Criminal Appeal

Do you need a Criminal Appeal Attorney in Florida for a DUI Conviction?

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Appealing Your DUI Case from a Conviction in Florida

Have you been convicted of a criminal case and need to appeal your criminal conviction in the state of Florida? The Law Office of Travis Koon appeals cases from all counties in Florida, not just Gainesville, Lake City and/or Miami.  If you have been convicted, speak to an attorney immediately.  You have very specific time requirements after you have been sentenced and the Judge places you in jail, prison and/or on probation to appeal your criminal case in Florida.  You need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

You have been charged and convicted of a DUI… now what?  If you have read my other blog/articles, you know that a DUI conviction can wreak havoc on your life; but you still have one more chance to fix this… you can appeal your DUI.  I also hope that you have taken my advice and retained the services of a highly qualified DUI attorney.  Our attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon have appealed many cases to higher Court to help win our clients cases if there is a legal issue to appeal.  We cannot guarantee a win for you, but we can promise to look closely at your case and zealously fight on your behalf if there is a legal issue to appeal.

After your conviction & sentence, immediately speak with your attorney to discuss the possibilities filing an appeal.  Just because you don’t want a DUI conviction on your record doesn’t mean you can automatically file an appeal; but if you feel that that an error was made, then you need to file one, and quickly.  In most states, your attorney has only 10-30 days to file on your behalf.  In Florida, you have 30 days in most criminal cases but our advice is to immediately consult an attorney as soon as you have been sentenced.

How does the appeal process work in a DUI criminal case in the State of Florida? 

 Your attorney will file a brief to the appeals court arguing that mistakes and/or legal errors were made either during the arrest, during the trial and/or during the sentencing, and you feel these errors negatively affected the outcome of your case.  Your attorney will file a notice of appeal, statement of judicial acts, and write the appellate motion on your behalf.  The appeal process takes hours to complete because the attorney must review all evidence, depositions and trial transcripts.  Next, the attorney will conduct case research regarding any legal issues that the attorney has spotted while reviewing the evidence, testimony, trial transcripts and sentencing documents.  The attorney can many hours of research because the client usually has only one chance to win on appeal.  The attorney must insure that the proper research is conducted prior to the appellate brief being filed because the client must raise all legal issues in the appeal.

The appeals court will not hear any new evidence unless there is newly discovered evidence; they will read the transcripts from your trial and take a close look at the process and facts surrounding your case to determine if a legal error was made. They will then make a ruling on your case.

Your Role in the criminal appeal process in Florida

An appeal trial can take several weeks or months to be heard, you must wait your turn.  During this time you many need to be paying any fines you incurred and even serve your sentenced jail time, speak with your attorney to be sure.  This may be extremely inconvenient to do(to say the least) – but you need to be sure to follow all of the judge’s orders so as not to incur any more fines or problems by not abiding by the orders.    You want to be able to stand in front of the appeals court judge and show that you are cooperating and truly trying.

With all the briefs and paperwork being filed by your attorney and the prosecuting attorney, your DUI paperwork file will start to stack up; be sure you keep everything.  Of course your attorney will have a file for you at their office, but this is something that will affect your life… be sure you stay responsible and keep copies of everything as well.

In the End, what should you do if you want to appeal your criminal case? 

It is horrible to find yourself in the situation of being charged and convicted of a DUI.  Any of the lawyers in our Florida offices (Gainesville, Lake City, or Miami) can help you fight this conviction on appeal. Your knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience with the court systems and know how to best help you.  Most attorneys are good at what they do, but you want to make sure you hire an attorney that practices in criminal defense and has went to trial and appealed many cases.  At The Law Office of Travis Koon, this is what we do… and we are good at what we do.

Travis Koon

www.koonlegal.com

386-597-0000

352-729-1211

305-365-8821

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

Breathalyzer

DUI? Field Sobriety Exercises? Attorney Travis Koon

Posted by | Attorney, DUI, Uncategorized | No Comments

DO YOU HAVE TO PERFORM FIELD SOBRIETY EXERCISE?  HAVE YOU BEEN ARRESTED FOR DUI AND NEED TO SPEAK TO A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY? 

DUI-Don’t Walk, Talk or Audition for Your Freedom

Lake City, Miami, and Gainesville, Florida Attorney

The charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is usually a misdemeanor, but depending on circumstances may be charged as a felony.  To be considered a DUI, the driver needs to be found with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher and be in control of a vehicle.  But other than that, each state differs in their charges and laws.

 

A DUI may be a felony charge if bodily harm is inflicted onto another person, having a child in the vehicle, having prior DUI convictions, or if driving on a restricted, suspended, or revoked license… again, these laws differ from state to state.  There are too many unknowns for a person to try to fight a DUI conviction alone, please don’t attempt to defend yourself.  If a person cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint one for you.

 

Because of the differences from state to state and that the ramifications of a DUI charge are severe, it is extremely important to hire a good criminal defense attorney in the state of the offense.  Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Florida and Georgia Bar.  We encourage each individual to hire an attorney experienced with the laws in the State the person is accused of committing the crime.

ATTORNEY TRAVIS KOON-DUI & CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

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Florida law states that if a person is driving a vehicle, they have given consent to submit to a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol content, this is known as implied consent; but the driver does have the right to refuse the test.  If the driver refuses the test, the driver could loose his license up to one year.  On the other hand, if the driver does refuse to submit to the breath, blood or urine test, Attorney Travis Koon can assist the individual and help the person obtain a business purpose license in specific circumstances.  Just because a person fails to blow, provide a blood and/or urine sample does not mean the person is automatically going to jail and/or will not be able to drive forever.  Contacting a criminal defense attorney to advise you of your rights is recommended because the process is difficult to understand, the procedure is complicated and being properly advised as to how to fight your case are important.

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There are consequences when refusing a breathalyzer test, the following are a possibility:

1st offense of refusal = driver’s license suspended for 1 year (you can obtain a business purpose permit to driver to and from work, to and from school and to and from church but you must follow a very strict procedure to do so in Florida)

2nd offense of refusal = driver’s license suspended for 18 months and minimum 10 days jail time (no hardship allowed in Florida.)

3rd offense of refusal = driver’s license suspended for 18 months and minimum 30 days jail time (no hardship.)

 

An arraignment is when the defendant appears before a judge to be formally charged with a crime and have the court appoint an attorney if the person cannot afford one on their own.  It is at this time the defendant, or their attorney, can enter a plea of either guilty, ask for a trial by judge, ask for a trial by jury, or try to plea bargain down the charges.

 

In some circumstances, a DUI can be pleaded down to a “wet reckless” charge.  This is considered a reckless driving involving alcohol charge and has less severe penalties than a DUI conviction.

 

On the flip side, if you are pulled over and the officer has the suspicion of DUI, but you know you have not been drinking alcohol, it is well within your right to ask for a breathalyzer test to assert your innocence.

 

A DUI conviction can have harsh and long lasting repercussions; it is in your best interest to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney.  The Law Offices of Travis Koon are highly qualified Florida attorneys that have the knowledge and experience you need.    We have attorneys in Miami, attorneys in Gainesville, and attorneys in Lake City – giving people several location options.  Being charged with a DUI is an intimidating situation to be in, let us help guide you through this trying time.

 

EXPERIENCED GAINESVILLE AND LAKE CITY, FLORIDA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

 

At www.koonlegal.com and Attorney Travis Koon, we know that if found guilty, some of these charges can change your life completely.

 

At www.koonlegal.com , Criminal Defense Attorney Travis Koon, is a trained and skilled attorney that will assess your situation and argue the best defense for your case. Attorney Travis Koon has represented people charged with crimes his entire career. Criminal Defense Attorney Travis Koon has helped over 1,500 clients avoid jail time and the loss of their freedom. Attorney Travis Koon has conducted over 40 criminal trials and many of those trials were in the immediately area surrounding Live Oak, Florida, Lake City, Florida and Gainesville, Florida. Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Florida Bar and Georgia Bar. In addition, Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Federal Middle District and Northern District. Attorney Travis Koon is experienced in criminal cases in State and Federal Court.

 

Koonlegal

Travis Koon, Attorney

Criminal Attorney

Live Oak, Lake City & Gainesville, Florida

Live Oak and Lake City-386-597-0000

Gainesville-352-729-1211

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

www.koonlegal.com

Police Stop

What does Innocent Until Proven Guilty Mean in Florida?

Posted by | Assault, Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Seizure, Stop & Frisk, Uncategorized | No Comments

Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

The justice system was built upon the theory that all people are innocent until proven guilty.   In order to convict a person the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.  This is all good and well, unless a person is found guilty when they are truly innocent.

 

It is scary to think that this happens at all, much less more than we like to think.  Some feel that knowing about all the wrongful convictions can undermine the public’s confidence in the judicial system.    In 1996, C. Ronald Huff, Arye Rattner, and Edward Sagarin wrote a book that estimated about 10,000 people were in jail for crimes they didn’t commit[1].

 

Take William Jackson for example; a Columbus, OH man who was found guilty of raping several women in the 1980’s.  After serving 5 years, it was found that a physician was responsible for the crimes.  The physician was similar in appearance and had the same last name.[2]

 

So how does this happen?  How are this many innocent people found guilty?  Huff’s research found that many of the convictions were based on eye witness’s wrong identification, followed by perjury and the public pressure to solve cases can result in overzealous police officers.

 

In an instance such as this, it is more important to have an attorney on your team.  The attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon understand that it is possible for a person to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  We fight for our clients start to finish, our goal is leave no rock unturned and to provide our clients with the best defense under the law.

 

Anytime you are being charged with a crime, you need an attorney by your side.  Don’t try to navigate the court system alone, let those who have studied and understand all aspects of the law fight for you.  Our attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon have the experience in the courtroom and the negotiation table that you deserve.  Visit one of our locations at either Lake City, Gainesville, or Miami.  We are here to fight on your side.

 

Travis Koon

Attorney

386-597-0000

352-729-1211

www.koonlegal.com

 

DUI

Arrested for DUI? Seeking a DUI Attorney in Lake City, Fl.?

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense, DUI, Seizure, Stop & Frisk | No Comments

Arrested for DUI? Do you have to be driving to be arrested for DUI in Lake City or Gainesville, Florida? 

Have you been arrested for DUI in Lake City or Gainesville, Florida? Can a person be arrested for DUI when they are not driving the vehicle?  I know this may sound like a silly questions, but the surprising answer is YES!  There have been several cases of people being arrested for DUI when they are actually not driving their vehicle.

 

To be arrested for a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) the defendant must be found with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit, and must be in physical control of the vehicle.

 

Notice it does not say the person must be driving a vehicle.

 

This is a situation in which a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is absolutely needed.  The attorney can argue the fact that although a person was intoxicated, there must be proof of intent to drive or have recently driven the vehicle. 

 

Having physical control of the vehicle means the person must be physically in or on the vehicle, and have the capability to operate the vehicle.

 

In the Florida case of Griffin v. State, the guilty charge of DUI was upheld for several reasons.  The engine was off, but the keys were in the ignition, the lights were on and the foot brake was pressed (known because the rear brake lights were illuminated).  But perhaps the main indicator was that the car was stationary in a traffic lane facing the opposite direction of the flow of traffic.

 

It is highly recommend that a person not try to ‘sleep it off’ in their vehicle after a alcohol has been consumed.  But if you must sleep in your vehicle after drinking, here are some recommendations:

 

  • Do not have the keys in the ignition or in your pocket.  Put them on the passenger side tire; put them in the trunk if you have a trunk release, or somewhere not easily available to you.
  • Do not sit in the driver’s seat.  Sleep in the back seat if possible (without the keys on you).
  • Do not have open containers in the vehicle.  Do not even have cups with the smell of alcohol near you.
  • Do not move the vehicle at all.  Not to straighten it out, not to move it out of the way of another vehicle; do not move it at all.
  • If the police stop to check on you, always be polite and have your ID available to show.

 

If charged with a DUI, call a reliable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible; this is not something that will go away on its own.  Being found guilty of a DUI can have immediate, severe, and even long lasting effects to your permanent record.  At The Law Offices of Travis Koon, we listen to all the facts, then work to reduce the charges as much as possible.

 

EXPERIENCED GAINESVILLE AND LAKE CITY, FLORIDA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

 

At www.koonlegal.com and Attorney Travis Koon, we know that if found guilty, some of these charges can change your life completely.

 

At www.koonlegal.com , Criminal Defense Attorney Travis Koon, is a trained and skilled attorney that will assess your situation and argue the best defense for your case. Attorney Travis Koon has represented people charged with crimes his entire career. Criminal Defense Attorney Travis Koon has helped over 1,500 clients avoid jail time and the loss of their freedom. Attorney Travis Koon has conducted over 40 criminal trials and many of those trials were in the immediately area surrounding Live Oak, Florida, Lake City, Florida and Gainesville, Florida. Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Florida Bar and Georgia Bar. In addition, Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Federal Middle District and Northern District. Attorney Travis Koon is experienced in criminal cases in State and Federal Court.

 

Koonlegal

Travis Koon, Attorney

Criminal Attorney

Live Oak, Lake City & Gainesville, Florida

Live Oak and Lake City-386-597-0000

Gainesville-352-729-1211

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

www.koonlegal.com

 

 

Why Hire a Small Boutique Law Firm in Lake City & Gainesville, Florida?

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5 Benefits of Hiring a Small Law Firm

 

If you find yourself in the sticky situation of needing a criminal defense attorney, so many things are happening at once; you family is in an uproar and you’re worried about what is going to happen.  Probably the most important decision you will make is hiring the right attorney.

 

You may see commercials for large law firms with a name that sounds something like John, Jacob, Jingleheimer, Schmidt, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

It may sound impressive to have so many attorneys working under one roof, but that doesn’t mean they will all be working on your case like a niche law firm.

 

At The Law Office of Travis Koon, we are a small law firm with several locations to best assist you.   We have offices in Lake City, Florida, Gainesville, Florida and Miami, Florida.   Our attorney’s focus on their respective area of law, stay well informed of the case law and new statutes that are released.  We feel that there are several advantages to choosing a more personal size law firm.

 

The Client is Important

When working with a small law firm, the clients don’t get lost in the crowd.  Our attorneys will give you and your case the individualized attention you need and deserve.  While our attorneys may not be able to speak with you each time you call, we will return your call and we pride ourselves on building a business relationship with you.

 

Efficiency

Large law firms have a tendency to shuffle your paperwork back and forth, from one person to the next… all the while billing you for this shuffle time.  But at a small firm such as ours, we don’t waste your time or money moving papers around to several different interns; we focus on your case to have it resolved as quickly as possible.

 

Small but Tough

Your case is very important and maybe even life-altering to you; but in a large firm, your case might be too small to bother with.  We don’t feel that way.  We understand how important each case is, and treat each one accordingly.  At the same time, we can also focus our attention on the tough cases that may need more research and fact finding than a straight forward case… we love those too.  Our clients in Lake City, Florida deserve a one on one and face to face interaction with each case.

 

Our Attorneys Work Together

Large law firms teach their attorneys to be cut-throat and ruthless; while that may sometimes be OK in the court room, it also means that they usually don’t pool their knowledge and help each other when handling your case.  At The Law Office of Travis Koon, our lawyers work together to find and fight for the best solution for your case.  Our firm is almost completely wireless and paperless.   Our attorney’s work via a secured cloud server which enables an attorney in Miami to create a document, an attorney in Gainesville to review the document and an attorney in Lake City, Florida file the document.  This simple process is done daily to enhance our clients work product and it enables our attorneys to constant work together seamlessly.

 

Passion

Most people go into law for the core reason of passion.  Working in a small firm allows the attorney to see the difference they can make in a person’s life; keeping that passion alive.  When you have a passionate attorney (such as those at our offices) working on your case you can be assured they will dig deeper and fight for you.

 

Hiring the right attorney just may change the outcome of your situation; make sure you hire the one that is best for you.  The Law Office of Travis Koon is a small firm that is here to guide you through this uncertain time.  We may be small, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to fight, just the opposite in fact.

 

Travis Koon

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

386-597-0000

352-729-1211

 

Police Stop

Did the Officer Illegally Search or Stop & Frisk you?

Posted by | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Search, Seizure, Stop & Frisk | No Comments

When Does a Frisk Become a Search and Seizure?

This article is simply a brief description; a credible attorney should always be consulted in any situation. For assistance in legal situations call The Law Offices of Travis Koon, our criminal defense attorneys can determine if your rights were unlawfully infringed upon.
It almost seems common knowledge that a law enforcement officer is within their legal rights to frisk (a limited search) a person for weapons (for the safety of themselves and those around them) during temporary detainment – such as a traffic stop. This is a common misconception; law enforcement is only allowed to frisk an individual when they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ of a weapon.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1968 Terry v. Ohio:
Where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, …he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him.
This shows that in order to frisk a suspect, two requirements must be met:
• The suspect must be legally detained, meaning the detention must be based upon reasonable suspicion of a criminal activity.
• There must be reasonable suspicion that the person detained is armed and dangerous. Reasonable suspicion includes the totality of the situation – a bulge in clothing, behavior, the nature of the suspected offense and even the time and location of the stop .
The next question is to what extent is the officer allowed to frisk the detained person. The restraining officer is allowed a limited search of the outer clothing. A ‘limited search’ consists of a pat down of the outer clothing, then if the officer detects what he/she believes to be a weapon may they reach into the clothing to remove the object in question.
But what happens if the object in question is not a weapon, but perhaps an illegal controlled substance? If the officer believes the questionable object may be a weapon but turns out is in not, but still an illegal substance, as long as it was a lawful frisk, the contraband is admissible in evidence. But if the contraband was found by manipulating the outer clothing by squeezing or sliding the contents in the detainee’s pocket, then it is considered an invalid seizure, and any contraband found is invalid as well – as ruled in Perkins v. State .
Many laws are unquestionably confusing, and a person should not be expected to try to figure them out alone. It is in your best interest to hire a strong criminal defense attorney, such as those at The Law Offices of Travis Koon, who will guide you through the court systems and work hard to ensure your legal rights were maintained.

What can happen if you are Arrested for a Misdemeanor?

Posted by | Assault, Battery, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Petit Theft | No Comments

There Can Still Be Big Consequences for Misdemeanor Charges
Being charged with a misdemeanor is definitely not as dire as being charged with a felony, but it can adversely affect your life and follow you for years to come. For this reason, it is extremely important to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney when charged with a misdemeanor.
Just a few examples of misdemeanors are:
• Speeding,
• Trespassing,
• Vandalism,
• Public intoxication,
• Harassment,
• Theft under a certain monetary amount,
• Loitering,
• Possession of a small amount of an illegal drug,
• Driving While License Suspended,
• DUI,
• Petit Theft,
• Battery,
• Domestic Battery,
• Assault,
• Minor in Possession of Alcohol,
• Reckless Driving.
Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list, but you get the idea of what is considered a misdemeanor.
In order of severity, the least to worst charge is generally as follows: infraction, misdemeanor, and then felony; there may be levels of severity within each. A misdemeanor conviction can cause the same legal ramifications as felonies, but unfortunately, there are fewer ways to expunging them from your criminal record. Some of the consequences of being found guilty of a misdemeanor can be fines, required classes, community service, or even jail time. These are just the immediate consequences, but the life-long hindrances are usually much worse. You cannot have this arrest expunged if you are adjudicated guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
According to Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, “The single most dangerous thing people think is that if they get a conviction and don’t go to jail they won’t face issues… Misdemeanor convictions can have serious impacts.”
Imagine being in jail for a month or two while you await trial for being charged with a small offense because you couldn’t afford to pay the bail money.
Those found guilty of misdemeanor charges often feel they constantly have to prove that they are not the bad guy their record insinuates. You can temporarily lose your driver’s license, be turned down for jobs, lose your professional license, be refused housing… in general some basic abilities to provide for yourself or your family may be lost.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is vitally important to call a top rated criminal defense attorney such as those at The Law Offices of Travis Koon. The best result that one can hope for is being found not guilty of a crime, and that is not likely to happen without a professional fighter in your corner. Let the lawyers at The Law Offices of Travis Koon fight for you. We are criminal defense attorneys in Florida, know the laws, and can help you maneuver the legal minefield known as the court system.

DUI

Arrested? 4th Amendment Illegal Search and Seizure

Posted by | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI | No Comments

The 4th Amendment-Illegal Search & Seizures

On September 25, 1789 the First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. On December 15, 1791 10 amendments were ratified and constitute the first 10 amendments, or the Bill of Rights.
The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution protects against unwarranted searches and seizures. It states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmations, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This amendment protects against arbitrary arrest, and is the basis of laws regarding search warrants, being stopped and frisked, and even wires taps and other forms of surveillance; as well as other privacy laws. It was originally thought of as the notion that ‘each man’s home is his castle’ and protected him and his information while in the home, but today it is also expanded upon to protect a person’s privacy even while in public.
There are arguments for and against the idea that the US Constitution is a ‘living and breathing’ document. The proponents for this idea believe that the US Constitution needs to be interpreted in the modern societal text, while the opponents believe that it is a distinct set of rights that is the cornerstone of our society and shouldn’t continually be changed.
According to West’s Florida Practice Series TM, in order for a search to fall within the coverage of the Fourth Amendment, “a governmental search must either intrude upon an individual’s ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ or amount to trespass upon an individual’s person, house, papers, or effects in an attempt to find something or obtain information’.
It is the reasonable expectation of privacy that the Court handed down a landmark decision in Katz v. United States in 1967 that the Fourth Amendments protects people, not places. Katz was accused of placing bets and receiving wagering information by telephone, he used a public telephone booth to make interstate wages. FBI agents placed a wiretap outside of the telephone booth and could hear his side of the conversations. Katz argued that this violated his rights because he had the reasonable expectation of privacy, even while in public. It is a value judgment ‘as to the extent to which a free and open society will permit governmental intrusion upon personal privacy in order to facilitate other societal objectives such as effective enforcement of criminal laws’.

Justice Stewart’s assessment was that the Fourth Amendment “protects people, not places” shows the fine line that is walked by law enforcement daily.
Moving forward to 2014, but still using the same example of obtaining information from telephones, Riley, in Riley v. California, was stopped on a traffic violation. While searching him incident to the arrest, the police officer seized a cell phone from his pants pocket and eventually accessed photos and videos that seemed to be in connection with a shooting that occurred weeks earlier. Riley’s motion to suppress was denied. This was eventually reversed when it was decided that police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.
With ever-changing technology, the laws are constantly being revised to take this into account. No one should have to attempt to maneuver the court systems alone. Hiring a top criminal defense attorney such as The Law Offices of Travis Koon is in the best interest of the charged individual. We will fight for the rights of our clients.

Drug Crimes & Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws

Posted by | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes | No Comments

Changing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Charges

As cocaine and other illegal drugs gained popularity in the US during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s the American justice system was faced with growing drug crimes. When a star college basketball player, Len Bias, died of a cocaine overdose in 1986, it shocked the nation and encouraged Congress to pass mandatory sentences for drug charges.

These new, strong laws targeted not only high level drug offenders but also low level offenders such as couriers. Under those laws, multiple convictions for small time crimes handed down long, harsh sentences for many people.

A debate arose that questioned if the severe sentences were necessary for small time multiple drug offenders. Bill Otis, former federal prosecutor felt that “people are in prison for their own bad choices.” While others such as Judge John Gleeson stated “Mandatory minimums, to some degree, sometimes entirely, take judging out of the mix. That’s a bad thing for our system.”

On August 12, 2013 US Attorney General Eric Holder released a memo regarding enhancements on charging mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug cases. He felt there was a need to refine polices for certain non-violent, low-level drug offenders.

The 2013 Alleyne v United States case ruled that for a defendant to be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, prosecutors must conduct an ‘individualized assessment’ to ensure the charges fit the circumstances of the case and must take into account factors such as:
• The defendant’s conduct
• The defendant’s criminal history
• The circumstances relating to the offense
• The needs of the community

Basically, the punishment must fit the crime.

US Attorney General Eric Holder feels that long sentences for non-violent, low-level drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence and rehabilitation and severe mandatory minimum sentences must be reserved for serious, high level violent drug crimes.

It is stated that due to the rising prison costs have resulted in reduced spending in areas such as law enforcement agents, prosecutors and prevention programs.

In this memo it is reminds a prosecutor to decline mandatory minimum sentence if:
• The defendant’s conduct does not involve the use of violence, threat of violence, or other factors
• The defendant is not a criminal organization leader
• The defendant does not have significant ties to large scale drug trafficking organizations
• The defendant does not have a significant criminal history

But rather than just stop at new offenders, the Clemency Project 2014 takes past crimes into account and invites prisoners who committed non-violent drug crimes to apply for early release or pardons.

It is scary to try to navigate the ever changing laws of the court system. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side means you are not alone during this time of uncertainty. At The Law Offices of Travis Koon, we know that all persons have the right to a fair trial, and we will work hard to defend you or your loved ones. Call us today to discuss your case.

http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/ag-memo-department-policypon-charging-mandatory-minimum-sentences-recidivist-enhancements-in-certain-drugcases.pdf

When is the time right to file for Bankruptcy?

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Is it Time to File for Bankruptcy?

 Sitting down with the checkbook and a stack of bills each month can be a daunting experience.  When the money going out of the bank account is more than the money coming in – it’s time to look for a way out of debt.

What is Bankruptcy?

Federal laws have been established to help individuals and companies find relief from debts and to be able to make a fresh start.  These laws were created to help honest but unfortunate debtors that have fallen into financial hardships with little to no reprieve.

There are 2 different types of bankruptcy that can be filed, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates all non-exempt assets to pay off the creditors.  This is preferred if a debtor has little income and large unsecured debts such as medical bills and credit cards.  Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes debt and uses a payment plan to pay down the creditors.  This is preferred if a debtor has income but wants to avoid foreclosure or needs time to catch up on all financial obligations.

You need to understand that bankruptcy may not clear you of all financial responsibilities.  You may be required to pay secured loans such as the mortgage, student loans, alimony, and child support.

When to File

There are times we would all like to walk away and start new; it is time to seriously consider bankruptcy when:

  • You have been out of work for an extended period of time with little to no unemployment or other income.
  • You are very delinquent on taxes.
  • You are near foreclosure.
  • Your wages are being garnished to pay creditors.
  • There are pending law suits to pay creditors.

Advantages and Disadvantages

As with any decision, it is best to weigh the pros and cons against each other with filing bankruptcy.

 

Bankruptcy Attorney

Some advantages to filing for bankruptcy are:

  • Automatic Stay – creditors must stop calling and trying to collect on debts owed once an Automatic Stay is filed.
  • Some properties may be exempt from being sold – depending on the properties owned and how the debt is laid out, you may be able to keep ownership of some properties.
  • Begin to fix credit score – bankruptcy adversely affects your credit score, but it is probably already low due to being behind on payments.  You will be able to move ahead and start rebuilding your credit again.
  • Mental relief – The knowledge that you are able to stop the harassing calls and ready to move forward in life will allow you to sleep again at night.

Some disadvantages to filing bankruptcy are:

  • Negatively affects your credit score – albeit your score may already be affected, but this will remain on record for a number of years.  Chapter 7 remains on your credit history for 10 years and Chapter 13 for 7 years.
  • Other affects of credit score – Many employers and housing agencies check your credit score, and bankruptcy may negatively affect your chance at housing or employment.
  • Not all property is exempt and may need to be sold to fulfill some of the financial obligations.
  • Mental impact – although you may relieved to be out from underneath the mountain of debt, some people have trouble accepting the fact that they had to file for bankruptcy, and don’t like knowing that this is now public record for anyone to see.
  • Higher interest rates – if you are granted loans or lines of credit, your interest may be higher due to this past history.

The Next Step

Once you have checked all your options, understand the advantages and disadvantages, and have decided that filing for bankruptcy is in your best interest, the next step is to file.  You can either file for bankruptcy yourself, or hire a skilled bankruptcy attorney to ensure all creditors are notified and handled properly.

The Law Offices of Travis Koon have handled many bankruptcy claims and does so with the knowledge and sensitivity that you deserve.   When filing for bankruptcy in Florida, you deserve an attorney that  understands bankruptcy and will help you through this difficult time.  We represent individuals in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, and Lake City; call us today to start down the road to recovery.

Travis Koon, Esquire

Eduardo Fons, Esquire

The Law Office of Travis Koon, PLLC

291 NW Main Blvd

Lake City, Florida 32055

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

Phone: 352-729-1211

Phone: 386-597-0000

Fax: 866-497-1103