Parole

parole

Why OJ’s Parole Was Shocking To No One

Much time has passed since the Trial of the Century in 1995, but OJ Simpson remains a celebrity that elicits fascination, interest and disgust in equal measures. But beyond all the hysteria about Simpson’s recent parole hearing, what was most interesting is the fact that there was some doubt as to whether or not he would obtain early release from prison. And yet, a closer look at Simpson’s time behind bars offers big clues that his parole was a foregone conclusion.

Here are the reasons why OJ’s parole was shocking to no one, and what other prospective parolees can learn from his case.

No Prior Criminal Convictions Make Parole More Likely

Despite the fact that some people still believe Simpson was guilty of double murder, the fact is that he had no prior criminal conviction before his 2007 arrest for robbery and kidnapping.

parole

Parole boards are much more likely to view the lack of a prior criminal history as a huge positive when it comes to deciding whether a prisoner should get parole. A lack of criminal history tells the parole board that a prisoner is less likely to commit another crime after release.

Stable Release Plans

Another reason that worked in Simpson’s favor of obtaining parole is that he was able to provide details about what he would do once released.

Simpson told the parole board that his main focus when released from prison would be to spend time with his children, avoid trouble and live peacefully.

This gave the parole board the assurance that Simpson had something valuable waiting for him outside of prison, which would provide him with the stability necessary to avoid making mistakes that could land him back behind bars.

Family and Victim Support

Prisoners seeking parole are always viewed in a more positive light if they can provide family support statements. This is important because it gives the parole board assurances that the prisoner will have the kind of familial support necessary to help stay out of trouble in the future.

In Simpson’s case, his children provided testimony supporting his release, and perhaps more importantly, one of the victims of the robbery and kidnapping told the parole board that he supported Simpson’s release.

Model Behavior

Simpson was also able to show evidence that he had used his time behind bars to grow as a human being.

He avoided disciplinary issues in prison, completed a violence-alternative course, coached several sports teams, and led a prayer group, which showed evidence of his spiritual maturity.

All in all, Simpson’s model behavior while imprisoned was a huge positive in the eyes of the parole board, because it showed that he had learned from his past mistakes.

Hiring a Lawyer For Your Parole Hearing

OJ Simpson’s parole hearing can provide others with a roadmap of how to best position themselves to obtain parole. If you have an upcoming parole hearing, you may need the help of an experienced law firm such as the team at the Stokes Law Firm. Please call us today at 727-954-0186 for a free legal consultation.

Additional reading

Understanding Your Probation Violation

The 7 Stages of a Criminal Case

Criminal Case

Criminal Case

The 7 Stages of a Criminal Case

If you have been arrested for a crime, keep in mind that you are at the beginning of a potentially long journey with your criminal case.

This can be a scary experience – there is nothing that scares people more than the unknown. However, if you know what to expect, it can make things a little less frightening and uncertain for you.

What to Expect with a Criminal Case

Although each state may have a slightly different process, most criminal cases follow the same steps until they are resolved.

Criminal Case

Some cases have a quick ending with a guilty plea and a fine, while others can go on for many years via the appeals process. Here is a brief look at the 7 stages of a criminal case:

  1. Arrest: When you are arrested for a crime, it is the beginning of your criminal case. You may be arrested by a police officer if there is probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime, if they observe you committing a crime, or there is a valid arrest warrant against you. After the arrest comes the booking process. This is when you are processed into police custody, your photograph and fingerprints are taken and then the police do a background check. Once the booking process is complete, you are placed in custody and may have to undergo
  2. Bail: If you are granted bail while in police custody, you may pay the bail to be released. This release is contingent on your promise to appear at all scheduled proceedings at court. You may be granted bail immediately after being booked or at a later review hearing for bail. You may also be released on your own recognizance. You do not have to post bail if you are released on your own recognizance, but you will need to give an undertaking in writing to appear at all scheduled court appearances.
  3. Arraignment: You make your debut appearance in court at the arraignment. During this stage, the judge reads out all the charges filed against you and you choose to plead “not guilty”, “guilty”, or “no contest” to those charges. After this, the judge will review your bail and set dates for proceedings in the future.
  4. Grand Jury Proceedings or Preliminary Hearing: Generally, the government brings criminal charges in one of two ways – grand jury indictment or a “bill of information” that is secured by a preliminary hearing. Cases must be brought by indictment in the federal system, however, states are free to use either process. Both grand juries and preliminary hearings are used to establish probable cause. If there is no probable cause finding, you will not be forced to stand trial.
  5. Pre-trial Motions: Both the defense and prosecution bring pre-trial motions to resolve any final issues and also to establish what testimony and evidence will be admissible in court during your trial. This is when your lawyer can try to exclude some of the evidence against you and try to establish some ground rules for your trial by making a few pre-trial motions. This is also when either the prosecution or defense can request a change of venue. Rulings that are made during this stage of you case can also be used to appeal your case later.
  6. Criminal Trial: If you are not satisfied with the plea deals you are offered or if you are truly innocent of the charges against you, you have the option to leave your fate to a jury. There are usually six important stages before a verdict is reached in a trial. The final stage is right before the jury is sent for deliberation so they can decide on your innocence or guilt. Before that, the judge explains the legal principles involved with the case and outlines the ground rules for the jury to use during deliberations.
  7. Sentencing: If the jury finds you guilty or if you plead guilty, you will be sentenced for the crime you committed. However, a number of factors can have an effect on whether you get the maximum or minimum sentence. In many states, it is also required for judges to hear the victims’ statements before sentencing. The impact statements that victims make can have a significant influence on the final sentence.

If you or somebody you know has been arrested and charged with a criminal case, you should immediately seek help from the Stokes Law Firm. Call us at 727-954-0186 today for expert advice.

Additional Reading:

Arrested? These Are The Interrogation Methods Police Most Often Use

Top 5 Crimes in Florida

Police Interrogation

Interrogation Methods

Arrested? These Are The Interrogation Methods Police Most Often Use

Interrogation MethodsNo one plans on being arrested, but it is important to understand what may happen in the event that law enforcement officials take an individual into custody. People who are arrested without knowing the methods of interrogation that police most often use are at an extreme disadvantage, and may say or do something that will compromise their future defense strategy.

Lying

The law does not prohibit the police from lying about aspects of a criminal investigation when they are interrogating a suspect. That means that if you are arrested, one of the common interrogation techniques police use is to provide you with false details about the crime.

For example, they may tell you that a witness has come forward and positively placed you at the scene of the crime – when no such witness exists. This is done to put suspects in a psychological state in which they feel that they have no choice but to confess, even to crimes they didn’t commit.

Per the American Psychological Association (APA), the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld other methods of deception – such as claiming that a suspect’s friend confessed, or that a suspect’s fingerprints were found at a crime scene – as being legal.

It’s important to remember that police deception is not limitless, and in some instances deceptive techniques the police use or things they say – such as when an officer says your statements will not be used to charge you with a crime at a later date – can be challenged in court.

Establishing Empathy

Another common technique police use in interrogations is to try and create empathy with you, in order to wear down your defenses and elicit a confession.

This often takes the form of, “I understand how you could have lost your mind in that moment,” which is designed to minimize the moral repugnance of the crime so that you feel powered to admit to what they think you did.

Interrogators know that suspects feel more inclined to cooperate and unburden themselves if the people questioning them express an understanding that any reasonable person would have done the same thing under the same conditions.

The Reid Technique

Developed by crime consultant and polygraph expert John Reid more than 50 years ago, the Reid Technique is one of the more common interrogation methods used.

Reid’s company (Reid & Associates) claims that people who are trained in this method can obtain suspect confessions in 80 percent of all criminal investigations.

Boiled down to its basics, the technique has three phases:

  • Isolation – suspects are isolated from friends and family in a room without windows to create a sense of desperation.
  • Maximization – a police officer will state that a suspect is guilty and is aware of that guilt, and then theorize exactly what happened.
  • Minimization – similar to the “I understand how you could have lost your mind in that moment” interrogation, the police officer elicits a confession, having boxed in the suspect with no other option.

The Reid technique has come under fire in the past decade as having elicited hundreds of false confessions.

Getting Help After An Arrest

If you have been arrested and you need help, the team of lawyers, investigators and support staff at Stokes Law Firm has the resources to mount your defense. Our job is to use all the tools at our disposal to provide you with tenacious legal representation. Please contact us at 727-954-0186 for a free legal consultation, so we can get started on your defense.

Crimes in Florida

Top 5 Crimes in Florida

Top 5 Crimes in Florida

Getting to know your state can be hugely beneficial. And while it is great to know the best tourist destinations and where to get the best sushi, for your safety and well-being it is also a good idea to learn about the crime statistics for the state. Here you can learn about the top five crimes that are committed in the state of Florida, as well as the potential consequences of each of those crimes.

If you are ever arrested for one of these crimes, it is best to hire a Florida defense attorney for help. They will be able to ensure you get the quality defense that you need and deserve.

Here The Top 5 Crimes In Florida

Aggravated Assault

This crime is more serious than a standard assault charge because it includes a weapon and the intent to seriously injure or kill someone else. This is considered a felony charge that may result in up to a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.

DUI Charges

Even though there is a great deal of information available and advocacy groups to help those struggling with alcoholism, it is a problem that plagues the nation. If you are caught while driving under the influence in the state of Florida, then you could potentially receive a serious punishment. The sentence you receive will be based on the total number of offenses you have had in the past, and if anyone was injured or if you damaged someone else’s property.

Assault

Assault doesn’t always mean that you have touched someone; provocation or harassment may also lead to a person spending time in jail with a charge of assault. The punishment you receive will range, based on the specifics of your unique case. However, in many cases, the assault charge may be increased to a more severe crime, such as attempted murder.

Theft

According to crime statistics, theft is a very serious problem in the state of Florida. It is estimated that an average of one theft occurs every minute, and the actual monetary value of the theft has an impact on the outcome in court. These types of cases including misappropriation, property theft and others.

Drug Crimes

Just like a number of other states in the U.S., Florida has quite a few issues with drug crimes. However, this is an extremely broad category and includes everything from large-scale trafficking to small-time possession. Additionally, the punishments and sentences handed down for drug charges can be severe, such as years spent in prison, lengthy probation periods and hefty fines.

The fact remains that there are serious and lengthy sentences that can be instituted for the crimes listed here. The outcome of a case is dependent on several factors, and there is no guarantee of what may happen in the courtroom.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is a good idea to contact a criminal defense lawyer in Florida. You can contact the attorneys at Stokes Law by calling 727-954-0186.

DUI Punishment

Florida DUI Punishment is Costly

Florida’s DUI Punishment is Costly

The state of Florida has some severe penalties in place – even for the first-time DUI defendant. Those penalties involve both administrative and criminal consequences.

The administrative penalties include a license suspension for at least six months, which could go to a year depending on blood alcohol level (BAC).If there is a minor in the car when stopped the driver will have their privilege to drive suspended for 9 months or more, or it may even be revoked.

A BAC of .08% (.02% for a driver under 21) makes the driver legally drunk in the eyes of the law.Reinstating the driver’s license requires payment of fines along with an administrative fee of $130and the driver will be required to pass a DUI course. Depending upon the specific details of the incident, anignitioninterlock device may be installed, and there is a fee for that as well.

Criminal Penalties

The criminal penalties are proof that the state of Florida takes DUI very seriously. Possible jail time can be incurred – up to nine months, depending on whether a minor was in the car or the BAC was .15% or above. Fines can range from $500 to $2,000 depending the on who is present in the car and BAC of the driver.

Once convicted, the driver will have to serve 50 hours of community service, probation, and impoundment of thevehicle for 10 days. The penalties for a second or third DUI get even more expensive, and it takes a lot more than just money to get back on the road.

Vehicle Impoundment

During the impoundment, the car is impounded and made immobile for a period of ten days. This can be a major problem but there may be a possible solution. If it can be demonstrated that a family member needs the vehicle to get to work or it is the only means of transportation, the probation officer or judge can waive this part of the punishment. It can also be waived if the vehicle is used in a business and an employee needs to use it to keep the business going

Once the defendant gets past the initial period of impoundment, it may be possible to get a hardship license to allow them to get to and from work. This requires an ignition interlock device that is used to prove you aren’t under the influence while using the car. This device will even call for another sample while driving to make sure someone else hasn’t breathed into the device for the driver when they first started the car.

Thereare potential scenarios where the person convicted can’t get a hardship license. If this is the case, the driver will incur additional travel expenses, such as using ride sharing services or public transportation. The expenseincurred is far worse for those who need their license for their job. Truck drivers, taxi drivers, and delivery drivers can all lose their primary source of income due to a DUI conviction. Even train operators will not be allowed to operate a train with a suspended driver’s license.

Anyone facing a DUI must have an attorney with them to represent them to the court and get the best possible outcome for their case.At the Stokes Law firm,our criminal law experts have many years of combined experience dealing with DUI cases.

If you are facing a DUI, contact us today for a consultation. Stating the case for a hardship usage of the vehicle for work and waiving the impoundment requirement are just two things that our lawyers canwork to make happen for a first-time defendant. Our legal team will also explore potential options to get your charges and subsequent fines reduced – or even eliminated – to minimize the hardship you’ll face as a result of a DUI charge.

Child Custody in Florida

Child Custody in Florida

Determining Child Custody in Florida

Although most people are accustomed to thinking in terms of “custody” and “visitation,” Florida law does not use that terminology. Instead, Florida courts determine parental responsibility and time sharing. While the factors considered in making these determinations are similar to those applied in the old “custody and visitation” system, the new language reflects the view that both parents remain responsible for their children after separation, divorce, or whatever circumstances have led them to seek a court order.

The goal, under Florida law, is to preserve the children’s relationships with both parents and encourage the parents to continue to share responsibility, unless one of those relationships would be harmful to the children. In fact, the statute explicitly states:

It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.

Parental Responsibility in Florida

“Parental responsibility” describes the parents’ right and obligation to make decisions and take action on behalf of the children in areas such as education and medical care. By default, parental responsibility is shared. The court may grant full parental responsibility to one parent and exclude the other only on a finding that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. The court may, however, grant decision-making power in a particular area to one parent.

This division of responsibility may arise out of an agreement between the parents, or may be ordered by the court to avoid anticipated conflicts. For example, if one parent has taken the child to see a therapist to help him or her adjust to the changes brought about by divorce and the other parent does not believe in this type of therapy, the court may place discretion in the hands of one parent to prevent deadlock or repeated conflict.

By law, both parents have access to school records, medical records, and other similar information unless the court has specifically revoked that right. This access is not dependent on parental responsibility.

Time Sharing in Florida Custody Cases

Time sharing is Florida’s current approach to what was once known as physical custody and visitation. In simplest terms, time-sharing arrangements determine how much time each parent has with the children and when. The primary consideration in determining a time-sharing schedule will be the best interest of the children. The best interests analysis takes many factors into account, including:

  • The ability and inclination of each parent to maintain a relationship with the child or children
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Each parent’s “moral fitness”
  • The caretaking responsibilities of each parent prior to the separation
  • Any history of domestic violence or other abuse
  • The stability of each parent’s environment
  • The reasonable preferences of a child the court determines to be of sufficient intelligent, experience and understanding to express a preference
  • Substance abuse issues involving either parent or their environments

Every Child Custody Case is Different

Although the statute creates a presumption in favor of shared parental responsibility and shared parenting time, the final determination will be based on what is best for the children. Since every marriage, every divorce, and every parent-child relationship is different, the analysis will vary from case to case. Contact us at Stokes Law today, as an experienced child custody attorney can be your best source of information about what you can expect in terms of parenting responsibility and time sharing, and how you can positively impact the outcome of your case.

The sooner you get professional guidance, the better. Just call (727) 954-0186right now, or fill out our contact form to request a consultation.