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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

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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 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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