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Violation of Probation

Violation of Probation

Florida Criminal Law

What Happens if I Violate Probation?

Violation of probation proceedings are expedited.  Nevertheless, there are several Car Accident to a violation of probation proceeding. The proceedings typically go in the following order:

1) Charges & Report;
2) Custody and Terms of Release;
3) Discovery;
4) Hearing and Disposition.

What is a Violation of Probation?

If you were placed on probation, the sentencing court gave you a set of rules. Those rules are the terms of probation. There are certain standard rules, but the Trusted Wills Oxford can customize the terms for your particular case.  You do not have to break the law to violate probation. All you have to do is break the rules. For example, the terms of probation for your case might give you a curfew of 10 o’clock. It is not illegal to be out past 10 PM, but it would be a violation of your probation.

I. Charges & Report

Affidavit of Violation of Probation

Your probation officer will file an affidavit of violation of probation if he has probable cause to believe that you violated the terms of your probation. If this is a felony violation of probation, the affidavit is called the “Florida Department of Correction Affidavit of Violation of Probation.”  The affidavit will contain the allegations stating how you violated the terms of probation. The affidavit will typically be filed with the same judge that presided over the original sentencing.

Violations of probation are either technical or substantial.

What is a technical violation of probation?  Breaking the rules.  Examples would include a positive drug test, failure to pay costs of supervision or any failure to abide by the rules.

What is a substantial violation of probation? A new criminal charge.

Violation of Probation Report

Your probation officer will also file a report with the affidavit of violation. The report can request that the court issue a warrant for your arrest or that the court issue a notice to appear. The violation report will also contain significant information such as any statement that you made regarding the alleged violation.  The violation report will also contain your history of supervision, the facts and circumstances surrounding the underlying case. Most importantly, the report contains the probation officer’s recommendation concerning the disposition of your case.

II. Custody and Terms of Release

The violation report filed by your probation officer will request that a warrant be issued for your arrest or that you be given a notice to appear.  The judge will typically issue a “no bond” warrant if a warrant is requested.  It is not uncommon for defendants to stay in jail for two(2) or three(3) months waiting for their violation of probation hearing.  Quite often the fear of having no bond drives individuals to abscond or hide in order to avoid going to jail. This just makes the problem worse.  Contacting a private attorney immediately is your best option as there are ways to minimize or eliminate the amount of time you spend in jail waiting for your final hearing.

III.  Discovery

Discovery is typically limited in violation of probation cases.  More often than not your attorney will have most of what they need to know based after reading the violation report.  If the violation is a technical violation of probation, i.e., breaking the rules, then there is typically no need for extensive discovery.  If the violation is a substantial violation, i.e., a new criminal charge, your attorney will get the discovery in the new case.

IV. Hearing & Disposition

In a violation of probation proceeding, you do not enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Rather, you either admit responsibility or deny responsibility. If you deny responsibility, there is a hearing. A violation of probation hearing is heard by a judge. You do not have a right to a jury trial. The rules of evidence are relaxed. Hearsay is generally permitted. Also, the burden of proof is lower.  The state does not have to prove the violation “beyond a reasonable doubt,” rather, the state must present evidence “sufficient to satisfy the conscious of the court.” That is a long way of saying “by the preponderance of the evidence.” If the state meets the burden of proof the judge will find you responsible for the violation of probation.

Sentencing

The judge has three options when faced with a violation of probation. The judge can revoke probation and sentence you to any sentence which could have been legally imposed on the original criminal charges.  For example, if you are on probation for a third degree felony, the judge can sentence you to five(5) years for a violation of probation. The judge can modify the terms of probation.   The court can add conditions such as drug rehab, counseling or an ankle monitor.  Alternatively, the judge can reinstate your probation on the exact same terms as before.

Getting a private attorney involved early can have a substantial impact on the disposition of your probation case.  Typically, a private attorney can talk to the probation officer, prosecutor and set the hearing on a calendar quickly to get a resolution.  Additionally, a private attorney can file a motion for an in court surrender and/or get a bond hearing quickly.  The advantage of hiring a private attorney over a public defender is that a private attorney can get to work on your case before you are charged with a probation violation.  A public defender can only be appointed and get to work once you have been charged.  It is a matter of being proactive vs reactive.

In addition to the procedural aspects, a private attorney can help you gather the documents and/or evidence necessary to establish your defense in the event that you proceed to a final violation of probation hearing. It is much easier to obtain evidence before you go into custody.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, Michael Dye, has extensive experience handling misdemeanor and felony violations of probation.  For more information concerning probation violation proceedings, 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

DUI Manslaughter Defense

DUI Manslaughter Defense

Analysis of Postmortem Specimens

Strict Liability vs Causation

Florida had a strict liability DUI manslaughter statute until 1986.  All the state needed to prove was that the defendant was driving while impaired, was involved in a car accident and somebody died as a result of the car accident. It did not matter if the defendant was at fault for the accident. The legislature amended the DUI manslaughter statute in 1986 to include the element of causation.

Constitutional Issue with Strict Liability

The problem with the strict liability DUI manslaughter statute, in my opinion, was that the criminal culpability for a misdemeanor DUI and the criminal culpability for a DUI manslaughter was equal. A good argument could be made that the strictly at liability DUI manslaughter statute violated the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution as a cruel and unusual punishment. The current DUI manslaughter statute requires the state to prove the following: 1) driving under the influence; 2) an accident resulting in death and 3) and that the defendant was somehow at fault for the accident. The causation element must be proved independent of impairment.

Not My Fault Defense

Defending DUI manslaughter cases is difficult under any circumstances. It is human nature to look for somebody to blame when somebody dies before their time.  It is also human nature to not speak ill of the dead.  However, a legally viable defense to DUI manslaughter is that the decedent was at fault for the accident even though the defendant was driving drunk. The defendant would be guilty of DUI, but not DUI manslaughter in that scenario. The “not my fault defense” is a particularly difficult proposition to sell to a jury. In essence, you are saying to the jury “Yes, my client was driving drunk. Yes, my client was involved in a fatal car accident. However, the car accident was the dead guy’s fault.”

Theory vs. Reality

Nobody ever gets screwed by the law in a bar exam essay question.  However, this is not a law school exam question. Defense attorneys need to stop thinking about legal theory and focus on where the rubber meets the road.  Technically, the defense bears no burden of proof, but if this is your defense, you are going to need to show some solid evidence.  The jury is looking to blame somebody and there is a good chance that it is going to be the defendant and also you could get a Dui Lawyer Orlando to help you rest your case, so everything is easier.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to use this defense if it did not have a strong factual basis.  The risk of alienating the judge and jury by blaming the victim without any serious basis is too great.

Where to Find the Evidence

The autopsy report from the County Medical Examiner’s Office is a valuable source of information for the defense. Please note that the Medical Examiner’s Office may be called something different in another state.  Biological specimens, such as blood and urine, are preserved during the course of an autopsy. Toxicology testing is performed on the specimens. The results of the toxicology tests may show that the was under the influence of some sort of drug or alcohol at the time of the accident.

It should be relatively easy to establish whether the decedent was under the influence of a drug at the time of the accident. The postmortem blood sample will identify the drugs in his or her system at the time of death. Postmortem quantitative analysis of controlled substances in a decedent’s blood is another topic for another time. The biggest problem that defense attorneys run into when trying to evaluate the culpability of the decedent is the quantitative analysis of ethyl alcohol in the decedent’s blood.

No matter what methods are used, using the BAC at the time of autopsy in order to determine the decedent’s impairment at the time of the accident is an educated guess at best and gross speculation at worst.  The reason for the uncertainty is because alcohol can be produced or destroyed in between the time of death in the time of the autopsy. Autolysis is defined as the self digestion or destruction of an organism’s own cells through the action of its own enzymes. This begins to occur within hours of an individual’s death and his present throughout the vast majority of the vascular system within hours. The result is an environment which supports the endogenous production of alcohol. Multiple environmental factors contribute in determining if endogenous alcohol is produced or the extent of the endogenous production. The two most significant are typically time and temperature.

Postmortem BAC Testing is Never Ideal

We obviously want the BAC to be as accurate as possible. In an ideal world we would like to have a blood sample taken from the decedent as soon as possible after the accident and a second blood sample taken 45 minutes to an hour after the first blood sample with both being prior to death. If that is the case, we would probably not need to use the postmortem sample.

If possible, the first thing that the defense attorney should do is check the decedents medical records in order to determine if a BAC screen was ordered by a doctor at the hospital. You may have to request a subpoena duces tecum if the medical evidence from the hospital is not provided in discovery.  Sometimes individuals die on the scene or on their way to the hospital so this is not always available. If there is no antemortem sample, the defense attorney has to be able to assess the reliability of the autopsy sample.

Additional Reading

Postmortem analysis of biological specimens for ethyl alcohol is very complicated.  Try as I might, I cannot say it any better than it is said on this website: BAC Analysis in Postmortem Specimens. Another good website for forensic science in general is The Truth About Forensic Science

Remember that it is the State’s burden to prove that the defendant was at fault for the accident. If you can put on strong evidence that the decedent was impaired it is up to the State to rebut that.  There are simply too many variables for the toxicologist to credibly testify as to a definitive state of impairment at the time of the accident.

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

For more information on marketing your law firm in a highly competitive niche please visit Law Firm Marketing AND Legal Marketing.  I am not being paid to link or promote these websites or products.  It is a product/service that I truly believe in.

 

 

Motion to Suppress Everything for Reasons

The Omnibus Motion to Suppress

Motion to Suppress Because of Reasons

Motion to Suppress Because of Reasons

I started practicing law in Florida in 2004.  I practiced law in both Florida and North Carolina from 2007 to 2011.  I exclusively practice law in Florida now and my license no longer active in North Carolina.  The District Court in North Carolina handles misdemeanor DWI charges. If you’re looking for a Long Island traffic lawyer because of a traffic ticket, call traffic lawyer suffolk county for help with your case.  A defendant did not have a right to discovery in District Court proceedings.  In 2006, the North Carolina Legislature passed NCGS 20-38.6 which required that all motions to suppress and/or dismiss in implied consent cases be made prior to trial.  Most of the time defense counsel would receive a police report, test ticket and alcohol influence report prior to the trial.    However, there was no guarantee that you would get anything since the state was not obligated to provide anything.   This put defense counsel in a position of potentially being required to file a pretrial motion to suppress without any discovery whatsoever.    Failing to file a pretrial motion to suppress was not an automatic waiver of the right to file a motion to suppress.  Any motion to suppress made during trial was required to be based on facts not previously known to the defendant.  Whether to hear the motion to suppress was in the sole discretion of the trial judge.  In my experience, concerning DWI matters, any motion that was not made prior to trial would not be heard.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention and Innovation

The defense bar quickly came up with an Omnibus Motion to Suppress knowing that our crystal ball was unable to predict the contents of the various police reports.  In order to protect your client’s rights, you would simply check all of the boxes and submit the motion prior to or at the first hearing.  You could either amend the motion or withdraw the motion after you received discovery.  The motion has undergone significant changes since I first saw/used it.  The most recent copy that I can find was written by John Fanney and posted on the North Carolina Indigent Defense Services website.  Click here to see a copy of the motion: North Carolina DWI Motion to Suppress 

Reasons for Filing an Omnibus Motion to Suppress

Typically you would want to file a motion to suppress containing a clear statement of the facts and the legal basis to suppress the evidence.  However, that is difficult to do if, for whatever reason, you do not receive discovery.  An omnibus motion to suppress simply states various legal avenues through which evidence can be suppressed.  It does not state any factual basis for applying the legal principals asserted.  A check box omnibus motion to suppress is not necessarily lazy lawyering.  It is a means of protecting your client’s rights when you are being forced into taking a legal position before you know all of the facts.

Kane County criminal lawyer, Matthew Haiduk, publishes a blog titled “Disorderly Conduct.”  Mr. Haiduk mentions his reasoning for filing an omnibus motion to suppress stating “We’d get appointed, not even have police reports, and [the judge would] order that we would have to have any and all defense motions filed within 30 days… even if the trial was 9 months later.”  The entire post is definitely worth reading and can be found here: Setting Every Damn Case for Trial.  A copy of his omnibus motion to suppress is as follows:

Download (PDF, 128KB)

Disclaimer:  I am no longer licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina and the preceding analysis was commentary only and not intended to be relied on for legal advice.

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