Can Law Enforcement Search My Vehicle Without A Warrant?

Can Law Enforcement Search My Vehicle Without A Warrant?Q. Can law enforcement search my vehicle without a warrant?

Police are able to search your vehicle if they have probable cause that a crime is being committed.  The typical situation arises when an officer smells marijuana in the in vehicle or sees, in plain view, something illegal such as drugs.  Additionally, if you are arrested, the police are permitted to search your vehicle for an inventory of the items within the vehicle. The police can seize any illegal items found during the course of that search. Remember, if something is found in your vehicle, it is best not to admit that it is yours. Instead, contact the Law Office of Ameen and Shafii immediately.  We are on call 24 hours a day to handle your Tampa criminal charge.

Q. Can police search other intimate personal property such as cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices without a warrant?

Generally, police need a warrant to search cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices.  However, if law enforcement believes evidence on the device will be immediately destroyed, they may conduct a search without a warrant.  If you police have illegally searched your items, contact Tampa criminal attorneys Attorney Andrew Shafii, Esq. and Mustafa Ameen Esq. as soon as possible. They are former state prosecutors with the experience to help you defend your Tampa criminal charge.

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Probation: What Follows a Violation?

Probation: What  Follows a Violation?Q. I’ve violated my probation for the first time, what should I expect?

There are two types of violations of probation, technical and substantive.  A technical violation of probation is for not completing the terms of your probation (community service hours, drug testing, classes).  A substantive violation of probation is when you commit a new crime.  In this situation, the Judge may hold you in jail without bond.  On both types of violations, the Judge will issue a warrant for your arrest for the violation of probation.

Q. What legal rights am I entitled to during my probation hearing?

When you have violated your probation, the Judge will set a hearing date for you to contest the violation.  At this hearing, you have the right to call witnesses and put up a defense to the Judge about why you did not violate your probation.  You do not have a right to a jury in this situation, the Judge will make the determination of weather you have violated your probation.

Q. What consequences am I facing regarding a first and/or subsequent violation?

If you have violated your probation, the Judge can sentence you to the maximum penalty of that offense.  If you are charged with a first degree misdemeanor, the Judge can give you one year in jail.  If it is a third degree felony, you could get five years in prison.  The consequences of a violation of probation can be severe.  It is best to contact an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Office at Ameen and Shafii to fight your violation of probation.  We have handled thousands of violation of probation cases and know how to handle them effectively. Call today for your consultation at 813-436-HELP.

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Florida Habitual Offender or “3 Strikes Law”

Florida Habitual OffenderQ. Does FL have a habitual offender or “3 Strikes Law?”

Yes, Florida has a very harsh habitual traffic offender rule.  There are multiple ways you can become a Habitual Traffic Offender and lose your license for 5 years.

Q. How does it work?

A. If you receive any combination of three driving while license suspended charges and/or driving under the influence within 5 years your license will be suspended for 5 years.  For example, if you receive two driving while license suspended charges and one driving under the influence or if you receive three driving while license suspended charges within 5 years you will lose your license for 5 years.

Q. If charged as a habitual offender what should I expect?

A. If you have been charged with a third offense you should not plea to the charge because you will lose your license for 5 years.  There are ways to convince the State Attorney to amend or reduce the charge to prevent the 5 year suspension.  If this is your fourth offense and you have already been classified as a habitual traffic offender and lost your license for 5 years, we may be able to go back on a prior case to reduce or remove that charge.  This will cause the habitual traffic offender status to be removed and you will be able to reinstate your license.  There are several conditions and requirements to do this, so it is best to contact The Law Office of Ameen and Shafii to discuss your specific case.  We are former prosecutors and Tampa criminal defense attorneys who have handled thousands of habitual traffic offender cases and can get you back on the road. Call 1-800-436-HELP today for your free consultation.

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First Offense For Possessing a Concealed Weapon Without a Permit

First Offense For Possessing a Concealed Weapon Without a PermitQ. I received my first offense for possessing a concealed weapon without a permit. What should I expect?

A. Carrying a concealed weapon in Florida is a third degree felony if it is a firearm and a first degree misdemeanor for non-firearms.  However, there are several exceptions to this rule.  These exceptions include if you have a concealed weapons permit, its on your property or your business property, or it is “securely encased” when outside of your home or business.  In most circumstances, if you are charged with carrying a concealed weapon firearm, the State Attorney will attempt to place you on probation for 18 months and in non-firearm situations they will try to get 12 months probation.  The terms of the probation and length will depend on your prior history and the specific circumstances of your case.  However, there are several defenses to the charge, consult the Ameen and Shafii, who are Tampa criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors to discuss your case.

Q. What if I was on my own property?

A. If you are on your own property or your business property, you cannot be charged with carrying a concealed weapon.  This is one of the exceptions to the rule and allows you to defend your home and family.

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Drug Pretrial Intervention Program Q&As

Drug Pretrial Intervention Program Q&As Q. I’m a first time offender with a felony drug charge. What should I expect?

A.  As a first time offender with a felony drug charge, a defendant can expect to have his or her case directed into Drug Court, where one will find the option of participating in the Drug Pretrial Intervention Program or DPTI. If this program is successfully completed by the defendant, the felony charge will be dismissed.

Q. What are the conditions of the Drug Pretrial Intervention Program?

A. Conditions of DPTI supervision are much more intensive than traditional probation. The program is tailored to each defendant depending on his or her needs and may require any combination of weekly drug screenings, weekly and biweekly court dates, weekly check-ins with a probation officer, fees associated with supervision, and community service.  If the court determines the defendant is in need of therapy, the participation and completion of counseling or rehabilitative programs may be required to satisfy the conditions of the DPTI program. Because of the flexibility associated with the program, it is often categorized as alternative sentencing.

Q. Once I’ve been sent to Drug Court how should I decide whether to accept the DPTI Program or pursue other options?

A. Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Shafii says, “Deciding whether or not you should remain in the program or defer out depends primarily on your drug and criminal history, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your case.”  In other words, if your charge is an isolated instance and you do not have a drug problem, you should consider deferring out of the program. Additionally, if the evidence posed against you is weak, you should consult with an attorney. The experienced criminal attorneys at the Law Office of Ameen and Shafii are former prosecutors who want to discuss your case today. Call us at 813-436-4357 for your free consultation.

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Is Your Criminal History Affecting Your Life? Seek an Expungement Today and Restore Your Reputation!

Is Your Criminal History Affecting Your Life?Aside from interfering with your personal and civil freedoms, being charged with a crime can have far-reaching repercussions that affect your reputation and livelihood beyond a judge’s final decision on your criminal case. In other words, once your case has closed, the record of your arrest and other details surrounding your alleged criminal activity is still available to the public. These records are still accessible even if you have fulfilled all necessary requirements to restore your liberties as you once knew them before you’d been initially charged. This negative mark on your name can affect your future and present eligibility for jobs, residency, and other important opportunities. However, seeking an expungement can be very valuable in eliminating or reducing the threat to your character.

Specifically, an expungement has the capability of restoring your reputation to what it was before your name became associated with criminal activity. For example, it is typical of potential employers, landlords, or loan agencies to explore your reputation through a simple Google search of your full name. Criminal activity associated with your name can raise red flags which keep you from being granted admission to schools, gaining employment, or being supplied with housing in desired communities. Seeking an expungement through an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney can eliminate harm done to your character through a previous criminal charge.

If you are interested in improving your harmed reputation from a prior criminal charge, call the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii today at 1-800-436-HELP. The former prosecutors and experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii can bring you many steps closer to restoring your public image though an expungement on your criminal case.

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Have You Been Involved in an Auto Accident? The Law Office of Ameen & Shaffi is Here to Help!

Personal injury attorney A car accident is a very traumatic experience for everyone involved. One moment you’re on the way to your destination safely with your vehicle intact, and suddenly, on impact you are shocked, surprised, angry, frustrated or any combination of these emotions. An accident takes seconds to occur and days, months, or years to resolve depending on the severity of the collision. If you are seriously injured, the effects of the accident remain with you daily as you go about your work, responsibilities, and recreational activities.  As the medical bills climb and the property damage needs to be resolved, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to aggressively and effectively represent your interests.

Mustafa Ameen, Esq., of The Law Office of Ameen and Shafii, specializes in helping those involved in car collisions. We will answer your questions from the onset of your consultation and throughout your case as it progresses.  Because we understand the stress and financial difficulties an auto accident will inevitably present, we initiate and maintain thorough communication on your behalf with the insurance providers from beginning to end. We do this to ensure that your medical expenses, property damage, and future pain and suffering are adequately covered without your phone ringing off the hook. The Law Office of Ameen and Shafii cares about your financial and physical well-being following an auto accident, so we commit to providing you and your case with the personal attention it deserves and requires.

If concerns about balancing additional expenses are keeping you from hiring counsel, don’t fret. At the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii, if there is no settlement, you don’t pay us for the work we’ve done on the case.  So, don’t delay, contact our office immediately and begin defending your rights. Call The Law Office of Ameen & Shafii at 1-800-436-HELP today!

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Pulled over for a DUI?: How Refusing to take the Breath Test Can Affect You

dui-123rfWhen pulled over for a DUI, the officer may ask you to submit to a breath test designed to indicate whether your Blood Alcohol Concentration is above the legal limit of .08. Technically, this test is optional in Florida and law enforcement can’t force you to comply without your consent. If you are aware of this fact, you may be inclined to refuse a breathalyzer after you’ve had a few drinks. However, it is important to consider the lesser known consequences of initial and subsequent refusals in the state of Florida.

While saying “no” to the breathalyzer deprives prosecution of tangible evidence of your intoxication, it does not guarantee you won’t be convicted of a DUI after the fact.  Your choice can be used against you in court where the State may claim your refusal indicated you were in fact, under the influence.

Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer in Florida can breed serious consequences. For instance, saying no to the test after getting pulled over for a suspected DUI the first time can result in getting your license administratively suspended by the DMV for up to one year. Second refusals result in 18 month license suspensions by the DMV. These suspensions are routine and separate from any sanctions the courts can impose if you’re found guilty of a DUI charge.

If you’re arrested for a DUI and refused to take a breath test in Tampa, you need to hire an experienced DUI attorney who can protect and defend your rights. Andrew Shafii, Esq. and Mustafa Ameen, Esq. are skilled former State prosecutors who gained useful knowledge of how the prosecution in Florida interprets evidence in DUI cases. Call The Law Office of Ameen and Shafii at 1-800-HELP (4357) for your free consultation today.

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Arrested for Driving Under the Influence?

DUI attorneyWhat you must know about how DMV and Criminal Sanctions Affect the Validity of your Driving License

Once you are arrested for driving under the influence, you might be concerned about how the getting convicted with the pending charges might affect your record. You might worry that if convicted, you could lose your license for a period of time and suffer from losing your driving privileges. However, did you know that once you’re charged with a DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles will seek to suspend your license for merely being arrested on a DUI charge? In case you weren’t aware, the DMV will pursue your license suspension after you’ve been cited for driving under the influence, regardless of whether you get convicted or not. This measure is entirely separate from the criminal charges the State pursues against you.

Although the certainty of facing a DMV license suspension adds more stress on top of defending a DUI conviction, knowing how to handle these circumstances is half the battle. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney, like those at the Law Office of Ameen and Shafii, can help you navigate through the obstacles that a DUI charge brings, and move you several steps closer to securing your license and your freedoms.

The Procedure:

After you are arrested for a DUI, you only have 10 days to contest the DMV suspension of your license. Within this time span, you’re required to request a hearing with the DMV even if your criminal case is dropped, or your license will automatically be suspended. Seeking experienced DUI counsel is very important during this period, as time is of the essence.

Once a hearing is scheduled, a DMV appointed hearing officer will be appointed to your case. Like a standard court case, witness subpoenas and supporting documents are considered to determine whether or not the officer properly determined you were above threshold. The DMV has lower standards for what can be admitted during this hearing, so be aware that most supporting evidence will be considered to determine if the officer who cited you had probable cause. After consideration, the examiner will either uphold or rescind the suspension, and you will be notified of this outcome by mail.

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The Importance of Appointing a Designated Driver

The Importance of Appointing a Designated DriverImagine you’ve spent a night out with friends and you’ve had a few too many drinks. Everyone is leaving and you know that you probably shouldn’t drive, but you consider driving despite your instincts. Chances are your blood alcohol level is above Florida’s legal limit of .08, and as an experienced driver, you know that every time you decide to get on the road, you are at risk of getting pulled over. Perhaps your judgment seems fine by your standards, and you consider risking it. Before you commit to avoiding the cost of a taxi or the hassle of calling a trusted friend or family member, consider the costliness of a DUI that leaves you with court dates and the expense of hiring an experienced DUI attorney.

The first time someone receives their first DUI in the state of Florida, he or she faces up to 6-9 months in jail and may have to pay between $500 to $2,000 dollars. Additionally, they may also lose their license for 180 days to one year. This penalty can makes traveling to and from work very difficult and can result in losing even more money. Second time DUI offenders face jail time ranging from 9 months to a year. Fines and penalties for second time offenders range between $1,000 and $4,000, and a second DUI can cause someone to lose their license for up to 5 years. Finally, someone convicted of a third DUI can go to jail for up to 1 year and pay no less than between $2,000 and $5,000 in fines and penalties. Even worse, a third DUI conviction can cause a driver to lose his or her license for up to 10 years. These numbers should make someone previously convicted of a DUI especially cautious before getting behind the wheel after drinking anything.

Drunk driving can result in more than just negative personal consequences. Remember that getting behind the wheel while impaired can place more substantial burdens on society. Driving accidents caused by intoxicated motorists can also result in the fatalities of other innocent drivers. For instance, drunk driving on I-275 in Hillsborough County alone has caused two fatal collisions already this year. DUI convictions not only cost you time and money, but they put the valuable lives of our city’s residents in danger including your own. If you plan on going out and having drinks, make alternative transportation arrangements in advance. Aside from taxi services, the National Directory of Designated Driver Services offers a broad range of transportation options for those who plan on engaging in alcohol consumption.

Remember, if you are facing a driving under the influence charge, and you want the best chance of acquittal or lesser penalty, choose the experienced Tampa DUI attorneys at the  Law Office of Ameen and Shafii. Call toll free 1-800-436-8332 for your free Tampa DUI attorney consultation.

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