Hernando County State Attorney and Sheriff's Office Turn on Alleged Victims of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence and Domestic Battery in Brooksville, Hernando County, FL

Hernando County Criminal Defense Attorney - Problems arise in domestic violence cases for the Hernando County State Attorney's Office and the Hernando County State Attorney's Office when the alleged victim in a domestic battery cases wants to drop the criminal charges.

An alleged victim can recant their story for any number of reasons. In many of these cases, one or both parties are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the allegations were motivated in part because of a desire to eject one party from the home, or because the police threatened to arrest both parties because the "primary aggressor" could not be determined causing an exaggerated accusation.

In other cases, the alleged victim is motivated to drop the charges after determining that the matter is personal and does not require court intervention. The alleged victim may also be motivated by a desire to reconcile with the person accused. In other cases, the alleged victim is motivated to end the prosecution because of concerns about financial matters or the devastating effect the arrest and prosecution will have on the accused person's future employment opportunities.

On at least three occasions in July of 2008, the State Attorney's Office in Hernando County has turned against the alleged victim who recants by filing charges for perjury or filing a false police report.

As a criminal defense attorney representing men and women charged with domestic violence and domestic battery crimes in Brooksville, Hernando County, FL, these types of tactics by the prosecutors in domestic violence cases can lead to unjust results when the alleged victim fears telling the truth - that the allegations are false or exaggerated.

In theses types of cases, the alleged victim may need to hire an attorney so that they can invoke their right to remain silent and not testify at trial when their testimony may tend to incriminate them.

If you have been charged with domestic violence or domestic battery, contact an experienced attorney that can help you fight the charges. Call 813-250-0500 to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney or visit our main website for more information.

Read more about the article by John Frank, Times Staff Writer discussing the problem Hernando State Attorney's Office Gets Tough on False Reports.

Lower Number of DUI Deaths in Florida

Florida Among States With Least DUI Deaths - Tampa Tribune
By VALERIE KALFRIN | The Tampa Tribune TAMPA -
Florida is among 10 states with the lowest percentage of deaths involving drunken drivers, according to an...Sobriety checkpoints and ignition-interlock devices – breath tests that prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has alcohol in his system – have helped reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities, MADD says...

Libertarian Party's Solution to America's Epidemic of Violence Crime

Read more about the Libertarian Party's Solution to America's Epidemic of Violent Crime. Article makes the point that focusing on arresting, prosecuting and warehousing non-violent victim-less offenders in overcrowded prisons comes at the expense of releasing violent criminals back into our communities. Advocates protecting civil liberties of law-abiding citizens by allowing them the right to own firearms and the right to self-defense. Discusses the failed War on Drugs and advocates drug legalization as a means to decrease violence crime.

New Florida Marijuana Laws Aimed at Seizure and Forfeiture of Marijuana Grow Houses


Tampa Marjuana Attorney

Tampa Attorney for Marijuana

WARNING!

Under Florida law, if you are convicted of any drug crime, including possession of cannabis, then your driver's license will be suspended for a period of two (2) years regardless of whether you driving or not when the possession occurred.

Our attorneys are both members of the NORML Legal Committee. NORML stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Being on the NORML Legal Committee allows us to focus on recent changes in marijuana laws.

We understand that your arrest and prosecution for possession or sale of marijuana is serious. If you need a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney experienced in defending marijuana cases, contact us today to discuss the best strategy for fighting your cannabis charges throughout the Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Hernando County or Manatee County.

Any charge involving marijuana can have serious direct and collateral consequences, even if you are just charged with simple possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor offense under Florida law.

Florida has some of the harshest laws in the nation dealing with marijuana offenses. In 2008 the Florida Legislature lowered the threshold amount of marijuana plants required to prove "intent to sell or distribute cannabis"- a second degree felony offense. Florida law had previously set 300 plants as the minimum for a second degree felony charge which targeted the cultivation of marijuana. Federal law sets 100 plants as the threshold amount for intent to sell charges which makes Florida's laws even harsher than the federal legislation.

The new Florida legislation allows law enforcement to target marijuana grow houses for forfeiture. The home owner would have to establish that he had no knowledge that pot was being grown in the home to avoid Florida forfeiture laws. Under the new law, the owner of the cannabis grow house can also be arrested and prosecuted for a third degree felony if it can be shown that he knew the house was used to cultivate cannabis.

Florida also broadly defines a marijuana plant to include a cutting or seedling if any roots are present, even a few hair-like strands. So even an individual growing a small amount of marijuana in his own for personal consumption could be targeted under the new Florida marijuana laws.

Fighting Your Marijuana Case

In any drug case, including possession of marijuana, important defense can be raised in a motion to dismiss or a motion to suppress. Call us to discuss ways to defend your case.

Issues Leading to the Suppression or Exclusion of Evidence:

  • Was the search of your person, vehicle or home legally conducted or did the police violate your rights under the Fourth Amendment?
  • If the drugs were found in a vehicle, can the prosecutor prove that the drugs belonged to you, or does the case involve constructive possession through insufficient circumstantial evidence?
  • Was the marijuana found within plain view or was it hidden?
  • Did you or any co-defendant make any statement admitting ownership of the drugs?
  • Did anyone else have access to the drugs if they were hidden in your home or vehicle?
  • Did law enforcement read your Miranda warnings to you before asking you questions?

Possible Indirect Consequences of a Marijuana Conviction:

  • Losing your eligibility for a Bright Futures Scholarship in Florida;
  • Losing your eligibility for Financial Aid;
  • A ban on your eligibility to become a foster parent or adopt a child under Florida law for at least five years after a misdemeanor or felony marijuana conviction;
  • A possible ban for three years which would prevent you from moving into public housing;
  • Not being eligible for public employment with the state or federal government without seeking intensive drug treatment;
  • Not being eligible for certain state certifications, licenses, or permits without seeking intensive drug treatment;
  • Ineligibility for state licenses, permits or certifications without enrolling in a drug treatment program for any felony conviction;
  • Lifetime ban on the right to possess a firearm under Florida Statute Section 790.23 for any felony conviction.
Misdemeanor offenses:
  • Possession of Marijuana (less than 20 grams);
  • Delivery of Marijuana / Cannabis Less than 20 grams (without monetary exchange); and
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Felony offenses:

  • Possession of Marijuana (more than 20 grams);
  • Cultivation or Manufacture of Marijuana;
  • Trafficking in Marijuana;
  • Owning a Marijuana Grow House;
  • Living or Working in a Marijuana Grow House; and
  • Living or Working in a Marijuana Grow House with Minor Children.
Contact a Tampa Marijuana Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the best way to fight the charges against you for possession, cultivation, delivery, manufacture or trafficking in marijuana for any case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Bartow, Polk County, Dade City or New Port Richey, Pasco County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater, FL.



What is FR-44 Insurance?

After a DUI conviction, drivers in Florida must provide proof through their insurance company that they have higher liability limits over a three year period after the conviction. Most insurance agents estimate that monthly premiums can increase by 200-300 percent.

The higher limits required under FR-44 are 100/300/50. In addition, if the driver did not have those higher policy limits on the date of the DUI offense then the driver must pay a reinstatement fee of $150 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense.

The only way to avoid the higher and more expensive FR-44 insurance is to avoid a DUI conviction. Contact a Tampa DUI Attorney for more information about the true cost of a DUI.

Tampa DUI Attorney- DUI Checkpoint and Roadblock Cases

Driving under the influence (DUI) cases that occurred after a vehicle is stopped in a DUI roadblock or DUI checkpoint are the most scrutinized types of stops under the Fourth Amendment. In many of these cases, if the DUI attorney properly files and litigates a motion to suppress then the State's entire case can be thrown out.

The Florida Second District Court of Appeals recently reversed such a conviction in Guy v. State, _ So.2d_, 2008 WL 4276326 (Fla. 2d 2008). In this case the defendant appealed his conviction after the court denied his motion to suppress. The evidence at the motion to suppress hearing showed that the defendant was stopped by sheriff's officers who were conducting a Florida DUI sobriety checkpoint. After the stop, the defendant was arrested for driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender, a felony offense punishable by five years in prison. On the day he was arrested he was also on probation for the charge of felony driving under the influence (DUI) with serious bodily injury. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant entered a guilty plea to both of his pending cases- DWLS while HTO and Violation of Felony DUI Probation under Florida law. (The defendant entered the plea but reserved the right to appeal the court's denial of his motion to suppress).

The Second District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, and sent the case back to the trial court with instructions to reverse the Felony Suspended License conviction, and reinstate the defendant on the Felony DUI probation. The Guy court recognized the long line of Florida cases dealing with the constitutionality of DUI roadblocks or checkpoints including two Florida Supreme Court cases on the subject: State v. Jones, 483 So.2d 433 (Fla. 1986) and Campbell v. State, 679 So.2d 1168 (Fla. 1996).

In those cases, the Supreme Court of Florida found that before law enforcement officers can set up a DUI sobriety roadblock or DUI checkpoint they must issue a written set of guidelines that detail in advance all of the procedures to be used during the checkpoint. The rationale behind this requirement is that field officers on the scene of the roadblock should not be able to make judgment calls about which vehicles to stop while allowing other vehicles to pass through undisturbed. If field officers had such decision making power they could use that power to stop only older model vehicles, or stop only vehicle with drivers of some ethnic minority, or stop only vehicle with young male drivers.

The Constitution of the United States protects against such intrusions without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. In roadblock cases, the officers do not have legal cause normally required, but such stops are allowed only when strict compliance with pre-determined rules are followed.

The pre-determined rules must limit the decision making ability of individual officers on the scene to select which vehicles to stop. Even in those cases in which the guidelines are properly issued, the field officers that operate the DUI checkpoint must faithfully follow those written guidelines.

In the Guy case the written guidelines called for stopping every vehicle, but allowed the field officer supervisor to come up with a contingency plan if traffic backed up, such as allowing all vehicles to pass through or stopping every other vehicle or every third vehicle as traffic permitted. The Guy court found that this plan left too much discretion to officers in the field. The Guy court also found that the evidence at the suppression hearing showed that the officers did not comply with the flawed plan that had been issued because the officers considered the guidelines "fluid" and subject to modification as required on the scene. For instance, the officers ended the roadblock checkpoint early for a reason not contemplated by the written DUI checkpoint plan.

This DUI checkpoint case is important because it reiterates the scrutiny that must accompany any DUI checkpoint or roadblock case. Defending a DUI checkpoint or DUI roadblock case requires a complete investigation into every aspect of the roadblock, careful analysis of the written DUI checkpoint plan and guidelines, and the skillful cross-examination of the officers to show every mistake made by law enforcement in creating or following that plan. If you have been arrested for DUI, driving while license suspended, or any other offense after a roadblock stop, contact an experienced Tampa DUI attorney to discuss your case.

Tampa Forfeiture Attorney Added to "Forfeiture Endangers American Rights" Foundation's Attorney Directory

Tampa Forfeiture Attorney added to Forfeiture Endangers American Rights Foundation Attorney Directory. F.E.A.R. Forfeiture Foundation is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to reform of federal and state asset forfeiture laws to restore due process and protect property rights.

If your vehicle or other assets were seized by the police your attorney can file and litigate a motion for an adverse preliminary hearing which will take place shortly after the seizure and is often the best way to fight for the return of your property. Contact an attorney experienced in fighting forfeiture actions by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Tampa Police Department or any law enforcement agency in Polk County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, or Sarasota County. If you need to discuss your forfeiture case, contact a Tampa Forfeiture Attorney.

How to Avoid a Florida Habitual Traffic Offender Suspension



Find out how you can get your driver's license reinstated after getting the habitual traffic offender status removed from your driving record. Call the Sammis Law Firm at 813-250-0500 to speak directly with an attorney about your case.

If you have received notice of a Florida Habitual Traffic Offender suspension from the Department of Motor Vehicles you must act quickly to preserve all of your rights to contest the suspension. An experienced Florida Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Attorney can file a motion to remove one or more of the underlying offenses that caused your suspension, especially if one of those offenses was for Driving While License Suspended.

The ideal time to hire an attorney to attack the underlying offense that cause the suspension is within 30 days of when you plead guilty or paid the ticket. However, you can contest the suspension up to two years after you were found guilty of one of the underlying offenses that caused the suspension. Many individuals in Florida are suffering the effects of a five year Habitual Traffic Offender suspension needlessly. A Tampa criminal attorney may be able to "undo" that underlying offense allowing you to then obtain a valid driver's license.

A motion for rehearing must usually be filed within 30 days after the conviction occurred (or 60 days with the court's permission, which is usually granted). Even if you are outside of the 30 to 60 day time period for a motion for rehearing, a post conviction motion called a Rule 3 or Rule 3.850 motion can be filed up to two years after the underlying offense.

In some cases it is necessary to request an administrative records review hearing with the DHSMV within 30 days after the Order of Revocation is issued. For more information, visit our Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) website.

322.264 "Habitual traffic offender" defined.--A "habitual traffic offender" is any person whose record, as maintained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shows that such person has accumulated the specified number of convictions for offenses described in subsection (1) or subsection (2) within a 5-year period:
(1) Three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts:
(a) Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
(b) Any violation of s. 316.193, former s. 316.1931, or former s. 860.01;
(c) Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
(d) Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked;
(e) Failing to stop and render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury of another; or
(f) Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.
(2) Fifteen convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed as set forth in s. 322.27, including those offenses in subsection (1). 

Any violation of any federal law, any law of another state or country, or any valid ordinance of a municipality or county of another state similar to a statutory prohibition specified in subsection (1) or subsection (2) shall be counted as a violation of such prohibition. In computing the number of convictions, all convictions during the 5 years previous to July 1, 1972, will be used, provided at least one conviction occurs after that date. The fact that previous convictions may have resulted in suspension, revocation, or disqualification under another section does not exempt them from being used for suspension or revocation under this section as a habitual offender.
History.--s. 2, ch. 72-175; s. 21, ch. 73-331; s. 4, ch. 74-384; s. 8, ch. 84-359; s. 21, ch. 86-296; s. 21, ch. 89-282; ss. 11, 21, ch. 91-255; s. 13, ch. 97-96; s. 291, ch. 99-248.

Call an Tampa criminal attorney if you have been declared a Habitual Traffic Offender under Florida law for offenses that occurred in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, Sumter County, Lake County, Orange County, Manatee County or Sarasota County, call the Sammis Law Firm at 813-250-0500 to discuss the possibility of clearing your habitual traffic offender status so that you can reinstate your driver license.

Tampa Suspended License Attorney

If you have been arrested for driving with a license suspended, canceled or revoked contact an experienced Tampa driver license attorney to discuss ways to fight the case.

Under Florida Statute Section 322.34(2), in order to prove driving while license suspended, canceled or revoked with knowledge, the State must establish these elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

1. The accused knew that his license to drive was suspended, canceled or revoke,
2. While driving automobile on a public road within the State of Florida;

The issue of whether the accused had knowledge of the cancellation, suspension or revocation of the driver's license is a question to be determined by the jury from the evidence presented at trial.

Evidence that you knew that your Florida driver's license was suspended can include proof that the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) indicate notice of the revocation, cancellation or suspension was hand delivered to the accused.

Evidence that you knew your Florida's driver's license was suspended can include proof that the records of the DHSMV indicate that notice of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation was deposited in the mail and addressed to the accused at his last known address (but not in a case involving failure to pay a fine).

Evidence can include proof that the accused had previously been cited for DWLSR and his driver license had not thereafter been reinstated, then it may be shown that the accused knew of the suspension.

Evidence can include statements made by the accused that he knew his license was suspended, cancelled or revoked.

Clearwater Habitual Traffic Offender Attorney

If you received a notice that your Florida Driver's license is about to be revoke for five years as a habitual traffic offender, contact an criminal defense attorney that fights to remove one of the underlying convictions in traffic court.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, represent clients throughout Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa or Plant City.

Read more about possible ways to reverse the HTO revocation.

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  • Past successes do not guarantee future results.
  • The facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the cases discussed in our recent case results.
  • Not all results are provided.
  • The results discussed are not necessarily representative of the results obtained in all cases because each case is different and must be evaluated and handled on its own merit.


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The best time to contact a Tampa habitual traffic offender attorney is as soon as you receive the Order of License Revocation, Suspension or Cancellation" from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Division of Driver Licenses in Tallahassee.

However, you may still be eligible to have a prior underlying offense vacated up to two years (24 months) after the conviction occurred under certain circumstances. Many individuals suffer under the habitual traffic offender suspension, not knowing that they can fight the suspension.

Contact the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. Call 813-250-0500 today to speak with a Tampa Habitual Traffic Offender Attorney.

Florida Retail Theft or Shopliting Attorney

If you have been arrested for theft or shoplifting, contact an experienced Tampa theft or shoplifting attorney to discuss the case.

Any theft, retail theft, or shoplifting charge is considered a "crime of dishonesty" under Florida law which can have serious consequences to your future employment opportunities. Defenses exist to fight this charge and many counties will consider dropping the charges if the client enters and successfully completes a diversion program.

Find out what you need to do right now to protect yourself against an allegation of theft, retail theft or shopliting in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County or Sarasota County. Whether you have been arrested for shopliting in Tampa, St. Petersburg, or Clearwater, Florida.

Under Florida Statute Section 812.015(1) dealing with Retail Theft or Shoplifting the State must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:
  1. the Defendant acted knowingly;
  2. with the intention to take away from the owner of the store the use, possession, full retail value of the merchandise; and
  • carried away the items or otherwise took possession of the merchandise;
  • removed or destroyed a retail tag or retail label from the merchandise; or
  • moved the merchandise to a different container.
"Merchandise" means any personal property, capable of manual delivery, displayed, held or offered for retail sale by a merchant.

"Merchant" means an owner or operator and the agent, consignee, employee, lessee or officer of an owner or operator of any premises (or apparatus) used for retail purchase or sale of any merchandise.

"Value of merchandise" means the sale price of the merchandise at the time it was stolen or otherwise removed depriving the owner of his lawful right to ownership and sale of said item.

Optional Definitions

"Knowingly" means with actual knowledge and understanding of the facts or the truth.

"Knowingly" means an act done voluntarily and intentionally and not because of mistake or accident or other innocent reason.

If you have been accused of Shoplifting, Petit Theft or Retail Theft contact a Tampa criminal attorney experienced in fighting theft charges. Call to speak with an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., today at (813)250-0500.

Jury Instructions for DUI Cases in Florida

What are the standard jury instructions for DUI (drunk driving) case in Florida?

If you have been arrested for Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or a Controlled Substance ("DUI") in the Tampa Bay Area, including Hillsborough County, FL, then contact a Tampa DUI attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case.

Call 813-250-0500.

The best way to understand Florida DUI law is to read the standard jury instructions. If your DUI case goes to trial a similar instruction may be read to the jury in your case.
DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE, Pursuant to Section § 316.193, Fla.Stat.

To prove the crime of Driving Under the Influence, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. (Defendant) drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle.

2. While driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle (defendant).

Give 2a or b as applicable.
a. was under the influence of [alcoholic beverages] [a chemical substance] [a controlled substance] to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired; or

b. had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Definitions. Give as applicable.
"Normal faculties" include but are not limited to the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.

"Actual physical control of a vehicle" means the defendant must be physically in or on the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether [he] [she] is actually operating the vehicle at the time.

"Alcoholic beverages" are considered to be substances of any kind and description which contain alcohol.

     ( ) is a controlled substance under Florida law. F.S. Chapter 893.

      ( ) is a chemical substance under Florida law. F.S. 877.111(1).
"Vehicle" is any device, in, upon or by which any person or property is, or may be, transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
Jury Instructions on the Presumptions of Impairment

When appropriate, give one or more of the following instructions on the presumptions of impairment established by Fla.Stat. § 316.1934(2)(a), (2)(b), and (2)(c).

1. If you find from the evidence that the defendant had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.05 or less, you shall presume that the defendant was not under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired.

2. If you find from the evidence that the defendant had a blood or breath alcohol level in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08, you may consider that evidence with other competent evidence in determining whether the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired; or

3. If you find from the evidence that the defendant had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more, that evidence would be sufficient by itself to establish that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired. However, such evidence may be contradicted or rebutted by other evidence demonstrating that the defendant was not under the influence to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired.

These presumptions may be considered along with any other evidence presented in deciding whether the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired.

Give only if this defense is raised.
It is a defense to the charge of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence if at the time of the alleged offense the vehicle was inoperable.
However, it is not a defense if, while impaired, the defendant drove or was in actual physical control of the vehicle before it became inoperable. Therefore, if you are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the vehicle was operable at the time of the alleged offense, you should find the defendant not guilty.
However, if you are convinced that the vehicle was operable at the time of the alleged offense, then you should find the defendant guilty if all the other elements of the charge have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Reading the standard jury instructions for drunk driving or DUI charges can help you understand Florida law.