pending criminal case. We re-opened ticket cases to reverse convictions and eliminate his points suspension. Our client got a drivers license for the first time and years and we were able to avoid a conviction in the criminal charge.
Unlawful Sale of Alcohol to Minor Dismissed on Jurisdiction
Our client, an employee at the Kangaroo Store on Racetrack Rd., was arrested by agents of the Florida Div. of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco for selling beer to a minor. She was prosecuted in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida because the agents believed their jurisdiction is statewide. It is, but the crime must be prosecuted in the county in which it was committed. We showed the court via Google Maps that the Kangaroo Store was in St. Johns County. Case dismissed.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Case Dismissed
Our client, a college bound high school student, was a lone driver who hit a tree on the way into his gated community. The car was disabled. The client walked to the security gate and got a ride home from him. The security guard called police. Wen they arrived, they cited my client with the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage. We demanded the details of any damage. The tree had gash marks but the State could not prove when they were made. We also argued that the purpose of the law is to stop and render aid and to notify the owner of any damage and that was done when the client told the security guard (the owner's agent on scene) what happened and gave him his name and contact information. Case dismissed.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Case Dismissed
Our client was a lone female driver who had a fender bender with a taxi in Jacksonville Beach at night. When she got out to look at the damage, she saw none and the taxi driver became aggressive toward her. She drove away. The taxi driver called the police. The Jacksonville Beach Police Department obtained a warrant and arrested her for Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage and arrested her. We demanded the details of any damage. The taxi company stalled and eventually could produce no proof of any damage. The case was dismissed.
DUI with .128/.122 BAL Reduced and Conviction Avoided
Our client was driving home and was stopped by Jacksonville Beach Police Dept. officer for allegedly “failing to use a turn signal.” As a result of her poor performance on field sobriety exercises, she was arrested and charged with a DUI. Her breath test results showed her breath alcohol level above the limit of .080. She was at .128/.122. Her encounter with the police was captured on the dashboard camera. After reviewing the video of her encounter, we filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence based on the fact that she did not commit a traffic offense. After discussing the motion with the Office of the State Attorney, the charges were reduced to reckless driving. Adjudication of guilt was withheld (no conviction)
DUI Reduced after 6 years; No Conviction
Our wedding planner client was leaving one of her events when she was became aware she was beginning to feel impaired. She pulled over and stopped in the parking lot of an apartment complex. The Jacksonville Beach Police Dept. received a call from another driver giving them her car description as a drunk driver. The arresting officer located her in her car in the parking lot, had her exit the car and perform field sobriety exercises. She failed and was arrested for DUI. She blew over double the limit on her breath test. We filed a motion to suppress the evidence because the tip about the drunk driver was anonymous (they had a name but it was not correct; they located the informant but never got his full account of events). Although it took us six years to convince the State to do so, they reduced the charge to Reckless Driving. She pled No Contest for No Conviction and court costs.
Our client was pulled over because the registration on his vehicle had expired 4 days earlier. The police claimed to smell alcohol on his breath and required him to complete field sobriety tests. Review of the dashboard camera video showed that our client performed exceptionally well on the tests. At the DHSMV Administrative Review hearing, the arresting officer made several comments, on the record, that brought significant questions regarding probable cause to arrest our client to light. Based on the DHSMV transcript and the video evidence, we filed a Motion to Suppress the evidence against our client. After the State reviewed our motion, they reduced the charges to reckless driving. Adjudication was withheld – no conviction – and our client was able to avoid further suspension of his license.
Our client was pulled over as a result of his girlfriend honking the horn at an off-duty JSO officer jogging along the side of the road because she thought she knew him. After the officer ran home, armed himself, got into is patrol car and returned to the intersection where our client was last seen, the off-duty officer conducted a traffic stop. The Deputy interrogated our client about his reasons for being in the neighborhood so late at night, and our client gave evasive answers. It turns out that our client just wanted to prolong the evening with his girlfriend so that he could kiss her.
The officer radioed for a DUI unit, and after submitting to field sobriety tests, our client was arrested for a DUI. We filed a motion to suppress based on the fact that the off-duty officer did not have sufficient cause to initiate the traffic stop and the DUI officer did not have sufficient cause to order our client out of his car. Based on the strength of the motion, we were able to negotiate a withholding of adjudication (no conviction) on a reckless driving charge for our client instead of a DUI.
DUI with Traffic Crash Dismissed on Speedy Trial Grounds
Client was involved in a traffic crash in June, 2011 and was taken to a hospital. A law enforcement officer requested he provide a blood draw to which he kindly refused. An arrest warrant was issued and client was arrested on September 12, 2011 in St. Johns County for DUI, DUI with Damage and Criminal Refusal of a Blood Test. He retained me and we set a court date for his appurtenant civil Careless Driving citation, but could not find the criminal charges in the clerk’s records. When the clerk found out the Careless Driving charge was with criminal charges we got another court date then shrewdly paid the citation so the criminal cases would not be acted upon by the clerk. The State Attorney’s Office failed to file the criminal charges with the clerk until December 15, 2011. The client was entitled to a speedy trial within 90 days of his arrest. Since the State failed to even charge him, much less try him until after 96 days had passed since his arrest, the court forever discharged him from the crimes.
DUI Reduced after 9 years of Litigation
Client was pulled over in Jacksonville Beach in 2003 and was arrested for DUI. The stop and DUI investigation were on video. The State qualified their arresting officer as an expert in Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus and the case was set for trial several times during its eight year life. This client paid a flat pretrial fee in 2003 and was never billed for more. Just before trial in 2012, the State finally reduced to reckless driving.