Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Should I Accept A Diversion Program For MIP Charges In Florida?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately for MIP charges. I cannot stress this enough. The state attorney’s office is waiting for you. They know that you’ve never tried a case in your life. They know that when it comes to actually posing real defenses and kicking up a serious legal fight that you simply lack the skill or knowledge to even know where to begin. If I were to say 562.111 Florida statutes, the only way you would know that that is minor in possession is if you got charged and you looked it up online. Short of that, you don’t know the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, you don’t know chapter 90, Florida’s evidence code, you don’t know the jury instructions, and you don’t know when a jury trial can be taken away from you and you have to have a judge trial. Instead, there are a lot of things you don’t know and since you don’t know what you don’t know then it can hurt you. In order to know what you don’t know, the best way to find out is to hire a professional to handle this so that you are not guessing and tinkering and possibly damaging your future.

What Should I Do If My Son Is Charged With Minor In Possession Of Alcohol Charges?

The first thing you should do if your son is charged with minor in possession of alcohol charges is to find the best board certified criminal law specialist that you can and hire that particular lawyer immediately. It doesn’t have to be but ask if they are a board certified specialist. If so, this means that they are the best of the best and that they have gone through Florida’s board certification program. Almost 90% of applicants pass the bar exam and go on to become lawyers in the state of Florida. In contrast, almost 90% of the applicants who take the criminal law board certification exam fail. You can be assured if you’re hiring a board certified specialist, whether your charges in Miami or Miramar Beach, that you are getting the best representation possible.

With regard to penalties, the maximum is $500 in fine and 60 days in jail as well as six months’ probation. All three of those penalties can be mixed together. For example, someone can be convicted of minor in possession of alcohol and have unexpungable criminal history, be sentenced to six months of probation and as a special condition of probation would have to additionally serve jail time. These sentences structured like that don’t happen very often but when they do happen it is usually somebody who is unrepresented standing before the judge intending to throw themselves on the mercy of the court. What happens is they find out that the court usually isn’t merciful. The reason for this is political. No politician wins the election by a slogan that says, “I will be smart about the problem of crime”. Instead, it is much like the chants we heard during the election, “Lock them up and throw away the key”. The best way you can protect yourself is to have outstanding legal counseling. From there, you need to communicate with legal counsel. What we do is different than most firms, we have people prepare what we call a fact pattern report. A fact pattern report is a written account about the facts that happened because quite often we are finding that the police are violating the rights of the young people they are arresting. First of all, they are inappropriately targeting and profiling them just as it is wrong to profile people because they are a driving while black, what we call DWB, it is also inappropriate to target people based upon their gender or their age.

We know without a doubt that people are being targeted for their age on the beaches all across the state. Additionally, what we’re also finding is that the local law enforcement authorities are getting more and more aggressive with young people and they are communicating to their officers that if you violate their rights, it’s okay. It’s not that big of a deal. In fact, it is a very big deal. It is highly inappropriate and it subjects them to potential liability financially for knowingly breaking the law when they are, in fact, the law enforcement agency involved. When it comes to how to fight it, the best thing to do again is to hire a lawyer and to prepare that fact pattern report.

I also think it’s very critical to be very clear about what you want as an outcome. If you want some form of acquittal, a negotiated dismissal that doesn’t involve any court appearances or burdensome conditions will have the same practical effect as a five-day trial. However, in terms of the stress level involved and the prime commitment required and the expense, the negotiated dismissal, for most people, will absolutely be a better option and that’s what we focus on unless we’re instructed to do otherwise. Of course, we give our guidance on how to approach these things. Probation and diversion that mimics probation, which is set up to violate people so that the local politicians look good, is definitely not in the best interest of the young person who has been charged. We try to avoid probationary and diversionary sentences wherever possible and substitute those for negotiated dismissal with few or no conditions.

Most probationary and diversionary programs are so burdensome when it comes to conditions involving random urinalysis, random breath testing, and frequent drug and alcohol classes. Some counties are requiring AA attendance two and three times a week; frankly, it’s ridiculous. We try to eliminate all of those landmines that are hidden in the minefield of Florida criminal law when it comes to minor in possession. Finally, just as I’ve stated, hire competent legal counsel. Competent legal counsel has handled these types of cases so many times that they are very familiar with what is realistic and what is not realistic in terms of an outcome in a particular case. Additionally, they can get much better outcomes and deals than you would ever get on your own. The prosecutor knows that if you’re unrepresented and a first offender that when it comes to trying a criminal case, the old euphemism is pretty correct. You would not be able to fight your way out of the paper bag. A board certified specialist can do that and a whole lot more.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Diversion Programs For MIP Charges, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (850) 466-1522

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