ARE YOU FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES OR ARE YOU A SUSPECT IN A PENDING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION?

If you’ve been arrested anywhere in Florida, the first thing you should do is contact a criminal defense attorney (You can also visit our Miami or Lake City offices but we can service anyone in the state of Florida with a strong presence in Jacksonville and Gainesville to include the surrounding areas) to learn about your legal rights. It’s important to find an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney who not only understands the Florida Sentencing Code but who is also is not afraid to be aggressive on your behalf in the Court Room. Choosing an attorney that is assertive, has trial experience, and that is not afraid to advocate fearlessly on your behalf is essential to defending your case.

SELECTING A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Hiring a Lake City or Miami criminal defense attorney immediately after the officer believes there is probable cause to arrest you and you are taken to jail, is essential to defending your case. As a private firm, our attorneys are able to pay close attention to the details of each case. Our  attorneys have the time to spend one-on-one time with each and every client, are experienced, and look to find an aggressive solution to your case.

WHY CHOOSE OUR LAW FIRM?

Attorney Travis Koon is experienced in dealing with clients that face a criminal charge that may lead to a conviction with the possibility of facing a jail or prison sentence. Choosing an attorney that understands the difficulties that someone accused of a crime faces is very important. Our attorneys understand that a person in this situation can loose their job, be kicked out of school, have a criminal record, or go to jail. Our firm does not take this responsibility lightly and is here to make sure that your criminal case is resolved in a successful manner. Our law firm has the knowledge and trial experience to a handle all types of criminal matters, including, but not limited to:

Contact us now to get a consultation for your criminal matter. Our office zealously advocates to have your case dismissed before trial. Being represented by experienced attorneys who service Lake City, Miami, Jacksonville, or Gainesville criminal defense cases may help to properly preserve your rights. Our ultimate goal is always to get your case dismissed.

HAVE YOU BEEN ARRESTED FOR A DUI?

It is our recommendation that you immediately ask the officer to speak to an attorney after you are stopped!

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT THINGS I NEED TO KNOW IMMEDIATELY IF I AM ARRESTED FOR A DUI?

You only have 10 DAYS to request a hearing or waive your right to a hearing with the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles after the date of your arrest for DUI. You must make this request or waive your right to a hearing and possibly be subject to a Driver License suspension by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. We recommend that you contact an attorney, so a criminal defense attorney at our firm can walk you through this process immediately after you are arrested so that we can assist you in obtaining a business purpose license so that you can continue to operate an automobile.

If you are arrested for DUI, you will be taken to booking in the county where the arrest occurred. In most instances, the arresting officer will set a bond and the accused will be allowed to bond out 8 hours after the arrest. The accused will likely go to first appearance where a Judge will review the bond amount. The Judge has the discretion to increase or decrease the bond amount at first appearance. The accused does have the right to an attorney at first appearance. Our office recommends contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that the attorney can assist the client to obtain a reasonable bond amount as well as to advise the accused of their rights immediately.

Following first appearance, the accused will have arraignment where the accused will face the charges in Court. We advise our clients to contact us within the first 10 days so that we can assist with the administrative process as well as assisting our clients preserve important evidence. Immediately upon hiring one of our experienced DUI attorneys, we will request a copy of any and all in-car dash camera videos, booking videos and any other evidence that could potentially leads to a dismissal of the case.

If we are retained within the first ten days, we can fight the revocation of your Driver License in the administrative process against the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Our office will request a hearing to contest the revocation of the accused’s Driver License. In many circumstances, we can assist the client in obtaining a business purpose license so that our clients can continue to work or go to school. Our experienced attorneys can advise you as to the exact procedure required to obtain a business purpose license and will assist you throughout the entire process.

The first mandatory court appearance is Arraignment. At Arraignment, the accused will be formally charged and the trial Judge will schedule a pre-trial hearing. If our office is retained to represent the accused, we file a written plea of not guilty and request discovery. A discovery request asks the State of Florida to disclose all relevant evidence that they have against you. (Please scroll down to the frequently asked questions section to obtain a full understanding of the discovery process.) Our office will request a copy of any and all field sobriety exercises that may have been performed, video and audio footage and all test results. Once our attorney’s receive the discovery we will review all items with our client that could be used against him or her at trial. At that time, your attorney will decide if there are any valid motions that could be filed in your case to fight the DUI conviction on your behalf.

Generally, once the discovery process is complete; the State of Florida will make an offer of plea prior to trial. The accused can elect to accept the offer of plea or proceed to trial where your retained attorney will go over the facts of your case with you to assist in making a decision to proceed to trial or accept an offer of plea. The State of Florida is not required to make an offer of plea but in most circumstances an offer of plea will be extended to the accused.

If you proceed to trial, the State of Florida must prove beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime of DUI. The State of Florida has the sole burden of proof and the accused is not required to prove anything. Your retained attorney will assist you in selecting a jury for trial. Your experienced  team, who has helped people in the areas of Jacksonville, Miami, Gainesville and Lake City will provide expert criminal defense. We will go over the entire jury selection process with you prior to trial. Once a jury is selected, the State of Florida will conduct their opening statement. Next, your experienced trial attorney will conduct an opening statement so that he can present your side of the case. It is important to have an experienced trial attorney during the process because this is the first opportunity to present your side of the story.

The State Florida will then present all the evidence that they intend to use against you to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime of DUI. The State of Florida will call any witnesses that they intend to use against you at this portion of the trial. Your experienced trial attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the State of Florida’s witnesses and the evidence against you. Your experienced trial attorney will look to attack any inconsistencies in the statements of the witness, attack the lack of evidence or any inconsistencies in the physical evidence to refute the testimony of the State of Florida’s witnesses.

At the close of the State of Florida’s case, your defense attorney will have the ability to present any and all valid defenses, call witnesses on your behalf, introduce evidence on your behalf, introduce expert testimony on your behalf and you will have the right to testify on your behalf at this portion of the trial.

At the close of the State of Florida’s case, your defense attorney will have the ability to present any and all valid defenses, call witnesses on your behalf, introduce evidence on your behalf, introduce expert testimony on your behalf and you will have the right to testify on your behalf at this portion of the trial.

At the close of the defendant’s case, each party will be afforded the opportunity to provide a closing argument to the Jury. Once closing arguments are completed the Jury will go back into chambers to deliberate as to whether the State of Florida has sufficiently proven beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt that the accused committed a crime.

WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DUI CRIMINAL CASE AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE CASE CONCERNING THE SUSPENSION OF YOUR DRIVER LICENSE?

If you are accused of a DUI and charged in a criminal case, a Judge presides over all hearings. In the administrative case concerning the suspension of your driver license, a hearing officer presides over your case and this hearing is separate and distinct from your criminal case. In your criminal case, witnesses must appear to testify at trial. In the administrative case, witnesses do not have to appear at the hearing unless subpoenaed by the driver. The paper work submitted by the police officer may be sufficient to sustain a driver license suspension. It is important to hire a criminal defense attorney out of Lake City or Miami experienced in DUI to represent you so that the proper evidence is brought to light at the administrative hearing on your behalf.

In the criminal case, the prosecution must prove that the person accused of DUI was either under the influence of a alcohol or a controlled substance or had a breath alcohol level of .08% or above. In the Administrative case, there is no prosecutor or lawyer for the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles involved in the administrative hearing. The Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles only needs to prove a test result of .08% or above, or that the driver refused to submit to the breath test, urine test, or blood test to sustain a suspension of your Florida Driver License. The ultimate guilt or innocence in your criminal case does not dictate the results of the Administrative Hearing with the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles.

The person accused of the crime is required to be present at trial in the criminal case but not at arraignment if represented by counsel, “soundings” or “calendar calls.” The driver’s presence is not required or even desirable in most instances during the administrative hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The rules of evidence as established by the Florida Legislature are strictly followed in the criminal proceeding and the rules of evidence are loosely applied at the Administrative hearing. An administrative hearing must be held within 30 days of the date of request but you have 90 to go to trial in the criminal case if speedy trial is not waived to allow the attorneys to gather more discovery in your case. If speedy trial is waived in your criminal case, then the case could last much longer than 90 days.

At the Administrative hearing to determine if your driver license will be suspended due to a DUI arrest, the arresting officer need only prove by the preponderance of the evidence that the breath test, blood test, or urine test results indicated that you were under the influence of an alcoholic beverage of .08% or above, or that the driver refused to submit to the test to sustain a suspension. On the other hand, in the criminal case; the prosecutor or the State of Florida must prove guilt beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt that the accused was either under the influence or had a breath alcohol level of .08% or above.

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM SENTENCE I FACE IF I AM ACCUSED OF A DUI?

1st DUI: fines range between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment not exceeding six months. If the accused had a blood or breath-alcohol level of 0.15 or higher or had a person less than 18 years of age in the vehicle, the potential fine rises to between $1,000 and $2,000 and the potential imprisonment increases to nine months.

2nd DUI: fine range between $1,000 and $2,000 and imprisonment not exceeding nine months. If the accused had a blood or breath-alcohol level of 0.15 or higher or had a person less than 18 years of age in the vehicle, the potential fine rises to between $2,000 and $4,000, and the potential imprisonment increases to 12 months. If the second conviction is for an offense that occurred within a period of five years after the date of a prior conviction, there is a mandatory minimum jail term of 10 days. At least 48 hours of this term must be consecutive. The 10-day mandatory jail sentence applies if the offense occurred within five years of the prior conviction even if the second conviction is outside the five years. The court may allow the defendant to serve all or part of this sentence in a residential alcoholism treatment program or drug abuse treatment program, and the court must credit such tine to the term of imprisonment. However, community control, probation, house arrest, a work farm, or a parks program does not fulfill the requirement of the mandatory incarceration.

3rd DUI: for an offense that occurs within 10 years after a prior conviction is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. For all third and subsequent convictions, if the offender has a blood or breath-alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, or has a person under the age of 18 years of age in the vehicle, the minimum fine is $4,000.

4th DUI: a fourth DUI is a third degree felony, fines range from $2,000 to $5,000 if the offense is treated as a felony. The minimum jail term will depend on when the third DUI Conviction occurred. The accused could be subject to 30 days in jail or none at all and will be determined by the facts of the case. The maximum period of incarceration could be five years and would be subject to Florida’s Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines.

DRUG CRIMES

The defense of drug-related crimes can be difficult and complex and requires an experienced criminal lawyer who understands how best to proceed.

Even if law enforcement finds drugs directly in an individual’s possession, the drugs and other evidence could potentially be suppressed if the arresting officer did not follow proper procedures required under the U.S. Constitution. Our attorneys have successfully litigated motions to suppress based upon illegal detentions, illegal searches, illegal searches, and illegal warrants. One of the first things an experienced criminal defense attorney should look for when defending someone accuse of a drug offense is whether the police themselves acted in a legal manner. We have offices in Lake City and Miami to discuss your case but feel free to contact us from anywhere in the state as we service many areas to include Jacksonville and Gainesville plus the surrounding counties.

Our attorneys have successfully litigated drug cases where people have been accused of possession of a controlled substance to later learn that the controlled substance was not actually illegal. In addition, our attorneys have successfully litigated cases where the arresting officer found drugs on our client’s possession but indicated a greater weight amount than the drugs weighed. An incorrect measurement of the weight of a drug could mean the difference between our client facing a misdemeanor and a felony criminal charge. In other circumstances, an incorrect weight about in a drug case could mean the difference in the accused facing a minimum mandatory sentence as directed by Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code and facing no minimum mandatory sentence. Our attorneys have successfully won at trial and had cases dismissed where our clients were accused of possession of a controlled substance based upon construction possession. Our attorneys have witnessed clients charged with possession of a controlled substance as a passenger in an automobile when the passenger was not even close to the drugs found in the automobile.

The prosecution has the burden of proving each and every element of a drug crime and our attorneys vigorously hold the State of Florida to this burden of proof.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE ARRESTED AND WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AS SOON AS YOU ARE ARRESTED?

Many times officers will attempt to question you as soon as you are placed in handcuffs. You have the right to remain silent and contact an attorney so use it. You will be transported to the jail in the county in which you are arrested if you are charged in State Court and taken to booking at the county jail where you will be processed into the jail.

CAN I BOST A BOND?

Under most circumstances, the arresting officer will set a bond. You can post a bond yourself or contact a bondsman. Once arrested, you will appear before a Judge within 24 hours of your arrest. The Judge will advise you of the charges for which you have been arrested. The Judge will also advise you that you can hire a private attorney or you can have an attorney appointed to you, in other words, you can have the Public Defender represent you. The Judge will then decide if the police had a sufficient legal basis for the arrest (make a probable cause determination). The Judge will also set the official bond amount at the 1st Appearance Hearing.

We advise all of our clients to remain silent other than to request an attorney at 1st Appearance. We advise our clients that all phone calls at the jail and video recording at the jail can and will be used against you.

Our attorneys will appear at first appearance on our client’s behalf to advocate that probable cause does not exist for our clients arrest and to litigate for a lower bond amount as soon as our clients have been arrested.

WHY DO I HAVE TO POST BAIL?

The purpose of bail is to insure the defendant’s presence at scheduled court appearances. Each and every individual has a right to bail, unless the individual is charged with a capital crime (all felonies that carries a maximum sentence of either life imprisonment or death) or facing a violation of probation.

WHAT DOES THE JUDGE LOOK FOR WHEN SETTING THE BAIL AMOUNT?

The Judge will look to determine how long the person arrested has lived in the area, whether he or she has family living in the area, whether he or she is working, whether the person has been allowed out on bail before and appeared in court when required, and whether the person arrested has a criminal record.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE JUDGE DETERMINES THAT THE CHARGE IS NOT SERIOUS OR SUBSTANTIAL?

The Judge has the option to release the person arrested on ROR or release on own recognizance. The individual will be issued a notice to appear in Court and the Judge can elect to not require the person to post a bond.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE JUDGE SELECTS A BAIL THAT I CANNOT AFFORD?

If the Judge imposes a bail in an amount that the individual arrested cannot afford, a motion to reduce bail may be appropriate.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I AM ARRESTED AND HAVE A COURT DATE?

Your first Court date is called Arraignment. Arraignment is where formal charges have been filed. Arraignment is not a time where the Prosecutor or Defense Attorney can present evidence. The purpose of an arraignment is for the person accused of the crime to be informed of the charges against him or her, and for the person accused to enter a plea.

A retained attorney may enter a plea of not guilty on the person who is being accused of the crime’s behalf and waive his or her appearance in Court at the arraignment proceeding. The case will then be given a pre-trial date and trial date by the Judge.

It is important to retain an attorney because some Judges will set the case for trial if you are not present, other Judges and prosecutors may ask for a waiver of speedy trial if the case is not set for trial directly from arraignment. If you fail to file a written plea of not guilty or if an attorney does not file a written plea of not guilty on your behalf a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest.

WHAT TYPES OF PLEAS MAY A PERSON ACCUSED OF A CRIME ENTER?

Not guilty, guilty; and nolo contendere (“no contest”).

WHAT TYPE OF PLEA MAY BE ENTERED IN A CRIMINAL CASE?

Your attorney and the State of Florida may negotiate a plea in a negotiated plea agreement. However, even if the State and Defense Attorney have negotiated a plea agreement, the Judge is not required to accept the negotiated plea agreement.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE COURT REFUSES TO ACCEPT THE NEGOTIATED PLEA IN A CRIMINAL CASE?

The decision has to be made to renegotiate an agreement acceptable to the Judge, proceed to trial, or enter an “open” plea as charged (where there is no agreement as to what sentence the defendant may receive).

ARE YOU GOING TO GET TO SEE THE EVIDENCE IN YOUR CASE BEFORE TRIAL?

Florida is an open discovery state, both the State of Florida and the defense have to make a full and complete disclosure of witnesses and evidence intended to be used at trial.

IF YOU ARE ACCUSED OF A CRIME ARE YOU ENTITLED TO A SPEEDY TRIAL?

In most cases, a defendant will be brought to trial within 90 days of his or her arrest if the crime is a misdemeanor, and within 175 days of arrest if the crime charged was a felony. The accused can always waive their right to speedy trial so that the accused can prepare a defense to their case.

WHAT IS A MOTION TO DISMISS?

The person accused of a crime can file a Motion to Dismiss if there are no material facts that are in evidence, and those facts do not constitute a crime.

CAN THE ACCUSED FILE A MOTION TO CONTINUE?

In most cases, a Judge will allow a motion to continue if it is done so in writing.

CAN A MOTION TO SUPPRESS BE FILED TO EXCLUDE PHYSICAL EVIDENCE?

Yes, if the case presents facts that warrant a motion to suppress physical evidence. If the facts constitute the filing of a motion to suppress, the fruits of unreasonable searches and seizures, whether from encounters on the streets or search warrants, can be subject to suppression.

CAN A MOTION TO SUPPRESS BE FILED TO EXCLUDE A CONFESSION?

Yes, if the admission or confession is illegally obtained it may be attached by a motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.190(h). Please note there are specific requirements that must be met in order to file such a motion. Our attorneys can advise you if the facts of your case warrant the filing of a motion to suppress an illegally obtained statement or confession.

WHAT ARE MY ALTERNATIVES IF I DON’T WANT TO GO TO TRIAL OR ENTER A PLEA?

Pretrial Diversion
In some cases, the State Attorney’s Office may offer pretrial diversion. The pretrial diversion program is ran by the State Attorney’s Office and is usually reserved for first time, nonviolent offenders. The diversion program is very similar to probation. In most circumstances the State Attorney’s Office will require a meeting with the program administrator to see if you are accepted into the program. After acceptance into the pretrial diversion program, the individual being supervised must report once a month to a supervising officer, undergo random drug testing, complete community service hours, and refrain from being involved in criminal activity. The charges will be dropped upon successful completion of the pretrial diversion program.

Pretrial Intervention
Pretrial intervention is similar to pretrial diversion, but the program is administered by the Court system. Pretrial Intervention is similar to probation and the individual must report to the Court. The Court or Judge sets the reporting period and frequency. The individual must be evaluated for and undergo any recommended substance abuse treatment, anger management counseling and any other treatment program ordered by the Court. The individual must complete other specific requirement that may ensure that the accused is not a repeat offender. The individual being supervised by the Court must refrain from being involved in any criminal activity. If the individual successfully completed the pretrial intervention program the charges will be dropped or dismissed.

I HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF A DRUG OFFENSE, IS DRUG COURT AN OPTION?

Drug Court is offered in some counties throughout the State of Florida to address issues for first time felony drug offenders. Drug Court is a diversion program but generally the individual accused of a crime must suffer from an addition. The program is not designed for people accused of selling controlled substances, rather; the programs purpose is to treat those individuals who are addicted to controlled substances. The program provides for the identification, evaluation, case management and placement of substance abusing offenders in order to avoid entering the formal criminal justice system. The Drug Court Judge reviews reports on each participant, along with the individual’s attorney and any program treatment providers. Incidents of noncompliance are reported immediately to the Drug Court Judge, along with recommendations as to consequences to be imposed. If an individual is admitted into the Drug Court Diversion Program the individual will likely remain in the program from 6 to 18 months. However, the presiding Drug Court Judge has the discretion to shorten or lengthen the term of reporting to Drug Court. Successful completion is totally at the discretion of the presiding Drug Court Judge. Upon successful completion of Drug Court the charges will be dropped.

CAN I GO TO JAIL IF I HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR A MISDEMEANOR OR FELONY OFFENSE?

Misdemeanor Offenses are handled by the county court and are usually considered less serious crimes than felony offenses. However, a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to sixty days in the county jail, up to six months probation and a $500 fine. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in the county jail, one year of probation and a $1,000 fine.

Felony Offenses are handled by the circuit court in the State of Florida. Felony offenses are sentenced pursuant to Florida’s criminal punishment code. Under Florida’s criminal punishment code each felony is scored a specific amount of points. The higher the level a felony is designated, the more points that will appear on the criminal punishment code and that could result in a high minimum sentence. The criminal punishment code establishes a guideline score sheet where in many cases will establish the minimum sentence that the accused is allowed to have.

A Third Degree Felony is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a $5,000 fine. A Second Degree Felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years probation and a $10,000 fine. A First Degree Felony is punishable by up to thirty years in prison, thirty years probation, and a $10,000 fine. A Life Felony is punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole, or probation for life, and a $15,000 fine. A Capital Felony is punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

WHAT TYPES OF SENTENCES DO I FACE IF I AM ACCUSED OF A CRIME?

A person accused of a crime could be sentenced to probation, which is generally reserved for first-time offenders or for those offenses that score low on the criminal punishment code score sheet. A person could be sentenced to community control at jail or home which is a more server punishment that regular probation, this probation is much more restrictive and usually the last step before a sentence to a term of prison or in the county jail. A person could be sentenced to a county jail sentence or sentenced to incarceration with the Department of Corrections.

I HAVE BEEN SENTENCED BY A JUDGE OR ENTERED A PLEA, CAN I APPEAL?

The time for filing a notice of appeal if a defendant is convicted or has plead after losing a dispositive motion, he or she must file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the sentence is imposed.

If the case is appealed, the trial judge may allow the defendant to be released on bail pending a final decision by the appellate court. Please be advised that your attorney must file a specific motion for this to occur in most circumstances and you do not have a right to a bond while an appeal is pending. Whether to allow an individual a bond while the appeal is pending is at the discretion of the trial court.

WHAT TYPE OF FEE AGREEMENT CAN I EXPECT IN A CRIMINAL CASE?

A Lake City, Fl or Miami criminal defense attorney at our firm work on a flat fee basis in all criminal matters. We ask our clients to sign a non-refundable retainer that describes all of the services that we will provide. Our firm will handle your case from the time you are arrested, assist with helping you obtain a bond, appear at arraignment, request discovery, conduct discovery on your behalf, negotiate any plea offers that may be available and take your case to trial with one of our experienced trial attorneys.