Marijuana Laws……Change is coming to Florida

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We are in the last days of prohibition. The State of Colorado is poised to earn a billion dollars from legal marijuana sales. The State of Washington is close behind. All across the Country legislators will not be able to resist tapping into that revenue source and my prediction is that in the next five years more and more states will legalize marijuana. The sad fact is that enforcing drug laws for trafficking in marijuana, cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana is big business. Do you have any idea how much money is spent by the Federal Government each year by the DEA, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons on catching, prosecuting and imprisoning men and women for Marijuana crimes? Did our government learn nothing from making marijuana illegal? Would there be Mexican cartels or Columbian cartels if the drugs were legal. As a criminal lawyer I witness the tragedy of the lives destroyed by putting people in jail for importing, growing, selling and smoking weed. What is even worse is way the law is enforced. If you are black, you are much more likely to go to jail or end up in prison than if you are white. The same goes for Hispanics.
The Federal Government is still enforcing the marijuana laws with a vengeance. They just don’t get it. At least half the people, and the number is growing, believe marijuana should be legal. These people are now voters and over the next few years change will come for sure. In the meantime, here in Sarasota and Bradenton, the police will still arrest and prosecute you for cultivation, sale or possession of pot. Do you have any idea how many people get their probation violated for a dirty urine test for marijuana? I regularly represent college students, many of them model students, who get arrested for pot. The arrest, and even worse, a conviction of a felony will ruin their lives before they really start. Drug Court, here in Sarasota or Drug Court in Bradenton is a good alternative for cases of possession of marijuana, and successful completion can result in the charge being dropped and your record expunged. Do not take a marijuana conviction lightly. You will lose your driver’s license for two years and that will only lead to more driving on a suspended license charges, and usually a probation violation.
Having a good lawyer in Sarasota County Court or getting good legal representation in Manatee County can make a difference in your future. Until change comes to Florida, as a criminal defense attorney I will do my best to help the unfortunate ones who get arrested out of the situation. If you have been busted for pot or for synthetic marijuana and need legal help, you can call my law office in Sarasota for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

Defending the Impossible Case

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If you want to win, the first thing you have to do is realize that no case is impossible to win. The other thing you have to do is to define what a “win” is. When the facts and the evidence overwhelmingly point to guilt and public opinion is 100% against you, realistic goals are a must. I have been defending the really tough criminal cases now for thirty years. I can honestly say, the absolute hardest cases to win are the ones involving sex crimes with children. The police are determined to prove the child was molested. They do a one sided investigation and often bury evidence that negates guilt. The prosecutors, generally women, often approach the case with a vengeance, turn a blind eye to exculpatory evidence, offer no deals and seem hell bent on burying your client is State prison for life. The judges often are former prosecutors and regrettably lean towards admitting anything the prosecutor asks for. Thank god for juries!
In America, you are entitled to a jury of your peers…..in theory. In Sarasota or Bradenton, if you are young, black or Hispanic that theory goes out the window. The juries here consist of predominantly white older conservative Christian mid-westerners. In my criminal practice, I have tried cases over the years in many States, cities, towns and venues. The juries here on the West Coast of Florida are tough, pro law enforcement and ultra conservative, particularly when it comes to sex crimes. Understanding juries and how the people here think is the first step towards winning.
What many young lawyers do not realize is that winning starts in the jury selection process. A lot of the young defense lawyers are former prosecutors and have little or no experience in jury selection from the defense perspective. I have tried hundreds of jury trials. There is no substitute for interacting with thousands of potential jurors and experience is an absolute must when it comes to picking a winning jury. We live in a computer age, where a lawyer with the click of a mouse on Google or Facebook can learn volumes about a potential juror. You see, jurors do not necessarily tell you the truth during jury selection, and being able to look into their background during jury selection is critical. Times have changed and to be a good criminal defense lawyer, you have to change with the times. In defending Internet sex crime cases you have to educate the jury. Older jurors are clueless when it comes to what is really going on in the Internet dating sites and mostly clueless as to modern views about casual sex. The sad fact is that some attorneys have not adapted to the modern times. Winning starts with selecting the right criminal defense lawyer for your case. Winning starts with having a defense lawyer with the right attitude. Winning requires an attorney with experience, skill and determination. Winning is never giving up. Winning is possible. Call for a free consultation Aiken O’Halloran and Associates of Sarasota at 941 366 3506 or Aiken O’Halloran and Associates of Ft Myers at 239-334-8890

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How to Win a Probation Violation Hearing

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All is not lost….A probation violation is not hopeless
If you or a loved one is charged with a probation violation and have a hearing coming up, do not give up hope. Many times probation can be reinstated or the probation violation can get dismissed if you have a good defense. There are several types of violations. If you have been arrested on a new criminal charge, chances are you are sitting in jail on no bond. If you have what is known as a technical violation like failure to report on time, changing your address without permission or a dirty urine, you are probably out on bond and your case will be set for a probation violation hearing. You need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
For there to be a violation, it has to be willful and substantial and not just some picky meaningless technical violation. The rules are important but to put you in jail, usually, it has to be a real substantial violation. Many times, an experienced criminal lawyer can negotiate a reinstatement with the prosecutor and the judge thus avoiding jail. Do not give up hope.
If you had a dirty urine, it may be possible to negotiate drug evaluation and treatment as an alternative to jail. If you have a drug problem, you need help, not incarceration. Drug addiction is a medical problem that needs to be treated and not simply postponed with some jail time.
As a Sarasota criminal lawyer my job is the try and solve your problem and prevent you from slipping back into a situation that will land you in jail. Call today for a free consultation 941-366-3506

Sarasota Domestic Violence…..Zero Tolerance

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Zero Tolerance for Domestic Battery in Sarasota and Bradenton
Should you call 911 if your argument with your spouse gets a little heated? If you do, someone is going to jail. If the police respond and do not arrest someone and things later end up with someone getting hurt the cops run the risk of being sued. For that reason, and others, the police will generally arrest one party or the other. I have been handling domestic violence cases now for over thirty years. As a Sarasota criminal lawyer, my number one goal is to salvage the family if possible. When the police become involved and one spouse gets arrested, generally at the first Court appearance the Court will order that when released the arrested person is prohibited from contacting his or her spouse. This is called a no contact order. That creates an enormous burden for the average family. Most families live day to day financially. Few families can afford to maintain two places to live.
Over the years, I have observed that ninety per cent of the time in domestic violence cases, alcohol is the cause. Good men, good providers, good fathers get liquored up and do stupid things. There is no excuse for hitting a woman. Having said that however, in my experience, half the time the women are just as violent. What couples need is counseling and not jail. If the provider sits in jail and loses his job, every member of the family suffers. As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney I try and convince the prosecutor that sometimes criminal prosecution is not the answer. What we really need is a domestic violence court like drug court. Counseling and alcohol treatment is much better than locking someone up.
If you or your spouse finds yourself in a bad situation and the law has already gotten involved, call Attorney Peter D Aiken for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

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Florida Sex Crimes Lawyer Peter D Aiken on Possession of Child Pornography

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The Sheriff in Polk County is taking it to extremes. Last year around this time, in Operation Guardian Angel, the sheriff’s department arrested nine men for possession and distribution of child pornography. Another man who lived with one of the men arrested was charged with knowing about the child pornography images and not reporting it. It is one thing to be arrested for committing a crime. It is another for simply knowing about it. Under Grady Judd’s theory, if you live with someone and know they are committing a crime and don’t tell the cops about it you are guilty of a felony. As a sex crime lawyer, I think this is taking things to an extreme.
I have been defending sex crimes like possession of child pornography for thirty years. As a former federal prosecutor I do indeed understand the harsh penalties in both the State Courts as well as the Federal arena. The guidelines are horrible and call for barbaric prison sentences.
Many of the people who simply view child pornography never go on to molest anyone. Their desire to look at the kiddie porn is a product of something that may have happened to them as a child. I have represented educated men like doctors and lawyers that because of being victims themselves as children have developed a tendency or desire to simply view images. Do not assume that these men are child molesting monsters. There is a common misconception that people Internet who view child pornography or possess child pornography and go on to become child molesters. That is simply not true. I recently handled a case in Federal Court where we actually presented to the judge the real statistics in seeking a downward departure from the Federal Sentencing Guideline. We got the sentence cut down to a third of what the guidelines called for by dispelling the misconception about child pornography.
In many instances viewing child pornography is a product of what I call “Internet Addiction”. There is actually an “illness” that develops over time where men (or women) sit for hours in front of a computer. It is no less an addiction that gambling or drugs. It is a treatable illness and treatment is a better option than wasting away in prison.
There may be valid defenses to the possession or distribution charges. I have put together a team of experienced sex crime defenders including psychologists, psychiatrists and lawyers to tackle these unpopular cases. The State has experts and if you want to win one of these cases, you need your own experts. As an experienced sex crime lawyer I am available to answer your questions and discuss the charges against you. I have offices in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota County and have handled cases throughout Central and Southwest Florida. You can reach me at 941 366 3506

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I was set up

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I was set up
As a criminal defense lawyer, I hear this all the time. This is particularly true in drug cases involving sale or delivery of pills, marijuana or heroin. A person you thought was your friend hooked you up with a cop and you did something stupid. Often, an old friend comes to you and as a favor you try and get him some smoke (weed), some Oxycontin or some heroin. Before you know it, you are charged with trafficking in a controlled substance and find yourself facing a minimum mandatory sentence in State prison. How does this happen?
When people get arrested for drugs, they do whatever they have to in order to save themselves. If they are charged with trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in marijuana or trafficking in heroin, they know they may be able to work their way out of a jail sentence by rendering what they call “substantial assistance” to the police. They set up their friends. As a criminal lawyer, I have seen cases where the drug dealer himself gets arrested, and then to save himself, sets up his customers. The police don’t care. Fairness has nothing to do with the criminal justice system. Prosecutors want to win. Police want to win. In the real world if you want justice you have to fight for it. In the real world people lie all the time to save themselves. As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney I have spent thirty years of my life fighting the system and fighting for my clients. You would like to think that the truth matters. You would like to think that in Court, when people swear to tell the truth, particularly, police officers, they will. People lie under oath all the time. Sometimes police lie about how they stopped you. Sometimes police lie and say you made an admission or consented to a search of your car. My job is to expose lies and win your case. This only happens if we can prove it. There is a myth that people are presumed innocent. Sure, it says that in the law, but in the real world, in a courtroom, the deck is stacked against you. Jurors start off believing you must have done something wrong or you would not have been arrested.
You have to fight back. You have to expose the lies and if you want to win, you better have a real fighter in your corner. Nothing is impossible…Call 941 366 3506

The Police Took my Car

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Seizing and forfeiting vehicles and money is big business for the police and law enforcement. Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the police can take your car and sell it if it was used in the commission of most felonies. They do this in the Internet Sting cases. They also do this in cases involving drugs and other crimes. When they run across money, even legitimate money, many times they will try and find some way to justify keeping it. In their eyes, if you have “cash”, you must have done something wrong.
As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney, for over thirty years I have been fighting to get my clients property back. If the police took your car, or worse yet your money, you do have certain rights. You have a right to an “adversarial preliminary hearing” within days. We can file a demand and they have to go in front of a judge immediately and justify even the temporary detention of you vehicle or money. They then have to prove is a separate civil proceeding their right to take and keep it. In the real world, the police extort people with threats of prosecution and bully them into giving up a portion of their money or bully them into paying fees to get their car back. No one will ever prosecute them for this, but it happens all the time. If you had money taken and get a “Notice of Seizure”, there is some good news. At least the police were partially honest and reported taking the money. In the real world, police sometimes simply steal your money and your drugs. In the real world, there are a bad cops out there. If you are lucky enough to get a seizure notice, a good experienced forfeiture attorney may be able to get your money or your car back.
There is a provision in the law for “innocent owners”. A classic example is a bank or a finance company. You need to move quickly and contact a lawyer, because often, the police simply give the car to the bank, the bank calls the loan and your car is gone. Many times your parents or a relative put up the money to buy the car. If the title appears clear and there are no loans on the vehicle, chances are the cops will try and keep it. If you got arrested and cannot get your car back, call today for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

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