Fort Walton Beach Criminal Lawyers
Whether you are arrested for a first time DUI or a serious felony, the potential punishments can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, individuals accused of a misdemeanor or felony have rights under the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and state law that provide effective tools when facing the oppressive influence of the government. Law enforcement officers rely on the fact that individuals will be too confused and overwhelmed when they are arrested to assert their legal rights. Our Fort Walton Beach criminal lawyers are committed to defending the rights of individuals and protecting the future of those who are falsely accused or who make regrettable mistakes. Whether you have been contacted by an individual or agency connected with law enforcement or taken into custody, you should immediately and definitively assert your right to remain silent until you have an attorney by your side to protect your interests and rights.
Criminal Attorneys in Okaloosa County
Criminal charges can threaten a person’s job, family stability, liberty, reputation, and financial well-being, but our Navarre criminal defense attorneys with over 150 years of combined experience provide aggressive opposition to the full range of criminal offenses, such as:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
- DUI Manslaughter
- Sexual Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Child Pornography
- Theft Offenses
- Serious Traffic Offenses
- Drug Offenses
- Violent Crimes
- White Collar Crimes
- Concealed Weapons
- Public Corruption
- Federal Crimes
- Possession of Stolen Property
- Juvenile Crimes
- Probation Violation
- Disorderly Conduct
- Obstruction of Justice
Sex Crime Lawyers in Fort Walton Beach
Although no one wants to have their fortunes dictated by the criminal justice system, an accusation that you have committed a sex crime has the potential to derail every aspect of your life. A Fort Walton Beach sex crime conviction can lead to sentencing penalties like incarceration, fines, mandatory counseling, rehabilitation, probation, and mandatory registration as a sex offender or sexual predator. The harsh impact of the registration requirement can hardly be overstated. A conviction that triggers mandatory registration can harm your reputation and permanently limit residential opportunities, employment options, travel choices, and your permissible interactions with other people. The level of scrutiny, bias, and discrimination that accompanies a sex offense increases exponentially when the crime involves a child. Although these penalties can cause immense harm, valid defenses that our experienced sex crimes lawyers in Fort Walton Beach might assert to protect your future include:
- Sexual Exploitation: Lack of knowledge of the exploitation
- Rape: Mistaken identity, consent
- Child Molestation: Unreliability of the child’s testimony, witness/jury bias given the nature of the offense
- Sexual Abuse: Improper identification, consensual encounter
- Child Pornography: Lack of knowledge the purported victim was a minor, inadvertent download
- Sexual Assault: Consent
- Date Rape: Ulterior motives to harm the accused, consensual act, “buyer’s remorse”
- Indecent Exposure: No exposure of sex organs, not a public place, act not vulgar or indecent, no intention to be lewd
- Internet Solicitation: Lack of knowledge of the other party’s age, belief that the messages were consensual
Defense like these that are specific to the charged offense often will be buttressed by defenses based on violations of your rights that include an unlawful search and seizure or confessions or incriminating statements obtained through unlawful coercion or violation of your Miranda rights.
Fort Walton DUI Lawyers
Under Florida DUI laws, driving under the influence (DUI) can be based either on being in physical control of a vehicle or driving while either (1) you have a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08 or above or (2) your “normal faculties” are impaired (e.g. mental or physical driving ability). See Florida Statutes, Section 316.193. The penalties depend on prior DUI history and other aggravating factors, but the sentence can include some or all of the following:
- Jail or prison time
- Expensive fines and costs
- Loss of driving privileges
- Required installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
- DUI school
- Community service
- Misdemeanor or felony record
The mere fact you have been pulled over by a police officer after an evening of drinking alcohol does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of DUI because many effective defenses exist. Our Fort Walton Beach DUI lawyers specifically design our tactics to fit the specific facts, but some defenses that can be effective include:
- Insufficient evidence to justify pulling you over
- Officer inaccuracy or rote inclusion in the police report of physical signs of intoxication during the stop
- Failure of the officer to provide proper instructions and demonstration of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs)
- Reasons other than intoxication for poor performance in SFSTs like obesity, sickness, injury, limited mobility, darkness, and other applicable factors
- Issues contributing to a false positive for a BAL above .08 like diets that are low in carbohydrates, use of mouthwash, improper observation of the mandatory waiting period, and other causes
- Expiration of chemical mixed with blood sample or noncompliance with proper storage procedures for the blood sample
Although a DUI charge must be taken seriously because a conviction can have significant consequences, there are many effective defense strategies that can be used to obtain a dismissal, acquittal or substantial reduction in the charges.
Domestic Violence Lawyers in Fort Walton Beach
The significant rise in public awareness regarding family violence in recent years is a laudable development, but there has been a dark side to this renewed focus. The number of individuals coming forward with false or exaggerated claims has also increased. The media exposure on this issue has put pressure on police and prosecutors to promptly investigate and aggressively prosecute these cases. This external pressure can lead to a rush to judgment even when the report of the complaining witness, which is contested by the accused, constitutes the only evidence. Florida law defines domestic violence as crimes that result in injury or death of certain parties where specified relationships exist or existed in the past, such as:
- Marital or blood relatives
- Parties who live or have lived together as a family
Florida Statutes, Section 741.28 provides a non-exclusive list of offenses that would qualify under the statute like stalking/aggravated stalking, assault/aggravated assault/sexual assault, battery/aggravated battery/sexual battery, false imprisonment, and kidnapping. The powerful protection offered to alleged victims of domestic violence or those alleging the imminent threat of such an act under Florida Statutes, Section 741.30 highlights the ability of unscrupulous individuals to exploit a domestic violence injunction for improper purposes. The statute authorizes a judge when imposing an injunction based on domestic violence to include the following restrictive provision:
- Exclusive use of the joint residence to the purported victim
- Temporary orders that limit or prohibit minor child time-sharing by the enjoined party
- Imposing a requirement of third-party supervision during your time with your child
- Restriction of your Second Amendment rights, including but not limited to prohibiting gun ownership of the party named in the injunction
These harsh consequences can be used by someone with improper motives to bludgeon the other party into compliance with unreasonable demands, to inflict punishment, or to gain an advantage in family law matters. Our Florida domestic violence lawyers in Fort Walton Beach understand this potential for abuse, so we carefully investigate any physical evidence, relevant communications, police reports, medical records, or other relevant information and materials. We look for inconsistent statements, falsifications, improper motives, gaps in evidence, and exaggerated reports.
Reliable Fort Walton Beach Defense Lawyers
Whether you have decided to retain a private Fort Walton Beach defense lawyer or want to learn about your legal rights and potential defenses, the attorneys of our law firm are here to help.
Probation is a punishment that is frequently required by the courts in Florida in place of being sentenced to serve time in a county jail in misdemeanor cases or in a state correctional facility as would be the norm with felony charges. While you are on probation, you might be free from imprisonment but you will instead be closely observed by a probation administrator and by the state of Florida itself in order to ensure that you are following the law and not getting into any further trouble. The conventional terms of probation include engaging with your probation officer at regularly scheduled intervals, staying within a certain geographic area, finding and retaining regular employment, following the law, making compensation for any losses that you may have created, paying any child support that you have been ordered to pay, and agreeing to random alcohol and drug tests. If at any time these conditions are not met, you could face another charge that will necessitate you hiring a Fort Walton Beach probation violation attorney. A qualified defense attorney can help to defend you and make sure that you follow the conditions of your probation.
Types of Probation
There are two distinct classes of probation violations. These are technical violations and substantive violations. A violation of the terms and conditions of your probation that is classified as technical means that you are in violation of one of the many conditions of your probation. One usual technical infringement is neglecting to show up for a scheduled meeting with your probation officer. Some other common technical violations are things such as neglecting to pay fines and court costs, failing to participate in or complete a court-mandated class, failing a drug test, or moving to a new location without approval. A substantive violation of probation is what takes place when you commit a new crime altogether.
Should you break the terms and conditions of your probation, an authorized officer is permitted to arrest you without the need of a warrant. Your probation could be invalidated by a judge and the highest sentence for your initial crime may be imposed. If you won a judgment of withholding of adjudication, meaning that you were not convicted, then a breach of the terms of your probation could make you lose the judgment of withholding of adjudication and instead be sentenced for the original crime. This makes it essential for you to consult a Florida probation violation attorney.
A judge could also issue an arrest warrant for your probation violation. Once your warrant is active, the court will either serve it or depend on you to surrender yourself. As long as the arrest warrant for your violation of probation is active, a Fort Walton Beach probation violation attorney might be able to get a court date scheduled in order to resolve the violation at the hearing. If the case is able to be resolved without jail time, the warrant will be served in court, thus mitigating the need for any jail time.
Having your criminal record sealed means that a court order will be issued for your criminal record to be sealed. Once that happens, your criminal record is no longer in the public domain and therefore confidential from future employers or a general background check. The existence but not the contents of a criminal record may still be revealed if:
- You are applying for a job with a criminal justice agency
- You are being prosecuted for another crime
- You are trying to obtain a license with the Florida Bar in order to practice law in the state of Florida
- You are attempting to be employed by, licensed by, or contracted with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children and Families, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or the Agency for Health Care Administration
- You are trying to get a job with or to be licensed by the Department of Education, child care facilities, specific public schools, or any private school
- You are looking for a job with or otherwise seeking access to one of Florida’s seaports
- You are attempting to purchase a gun
Seeking an Expungement
Different from having your criminal record sealed, expungement is the process by which your criminal records will, through the act of a court order, be physically destroyed and as such, remain confidential from the public, future employers, and general background inquiries. As any Florida expungement attorneys can tell you, one copy of your criminal record will be retained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This copy of your criminal record may only be revealed to law enforcement. When your record is expunged, only law enforcement agencies and members of the Florida Bar will be notified that there was a criminal record that has since been expunged but they will not be able to access the contents of your actual record. In instances of both sealing and expunging, as long as you are not dealing with law enforcement of a member of the Florida Bar, you may legally deny the existence of any criminal record or fail to acknowledge the events that are now hidden from the sealing or the expungement. Basically, once your record is sealed or expunged, your record returns to the exact same as it was before you ever had one.