Articles Posted in Federal Criminal Defense


100 ‘most asked ‘ questions


Just say no.

If you can say no to an insurance salesman who is trying to sell you insurance, you can say no to a cop:  he is trying to sell you a prison term.

The police are an instrument of the State, not your mother or your priest.

The street is not the place to object to police actions, assert your rights, and seek fairness or justice.   That is what goes on in a court.

Just say no and call your lawyer from jail.

Loose lips sink ships.


100 ‘most asked ‘ questions



The police can look into your yard with binoculars, from airplanes, from a neighbor’s yard, from anywhere.

If an officer is lawfully in a place from which he can view your home or yard it is with the Plainview exception to the search warrant requirement.

Looking into your yard can also mean examining your trash if it is put out for trash pickup.

You do not have any expectation of privacy in any garbage which is placed in a garbage container and left for pick up. That means your trash can be pulled and examined by police.


100 ‘most asked ‘ questions


To obtain a search warrant a police officer has to swear under oath, in a written affidavit, that he has probable cause to believe that the fruits or instrumentalities of a criminal act are in a certain place.   He has to have evidence, not just a “hunch”.

A search warrant closely defines where the police can go to seize the property and what the police can take.



100 ‘most asked ‘ questions



Only with a warrant or “exigent” circumstances such as: they are chasing you, they get an emergency call that someone is being beaten or shot, a fire emergency.

You have a heightened expectation of privacy in your home.  Therefore the police must get a search warrant before they can enter your home, or have a real good reason to tell the judge.

What is a home?

The law protects persons:  not places.  So what is in your mind is determinative.

Your home can be anywhere you feel like home:  at a hotel room, as an overnight guest, in your room in a rooming house.  It is always an open issue and an arguable question:  like a snail who carries his home on his back:  think home.


100 ‘most asked ‘ questions


They CAN search you ONLY if…

1.  You agree to the search.

Your consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and not the product of threats, intimidation, force, or the threatened use of force.

2.  For “Officer Safety”

They can search you for weapons only IF the officer has a good reason to believe you are a threat to his personal safety AND ONLY AFTER you are lawfully stopped or detained.

  1. After an arrest.

If a cop searches you without permission it is illegal, unless they have legal cause to search you.  And that is for a judge to decide….later.

IMG_6709-2-194x300UNDER 21CROWD

100 ‘most asked ‘ questions



It is illegal for any person to sell, serve, or permit the serving of alcoholic beverages to a minor.  The presence of alcoholic beverages and minors (under 21) in the same room gives rise to probable cause to make an arrest.

All the prosecutor has to prove is possession, either constructive, or actual.

The only exception is if you are under 21 and working in an establishment that serves alcohol: you can serve it.

IMG_6709-2-194x300DRUG BUSTS

100 ‘most asked ‘ questions


Possession with the intent to sell or deliver any illegal drug (usually more than a personal use amount) or controlled substance is trafficking.

It commonly is understood to mean you have enough of the ‘stuff’ to be “in the business”, and a transfer to someone.   But, depending on what it is, and where you live, you can be a trafficker by giving away one pill.

Trafficking begins at 5 grams for federal law.  Some States: 28 grams.

If you knowingly sell, buy, deliver (giving away a pill is a delivery) a controlled substance (anything illegal, anything that requires a prescription from a doctor), you can be convicted of trafficking.

Ever ‘borrow’ a sleeping pill?  Pain medication?  Give it to someone?    Re-read the definition of trafficking: you are a trafficker.   Scary stuff, huh?


IMG_6709-2-194x300DRUG BUSTS

100 ‘most asked ‘ questions


You can be charged with possession of a controlled substance under the constructive possession theory.

Constructive possession means that although the controlled substance is not on your person or within your immediate vicinity, the contraband is in a place over which you have control.

The state must prove: 1) control over the place 2) that you have actual knowledge it is there 3) that you can exercise dominion and exclude others from possession.

Constructive possession can be charged to one person or more than one person, if it can be proven that everyone had equal or shared possession, knowledge and control.



50 ‘most charged’ crimes defined


A battery is an unlawful touching.

The state must prove:

  • The defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim against his/her will.
  • A battery may become a felony when the touching causes serious bodily harm.

us-supreme-court-300x225What Do I Do After I’m Arrested In Miami Florida?

This three-part series title: What Do I Do After I Am Arrested in Miami , is a complete run through of the criminal court processes from arrest through final disposition of a Miami criminal case.  This Article is Part Three of a Three Part Series that begins with the final disposition of your criminal case filed by the Miami State Attorney’s Office case.  Please also see parts two and three in this series regarding Miami Criminal Cases and processes.

Final Disposition of Your Case:

At some point, you will need to decide whether you want to resolve your case by agreement with the state, to ‘plead open’ to the mercy of the Court, or to proceed to trial.

To resolve your case by agreement with the State Attorney’s Office, your attorney and the Assistant State Attorney, assigned to prosecute your case, must come to a complete agreement regarding all of the terms of an agreement for all of your pending charges.  The court can accept or reject the terms of the agreement but cannot modify the terms without your advance consent.

If you decide to ‘plead open’ to the mercy of the Court after consulting with your attorney, the judge will decide what sentence will be imposed after considering your ‘Criminal Punishment Code Score Sheet’, which lists your offenses in severity and assigns points for those offenses.  If you decide to go to trial, you and your attorney should have some legal defense and be otherwise fully prepared.  The fact that the State’s case against you is very weak is a defense in itself.  Generally, if you do not have a defense that will present well in Court, you should consider another option.  There is nothing worse in your case than going to trial unprepared, with little or no defense.

Sentencing Issues and The Criminal Punishment Code:

The Criminal Punishment Code Score Sheet is like a report card that the judge reviews at the time of sentencing.  The score sheet tabulates a specific number of points per offense scored at the time of sentencing set by Florida statute in consideration of the severity of the offense or violation.  If your total combined score is less than or equal to 44 points, the judge can impose a non-state prison sanction which could mean, county jail time of one year or less, house arrest, probation, a fine, payment of Court costs, or even no punishment at all.  If total points are greater than 44 points, the Court will impose mandatory state prison time unless the Court finds both a legal reason to downward depart and is willing to downward depart from the minimum prison sentence set by the criminal punishment code.  A downward departure sentence is a sentence below the minimum permissible sentence based upon a legally permissible exception in sentencing laws.  The judge does not have to grant a bonafide downward departure motion and it is completely in the Court’s discretion to disregard it under the law.  Your attorney can assist you in deciding what course of action is best depending on your charges and other factors unique to your case.  No two cases are the same.

Hiring the Right Attorney:

Consulting with an attorney on your case gives you a chance to interview the attorney to determine if he or she is the right attorney to represent you in your case.  You should feel comfortable with the attorney that you hire and confident that he or she will work diligently in preparing the best defense possible for you.  You will know when you have found the right attorney for your case.  Make sure that you ask a lot of questions during your consultation and during the pendency of your case.  Your attorney cannot prepare a proper defense for you without your assistance.  You are the most valuable asset in the defense case.

This article by Miami Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Ralph S. Behr is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as constituting legal advice.  You should consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action to take on your case.  For consultation regarding the specific facts of your case and arrest please contact Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Ralph S. Behr.