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Millions of tourists flock to Florida throughout the year for its enjoyable warm weather and unique range of fun in the sun. Whether you’re here for spring break, a girls trip, or just to do a little relaxing, too much fun in a state you’re not familiar with can be a recipe for disaster when you land on the wrong side of the law. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, liquor law violation, trespassing, shoplifting, or any other criminal charge while on vacation, here at Michael B. Cohen Law we want to offer the best legal services to resolve your matter.

How do I handle an out of state arrest?

So you’ve been arrested while on vacation in Florida, what do you do next? It’s imperative that you take the situation seriously and remain proactive as possible. The state where the alleged crime took place will have jurisdiction to prosecute. So just because you live in another state does not mean it won’t affect you. In fact, ignoring these charges can result in a warrant for your arrest for the state you live in. Also, note you can be prosecuted for doing something in Florida that isn’t necessarily illegal in your home state. The first step you should take is to hire a local lawyer for the state you were arrested in so they can best handle your legal circumstance.

Under federal and Florida laws, it is unlawful to possess counterfeit currency and to use it with the intent of defrauding a retailer, merchant or individual. The federal government and agencies like the Secret Service seize millions of dollars in fake currency each year. A recipient handling multiple and large transactions are usually trained to prove the validity of the currency they’re receiving. If it is suspected that the currency is indeed fake, they may call the police and you could be charged with a forgery crime. These charges carry severe and heavy fines with lengthy potential prison sentences. You will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to provide you with the best legal defense to prove you had no knowledge that the currency was fake.

Florida Statute 831.15

Below is the Florida Statute explaining the illegality of counterfeiting money:

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), about 25% of all car crashes involve a hit-and-run incident. A hit-and-run is when someone is involved in a car accident but flees from the scene before law enforcement arrives. The most serious offense in these situations occurs when a person hits a pedestrian and then leaves, especially if it results in the pedestrian’s death.

What is most important to remember is that first and foremost, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in the state of Florida. Florida law is tough on those who flee the scene of a crash.

Punishments for causing injury or death at a hit-and-run accident:

A woman from South Florida was charged with impersonating a federal agent. She would attend churches in Hialeah, Florida and target undocumented citizens who had hopes of becoming a U.S. citizen. She would tell them that she was a Federal Immigration Agent, as well as the Head Supervisor for the South Florida Immigration Department and that she was able to help expedite their process of becoming an American citizen. She was given over $15,000 from different people. As a result, she faces charges including grand theft and impersonating a federal officer.

The crime of Falsely Impersonating an Officer is a Third Degree Felony in FL and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

The law offices of Michael B. Cohen can help you understand more about false impersonation, the penalties that come with the conviction and the best defenses to fight the charges.

When you are accused of a serious criminal charge, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will present all available legal options to you that can prevent a conviction or at the very least, can lessen your charge. When appropriate, a Cooperation Agreement is a legal defense strategy for felony charges that could prove to be beneficial in your federal case. This agreement usually requires one to plead guilty and to assist the government in some way in exchange for a lesser sentence.

The worst thing one can do is cooperate with the government without an attorney present. People let the anxiety get the best of them and begin giving authorities information before an attorney is able to negotiate the terms of a cooperation agreement. It is vital that the accused person has an experienced federal criminal defense attorney representing them and protecting their rights. The attorney will first evaluate whether the information the client has and the facts of the case would meet the threshold for a cooperation agreement and a significant sentence reduction.

It also does not matter how hard you try to gather evidence for authorities. If in the end you are not able to gather the necessary evidence, no matter how much effort and time you put into it, you will not get the cooperation credit. And since you already gave a guilty plea, you will be locked into it. Ultimately, while cooperation agreements make sense for some, it does not help reduce prison time for others. That is why it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with cooperation agreements.

Besides the commonly known consequences of having a criminal record like serving time in jail or prison and paying heavy fines, having a criminal conviction can affect your life even if you do finish serving time or pay off the fines.

Even the most minor criminal charges can affect your personal and professional life.

Probably the most well-known consequence of having a criminal record is how it can negatively impact professional opportunities. Most employers run background checks and when they do yours, they will have a negative view of you and your capabilities. Although this is deemed unfair by many, employers may judge your morals and character especially if it was a serious offense. They may also wonder if you are likely to be a repeat offender. Another way you could be impacted by your criminal past is with child custody. If you are or ever do have a custody battle, the other party may bring up your record against you to deem you as an unfit parent. This is especially true if the charge was domestic abuse or other charges involving violence.

The definition of extortion is obtaining money or property by threat or intimidation even though it may not be represented by a clear or imminent physical danger to the victim. It is basically acquiring money or property by threat of physical violence or embarrassment to the victim, a friend or family member of the victim; a threat of damage to the victim’s property or threatening to damage a person’s reputation through various methods.

In the case of blackmail, the alleged guilty party would have something that the victim wouldn’t want made public and the target makes payments to stop the intimidator from doing so.

So what happens if you commit a crime due to being extorted? The answer is that it depends. There is a defense of duress, which can lessen your involvement. Also, if you cooperated with authorities and testified for the prosecutor, there is a chance you will be charged with lesser crimes in the first place. Finally, a jury is going to be sympathetic to someone who was clearly blackmailed. That being said, the anticipated victim must believe that the threat is reasonably real and the threat that the intimidation against them must be true. Some of the elements to prove are:

By now, most are aware of the consequences of driving under the influence whether they learn it through school, a TV show, presentations by youth prevention programs or even in tabloids when their favorite Hollywood actor/actress is charged with a DUI. However, are you aware that the same rules apply to marijuana, even if it is medical? Although several states are loosening their laws on marijuana legality, it is important to know what your state’s laws are about the use of marijuana and driving. With the expansion of medical marijuana legality, it is expected that there will be an increase in the number of marijuana-related DUI arrests in the state of Florida.

There are legal limits for blood alcohol content (BAC) however, there are none for cannabis. While you may think, “Oh, so I can have as much of it as I want”, it is actually the opposite. Any amount in your system will be considered too much, even if the cannabis was prescribed to you. Having a marijuana license is not a valid defense against charges for Driving Under the Influence. While all hope may feel lost, it is not.

There are still ways to defend you against these charges. As any lawyer will tell you, do not admit you are under the influence to police officers. It is best to only give the necessary, basic information like your name and then call a lawyer the second you are able to. One of the common consequences of having a DUI on your record is losing the privilege of driving and having your license suspended. A DUI charge may have harsher consequences if you have prior offenses.

Federal and state law enforcement agencies are known to give out some of the harshest penalties when it comes to the sale and possession of controlled substances. One of the more serious charges is drug trafficking across state lines or national borders. Drug trafficking is defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession or transporting a specific amount of a controlled substance. Most movies and shows make people think that you need to be a mastermind traveling across national borders with large, obscene amounts of a controlled substance similar to the movie “Scarface” to be considered a drug trafficker. However, according to Florida Statutes Section 891.13, any person who sells or delivers controlled substances can face drug trafficking charges in the state of Florida.

The most commonly trafficked drugs in Florida are:

Cocaine

Although not what anyone wants, it happens. You hire a criminal defense attorney that checks off everything you’re looking for then after working together on the case, you realize you are not too happy with your choice anymore. So are you able to change criminal defense lawyers? The short answer is yes. However, there is a process for this.

You must file a motion with the court to substitute counsel and the details will vary from state to state. There are genuine reasons to change lawyers. For one, if your lawyer insists on you accepting a plea but you want to move forward with a trial, then that can be enough for you to want to switch lawyers. Most experienced attorneys will know better how a case will generally go, but ultimately you have a right in choosing what you think is best for you. However, not every disagreement with your defense attorney should be grounds for you to change.

In most cases, your motion will be approved, unless the court believes that you’re doing it to unnecessarily delay the proceedings against you. There is not a set limit to the number of times a person can change attorneys. The deciding factor, in most cases, is whether the judge overseeing the case will allow the current attorney to withdraw from the case. In some instances, if the case has been pending too long, the judge will simply set the case for trial, which can impede the defendant’s ability to change counsel and somewhat set an end-date for the case. The best way to hire an attorney is to interview a number of them and get a deeper understanding of the cases they’ve represented and how their personal style blends with yours. There is no one-size-fits-all defense attorney for every case.

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