Criminal Defense, DUI Defense and BUI Defense can be a confusing and intimidating process that comes with many obstacles as well as some important options. The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) will help you begin to understand the challenges and choices but are NOT intended to be a substitute for legal advice.
Q. Will I be able to represent myself in my case? Should I?
A: This is the most frequent question we hear from potential clients. Every defendant has the right to represent himself through the criminal justice system. This process, however, can be very complex and the stakes are often high… it could cost you your freedom.
5 fatal mistakes you may make when you go to court without a lawyer:
- Not understanding Florida’s confusing DUI laws may cause you to accept a terrible plea deal;
- You may overlook favorable evidence that could get your case dismissed;
- Falling into a shrewd prosecutor’s trap and saying something that may harm your case;
- You may fail to spot weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, that could’ve led to dismissal;
- Failing to recognize violations by the police or the prosecutor (often DUI charges are dropped because the police or prosecutor didn’t follow procedure)
A skilled criminal defense attorney has years of specialized education and legal insider knowledge to fight for your cause.
Q. When should I hire an attorney?
A: You want to have a criminal defense lawyer representing you and working on your case as early in the process as possible. Prosecutors will take days and weeks before deciding to file charges or not. A lawyer can try to persuade this decision in your favor.
Q. Should I speak to the police without an attorney present?
A: No. A policeman’s job is to gather evidence against you. Anything you say is being used to build a case against you. Politely tell the arresting officer that you wish to fully cooperate but will not speak to him without your attorney present.
Q. What is it going to cost me to hire a criminal defense lawyer?
A: Every case is different, and every client’s needs are different. At the Florida DUI Defense Law Offices Of Richard G. Salzman, P.A. we make it our business to work with every client to provide legal representation that is affordable, flexible and focused on your individual needs.
Q. Will my attorney be able to get my case dismissed?
A: That depends on the facts in your case. It is unethical and a violation of Florida Bar rules to guarantee an outcome to a case. We, at the Florida DUI Defense Law Offices Of Richard G. Salzman, P.A. look forward to meeting with you to discuss all the possible strategies and options available to fiercely defend your case.
Q. Who decides what crime I am charged with?
A: The State Attorney. The Police make arrests, and State Attorney’s file the charges against you. After you are arrested, your case is sent to the State Attorney for an evaluation. During this evaluation the State Attorney decides what charges are appropriate and IF charges are appropriate. This decision is made separate and independently from the decision the police made when they decided what to arrest you for.
Q. Before my case goes to trial, can you help “bail” me out of jail?
A. In a manner of speaking, yes. If you have been arrested and bail has not been posted, we can assist you in reducing the bail, being released on your own recognizance, or contacting a bondsman. These are all matters which need to be discussed with your attorney as soon as possible.
Q. What is a “Diversion Program?”
A: For certain defendants accused of a third degree felony or a misdemeanor, and have a limited prior record, the State Attorneys Office have what are known as Diversion Programs. These programs are known as Pre-Trial Intervention Programs, Pre-Trial Diversion Programs and Drug Court Treatment Programs. They are very similar to probation, but allow the accused to have the charges dropped at the end of the successfully completed program. A consultation with the Florida DUI Defense Law Offices Of Richard G. Salzman, P.A. will allow us to assess this option for your case.
Q. What is a “Withhold of Adjudication?”
A: If you have a relatively minor prior record, and the court finds that you otherwise qualify, you may be eligible for what is known as a “Withhold of Adjudication.” This means that you are not “convicted” of the offense. If the charge was a felony, you will not lose your civil rights as a “convicted felon.” If the charge requires a driver’s license revocation for a “conviction,” you would get to keep your license. This disposition usually requires a period of probation that you must successfully complete. You CANNOT get a “withhold” if it involves a DUI. A plea of No Contest will still result in a conviction, as if you pled Guilty.
Q. What is my maximum penalty exposure?
A: That depends on what you are charged with. Generally; for a charge that is classified as a Second Degree Misdemeanor, you could face up to 60 days in county jail and a $500 fine. For a charge that is classified as a First Degree Misdemeanor, you could face up to 12 months in county jail and a $1000 fine. For a charge that is classified as a Third Degree Felony, you could face up to 5 years in state prison and a $5000 fine. For a charge that is classified as a Second Degree Felony, you could face up to 15 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. For a charge that is classified as a First Degree Felony, you could face up to 30 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. There are a few serious felonies that are classified as “Life Felonies” which are punishable by life in state prison.
Q. What are the different phases of a criminal case?
A: Generally the phases of a criminal case involve
- Pretrial Conferences,
- Verdict, and
- Sentencing (if found guilty).
Any Motions to Suppress or Dismiss will be made during the pre-trial phase. The Florida DUI Defense Law Offices Of Richard G. Salzman, P.A. represents our clients through any and all stages of this process including any bail or bond hearings and appeals, if necessary.
Q. What are the key components to the evaluation of a DUI case?
A. The three key components needed to evaluate any potential DUI charge is
- The Breath Test,
- Field Sobriety Tests and
- Police Reports.
Q. May the accuracy of Breath Test results be challenged?
A. Yes. The results of the breath test may be challenged or suppressed. These tests may be inaccurate or unreliable due to improper maintenance, calibration, or a lapse in certification for the machine or the operator’s permit.
Q. What are Field Sobriety Exercises?
A. The Field Sobriety Exercises, also known as “Roadsides” are exercises administered by a police officer to determine if you should be arrested for Driving Under the Influence.
Q. Can the results of a Field Sobriety Exercise be challenged?
A. Yes. The officer’s interpretation of your performance on these Field Sobriety Exercises can be challenged for a variety of reasons, including considerations as to whether you suffer from a physical, mental or medical problem that would have impacted your performance. Furthermore, it may be important to learn if you were nervous, tired, or distracted during the testing procedures.
Q. The police report contains what type of information?
A. The police report documents your performance on field sobriety exercises, statements or admissions you may have made, and other evidence related to your state of sobriety.
Q. If the police report contains information damaging to my case, do I have a chance to win?
A. Yes. Remember, the police report is only the officer’s opinion or subjective interpretation of the events leading up to your arrest and the officer’s subsequent request for a breath, blood, or urine sample. Our office will examine the facts contained within report and compare the officer’s account with what is observed on the videotape. We can also compare the report with your recollection of events along with the observations of any other witnesses.
Q. How long will a DUI conviction stay on my record?
A: Forever. It cannot be sealed or expunged. Once you have a conviction for DUI, it is permanent criminal record.
Q. Can I drive after I have been arrested for DUI?
A. In Florida, if you have been arrested for DUI and your breath test result was .08 or higher, you have only 10 days from the date of arrest to request a Formal Review Hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to contest your immediate license suspension and attempt to get your license / driving privileges back. If you fail to request the hearing with the 10-day period, your license will be suspended either for 6 months, 1 year, or 18 months, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. It is important to contact your attorney within that 10-day period to discuss what applies to your case.
Q. Can an attorney represent me at a Formal Review Hearing?
A. Yes. We can apply for the Formal Review Hearing in your behalf and obtain a hearing date and a temporary permit to drive until after the hearing. Again, you have only 10 days to drive after you are arrested using your citation as a driving permit unless you request this hearing.
Q. What happens at the Formal Review Hearing?
A. The Formal Review Hearing is important because it gives us an opportunity to try to get your driving privileges back. It also provides an opportunity for us to get sworn testimony from the law enforcement officer who arrested you or others involved in the case. This will provide useful critical information about your case and help us in your defense.
Q. What happens if I do not request a Formal Review Hearing?
A. If you do not request a DMV hearing, you will be subject after the 10-day permit to a “hard” suspension for a period of either 30 or 90 days in which you will not be able to obtain a hardship license. You should discuss the different suspension possibilities with your attorney.
Is your Florida DUI about to ruin your life? Contact Richard G. Salzman to set up a meeting to discuss your charges and evaluate your case. Mr. Salzman’s first priority is helping you avoid a DUI conviction that can ruin your life!
Call 855-DUI-GONE (855-384-4663), home of South Florida’s Premier DUI Defense Law Firm. Learn how Mr. Salzman can help save your freedom!
Richard G. Salzman, Esq.
Law Offices of Richard G. Salzman, P.A.
4340 Sheridan Street, Suite102
Hollywood, FL 33021
5621 Strand Blvd., Suite 101
Naples, FL 34110