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Spring Break Offenses in Walton County, Florida 2015: Minor In Possession of Alcohol

For Walton County, Florida the weekend of February 28, 2015 earmarked the first of many large scale college spring break weeks, where college students embark on local communities like Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Seaside and 30A.  The college spring break population, generates a spike  in the number of persons (spring breakers) arrested or cited for Underage Possession of Alcohol (also referred to as Minor in Possession), Open House Parties, DUI, and other criminal offenses such as drug offenses. Speaking with a source at the State Attorney’s Office this week, last years’ number of citations for Underage Possession of Alcohol alone had reached tallied approximately 1000.  (This Number does not include those cases that have since been successfully sealed or expunged from the record). This nearly doubled the 600 citations from 2012 and appears to be on par to those numbers from 2013.  As a result of the increase in citations issued in recent years, and the general perception from law enforcement and the community alike that spring break has reached its tipping point, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has renewed its vow  to crack down on college students again this year and will continue in its policy decision to arrest Underage Possession of Alcohol offenders rather than simply issuing the Notice to Appear as in years past.  Just today the W.C.S.O. issues a spring break message on its social media outlets  Here is the link to review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOhsbiOHQIU#t=30

Here is also the  story from March, 2014 in the local Walton Sun: http://www.waltonsun.com/news/walton-county-to-take-aggressive-stand-during-spring-break-1.284022?tc=cr

imagesCAR64OHS

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. 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.

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 (e.g. Walton County), subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear or goes to jail for Underage Possession of Alcohol 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 local Walton County 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. Some students, or parents of students, are unaware that the payment of the fine will result in the criminal charge remaining on the individual’s criminal history, unless he or she is subsequently eligible to expunge or seal the offense. In fact, some law enforcement officers in the past have suggested that the individual simply pay the fine since the fine is only $250.00, but failed to explain the potential ramifications. For more on past articles for Walton County Spring Break visit the links posted below or visit the Northwest Florida Daily News or Walton Sun for more information http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/spring-offers-no-break-for-deputies-gallery-1.110236 http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/32-spring-breakers-arrested-at-house-party-1.109236 _MG_0261clr_web-1

1238332_1307321658Jeremy S. Keich is a local Walton County criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach. As a  criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Keich has helped clients successfully resolve these spring break  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.

Walton County, Florida: Spring Break and Underage Possession of Alcohol

 March 1, 2014, signaled the beginning of the 2014 college spring break era for local communities and law enforcement in Walton County and Okaloosa County.  For the next few weeks college students will travel to the beaches of South Walton and Destin to unwind from college.  With the increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic as a result of spring break, local attorneys like myself also see an increase in the number of persons (spring breakers) arrested or cited for Underage Possession of Alcohol (also referred to as Minor in Possession), Open House Parties, DUI, and other criminal offenses such as drug offenses.

By the end of the final major spring break week last year, the number of citations for Underage Possession of Alcohol alone had reached approximately 1100.  This nearly double the 600 citations from the year prior.  In total, Walton County alone issued over 1800 citations (Notices to Appear) for Underage Possession of Alcohol in all of 2013.

As a result of the increase in citations issued in 2014, and the general perception from law enforcement and the community alike that spring break has reached its tipping point, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has vowed to crack down even more this year.  One very noticeable change already publicized by  Walton County is the decision to arrest Underage Possession of Alcohol offenders rather than simply issuing the Notice to Appear as in years past.  See the recent story from March, 2014 in the local Walton Sun: http://www.waltonsun.com/news/walton-county-to-take-aggressive-stand-during-spring-break-1.284022?tc=cr

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. 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.”dui  picture

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 (e.g. Walton County), subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear or goes to jail for Underage Possession of Alcohol 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 local 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.

Some students, or parents of students, are unaware that the payment of the fine will result in the criminal charge remaining on the individual’s criminal history, unless he or she is subsequently eligible to expunge or seal the offense.    In fact, some internet gurus who provide “legal advice” have suggested that the individual simply pay the fine since the fine is only $250.00, but failed to explain the potential ramifications.

For more on past articles for Walton County Spring Break visit the links posted below or visit the Northwest Florida Daily News or Walton Sun for more information

 http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/spring-offers-no-break-for-deputies-gallery-1.110236

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/32-spring-breakers-arrested-at-house-party-1.109236

_MG_0261clr_web-1Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach (Walton County).  As a Walton County 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.

Walton County, Florida Expungements: What You Need to Know

court-gavelAn expunction of a criminal history record means that there is a court order that means a criminal history record must be physically destroyed or obliterated by any criminal justice agency having custody of such record; except that any criminal history record in the custody of the department must be retained in all cases. A criminal history record ordered expunged that is retained by the department is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and not available to any person or entity except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. A criminal justice agency may retain a notation indicating compliance with an order to expunge.

A person who has had their criminal history record expunged may oklahoma-expungements-lawyer-fulllawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the expunged record, except when the subject of the record:

  • Is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency.
  •  Is a defendant in a criminal prosecution.
  • subsequently seeks to expunge another criminal history record
  • Seeks to be employed or licensed by (or contract with) certain agencies such as Department of Children and Families; Agency for Health Care Administration; Agency for Persons with Disabilities; Department of Health; DJJ; Department of Elderly Affairs; Department of Education (including district school boards, charter schools, any private or parochial school; or child care facilities)

Other circumstances apply where one must disclose the criminal history record, the bulleted information is an example only and not intended to be an – list.

Prior to filing his or her Petition for Expunction with the court that presided over the criminal incident, an individual must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  The application for the Certificate of Eligibility must show that the applicant has obtained a certified statement from the prosecutor that:

  • That an indictment, information, or other charging document was not filed or issued in the case.
  • That an indictment, information, or other charging document, if filed or issued in the case, was dismissed or nolle prosequi by the state attorney or statewide prosecutor, or was dismissed by a court of competent jurisdiction, and that none of the charges related to the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to expunge pertains resulted in a trial, without regard to whether the outcome of the trial was other than an adjudication of guilt.
  • That the criminal history record does not relate to a violation of s. 393.135, s. 394.4593, s. 787.025, chapter 794, s. 796.03, s. 800.04, s. 810.14, s. 817.034, s. 825.1025, s. 827.071, chapter 839, s. 847.0133, s.847.0135, s. 847.0145, s. 893.135, s. 916.1075, a violation enumerated in s. 907.041, or any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21, without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration, or for registration as a sexual offender pursuant to s. 943.0435, where the defendant was found guilty of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any such offense, or that the defendant, as a minor, was found to have committed, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing, such an offense as a delinquent act, without regard to whether adjudication was withheld.

The applicant must also :

  • remit a $75 processing fee to the department for placement in the Department of Law Enforcement Operating Trust Fund,unless such fee is waived by the executive director.
  • submit to the department a certified copy of the disposition of the charge to which the petition to expunge pertains.
  • have never, prior to the date on which the application for a certificate of eligibility is filed, been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation, or been adjudicated delinquent for committing any felony or a misdemeanor specified in s. 943.051(3)(b).
  • have as not been adjudicated guilty of, or adjudicated delinquent for committing, any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to expunge pertains.
  • have never secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record under this section, former s. 893.14, former s. 901.33, or former s. 943.058, unless expunction is sought of a criminal history record previously sealed for 10 years pursuant to paragraph (h) and the record is otherwise eligible for expunction.
  •  no longer be under court supervision applicable to the disposition of the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to expunge pertains.(h) Has previously obtained a court order sealing the record under this section, former s. 893.14, former s.901.33, or former s. 943.058 for a minimum of 10 years because adjudication was withheld or because all charges related to the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to expunge pertains were not dismissed prior to trial, without regard to whether the outcome of the trial was other than an adjudication of guilt. The requirement for the record to have previously been sealed for a minimum of 10 years does not apply when a plea was not entered or all charges related to the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to expunge pertains were dismissed prior to trial.

expungementMany prospective clients call to inquire on the expunction of his/her Walton County criminal offense such as underage possession of alcohol, possession of a controlled substance, grant theft.  Most commonly spring breakers look to conceal their minor run in with law enforcement once they have paid the citation.  I always recommend that a prospective client calling about an expungement  prior to his/her case being resolved  address the criminal episode to his or her best ability on the front end rather than relying on the expunction process.  This may mean the individual should consult with or retain a Walton County Attorney to handle their case.  I suggest this not only for the reasons set forth above, but also because many third-party vendors who obtain a criminal history record do not receive the Order or Expunction from the Court. This results in these third-party vendors continuing to publish expunged (or sealed) information.  Additionally, it may be more cost-effective to pay for a Walton County, Florida lawyer prior to resolution opposed to retaining the lawyer for the expunction process.

_MG_0261clr_web-1Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach (Walton County).  As a Walton County criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients expunge their criminal records and alcohol related offenses.

If you have been charged with minor in possession and want to discuss your case further, including expunction of the criminal offense feel free to contact this Walton County Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlawfirm.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 Spring Break 2013: Underage Possession and Open House Parties

imagesCAR64OHSSaturday, March 9, 2013, earmarked  the first major spring break week for local communities and law enforcement in Walton County and Okaloosa County.  Students from the southeast, midwest and beyond embarked to the Emerald Coast  for their brief vacation from their respective college or  university.  With the increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic as a result of spring break, local attorneys also see and increase in the issuance of Notices to Appear (or Arrests) for Underage Possession of Alcohol, Open House Parties, DUI, and other criminal offenses.

I wrote last year that one spring break weekend alone, per the local newspaper, generated in excess of four hundred citations issued for minor criminal offenses such as Minors in Possession of Alcohol.  This year the numbers seem to be headed the same direction.  This past weekend’s increased law enforcement presence culminated in the Monday afternoon arrest of over thirty college students at a house in Miramar Beach (Walton County, Florida).  Most of the individuals arrested were cited for Underage Possession of Alcohol,  Others were cited for Open House Party.   All were taken to the Walton County Jail.  A link to the Northwest Florida Daily News Article is provided here:

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/32-spring-breakers-arrested-at-house-party-1.109236

Unique to this situation is that law enforcement made actual arrests in this instance (rather than simply issuing the Notice to Appear).  As a result, most (if not all) of these individuals will be greeted with  their mugshot being displayed on a variety of internet search engines.  Due to the alleged damage to the residence, and the publicity received, it is yet to be seen how local authorities will elect to handle these cases.

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.”dui  picture

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.

Some students, or parents of students, are unaware that the payment of the fine will result in the criminal charge remaining on the individual’s criminal history, unless he or she is subsequently eligible to expunge or seal the offense.    In fact, some internet gurus who provide “legal advice” have suggested that the individual simply pay the fine since the fine is only $250.00, but failed to explain the potential ramifications.

_MG_0261clr_web-1Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach (Walton County).  As a Walton County 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.

Walton County, Florida: Bail, Bonds & Pretrial Release

What happens after an arrest?  Will I remain in Jail?  These are  common questions first asked of me when I have a client, prospective client or the accused’s family contact my office.

Generally speaking, once  arrested the individual will not be require to sit in jail for an extended period of time without an opportunity for release.  Persons who have been arrested will generally be taken before a judge  the morning after arrest(or within 24 hours after the arrest) for first appearance.  It is at first appearance where the presiding judge will make a probable cause determination and determine whether the individual is entitled to be released from incarceration.

At the individual’s first appearance, the presiding judge will determine if the individual arrested shall be entitled to pretrial release (or bail).  Bail is any of the following forms of release (or any combination) issued by the judge:

– personal recognizance of the individual arrested;

– executing an unsecured appearance bond in an amount set by the judge;

– placing restrictions on travel, association, or place of abode of the individual;

– executing a bail bond (cash or surety);

-and any other condition considered reasonably necessary to assure the individual’s appearance in court.

In determining whether or not to release an individual the court may consider:

– the nature and circumstances of the alleged criminal offense (and the corresponding penalty for that offense)

– the weight of the evidence;

– individual’s family ties to the community;

– length time the individual has resided in the community;

– employment history of the individual;

– financial resources of the individual;

– past and present conduct of the individual (including previous failures to appear, convictions);

– the individual’s need for substance abuse or mental health treatment;

– the probability that the individual’s release may pose a danger on the community;

– and any other facts the court may consider to be relevant.

The purpose of bail or pretrial release is to secure the presence of the individual at all future proceedings.   No person charged with a dangerous crime identified in 907.041 (e.g. aggravated battery, burglary of a dwelling, robbery, sexual battery…just to name a few), Florida Statutes, is entitled to nonmonetary conditions of release, except for a narrowly tailored exception.

Once conditions for pretrial release have been set at first appearance, the individual may  also ask the court to modify the previously imposed conditions as well.  One common scenario often modified is modifying “no contact with a victim” to “no violent contact” or “no unlawful contact”.

If you are seeking to modify pretrial release conditions or have a friend of family member who has been denied pretrial release at first appearance  in Walton County, Okaloosa County, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, DeFuniak Springs  or anywhere in Northwest Florida  , feel free to contact this DeFuniak Springs 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 DUI Penalties

If you live in the Walton County, Florida area (or are visiting the area for vacation) 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 Walton County 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 Walton County 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 Walton County, FLorida I  also recommend you speak with an attorney about your case prior to entering a plea to this charge.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Walton County 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 Walton County, Okaloosa County, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, DeFuniak Springs  or anywhere in Northwest Florida  , feel free to contact this Walton County 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.

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