Finding solutions to your legal problems

Jeremy S. Keich

Walton County, Florida Drug Possession (Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession)

Possession of a controlled substance (i.e. marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone) is a criminal offense in the State of Florida.  However, residents and visitors of Okaloosa or Walton County are often not aware that under the laws of this state, there are two types of possession:  actual v. constructive.

Actual Possession most often occurs where the drugs are found on the individual.  For example, actual possession occurs when a person has a marijuana cigarette in his pocket.  When a person is in actual possession of a controlled substance or a drug, knowledge of the illegal nature of that drug can be inferred (or presumed).

This is not the case where a person is arrested under a constructive possession theory.  Common examples of constructive possession occur when (1) law enforcement stop a vehicle in DeFuniak Springs with multiple occupants and drugs are located in a common area of the vehicle (the center console); or (2) when law enforcement enter a Destin hotel or residence occupied by multiple people and drugs are located inside the common area of the residence.  In Florida, when a person is charged under the constructive possession theory the prosecutor has the burden to prove that the individual had knowledge of the illegal (or illicit) nature  of the substance.

Further, to prove a constructive possession theory the prosecutor must convince the judge or jury that the person charged exercised dominion and control over the drug or controlled substance and a person’s mere proximity to the drug or controlled substance in legally insufficient to prove this element of the crime.

Regardless of whether you  were passenger in a traffic stop in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, a college student on spring break in a hotel or residence in Destin or an occupant of a home in Santa Rosa Beach , Florida, if you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, you should consider speaking with a Walton County criminal defense lawyer to better understand your rights and options.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Walton County criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a DeFuniak Springs criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these drug possession offenses and other drug related offenses.

If you have been charged with marijuana possession, cocaine possession, or possession of any other controlled substance  while in Destin or Walton County Florida or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

Walton County, Florida Grounds for Divorce: “Irretrievably Broken”

Florida is a “no fault” state when determining grounds for a divorce.  In other words, either party is not require to prove that his or her spouse is at fault and the basis for a divorce(e.g. adultery).  Instead, all the party seeking the divorce (dissolution of marriage) must allege is that the marriage is now “irretrievably broken”.  This is a low burden for the party to prove.  In fact, the Court does not even need corroborating evidence to find that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

When the parties have no children and the other spouse does not deny that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then the judge typically enters a judgment dissolving the marriage if he agrees.  However, in cases where eh other party denies the marriage is irretrievably broken or when the parties have minor children, the court can order one or both of the parties to counseling, continue the case for a period no longer than three months to see if the parties can reconcile, or take any other action that the court finds may be in the best interest of the child. (One occurring theme in family law cases involving minor children is that the child’s best interest is paramount in the resolution of the case.)

Jeremy S. Keich is a Walton County Divorce Attorney  representing clients in matters involving divorce, child custody, child support and paternity issues.  None of the information contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor shall the communication be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship.  For more information about Jeremy S. Keich or to contact him about a Walton County or Okaloosa County Family Law Matter please visit www.keichlaw.com or call (850) 460-2989.

Walton County, Florida Basic Child Support Calculation

In Walton County  family law cases where minor children are involved, one of the most  litigated issues is the calculation  of child support to be paid on behalf of the minor child(ren).  In Florida, the legislature has passed a child support guideline that presumptively establishes the amount due based on the combined monthly net income of the parents (See: Section 61.30, Florida Statutes).   Each parent’s percentage share of child support shall be determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income. (The dollar value shall be determined by multiplying the child support amount by each parent’s percentage share of the combined net monthly income.)   The gross monthly income for each parents shall be determined by:

– Salary or Wages;

– Bonuses, Commissions, Allowances or Tips;

– Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, or independent contracts;

– Disability Benefits;

– Workers’ Compensation Benefits or Settlements;

– Unemployment Compensation;

– Pension, Retirement, or Annuity Payments;

– Social Security Benefits;

– Spousal Support received in a previous marriage or the marriage before the court;

– Rental Income;

– Income from Royalties, Trusts, or Estates;

– Reimbursed Expenses or In Kind Expenses;

– Gains from Property Dealings

Generally, child care costs and health care costs that are prepaid by a parent shall be deducted from that parent’s percentage share of child support.  Retroactive child support may be ordered for a period not to exceed twenty-four months where the parents were not residing together witht he child.

This demonstrates the basic formula used to calculate child support in Walton County, Florida.  As with any legal issues, there are exceptions and/or variances that for the basic child support calculation that will be discussed in greater detail in a later post, which are laid out in Florida Statute 31.30.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Walton County Divorce Attorney  representing clients in matters involving divorce, child custody, child support and paternity issues.  None of the information contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor shall the communication be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship.  For more information about Jeremy S. Keich or to contact him about a Walton County or Okaloosa County Family Law Matter please visit www.keichlaw.com or call (850) 460-2989.

Walton County, Florida Spring Break Offenses

Destin, Florida has become a hub for college students from the southeast, midwest and beyond as a favorite spring break destination.  Each year the month of March earmarks the beginning of the busy season for the hospitality industry and  local law enforcement agencies.  For the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office and Walton County Sheriff’s Office, the arrival of college students for spring break  means a dramatic increase in alcohol related offenses including minors in possession (MIP), DUI, open container and disorderly intoxication.

The most common offense for college students is “Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons under the age 21″  (Minor in Possession) – Florida Statute 562.111.  In fact, earlier today I learned that just this weekend alone, nearly two hundred notices to appear were issued by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Beach Patrol Division for this offense.

For an individual who has received a citation for minor in possession(MIP), the law reads in pertinent part: ” It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years…to have in his or her possession alcoholic beverages.”

Law enforcement travel on foot and on ATV looking for unsuspecting college students who may be in possession of a beer can, bottle , or mixed drink and whom they believe to be underage.  See: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/spring-48251-beach-breaker.html

A first violation of this law is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor and could result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license.  In some counties, subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear for Minor in Possession or is Arrested for Minor in Possession while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, Florida, I recommend that person consult with a Destin criminal defense lawyer.  An attorney may be able to assist the individual in obtaining pretrial diversion or a deferred prosecution so the student may be able to avoid a conviction.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a Destin criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these spring break offenses and alcohol related offenses.

If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

Destin/Fort Walton Beach Assault and Battery

As a criminal defense attorney I often have clients from Okaloosa or Walton County who have been arrested for assault or battery.  Both of these offenses are misdemeanors.  Each however has a felony counter part (i.e. aggravated assault, felony battery, battery by strangulation, and aggravated battery).

In Florida an assault is defined as: “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”  ( See Section 784.011, Florida Statutes).

A Battery occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other or intentionally causes bodily harm. (See Section 784.03, Florida Statutes).

In Florida a battery constitutes a first degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to  no more than a year in jail or twelve months probation.  While jail time may not be required, the prosecutor will likely ask for probation,  fines/court costs and attend anger management if convicted in Okaloosa or Walton County as charged.  A domestic violence battery may entail more severe punishment.

Further, a person who is convicted of battery may face further implications as it is considered a violent criminal offense and could impact his or her employment status.

One of the most common defenses to a charge of battery is self-defense or justifiable use of non-deadly force.  Often the person who is arrested for battery may not be the initial aggressor but simply the person who caused the most injury or “threw the last punch”.

If you have been charged with battery in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, DeFuniank Springs, Crestview or anywhere else in Okaloosa County or Walton County I recommend that you consult with a criminal defense attorney about your case.

About the author: Jeremy S. Keich is a practicing criminal defense lawyer with offices in Destin and DeFuniak Springs who has handled assault and battery cases during his tenure as a criminal defense lawyer.  To contact Mr. Keich please call (850) 460-2989 or visit his  professional website at http://www.keichlaw.com for more information.

WARNING: No information in this blog should be construed as legal advise nor as an attorney-client relationship.

Destin/Fort Walton Beach Driving Under the Influence(DUI) Penalties

Image If you live in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area (or are visiting the area for Spring Break) and are arrested for DUI, you should be aware that a conviction for DUI carries mandatory penalties as established by the Florida Legislature.  In addition to  those mandatory penalties, the local courts may also impose other penalties as a result of your conviction for DUI.

For persons convicted of DUI in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach those Penalties Include:

1. Pay Fines and Court Costs

2. Probation

3. Suspension of Driver’s License

4. Vehicle Impound

5. Community Service Hours

6. DUI School

7. Ignition Interlock

8. Jail Time

9. Vehicle Impact Panel

All of these examples are either  required, or common examples of penalties associated with a DUI conviction in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area.  However, additional penalties or enhancement of the aforementioned penalties may occur when one of the following facts exists in your case:

– Children are in the Car

– BAC (breath/blood alcohol content) above 0.15

– damage to person or property (if serious bodily injury occurs to the other party then the charge of DUI could become a felony)

I first and foremost recommend and urge all to abstain from operating a motor vehicle after consumption of alcohol.  However, if you have been charged with DUI in the Destin/ Fort Walton Beach Area I  also recommend you speak with an attorney about your case prior to entering a plea to this charge.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a Destin criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve DUI and alcohol related offenses.

If you have been charged with  driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, DeFuniak Springs  or anywhere in Northwest Florida  , feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

Destin-Fort Walton Beach Drug Possession (Actual Possession v. Constructive Possession)

Possession of a controlled substance (i.e. marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone) is a criminal offense in the State of Florida.  However, residents and visitors of Okaloosa or Walton County are often not aware that under the laws of this state, there are two types of possession:  actual v. constructive. 

Actual Possession most often occurs where the drugs are found on the individual.  For example, actual possession occurs when a person has a marijuana cigarette in his pocket.  When a person is in actual possession of a controlled substance or a drug, knowledge of the illegal nature of that drug can be inferred (or presumed).

This is not the case where a person is arrested under a constructive possession theory.  Common examples of constructive possession occur when (1) law enforcement stop a vehicle in Destin with multiple occupants and drugs are located in a common area of the vehicle (the center console); or (2) when law enforcement enter a Fort Walton Beach hotel or residence occupied by multiple people and drugs are located inside the common area of the residence.  In Florida, when a person is charged under the constructive possession theory the prosecutor has the burden to prove that the individual had knowledge of the illegal (or illicit) nature  of the substance. 

Further, to prove a constructive possession theory the prosecutor must convince the judge or jury that the person charged exercised dominion and control over the drug or controlled substance and a person’s mere proximity to the drug or controlled substance in legally insufficient to prove this element of the crime.

Regardless of whether you  were passenger in a traffic stop in Destin, Florida, a college student on spring break in a hotel or residence in Destin or an occupant of a home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, if you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, you should consider speaking with a Destin criminal defense lawyer to better understand your rights and options.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a Destin criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these spring break offenses and alcohol related offenses. 

If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  mor information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

 

Destin/Fort Walton Beach Spring Break and Minor’s in Possession of Alcohol

Well, we are about three weeks away from the official start of the 2012 College Spring Break period.  With the start of spring break, we will see an increased presence of law enforcement officers patrolling the sugar white sands of our Destin/Fort walton Beaches looking for unlawful, criminal activity..

Spring Break sees a spike in criminal charges of driving under the influence and other alcohol related crimes.  One of the most common criminal offenses in Okaloosa County and Walton County for the college spring break population is “Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons under the age 21″  (Minor in Possession) – Florida Statute 562.111.

The law reads in pertinent part: ” It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years…to have in his or her possession alcoholic beverages.”

Law enforcement travel on foot and on ATV looking for unsuspecting college students who may be in possession of a beer can, bottle , or mixed drink and whom they believe to be underage

A first violation of this law is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor and could result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license.In some counties, subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear for Minor in Possession or is Arrested for Minor in Possession while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, Florida, I recommend that person consult with a Destin criminal defense lawyer.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a Destin criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these spring break offenses and alcohol related offenses.

If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

Technology and the 4th Amendment: SCOTUS speaks to an unlawful search and seizure

Well, I may be a couple of days late to the party on this issue, but it appears that after a UNANIMOUS 9-0 decision by The United States Supreme Court(SCOTUS) our Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government may not be dead after all. (However, many will agree that it may be on life support.)  SCOTUS recently ruled [in United States v. Jones] that an unlawful search occurred when law enforcement physically attached a GPS tracking monitor to an individual’s car without a warrant.

From a local viewpoint here in Northwest Florida, the criminal defense bar had begun to encounter these antics anywhere from Panama City (Bay County) to Pensacola (Escambia County).  Now, based on the Jones Decision, our local law enforcement will be required to validate these actions with a probable cause affidavit rather than being permitted simply to embark on a”fishing expedition” for illegal activities.

More intriguing to the criminal defense bar  may be the future ramifications of the Jones decision.  Keep in mind that the traditional notion of an illegal search or seizure entailed a physical aspect of intrusion(i.e. a search of a home and its contents, a search of a vehicle, or a search of an individual).  However, the Jones decision may open up the non-invasive searches (RFID’s, Cell Phones, E-mails)to attack under the Fourth Amendment.  The future of the Fourth Amendment and the expectation of privacy appear to be in flux.  Nonetheless, one thing we can bank on  is that as technology evolves so shall the Fourth Amendment.

If you have been arrested and charged with criminal offense or feel that you may have been the victim of an unlawful search or seizure  you may want to consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer.  For those individuals who reside in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Santa Rosa Beach, Okaloosa County or Walton County feel free to contact my office at (850)460-2989 or visit my website http://www.keichlaw.com for more information.

Tis Season to be Merry (and for DUI arrests)

The holiday season not only brings joy to those who are visited by Santa, but it also brings an increased presence of traffic patrol officers on our streets and highways.  The latter part of December through early January historically shows an increase in traffic related arrests, most noticeably, DUI’s. 

First and foremost, anyone who has consumed too much alcohol, should think twice before placing the keys in the ignition and operating a motor vehicle.  The costs of a taxi pales in comparison to the costs of a DUI conviction.

For those of you who may be unfortunate and do in fact encounter a law enforcement officer, remember that a DUI conviction potentially carries serious collateral consequences to your life outside of a blemish on your criminal record.  For some, it could mean loss of employment. 

In the event you are being investigated for Driving Under the Influence, remember:

1. The Field Sobriety Exercises are voluntary you are not required to perform these exercises.  Did you know that according to the NHTSA manual even when instructions for these exercises are given to perfection to an ideal candidate(one without health issues and of the ideal age), nearly one in four subjects will show false indications of impairment as a result of their results.

2. Submitting to a breath, blood, or urine test is also voluntary.  If you are at the point in the investigation where you are being asked to submit to one of these tests, odds are that the law enforcement officer has already placed you under arrest or arrest is imminent.   After all, there is a reason why the administrative waiting period for a hardship license is longer for a refusal rather than someone who submitted to one of these tests.  Think about it.

Should you be arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, you typically have ten days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension of your license.  This is commonly known as the “Ten Day Rule”.

Let me reiterate that first and foremost anyone who consumes too much alcohol should think twice before driving a motor vehicle.  However should you be arrested for DUI I would recommend that you consult with an attorney who handles DUI cases so you can understand your rights and the potential Consequences. 

Happy New Year

 

 

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