Fort Myers Criminal Lawyers
Whether a defendant has been stopped and arrested for DUI or they learn they are the target of an investigation involving a financial crime, skilled and experienced Fort Myers criminal lawyers can protect their rights against overzealous law enforcement and prosecutors. Although a misdemeanor or felony conviction often results in significant formal penalties and long-term informal consequences, individuals accused of a crime can significantly improve their prospects for a positive outcome by asserting the constitutional right not to talk to law enforcement and to assist on legal representation. While a police officer, investigator, or detective might claim a defendant can improve their situation by “telling their side of the story,” law enforcement personnel are probing for evidence to support their prosecution.
If one is pulled over by law enforcement, the basis of the stop will usually be the officer’s observation of a traffic violation or so-called “erratic driving.” The officer will then use the stop to ask questions and observe the responses. Depending on this interaction, the officer frequently will ask one to perform standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). In Florida, these standardized field sobriety tests often include:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: During this test, the police officer monitors the suspect’s eyes while they trail a slow moving object, typically a small flashlight held by the officer. As they watch, the officer is looking for signs of intoxication or impairment including not being able to smoothly follow the object, an involuntary jerking of the eye called nystagmus when the eye has moved as far as it can to the right or left, and an involuntary jerk in the eyes when moved 45 degrees to the right or left.
- The One-Leg Stand Test: To start this test, the officer provides the suspect with instructions while they are still standing with both feet on the ground and their hands at their sides. The suspect must then lift one foot at least six inches off the ground while keeping the base of their foot parallel to the floor. They must then begin counting with their eyes on their raised foot until instructed by the officer to stop. While the suspect counts, the officer will be looking for signs of intoxication including swaying on one foot, using their arms to balance, hoping to remain balanced, and dropping their raised foot before told to do so by the officer.
- The Walk and Turn Test: This test is the traditional straight-line test that is typically used by officers in both Florida and across the country. To begin with, the officer provides instructions to the suspect while they are standing with their feet on the ground and hands at their sides. The suspect then takes nine steps forward walking heel-to-toe in a straight line. After taking nine steps, the suspect will turn around and take nine steps back to their starting position. During this process, the officer is looking for several signs of impairment including if the suspect cannot stay balanced, lose their balance while turning, or has to stop to regain their balance, if they begin walking before the officer finishes the instructions, if they use their arms to steady themselves, if they don’t walk heel-to-toe, and if they take the wrong number of steps.
Although a longer driver’s license suspension can be imposed if a person refuses to submit to chemical testing of blood alcohol level (BAL) under Florida implied consent law (See Florida Statutes, Section 316.1932), you cannot be penalized for refusing participation in SFSTs. The purpose of SFSTs and officer questions during a stop is to gather the evidence needed to create probable cause for an arrest and to force you to submit to chemical testing. Because you have nothing to gain by participating, you should politely decline to answer any questions without legal counsel besides providing your driver’s license and registration or to participate in SFSTs. This approach can minimize the amount of evidence available to the prosecutor, but an experienced attorney can use other defenses, such as:
- Exposing officer errors in conducting SFSTs
- Providing explanations for failing the tests unrelated to intoxication
- Failure to calibrate the breath testing machine
- Contamination of blood or urine samples
- False positive breath tests from a low carb diet, GERD, vomiting, or acid reflux
An experienced lawyer can protect your rights and defend your driving privileges, freedom, reputation, and future if you are charged with alcohol-related offenses like the following:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): If you are operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or above, you are violating Florida DWI laws and may have penalties including a $500-$2,000 fine. The punishments are even more severe if you’re charged with a DUI as a minor.
- DUI Manslaughter: This crime occurs when someone’s reckless actions or behavior while operating a motor vehicle cause the untimely death of another person. Under Florida Law, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony. Those convicted of vehicular manslaughter can be punished with up to fifteen years in a Florida State Prison.
- DUI Accidents: If you’re involved a DUI crash, the penalties can be severe and vary depending on the type of property damage and injuries suffered as a result of the crash. Minor injuries and property damage are considered to be first degree felonies and can carry a maximum penalty of one year in county jail. More serious crimes, however, can carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
- Boating DUI: Florida law prohibits operating a vessel with a blood-alcohol level at or above .08%. Depending on the type of accident, the suspect doesn’t necessarily need to have been driving the vessel to be charged with a boating DUI if an accident occurs as a result of their intoxication
- Felony DUI: If you have received two DUI convictions within the past 10 years and are found guilty of drinking and driving again, you can be charged with a felony DUI. If you are later charged with a DUI a fourth time, this charge will automatically be filed as a federal DUI which carries much harsher penalties than non-federal DUIs.
- DUI with Prior Convictions: The severity to which you can be punished after receiving a DUI with prior convictions on your record depends on how recent the other convictions were, the type of convictions they were, and the severity of the actions punished in the convictions. Depending on the circumstances, you may be fined $2,000-$10,000 and face a jail sentence from 30 days to five years.
- Implied Consent Law Refusals: Florida’s implied consent law states that if you are arrested by an officer who had probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence, you automatically give your consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine to determine your BAC. Refusing to take these tests can lead to a year or longer suspension of your driving license.
- Administrative Driver’s License Suspension Hearings
Domestic Violence Charges in Fort Myers
“Domestic violence” under Florida law refers to engaging in acts like battery, assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, stalking or other criminal acts that cause physical injury to a family or household member. See Florida Statutes, Section 741.28. Although the precise penalties for a domestic violence offense will depend on the circumstances of the offense, penalties might include loss of gun rights, incarceration, substantial fines, completion of a Batterers Intervention Program, probation, and other consequences. Experienced Fort Myers criminal attorneys tenaciously advocate for the rights of those accused of these offenses. We might employ strategies like investigating motivations for false allegations, seeking the exclusion of impermissible evidence, and challenging the sufficiency of the prosecutor’s evidence regarding the elements of the charged offense.
Defense of Individuals Charged with Sex Crimes in Fort Myers
Sex crimes often carry a stigma and consequences that linger long after you have fully served your jail time and satisfied all the terms of your probation. The impact of a conviction of a sex crime often includes the requirement that you register as a sex offender. This registration requirement means that anyone can learn about your past crime even after you have fully satisfied the terms of your sentence. You also must comply with restrictions about your occupation, the place you reside, and even the locations you visit. Feel free to contact us if you have questions about a sex crime charge or investigation, such as:
- Federal sex crimes
- Spousal rape
- Stalking Injunction
- Date rape
- Dating Violence Injunction
- Repeat Violence Injunction
- Sexual Violence Injunction
- Domestic Violence Injunction
- Procuring a Minor for Prostitution
- Aggravated Stalking
- Sexual Tourism
- Indecent exposure
- Pimping and pandering
- Possession/Transmission of Child Pornography
- Sexual battery
- Sexual Predator Act
- Computer and internet sex crimes
- Failure to register
- Domestic Violence
- Lewd or lascivious
- Sexual assault
- Sexual activity with a 15/17-year-old
Although these are the types of crimes that we see most often, our Fort Myers criminal defense attorneys have decades of collective experience. Our background defending individuals charged with a diverse range of state and federal charges has equipped us to also handle the full range of criminal cases, including but not limited to the following:
- Simple Possession: When in possession of fewer than 20 grams of certain substances including cannabis. Simple possession charges in Florida are considered to be first degree misdemeanors
- Possession of Marijuana: Possession of fewer than 20 grams of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in Florida. Possession of 20 grams to 25 pounds is considered a felony and carries a maximum penalty of one-year incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
- Distribution: Drug distribution charges in Florida are generally felony charges. Those convicted of distribution can face penalties of 3-5 years to life in prison depending on the volume trafficked.
- Prescription Drug Offenses (e.g., forging prescriptions, pill mills, etc.): Florida statute § 893.13(6)(a) outlaws anyone in the state of Florida from possessing prescription medication without obtaining it lawfully from a certified medical practitioner with a valid prescription or from a physician. Forging prescription pills carries its own set of severe penalties, and, under Statute § 831.30, those found guilty can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
- Manufacturing: Florida state law prohibits the unlawful manufacturing or cultivation of controlled substances and the penalties for these actions depends on the type of drug being manufactured or cultivated.
- Drug Trafficking: Under Florida law, it is illegal to sell, transport, or import a controlled substance. As with distribution charges, drug trafficking charges in Florida are typically processed as felonies
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
- Red Light Violations
- Reckless Driving
- Other Serious Traffic Offenses
- Insurance Fraud
- Bad Checks
- Tax Evasion
- Public Corruption
- RICO: Under the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, an investigative agency can act on the behalf of the state to begin forfeiture proceedings for tangible and intangible property seized in accordance with RICO proceedings. The RICO Act also allows civil investigative subpoenas to remain confidential for 120 days after being issued and those who are being subpoenaed are not permitted to disclose the subpoena to anyone except their legal counsel.
- Criminal Enterprise
Other Lee County Criminal Defense Attorney Practice Areas
- Probation Violations
- Weapon Crimes
- Juvenile Offenses
- Disorderly Intoxication
- Theft Crimes
- Violation of Restraining Orders/Injunctions
- Possession of Stolen Property
The Musca Law Philosophy
We understand that your character is being challenged, and your valuable time is under siege until this matter is resolved. Our Fort Myers defense lawyers work relentlessly, providing your case with the attention and precision that it requires. You aren’t simply facing accusations: you are experiencing an interruption in your life. We aim to resolve matters swiftly and decisively, effectively restoring your way of life, and peace of mind. Contact Fort Myers Criminal Defense Attorneys 24/7. Our Fort Myers defense lawyers share a commitment to defending individuals facing the enormous power of the state and federal government. We understand that accusations of a criminal offense are never conveniently timed. We are available 24/7 to begin your legal counsel immediately, and protect your rights throughout the entire legal process. Contact us today to immediately be protected by experienced Fort Myers criminal defense attorneys.