Are You About to Suffer Courthouse Surprise?

Most first offenders have no clue about how the legal system works. The problem is, they think that they do or think that they can, with a cup of coffee and a few minutes on the Internet. Here’s the truth: If you were stopped by the police and given a Criminal Summons (a citation that looks like a traffic ticket, but has a mandatory court date on it), or if you were arrested, then you can be sentenced to go to jale. And it doesn’t matter how you spell it if you are there. Yet – surprisingly – many people (especially first offenders) are extremely nonchalant about going to jail. Jane1 was pulled over for speeding six miles an hour over the speed limit and given a traffic ticket with a fine amount on the back. A “forty-something” soccer mom and business owner, she was also given a second citation for No Valid Driver’s License. There was no fine amount, and the nice officer gently explained that she shouldn’t worry, just to go to court on time so an arrest warrant would be issued. He also assured her that although it was for a criminal matter, it was “just a misdemeanor” and that “she would be alright.” The officer’s words reassured her until she looked it up online and found out that the charge carried a maximum penalty of sixty (60) days in jail. Naturally, this concerned her. But two of Jane’s friends had been arrested before and neither went to jail, plus the officer had been so reassuring. “First offenders never go to jail,” one of her friends...

The #1 mistake people make after the Arrest

When lawyer advertising was first allowed by the Florida Bar, the public was confused by advertisements which overstated attorney qualifications. In 1982 the Florida Supreme Court established legal specialization to help consumers identify specialists in different areas of law. Criminal law is one of twenty-four (24) areas of legal specialization recognized by the Florida Supreme Court and regulated by the Florida Bar. Legal specialization is known as Board Certification. Lawyers who are actual, recognized experts are known as Board Certified Specialists. In criminal law, lawyers who wish to become specialists have to go through extremely rigorous testing over two full days, have actual trial experience (as opposed to just entering pleas of guilty or no contest) and each trial is then picked apart by legal experts in order to determine the candidates actual ability. Fake lawyer rating services are common Fake rating services providing “attorney reviews” do not require trial experience, testing or expert review of the uncertified lawyer’s legal work. They are not the official Florida Bar rating and lawyers who use these website rating services may not claim they are experts, specialists or use the Board Certification logo unless they have been certified by the Florida Bar. Instead, fake rating services rely on easy to rig “peer reviews” and “clients satisfaction” reviews. Common rigging methods include fake testimonials posing as client reviews, and cutting deals with other lawyers in different practice areas to puff up each lawyer’s ratings on the fake ratings review site. As one specialist put it: “A big, fat advertising fee inflates a lawyer’s rating and hides the professional failure to do the work...