witnesses Archives - The Law Offices of Travis Koon, PLLC

6th Amendment

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“We the People, in order to form a more perfect union…” Most of us today know that these are the first words of the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution established America’s government and laws, and it outlined certain basic rights for the citizens of our country.

Prior to the U.S. Constitution, the states operated independently, the goal was to bring together the states and ensure certain alienable rights of the people, not allowing the government to become too strong or powerful. It was signed on September 17, 1787, and was amended in 1789. These first 10 amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.

The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes several provisions protecting those being charged with a crime. It states:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Let’s look at each one of these rights.

The Right to a Speedy and Public Trial
The right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State; this part of the amendment means that the defendant must be brought to trial for his/her alleged crime within a reasonable short time after the arrest. The defendant also has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers. This gives the person on trial the chance to stand before an impartial jury that is a representation of his community and declare his innocence.

To Be Confronted with the Witnesses against Him
This gives the accused the right to confront the witness who is testifying against him. Not a physical confrontation, but it does allow his defense attorney to cross-examine the witness. This part of the Constitution ties closely with the idea of “innocent until proven guilty”. If it is found that the witness’s accusations are false, then that person will then be charged with perjury – and could face up to 5 years in prison and fines. The penalties are harsh because it is believed that perjury can erode the foundation of the judicial system.

To Have the Assistance of Counsel for his Defense
We have all head the line in the Miranda Rights that states “if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.” This is not something that is offered by the state because they are being nice, it is a person’s right to have a knowledgeable attorney defend you in a court of law.

Having an Attorney
If you are given a court appointed attorney, be sure to tell him/her all the points of your case, and make sure they understand what happened and what you want from them. But if you can afford a Florida criminal defense attorney, then find one that has a proven track record of negotiations as well as court wins. At the Law Office of Travis Koon, we will take the time to completely discuss your case and the best way to approach your defense. We are defense attorneys located throughout the State of Florida, with offices located in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami. Call us regarding your case and we will work diligently to defend you.

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.

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.

Self Defense

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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

Administrative Hearing Versus a Criminal Case

Posted by | DUI, Uncategorized | No Comments

When a person is arrested for DUI, there are two aspects to the case. The person has the right to fight their driver’s license revocation with the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles. On the other side, the person who has been arrested and faces criminal charges, the client has the right to contest those criminal charges.

An Administrative Hearing only takes place if the person arrested or the driver requests a hearing within 10 days of the date of the arrest. The hearing officer, who provides over the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicle’s Hearing, is not a lawyer. Witnesses do not appear at the hearing, unless subpoenaed by the driver.

The paperwork submitted by the police officer may be sufficient to sustain the suspension. There’s no prosecutor or lawyer for the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles involved in the hearing. The Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles only needs to prove the test result of .08 percent or above alcohol level or that the driver refused to submit to the test to sustain the suspension. Ultimate guilt is irrelevant. The ultimate guilt will be contested in the criminal case.

The driver’s presence is not required at the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicle Hearing or even if desirable in most cases. Forms of evidence are relaxed and hearsay is admissable. Hearings must take place within 30 days of the date of the request. So basically within 40 days of the driver’s arrest.

Proof to sustain suspension is by a preponderance of the evidence. Resolution of the matter occurs anywhere from 45 to 180 days from the date of the arrest, meaning the driver will know whether his driver’s license will be suspended or revoked by the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles within 45 to 180 days. At this hearing, the driver is basically asking the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles to overturn the suspension. The decision rendered stands regardless of the result of the criminal case, unless it involves a breath test and an acquittal at trial.

In the criminal Case, a judge presides over all hearings. Witnesses must appear to testify at trial. The case is prosecuted by the State of Florida. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was either under the influence or had a breath alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. The defendant’s presence is required at trial, but not at soundings or calendar calls.

The rules of evidence are strictly enforced. While a speedy trial must take place within 90 days, it is rarely applicable. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. Case resolution time’s vary widely, from 90 days bare minimum to several months or even years. The average time to resolve a criminal case is usually several months.

Please remember that the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicle’s Administrative Hearing is completely separate from the criminal case in which the defendant has a right to confront all witnesses against him.