What is a “domestic battery”?

If you have been arrested here in Sarasota as a result of an argument with a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or live in relative, your booking sheet will probably read: “Battery, Touch or Strike”

If you got into an argument, and someone called 911, chances are, someone is going to jail.  People think that the police will just come out and calm things down.  Most of the time however, when the police respond, someone is going to jail.  The police are afraid that if they don’t arrest someone, and the argument later turns deadly, they will get sued.  Someone is going to jail.  Many times it is the wrong person.  Men are at a disadvantage, particularly if the responding officer is a woman.  Many times the police side with the woman, even if she was the instigator or the real aggressor.  As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney, all too often I see a first appearance judge set a high bond, or set release conditions that make it all but impossible for the parties to reconcile.  In my opinion, what couples need is help, not another impediment to reuniting.

Most of the time, the real cause of the argument is alcohol.  Some people when they drink, get mellow.  Some however get belligerent and are what I call a “mean drunk”.  They may be perfectly normal when they are sober, but can get really mean and nasty when they consume too much beer, wine or liquor.  My bet is that if you or your spouse got arrested for domestic battery, alcohol was a major contributor to the problem.  Another major reason people get into violent confrontations is jealousy, the “green eyed monster”.  Insecurity leads to jealousy.  One spouse may be going through the other’s cell phone, texts or chats and see something and become unhinged.  A lot of battery arrests are the result of a jealous rage.

As a Sarasota criminal lawyer, my goal, wherever possible is the help the parties resolve their issues.  The prosecutors mean well but sometimes go overboard and interfere with normal reconciliation.  If you got arrested for Battery, and want to talk, call 941 366 3506

Why are there so many drug arrests in Sarasota?

Why are there so many drug arrests in Sarasota?

In March, here in Sarasota, arrests for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription skyrocketed.  Most of those arrests were for some sort of prescription medication, in most instances, an opiate.  Many normal everyday ordinary people have become addicted to pain killers in one form or another.  We are still dealing with the problem created by the big pharmaceutical companies years ago.  Some of those companies are now being sued and going into bankruptcy.  That does not help the addicts left behind, now being run through the criminal justice system.  If you have been arrested in Sarasota on a drug charge, things are not hopeless.  You can get help, both legal as well as help in dealing with your addiction.

For starters, if you bond out, you have to address the addiction immediately.  If you get rearrested using again, your bond will be revoked.  You have to stop using.  I know that is tough, but the choice is jail.  As a criminal defense attorney here in Sarasota, I can help you work your way through this problem.  You may be eligible for drug Court.  Most people will not admit they are an addict.  That is the nature of addiction.  If you are reading this as a mother, father or spouse of an addict, you know what I mean.

A conviction for a drug offense can really damage your future employment opportunities.  It can result in a loss of your driver’s license.  Pill addiction is a medical problem that turns into a legal problem.  The answer is not jail, but rather treatment.  If you became addicted as a result of a doctor over prescribing, and when your source dried up, you turned to heroin or fentanyl, your real risk is death.  There are no old heroin addicts.  They either clean up or die.

If you have been arrested and want help, or if you are the parent of an adult drug addict and want to help them, you can call for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

Have a Probation Violation Arrest?

More people get arrested in Sarasota and Manatee County for a violation of probation than any other reason.  The County jail is full of people being held without bond for a violation of probation.  Probation, sometimes is a trap for the unwary.  You may have taken a plea deal to avoid trial or have simply followed the Public Defender’s advice and set yourself up for failure.

Technical Violation

You do not have to commit a new crime to get arrested.  If you do not pay your court costs, if you do not pay the fees for supervision imposed by the Court, if you do not pay restitution or if you simply miss an appointment with your probation officer a warrant will be issued for your arrest.  Simply not having money to pay can get you arrested and thrown back in jail.  Our Sarasota and Bradenton criminal defense firm has been defending probation violations for years.  Do not wait to be arrested.  If you have a problem with your probation officer, call today and we may be able to work it out before you are picked up for a violation.

New Crime Violations.

If you get arrested on a new charge while you are on probation, your probation officer will have you rearrested for a probation violation and you will sit in jail waiting for a hearing.  The new offense may be incredibly minor but if it occurred while you were on supervision, you have huge problem.  We may be able to convince the judge to release you while you wait for a probation violation hearing.  Any conviction for a new offense violates your probation and subjects you to time in either County jail or State prison.  Your sentencing guidelines may have been computed incorrectly or you simply may have not committed the new crime or violation.  Do not wait until your hearing.  Call us now for a free consultation.

Sex Offender Probation Violations

A violation of sex offender probation can land you in State prison.  Often, electronic monitors malfunction and register a false report.  Often, a probation officer fails to write down the details of your request or report to him.  Often the officer is simply out to get you and is searching for any reason to violate you.  You may have missed a deadline or appointment or forgotten to call in or come in past curfew.  You may have been forced to move suddenly and not had time to report the new address.  The probation officers generally are not there to help you and some simply look for some excuse to violate you put you back in jail.  A violation must be willful and substantial and we can many times convince the Court that your situation was accidental or unintentional.  If a loved one is in jail or if you have been arrested on a violation of probation call today.  

Our Sarasota office is on Ringling across from the jail, next to the Courthouse and steps from the probation office.  Call today at 941-366-3506

Sarasota Child Porn Cases on the Rise

State and Federal
Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken


There were two more child pornography arrests here in Sarasota this week.

The State Attorney seems to be continuing to manipulate the guidelines and is filing 40 Counts of second degree felonies in most of the cases. They do this to run up the guidelines to the point that a person faces 30 to 50 years in State prison. There is a real issue as to whether or not this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the United States Constitution. In Sarasota, a person serves more time for looking at videos than actually having contact with a real child.

The policy here in Sarasota is at odds with what is going on in the rest of the State. How are the detectives making these cases? Let me explain. Every image or child pornography video has a hash value. That is like a fingerprint. When an identified image is transmitted over the Internet, a red flag goes up and law enforcement is notified. I puzzles me why they simply don’t pass a law directing the providers to simply block the transmission. If they can identify it, they can block it. Instead of blocking it, they identify the IP address it goes to and commence an investigation. The local detectives have specially designed computer programs that can come into a person’s computer without their knowledge. The person may not even be awake, sitting at their computer or even home when it happens.

The detectives then get a search warrant and come to the address where the computer is located and often trick the person into making admissions about viewing child porn. The manner in which they do this up subject to legal attack depending on the facts of each individual case. Why is the State Attorney here in Sarasota doing this?

Sadly the State believes that people that look at child porn go on to molest children. The statistics do not back this up. Sadly the State believes that by burying people in State prison for life, they will stop child pornography. This belief is also mistaken. Most of the child porn is created overseas by people that will never get arrested or prosecuted. Also, the State believes that by prosecuting people who view it, they will stop the production. This belief simply is not true. As a sex crime lawyer here is Sarasota, I am doing all I can to educate the Courts and the State with respect to their mistaken beliefs. Many of the people who view child pornography
have been diagnosed as high functioning autistic. Many of the people who view it were victims of child sexual abuse in their childhood. Sadly, many of the prosecutors simply do not understand this.

If you want to discuss this issue or have a friend with this problem, feel free to
contact me at 941 366 3506

Sarasota Police Crack down on Crack

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken
Representing the Florida Accused

The police chief here in Sarasota announced three dozen arrests in the latest crack cocaine operation. For months the police have been making buys and just this week it came to a head with dozens of arrests.
Many people sell cocaine to support their habit. Many if not all of the people arrested had prior arrests and convictions. This comes two days before the United States Senate passed a criminal justice reform bill allowing judges more discretion in avoiding minimum mandatory sentences. Dealing crack ultimately is a one way ticket to prison. If you have been arrested for sale of cocaine or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, it is possible to turn your life around. No one wants to spend life in prison or keep going through the criminal justice system over and over. It is possible to get help.

Many of the crack addicts have switched to Meth which is now much easier to get. In the short term, an addict can support a habit by dealing, but in the long run, it is a one way street, downhill and ends in either death or prison. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer. , one of my goals is to try and help people get out of this downhill cycle. If you have a son or daughter that has been arrested for dealing crack and want to talk, give me a call. Most addicts are in denial and often the family has to step up and take the first step in getting them on the right track.

Many of the new arrests are based on what they call “controlled buys” where an undercover cop actually makes a buy, or uses an informant who is wired up with a recording device, to purchase a rock. The police often make multiple buys from the same person to run up the guideline score sheet to make sure the person scores for State prison. There may be a technical defense in terms of an illegal search and seizure or entrapment but controlled buy cases are really tough to defend. The Public Defender is often overworked and underpaid and you want to get a loved one a quality criminal defense or get a loved one real help, often a private good Sarasota defense lawyer is a better answer. It does not cost anything for a free consultation

If you or a loved one has been accused of or arrested for possession of Crack Cocaine or Meth and have questions about what to do next, Please call attorney Peter D Aiken at 941-366-3506.



Holiday Stress and Drinking leads to Arrests

Aiken O’Halloran & Foley
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
Sarasota 941-366-3506
Ft Myers 239-334-8890
Cape Coral 239-984-4994
Punta Gorda 941-639-6009

Christmas and New Years are supposed to be a time for friends and families to celebrate the holidays. Holiday traffic can lead to “road rage” arrests. Fighting over a parking space is just not worth it. Holiday shopping and the financial stress on husbands and wives can lead to arguments that get out of hand. Throw a little alcohol into the mix and before you know it someone lands in jail for domestic violence. An angry word, a sarcastic comment and a few drinks can lead to loved ones fighting over something that really is not important.

If you get arrested for “domestic battery”, often the judge at your fist appearance enters a no contact order.

That will ruin Christmas for the entire family. At our criminal defense firm, one of our goals is to heal and reunite the family, when possible. Things can really get out of hand. If one person hits the other with any kind of object or weapon, they will get arrested for aggravated battery. If someone gets stitches, someone is going to jail. If a deadly weapon is used, the bail bond is usually high and the penalties are increased.

The holidays are a time for happiness. If a loved one has been arrested and the bond is set too high, a quick bond reduction hearing is necessary. Don’t let a husband, a wife, a loved one sit in jail waiting for the Public Defender to “get to it”. It costs nothing to call most lawyers’ offices for a free consultation. It the person hit was over 65, it is a felony. If the person was a grandparent elderly, the charge may be “elderly abuse”. The holidays should be a time for families to get together and celebrate, not agitate.

From our Criminal law office here in Sarasota ……We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year



Pawn shops prey on addicts

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken
Representing the Florida Accused

November 14  2018

No one can deny we have an opiate problem in America.

We can debate how that came about but we cannot deny it. The drug companies no doubt are the root cause. But drug companies are big and powerful, and like the cigarette companies, for decades, they have bought and paid for the people in politics with campaign contributions. The net result is that millions of Americans got hooked on pain killing pills. The government tightened up on the pills but now the pills have been replaced with heroin and fentanyl. Addicts need money to support their habit.

This is where the pawn shops come in.

Addicts, when they have burned through their money and relatives, turn to stealing. They steal from everybody and anybody. They steal from grandparents, employers, friends, relatives and often during burglaries. They convert the stolen goods to money at the pawn shops. The pawn shops get the goods for pennies on the dollar and sell them at a huge profit. They have to know they are buying stolen goods if the same addicts come in day after day, often with new items, still in the box.

Here in Sarasota and in Bradenton, the police and the State Attorney never go after this link in the crime cycle. They charge the addict with dealing in stolen property and defrauding a pawnbroker, but they never charge the pawn shop operator. I had a case where an addict pawned over $100,000 worth of items stolen from his employer. He went to the pawn shop almost every day during lunch break and pawned brand new items still in the original box. There is no possible way the pawn shop operator cannot know he is buying stolen goods. But who gets prosecuted? The addict does. Under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines, the addict will always “score” for prison because of the multiple transactions. The pawn shop guys turn a blind eye to the obvious, and so do the police

Addicts need help, not prison.

If the police tightened up on the pawn shops and prosecuted them for dealing in stolen property, one of the links in the cycle of crime could be broken. If you have a relative hooked in this drug cycle, it is almost impossible to get them help, until they are finally arrested. When they do, if you can get them a good lawyer, one who really knows and understands their addiction, you might be able to get them back on track. Addiction is a horrible and deadly problem. There are no old heroin addicts. Justice needs to be balanced with compassion.

Drug Court may be an option.

Veteran’s Court may be an option.



Why not just block child pornography?

Peter D Aiken
Aiken O’Halloran and Foley
Experienced Criminal Defense
Experienced Sex crime Defense
Sarasota 941-366-3506


November 5  2018

Internet providers have the ability to simply block child porn, as do the law enforcement agencies. Instead, they let it come through and make arrests. Here in Sarasota and Manatee County, over and over, the police make child pornography arrests. Law enforcement gets information from the Internet companies every time a known child pornography image is transmitted. Law enforcement has an “inventory” of known child porn hash values for millions of images and videos. Each video or image has a unique fingerprint called a hash value. They have a special application that tracks each image when it is transmitted. They then get a report identifying the address it goes to. After identifying the IP address, they get a search warrant for the address, execute the warrant, and in many instances coerce a confession.
If law enforcement has an application that identifies the contraband image, why not simply have the providers block it. In a microsecond, the transmission would be blocked and no crime would be committed. In a matter of days, law enforcement could block 99% of all known child pornography.

Don’t they have an obligation to the victims to block it if they can?

Instead, law enforcement lets it go through, simply to be able to make an easy arrest. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech, freedom of the press or censorship. If the image or video is per se contraband and per se illegal, why not just block it. It seems only logical that one of the missions of law enforcement should be to prevent crime. Detecting and prosecuting crime is time-consuming and expensive. It ties up law enforcement as well as the courts. Why not just prevent it with a simple application? I guess that makes too much sense.
In the meantime, here in Sarasota, the child pornography arrests continue. It makes good press for the State Attorney and the Sheriff. I have always thought that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The other sad reality is that most of the people that look at child pornography were at one times victims themselves. That is why they do it. Often our criminal justice system grinds up and punishes people who need help.

A blind policy of 50 years in prison does not address the problem.

It is simply wrong.


Sex Offenders and Halloween

State and Federal
Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken

October 30 2018

As if life was not already tough enough for anyone designated a sex offender, there is now an all-out push to find another reason to re-arrest sex offenders on Halloween.

The police are going to every registered sex offender warning them that on Halloween night, they cannot have their porch lights on, they cannot open their doors to anyone saying “trick or treat” lest they be arrested. If you are a sex offender and are on sex offender probation, my advice is to totally darken your house, cut off porch lights, have no decorations and do not answer the door. The police will be looking for any possible reason to arrest your and violate your sex offender probation. It was reported on television, here in Sarasota and in Bradenton that the police would be coming to sex offender’s houses checking to see if the sex offenders were passing out candy or wearing a costume.

The law is a ridiculous “feel good” law that serves no purpose.

The truth is that there is a misconception about “stranger danger” and an unfounded fear that sexual predators are walking the street seeking to grab children. I have been handling sex crime cases for over thirty years and have found that in almost every case, the sex crime is committed in the house or home by a relative or friend. Our criminal defense firm in over thirty years has only had one case dealing with a stranger. It is always someone close to the family, most often, a grandfather, a stepfather, an uncle or brother. The “feel good” laws are passed by people running for office and enforced by prosecutors seeking reelection. They do no good whatsoever. Your child is much more likely to be sexually abused by your priest, the school teacher or a trusted family friend than someone designated a sex offender living down the street. For those men who have been to prison and paid their debt to society, continuing a lifetime of public shame is contrary to rehabilitation and serves no purpose.

Do not give the police any reason to arrest you.
If it means totally shutting down the house for one night, do so.
The simple fact is, life is not fair.
The police are not fair and the criminal justice system is stacked against anyone charged with any type of sex crime.

Make sure that you do not fall victim to a police trick or treat crusade.


Pills, Mills and the Road to Prison

Peter D Aiken
Aiken O’Halloran and Foley
Experienced Criminal Defense
Experienced Drug Offense Defense
Sarasota 941-366-3506

August 2018

The opiate arrests continue here in Sarasota and Manatee County. Drug addiction can destroy your life. It not only affects your health, but eventually, it will lead to your arrest and prosecution.

As a criminal defense attorney, my first advice is to seek help immediately. Do not wait until you are arrested for one of the collateral crimes that follow addiction. Many people end up getting busted for dealing in stolen property or defrauding a pawn broker. Addicts end up stealing and pawning stuff after they have already sold or pawned everything they have of value. Don’t end up with a second degree felony and time in State prison, simply because you could not face your addiction

The “pill mills” and the pain management clinics are still alive and well and writing scripts when often they should not. Just because a prescription is written by a doctor, does not mean that it is legitimate. Was there a real medical need or is your body just saying you need it? Opiate addiction is a terrible medical problem that leads to legal problems. People end up writing bad checks, stealing from relatives, stealing from employers and betraying their own families to feed the habit.

Many people are now stuck on heroin. When the pills got hard to get they switched to the cheaper more available substitute. That puts them at great risk of death. As a criminal lawyer, it does me no good to get a client probation if they are addicted and destined to fail. You have to get to the root of the problem, the addiction itself. If you have been arrested on drugs here is Sarasota or busted for weed, pills or cocaine in Bradenton, you need a lawyer that understands addiction. My goal is to get a client help, both in and out of court. The best way to not need a lawyer is to not get arrested.

The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime.

There is life after addiction and sometimes an arrest is a wake up call. If you use heroin and ignore the wake up calls, someday, you just won’t wake up.

You need help quitting cold turkey and sometimes it takes a few days in jail to help. Don’t look at that as the end, look at it as the beginning of a new life.