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What does it mean to have your criminal record expunged?

By | Criminal Defense

If you have a criminal record, you may have heard about the possibility of having it ‘expunged’ – but what exactly does this mean? This can be a life changing procedure, and this post will help you learn all about it and find out whether or not you qualify to have your own criminal record expunged.

What is expungement?

Simply put, an expungement allows your previous criminal record to be sealed. In order to obtain an expungement, a first time offender needs to undergo a sort of lawsuit that seeks to seal their earlier records about their criminal conviction. If successful, this then makes their record unavailable to state or Federal officials (unless you commit a similar crime in the future).

Every state has different rules and laws about expungement, and will only allow certain types of crimes to be expunged from your record. Consult with a reputable and reliable criminal defense lawyer in order to ascertain if this is an option for you or your loved ones.

What are the benefits of having your record expunged?

The benefits of having your record expunged can hardly be overstated. If your petition is successful, your criminal record will be completely forgotten. This will allow you to move on with your life unencumbered by your past mistakes. You will be able to sigh with relief when dealing with law enforcement, applying for employment and meeting with potential landlords.

Is expungement the same as a pardon? 

No. Think of a pardon as being forgiven and expungement as being forgotten. Once expunged, your criminal record can only be used against you in the rare circumstances detailed below.

Could your record ever be unsealed?

While having your record expunged will certainly go a long way when it comes to protecting your reputation and helping your future, having your record expunged is not a completely clean slate. Your past criminal record could be used against you in the future in these cases:

  • You are convicted of another crime – Your otherwise expunged record could be brought up and used against you in the event that you commit another similar crime.
  • You seek certain types of employment or licenses – While every state is different, some will insist on taking your expunged crimes into account if you apply for certain kinds of jobs and/ or licenses. The state of Florida allows expunged crimes to be disclosed to the Florida Bar, the Department of Children and Families, the Board of Education and other law enforcement agencies.
  • You face deportation or immigration violations – Even if you have had your entire record expunged, this information can be brought up again if you face deportation or encounter any other immigration violations.

If you are hoping to have your own criminal record expunged or would like more information, remember – it is always of vital importance that you hire the right criminal defense attorney to help you with your case.

 

Miranda Rights 101

By | Criminal Defense

If you have ever watched a television show or movie about the criminal justice system, undoubtedly you have heard these famous lines: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…” These words – detailing your Miranda Rights – are uttered so often in entertainment media that they can easily lose their meaning.

But what do the Miranda Rights actually mean, how will they apply to you if you are arrested in Central Florida? Read ahead for a brief and easy to understand explanation of these oft-quoted words.

Where does the name ‘Miranda’ come from?

These rights are named after a famous Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona, but as a concept they originate far earlier (this court case just cemented when and how the rights need to be explained and provided).

What are Miranda rights or Miranda warnings?

What are the Miranda Rights?

The constitutional rights often referred to as the Miranda rights include:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to avoid self-incrimination
  • The right to an attorney during any police questioning
  • The right to an attorney when in court

Do police officers have to say the Miranda Rights the same way, every time?

The answer is no – and yes. Many police departments do require their officers to quote the same script verbatim when arresting an individual, but the Supreme Court did not specify that any particular wording be used when a suspect is given their constitutional rights. However, the Supreme Court did require that the information be conveyed in an easily understandable and comprehensive way.

Does a suspect have to agree to the Miranda Rights?

One of the stipulations of the Miranda ruling is that a suspect must communicate that they do indeed understand their rights before any questioning can proceed. Simply put – an individual must say “yes” when asked if they understand before any questioning can occur.

Who Do the Miranda Rights Apply To, and When?

The Supreme Court ruling states that everyone has Miranda Rights, but they come into effect as soon as a law enforcement official begins to question their suspect about the crime at hand. Note that these rights do not have to be communicated immediately at the time of arrest (unlike what is shown in most television shows) – only before questioning begins. That said, most officers will state these rights when arresting an individual in order to simply the process and ensure that this step is never missed.

‘Stop and Identify’ Laws

In 2004, the Supreme Court did uphold certain state ‘stop and identify’ laws – this means that police officers can ask personal information about an individual without providing the Miranda Rights statements.

How can you ensure your rights are protected?

As you can see, these rights are pivotal and deeply important in the American criminal justice system. Are you unsure if your Miranda Rights were protected during a recent arrest? Are you looking for legal counsel for questioning or trial? A skilled, professional and top rated criminal lawyer is a must whenever your rights are in play – do not hesitate. Hire the best criminal lawyer in Orlando and make sure your freedom is protected.

 

Changes to Florida Sex Crime laws – What do you need to know?

By | Sex Crimes

When it comes to sex (in any way, shape or form), consent is key – not only when it comes to personal morality and individual codes of conduct, but also according to Florida’s laws.

On October 1, 2015 new Florida laws came into effect, specifically prohibiting people from posting “revenge porn” in order to get back at ex-lovers. This law criminalizes the posting of sexually explicit videos or photo images of any other person, without that person’s explicit consent. That said, many defendants who are accused of this crime can attempt to flout the laws by claiming that their victim did indeed consent to the act. For many people, consent is a confusing legal construct that they could not actually define if needed – so we will attempt to answer the question – “what does consent mean in Florida?”

Valid Consent Requirements in Florida

Florida’s consent laws are clear – under the 2015 statutes, consent must be “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary.” What exactly does this mean?

  • Intelligent – All parties must be in full possession of their mental faculties, and if they are intoxicated (drunk or high), or of a lower than standard IQ they are not capable of giving their intelligent capacity.
  • Knowing – All individuals must know exactly what they are consenting to, and consent to one sexual act is not automatically consenting to any other acts.
  • Voluntary – All sexual contact must be of the victim’s free choice, and no outside influences should affect their decisions.

Remember – these new Florida laws state that victims of sexual crime do not have needed to fight back or attempt to ‘fight back’ or resist their perpetrator.

Consent immediately becomes invalid in any cases when the individual is:

  • under duress, being threatened or is the victim of fraud;
  • gave consent to a different (even if similar) act from the actual act performed (this includes someone consenting to a passionate kiss – this does not mean they automatically then consent to genital contact), or;
  • intoxicated, drugged, or in some other way not in their right mind.

What should you do if you have been accused of a sex crime in Florida?

If you feel like you have been wrongfully accused of a sex crime and you know that you did indeed ensure that you obtained intelligent, knowing and voluntary consent, you need to obtain competent legal representation as soon as possible.

Florida has countless lawyers; most of these are known to advertise online in order to attract clients who have been accused of sex crimes. Choosing an Orlando sex crimes lawyer can be a difficult task, but as long as you obtain positive reviews from others who have used their services, you can be assured that you are hiring winning representation.

 

The Importance of Hiring the Right Criminal Lawyer

By | Criminal Defense

In Orlando, thousands of people are arrested on criminal charges each month. We turn to lawyers when we are the most vulnerable. We need them to help us navigate the criminal law system and fight tirelessly on our behalf in order to ensure that justice is served. When you have been falsely accused of a crime – or have had charges trumped up an unrecognizable amount – you need a lawyer that is dedicated, intelligent and creative.

That said, these attributes can be difficult to assess when you stand accused of a crime – as mentioned above, you are often at your most vulnerable and confused when you are selecting your legal counsel. This lack of mental clarity could leave you with an inexperienced or poorly reviewed attorney. Worse, you could be financially unable to hire the right lawyer for your case, depending instead on harried court-appointed counsel.

Bad lawyers lead to wrongful convictions

The evidence is clear – overburdened, uneducated or poorly performing lawyers are the reason why many people are wrongly convicted each year. Some studies estimate that a full twenty five percent of the people behind bars in the United States are incarcerated for crimes that they did not commit. This shocking statistic is even more chilling when you are facing a criminal court trial – you do not want to end up a victim of this horrible (and preventable) fate.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims on Appeal

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel is a common reason for people to appeal their conviction. The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that individuals have the right to effective and qualified legal counsel, and if an individual can show that their lawyer was incapable of providing a reasonable defense strategy they can appeal their conviction.

The Innocence Project has presented evidence that,a review of convictions overturned by DNA testing reveals a trail of sleeping, drunk, incompetent and overburdened defense attorneys, at the trial level and on appeal.” Drunk? Sleeping? Overburdened? This could happen to you – never forget that there is a lot on the line.

How can you find a reliable lawyer?

If you are seeking an Orlando criminal law firm to defend you in your upcoming criminal trial, you need to keep a few things in mind during the selection process.

  • Spend as much as you can afford – If you want the best of the best, it is important to choose carefully and dig deep into your pocketbook – your freedom could depend on your choice.
  • Ask for recommendations from people you trust – Ask your colleagues, family and friends for any recommendations that they can provide. First hand experience is always preferable to reviews online.
  • Check the lawyer referral agency – The American Bar Association operates a fantastic resource with their lawyer referral agency. Check this to ensure the counsel you are considering is in good standing with the bar.
  • Interview more than one option – Remember, your instinct and first impressions can go a long way when it comes to the selection process – don’t be too hasty to go with your first option.

What To Do If You’ve Been Arrested In The State Of Florida

By | Criminal Defense

Sometimes unfortunate things happen in your life. Have you or someone you love been arrested in Florida? Getting arrested can be very traumatic, and it can be difficult to think clearly following an arrest. When you’re being arrested the arresting officer should have provided you with your Miranda rights.

There are a lot of consequences and social stigmas you’ll begin to face, however it’s important not to think about that and instead focus on the next steps you need to take. In this post we’re going to look at the steps you should take following an arrest in Florida.

1. Communicate With The Police

One of the most commonly recited Miranda Rights is the right to remain silent. Essentially, this protects the person being arrested from being a witness against themselves.

You should identify yourself to the police. Which usually includes providing your name, a valid form of license, and your address. However, you’re not required to answer any more questions than that. You have the right to stop answering questions until you have an attorney present, but it’s still a good idea to be polite and understanding to the police.

When you are under arrest you are required by law to remain in their custody until you have been released with the help of your lawyer, or have met the bail that’s been established by the judge. Do not try to escape their custody as this will only result in added charges for you.

2. Try To Remember The Details Of Your Arrest

Even though the event of being arrested can be incredibly stressful, it’s important that you try to remember the events surrounding your arrest. Sometimes your rights may be violated throughout the duration of your arrest. These can be very important details for your defense.

If possible, write down, or communicate the details of your arrest to your lawyer, as soon as possible so the details are fresh in your mind. You might be able to recall witnesses that can be helpful and can testify about any misconduct that could have occurred.

In some cases your arrest could have taken place where surveillance cameras were in effect. This can be another crucial detail to remember, as this can also aid in your defense.

3. Use Your Right To Be Represented By Council

Your criminal defense lawyer can be very helpful throughout many steps of the arrest process. You are not obligated to speak to the police after you’ve provided the relevant identification information until your lawyer is present.

If you’re not able to afford an attorney you will be appointed a public defender by the court. You should get in touch with your lawyer as soon as you possibly can following your arrest. Your attorney will be able to help you throughout the interrogation process, when bail is set, and any other aspects of your trial that might arise.

Through out the duration of your arrest do your best to remain calm. Be polite and cooperative, but know your rights. Remember what you can, and communicate your knowledge as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one is seeking legal counsel, then reach out to Whitney S. Boan today.