It was alleged that my client’s probation was violated for picking up a new charge of criminal mischief and not paying his fines. Even though these seem like small issues, they had serious consequences. My client was facing 58.13 months to 25 years in prison for this violation! As I discussed in an earlier post, this is proof even the smallest VOP can lead to serious prison time. He was being held on no bond and had to wait over a month for his next court date. However, I was able to convince the Judge to allow him to bond out at the bond hearing. The Judge allowed a bond and my client was able to get back to his family and work the next day. The new offense for criminal mischief was dropped by the State Attorney’s Office. I was able to get a certified copy of this from the clerk’s office showing the dismissal and advised my client to get the outstanding money paid. He did this and I brought copies of everything to the Judge for the hearing. After the Judge reviewed all the information, I requested that he dismiss the violation, which he did. My client did not have to do any jail or additional conditions on probation.
Violations of probation (VOP) hearings are serious matters that require a well thought out explanation to the Judge. The reason these hearings are so important is that the consequences are serious. Usually, you are looking serious jail or prison time if you have violated your probation.
The 2 Types of Violations
Technical Violation – Not reporting for probation, failing urine test, not paying fines.
Substantive Violation – You are charged with a new criminal offense while on probation.
There are usually three outcomes with VOP hearings.
Jail/Prison – If you have committed serious substantive violations or multiple technical violations, the Judge will probably give you some type of jail sentence or prison time if you do not have a good reason or defense to the new allegations.
Additional Conditions – The Judge may modify your probation and add additional conditions, such as more treatment or additional community service hours.
Dismiss the Violation – If you have a valid defense or very good excuse to the VOP, then they judge may decide to dismiss the violation altogether.
The bottom line here is that you should never try to address the Judge by yourself without discussing your VOP with an attorney. There are several things you can do from the time the VOP had been issued to your actual hearing date. These help to mitigate your sentence that the Judge will be imposing.
On October 16, 2008, my client was arrested for Driving Under the Influence. The Deputy observed his vehicle failing to yield at an intersection almost striking another vehicle. Upon contact with my client, the Deputy smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, observed blood shot eyes and slurred speech. My client conducted field sobriety exercise and the Deputy stated that he observed him losing balance, steadying himself, swaying, and various other indicators of impairment. My client also admitted to smoking “a lot of marijuana.” A urine sample was taken from my client after he was arrested which tested positive for marijuana.If you read the facts above, you would think that my client was guilty of DUI. However, he had many defenses available to him that I was able to explain to the prosecutor. One that was the most important was the issue with the marijuana. The Deputy never asked my client when he smoked the marijuana, he never found marijuana in the car, and never smelled the odor of marijuana in the vehicle. These facts are important, because the prosecutor was trying to prove he was under the influence of marijuana. But these key facts were missing from their case. I set the case for trial, and the prosecutor decided to drop the DUI charge down to reckless driving. My client only had to pay the court costs, no probation, no jail, and no license suspension.
Call me, Tampa DUI attorney Mustafa Ameen, for any questions realted to your DUI case.
If an officer pulls you over for an alleged traffic violation, he has the right to ask the driver and any passengers to exit the vehicle. If an officer asks you to exit the vehicle, you should exit the vehicle. The reason the courts have allowed police to ask you to exit is for the officer’s safety. You would think that an officer could only ask you to exit if he had probable cause, however the courts have held that officer safety is more important in this situation.
Some officers prefer that you stay in your vehicle. Do not exit the vehicle, unless you are asked to do so. Officers are trained to expect the worst. If you try to exit, without being asked to, they may believe that you are trying to pull a weapon or run away.
Whatever the scenario may be when you are pulled over, always be polite and respectful with the officer, even if he is not. You are not going to win on the street with the officer, your battle is better fought in the courtroom, where the law is on your side.
On January 11th, 2009, my client was arrested for battery domestic violence in Tampa, FL. The penalty for this offense is up to one year in the Hillsborough County jail. The State alleged that my client and spouse were involved in a verbal altercation which them turned physical. The spouse alleged that my client was the aggressor and started the altercation. However, my client asserted that she was not the aggressor and had evidence of bruise marks on her. The police arrived on the scene, took information from both parties, and decided to arrest my client. When the case got to court, I was able to persuade the State Attorney to dismiss the case. I explained to him that my client was not the aggressor and showed him pictures of her injuries. Based on this, the State dismissed the case and my client did not get a criminal record. (09-CM-655)
Our client was charged with Drivers License Expired More than 4 Months. Most people don’t know this, but this is a criminal charge! So, check your DL to make sure it’s not expired (link below). If it’s less than 4 months then it’s a civil traffic infraction. Because my client’s license was expired more than 4 months, it was a mandatory court hearing and the consequences could be up to 60 days in Hillsborough County jail. I explained to my client what he had to do to get his DL back and then we set his case for trial. At trial, the State Attorney dismissed the case. No jail, no fines, no court costs. There was also a civil citation that the Judge dismissed. Go to this website to check your Florida drivers license status.
You may have heard the news about the new water restrictions in Tampa because of the drought. Here is a summary of what you can and can not do and what will happen if you violate the new rules.
Irrigation of turf is only allowed by hand watering, with one hand held hose fitted with an automatic shutoff nozzle, or a watering can or pail:
At even-numbered addresses, only on Tuesdays.
At odd-numbered addresses, only on Sundays.
Irrigation for non-turf landscaping by hand watering is permitted on any day during allowed hours.
Irrigation by any means is prohibited between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on any day.
Car washing at home or by charity car washes is prohibited. You can only use commercial car washes.
Homeowners are banned from doing their own pressure cleaning.
All decorative fountains must be turned off.
The consequences for violating the Tampa water use restriction include fines that increase for subsequent violations.
$100.00 for a first violation
$200.00 for a second violation
$450.00 for a third or subsequent violation
Can I fight my water citation?
Yes. You are entitled to have a hearing on the water use violation. Hearings are held at the Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa in front of Judge Nick Nazaretian. At this hearing, the judge, the city attorney, and the water department employee who issued the citation will be present. The city employee will testify at the hearing about the violation they witnessed. After the city has presented their case, you have the opportunity to ask the city employee questions and present your own evidence.
Can I win at these hearings?
Yes. There are specific exceptions to these rules that can get the case dismissed. The exceptions are listed in the ordinance. For more information about water restrictions and violations visit the City of Tampa website.
My client was charged with Drivers License Restriction Violation, Florida Statute 322.16(1) and Failure to Display PIP Insurance, Florida Statute 316.646(1). This is when your license has some type of restriction, (learners permit or business purposes only) and you violate that restriction. In this case, they accused my client of driving not for business purposes, when he actually had proof that he was going to work. Because it was on a DUI suspension, the state attorney was seeking 10 days in Hillsborough county jail. I set the case for trial to prove to the court that my client was not violating the restriction. I was able to get the State Attorney to dismiss the case minutes before the trial. I also made a motion to the Judge to dismiss the insurance charge, which she did. My client walked out without having to pay court costs, fines, or having this charge show up on his criminal record. This may seem like a minor traffic offense to most, but it actually has serious consequences.
Client was charged with Driving while License Suspended With Knowledge. He was on multiple suspensions for driving under the influence and traffic accidents. The State Attorney was seeking 10 days in jail for this offense. I knew that if my client were able to get his license back, the State Attorney would not make the jail offer. I explained that to my client and we created a plan on how he could get his drivers license reinstated. I was able to continue his case for 5 months to allow him time to get his license reinstated. Once he got his license back, I was able to convince the State Attorney not to offer the jail time. My client was able to just pay the court costs and walk out of the courtroom. Many times people have suspended license and do not even know why they are suspended or how to reinstate them. This is where I can help. I have a meeting with my clients to inform them exactly what they need to do to get the license back and if needed I can file motions in court to help the process along.
If you’ve recently seen any of the celebrity news shows (TMZ, inside edition…), daytime talk shows (Oprah, Tyra, Dr. Phil) or even mainstream news, then you’ve certainly have heard about the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. Because of their incident, domestic violence has been a hot topic all over the tv, radio, and newspapers. Victims of domestic violence, counselors, and tv personalities are all over the media talking about the effects and issues related to it. This has caused many of the law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges to give extra scrutiny to each case for fear of something happening on their watch. They don’t want to have an incident happen where a victim is hurt or gets killed because of something they did not do. This fear is understandable but it can sometimes have an adverse effect on you if you get charged.
Recently I have had several clients come to my office that have been charged with domestic violence. The arrests in those cases have been very questionable, probably in part to the media coverage of the issue.
When the police come out to investigate a domestic violence issue, they almost always make an arrest and it’s usually to cover themselves. They don’t want to be on the news taking the blame for not doing anything and having someone get hurt. So they make the arrest, a lot of the time of the wrong person, and move on to the next call. After you are arrested, the prosecution will start handling your case the next day! They are in the same position, don’t want negative publicity, so they get started right away, and it’s usually to advise the Judge on how much the bond should be. This is why it’s important to call me immediately. I am a Tampa criminal defense attorney and former domestic violence prosecutor. I know what the Judge and prosecutor need to hear to keep your bond as low as possible or request that the Judge release you without even having to pay a bond and eventually getting your case dismissed.
And by the way, those domestic violence cases I talked about earlier, I got both dismissed.