Practice Areas

Practice Areas

Criminal Law In Florida

Classifying Florida's Crimes: Felony or Misdemeanor?

In Florida crimes that are punishable with over a year in jail are consider felonies, Florida crimes that are punishable with less than a year in jail are consider misdemeanors, repeat offenders are classify by statues and if convicted can face minimum mandatory prison sentences that are significant.

Right to Bail

In most cases individuals arrested of particular crimes are entitle to some form of release pending disposition of their cases. It’s crucial to begging your fight for justice as early as the moment you get arrested, even if you are held without a bond it is still possible to obtain a hearing in order to fight for release.

Scales Of Justice

Federal Criminal Law

A federal crime is one that has been made illegal by federal legislation. Some crimes that are classified as federal can also be a violation of state law. What that can mean for a person accused is that they can be prosecuted in state court and in federal court and sentences can be consecutive. It is crucial that when you select your attorney you select someone who has experience in state and federal defense.

Sentencing in Federal Court

Approximately 90% of criminal cases in federal court are resolved by guilty pleas. As opposed to state criminal cases, federal investigations may have been ongoing for years before formal charges and arrests occur.  Therefore the amount of evidence can be overwhelming. Sentences vary depending on the federal sentencing guidelines. Your response to your pre-sentence investigated report is key.

Rights of People Suspected of Committing a Crime in Florida

Under Florida law, a police officer with reasonable suspicion that a person may be involved in a crime may request identification and an explanation of the person's presence at a scene, yet may not move the person involuntarily from the scene except through an arrest.

An officer with reasonable safety fears may frisk a suspect's clothing for weapons. The officer may not undertake a more intrusive search without good cause. (A person need not consent to a search if simply asked.)

Yet a frisk can lead to a permitted search. And if that search turns up contraband, an arrest may follow.

After arrest, a person has the Constitutional right to remain silent to avert self-incrimination. The officer must read the Miranda warning and is obliged by law to discontinue the interrogation if the arrestee unequivocally asks for a lawyer.

A person facing criminal charges may plead not guilty before a judge and jury. This, in some cases, results in a dismissal of the costs. Alternatively, a plea bargain — pleading guilty to a charge in return for a less harsh sentence — may bring the best possible result.

A lawyer experienced in defending clients in criminal cases can review the facts and offer case-specific advice. For more information or to arrange a consultation, contact us.

Justice Scale On Table With Judge And Client Shaking Hands

Florida Family Law

Most people encounter Florida family law when they intend to divorce, followed by the need to resolve the care of children. Here are the basics of these needs.

First, at least one of the marriage partners must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. (Military personnel stationed out of Florida do not lose the status of resident.)

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

This document constitutes the filing for divorce. The petitioning spouse need not show fault on the part of the other partner, and the petitioner must simply state that the marriage is irretrievably broken in Florida.

The filing includes claims for alimony, which is a highly contentious issue in Florida and one watched closely by practitioners of family law. Florida law requires the process of papers on the non-petitioning spouse and the couple's attendance (not necessarily together) at a Parent Education and Family Stabilization course.

If the parties can agree on caring for the children and allocating obligations and assets between themselves, divorce can be finalized in a few weeks or months. A divorce contested in court takes longer to complete. Mediation, either court-ordered or requested by the parties, can facilitate the resolution of disagreements.

If no children and no claims for alimony are involved, the parties can file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution.

Divorced Parents and Florida Law

When parents divorce, Florida family law deems one thing paramount: the child's best interest.

Rather than sole custody and visitation, today's family law has evolved to encourage shared parental responsibility and time. Current policy understands that both spouses have parenting roles in today's society, and, optimally, divorced parents can maintain close relationships with their children.

If limitations serve the child's best interest, it is possible to convince a court to limit the time shared with the other party. This typically entails documentation showing the other spouse is unreliable or presents a risk to the child.

When deciding on details of the child's future care, a court considers whether both or one of the child's parents will diligently help the child receive care, time, and healthy relationships with both parents. The court will also look at how the caregiving was already allocated between the parents to minimize disruption to the child's life. The financial stability of each parent and their capacity to balance work and child-rearing after the divorce also guides a judge's decisions about a child's future.

The court will approve a parenting plan that allocates time between the divorced spouses and directs future decisions about the child’s health and medical insurance, schooling and activities, religious observances, and other important details in a child's upbringing. The court-approved plan guides whether the child should be dependent on the client's tax returns.

An attorney can work with the client to draw up a proposal to share parental responsibility that accounts for the child's school and summer timetable. The attorney supports the client's case for approval of this time-sharing schedule while keeping the child's best interests first and foremost.

Florida Probate and Guardianship Law: An Overview

When a person dies, anyone holding the will must, under Florida law, file it with their local circuit court no later than 10 days from the time the death was known. Then, one of several processes begins. Here are the two most common ones:

Summary Administration

In Florida, if a probate estate is worth $75,000 or less, the executor may petition for Summary Administration. Beneficiaries will receive notice, and, ultimately, a court order will release the property to the heirs.

Heirs will use the court order to prove the rightful inheritors of funds, such as those held in investment and bank accounts.

Scales of Justice and Judge`s gavel

Regular Probate

The more complicated probate process is necessary in most Florida cases for proper handling of debts and distribution of assets.

First, the will's executor or another person will ask the circuit court for an appointment as the estate's representative. Beneficiaries and heirs will receive notice.

The will is proven in court through witnesses. (A Florida will is self-proving if signed in front of witnesses who also signed a statement with a notary public.) A court-issued Letter of Administration empowers the appointed personal representative to list the assets, pay obligations and distribute remaining assets to heirs.

Assets That Go Through Probate

  • Investment portfolios and bank accounts under the decedent's name alone.
  • Annuity and life insurance policies and IRAs are payable to the individual's estate upon death.
  • Non-homestead real estate, title to the decedent alone, or the decedent and tenants in common.

Assets That Avoid Probate

  • Property titled jointly.
  • Assets with a designated beneficiary or held in trust.

When the final accounting goes to court, interested parties can object. Many months can pass before a court order closes the estate. Individuals may assert that a will or other important document is false, vague, or was procured through undue influence or diminished capacity. Beneficiaries sometimes claim the personal representative is falling short of their fiduciary duties.

Estate litigation may be inevitable. A lawyer experienced with Florida wills, and estates can represent the client in estate litigation to guard the client's rights and the decedent's wishes.

Legal representation helps surviving spouses or heirs who need to demonstrate their rights. It is a great help during the disposition of items held in safety deposit boxes or real property and discovering missing assets.


Florida’s Guardianship Law

A guardian is a court-appointed surrogate who makes financial and sometimes personal decisions for a ward — a surviving minor or disabled adult.

Florida's lawmakers made substantial changes in 2014–2016 (this change is ongoing) to:

  • Heighten protections for wards.
  • Require more information from the prospective guardian on fitness for the appointment.
  • Promote the ward's self-determination by limiting the scope and duration of guardianship.
  • Establish new safeguards to prevent abuse.
  • Ease family members' access to courts.
  • Expand confidentiality in incapacity proceedings, widening the categories of information accessible to the public record.
  • Create the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, an educational and regulatory body.