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Cinco De Mayo DUI crack down in Pinellas County

The cities of St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Largo and Kenneth City police departments, along with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office and Florida Highway Patrol have announced that they will be budgeting for extra traffic units this Cinco De Mayo Weekend. Some times they do this when they have extra Federal Funding and sometimes it is just a Publicity stunt as they always have DUI traffic units working on Friday nights, through until the wee hours of Saturday AM. Usually this patrols result in increased DUI arrests, drug charges and other related auto related offenses.  Please be careful out there.

Pinellas among Florida counties with the highest arrest rates for drug possession

According to the the below referenced study, Pinellas County has one of the  highest arrest rates for drug possession charges  in the State of Florida.  Consequently, drug charges are one of the most common  cases that I handle in my Criminal Defense practice.  Contrary to the popular trend, even small amounts of marijuana are prosecuted as criminal offenses in all cities in Pinellas County and prosecuted as such by elected State Attorney Bernie McCabe.
The police Departments in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, and Largo all maintain an active narcotics investigative units and all the line officers are constantly on alert to make drug arrests.
Read more on the study here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/pinellas-among-florida-counties-with-the-highest-arrest-rates-for-drug/2298511

DUI Wolf Pack To Roam Pinellas County

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies will hit the streets over the4th of July weekend.

Pinellas County, FL — Tampa Bay area residents with party plans in mind over the long holiday weekend may want to designate a driver. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has announced a DUI Wolfpack just in time for the 4th of July weekend.
According to the agency, the enhanced enforcement effort will begin around 7 p.m. on Friday, July 1 and continue until about 5 a.m.on Saturday. Multiple law enforcement agencies in Pinellas are taking part in the operation, meant to crackdown on impaired driving.
“This operation is part of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s ongoing commitment to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to impaired driving,” the sheriff’s office wrote in an email to media. The goal of the operation, the agency said, is to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of impaired driving.
The sheriff’s office hasn’t said what roads the pack intends to prowl, but said the focus will be on maintaining “a proactive profile over the July 4th holiday weekend on the highly traveled roadways in Pinellas County,” the email said.
Motorists who do drink too much to drive will find an alternative available to them. AAA and Bud Light have announced plans to operate their Tow 2 Go program over the entire weekend, starting Friday and ending early Tuesday morning. For more details, check out: Tow 2 Go Ready For 4th Of July 2016.

Criminal Arrest or Charge

One of the things my clients are most interested in is how their criminal arrest or charge will effect them going forward in this social media, internet driven world.  In Pinellas County, the booking photos of people in the Pinellas County Jail, are not released to the public at large, so shouldn’t be available to mugshots.com$ type scams — but they none the less show up sometimes.

Typically, I try to mitigate the damage of any charge my clients have, and start moving towards sealing or expunging the crime — if available for my client’s particular case and circumstances.

Here is an interesting article regarding consequences of criminal charges: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/opinion/have-you-ever-been-arrested-check-here.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Ffixes&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

Decriminalization for Marijuana in Tampa

Multiple media outlets reported on The Tampa City Council’s recent plan to begin decriminalization for marijuana amounts under 20 grams. Pot possession in Tampa may soon just be a civil ticket rather than a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1000 fine and a possible Drivers license revocation as it currently is under state law.  This mdecriminalization for marijuanaay mean that my clients here in Pinellas County will be still subject to arrest and criminal charges for the same behavior that is just punishable by a $75  fine in Hillsborough County.

This local plan to reduce marijuana from a criminal charge is very interesting and seems to be happening in various other Jurisdiction’s – like Tallahassee and Dade County.  It remains to be seen if the Florida legislature will follow the same path of decriminalization.  

See this Tampa Bay Times article for more details : http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/tampa-council-to-vote-on-decriminalizing-the-possession-of-small-amounts/2267689

City of St. Petersburg May Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

As reported in the local Media including Bay News 9, and the Tampa Bay Times, the St. Petersburg City Council discussed this week the possibility of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.  City Council Members talked about modeling the ordinance after similar ones in Leon and Miami-Dade counties, which would allow those who are cited to be fined $150 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense as instead of being arrested and charged with a criminal offense.

Currently in Pinellas County, as in the rest of the State of Florida except those areas that have decriminalized it, POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA, in an amount under 20 Grams, is called a 1st degree Misdemeanor, punishable under Florida Statute 893.13(6)(B)  by up to a year in jail and or a 1000 fine with optional conditions of probation, drug counseling, and a mandatory driver’s license revocation upon conviction.  This trend of making it “just a ticket” is an interesting trend and seems to be forging ahead on a local government level in an area that the Florida Legislature will not go even though is seems to be what many of the voters want.

This proposal probably would not affect any currently pending criminal possession charges, and of course may never actually become a local ordinance.  The County Council is attempting to contact the Pinellas County Commission to see if they will enact a County wide Municipal Ordinance that would work in all cities and the County areas as well.

Pinellas County Criminal Court System

In the state of Florida, trial courts are divided up into 20 different circuits. I practice Criminal Defense Law in the 6th Judicial Circuit which serves citizens in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, in the Tampa Bay area.

Pinellas County is divided up into north and south sections, with the city of Clearwater being the northern base and St. Petersburg being the southern base of Judicial Operations.

The main criminal courthouse is known as the Pinellas County Justice Center, which is located at 14250 49th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33762. This is the location were all criminal cases will be heard as well was all juvenile offenses. If you are arrested or charged with a crime other than a traffic charge – you will have your case heard at this Courthouse.

If you receive a traffic citation or criminal traffic charge – DUI for example, you will appear at one of 2 Traffic Court locations which depend on which police agency made your charge or arrest:

North County traffic Court is located at the Pinellas County Government Center, 29582 US Highway 19 North in Clearwater, Florida. All cases are called in court room 104, but there’s only one court room in that building.

South County Traffic Court is located at the Pinellas County Government Center, at 1800 66th street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33710 in Courtroom “B” but once again there’s only one court room in that building.

My criminal trial practice is limited to cases in Pinellas County – if you have been arrested or charged with a criminal case in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo or other city in Pinellas County, your case will appear in one of these Courthouses where I have practiced for the last 30 years.

Judge Throws Out Evidence Against Aaron Hernandez in Murder Trial

In this Aaron Hernandez case, the police exceeded their authority to seize property owned by the Defendant in that they went beyond the scope of the Search Warrant granted by a Judge, and the Defense Lawyer moved to suppress the evidence as it was illegally obtained. One of the things an experienced defense lawyer does is examine the probable cause or consent used to seize evidence to see if a Motion To Suppress evidence illegally obtained, would better his client’s position in Court. Not sure if this Motion is ultimately going to help this former Florida Gator in his many legal problems, but I have looked for search and seizure issues for over 30 years for defendants that I represent in Pinellas Criminal cases, and would be happy to consult with you regarding your facts and circumstances.

http://foxnewsinsider.com/2014/08/27/judge-throws-out-evidence-against-former-new-england-patriots%E2%80%99-star-aaron-hernandez

Pinellas County DUI

Almost anyone can get arrested for Driving Under The Influence in Pinellas County, DUI, – even a St. Petersburg Police office. If he took the breath test and scored as the article suggests he did, he blew over a .08 and will have an Administrative Driver’s License Suspension that he, or more likely, his lawyer will need to act on within 10 days of the offense to contest the Administrative Driving Suspension and/or obtain a permit and waive the Hearing to contest the Suspension. I have been helping people arrested for DUI charges and Driving Privilege Suspensions for over 20 years.