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Have You Been Arrested In Florida? Here’s What You Need To Know.

For many people, nothing evokes more fear than the prospect of being arrested. It can be one of the most humiliating experiences a person will ever face. However, it is important to keep in mind that if you are arrested, there are things you can do to improve the outcome of your situation.

FAQ Topics

The first and most important thing you need to do after being arrested in South Florida is to contact an experienced and competent Florida criminal attorney, such as Douglas J. Rudman. Call The Rudman Law Group now at 561-464-2615 or toll-free at 888-870-7457 to schedule your consultation with a knowledgeable defense lawyer.

Criminal Defense

What is the difference between having a criminal history record sealed versus expunged?

When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it. Certain government or related entities – primarily those listed in s.943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes – have access to sealed record information in its entirety. When a record has been expunged, those entities that would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged but will not have access to the record itself without a court order. All they receive is a caveat statement indicating that “criminal information has been expunged from this record.”

Is it a felony or a misdemeanor?

There are significant differences between misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses. A felony is defined as a crime punishable by more than one year in prison or, at the maximum, death. Felonies are the most serious crimes in our justice system.

Felonies include charges such as first-degree murder, armed robbery, embezzlement and possession of any amount of a schedule substance (such as cocaine, Xanax, ecstasy or oxycodone, for example).

Felony criminal convictions can result in extremely harsh punishments, including long periods of probation and/or incarceration. A felony criminal conviction impacts your life to the highest possible degree. Felons may have more restrictions on their rights in comparison to people convicted of lesser crimes.

Upon a felony conviction, your right to vote is taken away, and you may be prevented from practicing within certain professions, such as health care, law or education. Felons are prohibited from owning guns, serving on juries and/or enlisting in the military.

By comparison, misdemeanors are less serious crimes and include trespassing, simple theft and possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Misdemeanor criminal convictions are punishable by a fine and/or incarceration in the county jail for up to one year.

The legal penalties for a misdemeanor conviction are generally less stern than for a felony. Someone convicted of a misdemeanor may still be able to serve on a jury, practice any profession and retain the right to vote.

Whether your charge is a felony or misdemeanor, these convictions may become part of your permanent criminal record and may also count against you in any future criminal proceedings.

What can you expect if you are taken into custody?

When you arrive at the county jail, you will be booked. This involves submitting to fingerprinting, photographing and answering basic questions about your name, address, nationality, immigration status and so forth.

The police may question you further and ask you to make a statement. Do not answer any other questions, and do not give a statement. Even if the police seem friendly or sympathetic or assure you that you will be better off talking, do not. Politely invoke your right to remain silent and ask to contact an attorney.

If the arrest is for a minor offense, the police may give you a citation or appearance ticket and release you instead of putting you through the full arrest and booking process. Otherwise, you will be processed into the facility. You will surrender your property, including the clothing you are wearing, and then dress in jail garb. You will be taken to a cell.

While in jail, do not discuss your case with anyone unless your lawyer is present. Do not talk to cellmates, guards, police or even family and friends. Conversations may be recorded, and other prisoners may be eager to inform on you for their own benefit.

First appearance hearings: What are they?

Under Florida law, if you are unable to post a schedule bond within 24 hours of your arrest, you are entitled to be brought before a judge for a first appearance hearing.

At this hearing, the judge will determine if probable cause existed for your arrest. If so, you will then learn the amount of your bail and what, if any, further conditions the court may order as a condition of your pretrial release. Afterward, you will be given the opportunity to post a bond. Bail takes the form of either a cash or surety bond and requires the use of a bail bondsman.

You should have an attorney by the time you have your first appearance hearing. What you face from this point on depends on many factors. You may have numerous other court appearances, leading to a jury trial. Or, your attorney may work out a plea bargain with the state attorney.

The two most important factors that will influence your successful defense are your own personal strength and a good criminal attorney with plenty of courtroom experience.

Can an expungement be denied in Florida?

In Florida, an expungement can be denied for many reasons. The reasoning could be as simple as you don’t qualify under the law; it could be as complicated as the state attorney’s office or judge just doesn’t think it should be done. This is why you need an attorney to actually help you prepare and argue your expungement in front of a court of law. A simple document preparation service or something that you find online isn’t going to know the nuances and the people involved at the state attorney’s office, and it certainly isn’t going to help you go before a judge and answer the questions the judge is going to want to hear the answers to when it comes time to sign the final order.

How does juvenile court differ from adult court?

Juvenile court differs from adult court in many ways. First, there are no juries in juvenile court. Everything is argued in front of a judge. So, the same judge who makes the probable cause determination in your case is ultimately going to be the same judge who determines whether evidence is admissible in your case and decides on your guilt.

Another big difference between juvenile court and adult court is the primary purposes of sentencing. The primary purpose of sentencing in adult court is punishment. The primary purpose of sentencing in juvenile court is rehabilitation.

Therefore, if you have a juvenile who has found themselves in the juvenile court system, it’s very important that you have an experienced attorney who can navigate the juvenile court system, knows all the diversion programs that are available to that juvenile and is well-versed in all the different ways in which a case can be handled in a juvenile system – all of which can help ensure the best possible results on behalf of that juvenile.

Because, again, the choices a child makes before they’re 18 can very much affect them long after they turn 18.

What are some examples of white-collar crimes?

White collar crimes, otherwise known as business crimes, are crimes that are committed by people who work for or with companies. Examples are embezzlement, theft, grand theft and organized schemes to defraud. These are crimes are generally complex to prove on behalf of the state of Florida because there is so much documentation and that the laws surrounding white collar crime are complex. This complexity also makes it challenging to defend against charges. The additional challenge of these crimes being committed against people who put another person in a position of trust can further exacerbating the emotional challenges of the case.

Is possession of drugs a felony offense?

That’s actually a really interesting question. The reason is because of the use of the word “drugs.” In Florida, chemical substances covered under Section 893 of the Florida Statutes are what we describe as being “drugs” under the law. You can have a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, which is less than 20 grams, but if you have that marijuana turned into an oil to be consumed in a vape pen or an e-cigarette, all of a sudden, that converts that same marijuana into a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in the Florida Department of Corrections. If you are convicted of a felony drug offense, you’re facing a mandatory driver’s license revocation, a felony conviction and possible incarceration. That’s why it’s so important for you to contact an experienced attorney who knows how to handle drug offenses such as this. Even the smallest amount of cocaine, the slightest residue of an opiate or a single pill found in your possession could trigger felony consequences.

What, exactly, is a federal grand jury investigation?

A federal grand jury is a group of normal citizens that have been called for jury duty. But instead of the six or twelve members that you see in the jury box, this is a jury that is actually made up of a large group of people who are being called to determine whether enough sufficient evidence is present to be able to return what’s called a “true bill,” or an indictment, against a particular party.

What happens if I violate my probation in Florida?

If there is an allegation of violation of probation in Florida, the first thing that happens is that your probation officer will submit an allegation of violation to the judge of the division that placed you on probation. Once that happens, more often than not, the judge is going to sign a warrant for your arrest that has no bond attached to it. What does this mean? When you get picked up on that warrant, you’re going to be held in custody with no opportunity to bond out until your violation of probation is resolved.

We recommend that you put your case in the hands of an experienced attorney who handles violations of probation on a regular basis. If we know that a violation is coming down the pike, we may be able to file a motion to head off both the warrant and the violation and, perhaps, address this issue with a judge before they make the decision to put you in jail.

What is a no contact order?

A no contact order is an order that is issued by the court against someone who’s been arrested for a crime in which a victim is alleged. A lot of times, we see them in domestic violence cases. A no contact order is actually a very serious thing when it’s been issued against you. Any violation of a no contact order is a separate crime and punishable as a misdemeanor. It may also involve the revocation of your bond from when the no contact order was issued to begin with.

What must the prosecutor prove in order to prove that I am guilty of shoplifting?

In the state of Florida, a prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, in the case of shoplifting, you passed all points of sale – not necessarily that you actually left the building, but that you passed all opportunities to pay for that item and didn’t do so.

What should I do if I was charged with or indicted for a drug offense?

If you’ve been charged with or indicted for a drug offense, it’s really important that you have an attorney who understands that your drug offense is not as simple as it may seem. Most people who come in charged with drug offenses are self-medicating due to underlying undiagnosed mental issues. When the police are bringing that drug crime to the state, the state is presenting that as a problem to the court and it gets left up to the court and state to try to solve that problem. That’s why it’s so important that you have an attorney who’s able to come in with solutions to that problem – solutions that may include going to rehab or into a program, becoming an in-patient or getting a substance abuse evaluation ahead of time before the court requires it.

It’s amazing how something as easy as getting AA and NA meetings under your belt tends to soften the position of the state and the government and shows the court, when you go, in that this is something that you’re willing to take seriously – as serious as they’re taking it.

What should I do if the FBI is investigating me or trying to contact me?

If the FBI or any government entity is reaching out and trying to talk to you, don’t talk to them without first contacting an attorney. It may not seem serious to you, but there’s a reason why they’re reaching out and wanting to speak to you. You have answers that they want. You need an attorney – an experienced attorney – to actually get in there and figure out if what you’re telling them is information that potentially could be used against you.

Why is patient brokering against the law?

In Florida, many people who have come down here – vulnerable people – have felt preyed upon in unscrupulous rehabilitation clinics, drug clinics and drug treatment programs. They’ve actually been bought and sold as commodities, and people have received kickbacks for placing people into these homes that, a lot of times, would benefit from their relapses.

However, in the process of this, a lot of good people, clinics, homes and health care providers got caught up in this investigation. That’s why you need an experienced attorney who has handled cases like this and who knows what to look for and the different between good, honest practices and practices that the government is trying to lump you into

Will my employer find out if I am convicted of domestic violence?

That’s actually a very complicated question, and I would go to a much larger question, which is: If you’re involved in the criminal justice system at all, will your employer find out? In short, we live in the day and age of computers, and nothing is ever really kept as quiet as we would like it to be. In the past, if we went in and tried to get something expunged or sealed, it was easily done because the file was kept in the local courthouse. Now, because of computers and the internet, information is disseminated almost immediately. Even with an experienced lawyer, it’s still very possible that these private background-check companies, Facebook postings and mugshot companies still have already disseminated your information long before you came in and even spoke to an attorney.


Can I have my drunk driving conviction expunged in Florida?

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida is what’s called a mandatory adjudication offense, which means, if you’re convicted, you must be adjudicated guilty. Also, in Florida, you cannot expunge adjudications. You cannot seal adjudications. If you’ve been adjudicated guilty of any charge or have been previously adjudicated guilty of a charge, you cannot receive a Florida expungement.

What happens if I refuse a breath test in Florida?

In Florida, when you agree to accept the privilege to operate a motor vehicle, you do so with the understanding that you are consenting to any sobriety test authorized by law. When you refuse to submit to a breath test, you are essentially breaching that contract that you entered into with the state of Florida. That triggers administrative penalties that can actually result in the suspension of your driving privilege for up to 12 months for your first refusal and 18 months if it’s your second refusal. If you’ve previously refused a breath test, that second refusal could be treated as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail.

What is an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device is the device that is installed in your car after you’ve been convicted of DUI or pursuant to a plea negotiation between you and the state of Florida. It is a breath unit that you must blow into both before starting your car and while driving your car – it will actually ask for breath during the course of your operation of the car. The reason behind this is because they want to avoid situations in which you have someone blow into it just to get the car started, and then you drive away without that person in the vehicle. Some of the new, modern ignition interlock devices also actually have a camera attached to the tube that accepts the breath and takes a photograph of the individual blowing into the instrument.

What is blood alcohol content (BAC) or level?

Your blood alcohol level is actually a numerical value that is assigned to the alcohol saturation in your blood. In short, that is the unit of measurement that the government uses to determine whether you are over the legal limit. In Florida, the legal limit is .08%. It takes an experienced defense attorney to be able to get in there and actually try to use the facts and circumstances of your case to show the jury that, perhaps, you were actually under the legal limit at the time of driving.

What should I do if I have been charged with BUI?

First off, boating under the influence (BUI) is a much different charge than driving under the influence (DUI). The reason is because you’re out on the water, and when you’re out on the water, your balance is already different than what your balance would be on the ground. When the police go through their investigation, they’re supposed to use different field sobriety testing to determine whether your faculties are impaired. But, a lot of times, the police don’t do that because they aren’t trained in these alternative field sobriety exercises. That’s why it’s so important to contact an experienced DUI and BUI defense attorney, because we know the difference, and we know what the police are supposed to do and what they fail to do in a lot of investigations.

Will I lose my driver's license following a conviction in my Florida drunk driving case?

If you’re convicted of drunk driving, DUI, in the state of Florida, you are going to lose your license for a period of time. It could be as little as six months for your first offense and could go all the way up to a lifetime revocation if it’s your fourth or subsequent offense. And with DUI convictions, they say that the more you get, the worse it gets. That’s why you want an experienced DUI defense attorney working on your case as soon as possible. They will try to mitigate the damage and even resolve your case to a lesser offense, like reckless driving, which doesn’t carry a mandatory revocation and allows you to continue to live, thrive, survive, pick your life up and continue on as if nothing happened.

Will I lose my driver's license following a conviction in my Florida drunk driving case?

If you’re convicted of drunk driving, DUI, in the state of Florida, you are going to lose your license for a period of time. It could be as little as six months for your first offense and could go all the way up to a lifetime revocation if it’s your fourth or subsequent offense. And with DUI convictions, they say that the more you get, the worse it gets. That’s why you want an experienced DUI defense attorney working on your case as soon as possible. They will try to mitigate the damage and even resolve your case to a lesser offense, like reckless driving, which doesn’t carry a mandatory revocation and allows you to continue to live, thrive, survive, pick your life up and continue on as if nothing happened.


Traffic Violations

What is reckless driving?

Reckless driving in Florida is defined as someone who drives in a willful, wanton and reckless manner with a complete disregard for the health and safety of the other drivers on the road. And, because of this allegation of willful and wanton behavior, this is actually a very serious offense that carries with it significant points, misdemeanor penalties that could result in jail, and a very hard ding on your driving record that requires high-risk insurance if you are adjudicated guilty.

Will my insurance premiums increase if I get a speeding ticket?

Not necessarily. Simply getting a speeding ticket actually doesn’t trigger a raise in your premiums. It’s how that ticket is resolved and handled that could determine whether your insurance rates go up. If you just pay that ticket, simply paying the ticket will result in points and will absolutely result in the raising of your premiums. That’s why we say that you either pay now or you pay later.

If you hire an attorney to handle that case for you, we’re able to go in, and even if we’re able to get you what’s called a “withhold of adjudication,” that withhold of adjudication is legalese for the court withholding formal pronunciation of guilt. That withholding of the formal pronunciation of guilt actually means that insurance companies can’t use it against you as a conviction. Therefore, your rates probably won’t go up as a result of that speeding ticket.

Working With The Rudman Law Group

What is your approach to cases?

When a potential client comes into my office and sits down, the first thing I do is tell them to take a deep breath, and I let them know that everything’s going to be OK. One way or another, we’re going to get them through this. When someone enters into the criminal justice system, they’re scared, they’re nervous, they’re afraid of the unknown. What I try to do is educate them as to what’s coming up. An educated client is a client who’s able to better assist me in defending their case. I let them know what the law is and what the procedure involved with that is. Then we sit down and start to discuss a holistic plan of making their way through the criminal justice system as painless as possible. I mitigate as much damage as possible while we’re helping them get back on the right track.

What makes working with you different than other lawyers?

When you work with me, you’re not just hiring a lawyer. You’re hiring the entire Rudman Law Group, a group of individuals that we have assembled to help better address the legal issues that you are facing right now. We have a tremendous group of people who work with us to help you navigate the criminal justice system so that you emerge on the other side in a much better position than you were in. We take a holistic approach to working with each and every client who comes in.

Whether you are charged with a simple traffic ticket or drug trafficking or drug charges, we take every case seriously because, while it may not be the biggest case that we work on all day, all week, all month or all year, we know that it’s the biggest case to you. It’s the most important case to you. We go out of our way to make sure that we treat you with the amount of respect that you deserve because, as you’re making your way through the system, we know there’s only one chance – and one chance only – to get this done right. We will move heaven and earth to get you the best results that are possible, given the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. We’re good at what we do because we care about our clients.

Contact The Rudman Law Group today at 561-464-2615 or toll-free at 888-870-7457 for a free initial consultation. In all cases, we strive for the best possible outcomes that help our clients move forward permanently and confidently in their lives.

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