Many people are arrested in Duval, Clay, and St. Johns counties on a daily basis.
If this unfortunate incident has happened to you or a loved one, please call our office to see if we can help!
We handle all criminal offenses, including DUI. Our office offers a FREE consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Kate Mesic is a former prosecutor and will guide you through this difficult and confusing process. We will evaluate your case, to see if we can challenge the arrest and the charge.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by up to 1 year in jail. They are divided into categories: 1st degree and 2nd degree misdemeanors.
- The 1st degree misdemeanors are more severe, and their maximum penalty is up to 1 year in jail and $1000.00 fine.
- The 2nd degree misdemeanors have a max penalty of up to 60 days and $500.00 fine. These figures are not necessarily what you will get as a sentence or an offer from the State . Actual sentences are more lighter for first time offenders.
What is a Notice to Appear in a criminal case?
A notice to appear (NTA) is a piece of paper the officer will hand you if he is not going to arrest you right there on the spot. The NTA will tell you when and where you have to appear in front of the judge. So, in reality an NTA is an order to appear in court. If the officer gives you an NTA, he does not think that you will run or try to avoid the court date. This does not happen in DUI cases. A typical example when a NTA is usually given, would be for a first time minor theft.
What will happen if I am arrested?
- You will be taken to a local jail, in Duval County it is located at 501 East Bay Street Jacksonville, FL 32202-2975.
- Within 24 hours you will go to First Appearance, where you will see a Judge. Usually the time of your first appearance depends on the time when you were arrested the day before, so it can be the next morning or the afternoon.
- At First Appearance, the Judge will consider the police report and decide if the police had probable cause to arrest you.
- The Judge will also decide the amount of your bail and what you can and cannot do while you are on bail (conditions of bail). The judge will also inquire whether or not you would like to request a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, he will appoint a public defender to represent you.
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What is the presumption of innocence?
Anybody who is arrested and charged with any crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial, so they cannot be punished until that happens.
Do I have a right to counsel?
Yes you do, if you cannot afford one, the Judge will appoint one for you (public defender).
My friend is in jail, can I get her out?
It depends on what the Judge decides at First Appearance (see questions above).
Once bail is set, than you can go to a bail bondsman, post the bail ( pay) and get your friend out.
Usually, you will have to pay 10% of the amount ordered by the judge. So, on misdemeanor petit theft, this can be $2500.00, so you would have to pay $250.00 to get you friend out.
Just remember, if you get out on bail, you MUST appear at the next court date, or the Judge will issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). FTA is basically a warrant for your arrest (most likely a no bond!)
What is the Judge going to look at when setting bail?
The Judge will ask questions to make sure the person will stay in the area and will show up for next court date. This is called ties to the community. For example: “how long have you lived here? do you have family here? do you have a job here?” and so on. The Judge will also look to see if the person is a threat to anyone; this comes up in battery cases, and will usually result in a “no contact” order with the victim.
What does “no contact” mean in a Domestic Battery? For further information, please watch this video.
I tell clients all the time, that no contact means exactly that, so please do not text or call the alleged victim, also please do not post messages on Facebook or MySpace. Do not go near the victim. If you see them in public walk the other way. Usually the Judge will be very specific about within how many feet you can come to the residence where the incident happened. Bottom line is stay away, or you can be charged with an additional offense of Violation of Pre-Trial Release Order.
I am a victim of a domestic battery, and I want to attend First Appearance, can I do that?
Yes, absolutely. The Judge will hear victim’s input. Sometimes the victim will come to First Appearance and say that they want the person home and are not afraid, this will make a difference in the Judge’s decision. Sometimes, the victim will say that they are afraid of the person, and the Judge is more likely to keep them in jail.
What if I am arrested for Domestic Battery, what now?
If you are arrested for domestic battery, you will be held without bond until First Appearance. Almost in every case, the person cannot have any contact with the alleged victim (see question above). Please note, that you cannot stop your spouse from testifying against you, as the laws of Spousal Immunity are not applicable in the state of Florida.
Could I have other restrictions while out on bond?
Yes, these can include restrictions on travel, or who you can hang out with or even be around, where you live. Sometimes, the Judge will release the person only to a designated person, who agrees to supervise him or her.
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What is a right to a speedy trial?
When a person is charged with a misdemeanor offense, he or she has a right to a trial within 90 days of the arrest. The length of time with felonies is 175 days. If this does not happen, there are remedies for the accused, and strict deadlines are enforced. Sometimes it is beneficial to waive the right to a speedy trial, such as when the defense seeks a continuance or if the defendant is accepted into a diversion program.
What is a Nolle Prosse?
A Nolle Prosse is usually entered by the Office of the State Attorney if they will drop the charges after a person has been formally charged with the crime, so it would be after information was filed.
I was recently arrested and I have a green card…
Please be aware that there are severe consequences for any non-citizens for criminal activity. Certain crimes may make you deportable or will prevent you from becoming a citizen. Before you enter ANY plea (even if you get offered an adjudication withheld!), please consult with an experienced attorney. Our office handles many cases that involve immigrants, and understand the severe consequences that you might face.
I got a DUI, what now?
Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving is punished severely in Florida. This is probably the most expensive misdemeanor crime, because if you plea the fines and other conditions of your probation will cost a fortune. The first thing you should do is get an experienced DUI lawyer to represent you. DUI is also a complicated crime which can involve a lot of scientific evidence. You need someone to guide you through this. Our office regularly handles this type of cases and will be able to help you evaluate your options and challenge the State’s case.
I did not take the breath test, can I still be accused of DUI?
Yes, the state can prove DUI in two ways. The first is that your breath or blood alcohol level was above 0.08 and the second is that your normal faculties were impaired. So, even if you refused, they could still try to show that you were too intoxicated to drive based on Field Sobriety Exercises and what the officer observed at the scene. This is why it is very important to make sure you have an experienced DUI lawyer represent you. We evaluate each cases individually, and understand how the other side thinks and how they will approach the case.
I did not drink that day, but still got arrested for DUI…
Alcohol is not the only thing that can be used against you in a DUI, prescription drugs or elicit drugs can also make you DUI.
What are the penalties for a DUI?
Florida Statute 316.193 lists the penalties for DUI, and the severity of the penalties depend on whether or not it is a first offense. It does not matter how the state proved the DUI, through a Breath Test or through impairment of normal faculties, the penalties you face if convicted are the same.
Here is a form HSMV 72000 provided by the State of Florida, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (Rev. 07/2008), which summarizes the penalties.
What if I get caught with a fake ID?
The statue in question is 322.212. A possession of a fake ID is a third degree felony. Believe it or not that is what the statute prescribes. In most cases, the person ends up with a trespass charge or a warning, or gets an NTA for a misdemeanor charge. However, the State Attorney’s Office can still make a decision to prosecute it as a felony. For further discussion, please see my blog post from August 17, 2012, entitled “Fake ID can equal a 3rd degree felony.”
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