Posted On: March 28, 2010

A Primer on Juvenile Criminal Cases

Florida criminal courts handle juveniles in a separate criminal division. A juvenile is under eighteen years old. The prosecutor can charge a juvenile in adult court and seek adult sanctions: this is referred to as a “direct file” case. The decision is entirely up to the State Attorney for the district; Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are all independent criminal jurisdictions, that means the prosecutor is elected and each prosecutor (State Attorney) sets policy for his district’s criminal courts. Fort Lauderdale (Broward County), West Palm Beach and Miami (Miami-Dade County) are all different and juveniles get treated differently, it is a matter of policy, not law. Florida criminal laws also permit judges to overrule the decision to “direct file” on a juvenile: that is to seek adult sanctions. Florida criminal laws (Section 958), the “Youthful Offender Statute” permits a Florida criminal court judge to impose a maximum six year sentence (any combination of sanctions from probation to incarceration) on a juvenile, but, the sentence must be imposed before their twenty-first birthday. If you, or a family member, has been arrested in South Florida, contact criminal defense lawyer Ralph Behr for a free consultation

Posted On: March 19, 2010

A Drug Arrest in Florida Doesn’t Have to Give You A Felony Record

Since the Florida Legislature created the Drug Court Diversion program, many South Florida criminal courts have created “Drug Courts”. Here is how it works: If you have been arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, or possession of marijuana (Cannabis) or oxycodone, or other drugs (controlled substances) you can avoid a conviction by requesting Drug Court. Admission in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Miami criminal courts is only by request, so make sure your South Florida Criminal Lawyer knows how to get you into Drug Court. Fort example, some lawyers file Discovery Demands immediately: this blocks you from Drug Court. Have you Florida criminal lawyer file the motion to transfer your drug arrest from felony court to drug court. If you have no prior felony convictions, and no gun or weapons convictions, you can get into drug court. After the one year program your case is nolle prossed. That means you will have no felony record. In Florida a felony conviction means you cannot vote, cannot own a gun, and have to report to the Sherriff when you move. Drug court is a once-in-a-lifetime option and a true gift. Ask your Florida criminal defense lawyer to explain the drug court option.

Posted On: March 17, 2010

How to Set Aside Your Florida Conviction When Deportation Threatens

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security has decided that the best way to secure the homeland is to deport as many people as possible. This horror is inflicted on our most productive and hardest working residents with tragic results. Here’s how the system now works: If you have a felony conviction in your past you are sure to be contacted and sent a removal notice. The removal notice begins deportation. If you have a felony conviction in Florida, contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney and ask about the procedure to withdraw your plea and vacate the conviction. In Florida the procedure is known as post-conviction relief under Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. The formal name is a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence. Contact a Florida criminal defense lawyer and ask what grounds exist to file a 3.850 motion and set aside your conviction. There is a two year rule that begins two years after your conviction, or two years after you become aware of the defect in your plea. There are other methods of appealing and extending the two year rule: for example ineffective assistance of counsel or a violation of the constitutional requirements of a plea colloquy. Call a Florida criminal lawyer for help and get started immediately. Make sure the Florida criminal lawyer you hire has extensive experience in appeals and post conviction work. It is often easy for a newby to miss an issue which can get your sentence set aside.