What you need to know about Terminating your Probation

May 24th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

About once a week, I get a call from a person who always wants to know one thing.  When can I get off of my probation?  Most of the time the conditions of probation are interfering with their work or they have been assigned a new probation officer who they just don’t get along.  Whatever is their reasoning, they just want off of probation.  This, of course, can happen, but it usually is not automatic or certain. Read more..

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What to do if You have a Warrant for Your Arrest

April 25th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

You just found out that you have a warrant for your arrest.  There may be a criminal investigation you didn’t know about. You may have missed a court date or events that you were suppose to show up to court. You may have violated a requirement of your probation. You may even think that you have a good reason why you did not appear. At this point, it doesn’t matter. You have a warrant for YOUR arrest! I had a Judge tell me one time that the only excuse he would accept for my client missing a court date, would be a written letter from a funeral parlor. He was serious. To this Judge, death was the only acceptable excuse for getting rid of an arrest warrant.

So what do you do if you have an arrest warrant? Doing nothing is the wrong answer. You can’t live your life worried that any police officer will serve an arrest warrant on you while you are at work, school, church, a family picnic, or in the middle of the night. An arrest warrant will find you, and it won’t be at a good time.

First, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can best advise you on what you need to do to help in this situation and if possible, start working on getting the arrest warrant removed. Next contact a local bonding agency. If you are picked up on an arrest warrant, or if you turn yourself in to the jail, you will want the bonding agency ready to go. They can help you with the paper work and get you out of jail faster. They could also advise you what days and times are better to turn yourself into the jail so that you can be released quicker. By turning yourself into the jail, you are also telling the Judge that you did not mean to miss the date and you are taking responsibility to solve this problem.

Having an arrest warrant is not fun, and it is a problem. But it is a problem that you can control. If you have an arrest warrant out for you, hire an experienced criminal attorney, and take the proper steps with your bonding agency. You can survive the experience of having a warrant for your arrest.

Innocent Citizens Protection Act

April 18th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

Are you presumed guilty even when proven innocent?

If you are arrested for a crime you didn’t commit, you may have your record erased or “expunged” if you are exonerated. Or so you would think. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy or that absolute. The truth is, there are many exceptions and limitations to when you can have an arrest expunged. Even if it is expunged, an arrest or charge may still haunt you forever.

If you’ve ever been adjudicated guilty of an unrelated crime, you can’t expunge a case even if you are exonerated. Why should an unrelated arrest for which you took responsibility and paid the penalty preclude you from erasing one for which you are not guilty?

If you’ve ever expunged a case, you can’t do it again. I guess the law presumes that the unfortunate person who gets accused and exonerated more than once must have done something wrong.

Even if despite all of these barriers you do have your false allegation actually expunged – surprise! It doesn’t disappear. There are certain circumstances for which you are still required by law to disclose a criminal charge, even if you were exonerated and had the record expunged. Immigration and education are two areas in which you might be compelled to disclose an expunged arrest.

The other factor that has made expunction of a record practically useless is the Internet. Many companies collect arrest information and post it on-line, along with mug shots. While your case is pending before you are exonerated of the crime and have it expunged, the information remains easily viewed on-line for months or years before the case is expunged – and even then it is virtually impossible to have this information taken down.

It is simply not fair that if you suffer the horror and injustice of being accused of a crime that you didn’t commit, you can’t get your name cleared even after you have been exonerated. Being accused of a crime that you didn’t commit is horrible. You are arrested, shamed, and your family suffers. You risk being imprisoned and being labeled a criminal for the rest of your life. There are not many things that can happen to you that are worse than being accused of a serious crime that you didn’t commit.

There are real-life tragic examples of the unfairness that can result when an innocent person is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Worse yet, the injustice of such an arrest is compounded by the fact that even once the innocent victim of the wrongful allegation is exonerated, it is virtually impossible to clear his record.

One such tragedy occurred when a highly regarded school teacher was accused of sexually molesting a young student. The teacher was arrested and shamed in media reports and on-line, causing him to lose his job, his career and his reputation. The alleged victim of the purported crime later confessed to being prompted by her parents to fabricate the allegation against the teacher as retribution for the teacher having reported evidence of illegal drugs in the parents home, as required by law. The charges against the teacher were dropped. But his life was forever altered. His exoneration was not reported in the media or on-line. He did not get his job or his reputation back. He wasn’t even given so much as an apology.

Another example is that of a church Pastor who was accused of molesting a young boy. He was arrested and shamed in the media and on-line. The police proudly crowed that they had arrested him in a press conference. Worse yet, the police then charged him with Fraud when a person claimed the disgraced Pastor used her personal information to obtain credit without her permission – all because she panicked when she heard he was arrested. All of the allegations have since been proven false. All charges were dropped. However, the Pastor will always be tarnished by the allegation. Although the boy who falsely accused him, and the woman who panicked and tried to get out of her credit obligation by claiming she wasn’t aware of the contract she had secured on behalf of the church both have apologized, the police have yet to apologize for going to the press and irresponsibly assuming his guilt.

In response to these and countless other similar injustices, Longwell Lawyers is seeking to enact a law that will allow any innocent citizen who is wrongly accused and exonerated to have the case automatically expunged. Furthermore, any person or company who continues to disseminate information about the case 30 days after it has been expunged, will be civilly liable for damages and attorneys fees for enforcing compliance. There is no good reason not to have such a law. If you believe in justice, freedom and liberty, as defined by our constitution, and the rights we all enjoy that presume our innocence, then please support our proposed law, called the Innocent Citizen’s Protection Act. Please show your support of this proposed new law by liking and sharing this article with your friends on Facebook.

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Florida Pretrial Intervention Programs

April 2nd, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law
Florida law provides a mechanism for many types of non-violent criminal cases to be dismissed upon completion of a pretrial intervention program. If charged with a non-violent criminal misdemeanor or felony of the third degree, you may be eligible for pretrial intervention, if:
  1. You do not have more than one non-violent misdemeanor in your criminal history; and,
  2. The victim, State and Court approve.
Even in instances where the State does not approve, you may be eligible for pretrial intervention in certain types of cases or circumstances. A person is eligible for pretrial intervention if charged with a non-violent felony (such as a forcible felony, murder, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, home invasion…) and is identified as having a substance abuse problem, or is charged with a felony of the second or third degree for purchase or possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, obtaining a prescription by fraud. Upon motion by any party, the court may refer the case to a Pretrial Substance Abuse Treatment Intervention Program or a treatment-based drug court program. Additionally, if the person charged is a veteran who suffers from military service-related mental illness, the court may order a Pretrial Veteran’s Treatment Intervention program.
 
These programs all allow the accused to complete a set of conditions (mostly involving treatment) while the case is abated. Once the program is completed, the case is dismissed.
 
The obvious legal benefit of these pretrial intervention programs is the ultimate dismissal of the criminal charge. Additionally, the accused may personally benefit from the treatment received in the program. 
 
To best assess whether Pretrial Diversion is the best available path in a case, it is best to consult with an attorney. Call Longwell Lawyers at 407-426-5757, for more information.
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Juror Says “Stand Your Ground Law” Required Not Guilty Verdict

February 18th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

Daniel Greene was a juror in the Timothy Davis murder trial that resulted in a not guilty verdict last Friday. Greene also happens to be an attorney. As such, Greene was focused during the trial on the law as instructed by the judge, rather than on any personal feelings he had about whether Timothy Davis could have retreated when he chose instead to pull out a handgun and end the confrontation by fatally shooting (twice) his 22 year old son. In fact, the law and the jury instructions required Greene to put aside any personal feelings he may have about the law in rendering his verdict. Read more..

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Jurors Tell Longwell Lawyers Why They Acquitted

February 16th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

Timothy Davis Murder Trial

In an interview with Attorney Mark Longwell, of Longwell Lawyers, two of the jurors in the Timothy Davis murder trial revealed why they acquitted the retired Orlando police officer. Javier Zerquera, who was the foreperson, and Daniel Greene, who is an Orlando attorney, both sat on the jury. In a videotaped interview on Friday afternoon, they explained their reasoning behind their not guilty verdict. Read more..

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What your Attorney won’t (can’t) tell you about gain time

February 15th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

By Attorney Mark Longwell

Sometimes it seems like your attorney can’t give you a straight answer about gain time in the Florida Prison Sentence. You want to know how much jail time you will actually serve on a particular sentence, but there seems to be no clear answer. The reason is because there is no clear answer. Florida prisons are legally permitted to subtract time from a sentence of Read more..

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Waiver of Impound Requirement After DUI Conviction

February 6th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law, DUI

By Attorney Carmen Tankersley

Florida Statute Section 316.193(6)(a) states that a court may order a ten (10) day impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle the defendant was driving ,or in actual physical control of, when he/she was arrested for DUI or any other vehicle registered under the defendant’s name. The impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle should not run concurrent with the defendant’s prison sentence. Therefore, a defendant needs to wait until he/she has served their entire jail sentence before taking steps to impound or immobilize their vehicle. This does not mean you need to tow away your vehicle; there are less expensive ways to fulfill this requirement, such as booting your car. Read more..

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[VIDEO] Shocking Illegal Search Caught on Camera

February 4th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law, Video

By Attorney Mark Longwell

In our zeal to get the bad guys and keep our streets safe, we have to pause and realize that perceived safety comes with a price. Do you really want to live in a world where police can stop you for minor violations and molest you or your relatives in the name of public safety? Well, that’s what happened on camera recently in Texas. Read more..

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Withhold of Adjudication: the Good and the Bad

January 30th, 2013 | Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

By Attorney Mark Longwell

I hear it all the time; I can’t have a conviction on this case. Unfortunately, most people outside of the courtroom don’t understand what a conviction is actually. Florida Statute 948.01 empowers Florida judges with the authority to withhold adjudication to certain offenses in the State of Florida. A withhold of adjudication is not a conviction. A withhold is a term used in sentencing in which the judge orders some sanctions, but does not formally convict the defendant of a criminal offense. Therefore, the defendant does not receive the consequences from a conviction in a criminal case. Read more..

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