Violent Crimes

In our society, in Florida as elsewhere, violence against another person is looked upon as a very serious crime. If you’ve been charged and convicted of a violent crime, you will carry the stigma and associated negative consequences with you for the remainder of your life. Employers consider an employee who is prone to violence as a liability, and landlords often refuse to rent to anyone with a violent past. Violent crimes include:

  • Assault and Aggravated Assault
  • Battery and Aggravated Battery
  • Weapons crimes, including firearms offenses
  • Home Invasion
  • Burglary
  • Domestic Violence
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Homicide, including First and Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, and Aggravated Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful Imprisonment
  • Child Abuse and Aggravated Child Abuse
  • Sexual assault

 

Florida Violent Crime Penalties

The charges and penalties for violent crimes vary considerably and depend on the type and seriousness of the violent act, the amount of harm done to the victim, whether you intended to inflict serious harm on the victim, whether you used a firearm or other deadly weapon, and whether you have a record of previous violent offenses.

These are a just few examples of the penalties you may be facing if you are accused of some of the more common violent crimes. If you have prior convictions or if the victim was someone with whom you had a domestic relationship, you may be subject to additional penalties for domestic violence:

  • Simple assault is usually charged as a Second Degree Misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, and fines of up to $500.
  • Simple Battery is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida, which can get you a jail sentence of up to a year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a fine of up to $1000.
  • Aggravated Assault and Felony Battery are Third Degree Felonies that can land you in prison for as long as five years with potential fines of as much as $5,000.
  • Aggravated Battery and Robbery are Second Degree Felonies, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and fines of up to $10,000.
  • A conviction on charges of Armed Robbery with firearm or other deadly weapon, a First Degree Felony, can result your spending life in prison; fines can go as high as $10,000.

 

Don’t Let This Happen to You: Legal Defense for Florida Violent Crime Charges

If you’ve been accused of a violent crime in Florida, with such severe sentences a real possibility, you need to fight the charges against you with every legal means at your disposal. You cannot reasonably risk facing these serious charges without a lawyer—or even with a Public Defender.  For the best shot at preserving your freedom and avoiding excessive fines and probation, you should always hire a private lawyer who has the time, resources, and commitment to the best outcome for you. In the Tampa Bay area, one of the best choices you could make is to hire criminal defense lawyer Stephen Maltezos to defend you.

Steve will determine if your constitutional rights have been upheld and will conduct his own investigation, reviewing the evidence the prosecution has available and looking for weaknesses in the state’s case. A former Hillsborough County prosecutor, he understands Florida’s criminal statutes in detail and knows how they are applied in a court of law. He is skilled in negotiating with the prosecution, often able to have your charges reduced, and sometimes able to get them dismissed entirely. He is skilled in the courtroom and will work tirelessly to develop a credible defense that will raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors, should your case go to trial. He will never push you into a plea bargain that is not in your best interests or that you don’t want to accept, simply to dispose of your case. Steve is a fighter who takes your well-being personally.

Possible Legal Defenses to an Accusation of a Violent Crime

Depending on the circumstances and the context of the event that gave rise to your arrest, possible defenses may include, among others:

  • You were acting in self defense.
  • You were defending another person.
  • You were defending your property.
  • You were engaged in mutual combat with your accuser.
  • You were wrongly identified by the accuser or a witness.
  • You had an alibi and could not have been the one who did the crime.
  • You were not acting with the intention of doing harm.

 

The Legal Help You Must Have When You’ve Been Accused of a Violent Crime in Florida

If you’ve been arrested or even questioned as a suspect in a violent crime in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties or elsewhere in Central Florida, act immediately. Call criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos and exercise your constitutional right to remain silent until he is by your side. When you hire Steve, you can be assured that you have aggressive, competent, and skilled legal representation by a lawyer who can think outside the box and who will never let up until he has achieved the best outcome for you that the law allows. Steve has offices in Tampa and St, Petersburg, and he is available to come to you wherever you are being held at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week. You are allowed a phone call, so use it to call Maltezos Law for the quality criminal defense that can often preserve your freedom and safeguard your future options for a life without the stigma of being labeled a violent criminal.

Driving/Traffic Offenses

Sooner or later it happens to nearly everyone—a traffic ticket. A ticket means high fines and points on your license, which typically results in higher insurance rates. Simply paying your ticket is, in essence, admitting your guilt. Many people capitulate easily, without a fight; but you don’t have to take that route. It may be more expensive than you realize. Get yourself a good Florida traffic ticket lawyer and contest the ticket. Understandably you may not want to take the time to show up in traffic court, but in many cases, your lawyer can handle the matter without requiring your appearance at all!

One important thing that many Floridians are not aware of is that if you accumulate a sufficient number of points on your license for traffic violations (other than DUI which is always serious), you can still end up with a felony as a habitual traffic offender. So it is always important to contest any ticket for a moving violation.

Attorney Stephen Maltezos can defend you against any and traffic violations, from serious DUI case to speeding, reckless or careless driving, improper turns, and much more.

DUI

DUI is a very serious charge, and this website contains a very thorough and detailed discussion of the complexities of a DUI charge. Please click here for an in-depth discussion of DUI in Florida and learn how Steve Maltezos can help if you’re facing DUI charges. ****insert link to DUI

Speeding Tickets

In all honesty, most of us exceed the speed limit on occasion. Sometimes it’s because you are going with the flow of traffic, and you just happen to be the one who is the easiest for the cop lying in wait to pull over. Speeding is among most common traffic violations and speeding tickets are a source of revenue for the state. While everyone should endeavor to drive safely, which is best accomplished by adhering to the posted speed limit, there are times when stepping it up slightly is a necessity. A good traffic violation attorney can often help you avoid points on your license and may even be able to keep you out of traffic safety school.

Reckless or Careless Driving

If you are caught driving in a manner that a police officer deems dangerous to others on the road, you could be charged with reckless or careless driving. Careless driving means that you failed to use appropriate caution under the conditions in which you were driving. Reckless driving is usually driving in a way that shows a blatant disregard for the safety of drivers, pedestrians, or other with whom you are sharing the road. These charges are the result of the officer’s perception of your driving, which can be entirely subjective. Your lawyer may be able to attack the officer’s credibility or the accuracy of the observation that led to your being cited.

Running a Traffic Light, Stop Sign, or Traffic Control Device

Running through a traffic signal or sign without stopping or failing to comply with a traffic control device can get you 3 points on your license and some hefty fines. As for stop signs, you may think you have stopped, but a police officer following you may perceive that what you thought was a full stop was actually a very low speed roll through the intersection. In most cases, it comes down to your word against that of the police officer when you get to court, so you need a lawyer who can make a persuasive case in your behalf.

Driving on a Suspended, Revoked, Expired, or Driver’s License, or Driving without a License

If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked for any reason and you drive anyway, knowing you have lost that privilege, you can be charged with a felony in Florida. This is more likely if you have lost your driving privileges because of a DUI. However, it sometimes happens that your license is suspended without your realizing it. One Floridian learned her license had been revoked because her teenage daughter had jumped a toll on a car she owned and had not told her about the fines! She had not received the notification of the suspension when she was pulled over, and was told that the prosecutor could choose to charge it as a felony!

If your license has expired and you continue to drive for a significant amount of time (4 months or longer) without renewing it, or if you are caught driving without a license at all, you could be facing hefty fines, jail time, or probation.

In cases like this one, although no lawyer is allowed to promise you a particular result, Steve Maltezos can often get the charges reduced or dropped entirely, depending on your circumstances.

Other Traffic Violations

In addition to those violations discussed above, there are many other possible violations that can result in fines, license points, and even jail time. Other types of violations include these and others:

  • Failing to move over for an emergency vehicle.
  • A minor caught driving without a license
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Driving with an open container in the vehicle
  • Driving with an expired registration
  • Making an improper of unsafe lane change
  • Passing in a no-passing zone
  • Traveling in the wrong direction on a one-way street

 

What to do if You’re Pulled over for a Traffic Violation in the Tampa Bay Region

  • Be polite to the officer (however difficult this may be!)
  • Go ahead and sign the ticket when asked. It does not in any way mean you’re admitting guilt—only that you received a copy of the citation.
  • Call attorney Steven Maltezos. Steve has offices located in both Tampa and St. Pete to serve clients in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, including Tampa, St. Pete, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Clearwater, Largo, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs and anywhere in the Tampa Bay Area,.

 

Get Help with Your Tampa Bay Region Traffic Tickets

Remember, points on your license add up—and they are expensive. They could also result in you losing your license. Don’t make the mistake of pleading guilty unnecessarily and failing to contest the ticket. Call Maltezos Law today.

Marijuana

States around the nation are legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal use and recreational use as well. Unfortunately, Florida is not among them.

Research has shown pot to be the least deadly of all commonly used recreational drugs, including the legal ones: tobacco and alcohol. In a report that appeared recently in Scientific Reports, researchers compared the dangers of some of the most commonly used drugs: tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, ecstasy, diazepam, methadone, and heroin. They found marijuana to be far and away the least dangerous of the bunch, with zero documented deaths in the history of the use of the herb.

Tobacco, on the other hand, kills around 480,000 people in the United States every year, and alcohol is responsible for another 88,000 deaths.

In spite of this knowledge, the Florida legislature has repeatedly declined to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana is still a crime in our state. If you are caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Larger amounts or possession with intent to sell can land you in prison.

Charges and Penalties

These are the potential charges and mandatory penalties for trafficking, cultivating, sale, and possession of marijuana in Florida for a first offense:

Trafficking in Marijuana

  • First Degree Felony with mandatory sentences as follows:
  • 25-2000 pounds: 3 years in prison and $25,000 in fines
  • 2000-10,000 pounds: 7 years in prison and $50,000 in fines
  • Over 10,000 pounds : 15 years in prison and $200,000 in fines

 

Sale or Cultivation of Marijuana

  • Sale of less than 20 grams without being paid: First Degree Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $1000 in fines
  • Sale of more than 20 grams up to 25 pounds: Third Degree Felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5000 in fines.

 

Possession of Marijuana

  • Less than 20 grams: First Degree Misdemeanor: up to a year in jail
  • Possession of more than 20 grams: Third Degree Felony: up to 5 years and up to $5000 in fines

All of these penalties will be enhanced if you have been caught and convicted of a marijuana charge in a school zone or if minors are involved. They will also be enhanced for second and subsequent offenses

Marijuana Defense in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and all of Central Florida

Marijuana is ubiquitous and many Floridians use it freely, thinking that the climate of tolerance for this seemingly innocuous drug has pervaded the nation. This is a big mistake. Regardless of how you or the majority of Americans feel about marijuana, and regardless of research revealing its relative harmlessness, Florida persists in making it a crime. If you are convicted on a marijuana charge in Florida, you will have a criminal record that will haunt you for the rest of your life. However unfair this may seem, it is the way the law works in the Sunshine State. But if you have a good defense attorney on your side, you may be able to avoid a conviction and the dire consequences that come with it.

In Tampa, St. Pete, Pinellas Park, Largo, Clearwater, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, and the whole of the Tampa Bay Area, a top choice for effective marijuana defense is attorney Stephen Maltezos. With offices in both Tampa and St. Petersburg serving Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, Steve is a passionate advocate for the accused who will fight with every legal tool available to avoid conviction whenever possible and to minimize the penalties by negotiating with prosecutors to reduce or dismiss your charges. He has a superb record of extremely favorable outcomes for his clients and will give you the benefit of his knowledge, experience, and deep commitment to protecting and defending the accused and safeguarding those whom he represents from violations of their constitutional rights.

Make the Call Now That Can Save Your Future

Don’t take a chance on trying to fight your charges on your own or with an overworked Public Defender. Call the law office of marijuana defense attorney Stephen Maltezos before you talk to the police or answer any of their questions. Steve is on call 24 hours a day, 2 days a week and will come to meet you where you are being held. Any delay in hiring a lawyer can worsen your situation, so make that call immediately to be assured of highly competent and deeply committed legal counsel when you need it.

Bond Reductions

If you’ve been arrested for a criminal offense in Florida, your first thought is usually to wonder how you’ll get out of jail. In most cases, before you can be released, the court will require you to post a bond for bail. This is an amount of money you put up to guarantee that you will show up for all of your required court appearances.

Posting Your Bond: the Bail Bondsman’s Fee in Florida

If you have plenty of cash on hand, you can post your own bond; however, most people work with a bail bondsman and put down a percentage of the total amount of the bond, and the bondsman pays the balance. In some cases, you may need to provide collateral in the form of real estate, jewelry, or other property of value. The bail bondsman’s fee is set by the State of Florida. Any bond amount from $1.00 up to $1,000.00 comes with a flat fee of $100. A bond amount above 1,000 has a fee of 10 percent of the total amount of the bond.

Your Bond Hearing

In order for the amount of bail to be determined, you will need to go before a judge for a bail hearing. The judge will take several factors into considerations, including the seriousness of the charges, your ties to the community, your financial means, the potential risk to others should you be allowed to go free, and how likely you are to flee the jurisdiction.

Of course, you want your bail to be set at the lowest possible amount, and certainly at an amount you and your family can handle. Because there are a number of variables, it is important to have an attorney representing you who understands how the system works and how a judge is likely to weigh the various factors when determining the amount of your bail. A good criminal defense attorney will be able file and argue a Motion to Reduce Bond showing that your close ties to the community and the type of charges against you make it unlikely that you will pose a danger to others or leave the jurisdiction. Or your attorney will argue that the amount requested by the prosecution is excessive, beyond your financial means, and a violation of your constitutional protection against excessive bail.

Experienced Legal Advocacy for Your Florida Bond Hearing in the Tampa Bay Area

When you hire defense attorney Stephen Maltezos to represent you at your Florida bond hearing, he will aggressively apply his considerable legal knowledge and experience in making a cogent argument for a lower bond. I some cases, he may be able to have you released on your own recognizance (an ROR bond).

Even if you are being held without bond, Steve will argue in your behalf for the court to set a reasonable bond or allow house arrest or electronic monitoring, so you do not have to remain in custody pending your trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a judge needs to articulate a “compelling governmental interest” for keeping a defendant in custody while awaiting trial by refusing to set bail. Having a skilled attorney show that no such interest exists can make the difference between freedom and incarceration during the time between your arrest and your trial.

Arguments in Support of Your Motion for Bond Reduction

As a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, Steve Maltezos knows the most effective techniques with which to approach a request for a bond reduction. These are a few of the arguments that, depending on your circumstances, he might raise as your attorney, in order to obtain a reduction in your bond:

  • You have strong ties to the community, including family, friends, employment, membership in religious or civic organizations, and so forth.
  • You are indigent or financially challenged and could not possibly raise the amount proposed.
  • You have no prior criminal record or no record of major violent offenses and do not pose a danger to the community.
  • The state has minimal evidence against you.
  • Your involvement in the alleged offense was at best peripheral.

Get the Help You Need When You Need a Bond Reduction

When you just have to get out of jail and need a bond that you can handle, call the law office of Tampa Bay attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve is a fighter who will put himself out to get you out of jail on a bond that is not beyond your means. Don’t wait—call now. Can you really tolerate another day (or hours) in jail?

Property Crimes

A property crime is one in which you have either deprived the rightful owner of his or her property or have damaged or destroyed property belonging to someone else without threat or physical coercion, which would move the act into the realm of violent crimes.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reports that the number of property crimes has increased significantly in the past two decades, by more than 40 percent, roughly paralleling the increase in population in that same period.

If you or a member of your family has been charged with a property crime, the severity of the charge and potential penalties will depend on the value of the stolen, destroyed, or damaged property. Charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, with penalties reflecting the level of the crime.

Types of Property Crimes in Florida

These are some types of property crimes that occur frequently in Florida:

  • Criminal mischief or vandalism
  • Arson (if there are no people in the burned building)
  • Theft crimes: grand theft, petit theft, retail theft (shoplifting), employee theft
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Dealing in stolen property
  • Scheme to defraud
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Trespass
  • Burglary (unarmed) of an unoccupied vehicle or structure

 

Even if the amount involved is low enough to be charged as a misdemeanor, theft crimes are considered “crimes of moral turpitude” and can have serious negative consequences to your reputation, your immigration status, or your ability to obtain certain professional licenses. If the amount was large enough for you to be charged with a felony, you could be facing a year or more in prison. Follow the links above to learn more about each of the property crimes listed above, along with the possible penalties associated with them.`

 

Quality Legal Representation When Facing Property Crime Charges in Central Florida

 

Being convicted of a crime can impact your freedom, your finances, and your reputation. You need quality, aggressive legal assistance from an experienced and committed Florida criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing property crime charges in the Tampa Bay area or anywhere in Central Florida, you’ll find that high level representation when you call the law offices of attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve is a passionate, aggressive, and savvy criminal defense attorney who takes every case he accepts very personally. Unlike with some large law firms or the public defender’s office where you are little more than a case number, Steve gives every case he accepts his personal, focused attention. He cares about your rights, your freedom, and your future and will not rest until he has secured the best outcome available under the law, given the circumstances of your case. A former Hillsborough County prosecutor, he has achieved excellent results having charges reduced or dismissed entirely, as well as successfully defending his clients at trial.

 

Don’t Delay: Call Now

If you are facing the dire consequences that may come with a Florida property crime conviction, don’t delay in calling Stephen Maltezos for the advocacy that can save the quality of your life moving forward. Steve has offices in Tampa and St. Petersburg and accepts cases in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and elsewhere in Central Florida. He is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Exercise your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent. Call any time, regardless of the hour.

 

Don’t take a chance with your future because you’re worried about the cost of a private attorney. It will cost you much more to lose your freedom and ability to earn a living if you are convicted. Steve keeps his fees reasonable and offers payment plans that anyone can afford, so pick up the phone and call now.

Arrest Warrant

Life can be extremely stressful and insecure if a judge has issued a warrant against you. It’s like having the mythological Sword of Damocles hanging over your head threatening to fall, wherever you go and whatever you do. A bench warrant or arrest warrant can be executed at any time. You could be picked up in your home, on the job, at school, at church, or during a routine traffic stop. You may not even be aware that a judge has issued a warrant for your arrest; but if you do know about it, you should contact a lawyer about how to handle the situation, before an embarrassing arrest occurs. If you are picked up on a warrant, your first call should be to a good criminal defense attorney.

What Exactly is a Warrant?

A warrant is simply a document signed by a judge that authorizes law enforcement officials to act is a particular way, generally either to arrest you or to search your vehicle or dwelling for evidence that you committed a crime.

Bench Warrant

If you don’t show up in court on the date and time you are required to appear on a traffic ticket, or if you have fallen into arrears on your court-ordered child support payments, a judge may issue a bench warrant that will allow police to pick you up and force your appearance. A bench warrant is often the result or an error or oversight on your part: you forgot about a court date, or something interfered with your arriving at court on time. If it can be shown that your failure to appear was intentional, however, you could be charged with a crime. To avoid criminal charges being filed in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties in the Tampa Bay Area, call the law offices of criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve will contact the court, reschedule the date for you to appear, and try to have the warrant lifted, thereby avoiding the embarrassment of an arrest in front of family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers.

Arrest Warrant

Although it is similar to a bench warrant, a judge may only issue an arrest warrant after a law enforcement officer has presented a signed supporting affidavit showing probable cause that you committed some criminal act, and stating the reasons why you should be arrested.

An arrest warrant may be requested and issued when there is reason to believe that you have committed a felony, if you have violated your probation, or if you failed to appear in court on a criminal matter. With the arrest warrant, the judge sets a bond amount—or not. In other words, at the judge’s discretion, you can be denied the right to be released from jail on a bond. The judge’s decision will depend on the circumstances, including the seriousness of the charge, your prior criminal record, and your ties to the community. This is a case where a good criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable. In the Tampa Bay Area, when you hire attorney Stephen Maltezos to represent you, he will argue to have you released on bond or will request a lower, more appropriate, and more affordable bond.

If you had a valid reason for missing your scheduled court appearance, Steve will present your case and ask for removal of the warrant with a Motion to Vacate, and then he will schedule a new court date for you. You will usually fare much better if you are proactive in hiring an attorney to help you straighten out the problem, rather than waiting to be arrested.

Extradition from Another State on an Outstanding Warrant

If you are living in another state and there is a warrant out for your arrest in Florida, you could potentially be extradited from your current location and made to return to Florida. In some cases, a good criminal defense lawyer can have that warrant withdrawn, sparing you the need to appear personally to resolve the issue. If you have a warrant for non-payment of some fee or other financial obligation, for a traffic offense, a misdemeanor, or a non-violent felony, especially if the case is old, Tampa Bay attorney Stephen Maltezos may be able to handle the situation for you without your having to travel to Florida. If you know or discover that there is a warrant out for you, it is always better to get an attorney to handle it for you, rather than waiting for an embarrassing arrest and possible extradition. Depending the circumstances, Steve may be able to work out a dismissal of the underlying charges or to resolve the matter with a minimal penalty.

Get the Legal Assistance You Need when a Warrant in Hanging over Your Head

If you are the subject of a bench warrant or arrest warrant in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, of elsewhere in Central Florida, don’t wait until the proverbial sword falls. Call the law offices of Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer Stephen Maltezos. Steve is a tough and vigorous advocate who hangs in there like a pit bull until he has obtained the best resolution the law allows for every one of his clients.

You can’t find a better, more dedicated, or more aggressive criminal defense attorney in Florida, so pick up the phone and make that call today. Steve has offices in Tampa and St. Pete, and he can also travel to meet you if you’re in custody or can’t make it to his office for any reason.

Scheme to Defraud

White collar crimes, especially, have received a great deal of media attention in recent years, including various types of fraud, such as Ponzi schemes, corporate accounting fraud, investment fraud, and many others. Although they are non-violent crimes, fraud schemes have the potential to destroy lives and are taken very seriously by Florida’s criminal justice system as well as by the federal Department of Justice. Depending on the amount of money involved, penalties can be as severe as life in prison, in addition to restitution and large fines.

What is a Scheme to Defraud?

In Florida law, a Scheme to Defraud is defined by these elements:

  • A systematic, ongoing course of conduct or series of acts;
  • The intent to defraud or obtain property or something of value from someone;
  • The use of false or fraudulent pretenses, promises, representations, willful misrepresentations of some future act.

A fraud conviction not only has the potential to deprive you of your freedom and assets, it is likely to destroy your career, your reputation, and your social standing. You will need to take every possible step to fight the charges and avoid being convicted.

Common Types of Fraud

Schemes to defraud come in many forms. Allegations of fraud may occur in the course of your employment, or they may involve targeting a large number of people through telemarketing or the Internet. These are some common types of fraud:

  • Mortgage fraud
  • Investment fraud
  • Occupational fraud
  • Communications fraud
  • Insurance fraud
  • Telemarketing fraud
  • Internet fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Prescription drug fraud

Aggressive Defense against Fraud Scheme Charges

Just because you have been charged with fraud does not make it a foregone conclusion that you’ll be convicted. As with any criminal charges, you have the right to be presumed innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor bears the burden of proof. Your attorney will determine the best defense for you considering the circumstances of your case and will show where the prosecutor has failed to meet that burden. Potential defenses against fraud may include, among others:

  • Mistaken identification of you as the responsible party
  • Errors in police procedure
  • Entrapment
  • Lack of intent to defraud

The Complex Nature of Fraud Crimes

Crimes involving fraud are often extremely complex by their very nature and made even more so by the use of modern technology and communications. If you have been accused of being involved in a fraud scheme, you will need a highly sophisticated criminal defense attorney with experience in these complicated matters, along with the resources and connections to bring on board top forensic accountants and others, such as computer and electronics experts, to assist with your defense.

In the Tampa Bay area of Florida, the expert help you need when facing allegations of fraud can be found at the Maltezos Law Firm. As a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, attorney Stephen Maltezos knows the judges, the prosecutors, and the inner workings of Florida’s criminal justice system. He is well known for his passionate, tireless, and aggressive representation of the accused and his commitment to the constitutional rights of every client he defends.

If you are facing allegations of having committed fraud, you have a great deal to lose. Having the right attorney on your side can relieve much of the stress and anxiety that comes with a criminal charge. At the first hint that you are being accused of wrongdoing, call the Maltezos Law Firm, with offices in Tampa and St. Petersburg. In some situations, Steve may be able to prevent charges being filed at all. If charges are filed, you can be assured that he will explore every avenue in developing a persuasive defense and will bring his considerable experience, skill, and creative thinking to bear in order to preserve your freedom, your reputation, and your options for the future.

Firearm, Gun, Weapon charges

More people than ever before are facing weapons charges involving guns in Florida. Since the “stand your ground” law was passed by the Florida legislature in 2005, essentially allowing anyone who feels threatened to shoot, gun ownership began to spike. With the increase in gun ownership came an increase in gun crimes, including homicides. Murders involving firearms increased by more than 200 in the two years following the enactment of the law. As of 2011, the homicide rate in Florida had already increased by 38 percent. Three out of four homicides in Florida are done with firearms. State legislators have put harsh punishments in place for those gun owners who fail to behave responsibly.

It is easy to be confused by Florida’s gun laws. On the one hand, gun laws are very liberal, and Florida is a state that favors the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms. Restrictions on ownership and carrying of guns are relatively few. Open carry of firearms is allowed in certain situations, including attending a gun show or shooting event, hunting, fishing, and traveling to and from these events and activities. Florida issues concealed carry permits in large numbers, with about 1.4 million Floridians holding them, more than any other state in the nation. Many others carry unpermitted weapons, which is illegal.

In spite of its apparently easy going attitude toward gun ownership, Florida nevertheless has strict weapons laws and provides serious consequences for those who violate them.

If you have been charged with a weapons offense involving a firearm in Florida, you have much to fear from the state’s criminal justice system. The State Attorney’s Office in Florida has a specialized gun unit of prosecutors who are specifically trained to focus on obtaining convictions in gun crime cases. You will need to obtain skilled legal representation of your own from an experienced criminal defense attorney to give you a fair shake when facing these serious charges and aggressive prosecutors. In the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, you can find the skilled, aggressive, and high quality representation that will give you the best possible results when you’re facing a gun crime charge in Tampa Bay by calling the law firm of criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos.
Common Gun-related Charges in Florida

The most common ways to run afoul of Florida’s gun laws include carrying a gun without having the required permit and using a firearm while committing a crime. This is a list of some of the most frequently charged weapons crimes in Florida:

  • Possessing a firearm if you are a convicted felon
  • Openly carrying or exhibiting a gun or other deadly weapon in circumstances where it is forbidden by law
  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit
  • Committing an aggravated assault, aggravated battery, burglary, kidnapping, or domestic violence with a firearm or other deadly weapon
  • Armed possession or trafficking in illegal drugs
  • Firing a weapon in a residential area or populated public place
  • Shooting deadly missiles

 

Florida’s Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Felonies in Which a Firearm is Used: 10-20-Life

Florida law dictates mandatory minimum sentences when a gun is used in the commission of a felony:

  • 10 years minimum for carrying a firearm
  • 20 years minimum mandatory for discharging a firearm
  • 25 years minimum up to life in prison if someone is injured or killed by a firearm

If you are facing felony charges involving a firearm, your life and freedom are on the line. Get the help you need from a savvy criminal defense lawyer such as Stephen Maltezos, an experienced, skilled, and aggressive criminal defense attorney practicing in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and the surrounding area of West Central Florida. In these high stakes cases, you have too much to lose to settle for an overworked Public Defender. You need an attorney who can focus on your case and your needs, and who has the time, the resources, and the intense commitment to obtaining the best resolution for you. Steve Maltezos is a fighter, with a superior record of having charges dismissed or reduced and preserving the freedom of his clients.

With the law making it easy for nearly anyone to own, carry, and even shoot a firearm in certain circumstances, while imposing harsh mandatory sentences for any violation of the liberal laws that do exist, it is easy to understand why some people experience confusion about what they may and may not do with a gun in their possession, and what behaviors can get them arrested for a weapons crime. If you are carrying a gun and get involved in an argument or disagreement with another person in which tempers are flaring, you might feel compelled to produce the weapon simply for effect. Or you might feel threatened by another person and feel you are merely “standing your ground,” acting in self-defense, when the perceived threat did not meet a standard that would be deemed sufficient cause for shooting another person under Florida’s laws. Because Florida’s gun laws may seem somewhat vague, confusing and open to interpretation, and because the penalties are harsh and mandatory if you are convicted, it is essential that you have a very strong criminal defense attorney advocating for you, or you could easily end up in prison for many years.

 

A Criminal Defense Attorney Who Is Focused on You

You may qualify financially to have a Public Defender represent you. But if you are facing the serious penalties that come with a gun or other deadly weapon conviction, do yourself a favor and pass. Get your own private criminal defense attorney, one who is fully committed to your best interests. Sure, a private attorney is more expensive than a PD, but having your own lawyer usually pays many times over in the long run. Steve Maltezos offers a free initial consultation, and he will arrange a payment schedule that you can afford. The important thing is preserving your freedom and avoiding the destruction of your life as you know it, should you become a convicted felon.

Experienced Criminal Defense for St. Pete, Tampa and the Surrounding Area

If you or a member of your family is facing a Florida weapons charge in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties or elsewhere in West Central Florida, particularly one involving a firearm, call the law offices of attorney Steve Maltezos. Give yourself a fighting chance with an aggressive legal advocate who will take your dilemma as seriously as if you were a member of his own family. Steve is a street lawyer who will never walk away from a fight, never give less than his best, and never avoid going to trial if that is what’s best for you. He is a pit bull in the courtroom and out, never relenting until has achieved an outcome you can live with, whether by having charges reduced or dismissed or achieving an acquittal for you at trial.

Steve Maltezos has offices in St. Pete and Tampa, or if you’re in police custody, he can travel to wherever you are, at any hour of the day or night. Your future matters; call Maltezos Law today.

Forgery

If you have been accused of faking or altering a document or a signature, you could be facing forgery charges in Florida. Forgery is a Third Degree Felony. To be convicted, however, the prosecution must not only prove that you altered or faked the document in some way, but also that you did it with the intent to defraud someone, or to harm that person in some way. Even if you did not actually defraud or harm anyone, intending to do so could result in a conviction. For example, in Florida, if you have in your possession ten or more checks with forged signatures, that would be considered as proof of your intent to defraud.

These are just a few examples of the actions that might be prosecuted as forgery:

  • Making out a check from someone else’s account to yourself and falsifying the signature
  • Altering your university transcripts to show higher grades, or courses you never took, in order to obtain employment.
  • Creating and displaying a diploma or other credential you never earned
  • Creating and using a fake boarding pass or ticket to obtain free transportation
  • Creating and using a fake ticket for an event
  • Creating and submitting false pay records showing a lower income to qualify for food stamps or other public assistance
  • Creating and submitting false pay records showing a higher income to qualify to a loan or housing
  • Obtaining a loan by signing another person’s name on a promissory note

 

Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting is similar and involves the manufacturing knock-offs or fake items that look like the original high quality item, but are in fact cheap, low quality imitations. Whereas forgery applies to a wide variety of faked documents, counterfeiting generally applies to trademarked merchandise. Counterfeited merchandise typically displays logos or labels of the higher cost item. Counterfeiting is also the term applied to manufacturing and passing fake currency.

Uttering a Forged Instrument

In addition, in Florida it is a crime to “utter” or offer, a forged instrument. So if someone else forged a check, for example, but you attempted to use that forged check to purchase something, knowing it had been forged, you could be convicted of “uttering,” which is a separate charge related to forgery.

Penalties for a Florida Forgery or Counterfeiting Conviction

Penalties for a forgery conviction in Florida include:

  • As long as five years in prison
  • As much as five years of probation
  • As much as $5,000 in fines

If you are caught trying to sell counterfeit goods, the goods will be seized and forfeited, and you can be fined up to three times their value. You may also be required to pay restitution to the trademark owner. Counterfeiting charges, and whether you have prior offenses. Charges range from a First Degree Misdemeanor to a First Degree Felony. Counterfeiting of goods valued at more than $2,500 or of medicines or other items that cause an injury or death as a result of using them could potentially result in significantly enhanced penalties.

In addition to the likelihood of your going to prison if convicted, going through the remainder of your life as a convicted felon is no walk in the park. You will run into obstacles every time you need to undergo a background check to obtain employment, housing, or funding for education. Your reputation will be destroyed, and you will lose your right to vote, own a gun, or hold political office.

Elements Required for a Conviction on a Forgery or Counterfeiting Charge

In order for the state to obtain a conviction on a forgery charge, the prosecution must prove:

  • That you created, altered, forged, or counterfeited a document or other written instrument
  • That you represented the instrument as having been executed by another individual or entity
  • That the document of instrument has some kind of legal significance or efficacy
  • That your intent was to harm or defraud some person or entity person, regardless of whether or not the intent was actually carried out

If you are accused of counterfeiting, on the other hand, it is not necessary to prove intent to defraud. Simply proving that you copied or altered money or trademarked items is sufficient to obtain a conviction.

Defenses to Forgery Charges

Being charged with forgery is a frightening and anxiety-provoking experience, but with an excellent criminal defense lawyer working for you, you can often avoid the worst of these consequences, and you may even achieve a full acquittal. Your lawyer will investigate the circumstances of the accusation and analyze the prosecution’s case for weaknesses that can be used to your benefit, raising defenses that will tend to create a doubt as to your guilt. These are some possible defenses:

  • You lacked the intent to injure or defraud anyone.
  • You were not aware that the instrument or document was forged.
  • The instrument or document had no legal significance.
  • The instrument or document was one that could not be taken seriously by a rational person and was obviously meant as a joke, for example a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge.

In the case of counterfeiting, possible defenses include:

  • The purported trademark owner obtained the trademark fraudulently or abandoned it.
  • The goods in question were overruns or “grey market” goods.

Getting the Help You Need If You’ve Been Accused of Forgery or Counterfeiting in Florida

Because of the seriousness of these charges and their potential negative impact on your life, it is absolutely essential to obtain quality legal counsel. In the Tampa Bay Area, including Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties and all of West Central Florida, contact criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve has offices in St. Petersburg and Tampa, and is available around the clock. Call him any time. He is an aggressive, experienced, and impassioned advocate who is committed to defending the rights of the accused and obtaining the best available outcome for every client he represents.

Don’t go it alone or take a chance with an overworked Public Defender. You need a lawyer who will focus on your case and fight vigorously for you to salvage your freedom and preserve your options for the future. You need attorney Stephen Maltezos on your side. Call now.

Driving While License Suspended or Revoked

Driver License Suspension and Driving on a Suspended License in Florida

Having your driver’s license suspended or revoked can be devastating to your life. Getting caught driving after your license has been taken from you is even worse. Realistically, a large proportion of people who have lost their driving privileges—about two of every three according to some estimates—continue to drive anyway, because they can’t earn a living and take care of their responsibilities without having transportation. But If you’ve had to face the loss of your Florida driver’s license and have been caught driving, you are facing serious charges and potentially harsh penalties.

Reasons Your Florida License Could Be Suspended

In a given year in Florida, nearly 700,000 people have their driver’s licenses suspended. Some suspensions are driving related, such as:

  • DUI
  • Refusing a Breathalyzer
  • Failing the vision test
  • Being found physically or mentally incapable of driving safely

Others are not driving-related at all. For example, you can lose your license for:

  • Missing a court date for some other offence
  • Failing to pay a traffic ticket
  • Falling into arrears on your child support payments
  • Owing back taxes
  • Failing to pay court fees
  • Writing a bad check
  • Bringing a weapon onto school grounds
  • Being charged with a drug-related offense that does not involve a car
  • Failing to attend school if you are a minor (can cause your future driving privileges to be suspended)

Consequences of a Suspended License

Regardless of the reason your license has been suspended, not being able to drive will bring your life to a grinding halt in a state that has very few good quality public transportation options. If you can’t drive, how will you get to work? If you can’t get to work, how will you pay the fines or the child support arrears which caused you to lose your license in the first place? In some cases, your attorney can get you a hardship license, but if you owe fines or back child support, you’ll need to pay up first.  What if you can’t?

There are many who believe that these suspensions, considering the dire consequences of losing your license in a state where so few alternative transportation options exist, are a draconian punishment that accomplishes little more than making the poor poorer and driving others who are struggling to keep their heads above water into poverty.

Because losing your driving privileges was keeping you from being able to obtain the basics that you need to live —food, clothing and shelter—by denying you the ability to earn a living, you may have chosen to drive anyway. And you may have been caught. Being caught driving on a suspended or revoked license can only compound the problems of a suspension, so if you’ve been pulled over and charged, you need a very good lawyer to represent you. Do not attempt to fight the charge on your own. If you lose, it can only accelerate your downward spiral into poverty, and it may even land you in jail. Depending on how many times you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, you could even end up as a convicted felon!

Penalties for Driving on a Revoked or Suspended License in Florida

  • If it is your first or second offense, it will be charged as a misdemeanor and could get you up to 60 days in jail and a fine of as much as $500.
  • A third offense can be charged as a felony. It can get you up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000
  • Your suspension period may also be extended.

Other Consequences to Your Life

Many people don’t realize just how seriously Florida takes the offense of driving on a suspended license and how it can destroy your life. A felony record can close many doors and result in denial of professional licenses, loss of civil rights, and difficulty obtaining housing and funding for educational opportunities.

The Need for a Good Defense Lawyer for Florida Driver’s License Suspension Cases

The system is unfairly stacked against people with financial challenges. So if you are facing charges for driving without a valid license, you may feel that you can’t afford to hire a good attorney, and you may be tempted to accept the services of a public defender. This is often a serious mistake. PDs simply don’t have enough time to focus on any one case, because they are notoriously overworked and over extended, often being responsible for several hundred cases at a time. Before settling for a PD, call the law offices attorney Stephen Maltezos and get yourself the quality of legal representation that your situation requires.

Experience and Passion for Your Rights and Your Future Make a Difference

Steve Maltezos is a former Hillsborough County DUI prosecutor who understands the system from an insider’s perspective and will give you the top-notch legal representation that can salvage your life. He will work with you on the legal fees, arranging a payment schedule that you can afford. He understands how important it is for you to have an aggressive and committed advocate to fight in your behalf. No good will come to you or to Florida if you lose your job or go to jail, and Steve will work tirelessly to diminish the negative consequences you’re facing.

Free Initial Consultation for Driving Without a Valid License in Tampa Bay and Beyond

So if you’ve been pulled over and charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license in Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater, Largo, or anywhere in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties, pick up the phone now, regardless of the hour, and Steve Maltezos will be there to protect your rights and will work to achieve an outcome that will allow you to move on with your life, without unnecessary obstacles to your success and well-being. Your first consultation is entirely free of charge.

Trespass

Maltezos Trespass Defense in Florida

Florida’s trespass laws can be confusing. If you’ve been accused of criminal trespass, chances are that you have questions about how the accusation came about, especially if you had no intention of committing a crime and believed that you were on the property legally. You may be surprised that you were even arrested, and may wonder if it was valid. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to be wrongly arrested for trespass, so you will need to discuss the circumstances of your arrest in detail with your attorney, as ambiguities about permission and notice occur frequently.

Definition of Trespass in Florida Law

Trespass is defined as going on property belonging to someone else or staying on someone else’s property without the owner’s permission, whether express or implied, when you have been given notice that you may not be (or stay) there. In Florida, the trespass statutes cover four types of property: structures, conveyances, schools, and land. A structure is any kind of building or dwelling, and a conveyance is a car, truck, bus, ship, railroad car, trailer, aircraft, or any means of transport.

Notice is essential. You are not a mind reader, after all! So before anyone can accuse you of trespassing, they must either make it clear that you are not welcome and that the owner desires that you a.) refrain from entering the property or b.) leave the property (if you are already there). How notice is required to be given will vary according to the type of property involved.

Making a mistake and accidentally coming onto someone else’s property does not qualify as trespassing.

No Reason is Required to Kick Someone Off Your Property in Florida

In Florida, the owner of a property that is open to the public can ask anyone to leave, without giving a reason. So it sometimes happens that if you are simply complaining about service or are involved in the most insignificant disagreement with the owner of a business, they can tell you to leave for no other reason than they don’t want to hear about it! If you have been asked to leave a store, mall, bar, restaurant, theme park, or other property and fail to go, regardless of whether the request seems fair or not, the owner can detain you until the police arrive. But they must first give you the chance to comply.

Charges and Penalties for Trespass in a Structure or Conveyance

Trespassing in a structure or conveyance is typically a second degree misdemeanor. However, if there is a person in the building or conveyance, regardless of whether you were aware of the fact or not, the charge can be bumped up to a first degree misdemeanor. If you were armed at the time, trespass can be charged as a third degree felony.

If charged as a second degree misdemeanor, the penalties may include:

  • As much as 60 days in jail.
  • Up to six 6 months probation
  • Fines of up to $500.

If the charges are upped to a first degree misdemeanor for an occupied conveyance or structure, a conviction can get you:

  • A jail sentence of up to 12 months
  • Up to 12 months of probation
  • Fines of up to $1,000

Trespass on School Grounds

If you go onto school property without a valid reason, and if you remain after being asked to leave, you can be accused of criminal trespass on school grounds. This includes the campus, school busses and school owned vehicles, other property owned by the school, and even off-campus events sponsored by a school. Trespassing on School Grounds is a First Degree Misdemeanor, with the penalties listed above.

Enhanced Penalties for Felony Trespass

If you were armed or if the property was a domestic violence shelter, construction site, agricultural research or test site, facility where agricultural chemicals are manufactured, you could -be charged with a Third Degree Felony, with possible penalties of:

  • Five years in jail.
  • Five years of probation.
  • $5,000 in fines

Potential Defenses to Trespass Charges in Florida

There are many variables to the situations that sometimes lead to trespass charges in Florida. It is important to have an attorney who completely understands the nuances of Florida’s trespass laws to represent you if you are to avoid a criminal conviction. These are some possible defenses your lawyer might raise in your behalf:

  • The property was open to the public.
  • The owner consented to your being on the property.
  • You stumbled onto the property by accident.
  • You were not given notice or notice was not posted correctly.
  • You were invited onto the property, either actually or by implication.
  • You were not asked to leave the property.
  • The person who asked you to leave had no authority to deny or withdraw permission to be there.
  • You received conflicting communications as to whether you were allowed on the property.
  • You have an ownership interest in the property.
  • You have an easement right to enter the property.
  • You entered the property to prevent a disaster or serious bodily harm against another person.
  • You entered the property to request the return of your personal property.

 

The Legal Advocacy You Need in the Tampa Bay Area

If you are facing an accusation of trespassing, you will need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney helping to prepare and present your case if you are to avoid the damaging consequences of a conviction. In the Tampa-St. Pete area, you can get the aggressive and knowledgeable legal defense that will produce the best possible results in your particular case, and potentially spare you from jail time and from having to go through life carrying the stigma of a criminal conviction. Call Steve immediately if you’ve been arrested, and he will come to meet you and stand beside you, protecting your legal rights and working to preserve your freedom.

Aggravated assault

In Florida, the crime of assault occurs when someone threatens to do bodily harm to another. It does not require going through with the threat or even making the slightest physical contact, as long as the person making the threat appears capable of carrying it out and the person on the receiving end of the threat has a well founded fear of imminent harm.
If you have been accused of any degree of assault, you are facing an uncertain future with possible jail time if you are convicted; but if you have been accused of aggravated assault, you are in an even more precarious position.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Simple assault is a misdemeanor in Florida, but if you throw a deadly weapon into the picture, or if the assault takes place in the course of committing another serious crime, it’s a whole different ballgame. In these cases, even if no one is hurt, you can be charged with a third degree felony—aggravated assault, which is a very serious crime with mandatory enhanced penalties. A deadly weapon is anything capable of doing serious bodily harm, and can even be a pocket knife or a piece of broken glass used in a threatening manner. Aggravated assault by itself is a third degree felony that can get you sent away for as long as five years in a Florida state prison. If the victim of the aggravated assault was a police officer, firefighter, or EMT, the charge is elevated from a third degree felony to a second degree felony, with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years.

Aggravated Assault with a Firearm

If the “deadly weapon” involved was a firearm, or worse, a machine gun or semiautomatic weapon, you could potentially be facing a mandatory sentence of from three to twenty years in prison, depending on the type of weapon and whether or not it was discharged.

Your Future Is at Risk!

With the daunting specter of a felony charge hanging over your head, you are undoubtedly in fear for your future, and rightfully so. Not only are you at a high risk of going to prison, your entire future is in jeopardy. A convicted felon faces many obstacles to living a productive and comfortable life, which goes far beyond the years spent behind bars. You will be stripped of your civil rights, no longer able to vote or hold public office, and you will be forbidden from owning a gun. You will have serious difficulty obtaining any type of quality employment and may find yourself denied housing by both private landlords and public housing projects. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you could be deported. You may hope to turn your life around by pursuing educational opportunities to learn a new trade or earn a degree, only to be denied admission to the program you are seeking or, if you are admitted, to be denied the financial aid you need. Our society does not make it easy for those who have made the mistake of being convicted of a felony to rehabilitate themselves and get their lives back on track.

You Need Focused, Committed, and Experienced Legal Defense

Spending the remainder of your life carrying the stigma of a felony conviction is something to be avoided at any cost. You will need to retain an aggressive criminal defense attorney who is thoroughly committed to serving your best interests. Whatever you do, regardless of whether you qualify financially, do not take a chance with an overworked Public Defender. You need to have a lawyer with the time, ability, and commitment to focus on your case and to do everything legally possible to protect you from the consequences of a conviction.

Aggressive Defense against Aggravated Assault Charges in West Central Florida

If you are anywhere in the West Central Florida area and have been accused of Aggravated Assault, you can get the high quality legal help by calling criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve takes every case he accepts very personally—every bit as personally as if you were a member of his own family. He is smart, aggressive, and creative in analyzing the circumstances of your arrest and finding weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that he can use to your benefit. He has a superior record of having charges dismissed or reduced, as well as obtaining acquittals for his clients at trial. Most importantly, he is a lawyer who is willing to roll up his sleeves and fight for you, to give you the opportunity to live your life unhindered by the obstacles that a felony conviction would create.

Steve Maltezos is not about expensive suits, fancy cars, and high end office space. He’s about you, your life, and your future. He is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so he’s always there for you when you need him. When you hire Steve, you have an advocate who never stops until he has obtained the best possible outcome for you, one that in most cases will allow you to move forward with your life and achieve your dreams and goals, without the stigma of a felony conviction on your record.
Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and call Stephen Maltezos immediately if you’ve been arrested. The sooner you bring him on board, the better he will be able to protect your rights and your future.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Defense in Florida

Relationships are not easy. There are times in nearly every domestic relationship when arguments erupt, feelings are hurt, and disagreements turn ugly. Unfortunately, these situations can sometimes lead to violence. But they can also lead to false accusations of violence as a form of retaliation for some real or perceived slight.

Defining Domestic Violence in Florida

In Florida law, the term “domestic violence” does not refer to a specific act; it is, rather, a term that describes the context in which a violent act occurs that enables the prosecution to pursue enhanced penalties. A crime such as assault, aggravated assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment, stalking or other act that results in injury, if it occurs in a domestic relationship, is viewed in the eyes of the law as being more serious than if it had occurred outside of a family or other domestic situation, and the potential penalties reflect that view.

What is a “Domestic Relationship” According to Florida’s Domestic Violence Law?

Whereas there was once a time when most domestic relationships were confined to the nuclear family—a married couple and their children, today these relationships are much more fluid. The Florida Domestic Violence Statute defines domestic relationships to include:

  • Your spouse
  • Your former spouse
  • Anyone in your household to whom you’re related—either by blood or marriage
  • Anyone with whom you are residing as if a family
  • Anyone with whom you have resided in the past as if a family
  • The other parent of your child, whether or not you live together or have ever been married

Why Domestic Crimes Are Different

Crimes that occur within domestic relationships are especially difficult, because:

  • An emotional relationship underscores the violence.
  • Domestic violence is highly politicized, and this is reflected in current laws.
  • Penalties are more severe than if the alleged act were committed outside of a domestic relationship.
  • You can have immediate penalties against you without due process.
  • Even if you enter into a plea agreement that results in withholding of adjudication, your domestic violence record can never be expunged in Florida.

 

If the police are called out on any domestic violence matter, if there is any credible evidence that the incident occurred, they have no discretion as to how they will handle it. They must make an arrest, even if your accuser recants the accusation. You will be held in jail without bond until your first appearance before a judge, which should occur within 48 hours but could be longer if you were arrested on a weekend. A judge may issue a temporary restraining order or a protective injunction and can remove you from your home based solely on the word of your accuser, and you may be denied contact with your children—all without you having your day in court! (You will have it eventually, but for now, you’re out of luck.) Additionally, you will have to surrender any firearm you own during the entire of the legal process and if you are convicted, permanently.

 

Domestic Violence Penalties if You Are Convicted

In addition to the standard penalties for the crime you are charged with, with the added charge of “domestic violence” you will be required to spend a minimum of five days in jail, complete a 29 week long domestic violence prevention course at your expense, and permanently lose your right to own a gun. You may be permanently removed from your home and forbidden contact with the alleged victim of the violence as well as contact with your children. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may be deported. And even if you entered a plea of no contest in exchange for withheld adjudication to avoid a conviction, your record can never be expunged in Florida.

Protect Yourself, Your Reputation, and Your Family by Hiring a Skilled Domestic Violence Lawyer

A domestic violence charge will destroy your reputation and has the potential to tear your family apart. Remember, the state can proceed with the charges, even if the person who accused you thinks better of it and recants the accusation. And without the ability to have your record expunged, the charge will follow you for the rest of your life. You need a good domestic violence defense attorney to help you present your case in such a way as to avoid a conviction or a permanent record when adjudication has been withheld.

Legal Representation for Domestic Violence Charges in the Tampa Bay Area

In the Tampa Bay area, call attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve understands the emotional elements that can complicate domestic matters and obscure the truth. He is well aware of the potential for false allegations of domestic violence, which are sometimes the result of disagreements on parenting issues, child custody disputes, infidelity, divorce proceedings, hurt feelings, spite, retaliation, alcohol or drug abuse, or the accuser’s mental health problems.

Steve will examine the circumstances surrounding the accusation and your arrest. He will look closely for errors in police procedure, potential reasons for a false accusation, and any other evidence that can lead to a dismissal of charges, a reduction of charges, or a full acquittal at trial. If you bring him on board early on, he may, in some cases, be able to avoid having charges filed at all.

If you live in West Central Florida and are facing domestic violence charges, your first call should be to criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos. He has offices in St. Pete and Tampa and can come to meet you wherever you are being held, regardless of the hour.

Aggravated Battery

Maltezos Aggravated Battery

If you are alleged to have intentionally touched or struck another person against that person’s will, or if you intentionally caused bodily harm to someone else, you could be charged with simple battery, a misdemeanor. But if you intentionally caused serious injury or “great bodily harm” to the other person, such as a permanent or severe disability or disfigurement, if you used a deadly weapon, or if you knew or should have known that the alleged victim was pregnant, or in some cases if the alleged victim was a member of one of certain protected classes (a law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS techs, public transit operator or security personnel) operator), you could be facing enhanced charges of Aggravated Battery, a Second Degree Felony, which could potentially result in a prison sentence of as long as fifteen years! The minimum mandatory sentence for an Aggravated Assault conviction is 21 months and a fine of $10,000.

Get Quality Legal Representation Early On

If you have reason to believe that someone is planning to accuse you of Aggravated Battery, or if you have been questioned or arrested, you need to call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The stakes are extremely high when you’ve been accused of a violent crime, and if you’re convicted, the consequences will follow you for the rest of your life, far beyond any prison sentence you may receive. A conviction for Aggravated Battery can never be sealed or expunged. Most employers will not hire a convicted felon, especially someone who has been convicted of a violent crime like Aggravated Battery. Nor do landlords want to rent to those with felony convictions. Not only that, a felony conviction will strip you of your right to participate in government and may interfere with your attempts to further your education. And of course the social consequences and damage to your reputation will also be serious obstacles to a normal life, when it is known that you have been convicted of a violent felony.

In the Tampa-St. Pete area, a good choice for aggressive and experienced legal representation when you’re facing battery charges is criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve has offices conveniently located in both St. Petersburg and Tampa, and he will also come to you wherever you are, any hour of the day or night.

Penalties for Aggravated Battery in Florida

In most cases, Aggravated Battery is a Second Degree Felony. If convicted you are potentially facing up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, unless you used a firearm, in which case enhancements can put you in even more jeopardy, with minimum mandatory sentences required by law:

  • If you had a firearm at the time of the incident, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
  • If the firearm was discharged, the minimum sentence is 15 years.
  • If the firearm was a semi automatic weapon or machine gun, but was not discharged, the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years.
  • If a semi automatic or machine gun was discharged, the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years in prison.
  • If death or great bodily harm resulted from the firearm discharge, the mandatory minimum is 25 years.

Defenses to Aggravated Battery Charges

Your lawyer will examine the evidence and the circumstances surrounding the incident in order to determine the best defense strategy for you. These are some possible defenses that may be available to you, depending on the situation:

  • You were wrongly identified as the batterer.
  • You acted in self defense or “stood your ground,” believing that you were in imminent danger.
  • You were acting in the defense of another person.
  • You were defending your property.
  • The injuries your accuser alleged did not constitute “great bodily harm.”
  • The weapon used did not meet the standard to qualify as a “deadly weapon.”

Don’t Delay in Calling Maltezos Law

Put attorney Stephen Maltezos to work for you at the earliest indication that you could be arrested for Aggravated Battery. If you’ve already been arrested, do not answer any questions or attempt to explain your actions to law enforcement personnel until Steve is with you to ensure that your rights are not violated. Never try to go it alone or with an overworked Public Defender. Steve handles every case himself, and he takes every case extremely personally. He has an impressive record of having charges reduced or dismissed, and can sometimes even prevent charges from being filed at all. He believes in the Constitution and the rights it guarantees us all, and that everyone, from every walk of life, deserves the best available defense. He puts the energy and focus into defending you—and each of his clients—that will result in the best results your circumstances and the law allow. So don’t delay; call Stephen Maltezos as soon as you can get to a phone.

 

 

 

Assault

The crime of “assault” is often confused with a different but often related crime—battery. But in Florida law, assault is a separate and distinct crime.
Assault does not require any physical contact between perpetrator and victim. Assault is simply an act or behavior that causes another person to feel threatened or intimidated and in fear of becoming the victim of an imminent act of violence. So if you threaten to beat someone up or to kick the sh** out of them and appear to be capable and willing to do so, you could be charged with assault, even though you never followed through on the threat.
Of course these things are often said in a joking manner, with absolutely no intention of causing harm to anyone; but if the other person takes it the wrong way, you could find yourself facing criminal charges.

Penalties for Assault in Florida

Simple assault is a second degree misdemeanor, which could potentially send you to jail for as long as 60 days, and cost you up to $500 in fines. If you have prior offenses, however, the penalties will be worse.

If the assault occurred in the context of committing a felony, or if the threat is made using a deadly weapon, it can be charged as aggravated assault, a third degree felony, which comes with enhanced penalties.
If you’ve been charged with simple assault, you may feel that because you didn’t hurt anyone, you will probably be acquitted. But that is not necessarily the case. If the prosecutor can prove that your actions met the definition of assault in Florida’s criminal statutes, you can easily find yourself behind bars. You need excellent legal representation by an experienced and committed criminal defense lawyer to provide you with the best odds of remaining out of jail and avoiding a criminal conviction.

Defenses against Assault Charges Are Available with a Good Defense Lawyer

A good defense lawyer will investigate the incident in detail and will make a thorough examination of the prosecutor’s evidence. Your lawyer will examine the actions of the police in investigating, making the arrest, and questioning you to determine if there was any violation of your constitutional rights in the process. If there was, your attorney will seek to have any evidence suppressed that was improperly obtained. If there appear to be no constitutional violations, there are still a number of defenses that your lawyer can raise, for example:

  • There was no actual intent to harm or intimidate, i.e. you were clearly making an idle threat
  • The fear on the part of the alleged victim was unreasonable or unfounded.
  • You were acting in self defense.
  • You were attempting to protect another person.
  • The threat was not of imminent harm but was conditioned on some event that might take place in the future: e.g. If your kid ever insults my wife again I’ll kick your *ss.

Getting Legal Help for Assault Charges in West Central Florida

No one wants to go through life with the stigma of an assault conviction on their record, and the possibility of spending two months in jail is especially daunting. You will be out of work for that period of time and may even lose your job altogether as a convicted criminal. So do yourself a favor and get quality legal representation immediately.

You may qualify for the services of a Public Defender, but accepting one could be a mistake you’ll end up regretting. Public Defenders are overloaded with hundreds of cases and have only a very minimal amount of time to spend on yours. You need a lawyer who has the time to give your case the highly focused attention that will bring you the best possible results, sparing you from a jail sentence and possibly avoiding a conviction. So get your own lawyer. And don’t worry that it will cost more than a Public Defender. Steve Maltezos will work out a payment plan that you can live with—and it will cost you less than missing work for two months and maybe even losing your job.
Calling attorney Stephen Maltezos when you’ve been arrested for assault could be the best decision you’ll ever make. Steve may be the most energetic and committed criminal defense lawyer that the Tampa Bay Area has to offer. He takes each case he signs up very personally, and provides the same quality of representation to each of his clients as he would to a member of his own family. He limits the cases he takes to a number that allows him to give many hours of focused attention to every one. You will feel secure in the knowledge that you are getting the dedicated, focused, and aggressive representation that will yield the best results available under the law.
Steve Maltezos has an excellent record of having charges dropped and dismissed, and is able to avoid a conviction in very many of his cases. The sooner you bring him on board, the sooner he can get to work in your defense. If you’ve been arrested for assault, exercise your right to remain silent. Don’t answer any questions, attempt to defend your actions, or try to tell your side of the story until Steve is with you to ensure that your rights are being upheld. Call Steve at any hour of the night or day for the representation that will help keep your life on track.

Battery

Legal Representation for Battery Charges in Florida

Battery is a crime that is often paired with assault. It is however, a separate and distinct crime, and a very serious one in Florida. Battery charges range from simple battery, a misdemeanor, to felony battery and aggravated battery, which can expose you to long prison terms and high fines. Being arrested and charged with battery can be a frightening and stressful experience because of the harsh consequences that come with a conviction.

Battery as Defined in Florida Law

Being charged with battery in Florida doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve beaten someone severely or even that you’ve injured the person slightly. You can be charged with battery if:

  • You intentionally touched or struck someone else against their will; or
  • You intentionally caused any type of injury, however minor, to the other person.

By this definition, according to Florida’s statutes, you can be charged with simple battery if you merely touched a person who did not wish to be touched, gave a person a light shove, or threw an object at someone and hit them, even if no injury resulted.

The degrees of battery you can be charged with range from Simple Battery, a misdemeanor, to Felony Battery and Aggravated battery, Third Degree and Second Degree Felonies. The degree you will be charged with and the associated penalties will reflect the amount of damage done to your accuser.

Penalties for Battery in Florida

Simple Battery, as a First Degree Misdemeanor, can result in penalties of:

  • As much as a year in jail.
  • As much as a year of probation.
  • As much as $1,000 in fines.

Felony Battery is when the act for which you’ve been arrested unintentionally caused serious or permanent injury or disfigurement to your accuser. Any battery of a law enforcement officer firefighter, EMT, or certain other protected categories will also be charged as a Third Degree Felony, at minimum. Possible penalties for Felony Battery include:

  • As much as five years in prison.
  • Up to five years on probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

If you’ve been charged with Aggravated Battery— battery in which you are accused of intentionally causing serious injury or permanent disability or disfigurement; of using a deadly weapon; or in which the alleged victim is pregnant—a conviction can result in:

  • Up to fifteen years in prison
  • Up to fifteen years of probation
  • As much as $10,000 in fines

The Importance of Having a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer on Your Side

Regardless of the degree of battery with which you’ve been charged, you need to have a good lawyer fighting on your behalf. In addition to the time you could spend in jail, being convicted of a violent crime can destroy your life forever afterward, especially if the crime you are convicted of is a felony. As a convicted felon, you will be stripped of your civil rights to vote, hold public office, and own a firearm. You will likely experience difficulty in obtaining housing, as neither public housing nor many private rentals are available to convicted felons. You may be excluded from educational opportunities and financial aid, and your reputation will be in shreds. Your conviction will appear on employment background checks, making it extremely difficult to get a decent job. If you are sentenced to a prison term, the consequences will follow you throughout your life, long after you have served your sentence.

Although this picture of your future is a bleak one, it is not a foregone conclusion that you will be convicted. There is hope, but you will need to fight the battery charge rigorously. You are considered innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty, and with top-notch legal representation by an aggressive, focused, and committed Florida criminal defense attorney, you may be able to beat the charge entirely or have it reduced to a lesser charge that is less damaging to your freedom and your options in life.

If you’ve been offered the services of a Public Defender, you should probably pass. You have way too much at stake to take your chances with a PD who is responsible for hundreds of cases and simply does not have the time to focus on yours.

Potential Defenses against Battery Charges in Florida

An experienced criminal defense attorney will examine the circumstances surrounding your charges closely to identify the best possible defense strategy.  Every situation is different. Some possible defenses include:

  • Self Defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Defense of your property
  • Consent
  • Mutual combat

You will need to discuss these and other potential defenses with your attorney to determine the strategy that will lead to the most favorable outcome in your specific situation.

Get the Legal Defense You Need In Tampa, St. Pete, and All of West Central Florida

In the West Central region of Florida, you can obtain the quality representation that may spare you the worst of the consequences of a battery conviction by calling the law firm of Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve is an aggressive and deeply committed criminal defense lawyer who cares deeply about what happens to you. With offices in St. Petersburg and Tampa, Steve is available to speak with you any hour of the day or night. If you’ve been arrested, call him immediately and do not try to explain yourself, tell your side of the story, or answer any questions posed by police until Steve is present with you to protect your constitutional rights, your best interests, your freedom, and your future.

Petit Theft

Theft of another person’s property is a serious crime. A conviction of any theft crime can wreak havoc with your reputation. Stealing is generally considered a “crime of moral turpitude,” even if the amount taken is small enough to be charged as petit theft. “Petit” means “small,” but the consequences to your life if you are convicted of this crime are anything but. To avoid a lifetime of suffering the consequences of any theft conviction, you should get yourself a good criminal defense attorney immediately upon being accused or arrested. In Florida, if you have been accused of theft in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties, you can find the experienced legal help you need by calling attorney Stephen Maltezos, who has offices in St. Petersburg and Tampa.

What is Petit Theft?

If you have been charged with any theft crime in Florida, these are the elements that the prosecution must prove:

  • That you knowingly obtained or used the property of another; and
  • That you acted with the intent to deprive the person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, either permanently or temporarily; or
  • That you appropriated the property to your own use; or
  • That you appropriated the property to the use of some other person not entitled to it.
The severity of the charge and potential penalties will depend on the value of the property that was taken and whether or not you have any prior theft convictions. If the value is over $300, the charge will be Grand Theft, a felony. If it is a first offense and the amount is below $300, it will be charged as Petit Theft, which is a misdemeanor.
The degree of the petit theft misdemeanor charge, again, will depend on the value of the amount stolen: If the property stolen is deemed to be worth between $100 and $299, you’ll be charged with a First Degree Misdemeanor. If the purported value is less than $100, unless otherwise specified in Florida’s theft statues, you’ll be charged with a Second Degree Misdemeanor.

Shoplifting or Retail Theft

Shoplifting, stealing from a retail establishment, is a commonly occurring type of theft crime that often falls into the realm of petit theft, using the same value guidelines outlined above. Examples of Retail Theft include:

  • Hiding merchandise in your bag or on your person and leaving the store
  • Changing price tags with a less expensive piece of merchandise
  • Placing an item in the packaging of a less expensive item
  • Wearing clothing items out of a store
  • Eating or drinking food or beverages before checking out and not paying for them

Petite Theft Penalties

First Degree Petit Theft, a First Degree Misdemeanor, can result in your being sentenced to up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you have a prior theft conviction, however, the prosecutor can charge you with a Third Degree Felony, which could land you in prison for as long as five years and cost you up to $5000 in fines.

A Second Degree Petit Theft charge potentially exposes you to as much as 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. If you have a prior petit theft conviction, the prosecutor may bump the charge up to a first degree misdemeanor, with a possible sentence of sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
In addition to the legal penalties for a theft conviction, for the remainder of your life you will experience difficulties in passing background checks for jobs, housing, and professional licensing if you are convicted of any theft crime. It may also affect your immigration status and can result in deportation. And of course your reputation as an honest and upstanding citizen will be permanently destroyed.

Fighting the Charges with an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Fortunately, being charged with petit theft or retail theft does not necessarily mean that you’ll be convicted. A good criminal defense attorney will examine the circumstances surrounding the incident and your arrest to determine the best possible defense strategy for your particular case. These might include, among others:

  • You were wrongly identified as the person who stole the property.
  • You believed the property was rightfully yours
  • The owner of the property gave you permission to use it
  • You were intoxicated and incapable of forming the intent to steal
  • You were wrongly accused by store personnel.
  • The property was not found in your possession.
  • You accidentally left a store without realizing there was merchandise in a stroller or shopping bag.
  • You left the store to retrieve a wallet left in the car so you could pay for the merchandise.
  • You were set up by another person who was the one doing the stealing.
  • If you attempted to purchase an item with an altered or switched priced tag, the alteration was done by a previous customer.
Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, your lawyer may be able to have the charges dropped by getting you into a Pretrial Intervention program (PTI) that will result in dismissal of the case when the terms of the PTI are met.

Get the Help You Need Now

For the aggressive, experienced, and committed legal representation you need to avoid having your life turned upside down by the negative consequences of a criminal theft conviction, call the law offices of attorney Stephen Maltezos immediately upon your arrest. Steve is a skilled trial lawyer and a focused fighter who will not give up until he has obtained the best possible outcome for you. He has an excellent record of having theft charges dropped or reduced, and is highly regarded by his many clients who have been spared jail time and high fines through his efforts in their behalf.

Don’t wait. Call Maltezos Law today. Your reputation, your freedom, and your future depend on it!

Burglary

Unauthorized entry into another’s premises with the intent to commit a crime is known as burglary. Burglary is a felony in Florida. If you are being charged with the crime of burglary, you are potentially facing years in prison followed by a lifetime of the obstacles, which every convicted felon faces. If you are convicted, you will lose your right to vote, to hold public office, and to own a firearm. You will have an extremely difficult time obtaining employment, housing, or educational opportunities forever afterward.
If you have been arrested and are facing charges for burglary, the stakes are extremely high, and you are undoubtedly feeling an array of unpleasant emotions, including stress, uncertainty, fear, dread, and hopelessness. You may not only be concerned with your own future, but that of your family as well.
But however bad it seems, your situation is not hopeless. With an excellent criminal defense lawyer representing you, you may be able to beat the charges and avoid the dire consequences associated with a felony conviction. Choose an attorney who is not only aggressive and knowledgeable, but who is genuinely concerned with you as an individual and who truly cares that you will not have to live with the stranglehold of a felony conviction on your record. In Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, you will find that type of committed, focused, and passionate representation in criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos.
You may have been told that you qualify for a public defender. Although many PDs are dedicated young lawyers who would like to do right by you, they simply have too many cases and too little time to give your case the focused attention that it needs. The stakes are way too high when you are facing a felony conviction to take your chances with an overworked public defender who will often have well over a hundred cases going on at any given time. Don’t make a mistake that can cause the loss of your freedom and your options for the future. Get a lawyer who can focus on you by calling the Maltezos Law Offices.

Penalties for Burglary in Florida

In Florida, burglary can be charged as a first, second, or third degree felony, with penalties depending on the degree that you’ve been charged with. If the burglary took place in an unoccupied building that is not a dwelling where people live, you will probably be charged with a third degree felony and are facing as much as five years in prison and a fine of up to $5000 for a first offense.

If the property was a dwelling or another occupied building or vehicle, or if the burglary was of an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance, police car, or fire truck, and you did not have a weapon or harm anyone, and the intended crime was not to steal a controlled substance, you will probably be charged with a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
If you are alleged to have been armed or to have committed assault and/or battery on someone in the course of committing the burglary, of if you used a motor vehicle to enter the building or caused damage to the structure in excess of $1000 in value, you may be charged with First Degree Burglary, which can land you in prison for up to 30 years.
These are harsh penalties that will change your life permanently. You simply cannot risk facing these charges without a lawyer who is aggressive, experienced and, above all else, 100 percent committed to your best interests—a lawyer such as Florida criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Get a Burglary Conviction

Remember, in the eyes of the law, you are innocent until proven guilty. You have rights granted by the United States Constitution that must be upheld. The prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each of the following elements:

  • That you entered or broke into someone else’s premises.
  • That you were not authorized by the owner to do so.
  • That your specific reason for breaking into the premises was to commit a crime, theft for example.
Your lawyer will investigate the circumstances of your arrest and make sure that your constitutional rights were upheld throughout the arrest process. If there are constitutional violations, for example if you were not informed of your rights and answered questions in a manner that tended to incriminate you without a lawyer present, your lawyer will work to exclude any incriminating statement you made from being presented at trial on constitutional grounds.
Your attorney’s next step will be to carefully examine all the evidence the prosecution has against you and find possible weaknesses in the state’s case. These are some of the potential defenses that can be raised, depending on the specific circumstances of your case:
  • You were elsewhere when the breaking and entering was committed (you had an alibi).
  • You were mistakenly identified by a witness.
  • The owner of the premises had consented to your going onto the property.
  • The premises were open to the public.
  • You did not have the intent to commit a crime but entered for another reason, e.g. to take shelter from a storm.
  • You were intoxicated and unable to form the intent to commit a crime.
  • Errors were committed in forensic technique in the gathering and processing of evidence.
Every case has its own unique set of circumstances, so it is important that your attorney can think outside the box and develop the best defense for your particular situation.

The Legal Help You Need 24 Hours a Day

If you’ve been accused, questioned, or arrested for burglary, you need immediate legal help. Don’t answer questions posed by police, don’t try to explain your side of the story, and don’t offer any information. Do insist on having your lawyer present. Call the Law Offices of Stephen Maltezos, regardless of the hour. Steve will be there to protect your rights and will take every legal step in an attempt to preserve your freedom and your ability to live the best possible life in the future, free of the restraints and obstacles imposed by a felony conviction. Don’t delay; call Maltezos Law now.

Grand Theft

If you have been accused of Grand Theft, you are facing the possibility of spending time in prison and spending the remainder of your life with the stigma of being a convicted felon. It is important to understand, however, that being accused of theft and being convicted of it are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, many people who are facing a theft charge simply give up and fail to fight the charge. This is an enormous mistake that will cause you and your family a world of suffering. A conviction is far from being a “done deal.” If you care enough about your future to fight for it, you should have a committed, aggressive, and experienced criminal lawyer working for you.

Defining Grand Theft in Florida

The term “theft” applies to various crimes against another person’s property, including larceny, , conversion, stealing, and other similar crimes, as well as theft of a firearm, motor vehicle (Grand Theft Auto), stop sign, farm animal and certain other types of property. In Florida, in order to be convicted of the crime of Grand Theft, the prosecution must prove that you:

  • knowingly took or used property belonging to another person, and
  • that in doing so your intention was to deprive the owner of the property or of a right or benefit of it, or
  • that you intentionally appropriated another person’s property to use for your own benefit or that of someone else, other than the rightful owner, and
  • that the value of the property exceeds $300.

Grand Theft is a Felony

Grand Theft is a felony that can land you in prison for as long as five years. The greater the value of the property alleged to have been stolen, the greater the severity of the charge. Grand Theft can be charged anywhere from a Third Degree Felony to a First Degree Felony, depending on how much the stolen property is worth. Theft of property valued between $300 and $20,000 can be charged as Third Degree Grand Theft; property worth between $20,000 and $100,000 is Second Degree Grand Theft, and property valued in excess of $100,000 can be charged as First Degree Grand Theft. Certain other circumstances can raise the charge above what it would be simply based on value, including the use of a motor vehicle in the commission of the theft and doing significant damage (over $1000 worth) to the owner’s property.

Penalties for the Various Degrees of Grand Theft in Florida
These are the potential penalties you’re facing if convicted of Grand Theft in Florida
  • Grand Theft of the Third Degree is classified as a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine
  • Grand Theft of the Second Degree is a Second Degree Felony, with penalties up to 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine
  • Grand Theft of the First Degree carries penalties of up to 30 years in prison, with a maximum fine of $10,000.
Clearly you cannot allow a Grand Theft conviction to destroy the remainder of your life! If you are convicted of this serious felony, you will not only go to prison and/or pay a crippling fine and serve probation, in addition to restitution, you can be stripped of your civil rights, prohibited from voting or gun ownership, and will have difficulty obtaining employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Your reputation will be destroyed, and you’ll carry the stigma of being a convicted felon with you everywhere you go.
The good news is that these things may not have to happen, as long as you have an experienced and committed criminal defense lawyer working in your behalf.

How a Good Criminal Lawyer Can Help

Having a sharp criminal defense attorney to defend you can potentially make the difference between a felony conviction and no conviction at all, in some cases; in others, the difference may be between being convicted of a felony, which is considered a serious crime and comes with a term in of a year or more state prison, to a less serious misdemeanor, which may not require jail time at all, depending on the circumstances.

Intent is Key

Remember that in the eyes of the law, you are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor, in order to get a conviction, has to prove intent—that you knowingly and deliberately deprived the rightful owner of some type of property. Because intent is a state of mind, it is not always possible to prove it “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard required for a conviction.

Criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos is a more than a lawyer who knows Florida’s statutes that pertain to theft (which he does, thoroughly); but even more importantly, he is a fighter who takes every case he signs on personally. He is committed to defending the constitutional rights of each client he represents, looking for procedural errors that could result in the dismissal of the charges against you, while finding every possible weakness in the prosecutor’s case that can reduce the likelihood of your being convicted by a jury. Steve will listen actively to your side of the story and investigate the arrest and examine it for constitutional grounds to dismiss the charges. If there are no constitutional issues, he will analyze the prosecutor’s case, examine the evidence against you, and build a case to show either that you were not the person who committed the theft or that you did not have the intent to commit a crime.

Defenses to Grand Theft

As stated above, the two most common defenses to Grand Theft charges involve uncovering violations of your constitutional rights and showing lack of intent, for example if you believed the property to be yours. There are others: these are just a few examples:

  • Another party was responsible for the theft
  • The amount taken does not meet the statutory requirements for a Grand Theft charge.
  • You were intoxicated at the time of the theft.
  • You were coerced.

Call Now!

Call the Law Offices of Stephen Maltezos immediately if you’ve been arrested, or if you’ve been questioned or have reason to believe that you are under investigation. The sooner Steve comes on board, the sooner he can begin protecting you from the dire consequences of a Grand Theft conviction. The initial case analysis is free, and Steve makes payment plans that work for each client’s personal circumstances. Don’t wait; call today.

Seal and Expunge Criminal Record

In Florida and most other states, if you are arrested and charged with a crime, that arrest becomes a matter of public record—even if the charges are dropped or dismissed and you were never convicted. So even though you’ve never been convicted of a crime, if you’ve been arrested and fingerprinted, you have a “criminal record.” This can haunt you for years, however unfairly, creating obstacles to obtaining employment and housing and tarnishing your reputation when a background check brings up your arrest record.

Depending on the disposition of your case, Florida has a means of removing your record from public access in certain circumstances. While it is extremely important to your reputation to make these types of records go away, it can be a daunting prospect for someone who has little experience with the inner workings of Florida’s criminal justice system. It is best accomplished by hiring a criminal defense attorney who knows the ropes and can get the job done properly and efficiently.

Understanding the Terms: Sealing vs. Expunging Your Criminal Record

Many people are confused about the difference between “sealing” and “expunging” a criminal record.

When a criminal history record is sealed, it means the public will not have access to it, but it will be available to law enforcement. Although sealing your record allows you to deny having a criminal history in many situations, in others you will be required to reveal it, including:

  • When applying for a job with a criminal justice agency
  • If you’re  a defendant in a criminal prosecution
  • If you’re applying for admission to the Florida Bar
  • If you’re applying for a job or contract position with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Elderly Affairs, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Health the Agency for Health Care Administration, or for any job in the field of public, private, or parochial education
  • If you’re purchasing a firearm and need to undergo a background check

A sealed record may be eligible for expungement after 10 years.  Expungement is the complete deletion of your record, making it inaccessible even to law enforcement. Anyone attempting to access the record will receive a message stating that the record has been expunged.

Do You Qualify to Have Your Florida Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged?
Only certain types of criminal records can be sealed or expunged. You must meet these requirements:

  1. Your case did not result in a criminal conviction, either because the state never filed charges or because adjudication was withheld. (One type of resolution to a criminal case is for you to agree to plead “no contest” in exchange for a withholding of adjudication. You have not been convicted, nor do you admit guilt, but you accept a penalty in a plea bargain.)
  2. You have never been convicted of any other criminal offense.
  3. You have never had another criminal record sealed or expunged, unless it was a juvenile record.
  4. If you are seeking an expungement, your record been sealed for 10 years.
  5. The charge on which you received a withheld adjudication was not one of those listed below:
  • Aggravated assault and/or aggravated battery
  • Illegal explosive use
  • Child abuse or aggravated child abuse
  • Abuse or aggravated abuse of an elderly or disabled adult
  • Robbery
  • Carjacking
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Kidnapping
  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Arson
  • Sexual battery
  • Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years
  • Sexual activity with a child 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age, by or at solicitation of a person in familial or custodial authority
  • Burglary of a dwelling
  • Stalking and aggravated Stalking
  • An act of domestic violence
  • Home invasion
  • Terrorism
  • Manufacturing of certain controlled substances
  • Sexual misconduct with a developmentally-disabled person
  • Sexual misconduct with a mental-health patient
  • Luring or enticing a child
  • Sexual battery
  • Procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution
  • Lewd or lascivious offenses the presence of someone under age 16
  • Voyeurism
  • Scheme to defraud or organized fraud
  • Lewd or lascivious offense upon or in presence of elderly person or disabled person
  • Sexual performance by a child
  • Offenses by public officers and employees
  • Showing or selling obscene literature to a minor
  • Computer pornography
  • Selling or buying of minors
  • Drug trafficking [1]

Reliable Legal Assistance to Seal or Expunge Your Criminal History in the Tampa Bay Area

Life with a criminal record is often difficult, even if you’ve never been convicted, leaving you with explaining to do whenever a prospective employer or other party pulls a background check on you. If you want to have your record sealed or expunged, call criminal defense attorney Stephen Maltezos for the help you need. Steve has offices conveniently located in both Tampa and St. Petersburg, and handles cases in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and throughout West Central Florida. Get your life back on track by calling Maltezos Law today.

 

 

 

[1] FS 907.041

Juvenile Defense

If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be distressed, panic-stricken, and fearful for his or her future—and rightfully so. The prospect of the young life of the child you love being put on hold for the duration of a long prison sentence and being saddled with the stigma of a criminal conviction is any parent’s worst nightmare.

Children and adolescents typically do not have the brain development, reasoning ability, moral compass, and plain good sense that we expect of adults. Consequently, they are prone to making mistakes, some of which may get them in trouble with the law.

Fortunately in Florida, at least to some degree, the law recognizes the differences between children and adults and has in place a system to deal with juvenile crime that reflects this understanding. Florida’s Juvenile Justice System is focused on getting the minor back on the right path to a productive life as a law abiding citizen. It is more rehabilitative and less punitive than the adult system, reflecting the psychological and cognitive differences between juveniles and adults.

But there is an unfortunate trend in Florida to transfer juveniles who are accused of serious crimes out the juvenile justice system and into the adult courts. When this happens, the danger of a teenager being convicted and sent to a Florida state prison to serve a long sentence in the company of hardened adult criminals is very real. This is a tragedy. A young person who has been exposed to violent and career criminals for many years may have a difficult time ever returning to a normal life.

The Right Juvenile Defense Attorney Can Make All the Difference

It is extremely important that you hire a highly experienced Florida juvenile defense attorney to fight for your child’s future by keeping the case in the juvenile system and preserving eligibility for eventual expungement or sealing of his or her records. As a loving parent, you naturally want your son or daughter to be able to enter into adulthood with a clean slate and unlimited prospects for success in life, so it makes good sense to hire a smart juvenile defense attorney with a nuanced understanding of how the system works and the legal options that may be open to your child for a resolution that will cause the least amount of permanent scarring and restrictions on his or her future.

Many parents either attempt to handle their child’s case on their own or with the help of a public defender, but this is a risky proposition when you child’s future is on the line. You probably have minimal understanding of the finer points of the law, and public defenders are notoriously overworked. You need a private attorney who can stay closely focused on the case, and who understands the potential for a conviction that will destroy a young person’s chance of living a meaningful and productive life as the result of a youthful error in judgment.

Protection for Children and Adolescents Accused of Crimes in and around Tampa Bay

If your child or another young person whose future you care about has been accused of a criminal offense in Tampa, St. Petersburg, or anywhere in Hillsborough or Pinellas Counties, you can get the help you need by contacting the law offices of juvenile defense attorney Stephen Maltezos.

Steve Maltezos is a former Hillsborough County prosecutor who is thoroughly familiar with Florida’s justice system for both juveniles and adults and will know how to negotiate with the prosecutor on your child’s case to achieve the best outcome the law will allow. His primary goals will be to keep your child out of jail, avoid a conviction, and preserve the ability to have the child’s records sealed or expunged at a later time, allowing him or her to transition into adulthood with a clean slate.***Put internal link to the expungement page here! He is also thoroughly familiar with diversion and pre-trial intervention programs that when completed may result in the dismissal of all charges.

Call Immediately for the Legal Help for a Juvenile Whose Future is at Stake

You can call juvenile defense attorney Stephen Maltezos at any hour of the day or night. The initial consultation is free, and he will work with you to establish a payment plan that your family can afford. What you can’t afford to do is take unnecessary risks with your child’s future, so call today.

Violation of Probation

If you’re serving probation and your probation officer claims that you’ve violated one or more of its terms, you could be in serious trouble and even on your way to jail. You need experienced legal assistance to remain free and avoid the consequences of being convicted on a violation.

Constitutional Rights? What Rights? Some of Those Constitutional Rights Don’t Exist in Probation Violation!

If you are accused of violation of your probation (VOP), you will find yourself facing an unpleasant truth: some of your valued constitutional rights don’t apply to a VOP.

That’s right! You have no right to a jury trial, and the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt, as with any other crime. Not only that, you may be required to testify against yourself at your own VOP hearing, even though telling the truth under oath may tend to incriminate you. There is no statute of limitations on probation violation, and you are not automatically entitled to bond.

Examples of Probation Violations

These are some examples of things that can get you charged with a violation of your probation:

  • Absconding (not reporting as required)
  • Showing up late for a scheduled meeting with your probation officer.
  • Moving to a new residence without informing your probation officer.
  • Failing a urine test for drugs
  • Not performing required community service
  • Failing to pay court costs
  • Being arrested on a new charge
  • Associating with known criminals

 

Potential Consequences of Florida Probation Violation

If you are convicted of violating your probation, you will have to face serious consequences. In Florida, if you were given a sentence of probation and found to be in violation, the judge can give you the full penalties that you were facing at sentencing. Your probation could be revoked, and you could be incarcerated instead.  Or your probation could be extended.

Why You Need a Good Lawyer to Represent You in Your VOP Hearing

In a VOP hearing as we’ve said above, the standard of proof is lower and your rights are fewer. Having a savvy attorney to help present your case can make a significant difference in the outcome and in many cases keep you out of jail. The state must show that you willfully violated your probation, and it is not always easy to prove what was going on in someone’s mind. Life happens, and in spite of our best efforts we all sometimes make mistakes. If your lawyer can present a good argument that your violation was not willful but that it was caused by some event outside of your control or that it was merely an oversight or a mistake, you may be able to retain your freedom.

Getting the Help You Need for VOP Defense in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and all West Central Florida

If you have been accused of violating your probation in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, Largo, or anywhere in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties and the West Central Florida area, you absolutely want to stay out of jail. You need a smart, aggressive, and hardworking lawyer who cares about you and the effect a violation will have on your life. For the personalized attention that will give you the best shot at keeping your freedom, call attorney Stephen Maltezos immediately.

Steve will make a persuasive case to show that your violation was not intentional but was the result of some occurrence in your life that affected your ability to comply, in spite of your best intentions. Remember, the state has to prove that your violation was deliberate. Steve will help you explain the circumstances that led to your error in the clearest way possible in order to demonstrate to the judge the reasons that your probation should continue unchanged. Don’t try to handle the VOP hearing on your own. The consequences are too serious and the stress and threat to your quality of life are too great to go in without a committed, focused, and knowledgeable advocate who takes your needs and your case personally. Call the law offices of Stephen Maltezos today.

Drug Crimes

Florida Drug Crimes Defense

Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that reflect an enlightened attitude toward drug use: but make no mistake about it, that enlightenment has not reached Florida! Florida is among the worst of all states in which to be charges with a drug-related crime. While many states are liberalizing their drug laws, focusing more on rehabilitating addicts than on punishing them, and loosening up on marijuana, Florida remains in the dark ages. Florida still has not legalized marijuana for medical use, and possession is still a crime—a first degree misdemeanor if the amount is under 20 grams.

Possession (other than marijuana)

Possession of any other illegal drug, besides marijuana, in small quantities for personal use, is a third degree felony that could send you to prison for up to five years and cost you up to a $5000 fine.

Drugs in this category include, among a long list of others:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin and other opiates
  • Crystal meth and other amphetamines
  • Ecstacy
  • Qualudes
  • GHB
  • Bath salts
  • Spice
  • Cathinone
  • Flakka
  • LSD
  • PCP (angel dust)
  • Mescaline
  • Peyote
  • Psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
  • Salvia divornum (with some exceptions)
  • 90 synthetic “designer drugs”

You don’t even have to be in possession of an actual drug to be arrested and charged with a drug crime in Florida. You can be charged:

  • For having in your possession certain chemicals commonly used in manufacturing drugs, and
  • For having in your possession “drug paraphernalia,” items associated with using illegal drugs.

Chemicals Used in Drug Manufacture

Possessing chemicals called precursor chemicals,—known to be used in the manufacture of illegal drugs, especially methamphetamine, ecstasy (MDMA), and GHB—can get you charged with a drug crime in Florida. This is a very serious second degree felony charge and carries a potential 15 year prison sentence and fines reaching $10,000. Many of these are ingredients in certain over-the-counter medications, including cough syrup. Examples of precursor chemicals include ephedrine, phenyl-2-propanone, hydriodic acid, methylamine, and hydrogen gas.

It is a second degree felony in Florida to be in possession of a precursor chemical if the State can prove you intended to use it in the manufacture of crystal meth of another illegal drug.

Drug Paraphernalia

Florida’s law regarding possession of drug paraphernalia defines that term so broadly that items listed in the statute are sure to be found in your granny’s kitchen: bowls, containers, kitchen scale, spoons, plastic sandwich bags, soda bottles, duct tape and on and on. And then there are the garden tools used for cultivation of marijuana—and flowers and vegetables. You probably won’t be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia unless the drug or is found nearby, or its residue is on the item in question; but it is an extra charge that can increase your jail sentence by a year and add up to $1000 to the fine you are likely to receive if you’ve been found in possession of marijuana or crystal meth. Possession of drug paraphernalia by itself is a First Degree Misdemeanor.

Prescription Drugs

Florida became the prescription drug capital of the nation in the past decade, with Pinellas and Pasco Counties leading the pack in the number of deaths from prescription medications.

Four years ago, Florida earned the dubious distinction of being the pill mill capital of the nation.

In 2011, Hillsborough County was home to 107 of Florida’s 856 pain clinics, which distributed opioid pain medications fairly indiscriminately, creating a growing number of addicts being supplied by unscrupulous doctors, encouraged by greedy pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Addicts from around the country began to pour into Florida because of its relative lack of regulation of the pill industry. Even people with legitimate need for pain control found themselves addicted and in need of increasing amounts of medication to achieve the effect they had come to expect and began “doctor shopping” to obtain multiple prescriptions.

As the deaths mounted and number of addicts soared to new heights, Florida began to crack down, closing pain clinics and arresting addicts and others found in possession of the smallest quantities of oxycodone or hydrocodone and other prescription pain killers. People with no other criminal record or intent have been sentenced to prison or have been labeled as “convicted felons” because of their addiction—or even as a result of having a miniscule amount of prescription painkiller belonging to someone else in their vehicle. One Floridian was convicted of felony drug possession when a friend of the family with a legitimate prescription left a bottle containing a single pill in his car!

Possession of four grams of oxycodone or hydrocodone and related drugs, without a legitimate prescription, can land you in a Florida prison for anywhere from 3 years to 25 years, depending on the quantity.

If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, or with a fraudulently obtained prescription, you need a good lawyer now, or you could end up with a felony conviction that will follow you for the remainder of your life, not to mention potential jail time.

 

Trafficking in Drugs in Florida

Possession of drugs in Florida can produce harsh sentences; possession with intent to sell and trafficking in drugs are worse. Florida has mandatory minimum sentences that depend on the type of drug and the amount, ranging from 3 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

 

The Help You Need When You Need It: Drug Crimes Defense in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties

When you’ve been charged with a drug crime in Florida, your entire future is in peril. But with a good Florida drug defense lawyer, you may be able to salvage it. Attorney Stephen Maltezos, with law offices in Tampa and St. Petersburg, is an aggressive advocate for the accused in the Tampa Bay area and West Central Florida. He is a fighter who will put up a rigorous defense, battling with every legal weapon available for your future and your freedom. He is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and if you’re in custody, he will come to where you’re being held, regardless of the hour. Don’t answer any questions until he arrives to ensure that your rights are protected. Don’t delay; call Maltezos Law immediately for top-notch legal defense against a Florida drug crime charge.