I know Florida has a new “no texting law.” Can I text while the car is at a red light?

Yes. Florida’s new anti-texting law makes an exception for drivers to text while the car is at a red light. The law states: “For the purposes of this paragraph, a motor vehicle that is stationary is not being operated and is not subject to the prohibition in this paragraph.”

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Can the police order me out of my car in Florida?

Yes. In Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 US 106 (1977), the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a police officer has the authority to order the driver of an automobile stopped for a traffic violation to get out of the car.

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If I had a criminal record sealed or expunged and got it vacated, can I apply to have a different arrest sealed or expunged?

 No. As § 943.0585(2)(f) and § 943.059(2)(e), (Fla.Stat.) require that an applicant for a Certificate of Eligibility have never secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record under current or former law, getting seal or expunge order vacated does not remove this disqualification.

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Can I represent myself? Do I need to hire a Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer?

Yes. You can represent yourself—although it is not a good idea. DUI law is a very complex field with increasingly harsh consequences. There is a minefield of complicated procedural, evidentiary, constitutional, sentencing, and administrative license issues. What can a lawyer do? Nothing (or worse) if he is not qualified in this highly specialized field—no more than a family doctor could help with brain surgery. A qualified attorney, however, can review the case for defects, suppress evidence, compel discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath machine, have blood samples independently analyzed, negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative license suspension, etc.

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How much does it cost to hire a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney?

This varies, of course, by the reputation and experience of the lawyer and by the geographic location. As with doctors, generally, the more skilled the attorney and the larger the city, the higher the fee. A related factor is the amount of time a lawyer devotes to his cases: the better lawyers take fewer clients, spending more hours on each.

The range of fees is huge. A general practitioner in a small community may charge only $500-1000; a DUI specialist with a national reputation may charge up to $15,000 or more, depending on the facts. In addition, the fee may vary by such other factors as:

  • Is the offense a misdemeanor or felony?
  • If prior convictions are alleged, the procedures for attacking them may add to the cost.
  • The fee may or may not include trial or appeals.
  • Administrative license suspension procedures may also be extra.
  • The lawyer may charge a comprehensive fixed fee, or he may ask for a retainer in advance—to be applied against hourly charges.
  • Costs such as expert witness fees, independent blood analysis, service of subpoenas, etc., may be extra.

Whatever the fee quoted, you can ask for a written agreement. And make sure you understand all the terms.

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What is the difference between parole and probation in Florida?

Parole is a supervised release from jail after the offender has already completed part of their sentence. The defendant must not use drugs or alcohol or have contact with victims of the crime. They are assigned parole officers who often make surprise visits to ensure they are not violating the terms of their parole.

Probation is a criminal sentence in which the defendant avoids time behind bars by completing mandated requirements. Usually, the offender must regularly check in with his or her probation officer and perform any other activities, such as rehabilitation programs or drug tests.

If an offender violates parole, they must finish the rest of their sentence in jail; however, if an offender violates probation he or she will be sent to court to be resentenced.

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What if no one reads me my Miranda rights? Can my case get dismissed?

The Miranda rights are:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?
  • With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?

Basically, any incriminating statement made to the police in response to a question after a person is in police custody are subject to being suppressed or excluded from being introduced into evidence.

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