Getting arrested for DUI can be a frightening time in your life. There’s a good chance you’ve never had a criminal charge before, and you’re wondering what will happen. That’s perfectly normal. The aftermath of a first-time DUI in Florida can be overwhelming. You probably have many legal questions. You might even be wondering if you have any chance to beat the charges or if you’re automatically guilty. You can rest a bit in the knowledge that you are still innocent until proven guilty and that you may have strong defenses available. The DUI defense lawyers from Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, have nearly 40 combined years of criminal defense experience. We have represented nearly 7,000 clients—so the chances are high that we’ve handled cases like yours before. With our knowledge and experience, the DUI lawyers from Moses & Rooth can give you the best opportunity to beat your DUI first offense in Florida. What Happens When You Get a DUI in Florida? If the police stop you for any reason and the officer suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then they will likely have you perform field sobriety tests. These tests are designed to provide the police with evidence that your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance. The fact is that by the time the police ask you to take a field sobriety test, they already suspect that you are intoxicated. There’s little chance that taking the test is going to change the officer’s mind. On the other hand, your refusal might cause the investigating officer to think you’re trying to hide your guilt, and this may make them dig further. If yo refuse to conduct field sobriety expercies the officer will likely tell you that they will make their decision based upon the evidence that they have already obtained. Refusing to perform these exercises is not a safe harbor. What Happens After You’re Arrested? The officer will most likely conclude that you are under the influence and place you under arrest if there’s any evidence of alcohol consumption or use of controlled substances. You might have told the officer that you only had “two beers.” However, suppose the officer looked into your eyes and saw that they were glassy and bloodshot. Suppose you smelled like alcohol, slurred your speech, or fumbled trying to retrieve your license. Coupled with your driving, all of this evidence—even if there are innocent explanations—gives the officer probable cause to arrest you. Florida’s Implied Consent Law The arresting officer will bring you back to the police station and ask you to take a breathalyzer test. Under Florida’s implied consent law, every person driving on a Florida road impliedly consents to take a breathalyzer test if arrested for DUI. You can refuse; however, refusal results in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for one year for your first offense DUI. A failed test is a 0.08% or great blood alcohol content (BAC). Before you take the breathalyzer test, the arresting officer has to read you your rights. Usually, the police record this procedure. You have a defense to the administrative suspension of your driver’s license if the officer incorrectly recites your statutory rights. Remember that you can refuse to take the breath test. Prosecutors might use that against you to say you didn’t take the breath test because you knew you were guilty. But experienced DUI defense lawyers can present evidence that you had valid reasons for refusing to take the breathalyzer that had nothing to do with alcohol consumption. The booking officer will let you have a phone call to arrange for bail. The officer must also advise you that you have a right to take a comparison test at your own expense. Asking for one could help you preserve your blood during the relevant time so that your experts can independently test it. This can be done to protect you from a potentially faulty governmental test result. What Is Florida’s DUI Law? Florida’s DUI law prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Additionally, Florida law prohibits having control over a vehicle (even if it’s not in motion) with a BAC of 0.08% or above. The prosecution can argue both theories of guilt to the jury. Accordingly, if you successfully argue to keep the breath test results out of evidence, the prosecution can still argue that you were under the influence by using the officer’s observations to convict you. For a First Conviction of DUI, What Is the Penalty in Florida? A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor in Florida unless someone dies or suffers a severe injury in a resultant accident. For a first offense, you could go to jail for up to six months and pay a fine between $500 and $1,000. Moreover, the court will suspend your driver’s license for 180 days up to one year. This license loss is in addition to the license loss for refusing a chemical test. There are other penalties for a first offense DUI in Florida as well. You must perform 50 hours of community service and attend drunk driving school. Lastly, you will be on probation for up to one year. However, there are exceptions to the general rule. If you have a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or you had a minor in the car while driving, then the maximum jail sentence is nine months. A person with no criminal history might get the minimum sentence, whereas a person with a lengthy record might get the maximum. You have the right to seek a hardship license from the DMV. However, you might have to install an ignition interlocking system as a condition of your hardship license. You have a short amount of time to appeal your administrative license loss. You could get your license back if the officer did not have probable cause to suspect you were driving under the influence. In addition, you can get your license back if...Read More
Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyers
Defending Criminal Cases from Misdemeanors to Serious Felonies in Florida
We get it. You never thought you’d be here. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is something most people don’t think they’ll have to experience in their lifetimes. But we’re here for you, we’re ready to fight, and we understand what you’re going through.
Whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony, it’s important to take the charges seriously. Even a seemingly simple charge like a DUI, reckless driving, or petit theft can have a major impact on your life. We can help.
The attorneys at Moses & Rooth have both worked on the other side of the fence. As prosecuting attorneys, we learned effective strategies for defending our clients. There’s nothing we aren’t prepared for when it comes to defending your rights.
We have over 36 years of combined legal trial experience – handling some of the toughest cases in Central Florida. We are the Firm to call when your future is at stake. Get a risk free consultation today.
Why Choose Us As Your Criminal Defense Lawyers?
How Can We Help?
Moses & Rooth has the experience and skill to fight a variety of criminal charges. Whatever you’re facing, we’re ready to help. Here are just some of the cases we handle:
What Do Former Clients Have to Say About Us?
I cannot begin to tell you how very pleased I am with Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law. Attorney Rooth is the benchmark for all attorneys in my opinion. Why? He is knowledgeable , personable , extremely professional and above all else very patient. I never felt as though I was a number or hurried through the process. Attorney Rooth took the time to explain in detail my case , my options, and what I should expect however his defining strength is that he treated me with respect and I never once felt as though he was railroading me. I knew confidently that he was in my corner and fighting for 'ME" and helping "ME" get through my court cases.- T. F.
I had recently contracted the law firm Moses and Rooth in Orlando Florida/Orange County, Florida to further efforts to protect my CDL-A Georgia drivers license in Orange County traffic court. I feel fortunate to have made contact with Mr. Jay Rooth and the law firm of Moses and Rooth. I found Mr. Rooth and staff as professional, experienced, and confidant in following through on two recent traffic cases. At no time during the court process did I feel as if my needs were not being served. I can't say enough about the level of professionalism and the feeling of having a highly experienced and driven law firm represent me in Orange County traffic court. I feel the positive outcome of my case was a direct result of this firms experience, attention to detail and focus on the task at hand. My request for legal representation was completely satisfied. I could not have asked for a more positive and professional result! Thank you Mr. Rooth and staff for such dedicated and wonderful work!- Daniel C.
Jay Rooth has been the most professional,knowledgeable, and truthful lawyer I have ever encountered. Not only did he explain how the case would go and the best possible outcome, but he made it happen and was always there if I had a question. His knowledge of the law and contacts that he has will work for you, and he is very easy to work with in regards to payment options and methods. I have given him multiple referrals and all of the outcomesfrom those cases were outstanding. He will be my attorney for life. THANKS JAY!!!!!- Michael N.
Probation is an alternative to incarceration. In other words, a judge will sometimes sentence you to probation instead of sentencing you to jail or prison. Probation typically involves regular meetings with a probation officer as well as compliance with certain terms of probation. If you violate probation, incarceration could be the result. What Happens If Florida Accuses You of Violating Probation: The Procedure If your probation officer thinks you’ve violated your probation, they’ll probably initiate the probation violation procedure by submitting an Affidavit of Violation of Probation to the court. This is a sworn statement by the probation officer stating that they have a reasonable belief that you violated your probation. The court will review the Affidavit and determine whether it has merit. If it does, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. Your Rights In a probation violation proceeding, you will face a serious diminution of the rights that you enjoy in a criminal trial, including the following: You have no right to a jury trial for probation violation. The judge will decide both your guilt or innocence and your penalty. The judge is much more likely to deny bail while you wait for your probation violation hearing—especially if your probation arose out of a felony charge. The court will use the much lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard instead of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials. This makes it much easier to find you guilty of violating your probation. The prosecution can use hearsay evidence against you. There is no statute of limitations on a probation violation. You are not safe no matter how much time passes. You have no right to “take the fifth.” In other words, you can be compelled to answer questions at the hearing even if the answers would incriminate you. Your progress towards the end of your probation period stops while probation violation proceedings are pending. In other words, probation violation charges stop the clock on your probation period until they resolve. All of the foregoing factors make it much easier for a court to find you guilty of a probation violation than to convict you of a crime. Plea Bargaining If your probation violation consisted of the commission of a new crime, you would likely resolve your case through plea bargaining. A plea bargain can resolve both charges, the old and the new, with one plea and one sentencing. How Much Jail Time Do You Get for Violating Probation? How much jail time applies for violation of probation? The short answer is that this decision depends on a number of factors that vary from person to person. Probation violation jail time can vary from none at all to years or even decades. In the case of a felony probation violation, jail time is proportionate to the length of the possible sentence for the original charge. The more serious the underlying offense, the more likely you will face years of jail time. But prison is not the only option. If the judge finds you guilty of violating probation, they have several options to choose from for sentencing. Continuation of Probation on the Same Terms When a judge simply continues probation, they are choosing not to impose any penalties for your violation. Probation continues on the same terms as before, despite the probation violation. Such leniency does not occur all that frequently. When it happens, the only punishment is a stern lecture from the judge. Modification of Probation Modification of probation is a popular remedy for a probation violation. The judge essentially modifies the terms of probation to make them harsher penalties than the original terms. Increasing the harshness of your probationary terms serves as your punishment for the violation. The judge might require closer supervision, add terms to the probation, extend the number of community service hours, or lengthen the period of probation. First-time low-risk violation of probation If you committed a first-time, low-risk probation violation and you do not qualify as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern, the court must modify or continue probation. It cannot revoke your probation and send you back to jail to serve the remainder of your sentence. A court can, however, modify your probation and sentence you to up to 90 days in jail. Revocation of Probation In a worst-case scenario, the judge can revoke your probation, which means you will probably go to jail or prison. As mentioned above, a judge cannot revoke probation for minor probation violations. If your initial offense was not serious enough to warrant incarceration, you might even be able to avoid incarceration despite revocation. Revocation is the most common remedy when someone violates probation by committing a new crime. When a court revokes your probation, the judge can: Sentence you to the full incarceration period that they suspended when they placed you on probation instead; or If the court finds you to be a danger to the community, or if you qualify as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern, Florida allows a court to incarcerate you for the maximum period available for your underlying criminal charge. In a worst-case scenario, this could mean decades in prison. Special Case: Committing a New Crime While on Probation If Florida charges you with a new crime while you are on probation, you have two new problems. First, Florida will have to resolve the new crime either at trial or through plea bargaining. Second, the new crime will become the basis of a probation violation charge against you. In some cases, this will be enough to classify you as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern. In a worst-case scenario, you could end up going to jail or prison for two consecutive terms of incarceration—one for the original charge and one for the new crime that violated your probation. Defenses Some common defenses against probation violation charges include: The offense was a non-criminal traffic infraction; You were unaware of the presence of illegal drugs on your shared...Read More
Does Florida have Romeo and Juliet laws? After all, not every state does. Fortunately, Florida is one of the states that does have such a law. Imagine two high school students who commence a dating relationship. The 18-year-old female gets pregnant and DNA evidence proves that her 17-year old boyfriend is the father. The police then proceed to arrest the female, charge her with statutory rape, and ultimately require her to publicly register as a sex offender. Does this sound a bit harsh? Well, the punishment described above would be mandatory in Florida, but for two exceptions to the statutory rape law. One of these exceptions is the Florida Romeo and Juliet law. But a certain amount of background is required to understand the significance of the Florida Romeo and Juliet law, so let’s begin. The Age of Consent All US states set a legal age of consent for sexual relations. Regardless of the presence or absence of consent, all sex with anyone below this age is considered rape unless a specific exception applies. In the US, the age of consent varies from 16 to 18 depending on the state. In Florida, the age of consent is 18 subject to certain exceptions. How Florida’s Statutory Rape Law Works As stated above, in Florida it is generally illegal to have sexual relations with anyone who is under 18 years of age. However, it gets complicated because sexual intercourse is not the only prohibited act. It is illegal to engage in other types of sexual conduct upon or in the presence of anyone under 16. Even certain computer transmissions are illegal. Imagine a 15-year-old girl using her cell phone to send a topless photo of herself to her 17-year-old boyfriend. This is a crime in Florida, and the boyfriend also commits a crime if he views the image and then intentionally fails to delete it from his phone. Exception for Minors Aged 16 and 17 For minors ages 16-17, Florida allows an important exception to prosecution: a 16- or 17-year-old (male or female) can consent to have sex with someone between the ages of 16 and 23. In this situation, the older partner is not breaking the law any more than the younger partner is. This law is not the Florida Romeo and Juliet law, but it does provide important context “But Your Honor, I Had No Idea How Young She Was” The harshness of Florida’s statutory rape laws is particularly evident in its strict liability nature. Someone charged with statutory rape cannot plead lack of intent or knowledge as a defense. In other words, the claim that the defendant didn’t realize the victim was underage is no defense. It is no defense even if the younger partner appeared to be older than the age of consent, and even if the younger partner presented a convincing-looking fake ID to the defendant. Circumstances like these, however, can result in a more lenient sentence. Sex Offender Registration There are numerous sexual offenses other than statutory rape that trigger the requirement to register as a sex offender. If Florida convicts you of an offense that requires sex offender registration, you must: Register with Florida local authorities several times a year; Report to the local police every time you enter a new Florida county; Inform the police of any travel plans through other Florida counties; Update your personal information every year; Report plans to move or to travel out of state; and Comply with many other requirements. Florida Statute 943.0435 discusses this issue in more detail. Understanding the Romeo and Juliet Law in Florida The Romeo and Juliet law in Florida does not exonerate someone charged with statutory rape. An offender can still go to prison. All the Romeo and Juliet law does is allow the offender to petition the court to relieve them of the requirement to register as a sex offender. The court may grant or deny the request at its own discretion. Factors that a judge might consider include: The offender’s criminal record; Evidence of similar behavior in the past, even without a previous conviction; Whether the offender provided intoxicants to the victim; Whether the offender targeted the victim on the internet; or Whether the offender held a position of authority over the victim. A judge can consider many other factors as well. If the judge denies the request, the defendant must wait at least another 25 years before submitting a second petition. Take Action Now If you or a loved one is facing prosecution for a sexual offense, you likely have many questions and concerns. We can look at your case and help walk you through the complex laws surrounding sexual offenses, and protect your rights throughout this challenging process. Call Moses and Rooth at 407-531-8694 or contact us online for a free initial consultation. We have over 36 years of combined experience in representing criminal defendants, and we are eager to put that experience to work for you.Read More