If I got a DUI in Sarasota, Do I Need to Pay the Traffic Citations I got too?

www.solerslacklaw.com

If you plan to fight your DUI, you can file a motion to consolidate the traffic citations into the DUI case.  If the judge grants the motion, the clerk will add your traffic citations to your criminal case.  In other words, it will be moved from traffic court into criminal court and heard with the DUI.

If the traffic citations are merged and dismissed, you don’t have to pay them

If there is a D6 suspension of your driver’s license because you haven’t paid the tickets, the judge may grant an order setting aside the D6 suspension pending the resolution of your criminal case.  When your criminal charges are resolved the judge will either assess a fine and points OR merge and dismiss the traffic citations.  If your citations are merged and dismissed, you will not have to pay them.

Traffic citations can be merged with charges other than DUI.  Although it is common to receive traffic citations with a DUI, you can also receive citations with other criminal driving charges like driving while license suspended/canceled/revoked (DWLS), no valid driver’s license, and reckless driving.  You can also consolidate your traffic citations with these charges.

Call us to schedule a free consultation

The attorneys at Soler & Slack, P.A. have handled hundreds of criminal traffic cases.  We will review your case and file all the necessary motions to consolidate your traffic citations with your criminal charges and ask the judge to merge and dismiss your citations so you do not have to pay them.   Call us at (941) 444-5128, visit us at http://www.solerslacklaw.com, for a free consultation and case analysis.

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What is an open or straight up plea in Florida?

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Generally, a defendant facing criminal charges has several options.  The first, and most common, is to accept the plea offer that the State (prosecutor) makes.  If you have hired an attorney, the attorney will likely try to get a better offer by negotiating with the State; this is what is referred to as “plea bargaining”.  If you are unwilling to accept the State’s offer before or after plea negotiations, then you are left with two final options.  The most common of these options is taking your case to trial and letting a jury decide your guilt or innocence.  A less common, but available option, is to open plea in front of the judge.

An open plea is also known as a “straight up plea” or simply as “throwing oneself on the mercy of the Court.” When you open plea you are essentially putting the entire outcome of the case into the judge’s hands.  The judge will listen to argument from your attorney and from the prosecutor.  You will have the opportunity to speak to the judge and call friends, family or co-workers, if you like.

After listening to the defense and the prosecutor, the judge will rule.  The judge can sentence you to anything from the minimum sentence allowed by law up to the maximum sentence allowed by law.  Open pleas can be very risky because the judge can essentially do whatever he or she wants within the confines of the law.

Should I open plea? 

An open plea is usually an option of last resort.  It is usually preferable to try to work out a deal with the State by negotiating for a better offer.  This is because if the State is in agreement with the defense there is more certainty as to the outcome—you will usually know before going to court what sentence you will receive.

Obviously, you only want to open plea to a judge that likes open pleas!  Some judges despise them.  Others like them because (among many reasons) it quickly clears a case off their docket, freeing up their schedule.

It is wise to do a little research about your judge to try to determine how your judge has ruled in similar circumstances.  Judges, like anyone else, can feel strongly about certain issues.  You would obviously not open plea a DUI before a judge who is known to sentence the maximum for DUI’s.  On the other hand, there are judges who tend to favor rehabilitation over incarceration.  If you want to avoid jail with a rehab program, and the state is demanding jail, you may want to consider an open plea before the judge.

What NOT to do at an open plea?

An open plea is a time to express humility and remorse.  It is NOT the time to complain to the judge about cops, the prosecutor, or how the system has treated you unfairly.  The judge will be listening to your argument and the argument of the prosecutor, your job is to convince the judge to rule in your favor–not to convince him or her that the system is broken.

Do not dress poorly.  Be sure to show respect to the judge by dressing in your best for court.  Also, you do not want to appear in any way disrespectful.  Be sure to show respect, even while the prosecutor is speaking.

What the law firm of  Soler & Slack, P.A. can do for you

It is extremely important to be thoroughly prepared for an open plea.  Open pleas can be practiced.  The more you prepare and practice, the more comfortable you will feel in front of the judge.

It is important that the substance of what you plan on saying to the judge be reviewed by your attorney.  Believe it or not, people hurt their cases quite frequently by saying things that angers the judge.

As mentioned above, there are some judges you would absolutely not open plea in front of.  There are others who may be sympathetic to you and your situation.  We can point you in the right direction.

Last, but not least, we can thoroughly analyze your case to determine if an open plea is your best course of action.

Call Soler and Slack, P.A. at (941) 444-5128, or visit us at solerslacklaw.com for a free consultation and case analysis.

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How can I Drop Domestic Violence/ Battery Charges?

www.solerslacklaw.com

Domestic violence charges include battery, assault, felony battery, or aggravated battery.  What makes it “domestic” is basically that the defendant and victim live together—meaning a domestic violence act can occur between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, domestic partners, or child and parent.

But I didn’t want him or her to go to jail!

Under Florida law, when the cops are called to a domestic disturbance, they are often going to arrest somebody.  This realization sets in when one’s significant other is being put in the back of a patrol car and taken to jail.  Oftentimes this is not the outcome that is wanted.  So what can you do to make things right?

Once an arrest is made, the case is turned over to the State Attorney’s Office (the prosecutor).   It is ultimately up to the prosecutor whether to drop the charges or not.   The prosecutor will often do a certain amount of “pre-filing investigation” (PFI).  This usually consists of talking to the victim and/or witnesses.

One thing that you can do is contact the State Attorney’s Office and let them know you want to sign a Waiver of Prosecution.  Signing a waiver tells the State that you personally do not wish to go forward with the charges and do not wish to participate in giving testimony against your spouse or boyfriend.  However, be aware that the State may still file charges and go forward anyway if they feel they have enough evidence or that the act was so egregious that it should not be dropped.

Be aware that it is always a good idea to talk to an attorney before speaking to the prosecutor or the police.  This is because there are situations where what you say to them can later be used against you.  An attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you as to whether you are at risk.

What can the attorney’s at Soler and Slack, P.A. do to help you? 

We have extensive experience with domestic violence and battery cases.  We can contact the prosecutor immediately, before charges are filed.  Oftentimes this is important because the prosecutor usually only has one side of the story—the side that the officer chose to write in the probable cause affidavit (police report).

There are almost always two sides to a domestic violence situation.   The attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. can investigate to determine whether there are any witnesses that help your case.  If there are, we can prepare affidavits that support your defense.  The State is more willing to decline (drop) an unfiled case rather than drop a filed one.  Sometimes if the prosecutor has enough facts that tend to prove that you are innocent, or the case just simply cannot be proven, then the case will be dropped.

Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. at (941) 444-5128.  We will be happy to sit down with you, discuss your case, and explore your various options—All at no cost to you.

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DUI Guide

DUI Guide

For Those Arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Florida

7 Secrets that the DHSMV and the State Attorney’s Office do not want you to know!

  1. You do not have to lose your license!
  2. Cops make mistakes!
  3. A cop must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI!
  4. In Florida you can be charged with DUI when you were not even driving! (But you have to be in “actual physical control” to be convicted.)
  5. You do not have to accept the prosecutor’s first plea offer!
  6. A pre-trial conference does not mean that you’re going to trial!
  7. You may have a very strong case!

1. You do not have to lose your license!

If the State Attorney’s Office (the prosecutor) and the DHSMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) are trying to convict you of DUI, you need to take quick action.

You should request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest!

Your license was suspended at the time of your arrest. However, if you request an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest with the DHSMV you may be eligible for a temporary “business-purpose only” license (BPO). With this temporary license you are able to go to work, to school, to church, and to get groceries.

We can schedule the hearing for you, attend the hearing with you, and help you get back on the road. What if it has been past 10 days?

You still may be able to get a business purpose only license. It must be your first DUI. If so, you will have to attend DUI School. You will then need to apply for a hardship license at an Administrative Reviews Office with the DHSMV. We can help you do this.

2. Cops make mistakes!

DUI law is extremely complicated. Case law (prior court rulings) has laid down the ground rules for how an officer must proceed in order to successfully build a case for DUI. For instance, an officer has to have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. An officer cannot stop you because he or she just feels like it. There must be a traffic violation or some evidence (such as weaving) to indicate that you were impaired. Cops make mistakes. Sometimes they pull people over without the necessary reasonable suspicion. Sometimes the stop is plain illegal.

What if I was in an accident? People get into accidents! An accident alone is not enough for an officer to begin a DUI investigation. There must be other evidence of intoxication.

The attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. have extensive experience recognizing illegal stops and illegal DUI arrests. Call us now to set up a free DUI consultation and case analysis.

3. A cop must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

A traffic violation or weaving may be enough for an officer to stop your car, but it does not necessarily mean that it is enough for an officer to arrest you for DUI. An officer must have probable cause (PC). A mere hunch that someone may be intoxicated is not enough.

You would be surprised at how many times people are arrested for DUI without the necessary probable cause.

Just because a cop thinks that you’re under the influence does not mean that the judge will agree. Judges in countless other DUI cases have laid down the ground rules for what constitutes the necessary DUI probable cause. If you were arrested without PC then your arrest was illegal and everything that took place after the arrest can be suppressed-the prosecutor will not be able to use it against you.

If you were arrested without probable cause, the prosecutor has serious problems! We will file all the necessary motions and if the judge agrees that there was no PC, your case may be dismissed.

4. In Florida you can be charged with DUI when you were not even driving! (But you have to be in “actual physical control” to be convicted.)

Believe it or not, Florida law allows officers to charge someone with driving under the influence when that person was not even driving! The state then has to prove that you were in what’s called “actual physical control” of the vehicle. Like PC, this is very fact intensive- this will usually depend upon where you were seated in the car and where the keys were.

If an officer did not see you driving the car, and you were arrested, it may have been an illegal arrest! Officers need to observe every element of the alleged crime if it was a misdemeanor (most DUI’s are misdemeanors) in order to be able to legally arrest you.

If you were illegally arrested, then everything that happened after the arrest (including all officer observations and statements) may be suppressed!

5. You do not have to accept the prosecutor’s first plea offer!

Your first court date is called an arraignment. This is usually scheduled about 10-30 days after your arrest. The prosecutor will usually make the first offer to you at this time. You probably should not take it! The prosecutor has likely done little to no investigation on your case. They often take the officer’s word for it that you were intoxicated. If you accept the prosecutor’s offer (what’s called “pleaing”) at this time you may be pleaing to a case that the prosecutor cannot prove!

At your arraignment, if you do not want to accept the prosecutor’s offer, enter a plea of “not guilty.” You are not punished for doing this. You are exercising a constitutional right. In fact, you may very well not be guilty. If you plea “not guilty” at arraignment you will be given another court date called a pre-trial conference. You want to hire an attorney before your pre-trial conference. Some judges only allow one pre-trial conference, and you want to make sure that your attorney has sufficient time to fight for you.

6. A pre-trial conference does not mean that you’re going to trial.

Just because you plea “not guilty” and your case is set for a pre-trial conference does not mean that you definitely intend to go to trial. Pre-trial conferences can present additional time in front of the prosecutor and judge to work out a better deal for you (what’s called “plea bargaining”). Pre-trial conferences also allow your attorney to request permission from the judge to take depositions of the prosecutor’s witnesses (question them under oath). Depositions may uncover weaknesses in your case such as illegal stops, illegal detentions, and flawed police investigation.

7. You may have a very strong case!

The prosecutor wants you to plea at your arraignment. That means less work for him or her. You may have a very strong case but without an experienced DUI attorney reviewing your case you will never know how strong or weak your case is.

What if there are no legal issues to be fought and my case is weak?

Unlike some law firms, the attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. are honest. We will not take large sums of money and tell you that your case is winnable only to come to you later and advise you to plea. We will give an accurate appraisal of your case at our first consultation.

If we believe that your case is not one that will involve a lot of time on our part, our fee will be decreased to reflect this. We take great pride in being a firm that is up-front with our clients. If you do not wish to go to trial, but want an attorney to work out a better offer for you and guide you through the process, we will be happy to do this, and will not charge you outlandish fees to do so.

Hiring a good attorney is always a good idea!

You want an attorney who cares about you and your case. Your attorney must be willing to spend the necessary time to get to know you. Only by getting to know your particular situation can an attorney guide you towards the best possible solution..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DUI Guide

DUI Guide

For Those Arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Florida

7 Secrets that the DHSMV and the State Attorney’s Office do not want you to know!

  1. You do not have to lose your license!
  2. Cops make mistakes!
  3. A cop must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI!
  4. In Florida you can be charged with DUI when you were not even driving! (But you have to be in “actual physical control” to be convicted.)
  5. You do not have to accept the prosecutor’s first plea offer!
  6. A pre-trial conference does not mean that you’re going to trial!
  7. You may have a very strong case!

1. You do not have to lose your license!

If the State Attorney’s Office (the prosecutor) and the DHSMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) are trying to convict you of DUI, you need to take quick action.

You should request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest!

Your license was suspended at the time of your arrest. However, if you request an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest with the DHSMV you may be eligible for a temporary “business-purpose only” license (BPO). With this temporary license you are able to go to work, to school, to church, and to get groceries.

We can schedule the hearing for you, attend the hearing with you, and help you get back on the road. What if it has been past 10 days?

You still may be able to get a business purpose only license. It must be your first DUI. If so, you will have to attend DUI School. You will then need to apply for a hardship license at an Administrative Reviews Office with the DHSMV. We can help you do this.

2. Cops make mistakes!

DUI law is extremely complicated. Case law (prior court rulings) has laid down the ground rules for how an officer must proceed in order to successfully build a case for DUI. For instance, an officer has to have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. An officer cannot stop you because he or she just feels like it. There must be a traffic violation or some evidence (such as weaving) to indicate that you were impaired. Cops make mistakes. Sometimes they pull people over without the necessary reasonable suspicion. Sometimes the stop is plain illegal.

What if I was in an accident? People get into accidents! An accident alone is not enough for an officer to begin a DUI investigation. There must be other evidence of intoxication.

The attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. have extensive experience recognizing illegal stops and illegal DUI arrests. Call us now to set up a free DUI consultation and case analysis.

3. A cop must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

A traffic violation or weaving may be enough for an officer to stop your car, but it does not necessarily mean that it is enough for an officer to arrest you for DUI. An officer must have probable cause (PC). A mere hunch that someone may be intoxicated is not enough.

You would be surprised at how many times people are arrested for DUI without the necessary probable cause.

Just because a cop thinks that you’re under the influence does not mean that the judge will agree. Judges in countless other DUI cases have laid down the ground rules for what constitutes the necessary DUI probable cause. If you were arrested without PC then your arrest was illegal and everything that took place after the arrest can be suppressed-the prosecutor will not be able to use it against you.

If you were arrested without probable cause, the prosecutor has serious problems! We will file all the necessary motions and if the judge agrees that there was no PC, your case may be dismissed.

4. In Florida you can be charged with DUI when you were not even driving! (But you have to be in “actual physical control” to be convicted.)

Believe it or not, Florida law allows officers to charge someone with driving under the influence when that person was not even driving! The state then has to prove that you were in what’s called “actual physical control” of the vehicle. Like PC, this is very fact intensive- this will usually depend upon where you were seated in the car and where the keys were.

If an officer did not see you driving the car, and you were arrested, it may have been an illegal arrest! Officers need to observe every element of the alleged crime if it was a misdemeanor (most DUI’s are misdemeanors) in order to be able to legally arrest you.

If you were illegally arrested, then everything that happened after the arrest (including all officer observations and statements) may be suppressed!

5. You do not have to accept the prosecutor’s first plea offer!

Your first court date is called an arraignment. This is usually scheduled about 10-30 days after your arrest. The prosecutor will usually make the first offer to you at this time. You probably should not take it! The prosecutor has likely done little to no investigation on your case. They often take the officer’s word for it that you were intoxicated. If you accept the prosecutor’s offer (what’s called “pleaing”) at this time you may be pleaing to a case that the prosecutor cannot prove!

At your arraignment, if you do not want to accept the prosecutor’s offer, enter a plea of “not guilty.” You are not punished for doing this. You are exercising a constitutional right. In fact, you may very well not be guilty. If you plea “not guilty” at arraignment you will be given another court date called a pre-trial conference. You want to hire an attorney before your pre-trial conference. Some judges only allow one pre-trial conference, and you want to make sure that your attorney has sufficient time to fight for you.

6. A pre-trial conference does not mean that you’re going to trial.

Just because you plea “not guilty” and your case is set for a pre-trial conference does not mean that you definitely intend to go to trial. Pre-trial conferences can present additional time in front of the prosecutor and judge to work out a better deal for you (what’s called “plea bargaining”). Pre-trial conferences also allow your attorney to request permission from the judge to take depositions of the prosecutor’s witnesses (question them under oath). Depositions may uncover weaknesses in your case such as illegal stops, illegal detentions, and flawed police investigation.

7. You may have a very strong case!

The prosecutor wants you to plea at your arraignment. That means less work for him or her. You may have a very strong case but without an experienced DUI attorney reviewing your case you will never know how strong or weak your case is.

What if there are no legal issues to be fought and my case is weak?

Unlike some law firms, the attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. are honest. We will not take large sums of money and tell you that your case is winnable only to come to you later and advise you to plea. We will give an accurate appraisal of your case at our first consultation.

If we believe that your case is not one that will involve a lot of time on our part, our fee will be decreased to reflect this. We take great pride in being a firm that is up-front with our clients. If you do not wish to go to trial, but want an attorney to work out a better offer for you and guide you through the process, we will be happy to do this, and will not charge you outlandish fees to do so.

Hiring a good attorney is always a good idea!

You want an attorney who cares about you and your case. Your attorney must be willing to spend the necessary time to get to know you. Only by getting to know your particular situation can an attorney guide you towards the best possible solution..

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Sarasota DUI defense

www.solerslacklaw.com

DUI Defense

What is DUI?

Driving Under the influence is taken seriously in the state of Florida. “DUI” refers to a violation of Florida Statute 316.193. The State must show that you are driving and that you are doing so while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired. Keep in mind that being under the influence of drugs, even if they are prescribed to you, can cause you to be arrested for DUI.

What should I expect when being investigated for DUI?

Often, an officer will first notice your vehicle by some kind of erratic driving, such as weaving, driving too fast or too slowly, or ignoring traffic signals. It is also common to be stopped for speeding or running a red light and wind up being investigated and arrested for DUI. Law enforcement will take note of your appearance and behavior such as an odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and anything that seems out of the ordinary. An officer will likely attempt to ask you to perform field sobriety exercises, which are physical exercises allegedly designed to determine whether someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A breath test is also regularly requested.

What are the consequences of DUI?

Sentences can vary, but there are minimum standards that are required by statute. First, you are required to be adjudicated guilty; a judge cannot withhold adjudication even if this is your first offense ever. Second, there is a minimum of a $500 fine and you must perform at least 50 hours of community service. As part of your sentence you must also complete DUI School and attend a Victim Impact Panel. Third, there are numerous administrative sanctions that DHSMV will impose such as a driver’s license suspension, an impoundment of your vehicle, and possibly an interlock device placed on your ignition. These are the MINIMUM sanctions you may receive. If you have had previous DUIs then you may also be facing a jail sentence or possibly having your charge upgraded to a third degree felony.

How can Soler & Slack help?

Soler & Slack have extensive experience both defending and prosecuting DUIs. One defense is that you were not the one driving. If the State does not have a witness that saw you driving, then it cannot prove DUI. The State must also show that you were under the influence of something. If you do not score above a .08 on the breath test or have a blood or urine test that shows narcotics, then it is difficult for the State to prove you were under the influence of anything at the time you were driving. Even if the State can prove you were under the influence, the State must further show that your normal faculties were impaired by the alcohol or drug. Normal faculties are the actions you perform on a daily basis, such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, and making judgments. In addition to this, Soler and Slack, P.A. is at the fore-front of litigation involving the Intoxilizer breath test machine, the machine used by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to allegedly determine blood alcohol content. We will file all the necessary motions and order the jail video, if possible, to ensure that your rights are protected if you chose to provide an Intoxilizer breath sample.

Soler and Slack, P.A. will explore every possible defense, and expose every possible weakness in the State’s case, to get you the best possible resolution for your DUI charge. Call (941)444-5128 today for a free consultation.

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