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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.

Destin Child Custody: Relocating with the Child

A common issue that  parents face after the initial child custody location is when the parent that has the majority of time-sharing, or primary custody, over the minor child(ren), seeks to relocate from the principal address or residence.  When speaking about “relocation” in this blog we are referring to a distance of fifty miles or more from that principal residence and a time period of sixty days or more.  A temporary move (or absence) for reasons such as vacation, education, or health care do not qualify.

The easiest way to resolve relocation is by agreement.  This means that the parents reach a settlement on how to modify the current child custody, time-sharing, arrangement as a result of the relocation.  Often, when we are talking about a significant geographic relocation, the typical shared parenting plan that awards one parent every-other weekend visitation becomes logistically impossible.  As a result of this logistically impossible scenario, that parent may receive greater visitation with the child(ren) during extended winter and spring breaks as well as longer summer visitation.

If the parties can not agree to a change in the time sharing schedule as a result of relocation, Florida Statute 61.13001 requires the parent seeking to relocate to file a “petition to relocate” and serve the petition on the other parent.  After service of the petition, the Court can issue temporary orders, including a temporary order restraining the child from relocating or ordering the child to return if the parent/child have already relocated.

If relocation is contested, the court must make a determination on whether or not it is in the best interest of the child to relocate with the parent.  Some of the factors the court considers are:

(a) The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
(b) The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.
(c) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.
(d) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
(e) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.
(f) The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.
(g) The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child.
(h) That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.
(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.
The party seeking relocation with the minor child must show by a preponderance of the evidence that relocation is in the best interest of the minor child.  If the proponent of relocation meets this burden, then the parent opposing relocation must then attempt to show that relocation is not in the best interest of the minor child.
If you are a parent facing a relocation issue, I recommend you consult with an Okaloosa Family Law Attorney to discuss your case.
Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin 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 Child Custody Case or Okaloosa County Family Law Matter please visit www.keichlaw.com or call (850) 460-2989.

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.

Destin Divorce: Marital vs Nonmarital Assets

Outside of the child custody determinations one of the most heavily litigated issues in a dissolution of marriage (divorce) case is the division of the marital property.  This includes both marital assets as well as liabilities(debt).  Florida acts under the premise that marital property should be divided equitably and has adopted the term “equitable distribution”.  However,   a party may claim  a special equity  in marital property.  For the purposes of today’s blog however the focus will remain on discussing the difference between marital and nonmarital assets

Florida Statute 61.075  defines “martial assets” as:

– Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.

– The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting either from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both.

– Interspousal gifts during the marriage.

– All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs.
– All real property held by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during the marriage, shall be presumed to be a marital asset.
– All personal property titled jointly by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during the marriage, shall be presumed to be a marital asset.
“Nonmarital assets” are defined, pursuant to Florida Statute 61.075 as:
– Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities;
– Assets acquired separately by either party by noninterspousal gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets;
– All income derived from nonmarital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset;
– Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by valid written agreement of the parties, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities; and
– Any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse. Any such liability shall be a nonmarital liability only of the party having committed the forgery or having affixed the unauthorized signature. In determining an award of attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to s. 61.16, the court may consider forgery or an unauthorized signature by a party and may make a separate award for attorney’s fees and costs occasioned by the forgery or unauthorized signature. This subparagraph does not apply to any forged or unauthorized signature that was subsequently ratified by the other spouse.
If a party makes a claim to the contrary of the normal definitions of marital assets, the burden of proof shall be on the party asserting the claim that the subject property, or some portion thereof, is nonmarital.
The cutoff date for determining marital assets is the date the parties enter into a valid separation agreement (or any other date expressly defined in the agreement), or the date the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed.  The date for determining the value of the assets is the date or dates the judge determines to be fair and just.  The judge may also assign different dates for different assets.

As you can see several issues may arise when seeking to divide marital assets or making a claim that certain property is nonmarital.  If you are seeking a divorce and have marital or nonmarital assets you may want to consider consulting a Destin Divorce Lawyer about your case.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin Divorce Attorney  representing clients in matters involving divorce, child custody, child support and paternity issues in Okaloosa and Walton County.  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 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.

Destin Child Custody Considerations: The Preference of the Child(ren)

It  is not uncommon for a prospective client(parent) to say that the court should award him/her primary custody of their child(ren) because the minor child(ren)  told that parent that he or she want to live with that particular parent.  However, the child’s preference may or may not matter in child custody determinations because the judge presiding over  a child custody determination, whether during an initial divorce case or in a subsequent child custody modification, must consider and act in favor of what is in the best interest of the child.

Florida Statute 61.13(3) outlines the many factors the judge considers when making initial child custody determinations as well as modifications to original child custody determinations to determine exactly what is in the best interest of the child.  Specific to this blog is 61.13(3)(i) which allow the judge to consider “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.”

Based on the plain language of the statute referenced in the paragraph above, the court must first find that the child is intelligent enough and has the adequate understanding to take the child’s preference under consideration in the first place.  For example, a judge is more likely to hear the preference of the minor child if the minor child is fourteen years old compared to the preference of a child who is only seven years old.

From a practical consideration, the attorneys should also be concerned about involving any minor in the  actual litigation by asking the child to testify  in child custody  determinations.   In fact, there are other alternatives outside of hearing the child testify, to notify the judge of the child’s preference and these alternatives will be discussed in a later blog.

However, even if the child exhibits sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience, as to where his preference is made known to the court, the child’s preference alone is not enough to satisfy the best interest of the child standard in making a child custody determination.  Moreover,  a change in preference by the child, will not qualify as a substantial and material change in circumstances necessary to modify child custody either.

In conclusion, while the preference of the child is helpful for a parent involved in litigation involving child custody, the bottom line is that this factor alone will not be held to be in the best interest of the child and the party seeking child custody must be diligent in proving to the judge that there or other factors pursuant to Florida Statute 61.13(3) which serve as the reason why that parent should be awarded primary custody (or majority time-sharing) over the minor child(ren)

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin Divorce Attorney  representing clients in matters involving divorce, child custody, child support and paternity issues in Okaloosa and Walton County.  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 Divorce: Alimony

In every divorce case, either spouse may request alimony or spousal support.  While the traditional notion has been that women are entitled to spousal support based on their traditional role as a stay at home wife/mother, nothing precludes the father/husband to seek alimony when the facts or circumstances are appropriate.  The determination of alimony is a multi-step process.  First, the court must determine whether the party seeking alimony has a need for alimony.  Second, if the court determines that the spouse does in fact have a need for alimony, the court must then determine whether or not the other spouse actually has the ability to pay alimony.  These two steps are generally determined and reviewed by conducting an analysis of each parties current financial situation including their assets, liabilities and income.

If the court is satisfied that there is a need and the ability to pay exists, the court must then determine the type of alimony to be awarded.  In Florida the different types of alimony are bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, permanent alimony or any combination thereof.  Alimony may be paid periodically, lump sum payment of both.

In determining the type and amount of alimony to award, the court must then review:

– the adultery of either spouse and circumstances thereof

– The standard of living established during the marriage.

– The duration of the marriage.(The presumption is that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.)
– The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
– The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
– The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
– The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
– The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
– The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award.
– All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
– Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Each specific type of alimony has been created for a specific purpose as defined in Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, and explained below:
Bridge-the-gap alimony: This is short-term alimony awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. The length of an award may not exceed 2 years. Bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. Bridge-the-gap alimony is non-modifiable.
Rehabilitative alimony: Awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. Prior to awarding , there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan.  An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances, noncompliance  or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
Durational alimony:  Awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose  is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award may be modified or terminated  based upon a substantial change in circumstances however, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony:  Awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life established during the marriage  for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage.  the court must first find that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.
A party involved in a dissolution of marriage in Walton County or Okaloosa County who is seeking alimony or spousal support or defending a claim for alimony or spousal support should strongly consider consulting with a Walton County or Okaloosa County divorce lawyer or family law attorney.
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.
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