Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need a Lawyer?
- A: If you are being investigated or have been arrested or charged with a criminal offense than yes you need a lawyer. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney about the specifics of your particular situation.
The Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace understand that the truth is ALL CRIMINAL CASES, not just Felony cases but even Misdemeanor, juvenile and Traffic Offenses carry potential jail and/or prison sentences. Even in situations where the State is not seeking jail time, a person charged with a criminal offense can be facing significant sanctions, such as: Community Control, Home Confinement, Probation, Fines, Community Service, and the prospect of a Criminal Conviction on his or her record. The Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace also know that how a criminal case is resolved can have a very significant impact on you for both your immediate and long term future. Beyond whatever sentence is imposed by the Court, many offenses additionally carry an automatic Driver License Suspension upon conviction. Additionally, the way a criminal case is resolved can ultimately affect your ability to find and keep a job, find an apartment or suitable housing,
- How much do lawyers charge to defend someone? Why do some attorneys charge more than others?
- Attorneys fees vary widely depending on the type of case and their experience. There is no uniform or set fee that all criminal defense lawyers follow. You can call four different lawyers and receive four different price quotes. We don't speak for all of the local defense attorneys, but our Orlando Defense Attorneys determine our fees by looking at the nature of the charge and specific facts alleged. For example, we typically charge more for felony cases than we do for misdemeanor cases. If a case has 12 different witnesses that will need to be interviewed and deposed, we might charge more than a case where there is only one witness even if the charge is the same. A case involving one specific incident on one night is likely to cost less than one involving an alleged conspiracy which took place over the course of 18 months. A case that requires the review and preparation of expert testimony may cost more than one where no expert witnesses are involved. Whatever our fee, the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace will explain the fee to you up front. That is why we offer a free consultation so that the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace can go over your case and the allegations in detail.
Once we know what is involved in a particular case, we will be able to quote you a fair and appropriate fee. We recommend you always meet your attorney before hiring him or her. Never hire an attorney based solely on a quote or price given over the phone, especially if that lawyer has not even reviewed your police report. Of course, even if the specifics of a particular case are taken in consideration, you may find some firms and lawyers charge more or less than others. A lawyer charging significantly less may be just out of school or new to the area. As in any profession, the best can usually demand a higher fee for their work. You can't buy a BMW for the price of a KIA. That said, your choice of lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you and your family make and price shouldn't be the only deciding factor. It is important that you feel comfortable with the lawyer representing you and trust in that attorney's ability. Most criminal defense firms, including Dicembre & Nace, may be willing to work with you on a payment plan provided you pay a retainer and the payments are reasonable. If you have any additional questions regarding attorney's fee, please call the Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Dicembre & Nace at (407)649-1999.
- If I get pulled over for DUI, should I take the breathalyzer?
- If you have had four or more drinks, probably not. But as you will read below, the answer depends on many variables.
The breathalyzer is an instrument designed to provide law enforcement with a measurement of your blood alcohol content. It is of questionable reliability. Each drink you consume will increase your blood alcohol content by approximately .025. It takes approximately one hour for your body to metabolize approximately .025 worth of alcohol. Theoretically, if you consume only one average drink per hour for four hours, your blood alcohol should climb no higher than approximately .025. The so-called legal limit in Florida is .08. If you have consumed no more than four drinks over the course of four hours, you might pass the breathalyzer. But because the breathalyzer is arguably unreliable, because some drinks are stronger than others and because each individual’s weight and metabolism vary so considerably, it might make sense to forego the breathalyzer.
Unfortunately, in Florida, as in most states, a driver’s constitutional right not to be forced into incriminating himself has been seriously compromised when we are talking about DUI Investigations. If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer when requested, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) penalizes you by automatically suspending a driver’s license for 1 year for a first refusal with a 90 day “hard suspension” wherein the driver will not be eligible for a “hardship license” or “permit” for 90 days. A second refusal can lead to an 18 month suspension. Additionally, you can also be charged with the criminal traffic offense of refusal to submit. Therefore, refusing a breathalyzer is not without its own risks. That said, if you take the breathalyzer and “fail” by providing a sample that registers .08 or higher, the DHSMV will still suspend your license for 6 months with a 30 day “hard suspension.” If you “pass” the breathalyzer with a .079 or lower, the DHSMV will not suspend your license.
A breathalyzer test result in excess of .08, in the hands of a capable prosecutor, can be a powerful weapon against you at trial. This reading carries with it a presumption of intoxication. Your right to be presumed innocent is, therefore, compromised. A reading in excess of .12 could be fatal to your defense unless your attorney successfully moves to have those results suppressed.
As you can see, there is no easy answer to this question, which is ironic because it is one of the ones we get asked the most often. Only you know how much you had to drink and over how long. Our best advice to anyone who is unsure whether they are at risk for a DUI is not to drive. Call a friend or a cab and get home safely.
If you have been arrested or charged with ‘Driving Under the Influence’ or DUI in Orange County, Lake County, Osceola County, Seminole County, Volusia County, Brevard County or anywhere in Central Florida, call the Central Florida DUI attorneys at our Orlando Criminal Defense Law Firm today. We offer free consultation, will review you’re the facts of your case, discuss potential strategies and defenses and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today at (407)649-1999.
- If I get pulled over for DUI, should I take the Field Sobriety Tests?
- Unless you are completely sober, moderately coordinated, no more than 20 pounds over weight, wearing athletic footwear and perform well under pressure, probably not.
Only you know how much you had to drink and over how long. The best advice the Orlando DUI Defense Attorneys at Dicembre & Nace can give to anyone who is unsure whether they are at risk for a DUI is not to drive. Call a friend or a cab and get home safely. That said, if you have been drinking and the police pull you over, it may be smart to refuse to incriminate yourself. You have no obligation to take these tests. If an officer asks you to perform field sobriety exercises, you can refuse. Furthermore, there is no penalty imposed upon you for refusing to attempt these “tests” with the DHSMV as is the case with the Breathalyzer.
The “tests” are difficult to pass, especially since you are taking them in front of one or more armed law enforcement officers with the power to arrest you. Additionally, these are not normal everyday functions law enforcement is asking you to perform. When is the last time you saw someone walking down the street heel-to-toe with their arms at their side? Add in the nerves and fear associated with being pulled over and you can see where these tasks become more difficult.
In any event, many law enforcement officers want you to take these “tests” because they want more evidence against you and so that they can later testify to a judge or jury about how poorly you performed. Knowing this, why help law enforcement build a case against you?
The police refer to these exercises as “tests” and, as such, many assume there is some inherent reliability associated with them. The Orlando DUI defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace believe these “tests” do not have real scientific value especially given the fact that are many variables involved in the administration and “grading” of these exercises. Officers vary in the manner in which they instruct people to perform the tests and how they grade the performances. In short, law enforcement officers are human and, as such, the application and evaluation of these tests is often subject to “human error.” Studies suggest that, even with ideal conditions, proper instructions and fiar grading, these “tests” are a “reliable” indicator of intoxication only 65% of the time. This means even good competent police officers are wrong approximately 1/3 of the time. As such, the accuracy of these tests is questionable and it may not be in your interest to perform them if asked. If you have been charged with a DUI in Central Florida or have additional questions, call the Orlando DUI defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace at (407)649-1999.
- If the police want to search me, my home or my car, do I have to let them? Should I give them permission?
- No and No. Not unless they show you a search warrant. The Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace get asked this question often. It is important for everyone to remember that the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as well as Article I, 12 of the Florida Constitution, provides that you have a right to be free from unreasonable and unlawful searches and seizures conducted without the benefit of a warrant. Unfortunately, the police and other law enforcement officers, all too often, will attempt to circumvent the warrant requirement and your rights by getting an individual to 'consent' to letting them search. If the police ask you to search your car, your home or even your person, you should clearly and loudly state that you do not give them permission to search. Be polite, but be firm. Yelling, screaming and calling the police names will not help your situation. Simply, say no.
The Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace understand that it is difficult for the average citizen to say no to the police. The police can be intimidating; the police may even make threats or promises regarding the arrest of you or your family. The police may even search anyway, but the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees you, as a citizen of this great nation, the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police violate your rights under the Fourth Amendment, all the evidence that they have obtained as a result of this illegal search and seizure is not admissible against you at trial. If the police ask to search your person, your home or your car, say loudly and clearly that you do not give them permission to conduct the search. They may search anyway. But, at least you have not given your consent to the search. If the police conduct a search without consent or the benefit of a warrant, your lawyer can file a 'Motion to Suppress' the evidence because the police violated your rights under the United States and Florida Constitutions, which, if granted, would mean that all the evidence that they have obtained as a result of this illegal search and seizure would not be admissible against you at trial.
If you consent to the search and the police find evidence of a crime, it will be much more difficult to convince any court that the police violated your rights. The Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace have litigated search and seizure issues in many situations where consent was given and many where consent was refused and can discuss with you the strategies involved in both circumstances.
If you have any additional questions regarding search, seizure or consent, please call the Central Florida criminal defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace today at (407)649-1999.
- The police never read me my Miranda rights, shouldn't my case be dismissed?
- No, but it may provide a legal basis for your attorney to file a motion to suppress aimed at excluding any statement you might have made while in custody and the suppression of those statements may help your case significantly. This might be the question clients ask the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace the most often. 'But they never read me my rights', they will tell us. The reality is we all see movies and television shows where the first thing the police always do is read a defendant their rights. The truth is that an individual's Miranda rights are designed to protect an individual's constitutional right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning. Therefore, Miranda warnings or 'reading your rights' only applies to statements you make in response to police questioning after you are already in custody.
That said, the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace think it is important that everyone know and understand their rights. Before questioning or interrogating a citizen that is in custody, the police are required to advise him of his rights. If the police question a citizen that they have arrested or detained without first giving that person the Miranda warnings, the defense lawyer can file a motion to suppress any statement given by the suspect. In many cases, law enforcement does not question an individual after making an arrest because no statement is necessary. For example, if a defendant is arrested during a bar fight where multiple witnesses have already identified the accused and given statements, the police might not find it necessary to question the defendant. If the police pull you over for speeding and find you have a suspended license, they would not need to interrogate you. In short, if the person arrested gave no statement to the police or was not questioned, there really is no violation of Miranda and therefore no available remedy. That said, there are times when the police do question a suspect who, according to law enforcement, is not in custody and where law enforcement did not advise the suspect of their Miranda rights.
In some of these cases, however, the potential defendant's rights might still have been violated by police questioning depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding law enforcement's actions. For example, the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace always review the specific situation surrounding a defendant's alleged statement to ensure that it was not obtained improperly. Some of the factors we look for are: if the suspect was physically restrained; if the suspect was detained for a long period of time without being free to leave; if the suspect was threatened with his arrest or the arrest of a family member; and how many officers were on scene. All of these factors and others may create a circumstance where a suspect, who was not technically in custody, was essentially 'under arrest' to the point where he or she was entitled to the protection of Miranda.
The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace have been successful getting clients' statements suppressed in certain. If you have any additional questions regarding Miranda, please call the Central Florida criminal defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace today at (407)649-1999.
- When should I hire a lawyer?
- As soon as possible. The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace understand that the truth of our criminal justice system is that the prosecution of an individual begins before the first court date and how a case is resolved may depend on what happens in those early stages. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better your chances of avoiding conviction are. Most good criminal defense firms will conduct their own investigation in an attempt to accurately reconstruct events and find potentially helpful witnesses. This needs to be done immediately as the chance of finding key witnesses diminishes with every passing day, week and month. Additionally, memories are like ice cubes, they melt over time and a witness who we find months later may have forgotten important facts that would be helpful to you or might have a memory so hazy that his or her value as a witness is greatly compromised.
One example of why it is important to hire an attorney right away is the preservation of evidence. Several times, in the past year alone, we have had a client tell us that the police were lying and/or that things did not happen the way the police claimed in their reports. This would obviously be beneficial to our client if we could verify the information. Well, as fate would have it, these incidents took place outside of stores or in parking lots that had video surveillance which may have provided us the corroboration that our client, and not the police, was telling the truth. Unfortunately, these businesses routinely only keep the video for a short time. By the time the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace were hired on these cases, the video was already gone and potentially valuable evidence was lost.
Another benefit to hiring an attorney sooner rather than later is that, in certain situations, your lawyer may be able to present certain facts or information to the Office of the State Attorney before formal charges are filed that may have an impact on how the prosecutor decides to charge a particular case. In some cases, the Central Florida criminal defense lawyers at Dicembre & Nace have been successful convincing the prosecution to drop a case and not file charges or, in other situations, to file less serious charges than those for which the defendant was originally arrested. If you have any additional questions regarding when to contact or hire an attorney, please call the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace at (407)649-1999. The Central Florida criminal defense attorneys at Dicembre & Nace handle all types of criminal and traffic cases in Orlando, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Kissimmee, Sanford, Lake Mary, Clermont, Seminole County, Lake County, Orange County, Brevard County, Volusia County and Osceola County. Contact us today for a free consultation.