Michael Fayard, Attorney at Law https://www.fayard-law.com Hawaii Trial Lawyer Fri, 05 Jun 2020 16:35:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://www.fayard-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-CA16AFBB-A04D-4DE2-81F3-826B63EA158B-32x32.jpegMichael Fayard, Attorney at Lawhttps://www.fayard-law.com 32 32 How Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged in Florida?https://www.fayard-law.com/how-can-i-get-my-criminal-record-expunged-in-florida/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 16:12:17 +0000 https://www.fayard-law.com/?p=1721 Having a criminal record follow you wherever you go can have a significant impact on your life. Not only could you find it difficult to find a good job or a safe place to live, but you may also be ineligible for things such as federal student loans and other benefits due to your record. 

Fortunately, being charged with or convicted of a crime doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay on your record forever. In some cases, you may be eligible for an expunction, which could clear your name so you can get on with your life. This is where a criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable.

Below, we go into greater detail about what types of crimes are eligible for expungement and what types of crimes will remain on your record indefinitely. 

Florida Crimes That Can Be Expunged 

There is a big difference between sealing a record and having it expunged. When a record is sealed, the record still exists and is available to certain specific parties when needed. But when a record is expunged, it legally never happened. Many different types of crimes that can be expunged in Florida. 

First, if you were charged with a crime but your case was dismissed, almost any type of criminal charge can be sealed and expunged, with some exceptions. However, sex crimes such as voyeurism, sexual battery, and sex crimes involving children cannot be sealed or expunged. 

Most felony convictions will also be ineligible for record sealing or expungement. You must work closely with your lawyer to determine the likelihood of expungement in your case.

What Types of Convictions Cannot Be Expunged in Florida?

The list of crimes that cannot be expunged is extensive. Some of the most common crimes that are not eligible for expunction include assault and battery, kidnapping, manslaughter, arson, homicide, carjacking, and home invasion, to name a few. 

In order to move forward with an expungement, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You haven’t plead guilty to an ineligible crime
  • You have never had a record sealed or expunged in Florida
  • You are not currently on probation, pretrial release, or house arrest
  • You have never been found guilty of any criminal offense

The rules for obtaining an expungement can be complex, so if you are unsure whether you meet the qualifying criteria, or if you are interested in discussing the possibility of sealing or expunging your record in Florida with a highly experienced legal professional, reach out to Michael Fayard, Attorney at Law to discuss your options. 

Get in Touch with a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you believe that you may be eligible for an expunction, or if you are unsure whether you qualify to have your criminal record expunged, reach out to experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer Michael Fayard, Attorney at Law. You can schedule your free, no-obligation consultation by submitting the online contact form included at the bottom of this page or giving the office a call at 941-306-1310.

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Danger Hearinghttps://www.fayard-law.com/violent-felony-offender-danger-hearing/ Wed, 25 Mar 2020 19:38:27 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=1203

Danger Hearings or Dangerousness Hearings in Florida are required after probation violations on certain crimes. If you are placed on Florida Felony Probation for an enumerated crime, and you violate probation, then you are required to have a judge determine if you are a danger to the community.

Hearing

The Court will consider a wide-range of factors to determine if the defendant is a danger to the community. The following factors are just some a court can use to consider, but you should know that the judge has wide discretion in these hearings:

    • What is the basis for the probation violation? Was is a substantive violation like a new law charge? If it is a new law, then the court will certainly look into the charge. If the new crime also qualifies as a Violent Felony Offense then the likelihood of finding the defendant to be a danger is drastically increased;

 

 

    • Is there evidence or allegations of other violence or violent crimes, and whether there is any evidence or allegations of other sex crimes;

 

    • The court also looks at the general elements much like that of initial bond, like how long the defendant has lived in the community, what are the defendant’s family ties to the area, how long the defendant has lived in the area, is the defendant employed (how long, where at, etc.), and the court also considers any mental health concerns;

 

    • the court also focuses on the defendant’s history in this case, such as any previous violations, has the defendant has performed under supervision and any of violations. I’ve even had courts consider the defendant’s disciplinary history while in custody on this and other cases;

 

    • How strong is the evidence against the defendant,

 

    • Will this defendant reoffend, and

 

  • Any facts the court deems relevant. That’s right, “any”. The court has wide discretion to make a determination on dangerousness to the community.

Danger or Not

The goal of a Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer is to prove that the client is not a danger to the community. But just because you prevail and are shown to not be a danger to the community, the court is not required to give you bail or sentence you to jail or prison.

I offer FREE CONSULTATIONS on all criminal matters and I will take all the time necessary to answer all your questions.  

If you are accused of a crime, do not hesitate to Contact Me. I offer FREE CONSULTATIONS for all criminal cases. I have the successful jury trial experience in serious felonies and misdemeanors from both prosecution and defense to help guide you to your best defense.

 

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Florida Speedy Trialhttps://www.fayard-law.com/florida-speedy-trial/ Wed, 18 Mar 2020 19:42:40 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=487

Florida Speedy Trial

Defendant’s charged with any crime in Florida have the right to a speedy trial. Both the US Constitution (6th Amendment) and the Florida Constitution (Article I, Section 16) guarantee that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury in the county where the crime occurred.

The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure establishes the timelines for a Speedy Trial in criminal cases. Although, it is not used as often, here is also a speedy trial for civil cases.

Misdemeanors

In Florida misdemeanor cases, the State has 90-days from arrest to bring case to trial to comply with speedy trial

Felonies

In Florida felony cases, the State has 175-days from arrest to the case to trial to comply with speedy trial.

A defendant is entitled to a speedy trial whether in custody or released pending trial. And the running of speedy trial is automatic without demand or notice by either the state or the defendant. 

In Custody

The starting line for Florida speedy trial occurs when a person is first in custody. Custody starts when there is either an arrest or a citation called a Notice to Appear is issued.

Speedy Trial Procedure

Even though speedy trial begins to run as soon as a defendant is placed in custody, the defendant must take action to enforce the deadlines. The defendant can waive speedy trial violations if no action is taken.

Florida Speedy Trial violations are not automatic in favor of the defendant.

Demand for Speedy Trial in Florida

When a Speedy Trial is demanded, then any person charged with a crime by indictment or information (formal filing document charging a person with a crime), shall have the right to demand a trial within 60 days of the demand. The defendant must file a separate pleading called a Demand for Speedy Trial. That demand must be served on the State.

The Court must calendar a hearing within 5 days of receipt of the demand. The court must set the trial between 5 and 45 days of that hearing.

If the trial does not happen within 50 days of the Demand, then the defendant must file another pleading called a Notice of Expiration of Speedy Trial Time (“Notice”).

Expiration of Speedy Trial

Within 5 days of the filing of the Notice, the Court must hold another hearing and set the trial within 10 days. If the defendant is not brought to trial within 10 days, through no fault of the Defendant, then the court shall dismiss the case. 

Commencement of Trial

Trial is considered to have commenced when the jury panel is sworn for voir dire or before the court for a bench trial.

Waiver of Speedy Trial

The Defendant or counsel can waive speedy trial. In some cases, especially when a client is out of custody, it can be to the Defendant’s advantage to waive speedy trial to conduct a thorough investigation of the case. Some cases need to be pushed forward as quickly as possible as an advantage against the State. But Each case is different.

Why Should You Hire an Experienced Trial Lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer that has actual experience in handling speedy trial issues in Florida may be the difference between a permanent record, incarceration, or a dismissal of your charges. I have personally handled thousands of these types of cases, both as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer.
As a defense attorney, I have drafted and argued motions that have resulted in actual dismissals of all charges against my clients based on Speedy Trial violations. 

I have successfully handled speedy trial issues throughout Sarasota, and Manatee counties in Florida.

Contact Me Immediately for a free consultation if you have been charged with a crime in Florida and you think you have speedy trial issues. Let my experience handling these cases from both sides of the aisle assist you in preparing your best defense.

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Florida Personal Injury Protection Benefitshttps://www.fayard-law.com/florida-personal-injury-protection-benefits/ Wed, 18 Mar 2020 13:54:00 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=419

Florida Personal Injury Protection Benefits (PIP)

 

Florida requires every vehicle owner to purchase Personal Injury Protection Benefits coverage.

 

Personal Injury Protection Benefits are also called PIP, or “No Fault” Benefits. PIP is referred to as No Fault benefits because the money is available for people injured in Florida auto accidents no matter who caused the wreck.  

I can help you if you are involved in a  car accident. The PIP process is confusing and complex at times.

 

I have helped thousands of clients get there best results. I can help you too.

 

 

Contact me for a FREE CONSULTATION with any questions you may have. 

 

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Charged with a Florida Crime?https://www.fayard-law.com/charged-florida-crime/ Tue, 17 Mar 2020 20:57:54 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=252

Facing a Florida Criminal Charge is Serious!

Being charged with a crime in Florida, whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, can seem like an insurmountable task. But there is hope. This posts discusses a general roadmap of a case to help you understand what you face. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

First off, I know you are stressed out, scared, unsure of what’s next, and you may be facing other issues related to being charged with a crime. You have come to the right place. I have been a prosecutor in two states, and I have prosecuted and defended some of the most serious cases in Florida.

I am here to answer any questions you may have, and I will not judge you. I am here to defend you!

I offer FREE CONSULTATIONS on all criminal matters and I will take all the time necessary to answer all your questions.  

How A Criminal Case Starts

Generally speaking, a criminal case will either start when the police see you doing something they think is a crime, they are called out to investigate a crime and develop probable cause that a crime has been committed and you committed it, or they have a warrant.

There are potential defenses to each way a case starts and I use every available resource to investigate any possible defense that may be available throughout your case.

You Can Be Charged with a Florida Crime Without Being Arrested.

Some misdemeanors begin with a Notice to Appear (NTA) ticket. An NTA is looks like a traffic ticket, but it carries all the weight and force of a misdemeanor crime. And unlike civil traffic tickets, failing to comply with an NTA can lead to a warrant for you arrest for failing to appear. A few common examples of NTA tickets are:

  • No Valid Driver’s License
  • Driving with a Suspended License
  • Possession of Marijuana less than 20 grams
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

But a criminal citation does not mean there won’t be an arrest. For example, most Driving Under the Influence charges start with a NTA, but they also end with an arrest. Make no mistake, an NTA charges you with a Florida Crime!

Generally, felonies in Florida start with either a warrant, or an outright arrest.

Misdemeanors and Felonies

The terms misdemeanor and felony are simply descriptions on the severity of the punishment that is related to the crime committed.

Being charged with a crime in Florida can be either misdemeanors or felonies. Both have degrees that increase in severity the lower the number.

For examples, the potential punishment for a second-degree misdemeanor is less severe than a first-degree misdemeanor; and the punishment for a third-degree felony is less severe than that of a first degree felony.

Generally, you know what you are being charged with well before you get to first appearance, which is your bond hearing. 

First Appearance

First Appearance, also called a bond hearing, usually happens within 24 hours of arrest and it is either in person or through video monitor. 

Sarasota Arrests

For arrests in Sarasota or Venice, a newly arrested individual will be taken, booked, and processed in the Sarasota County Jail at 2020 Main Street, Sarasota, Florida 34237. 

First Appearance in Sarasota usually happens at 1:00 p.m. each weekday, and 8:30 a.m. on the weekends. Whether a newly arrested person gets the same day bond hearing generally depends on when that person’s arrest occurred.

For instance, a late morning arrest, or anytime after noon, means you will most likely spend the night in jail if your charge does not permit posting a scheduled bail.

After you are booked, you are taken into an enclosed room with all of the other people that will be appearing for bond hearings that day. There are a few attorney rooms next to the holding area where you can meet with your attorney prior to the hearing. Just prior to the hearing, an attorney representing the Public Defender’s Office will make announcements about the procedure. 

There Are Many Benefits in Hiring an Experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you hired me, and experienced criminal defense lawyer, I would have already met you prior to this hearing, and chances are I would already have discussed your case with the prosecutor assigned to the bond hearings in order to discuss getting you a reasonable bond! No only that, but my team would already be investigating your case to develop defenses.

Not only do I meet my clients prior to First Appearance, but I speak with the Prosecutor before the hearing in an effort to get you a reasonable bond.

Once all inmates are transported, the court begins calling cases. Private attorney clients usually go first.

Your name will be called and you will step to the middle of the room. Your defense attorney will be on your left and the prosecutor will be to your right. The Judge will usually be in the room on the other side of the cages with the lawyers. Manatee County is different. 

Manatee Arrests

Manatee County bond hearings are a little different. For instance, you will not be brought over to the courthouse. You will stay at the Manatee County Jail, which is located at 14470 Harlee Road, Palmetto, FL 34221. And you will not see the judge or lawyers in person. You will appear before the judge through a video monitor. The procedure is the same for the hearing. 

What Happens at First Appearance?

These hearings are usually very quick. The court will inform you of the charges against you based on the probable cause affidavit (PCA). A PCA is the Police Report and any supplemental reports provided to the court at that initial hearing. The court reviews the PCA to determine if probable cause exists on the charge(s).

Then the court will hear argument from either your private attorney or the public defender appearing on your behalf. Some information that the court is interested in hearing are as follows:

  • The defendant’s ties to the community. Does the defendant have family in the area, a business, history of living here?
  • The defendant’s ability to pay a bond,
  • The defendant’s prior history or other mitigating information 

Prosecutors will then make arguments. The prosecutor will focus on this crime and any facts that appear to make you look bad (like victim injury). The prosecutor will then provide the court with your complete criminal history.

The court will then set bail if appropriate and permissible. Some cases, like a violation of felony probation, do not qualify for bond. 

Probable Cause Determination

If the judge determines that there is not probable cause for your arrest and continued detention, the judge may release you. But that’s not a guarantee. Sometimes the court will grant the State and law enforcement an additional 48 hours to present more evidence to establish probable cause. If that happens, you sit in jail for the next two days.

But assume the court releases you. That does not mean that the charges won’t be filed. The only thing that was determined was probable cause did not exist at the time of First Appearance. 

WARNING: All JAIL CALLS AND VISITATION VIDEOS ARE RECORDED!

Warning: Jail Calls and Visitation Videos are Recorded! And they will certainly be used against you if you say something incriminating.

Why did I just repeat that? To remind you that all the communications that you have while in the jail, except for lawyer communications, are recorded. These recordings can and will be used against you. 
And very effectively, too!

The best rule is to NEVER DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH ANYONE BUT YOUR LAWYER! Not inmates, not friends, and not family. The only person you should talk to is your lawyer. Police and Prosecutors monitor jail phones and jail visits!

More Serious Charge = More Attention

More serious charges usually carry more effort and experience from law enforcement. They want those charges to stick. Being charged with any Florida crime is serious, and just because you have a minor charge doesn’t mean you will skate by. I’m simply saying that most law enforcement are on-point for more serious charges (e.g. murder versus a public intoxication charge).

I have personally represented clients that were on the verge of walking out of jail and avoiding prison. Right until they made an admission on the jail phone call prior to release. Don’t Do it!

Listen to your lawyer! I emphasize this, because I had a client that didn’t take my advice about the jail calls much to his detriment. My Florida criminal defense client faced drug trafficking (meth) charges. He was looking at up to 15 years in prison with a pre-trial offer of 11 years. Through my team’s investigation, defense strategy, depositions, and motion practice, I had the prosecutor on the ropes and ready to drop the charges, completely!

But the day before the state filed to drop charges, my client, the defendant, got on the jail phones. The client said: “my lawyer is getting these charges dropped…all I had to do was drop the [drugs] off and get the money for it, and then I was out of the game”.

Needless to say, the charges weren’t dropped. Don’t be like that client. Keep your case off the jail calls. 

Arraignment

Generally, Arraignment happens next. Although many people think the police file charges. They don’t.

In Florida, the State Attorney is responsible for filing cases. The State Attorney must file a formal charging document called the Information. They can choose to proceed on a criminal citation, but more often they file the Information.

Arraignment is a formal reading of the charges and the entering of a plea. Possible pleas are Not Guilty, No Content, or Guilty. If you hire an attorney, they generally file a Notice of Appearance and a written Not Guilty plea. Filing the written not guilty plea means that you don’t have to appear for formal arraignment.

In many of my cases, I already have my investigative team collecting evidence and witness statements well before arraignment. And depending on the evidence, I have already contacted the prosecutor on your behalf to discuss the facts of the case. I have been successful in presenting favorable evidence to the State, which resulted in the case being dismissed before the State even filed charges! Each case is different, and the facts dictate the direction. 

Pretrial Conference and Case Management

The next court date is a usually a Pretrial Conference (“PTC”) or Case Management (“CM”). Those hearings are generally the same thing, but they are called by different names depending on the court.

Felony court dates are called case management or case scheduling. Misdemeanors court dates are called pretrial conferences. PTC or CM are generally scheduled several weeks after the arraignment.

The purpose of the PTC/CM is to update the court as to the progression of your case. The Court is concerned with whether or not the State has provided formal discovery (in Florida, the State is generally required to give you all the evidence they have that will be used against you at trial, including  the names of witnesses they intend to call at trial, all documentary evidence they have (both for and against you) and any physical evidence that exists. This is “discovery”. Finally, the court wants to know when the case going to be ready for trial. The date of your trial may or may not be postponed depending on any issues with further negotiations, discovery, availability of witnesses, or even conflicts in the attorneys’ schedules.

It is usually at pretrial conference when the defense finally receives most of the evidence in your case and has received an offer from the State. You may choose to accept the prosecutor’s offer and resolve the case at the pretrial conference. If, however, there are no necessary continuances and no plea agreement, then the judge may require that you set a date for trial. 

Pretrial Motions

Whether your case is set for trial or postponed for another PTC/CM, the defense may elect for file a myriad of motions on your behalf. A “dispositive motion” is a motion that resolves the case if granted. Motions to Dismiss or Suppress Evidence are examples of motions that could end the case without you having to go to trial.

At an evidentiary hearing on these motions, the arresting officer usually gives a testimony. In some cases, an expert witness may testify. Your lawyer will be given the opportunity to question and cross examine all witnesses, as well as be given the opportunity to present evidence, testimony, and argument. 

Docket Sounding

Docket sounding (DS) is generally the final pre-trial conference a couple weeks before the jury trial date. This is one last meeting with the parties and the court in order to discuss any last minute motions or issues, and it is one final chance to discuss plea negotiations before the trial. 

Jury Trial

At a jury trial, the government tries to prove their case against you. If the jury finds you not guilty, you will be free to leave. If you are found guilty, then most likely you will be taken into custody.

A sentencing hearing happens a few weeks after the trial. The sentence imposed may include costs, fines, community service, and possibly even incarceration. That gives you time to prepare mitigation to present to the court to reduce your sentence.

If you are accused of a crime, do not hesitate to Contact Me. I offer FREE CONSULTATIONS for all criminal cases. I have the successful jury trial experience in serious felonies and misdemeanors from both prosecution and defense to help guide you to your best defense.

 

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How Long Does a Florida Criminal Case Take?https://www.fayard-law.com/how-long-does-florida-criminal-case-take/ Sat, 14 Mar 2020 04:22:00 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=396

How Long Does a Florida Criminal Case last?

Although each case is different, Florida Criminal Cases usually last about 90 days for misdemeanor and 180 days for felonies. The charges can be very different, but the general procedure for Florida criminal cases, whether felony or misdemeanor, are similar. The reason for double the time for felony over misdemeanor is based on the complexity and seriousness of most felonies. For those reasons, the State Attorney gets more time to bring your case to trial. 

The typical life cycle of a criminal case in Florida is as follows:

First Appearance

First Appearance is a short hearing primarily used to determine probable cause, set a bond, and discuss counsel.

The court will usually appoint the public defender for indigent defendants. Some charges allow a defendant bond out before First Appearance.  A defendant, whether arrested with or without a warrant, sees the judge within 24 hours. Sometimes, this hearing will be at the detention facility conducted through a video with the court.

Jail Calls & Video Visits

Sometimes the urge to discuss your case is overwhelming. Fight that urge! Do not discuss any details about your case with anyone but your lawyer. The use of jail-house informants occurs regularly. Additionally, the police and prosecutors directly monitor jail phones and video visit recordings!

Warning: The State Records All Jail Calls!

It is important to contact an attorney as quickly as you can. For instance, in DUI cases, you have just ten days to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license!

Arraignment

Arraignment usually occurs 20 days after First Appearance. The purpose of the Arraignment is twofold:

  1. for the court to formally inform you of the charge or charges against you, and
  2. For the Court to Accept your plea to the charges.

At this point, the State Attorney must make the determination to proceed with charges. In Florida, the police do not make the decision to charge you with a crime.

Sure, the police can, and do, arrest folks for committing crimes, but it is the State Attorney’s responsibility to make the determination whether to file charges.

If the State Attorney decides to proceed with the case, then the case can proceed in one of two ways: The State Attorney can either file a formal charge, called and Information, or choose to proceed on the citation you were issued.

Personal Appearance at Arraignment is Not Mandatory

In Florida criminal cases, I file a written paper with the court titled: Not Guilty Plea and Demand for Trial by Jury. This paper allows me to waive your appearance at the Arraignment.

Once the Not Guilty Plea is filed, the clerk of court will simply announce on the record for the judge that a written not guilty plea has been entered and the case is scheduled for case management if the Florida crime charged is a felony or a pretrial conference if it is a misdemeanor.

By the time Arraignment happens, I have already met with my team of investigators to gather evidence. And I have already talked or met with the State Attorney.

Scheduling

The next step of the court process is a pretrial conference. Although the names are different case management and pretrial conference are basically the same hearing.

A pretrial conference or case management is a hearing scheduled several weeks after the arraignment. This conference informs the court on the status of the case and allows for the prosecution and defense to schedule a trial date.

Felony Criminal Cases

Circuit Court’s hear Felony criminal cases in Florida. And in felony cases, the prosecution should have provided all the discovery and an offer prior to case management.

If the state fails to provide that information by case management, the court will generally continue the conference to get the information to the defense. Some circuit court judges only continue felony cases a week or two.

Misdemeanor Criminal Cases

County Courts hear Misdemeanor criminal cases in Florida. The process is generally the same, in that the State should have provided all the discovery and an offer to the defense before the pretrial conference. Usually the continuances for county court are longer than the that of circuit court.

Discovery in Florida Criminal Cases

In Florida criminal cases, whether felony or misdemeanor, the State Attorney must give you all the names of witnesses they intend to call at trial, and all the evidence they will use. That evidence is “Discovery.”

Because each Assistant State Attorney has so many cases, it is not uncommon for them to provide incomplete discovery at this stage.

Unlike other states, in Florida Criminal Cases, the Defense can depose every single witness listed in the case–Including Law Enforcement!

Pretrial Motions

Whether your case is set for trial or postponed for another case management or pretrial conference, you may have valid motions to file.

A motion is just another word for petition or request to the court. Lawyer’s use motions to get issues before the court. 

That “something” is usually the prosecution or defense asking the court to do or not to do something.

Some Common Motions are:

  • Compel Discovery,
  • Suppress Evidence, and
  • Motions to Dismiss

I typically file my motions well before trial to limit the charges and issues for trial. These hearings are “evidentiary”, and both the State and Defense can present evidence. Usually the arresting officer gives a testimony. And in some cases, expert witness may testify. 

I have successfully moved to dismiss serious felony cases prior to trial, including Sex Crimes!

Trial

A great majority of cases resolve before reaching the date of trial. But all defendants charged with Florida criminal cases have the constitutional right to a trial by jury. Believe it or not, but some states like Hawaii do not provide a jury trial right to anyone charged with less than a full misdemeanor! Meaning, you can go to jail without the benefit of a jury trial!

At a jury trial, the prosecutor tries to prove their case against you. If the jury finds you not guilty, you will be able to walk out of the courtroom as a free individual. But if the jury finds you guilty, you will most likely be sentenced. The sentence may include costs, fines, community service, and possibly even incarceration.

How Long Does the Average Case Take?

It is impossible to guarantee the length of each case. But on average, most Florida misdemeanor criminal cases resolve within three months. Most felony criminal cases last about 180 days.

Why Should You Hire an Experienced Trial Lawyer?

You have the right to know about your lawyer’s education and qualifications. Many attorneys advertise. But few attorneys have experience of a jury trial. You wouldn’t hire a plumber to do your heart surgery. Don’t hire an attorney that doesn’t have jury trial experience. Make sure whichever lawyer you hire has actual experience handling a case or charge like yours. You might find that the advertising lawyer is not the attorney handling your case!

You Don’t Want to Take Chances on an Inexperienced Lawyer. Compare Actual Case Results before you make a hiring decision.

Hiring a lawyer that has actual experience in handling criminal jury trials is your best bet in securing the best result in your case.

I have personally prosecuted and defended nearly every type of Florida criminal case. I have successfully handled thousands of criminal cases. Contact Me for a free consultation to discuss your case. 

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Florida Uninsured Motorist Insurancehttps://www.fayard-law.com/florida-uninsured-motorist-insurance/ Tue, 10 Mar 2020 10:26:00 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=275

Florida Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Florida uninsured motorist coverage is absolutely essential as Florida does not require automobile owners to carry bodily injury (BI) insurance coverage. In order to protect yourself from a driver without BI insurance, you can purchase optional insurance called uninsured motorist coverage.

Most consumers are under the mistaken belief that they are covered in all situations when they purchase “full coverage” insurance. Generally speaking, “full coverage” when talking with an insurance salesperson usually means the state required minimum insurance.

In fact, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) only requires $10,000.00 in Personal Injury Protection and $10,000.00 in Property Damage Liability Coverage to satisfy the requirements under Florida law. 

1. “Full Coverage” does not include UM Coverage!

2. Florida Law Does Not Require Bodily Injury Coverage!

I already know what you are thinking: “Wait, Florida cares more about my car being fixed with mandatory property damage coverage than they do about me being injured?” Yes, and No.

Florida has PIP coverage that they feel is enough for your bodily injury claims. But that is not always the case. A minor injury can quickly use up all $10,000.00 from PIP. In fact, PIP only covers a portion of your medical and lost wages, so you can still be ‘out-of-pocket’ on an injury from a wreck that wasn’t your fault!

What Does Florida Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover?

In Florida, Uninsured motorist coverage can pay for a variety of things, such as:

  • Lost wages and disability benefits
  • Long term care
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Death

It is beneficial to you to have uninsured motorist coverage in Florida as most private health insurance coverages will not pay for those items.

Stacked and Non-Stacked UM Coverage

Non-stacked coverage simply means that the UM coverage only applies and covers you when you are in one of the vehicle(s) on your policy. And the coverage listed is the maximum coverage available. In other words, if you have multiple cars on the policy, and you have $100,000/300,000 of UM coverage, then you have $100,000/300,000 in UM coverage for that accident. That means you have $100,000 coverage per person and a total of $300,000 per accident.

Stacking UM Coverage provides more protection and benefits than Non-stacked. If you have multiple cars on your policy, and you have stacking UM coverage, then the coverage combines to raise the limit. For instance, if you have two vehicles on your policy. Both carry $100,000/300,000 in UM coverage.

If you are in an accident, then you have a total of $200,000/600,000 of UM coverage for that accident. In other words, you have $200,000 per person and $600,000 per accident. You get that number by multiplying the number of vehicles on your policy by your Stacked UM coverage to get the total coverage per accident.

Another benefit of Stacked UM Coverage in Florida is that you are protected by your own UM coverage if you are in a car not covered on your policy.

Do I Really Need UM Coverage in Florida?

I highly recommend that every Florida driver carry UM Coverage. Make no mistake, this is not a plug for the insurance companies. I was personally injured in an accident that involved an uninsured motorist!

Free Consultation and No Fees Unless I Recover Money for You!

If you have been hurt in an accident, call me for a free consultation. And I only charge you if I recover money for you.  

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Florida Bad Faith Claimshttps://www.fayard-law.com/florida-bad-faith-claims/ Fri, 06 Mar 2020 10:19:31 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=270

What an Insurance Company Refuses to Settle Your Florida Accident Case?

Florida allows Bad Faith Claims against insurance companies. There are two types of bad faith claims in Florida: First-Party Bad Faith and Third-Party Bad Faith.

First-Party Bad Faith Claim

A First-Party Bad Faith Claim is where an insurance company refuses to pay or properly investigate an insurance claim for their insured.

Meaning that the insurance company did not act reasonably in settling or investigating your claim. A lot of cases for First-Party Bad Faith Claims in Florida involve claims for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Third-Party Bad Faith Claim

Third-Party Bad Faith Claims in Florida happens when an insurance company fails to defend or settle a claim, or when they fail to investigate a claim.

These types of claims are “third-party” because they generally refer to other people suing the insured.

What is the Basis for a Bad Faith Claim in Florida?

Florida Law requires insurance company to act in “good faith”. That means that insurance companies must reasonably in their discharge of fiduciary duties owed to the policy holders.

In other words, an insurance companies must settle cases that should settle, and defend cases that they should defend. And if the insurance company does not act reasonably, then the company may be liable for a Florida Bad Faith Claim.  

But It’s My Insurance Company, Won’t They Help Me?

Your insurance “should” help you. But regularly they do not. That’s exactly why the Florida Legislature enacted the Bad Faith claim as a consumer protection. 

Don’t Believe Me? Let’s Look at Your Florida Insurance Policy

You meet with an agent (or broker) that sells you on the idea of certain insurance coverage. They tell you all the great and wonderful things that the policy is going to cover. You might hear like “full coverage” or “total protection”.

And they really try their hardest to make you feel good about spending all of that money. But what have you really paid for? Well, “the devil is in the details” rings true with insurance policies. The “fine print” is enough to make you sick.

The Fine Print

So what is the fine print, and why would you ever think that you would have a Florida Bad Faith Claim against the great insurance company? Once you get beyond the declaration’s page, you will see.

Quickly glance at the front page. This is called the “declarations” page. The insurance company is declaring your coverages. That is the range of numbers of coverage on your policy and how much you paid for that coverage. Dealing with an insurance agent, you have probably heard them say: “full coverage” a number of times. Probably enough times to subconsciously think you are fully covered. And then they reassure you that the insurance company will take care of any issues you may have. Will they? Most likely No. What does the rest of your policy contain? 

Beyond the Declaration’s Page

If you take a closer look at the rest of the policy, you will see the “devil”. The remaining pages of your policy explain exactly how the insurance company is not going to do what it said it was going to do on the first page.  

Every page after your Declaration’s page is how the insurance company is can get out of paying the coverage they promised on the first page!

You spend a lot of money every month on insurance. It’s fair to expect your insurance company to protect and compensate you in times of loss. But most insurance policies are designed with the goal of limiting coverage. In fact, the insurance companies have teams of lawyers dreaming of new ways to prevent paying your claims (how else are they going to pay their CEOs multi-million-dollar yearly salaries?). That’s why the legislature enacted the Florida’s Bad Faith claims statute.  

So what happens when you aren’t in good hands, or the company is no longer by your side? That’s when you need a skilled Sarasota, Florida trial lawyer like me to have your back.

You are not alone! I have the experience and results to help maximize your recovery!

I focus a large portion of my personal injury practice on making my client’s own insurance company do the right thing! Either your insurance company acts in good faith in settling your claim, or they pay handsomely for their mistakes! I’m here to fight for your rights and to guide you through the legal process, whether against the at-fault party, your insurance company, or both.  

Civil Remedy

It’s not actually called Florida Bad Faith Claims. The actual name of the statue is Civil Remedy. The statute requires the insurance companies to act in good faith. When they fail to do so, they are acting in bad faith. Hence, “Florida Bad Faith Claims”.

Do I Have a Florida Bad Faith Claim?

Each case is different and the facts of that specific case with determine whether there is a bad faith claim.

But generally, if the insurance company does not act in good faith to settle claims when they could and should have done so, they do not act fairly and honestly toward you, if they fail disclose or provide the amount of coverage you have available, or if they fail to promptly settle claims, then you may have a claim.

I can review the specifics of your case in order to help determine if you have a Bad Faith Claim against your insurance company. There are many reasons to seek this claim, and failing to seek Bad Faith can be the difference between you getting a low-ball settlement offer, or getting you fully compensated for your injuries. 

I Offer FREE CONSULTATIONS to Review Your Case To Advise you On Florida Bad Faith Claims.

Damages in Florida Bad Faith Claim’s Cases

So what happens if you are successful on a Bad Faith claim against your insurance company? A few of things:

  1. First, the jury verdict is not capped at policy limits. In other words, if your insurance policy is $100,000.00 per accident, and you get a jury verdict of $2,000,000.00, the insurance company can be liable for the entire amount of the judgment!
  2. Second, they can be on the hook for attorney’s fees and costs. Attorney fees and Costs in a Florida Bad Faith Claim in serious injury cases can be many tens of thousands of dollars.
  3. Third, if you can prove that the insurance company acted in such a manner as acts appeared to indicate a general business practice that are sufficiently bad, then the court can award punitive damages. Punitive damages can be many times the amount of Florida Bad Faith Claim’s damages. 

If you have any questions related to your accident, or a Florida Bad Faith Claim, please do not hesitate to call Me for a FREE CONSULTATION.

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Florida Car Wreck. Now What?https://www.fayard-law.com/florida-car-wreck/ Mon, 02 Mar 2020 08:56:13 +0000 https://fayard-law.com/?p=282

This Florida Car Accident Was Not My Fault. Do I need a lawyer? 

A car wreck in Florida is a lot more common here than in other states. Picture this: It’s a nice, sunny day. You are waiting at a red light. You hear the screech of tires, time seems to slow, you hear a collision, glass shatters, and suddenly you smash forward into the intersection into on-coming traffic.

What happened? What do you do? You are now the victim of a car accident. It’s obvious that this wreck was not your fault. But don’t think the at-fault driver’s insurance company will willingly, adequately compensate you for your injuries! In fact, don’t count on your own insurance carrier to adequately compensate you on your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage, if you have it.

I Pay My Insurance. They Will Help Me, Right?

You might think that this case is cut-and-dry: You were at a red light, the other driver hit you. You were severely injured! The at-fault driver and their insurance company should pay! In a perfect world, yes. More times than not, this is not the case with Florida Car accidents. 

If all the insurance companies did the right thing, and adequately compensated injury victims, then I wouldn’t have a job as a personal injury lawyer in Florida!

It might sound odd, but I have a personal experience dealing with this exact issue, which led me to representing injured clients in car wrecks in Florida. Years ago, I was personally involved in a severe car accident very similar to the facts I shared above. A negligent driver rear-ended me at a red light. She was uninsured, she had no driver’s license (suspended for failing to pay traffic citations and child support), and no proper registration for the vehicle. She was smoking, texting, and not paying attention.

Florida Car Accidents Cause Serious Injuries

As a result of the accident, my doctor ordered me to undergo many painful medical treatments and procedures to help with the nerve damage in my arm and neck. At that time, I didn’t understand PIP, or insurance payments, and I thought all car wrecks in Florida were routine. I also thought I had a great insurance company that would take care of me. But when it came time to resolve my case, my own insurance company refused to pay for my medical bills.

No one leaves the house in the morning preparing to be the victim of a car accident. But car wrecks in Florida are common. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) estimates that there were 403,626 car accidents with 255,353 injuries in Florida in 2018!   

It’s Time for a Change

At that time, I focused my practice on general civil litigation and criminal defense. But even as a Florida trial attorney, I had to hire my own personal injury lawyer in Florida to represent me in my car accident. I was fighting against my own insurance company! I was shocked that my insurance company, a company I paid every single month for years on end, suddenly left me stranded, injured, confused, and in pain without help. They refused to help because they put their profits before people. And in this case, “people” was me.

It was at that moment that I shifted the focus of my practice to fighting for the injured against the corporate greed of insurance companies. The same companies that put profits before the wellbeing of their insureds. 

Clearly, if an insurance company would try to take advantage of a trial lawyer, it was safe to assume they would try to do the same, or worse, to folks that don’t have the knowledge or ability to take them to trial–and win!

Jury Trials Get Victims Justly Compensated!

Fast forward to many favorable jury verdicts and settlements later, and you have Personal Injury | Personal Service.

I have personally sat through countless depositions over the last 12 years where insurance company defense lawyers try to blame my clients for properly sitting at a red lights when negligent drivers cause rear-end accidents throughout Florida. Really? Almost daily. I shut them down, quick!

So, let’s get back to your accident.

Injured, Confused, Not Sure What to Do. I’ve Been There. I Can Help You!

I’ve been there. And I can help you! I can ensure that you are getting access to all of the benefits that you are entitled (e.g. PIP, Bodily Injury, UM).

And unlike some other personal injury firms, I will even assist you with setting up recovery on your property damage! This is a complimentary service that I handle for you without a charge. Why? Because you have enough to worry about after a serious car accident. Trying to get a rental car or get your car repaired is another point of stress that you don’t need.

Beyond the property damage, I will personally handle your case from start to finish. This allows you to focus on getting healthy. Whether by attending physical therapy, a doctor ordered program, or other treatment. I will take care of the rest for you.

Free Consultation and No Fee Unless I Recover Money for You!

Call me for a FREE CONSULTATION if you are hurt in an accident. I only charge you if I recover money for you.  

 

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