Articles Posted in Misdemeanor Crimes

Offering to engage a person for prostitution is a misdemeanor crime in Florida. It is not the most serious crime, but it is one that people do not generally want to see on their record. It can be charged as a felony crime for a third violation. However, to be convicted of offering for prostitution in Florida, the state does not have to prove that the defendant actually had sex with the person or even paid any money. It is sufficient if the state can prove the defendant agreed to engage the other person in prostitution.

In a recent prostitution case near jacksonville, Florida, undercover detectives were dressed as prostitutes and trying to entice people to solicit them. This is how most prostitution arrests are made. The defendant approached one of the undercover detectives, and they negotiated a price and the terms of the transaction. Before any money changed hands, the defendant said he needed to go to the bank to get the money to pay the undercover detective. The defendant was then arrested for offering for prostitution at that time. Basically, the defendant was arrested based on a conversation alone.

The criminal defense lawyer argued that the defendant could not be charged and convicted of offering for prostitution because the crime could not be completed if the defendant had no money and did not have the ability to pay as of the time of his arrest. However, the law in Florida makes it illegal to offer to engage in prostitution. The state does not necessarily have to prove the defendant actually actually completed the sexual act or even paid for it. If the state can prove that the defendant intended to enter into an agreement to engage in prostitution, then the defendant can be convicted of offering for prostitution in Florida. On the other hand, the defendant could argue that he did not have any money and never really intended to follow through with the apparent prostitute. In any case, the judge would not throw the case out, and it would be up to a jury to determine if the state could prove the defendant actually intended to engage the undercover detective for prostitution based on the facts of the case.

In Florida, when a person is involved in an auto accident that involves property damage or injury, that person must stop and remain at the scene to exchange identification and insurance information with the other party and the police officer. If a person is involved in an auto accident that causes property damage and does not remain at the scene of the crash, he/she can be arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident which is a misdemeanor crime. If the crash results in a serious injury to someone, leaving the scene of the accident is a felony crime. If there is a death involved, the case becomes much more serious.

In a recent hit and run case near Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant was in a large truck, hit a pedestrian and kept driving. Witnesses who saw the accident called the police, and the defendant was stopped a few miles down the road. The defendant claimed that he did not know he hit the pedestrian. This case raises the question of whether the state has to prove the defendant driver actually knew he/she was involved in a crash before he/she can be convicted of the crime of leaving the scene of an accident. In most crashes, it is obvious to everyone involved in the crash.

However, there are cases where the impact may be minor yet the damages are severe where the driver may not know he/she was involved in a crash for some reason. In those cases, the state must prove the defendant knew he/she was involved in a crash. The criminal statute requires a willful violation on the part of the defendant. A willful violation requires some level of knowledge of improper activity on the part of the defendant. The state can prove knowledge of the crash by showing evidence of the nature of the crash, the defendant’s behavior after the crash, any statements the defendant made and testimony of witnesses who saw the crash.

Driving with a suspended license is normally a misdemeanor crime in Florida. However, it can still carry serious penalties such as jail time and an additional, very long suspension of driving privileges. If a person has enough prior driving with a suspended license (DWLS) convictions, the state can charge a new DWLS offense as a felony that could carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Most driving with a suspended license cases are fairly straightforward. The state only has to prove three things: 1) the defendant’s driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, 2) the defendant knew his/her driver’s license was suspended or revoked at the time of the arrest and 3) the defendant was driving while his/her driver’s license was suspended or revoked. The third element is fairly easy to prove as practically all DWLS cases are initiated after a police officer stops the defendant while he/she is driving. The first element can easily be proven with records from the DMV. The second element can be somewhat difficult to prove, but normally, when the DMV suspends a driver’s license, they send a notice to the driver, and that may be sufficient to establish that element.

However, even if the state can easily prove its DWLS case, there can be a defense to the charge. If a defendant charged with DWLS can establish that it was reasonably necessary to drive while his/her license was suspended or revoked, the defendant may not be guilty of the driving with a suspended license charge even where he/she was clearly driving with a suspended license. To prevail using a necessity defense, whether to a DWLS charge or another applicable criminal charge, the defendant has to establish that his/her conduct was reasonably necessary to deal with an emergency situation that he/she did not create. One obvious example would be if the defendant had a serious injury or was helping someone with a serious injury and was going to the hospital for emergency treatment.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

A recent client of the Lasnetski Gihon 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.

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.

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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