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Posts Tagged ‘sarasota defense attorney’

Important Facts About Burglary

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

How many times do I have to watch a movie or TV show where people come home to find out that their home has been broken into and their valuables stolen and they declare, “we’ve been robbed!”  To criminal law practitioners this is so annoying!  Why? Because it is obvious to us that these unfortunate folks were not the victims of a robbery, rather they were the victims of a burglary.

The Difference Between Burglary and Robbery

So what is burglary?  How does it differ from robbery? And why should you care? Most commonly, burglary is defined as the breaking and entering into the dwelling of “another” coupled with the  intent to commit a crime within that dwelling.  Robbery involves the taking of one person’s property by the force of another.  Acts we commonly refer to as mugging and purse snatching are forms of robbery.

The Elements of Burglary

All crimes have component parts called elements. The elements of burglary include the unlawful entry into the home and the crime committed inside the home.  Be aware, burglary can occur in places other than a home.  This is the distinction between burglary of a dwelling (home) and burglary of a structure (store, shed, chicken coop, etc.) or burglary of a conveyance (car, truck, RV).  Burglarizing a home is a higher level of crime than the other types of burglary.

Burglary Without Theft

What most people don’t realize is that you can still have a burglary without theft.  If someone breaks into a home in order to damage the home (criminal mischief), rape (sexual battery) or to commit assault or battery, these are still burglaries.  You can be charged with both burglary and the specific crime committed inside the home in this circumstance. Burglary can be one of the most complex crimes to defend.  These cases often include matters related to eyewitness identification, the admissibility of alleged confessions, permission to enter, and a host of others.

How Burglary Charges Can Rack Up Fast

In Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice, burglary is treated very seriously in our court system.  Under our current sentencing framework in Florida, persons convicted of burglarizing a home are presumed to go to prison.  It takes skilled legal representation to avoid such a fate.  Locally, the most common burglary scenario typically involves a group of three to four young persons accused of testing door handles to see if a naive owner left their door unlocked.  Because this crime is often committed over a period of time during which dozens of car doors are tested, a person can find themselves facing 10 to 20 counts of  auto burglary from a single night of foolishness.

Contact Zimmerman and Zimmerman at (941) 364-8503 for a free consultation regarding your burglary  charge in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice or North Port areas.

You Have The Right To Remain Silent…Use It

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

What if I told you that you have the right to eat as much as you want and not gain any excess weight?  Sounds pretty good, huh?  The point is that if you have the “right” to something, it is probably a good and valuable thing.  Well, anyone who has ever watched a police or attorney themed TV show or movie knows that in America we have the “right” to remain silent.  But what exactly does that mean, and how can we use this “right” to our advantage?

What Are Miranda Rights?

Most people mistakenly believe that if they are arrested and the police fail to read them their “rights,” then the arrest is somehow invalidated.  If only this were true.  In fact, the police don”t have to read you your “rights” at all.  First of all, let”s explain what “rights” we are talking about.  A U.S. Supreme Court case from the 1960″s known as the Miranda case explained that in casino spiele order for prosecutors to use certain statements against people accused of crimes, in court, the police would have to do certain things before those statements could be used in court.  Essentially, if police question a suspect that is in custody, the answers to those questions cannot be used against the suspect in court unless the police first advised them of those “rights”  I”ve been referring to.  Basically, we have the “right” to remain silent when the police are questioning us when we are in custody.

When am I Considered “In Custody?”

Remember, “custody” isn”t limited to the police station, patrol car or handcuffs.  Any significant restraint on your movement could mean that you are “in custody.”  So what is it that I am suggesting you do when “in custody” and questioned by the police?  Use that right and remain silent!  Do I have to repeat this?  You might think you”re going to talk your way out of trouble, outsmart the police or receive favorable treatment for your honesty and cooperation.  Keep dreaming.

Who Should I Talk To?

If you want to speak to someone when you are the subject of a police investigation, then I have the perfect suggestion for you.  Contact a criminal defense lawyer.  In Sarasota or Bradenton, I suggest that you contact a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer.  Good luck, and remember to zip it!

Arrested in Sarasota? What Should You Do First?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Difficult questions never have simple answers. Like all complex questions, the immediate answer is…it depends.

Getting Bond Posted

Is the arrestee still in jail?  If so, it might be necessary to contact a bail bondsman. If the  bond is low then the bail can be posted in full.  It will be returned in full at the conclusion of the case, assuming the arrestee made all of their court appearances. If bond is too large to make in full, then a bail bondsman will require payment, typically equal to 10% of the total bond.  That is the bondsman’s  fee, and  it will not be  returned to you.  The bondsman will also likely require that you sign over something of value as collateral to secure the bond.  This is often the title to a house, car or boat.  If the bond is so large that even paying 10% is not feasible, then effort will need to be made to lower the bond.  This requires the use of a lawyer.

Getting the Bond Lowered

There are typically two opportunities to accomplish this.  The first is at a hearing held within 24 hours of arrest, at a courtroom located within the jail.  Unfortunately, family members are unable to attend this hearing.  The technical name for this hearing is a Non-Adversarial Probable  Cause Hearing, however it is commonly referred to as a First Appearance.  If a a private attorney is not retained in time for this hearing, then an Assistant Public Defender will represent the arrestee. Public Defender’s will have little time to prepare for each hearing, so hiring a private criminal defense attorney provides an advantage in preparation and strategy.  If bond is sufficiently reduced at First Appearance, then the process of  posting bail outlined above would be followed.  Be aware that some people arrested in Sarasota are released on their own recognizance, also known as ROR.  In this instance, there is  no bail required and no other conditions of release that must be complied with.  The arrestee must simply show up in court when required.  Sadly, this circumstance has become increasingly rare in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  More common is that arrestees are given some monetary bond and also placed on a community supervision program known as Supervised  Pretrial Release, or SPR.  In Sarasota, this program is administered  by a government agency known as  Pretrial Services.

Release Conditions

If an arrestee released from jail in Sarasota fails to comply with any of their conditions of release, Pretrial Services will forward a warrant for their re-arrest to a local Judge.  Typical release conditions include contacting Pretrial Services telephonically, appearing at their offices, submitting to urinalysis and attending counseling.  If bond is not reduced sufficiently to secure the arrestee’s release, then a Bond Reduction Hearing will need to be scheduled. This can be done as soon as  a few days from arrest, and occasionally could take several weeks. At this hearing, an attorney would present to the Judge the reasons why they should be confident that the arrestee will, in fact, appear for their scheduled court dates, and why they do not pose a danger to our community.

What If I Can’t Make Bond?

If bond is not reduced sufficiently after this hearing, it is possible that the arrestee will spend the pendency of the case  in jail.  This can occur in very serious  cases involving  certain felony charges, or where the  arrestee has a significant prior record.  In some extreme cases, the Judge will allow no bond.  This means that no amount of monetary bail can secure the arrestee’s release.  In this instance the proper motion to be filed would  be a Motion to Set Bond (as opposed to a Motion to Reduce Bond). Again, this will require the services of an attorney. Stay tuned for my future post on things to consider when hiring a criminal defense attorney in Sarasota.