Misdemeanor Archives - The Law Offices of Travis Koon, PLLC

Entrapment

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Every so often a case comes to one of our offices that just does not seem right, the facts don’t add up. We have seen instances of arrest being made, and our correct defense is entrapment. This defense is based on the universally accepted fact that it is unjust for law enforcement to encourage an individual to perform a criminal activity for the basis of arresting that individual.

Florida statute 777.201 defines entrapment as:

(1) A law enforcement officer, … induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person to engage in conduct constituting such crime by employing methods of persuasion or inducement which create a substantial risk that such crime will be committed by a person other than one who is ready to commit it.

Basically, this says that law enforcement is not allowed to encourage or induce an individual into committing a crime.

Once the defense of entrapment has been shown, it is up to the prosecutors to prove entrapment did not occur. The prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was predisposed to commit the particular crime.

There are several questions that need to be answered to determine if entrapment tactics were utilized:

• Was the individual ready to commit the crime they are being charged with?
• Was it a law enforcement officer or agent that inducted the individual to commit the crime?
• Did the individual engage in criminal conduct as a direct result of law enforcement engagement?
• Was the individual encouraged by law enforcement to engage in criminal conduct in order to obtain evidence?
• Did law enforcement provide the individual with the opportunity or means to facilitate the crime?

In Jacobson v. United States (1991) The Supreme Court of the United States found that Jacobson was induced into the crime due to entrapment. In 1985 government agencies became interested in Jacobson’s interest in child pornography and over the next 2 ½ years sent him mailings for fictitious organizations and one non-existent pen pal, all promoting sexual liberation and challenging censorship. Once Jacobson begin to show interest, they began to offer child pornography material, which he eventually purchased – for which he was arrested.

The prosecution was unable to prove that Jacobson would have committed this crime without their direct involvement, and Jacobson’s charges were reversed due to entrapment.

It is illegal for law enforcement or their agents (undercover, informants…) to induce or engage an individual to commit a crime for the sole purpose of arresting them; they cannot create criminals.

At The Law Office of Travis Koon, we understand that there are times when an individual is persuaded to do something they wouldn’t normally do, and we are here to protect those people. As Florida criminal defense attorneys, we will make sure your rights are not infringed upon. Call any one of our offices today (Miami, Lake City, and Gainesville) today to set up a meeting with one of our dedicated attorneys.

Criminal Mischief

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Criminal mischief… it is one of those charges that are usually accompanied by other charges.  Since it is a charge that carries defined consequences, it is best to have a top-notch criminal defense attorney help fight to reduce or remove this charge.

The State of Florida defines criminal mischief as: when a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages any real or personal property belong to another, including graffiti and other acts of vandalism.   In fact, the damage doesn’t have to be intentional.  If an individual is arrested for driving while intoxicated, and happens to drive through someone’s fence, beside the DUI charge, they may also be charged with criminal mischief.

Criminal mischief includes real property (home, yard, fence…) but also personal property as well.  If during an argument the accused individual grabs the other person’s cell phone and throws it do the ground, destroying it – they can be charged with criminal mischief for damage to personal property.

In order for the accused to be found guilty of criminal mischief, the prosecutor must show that either real or personal property was damaged, and it was done willfully or maliciously.  There are several ways to defend against this charge, but a criminal defense attorney is the best person to decide which route to take.

A couple defenses to be looked at:  Is the accused the person that actually caused the damage?  Does the victim own the property or does it belong to both parties?   Was it a willful act or an accident that happened during an argument?  And of course… what are all the circumstances of the instance.

Depending on the amount of damage done, a criminal mischief charge can be either a misdemeanor or even a felony.

  • Property damage of less than $200 = 2nd degree misdemeanor = up to 60 days in jail and fines
  • Property damage of $200 – $1000 = 1st degree misdemeanor = up to 1 year in jail and fines
  • Property damage of over $1000 = 3rd degree felony = up to 5 years in jail and fines

And if there are prior convictions of criminal mischief, it can instantly become a 3rd degree felony.    This is not a charge you want to try to fight without the help of an attorney.

Graffiti is also considered criminal mischief, but carries different sentencing.  Besides paying the fines, an individual will usually incur community service to make retribution for the crime.  While it may not seem like much damage is happening at the time, causing graffiti can have expense consequences.

  • 1st conviction of graffiti = $250 fine
  • 2nd conviction of graffiti is $500 fine
  • 3rd conviction of graffiti is $1000 fine

At The Law Office of Travis Koon, we will talk with you to understand the entire situation and how you came to be charged with criminal mischief.  We have successfully fought this charge in the past and will fight for you too.  We are Florida attorneys that understand the laws and defenses that are needed to help you through the maze of the criminal justice system.  Call us today.  We have offices throughout Florida, in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, and are here to speak with you.

 

 

 

 

Motion to Dismiss

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These are scary times, made even worse if you are arrested and convicted of a crime.  Your mind is reeling, your heart is beating hard, and you are trying not to panic.  Thankfully, you have called a top notch criminal defense attorney (like those found at the Law Office of Travis Koon) and start to feel relieved.

Your attorney will sit down with you and review your case in its entirety, including all the details that led up to the arrest, during the arrest, and even after the arrest.  The issues will be weighed and the defense will take shape.  Perhaps it is a situation of mistaken identity, maybe this is your first offence and it can be plea bargained or request that the adjudication be withheld.  Under the correct circumstances, another option may be to file a motion to dismiss your case.

A motion to dismiss is filed to terminate a criminal prosecution through court action because of some legal or technical defect in the proceeding.  This motion is filed before or during the arraignment and is a formal request for the court to dismiss your case.

There are many instances in which a motion to dismiss can be filed; the following is a list of some, but by no means all, of these instances:

  • Statute of limitation has run out
  • Double jeopardy
  • Defendant didn’t receive the summons in time
  • Case is filed in the wrong court or in the wrong county
  • Due processes violation
  • Discovery violation
  • Defendant has immunity
  • Defendant is pardoned

Do you see that the motion to dismiss is based on technical issues?  This is not the place to raise disputes regarding the facts of the case, such as “the law enforcement officer is lying”.

As with any legal document, there are several details that must be adhered to when filing a motion to dismiss; it must be in writing, signed by the party or attorney making the motion, it must state the grounds for which it is based, and must be served to the opposing party.  This motion must also include: an allegation that the material facts of the case that are undisputed, a description of these undisputed facts and a demonstration of them.

A skilled and decisive attorney will know when to file a motion to dismiss; the common person is not expected to understand all the legal situations.  This is why it is extremely important to immediately call an attorney if you have been arrested; and if you have been arrested in Florida, call us at the Law Office of Travis Koon.  We have offices in Lake City, Gainesville, and Miami.  We understand how the courts work and how to best defend you in a court of law.  Do not leave your future to chance, call us today.

Expert Witness

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Personal Injury | No Comments

The prosecutor is trying hard to make a case against the defendant; he/she is desperately explaining how the insignificant details actually do apply to the case.  But now it is the defense’s turn to take center stage and defend their client.  An expert witness is brought in to show why the prosecutor’s argument doesn’t make sense.  The expert witness is the turning point of the case and the trial is over.

So what makes this person an expert witness?

An expert witness is someone who specializes in a particular field or discipline who may present their opinion without having been a witness to any occurrence relating to the case; and they have become qualified in their field through training, accomplishments and special knowledge.  This is the only time when an opinion is admissible in court.

According to Federal Rules of Evidence, rule number 702 states that an expert witness may testify in the form of an opinion if the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, the experts knowledge will help the court understand the evidence or to determine the fact in issue, and the expert has applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.[1]

A series of landmark decisions, commonly called the Daubert Trio (taken from the Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals case), by the Supreme Court has established criteria for the admissibility of an expert witness’s testimony in federal courts.  All the following needs to be established:

  • The reliability of the techniques underlying a proposed testimony
  • Peer-reviewed publications supporting it
  • General acceptance of the thoughts and ideas in the relevant field

The attorney may inquire into the reliability in order “to make certain that an expert, whether basing testimony upon professional studies or personal experience, employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field.”[2]

How they can help you

An expert witness can help establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was not able to perform the crime they are accused of doing. The lawyers at the Law Office of Travis Koon are criminal defense attorneys who have the knowledge and skills needed find and properly use expert witnesses.  The opinion of these people can determine the outcome of a case.

Speak with one of our attorneys today to help fight your legal battles.  We are Florida criminal defense attorneys that will help you every step of the way.  We have offices in Miami, Gainesville, and Lake City; let our experience work in your favor.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_702

[2] http://federalpracticemanual.org/node/38

Battery

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When push comes to shove – it becomes battery.

Battery can be defined as;

Actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against the will of the other; or intentionally causing bodily harm to another person.

Battery can be a misdemeanor (simple battery) or aggravated battery (which carries harsher consequences).   A simple battery charge may carry penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 1 year of probation, along with fines up to $1,000.  Injury is not required for a battery charge to be levied against a person.   In fact, touching is not necessary to be charged with battery in the state of Florida; a purse being snatched or an object thrown at another is enough to be considered battery.  This is not a charge to be taken lightly!

A person’s past history of violence, run-ins with the law, and the relationship between the defendant and victim will all be assessed when the penalty is decided.  Aggravated battery involves intentional infliction of great bodily harm, use of a deadly weapon, or battering of a pregnant person.  Aggravated battery carries penalties of up to 15 years in jail or 15 years’ probation, and fines up to $10,000.

The levels of seriousness of the charges are Assault – Battery – Aggravated Assault – Aggregated Battery.  As you can see, being charged with battery is a serious charge and one that definitely needs an attorney to help argue the defendants case.

The testimony of the alleged victim is not always needed to be charged with battery.  If eye witnesses see a person be hit as they back away and cry, battery can be charged.  If 911 is called and the caller tells who hit them, and when they police arrive and see a red mark left by the hit – battery can be charged.  Even if the victim wants to drop the charges, the state can arrest the defendant and build a case around what they believe occurred.

But battery is a highly defendable case, there are many questions the criminal defense attorney will ask, and the state must answer these questions and prove these charges.  Some question asked might be:

  • What is the history of the relationship between the two people?
  • Are there injuries?
  • Were photos taken, when and by whom?
  • Was 911 called?
  • Does the defendant have a history of violence?
  • Was there motive?
  • Are there any inconsistencies of the statements?

These questions show why a skilled criminal defense attorney is needed to help defend against charges.

The Law Office of Travis Koon is made up of skilled Florida criminal defense attorneys that have successfully defended battery cases in the past, and can speak with you about your case.  We have offices throughout State of Florida, with offices located in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, and can help you fight for your freedom.   Call us today to defend any charges pending against you.

DUI

Accessory To A Crime

Posted by | Criminal Defense | No Comments

Sometimes we get caught up in the moment, or are with the wrong people at the wrong time.  If you are charged with being an accessory to a crime, you need to contact an attorney immediately to help defend against this charge.

Being an accessory to a crime can be defined as:

In Criminal Law, contributing to or aiding in the commission of a crime. One who, without being present at the commission of an offense, becomes guilty of such offense, not as a chief actor, but as a participant, as by command, advice, instigation, or concealment; either before or after the fact or commission.[1]

Let’s take a closer look at this definition.  It says that a person isn’t the one committing the crime, but contributing to or aiding in the crime.  It also states that a person who is an accessory to a crime does not have to be present at the time of the offense.  The accessory person can give the command, help plan, instigate (encourage) the crime, and even cover it up.

Accessory after the fact is someone who knows that a crime has occurred and helped conceal it.  It is also referred to as obstructing justice.

One very important fact to understand is that the person being accused of being an accessory to a crime must knowingly contribute to the crime, not accidently.  The prosecutor must prove that the person knew about the crime and intentionally helped commit or conceal it.

A new 2014 Florida statute (777.03) states that a person who commits an offense against the state, even as an accessory, may be charged as if they are a principle in the first degree and will be sentenced as such, even if they were not present at the time of the crime.

If the crime committed is a capital felony offense, then a person found guilty of accessory after the fact will also be charged with a 1st degree felony – punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.00.  If the crime committed is a 2nd or 3rd degree felony, the person found guilty of accessory after the fact can be charged with a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.00.

Being an accessory to a crime is a serious offense.  A person can back out of being an accessory of a crime by denouncing the plans, refusing to assist with the crime, contacting the police or trying to stop the crime from happening.

If you find yourself being charged as an accessory to a crime, please call one of our offices immediately.  The Office of Travis Koon consists of top notch Florida criminal defense attorneys.  We have offices in Miami, Gainesville, and Lake City– several locations to help you.  Call us today!

[1] http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/accessory

Fake ID

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Welcome to Florida!  Can I have your name please?

Visitors flock here from all over the country, and even from all over the world, to enjoy our beaches, family entertainment, and spring break.  Many of the high school and college people come here to relax, enjoy themselves, and maybe even party a little bit – and some do it with a fake id.

When a person hears that a fake id was used, it is often assumed that the individual is under the legal drinking age and wants to either purchase alcohol, or enter into a club/bar; and that seems innocent enough.  But since 9/11, laws have been put in place to create harsh penalties for crimes involving fraudulent or altered government documents, including fake ids.

Using a fake id in Florida is a 3rd degree felony and the individual can be charged and found guilty of this offense.  This means that the person can receive up to 5 years in jail and up to $5,000 of fines. 

Examples of when you can get in trouble

If you lend your driver’s license to a friend, allowing them to purchase alcohol or enter a club or bar, you can also be charged with a 2nd degree misdemeanor.  This means that you could spend up to 60 days in jail and acquire fines of up to $500, and you both could have your license suspended for 1 year.  Most young adults don’t realize the consequences of a seemingly nice gesture.

Now let’s say you have a fake id in your back pocket, you are driving around the city and are pulled over by a police officer.  If you were to give false information to the officer, it now becomes a 1st degree misdemeanor and you can face up to 1 year in jail.  If you happen to have alcohol in the car and are under the age of 21, you now have the charge of possession of alcohol by a minor added onto the fake id charge.

The situations listed above are assuming the individual is over the age of 18, those that less than 18 years old and caught with a fake id receive less penalties, and their records can be sealed.

But wait, there’s more

Consider one more instance.  If you purchase a fake id online – you will pay for this fake id online by using a credit card.  This opens you up to having your identity stolen.  Really, do you think the person you gave all your credit card and personal information to would have a problem reselling that information to someone else?

Call an attorney

The consequences of buying, supplying, or using fake ids are high.  Unfortunately, may people do not realize this and only find this out when it’s too late.  Your original intention may be as innocent as wanting to go to a club with your friends, but if you are arrested you need to call a criminal defense attorney immediately.

At the Law Office of Travis Koon, we know that you are probably a good person who just made a bad mistake; but the life-long ramifications of having a criminal record are too heavy to bear.  Let us help you and try to have these charges reduced or removed.  With several offices throughout the State of Florida, Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, we can help you get through this.

Talking About Your Case On Social Media

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If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Please believe me when I tell you this… posting on social media will harm your case!  If you are arrested and waiting trial, stop posting on all social media sites.  Never, never, never post anything about your case; I recommend you stop posting all together.

Even if you think you are saying something completely irrelevant, the prosecuting attorneys are watching your sites closely to find anything they can use against you; a picture of you with a drink, a picture of you with a friend, a comment on someone else’s photo… they will find it all.

If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that only your friends will see these posts, nothing is private on social media; the entire reason for social media is to share information.  Several courts have ruled that even though the privacy settings are on, social media postings are not private.  Facebook and Twitter even warn users of this in their privacy policies.

Let’s say you are fighting a DUI case, and on your Facebook page there was a picture, taken years ago, of you holding a drink… maybe it’s a good picture and you decide to change it to your profile picture.  The attorney for the other side may see you holding the drink and now he will ask the judge for full access to all you social media accounts.

“A survey of over 1,200 police agencies around the country showed that a whopping 80 percent of officials said they’ve used social media to collect evidence in criminal cases––the majority of which indicating that the information they find there helps them solve crimes faster than they would otherwise.”[1]

Some information that can be obtained from social media is:

  • Background information, witnesses and suspects
  • What the suspect was doing in the weeks, days, or hours before the incident
  • A possible location of a suspect
  • Incriminating photos
  • Information that may support the argument that your actions were planned or thought about prior to the incident
  • Posts or pictures that may incriminate you in a more serious crime or illegal activity

Something so little can have huge ramifications on your case.

If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Some real-world universal laws also hold true in social media.  If you post something that may be damaging to your case and then delete it, you can be charged with destruction of evidence, this is a serious charge.

In the case Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., it was argued that Lester and his attorney had removed evidence from Facebook that showed his prior use of anti-depressants and his medical history.  The court granted a warrant for Facebook to release all information, and a complete search was done of Lester’s Facebook account.  A 32-page report was written and presented to the courts.  Imagine a detailed account of everything you have ever put on social media.

So I say to you one last time… If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

If you need a Florida attorney, call us at The Law Office of Travis Koon.  We deal with criminal defense cases all throughout Florida with offices in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, and may be able to help you with yours.

[1] http://stangllaw.com/facebook-posts-can-hurt-criminal-case-wisconsin/

Self Defense

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense | No Comments

It seems to be a universally accepted fact that a person has the right to defend themselves against the perceived threat of bodily harm or death, even when the force used in defense would normally considered to be crime to do so.

Many laws vary from state to state, this article is giving a general overview, and an attorney should always be consulted in any legal issue.

Findlaw defines the argument of self-defense as:  “The right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence”.  [1]

This may seem like a straight-forward means of defense, but it rarely is.  There are many questions that surround this definition and need to be answered in each case.  What is considered a sufficient level of force?  At what point has the perceived victim gone beyond that point?  Could and/or should the person first attempted to retreat?  What if the victim provoked the attack?  What if the threat wasn’t really there?  This defense is more complicated that it seems on the surface.

The use of self-defense must be similar to the level of threat in question.  In other words, a person can only use as much force as needed to stop or remove the threat.  A victim cannot kill a person for slapping them across the face.

Self-defense justifies the use of force when it is used in response to an immediate threat, but one must stop using force once the threat has ended.  Any use of force by the victim after this point is considered to be retaliation and not self-defense.

Some states say the victim should first make an attempt to avoid the violence before using forces, but many have removed this clause and the “stand your ground” defense can be used.

The state of Florida condones the stand your ground defense and can be found in statute 776.012, which states:

…a person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have the duty to retreat before using or threating to use such force.

A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm…[2]

As stated earlier, the laws have many interpretations to each person and each situation, and an attorney should always be consulted when a person is being charged with a crime.  The Law Offices of Travis Koon are Florida attorneys that understand the ins and outs of Florida law, with offices located in Lake City, Miami, and Gainesville.  Call us today if you need legal consultation or have questions regarding your case.

[1] http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-law-basics/self-defense-overview.html

[2] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0776/0776.html

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.