Q&A

Simple Assault v. Aggravated Assault

Simple Assault v. Aggravated Assault Q. What is the difference between a simple “assault charge” and an “aggravated assault charge”?

A. The difference between these two charges is separated by what act or acts characterize the assault, and what means are used to carry it out. “Assault” is defined as an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act, to do violence to another person coupled with the apparent ability to do so, and the doing of some overt act that creates a well founded fear in the victim that such violence is imminent. [Florida Statute 784.011]. ” Aggravated assault” is an assault committed with a deadly weapon.. [Florida Statute 784.021].

Q. What types of charges and sentencing are associated with these crimes?

A. In the State of Florida, a simple assault charge is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to sixty days in jail and aggravated assault is a third degree felony that punishable by up to five years. Other circumstances associated with this crime, however, may substantially increase that sentence.

If you or someone you know has been charged with any form of assault, you need an aggressive criminal attorney that will defend your rights. Andrew Shafii, Esq., and Mustafa Ameen, Esq. are former prosecutors who are knowledgeable about these crimes and are dedicated to helping you face the serious consequences associated with them. Call 1-800-436-4357 for a free consultation.

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Probable Cause in a DUI Investigation: How is it determined?

Probable Cause in a DUI Investigation: How is it determined?Imagine you are about to make your way home from your favorite hang out after an evening of visiting with some friends. You have 3 or 4 drinks over the span of an hour or so and feel slightly buzzed, but decide to drive home instead of calling a sober friend or taking an expensive taxi. To avoid smelling like alcohol, you spray some cologne, pop a piece of gum in your mouth and begin to drive away—but if you think that eliminating the smell of alcohol eliminates an officer’s probable cause to conduct a DUI investigation—think again.

Even without the strong or obvious smell of alcohol emanating from your vehicle, an officer may garner probable cause from an array of other circumstances. For instance, if you are exhibiting other signs of intoxication such as blood shot eyes, slurred words, difficulty following conversation, or any combination of these or other red flags, an officer may be able to establish probable cause for a DUI investigation based on “the totality of the circumstances”. In other words, all an officer needs to run a valid DUI investigation is the sufficient exigent evidence to establish reasonable grounds for it.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, or Sarasota County, call the Law Office of Ameen and Shafii at 813-436-4357 for your free DUI consultation. Andrew Shafii, Esq., and Mustafa Ameen, Esq., are experienced DUI attorneys and former prosecutors who can answer any questions you may have about your rights as well as possible defenses you may have to your charge.

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Have You Been Charged With Theft in Tampa? Call the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii Today!

Have You Been Charged With Theft in TampaQ. Have You Been Charged With Theft in Tampa? Call the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii Today!

Have you or someone you’ve known been charged with theft in Tampa, Florida? This charge can have a far-reaching impact on the rest of your life in terms of your livelihood, housing qualifications, and how society perceives you in general. When facing a charge like theft, it is important to know the laws where one will be prosecuted and how one can defend his case. For example, penalties for theft vary depending on the degree of the charge. Degrees are determined largely by the property value of the items allegedly taken. For stolen property between $100 and $300, Florida will prosecute a first time offender with petit theft, which is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to sixty days of prison and a fine up to $500. Other factors can increase the severity of penalties incurred by the defendant, if convicted. For instance, if the property is taken from a premise other than a home, the charge will elevate to a theft charge in the first degree. More serious grand theft charges are felonious in nature.  The prosecution pursues felony theft charges against defendants accused of stealing property valued at or above $300. Differences in penalties arising under misdemeanor and felony theft charges vary drastically depending on the degree of the alleged crime and the criminal history of the offender. If you or someone you know is facing a theft charge of any type, contact the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii to begin fighting your charge. Andrew Shafii, Esq. and Mustafa Ameen. Esq. are former prosecutors who have the experience and knowledge to help you defend your case. Call us today at 813-236-4357 for your free criminal consultation!

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When convicted of a DUI, what is the average sentencing for a first-time offender?

When convicted of a DUI, what is the average sentencing for a first-time offender?Q. When convicted of a DUI, what is the average sentencing for a first-time offender? 

A first-time DUI offender will not be sentenced to more than 6 months of jail time. Keep in mind the average sentencing for a first time offender will increase with exacerbating factors. For example, factors such as having a minor in the vehicle or a Blood Alcohol Level of .15 can land a first-time DUI offender a maximum sentence of 9 months.

Q. What are the sentencing averages for a second-time DUI conviction? How does this change if the DUI convictions are in close range of one another?

Second-time DUI offenders will not serve more than 9 months in jail. Exacerbating factors will increase this type of sentence to up to one year. If the second DUI conviction is received within a 5-year- span, imprisonment of at least 10 days is mandatory.

When appropriate, DUI sentences can be served alternatively in a rehabilitation facility at the court’s discretion. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, call the experienced former prosecutors at the Law Office of Ameen and Shafii at 813-436-4357 today for your free consultation.

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Domestic Battery Charge

Domestic Battery ChargeQ. I’ve been charged with domestic battery for the first time. What should I expect and what measures should I take to protect myself?

In most circumstances, the Judge in your case has issued a no contact order.  This means that you are not allowed to contact the alleged victim in the case by any means, in person, call, text, email or through a third person.  This can create a problem in situations where you and the alleged victim have children in common or need to communicate to resolve some issue.  If the alleged victim does want to communicate with you or attempts to contact you, DO NOT contact them back.  Get in touch with our office and we can get the Judge to modify the no contact order.  This will allow you to legally communicate with each other.  If you violate the no contact order, the Judge can hold you in contempt of court and/or revoke your bond and take you back into custody.  There is a specific court division that handles domestic violence cases.  Mustafa Ameen was assigned there as an Assistant State Attorney and understands the complexities of these kinds of cases.  Contact Ameen and Shafii, former prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys from Tampa to discuss your case further.

Q. Are there any viable defenses to a domestic battery charge?

There are several defenses and technicalities that can defeat a domestic battery charge.  The most commonly used is self defense.  A common misconception is that If the alleged victim does not want to go forward with the case that the Assistant State Attorney will dismiss it.  This is not the case.  The decision to go forward or dismiss the charge is up to the Assistant State Attorney, not the alleged victim.  However, if the alleged victim does not want to go forward with the case, here at Ameen and Shafii we know how to frame the case to get a dismissal.  We are experienced Tampa criminal defense attorneys and will fight your domestic violence charge.

Q. How will a charge of this nature affect my future?

Having a domestic violence charge on your record is a serious matter.  Employers will see that you have a propensity for violence and will be very reluctant to hire you.  The best thing to do is to fight your Tampa domestic violence charge by calling The Law Office of Ameen and Shafii at 813-436-4357.  We have helped thousands of clients fight their Tampa criminal charges and have the experience and passion to defend you.

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What Can I Expect if I am Stopped by Law Enforcement While driving on a Suspended License From a DUI Charge

I am Stopped by Law Enforcement While driving on a Suspended License From a DUI ChargeQ. What can I expect if I am stopped by law enforcement while driving on a suspended license from a DUI charge?

If you get caught driving on a suspended license from a DUI charge in Hillsborough County, you are likely to face a mandatory 10 day jail sentence if convicted. Surrounding counties usually impose more severe penalties which guarantee anywhere from a mandatory 30-60 day jail sentence for driving on a suspended license incurred from a DUI charge. Attorney Andrew Shafii, advises, “Do not drive yours or anyone else’s vehicle while your license is suspended as a result of a DUI. Consequences are severe and include jail time in most cases.  Multiple convictions for DUI and Driving with Knowledge of Suspended License (DWLS) charges also lead to enhanceable penalties and will have a lasting impact on an individuals ability to operate a vehicle in the future. These additional criminal charges will only compound the problem and may lead to a defendant becoming a habitual traffic offender.”

Q. How does one become a habitual traffic offender and what are the consequences?

Any combination of 3 DUI or DWLS convictions within a 5 year period will result in a habitual traffic offender label, and a mandatory 5 year suspension of one’s license will follow. If you or someone you know is facing multiple criminal traffic charges in Tampa, call the experienced former prosecutors at the Law Office of Ameen and Shafii today at 813-436-4357.

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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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