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Broward County Restraining Order

Broward County Restraining Order

Broward County Restraining Order

How to Get a Restraining Order in Broward County

I wrote about Florida restraining orders in general in 2016.  Click on this link to read the prior post: How to get a restraining order in Florida.  This article is titled Broward County Restraining Order.  It focuses on the specific steps needed to obtain a restraining order in Broward County.  It includes the locations and some general instructions.

Disclaimer

I would like to initially state that I have and continue to represent both Petitioners and Respondents in restraining order proceedings.  I am a criminal defense attorney so I typically defend individuals in restraining order hearings.  Any honest attorney will tell you that the majority of injunctions filed are either gross exaggerations or outright fabrications.  There are very few things that irritate me more than bogus restraining orders.  That is putting it mildly.  So, while I am giving instructions on how to proceed in order to obtain an injunction in Broward County, I hope this reaches somebody who really needs it as opposed to somebody who is going to use it as a tactical advantage in a divorce and/or custody proceeding.

Just a quick review of the basics to start.  There are five (5) different types of restraining orders available in Florida.  The relationship between the parties determines the proper injunction.  The individual requesting the restraining order is the petitioner.  The individual accused of the alleged misconduct is the respondent.  The following are the types of restraining orders available:

  1. Domestic Violence Restraining Order;
  2. Dating Violence Restraining Order;
  3. Repeat Violence Restraining Order;
  4. Stalking Restraining Order or Harassment;
  5. Sexual Violence Restraining Order.

Florida Restraining Order Requirements

As previously stated, I last time I wrote about restraining orders was in 2016.  An updated Domestic Violence Benchbook was published in 2017.  The benchbook is a good place to look for case law updates.  It also contains a variety of checklists, flowcharts, and worksheets.  You can use those to make sure that your work is thorough and accurate.

Domestic Violence Bench Book containing Florida restraining order requirements link: 2017 DV Benchbook

Broward County Restraining Order Procedure

The procedure for how to get a restraining order is fairly simple.  The petitioner goes to the domestic violence intake unit at the courthouse.  He or she completes the paperwork provided by the clerk of courts.  A judge reviews the petition and the supporting documents.  The court is permitted to enter an “ex-parte” temporary restraining order if the petition is legally sufficient.  What does this mean?  Legally sufficient means, based on the allegations as written, the court finds that there is an immediate and present danger if an injunction is not granted.  This means that the court can enter a temporary injunction without notice to the accused.  The injunction is granted based only on the allegations contained in the petition.  No proof and no hearing are required for the temporary injunction.

Broward County Restraining Order | Where do I File?

You can file for a restraining order at two locations in Broward County.  The main courthouse in Fort Lauderdale and the West Regional Courthouse in Plantation.  The addresses are as follows:

Main courthouse: 201 SE 6th St., Room # 02140, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.

The hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, but all filings must be completed before 5:00 pm.

West Regional Courthouse: 100 N. Pine Island Dr., Plantation, FL 33324

The hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, but all filings must be completed by 2:00 pm.

Hearing

The court will always set a hearing if a temporary injunction is granted.  Likewise, the court will usually set a hearing if the temporary injunction is denied.  The initial hearing is required to be set within 15 days of the initial order granting or denying the ex-parte petition.  The final hearings are held in the domestic violence division at the main courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The final hearing is a trial by judge.  The Rules of Evidence apply.  Which bring us to the last point.

Restraining Order Attorney

If the restraining order proceeding is important to you, hire an attorney.  You are much more likely to obtain a good result.  You don’t want to lose your case because you don’t know how to properly enter an item or statement into evidence.

Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney, Michael Dye, has experience prosecuting and defending civil domestic violence restraining orders and other injunctions.  For additional information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525

Decriminalization of Marijuana | Broward County

Decriminalization of Marijuana

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Broward               County, Florida

On November 10, 2015, the Broward County Commissioners passed ordinance number 2015-45. The recently passed ordinance gives police officers in Broward County the discretion to issue a civil citation in lieu of a misdemeanor criminal charge for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. Despite the language used to describe it, this ordinance is does not constitute decriminalization or the legalization of marijuana.

Is this Legalization of Marijuana?

No. Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is still illegal pursuant to Florida Statute 893.13 People are still getting arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in Broward County every day.  A state criminal statute is superior to a municipal ordinance. The Broward County Commission does not have the legal authority to, and did not attempt to, invalidate Florida statute 893.13.

The Broward County ordinance does not “decriminalize” possession of marijuana.  Possession of any amount of marijuana is still illegal under federal and state law.  The recently passed ordinance does provide a discretionary noncriminal means of enforcement.  Police officers have always had broad discretion when making an arrest decision for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The officer now has the option to charge misdemeanor possession of marijuana civilly as opposed to criminally.  Prior to the effective date of November 17, 2015, a police officer in Broward County had the following options when making an arrest decision for misdemeanor possession of marijuana:

  • Make a formal arrest and take the suspect to jail;
  • Issue a Notice to Appear for a misdemeanor criminal offense;
  • Confiscate the marijuana and take no further action.

Now that the ordinance is effective, a police officer in the exact same situation has a fourth option:

  • Make a formal arrest and take the suspect to jail;
  • Issue a Notice to Appear for a misdemeanor criminal offense;
  • Issue a civil citation for a violation of the Broward County Code;
  • Confiscate the marijuana and take no further action.

Not Decriminalization Not Legalization

In reality, nothing has changed. When someone is arrested for possession of marijuana, it is usually not the only criminal charge. Marijuana charges typically come in two’s. Possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Somewhere back in time an unknown police officer came up with the idea that the plastic bag holding your marijuana could be charged as drug paraphernalia.  The Broward County ordinance does not address possession of drug paraphernalia. However, since possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, the police officer has the discretion to simply not charge you at all.  The probability that you will be charged criminally for both possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia has a strong correlation to how big of a jerk you are to the police officer.

Odor of Marijuana | Automobile Exception

The outright legalization of marijuana would significantly curtail police action. The police regularly use the odor of marijuana as a basis to search a vehicle without a warrant.  That is known as the “automobile exception.”  The Broward County municipal ordinance does not overrule the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.  The police are still legally allowed to search your vehicle if they smell marijuana coming from the inside of the vehicle.

Below is a copy of the ordiance number 2015-45.  Visit https://www.municode.com for the complete Broward County Code.

Download (PDF, 2.61MB)

Broward County criminal defense attorney, Michael Dye, has extensive experience handling misdemeanor and felony violations of probation.  For more information concerning possession of marijuana and other drug charges, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

Broward DUI Conviction Rate 56%

Florida DUI Conviction Statistics

Data Shows that DUI Cases can be Beat

Can I Beat this DUI Charge?

That is a very typical question for dui defense attorneys. Most potential clients feel that it is impossible to win a DUI case. Statistics say otherwise. Your chances of winning your DUI case depend exclusively on the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. However, some counties seem to be a bit for defense friendly than others. The way I typically approach the situation is to tell the potential client my honest opinion based on the information that has been provided by the client. Keep in mind that sometimes the information provided by a client is not the most accurate. It is simply human nature to try to present your case in a fashion that makes you look the best. I’ve never cited to conviction statistics in a client meeting because I did not know the exact figures. I probably still won’t after today because it can set unrealistic expectations.

What do the statistics say?

The statistics actually paint a pretty rosey picture for a DUI defendant in Broward County, Florida. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles keeps records on how many DUI citations were issued in a county and keeps records on how those DUI citations were resolved in court. Much to my surprise, there were significant statistical differences in counties throughout the state. So while your odds might be pretty good in Fort Lauderdale, they might not be as good in Ocala. Visit the FLHSMV Uniform Traffic Citation Report to see the reports for the entire State of Florida.

Please keep the following in mind while reviewing the statistics:

  • There will be a certain number of DUI charges that are unresolved at the end of each year due to continuances and the date of the offense;
  • The data below is from year 2013 in order to allow additional time for cases to be resolved and reflected in the annual data;
  • The data is limited to three counties. Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Marion County;
  • The term “guilty” does not mean guilty of DUI;
  • “Guilty” as used below means a finding of guilt as to DUI, another traffic criminal matter charged with the DUI or a reduced charge from the DUI;
  • For example, if an individual is charged with DUI and he or she takes a plea to reckless driving, that still counts as a guilty.  This inflates the amount of individuals who are found “guilty” without disclosing how often the state reduces the charge.

Broward County DUI Arrest Data 2013
TOTAL ARRESTS:  3974
TOTAL PENDING DISPOSITION: 581
TOTAL DISPOSSED: 3393
TOTAL GUILTY: 1885 (56%)
TOTAL NOT GUILTY: 48 (1%)
ADJUDICATION WITHHELD BY JUDGE: 131 (4%)
TOTAL DISMISS OR NOLLE PROS: 1328 (39%)

Palm Beach County DUI Arrest Data 2013
TOTAL ARRESTS: 3034
TOTAL PENDING DISPOSITION: 969
TOTAL DISPOSSED: 2065
TOTAL GUILTY: 1343 (65%)
TOTAL NOT GUILTY: 31 (2)
ADJUDICATION WITHHELD BY JUDGE: 5 (<1%)
TOTAL DISMISS OR NOLLE PROS: 684 (33%)

Marion County DUI Arrest Data 2013
TOTAL ARRESTS: 915
TOTAL PENDING DISPOSITION: 31
TOTAL DISPOSSED: 884
TOTAL GUILTY: 737 (83%)
TOTAL NOT GUILTY: 10 (1%)
ADJUDICATION WITHHELD BY JUDGE: 6 (1%)
TOTAL DISMISS OR NOLLE PROS: 131 (15%)

Statistical Interpretation

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has this information readily available for the years 2011 through 2014. Over the course of those four years, the annual arrest total by county varies, but not significantly. However, the percentages remain very close to the same in all categories.

Why?

Why does Marion County, Florida have an 83% conviction rate? Why does Broward County, Florida show a conviction rate of 56%? There are several plausible explanations for the variations between counties. Are conviction rates higher in smaller, more conservative, rural areas due to the composition of the jury pool? Are larger counties precluded from devoting substantial resources towards DUI enforcement due to other prosecutorial priorities? The statistics don’t tell us why.

All that we know, based on statistical data alone, is that Broward County has a 56% conviction rate and that includes all of the convictions for lesser offenses such as reckless driving. Marion County has an 83% conviction rate. The statistics above clearly show that DUI’s can be beat and criminal defense attorneys are winning DUI cases on a regular basis. Hiring a criminal attorney with substantial DUI experience can have an enormous impact in the outcome of your case. Make no mistake about it, the odds are still stacked against you, but a good DUI attorney, you can level the playing field.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

At Least 177 Unfiled DUI Cases in Broward County

Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney

How to Hide Files in Office
Step 1) Create Mess;
Step 2) Tell people that you know where everything is.

Fort Lauderdale ASA Didn’t File 177 DUI Cases

On or about May 14, 2015, a long-term DUI case filing attorney for the Broward State Attorney’s Office was fired for “purposefully” not filing at least 177 DUI cases.  The unfiled cases spanned a 14 year period of time from 1997 to 2011.  When you average it out, it amounts to slightly more than 1 DUI per month over that 14 year period of time.  To put this into perspective, there were 3,133 arrests in Broward County in April, 2015.  Of those 3,133 arrests there were 139 arrests for DUI.  So the failure to file DUI charges was not a frequent occurrence.

Was this purposeful?  Who knows?  What do they mean by the word “unfiled?”  Did they have the evidence to secure a conviction?  Did the State have the evidence necessary to ethically file charges?  If the evidence wasn’t obtained, for whatever reason, there is no way to tell how many cases would have been filed.  So this number may significantly over state the actual number of cases that would have been filed.

How Did This Happen?

These were not routine cases.  It appears that all of the cases fit the same mold.  The typical DUI scenario goes something like this:

  • Traffic stop for random traffic infraction;
  • Officer notices a distinct smell of alcohol, bloodshot glassy eyes and slurred speech;
  • Officer asks defendant to step out of the vehicle and perform standardized field sobriety exercises;
  • Suspect fails standardized field sobriety tests;
  • Suspect is arrested for DUI and asked to submit to a breath test;
  • Suspect submits to breath test with a result of a .08 or higher;
  • Officer provides suspect with a citation which acts as a temporary driving permit for the next 10 days;
  • Defendant posts $500 bond for a first DUI and goes home;
  • Officer submits probable cause affidavit with the breath test ticket to the State Attorney;
  • State Attorney files an “information” which is the document officially charging somebody with a crime.

This is how the “177 unfiled DUI cases” are different.  At least this is how it appears to me based on the information I have.

  • All of the cases involved a car accident;
  • All of the suspects were injured and required medical treatment;
  • None of the suspects were able to provide a breath sample because they were receiving medical treatment;
  • None of the suspects were subjected to a forced blood draw.  A forced blood draw can only be done in cases of death or serious bodily injury;
  • It is reasonable to assume that nobody was serious injured or killed in any of these accidents because there was never a forced blood draw;
  • None of the suspects were arrested.

A suspect can still be charged with a DUI even though the suspect was not arrested. When a suspect is not arrested, the officer submits a “presentment” to the State Attorney.  The officer only submits the probable cause affidavit since there is no citation for the DUI.  The filing attorney at the State Attorney’s office reviews the facts of the case and makes a determination of whether to move forward on the case.

Subpoena for Blood Test Results

Pursuant to Florida Statute 395.3025(4)(d), the State Attorney can request the court issue a subpoena for the suspect’s medical records that were generated as a result of being taken to the hospital.  This includes any toxicology reports which were used for medical purposes.  Prior to the court issuing a subpoena, a suspect must be given 15 days notice of the State’s intent to subpoena records from a 3rd party.  The suspect can object to the production of the documents, including the toxicology reports, within the 15 days.

We Don’t Know What Happened

These “DUI” cases were presentments meaning that nobody had been arrested.  I put the term DUI in quotation marks because we don’t know if the cases were solid DUI  cases with blood alcohol levels over .08.  We don’t know if the cases he didn’t file were garbage cases with .07’s and below.  Personally, I believe that any case below a .10 is garbage and shouldn’t be filed.  We don’t know if a subpoena was ever issued.  If a subpoena wasn’t issued than we don’t know how many of these 177 cases should or shouldn’t have been filed because the toxicology reports are not available.

Assumptions

From what I have read so far, the State is claiming that 177 DUI cases were not filed.  However, the news has not been very specific.  In order for the number 177 to be correct, for these types of cases, you would need to assume that all 177 cases justified a subpoena being issued, that all 177 cases had subpoenas issued and that all 177 cases came back with .08 or higher BAC or a potentially impairing level of a narcotic scheduled under Chapter 893.  After an Assistant State Attorney in the filing division has done all of that, the only thing left to do is sign a piece of paper.  Literally, one signature.  I simply find it hard to believe that a career prosecutor would go through all of the work of collecting the evidence, have a solid DUI case and simply not file it.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

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