Articles Posted in Misdemeanor Crimes

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In Florida, a battery crime is defined as intentionally striking, or even touching, another person against his/her will. This is obviously a very broad definition of criminal activity that can include a lot of conduct, and even harmless conduct. Slightly pushing someone with no injury whatsoever can come under the definition of battery. Domestic battery is a battery against a relative, someone with whom the defendant shares a child or someone with whom the defendant lives or used to live.

A person’s first domestic battery or regular battery crime is a misdemeanor in Florida punishable by up to a year in jail. Battery and domestic battery are two of the most serious misdemeanor charges depending on the circumstances of the case and any injuries caused. However, they are still misdemeanors so the severity of the potential punishments are limited.

If a person has a prior conviction for battery, whether it is a regular battery, domestic battery, battery against a law enforcement officer or aggravated battery, another battery charge of any kind can be charged as a third degree felony. The second battery does not need to be of the same kind as the first. In other words, if a person is convicted of a battery against a stranger and then commits a domestic battery, the second battery crime can be charged as a felony.

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It seems like every year after the annual Florida v. Georgia game in Jacksonville, Florida, we see an article in the news about the many arrests the Jacksonville police make of people allegedly drinking while under-aged. In most cases, the police officer will only give the person a citation, or notice to appear in court, which leads people to believe it is not a crime and is not serious. However, a citation for under-aged drinking can be serious in terms of a person’s permanent record.

Even where the police officer merely gives the person a citation, the incident still shows up on the person’s record as an arrest. Additionally, under-aged drinking is not a civil infraction; it is an actual misdemeanor crime. Now, it is very unlikely that a person will be sentenced to jail time for an under-aged drinking conviction. However, if the case is not handled properly the person will likely get a conviction for the crime. A conviction for under-aged drinking will stay on the person’s criminal record permanently. Some people may not be too concerned over such a conviction on his/her record. However, Florida law states that a person cannot get any crime sealed or expunged from his/her record if he/she is convicted of any crime. What that means is that if the same person gets another, more serious charge down the road and wants that sealed or expunged from his/her record, the under-aged drinking conviction will prevent him/her from sealing or expunging any criminal record in the future. For that reason, the under-aged drinking charge can really cause a person a lot of problems in terms of his/her record and the job interview process in the future.

If you have been given a citation, or been arrested, for under-aged drinking in the Jacksonville, Florida area or have questions about sealing or expunging your record, feel free to contact us for a free consultation about how best to handle the case to keep your record clean.

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A six month Jacksonville, Florida investigation that involved multiple law enforcement entities ended with the arrest of thirty-one people recently, according to an article on News4Jax.com. The undercover law enforcement agents apparently advertised on the Internet on websites like Craigslist for contractors to perform home repairs and other projects typically done by contractors and subcontractors. If the individuals who responded to the ads attempted to perform the work without the required contractor’s license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the people were arrested.

Florida law makes it criminal for contractors to do certain things without a contractor’s license. For instance, it is a crime in Florida to give someone the impression or advertise that he/she is licensed when he/she is not, impersonate someone who is licensed, knowingly give false information to obtain a contractor’s license and do any work that requires a contractor’s license without a license.

For first time violators of this law in Florida, it is a first degree misdemeanor which can be punishable by up to a year in jail. However, the crime can become a third degree felony punishable by five years in prison under certain circumstances. If a person commits a second violation of this law, it is a third degree felony. If a person commits a violation after the Governor declares a state of emergency, perhaps after a hurricane, it is a third degree felony even for a first time violation.

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Police in Jacksonville seem to focus on underaged people drinking at the major events in Jacksonville. It seems as if after most, if not all, big events in Jacksonville, such as the Georgia-Florida game, the Gator Bowl, concerts and other events, there is an article in the paper about the large number of arrests for underaged drinking. As criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida, we get most of our calls from people arrested for underaged drinking after such events. For example, at the recent sold out Monster Jam at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, law enforcement gave 38 people notices to appear citations for underaged drinking.

An arrest for underaged drinking in Florida would appear to be a fairly minor ordeal, although it is a misdemeanor crime. Many times, the police officer does not actually arrest the person but gives him/her what appears to be a ticket, or notice to appear in court at a later date, instead. Everyone must understand that on a person’s criminal record, that ticket is the equivalent of an actual arrest. For those people who are actually arrested for underaged drinking, they will be in front of a judge within 24 hours and are normally given an offer of time served upon a guilty or no contest plea.

While the misdemeanor charge of underaged drinking is hardly ever going to be serious, the problem is that a guilty or no contest plea can have a serious effect on a person’s criminal record and their ability to seal or expunge that record in the future. Florida law does allow people to seal or expunge a criminal record one time in certain circumstances, depending on the crime, the disposition and other factors. However, if a person is adjudicated guilty on any crime, the law does not allow that person to have any other crime sealed or expunged. So, if a person gets arrested or gets a notice to appear on an underaged drinking charge and enters a plea of guilty or no contest thinking that is the quickest and easiest resolution, the judge may likely adjudicate that person guilty. If the judge does adjudicate the person guilty and that person gets a more serious charge in the future that is dropped or adjudication is withheld, the old underaged drinking charge may prevent that person from sealing or expunging the second, more serious charge.

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A recent client of the Shorstein & Lasnetski law firm asked whether a person can be charged with and convicted of a crime in Florida based upon words alone and no overt actions. The answer is yes. One example of a crime that can be committed based on words only is obstruction of or resisting a law enforcement officer without violence. This is a misdemeanor crime in Florida, but it is a first degree misdemeanor crime that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. A person commits the crime of resisting, or obstruction of, an officer without violence by resisting, opposing or obstructing an officer in the lawful execution of his/her duty without any violence.

This kind of crime is often committed by a person who physically resists an arrest by refusing certain commands of a police officer without being violent towards the police officer. However, it can be committed by using words alone. For example, if a police officer is lawfully searching for a suspect, lawfully arresting a person or lawfully seeking assistance and someone says something to the police officer to prevent him/her from performing the job, that person can be charged with obstructing/resisting an officer without violence.

An example occurred recently in a criminal case south of Jacksonville, Florida. The police officer had a court order to be served on an individual, and he had reason to believe she was in a particular apartment. The defendant answered the door and said the woman was not there and that he had not seen her for several days. The police officer soon learned that she was hiding in a closet in the next room. When he found her, she told the police officer that the defendant was covering for her. The defendant was charged with and convicted of obstructing the officer in his lawful duties.

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Police officers in Jacksonville, Florida paid special attention to, and made a record number of arrests for, underaged drinking during the Gator Bowl and New Year’s Eve events this year.

Some people who have been arrested for underaged drinking or have kids who have been arrested for underaged drinking may not appreciate the seriousness of the charge. Sometimes, the police officer may only give the offenders a citation or ticket which tells them to set a court date for themselves. This gives the impression that the charge is not serious. However, a ticket, citation or notice to appear is the same as an arrest for criminal record purposes. Additionally, a charge of underaged drinking is a misdemeanor crime which carries potentially serious penalties. It is rare for a person to be given a serious sentence for the crime of underaged drinking. However, if a person pleads guilty to the underaged drinking crime, that can result in a misdemeanor conviction that will affect that person’s record, and possibly his ability to get a job, for the rest of his/her life.

If you have been arrested for underaged drinking or been given a ticket or citation and you have questions about how to handle the case to limit any lasting effects on your record, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

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Lawrence Taylor, who was one of the most famous linebackers in the NFL, was arrested for hit and run in Dade County, Florida over this past weekend, according to a news article. In Florida, the crime of hit and run, also referred to as leaving the scene of an accident, can be a misdemeanor or a serious felony depending on the circumstances. For instance, if a person is involved in an accident that just results in property damage and fails to stop and provide his/her information, that should be a second degree misdemeanor. However, if the accident involves an injury to another person and the driver leaves the scene of the accident, it can be a third degree felony crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If the accident results in a death to another person, the hit and run charge can be a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years.

Hit and run charges are not always that easy for the state to prove. It is one thing for the state to establish that a particular vehicle was involved in a hit and run accident based on evidence of the make, model and license plate number. However, the state still needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was actually the person who was driving the vehicle at the time of the hit and run. Oftentimes, the state just has a description of the vehicle and a vague description of the driver, if at all, and this is not enough to support a hit and run charge.

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Last week, we wrote about the greater number of DUI arrests that we expected over the Halloween and Florida-Georgia weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. True to form, police were out in force making DUI arrests throughout Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach. In addition to DUI arrests, an article today indicated that Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach police made more than 250 arrests for consuming or possessing alcohol by minors.

Most people understand the seriousness of a DUI arrest and the potential penalties that go with a DUI. For that reason, we make it clear that people should be very careful answering questions and submitting to tests when a police officer is investigating them for DUI.

Most people also think an arrest for underaged drinking or possession of alcohol is very minor. Often, when the police officer makes an “arrest” for this charge, the officer merely gives the person a ticket which is a notice to appear in court at a later date or a notice to set a court date in the future. Technically, this is still considered an arrest on your record. More importantly, the charge of possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor is a second degree misdemeanor crime in Florida which carries a maximum potential penalty of 60 days in jail. It is highly unlikely that you would get anywhere near that kind of jail time for possessing or drinking alcohol as a minor. However, you may simply enter a guilty plea to the charge without realizing that you have just received a misdemeanor conviction on his/her permanent criminal record. Depending on whether the judge adjudicates you guilty or withholds adjudication, you may never be able to seal your criminal record now or in the future.

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This year, the Florida legislature will be reviewing a proposed bill that would set statewide standards for cameras at intersections that take pictures of the license plates of vehicles that run red lights. Once the picture is taken of a vehicle that allegedly ran a red light, a traffic ticket is automatically mailed to the owner of the vehicle. Legislation regarding standards for red light cameras have been before the Florida legislature several times before, but they have not been able to agree on how to split the revenues.

We see a few problems with red light cameras. First, the ticket goes to the owner of the vehicle, but it is not clear what happens when the owner is not the person driving the vehicle when it goes through a red light. Does the state or county have to prove that the owner was driving or does the owner have to prove that he/she was not driving?

Additionally, as criminal defense lawyers, we represent many people who have been charged with the crime of driving with a suspended license. This can be a serious crime that results in jail time and a longer driver’s license suspension if a person gets multiple convictions. Many people have their licenses suspended without knowing it and do not find out until they are stopped by the police. If a vehicle owner is sent a ticket but does not receive it because it got lost in the mail or he/she changed addresses, that person may have his/her license suspended without knowing it. One could see how the system does not function properly resulting in a lot of people facing potential driving with a suspended license charges without knowing it until they are stopped by police and arrested.

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Jacksonville police recently met to address the issue of racing in Jacksonville, particularly involving teenagers in the summer months. Jacksonville police are actually encouraging people to race on racing tracks as opposed to the roads. Illegal racing has increased in Jacksonville, according to an article on News4Jax.com. Jacksonville police noted that Jacksonville ranked number 3 in the country for motor vehicle accident deaths involving teenagers aged 16-19. A new Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) program seeks to educate teenagers about the dangers of racing on regular roads and allow them to drive on a real racetrack.

In Florida, racing on the roads is a misdemeanor crime. The crime of racing has a broad definition and includes using a vehicle to outgain another vehicle, to prevent another vehicle from passing or to arrive at a destination ahead of another vehicle. The penalties for racing include a possible maximum jail sentence or probation of one year, a fine of $500 to $1,000 and a one year license suspension.