March 11 2020
Arrested in Fort Myers for a DUI or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Experienced Fort Myers / Lee County DUI representation should be your next call.
March 11 2020
Arrested in Fort Myers for a DUI or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Experienced Fort Myers / Lee County DUI representation should be your next call.
February 13 2020
Arrested at Spring Break in Ft. Myers
No parent wants to get a call in the middle of the night from their college student. College kids don’t call their parents unless they need money or have been arrested. You may get a call in the middle of the night and hear a recording “This call is from an inmate at the Lee County Jail” and panic. Do not panic. We regularly represent college kids arrested at Ft. Myers Beach Spring Break for all types of cases like underage drinking, DUI, possession of marijuana, texting while driving resulting in an accident and sometimes more serious violations. The police may tell your son or daughter “you don’t need to hire a lawyer…you are going to get Diversion”. That may or may not be true. An arrest, even if it ends in Diversion to some program may not be a wise choice. If they live out of State, the “Diversion” program may not be an option and most importantly, your son or daughter may have a good solid defense that can win or get the case dismissed.
The goal is not to just keep from going to jail. Your child needs to get the charge dismissed and any record of the arrest expunged. A bogus arrest, even if it ends well, will still show up on their record in the future when applying for a scholarship, a job, entry into the military or some other important position. This is particularly true if the arrest involves drugs.
Attorney Sean O’Halloran grew up here in Ft. Myers and understands how easy it is for a kid to get in trouble doing something silly or stupid. The reality is, college kids get into mischief and trouble and it needs to be handled the right way by a good criminal defense lawyer. The money you spend now can make a huge difference in your son or daughter’s future. It may be something like petit theft (shoplifting). Imagine how that looks on a job application. Sometimes it is something that can land them actually in prison. We have handled “date rape” cases and when it comes to sex crimes or accusations of sexual battery, there is no such thing as a “simple case”. An accusation of lewd conduct, lewd and lascivious battery or even something as simple as “improper exhibition” can change your child’s life forever. Criminal Defense Attorney Peter Aiken has been handling sex crime cases for over thirty five years.
College kids sometimes get drunk and make bad choices. The next choice, “who is the best criminal lawyer for my son or daughter” is one that has to be based on doing your homework. All Lee County lawyers are not created equal. Do your homework on how long they have been actually defending cases, not just how long they have been a lawyer or been a prosecutor.
The best way to find the best lawyer is to meet with the lawyer in person. See for yourself.
Most Lee county lawyers offer an initial free consultation. If you or your loved ones get arrested or are under investigation this spring holiday season and would like us to review your bond options or go over your Fort Myers case and charges we are here to help.
Aiken and O’Halloran Fort Myers… 239-334-8890
February 11 2020
Cocaine Arrests in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral on increase
Here in Ft. Myers, arrests for possession and sale of cocaine seem to be on the rise. That could be because there is more cocaine in town or because of increased law enforcement efforts. With the coming Spring Break there are going to be cocaine arrests of party go-ers. When the quantity exceeds certain amounts, the State will file “trafficking in cocaine” which jacks up the penalties. Another technique the police use is to try and get someone to sell cocaine within a thousand feet of a school also to increase the sentence. If they are successful in making a “buy”, they will also go back to the seller over and over to run up the charges and increase the sentencing guidelines. If they can make a cocaine bust and get cocaine and guns to together, sometimes they file armed trafficking, again to run up the penalties
With the new technology, police can install surveillance cameras in high crime areas that can go un-noticed for months to watch for “street dealers” and unusual activity between cars and people walking up to cars. For Spring Break, the police may even put surveillance cameras on poles at Ft. Myers Beach. You may just be hanging at the beach, drinking and partying and not even know the police are watching.
The most common cocaine arrest is for possession and this generally occurs when the police find cocaine on a person they are arresting for something else. A person may get arrested for DUI or arrested for driving on a suspended license, or public intoxication, and when they go to tow the vehicle and inventory the car, the cops often find drugs. As a Ft. Myers criminal defense lawyer, I have had cases where a woman gets arrested for a small quantity of cocaine found in her purse she has totally forgotten about. It may have been there from her partying weeks or months before. You know how cluttered women’s purse can be. It can just be a tiny amount of residue in a tiny bag.
The same goes for men. It may be in a jacket or pants pocket, totally forgotten from months before. As a criminal defense lawyer handling cases here in Lee County, I have had cases where a relative or friend borrows a car, a coat or piece of clothing then only to get arrested for something they had no idea was in their “possession”.
So, what is “Possession’? You can have actual possession where the drug is on you, and you can get charged with “constructive possession”, when the police find cocaine, pot, or some other drug in an area under your control, such as a car or hotel room.
Do not assume that because you have been arrested you will be found guilty. Your car stop may have been illegal. The search of your room may have been illegal. If there was more than one person in the car you may have a fantastic defense. Before you take drug court or some diversion program or probation, you really need to talk to a good criminal defense lawyer.
It may be weeks before a public defender actually has an office visit with you to discuss the specific facts of your case. Sometimes “Diversion” or “Probation” can be a trap. This is particularly true if you are a regular “user”. Talking to a good criminal defense attorney may keep you from making a terrible mistake. Most private lawyers don’t charge for a free initial consultation . If you are under investigation for possession of cocaine in FortMyers or have been arrested in Ft. Myers for cocaine possession and would like to know what you can do next…
February 7 2020
On television shows you hear the police advising people of their rights saying “and if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you. It is on the Miranda card that you see police reading to people. Well, television is not reality and most of the time, the cops do nothing to get you a lawyer at the most critical time you need one…before they question you.
If you are under investigation or think you are going to get arrested you need to talk to a criminal defense attorney before you even think about talking to law enforcement. The Public Defender does not get appointed until you are already arrested, booked and going before a judge. By then, they may have already gotten a confession or an admission out of you. Most criminal defense lawyers do not charge for a free confidential consultation.
This is particularly true when it comes to sex investigations or leaving the scene of an accident investigation. The police need your admission as the final link in their case. Nothing good comes of waiving your right to remain silent and talking to the police. You will not talk your way out of an arrest. The police do not have to advise you of your rights until you are in custody and by then it is too late.
Talking to a criminal defense attorney before you are contacted by the police is absolutely critical. We run into this all the time in Child pornography investigations and cases. The police come with a search warrant. They will take the suspect to a police SUV in the front yard where they secretly video tape a questioning. They then ask things like “who had access to the computer”, “who else lives here”, “Have you ever used Bittorrent or Utorrent or a peer to peer file sharing program”? Sometimes they do not make the kiddie porn arrest that day and merely take the computers for future forensic examination.
Never speak without an attorney present. Never voluntarily give up your computer unless they have a warrant. Never give up passwords or anything until you get legal advice. When it comes to sex crimes and sex crime investigations, the police questioning, and a person’s answers may well be the most important part of the case. You may be facing serious prison time if you have downloaded or watched child porn. You can get charged either in State Court or Federal Court for Internet solicitation of a minor. An admission that you were the one sitting at the computer is often the missing link the police need.
Do not be bullied into talking. Lawyer up and keep your mouth shut….
Sean C. O’Halloran Aiken and O’Halloran Criminal Defense Law Office Fort Myers 239-334-8890 Sarasota 941-366-3506
January 31 2020
How do I post bond for a friend or relative in Ft. Myers?
If you are reading this, it is probably because a loved one or a relative has been arrested. Many people do not understand how the bail bond system works and reading this can save you some serious money.
When a person gets arrested, unless it is a really serious crime, they are entitled to be released on bond pending disposition of their court case. There is a “bond schedule” setting amounts for different offenses and if you call the jail, they will tell you the bond amount. For some offenses, the person cannot immediately bond out, and in that case, they have to be taken before a judge within 24 hours for what is called an initial appearance. Whether or not to immediately post bond is an important decision. Your loved one will be calling you frantically saying “Get me out…get me out”. If it is a serious case it is critical that you talk to good criminal defense lawyer before you make the decision on bond. You may lose a lot of money if you make a hasty decision..
Here is how bond works. You can post bond at the jail if you have the money. If it is a low bond, and you have the money on hand, it is easy. If it is a big bond you really need to talk to a lawyer first. The lawyer may be able to get the bond reduced and it may cost you much less.
You might be contacted by a bondsman over the telephone. They watch the arrests and they want the business. A bondsman in Florida charges a 10% (ten percent fee) called a premium to write and post a “bond” that guarantees the person will appear. Many times, that is the quickest and easiest way and there are lots of good reputable bondsmen. For example, if the bond is $1500, it will cost you a $150 fee to get someone out. If the bond is huge, $50,000 for example, it can cost you $5000 just for the bondsman’s “fee” and you don’t get that money back at the end of the case. If it is a big bond, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to get it “reduced” in a bond reduction hearing. For example, if the $50,000 bond got reduced to $10,000 you would pay a $1000 fee to the bondsman, instead of $5000 and you would save you $4000.
If a person was on probation when they got arrested on a new charge, you may be wasting money by bonding them out immediately. You may pay the bondsman the fee, only to find out the next day your loved one is rearrested on a probation violation with no bond set. In that case, you will have totally wasted the fee paid to the bondsman.
A good criminal defense attorney may be able to save you enough money on the bond to pay a lot of his fee. Many people in desperation spend all of their money on bail bond and then have no money to hire a lawyer and end up with the Public Defender. That is a huge mistake.
Many times having a lawyer at the “initial appearance” can make a huge difference. It may result in “pre trial release” with no monetary bond. In that case, it costs you nothing for bond.
In domestic violence cases, having a defense lawyer at the initial appearance may keep the judge from imposing very restrictive conditions such as “no contact” with a spouse.
If a relative has been arrested, your first call should be to the lawyer. Know your options before you make a bad decision.
We often get calls from women whose husbands or boyfriends have been arrested for domestic battery in Lee County. Most of the time it is because of an argument that got out of hand, and most of the time it involves alcohol. Years ago, if you called 911, the police would show up and talk to the people involved and calm things down. Now, if you call 911, someone is going to jail. It is true that there are cases of actual domestic violence and abuse in Ft Myers and there are situations where the women have been subjected to acts of violence, but in my experience as a Ft Myers criminal lawyer, I have found that most of the arrests do not involve serious abuse. Many times it is just yelling and screaming, and many times it is because both parties have been drinking.
When the police get a 911 call, they will generally show up within minutes. They will generally interview the caller first, and often form an opinion before even talking to the man. “Battery” can be something as simple as poking someone with a finger while arguing. It does not have to involve injury. A battery is simply a “non consensual touching”. I have had cases where the wife has gone ballistic and attacked her husband slapping, scratching and screaming and all the husband has done is try to restrain her with a hug. The police almost always assume it is the man’s fault and arrest him and haul him off to jail, even over the objection of the wife or girlfriend. A domestic violence arrest can tear a family apart. The man is taken before a judge in the morning and most times, the judge enters a no contact order as a condition of bond. This can wreck the family. Most working couples or families cannot afford to have two places to live, one for the wife and one for the husband. Many families only have one car and both the husband and wife work. A no contact order can have a financially devastating impact on the average family. A domestic violence prosecution takes on a life of its own and is like a snowball rolling downhill. All of this begins with a 911 call.
Unless the arrest involves a pattern or real physical abuse, our goal at or criminal defense firm is to help the family deal with this problem. The no contact order needs to get lifted and changed to “no harmful contact”. We will most times contact the State Attorney’s office and try and reason with them. Many times, even if the wife does not want to go forward, the prosecutor will not want to hear it. The prosecutors almost always believe that there is major abuse and many feel they have an obligation to protect the woman, and many times, this is simply not true.
There are real consequences to a domestic battery conviction. Say good bye to your concealed weapons license and if convicted, you can end up doing time in County jail.
Often we can resolve these cases with counseling or anger management sessions. If alcohol is the underlying cause, we can help there too. Having an experienced good lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome.
Jumping on the problem before it gets out of hand also can make a difference. We may be able to convince the prosecutor to drop the case or file a reduced charge if the original charge was aggravated battery. No two cases are the same and many times the wife and the husband want to reconcile and restore their relationship. Many times it is the wife that actually hires us to be the husband’s criminal defense lawyer.No two cases are the same and many times the wife and the husband want to reconcile and restore their relationship. Many times it is the wife that actually hires us to be the husband’s criminal defense lawyer.
If a loved one has been arrested because of a 911 call, at our criminal law office, it costs nothing for a free consultation. Most Fort Myers criminal defense lawyers will not charge you to simply come in and talk about getting help. Our philosophy where possible is to save the family relationship are get things back to normal. Help often is only a phone call away. Call Today People make mistakes: We are Not Here to Judge You, We are Here to Defend you.
One of the most common reasons the average everyday ordinary person gets arrested if for driving under the influence. Getting arrested is a traumatic experience and being cuffed, transported, searched, booked and printed is humiliating. For many people this is their first contact with the criminal justice system and it can be overwhelming. There are real consequences to a DUI conviction and having an experienced, good criminal lawyer can make a world of difference in the outcome. There are hundreds of criminal defense lawyers here in Lee County and choosing the right one to represent you is a daunting challenge. Never make a decision based solely on advertising or price. Most importantly, do not wait to talk with a good criminal attorney because you may miss many deadlines that can impact your license. The Public Defender many times only gets appointed too late to deal with deadlines and generally only deals with the criminal court issues and not your license issues.
Price is something most people have to consider, but getting a bargain lawyer is like buying a bargain parachute. There is an old saying in life that “you get what you pay for” but you have to balance that with the reality of not over paying for good representation. So how do you go about selecting a really good DUI lawyer here in Ft. Myers or Cape Coral? Experience is a factor that should be considered. How long has the lawyer been handling DUI cases? Does the lawyer actually try DUI cases or does he have a reputation with the prosecutors for simply pleading the cases. Does the lawyer have prior experience as a prosecutor? It helps greatly to have a lawyer that knows the ropes and has handled DUI cases from the other side. You need to actually go and meet with the DUI lawyer, sit across the desk from him or her, and then ask yourself, “is this the lawyer I want standing beside me in the courtroom”?
Does the lawyer actually try DUI cases or does he have a reputation with the prosecutors for simply pleading the cases. Does the lawyer have prior experience as a prosecutor? It helps greatly to have a lawyer that knows the ropes and has handled DUI cases from the other side. You need to actually go and meet with the DUI lawyer, sit across the desk from him or her, and then ask yourself, “is this the lawyer I want standing beside me in the courtroom”?
Hiring a good experienced DUI lawyer is important. A DUI conviction in some cases, can land you in jail. It can cost you your license. It can affect your employment both now and in the future. It will affect your insurance rates. Most lawyers, including our firm, do not charge for an initial free consultation. You may be considering using the Public Defender but ask yourself this “if I was really sick, do I want to go to the public health department clinic”?
Your next decision, “who to hire” is an important one so take the time to actually go meet with the lawyer that is going to represent you. There may be good solid defenses in your case. The police may have violated your rights. The “stop” may have not been valid. The breathalyzer results may not be admissible in Court. A good DUI lawyer may find a defect in the State’s case.
Even if you really were guilty, do not assume that you should plead guilty just to get it over with. A good lawyer may get the charges reduced and save your license. Take advantage of the “free initial consultation”, meet with the lawyer, discuss the facts of your case and then make an informed decision as to who you want representing you. If you drove under the influence, you have already made one bad decision. Don’t make another one by hiring the wrong lawyer.
What is an organized scheme to defraud? When the State Attorney really wants to load up the charges on you, they charge you with an organized scheme to defraud. They use this charge as a “catch all” to run up the sentencing guidelines. As with any fraud, it usually focuses on a “false representation” about a future act. They come after builders and contractors who have not lived up to their promises. This statute is often misused and people who merely went broke are unfairly targeted.
Try something….Go on Google and ask “What percentage of small businesses fail?” You will be shocked at the answer. Going broke does not make you a criminal. Not being able to pay your past due Florida Sales Tax often is not intentional, but rather an act of desperation. Not being able to live up to a contract, does not make you a crook. As a white collar lawyer, in Sarasota, Ft Myers, Bradenton, Cape Coral, Palmetto, Port Charlotte, Hillsborough and St Petersburg over the years I have defended all types of cases involving fraudulent representations. Many times, most times, it is not a matter of an intentional misrepresentation, but rather ignorance or simply not being a savvy business man or woman. The sad truth is, most small businesses fail. Even large businesses fail. Bankruptcy many times is not a matter of choice.
What are the most common business pitfalls? Not remitting your payroll tax to the IRS is a huge one. Not remitting Florida Sales tax that you collected is another. That one will get you charged with grand theft in most instances. The Internet has greatly expanded the way scammers operate. The internet has also led to normal people being wrongfully charged for simply making a bad business decision or mistakes. Good People do make mistakes and get arrested, but in the real world, sometimes, agents, detectives and prosecutors cannot tell the difference between a mistake and an intentional fraud.
Hiring a good white collar crime lawyer is critical. Many DUI lawyers simple do not have the technical background to understand complicated fraud cases.
Peter Aiken is a former IRS Special Agent, a former Federal Prosecutor and forensic accountant. Peter D. Aiken has been defending complicated fraud cases for decades. There is a world of difference between having prosecuted fraud cases and defending them. Experience is ‘defending” is really important. There are a lot of criminal lawyers who have backgrounds in prosecution, but many do not have real experience defending complicated tax cases, embezzlement cases, money laundering cases and Ponzi scheme cases.
If you find yourself “under Investigation”, have gotten a Federal Grand Jury “target letter” or are under investigation by an IRS Special Agent, do not try and talk your way out of it. You will only dig yourself a hole and end up in Federal prison. Most lawyers to do not charge for an initial consultation and all lawyers are sworn to confidentiality, even if you don’t end up hiring them. If you find yourself in a “sticky” situation and have real criminal exposure, be smart enough to seek really good experience legal advice before you take another step. If you need to talk, or have a question and want to confidentially discuss a problem, give us a call.
Here in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral over the next two weeks Driving under the Influence arrests are going to spike. In the days before Christmas, many of us are attending holiday office parties and Christmas gatherings. Many people who normally do not drink will have one or two drinks and become impaired. For people who are not used to alcohol, it only takes a little bit, one or two drinks, to affect their ability to drive. This is particularly true for non drinkers. People can build up a tolerance to alcohol and some people can function after three or four drinks, where some become impaired after just a little bit of alcohol.
If you find yourself arrested for DUI over the holidays, it is probably because of a bad decision to drink and drive. You now face an important decision on getting legal representation and hiring the best lawyer for a DUI is critical. Not all lawyers understand the complexities of DUI law. Imagine how losing your license for six months or a year will change your life. Imagine how it will affect your job, your insurance rates and your family. There will be checkpoints over the holidays here in Lee County and many people are going to get stopped and many will be charged with driving under the influence. Who do you hire to represent you?
Some people either do not have the funds to hire a good dui lawyer or cannot raise the money and will use the Public Defender. Sadly, the Public Defender deals only with the criminal aspects of the case and not many of the license pitfalls that occur administratively. Having your own private DUI lawyer is critical to getting a good result that covers both your criminal case and your license issues. At Aiken and O’Halloran, we have decades of experience in defending DUI arrests. It is important to understand the consequences of pleading guilty. Even if deep down you really were impaired, resolving your case for a lesser charge may be possible. If there was a collision, or worse yet an injury, it is critical to avoid a conviction if at all possible.
Most law firms, including ours, do not charge for a free consultation, and there are many time deadlines you may miss if you wait until your court date to consult an attorney. Hiring a lawyer should not be based on advertising alone. Sean O’halloran, here at Aiken and O’halloran will be more than happy to answer questions you may have on how to go forward. Experience does count when it comes to defending DUI cases, you may have defenses you are unaware of. Do not assume you are “legally guilty” and simply plea guilty at your first arraignment. If you need information on the options and decisions you now face, we can help you in that process.
The real question should be “who is the best lawyer for me, for this kind of charge? Lawyers are in some respects like doctors. You would not want a foot doctor working on your heart. All lawyers go to law school and have to pass a test for minimum qualification, but there expertise and experience in a particular area is something you should be looking for. Do you want a ticket lawyer handling a serious sex charge or serious felony? Most lawyers advertise, but as in all of life, you have to take advertising with a grain of salt. Just because some lawyer may claim he is the best, does not mean he is the right lawyer for you. Here are the things you need to consider:
What was I arrested and charged with?
Are you in State Court or Federal Court? State court covers 90% of most cases. In State Court, it can be either a misdemeanor in County Court or a Felony in Circuit Court. It makes a huge difference because the consequence in Circuit Court are different. State County Court covers things like DUI, petit theft, domestic battery, and other relatively minor offenses.
Does the lawyer have experience in this type of case?
All lawyers are not created equal. Some may have lots of experience at advertising. Some may only try and sign you up and refer you to someone else to handle. Some may tell you what you want to hear to get you to hire them. Some may have little experience actually trying cases. How long has the lawyer practiced here in Lee County? Is he or she going to actually handle your case? How many trials has the lawyer actually handled where he defended someone? Many criminal defense lawyers are former prosecutors and that is a great way to learn, but there is a world of difference between prosecuting a case and defending a case. Experience in your particular type of case is a huge factor to consider.
It is important to know the lay of the land and understand the judges and prosecutors where your case is being handled. Does the lawyer have experience in negotiating with the local prosecutors? Has the lawyer been before your judge before? Does the lawyer understand the local policies and procedures?
Sadly, most people struggle to raise enough money to hire a good private lawyer. Getting arrested is a crisis just like a hurricane or some other disaster. A conviction can have terrible consequences. Most people have to rely on relatives and friends to help. Some lawyer charge low fees and are “cheap”. Ask yourself this. Would I want to buy the cheapest parachute or the cheapest life raft? You have to strike a balance between what you can afford and what you need. Free representation with the Public Defender may not be the best choice. If you have a serious illness, with dire consequences, do you want to go to the Public Health Clinic?
Hiring a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based on advertising alone and you should have faith in the lawyer you hire just like the faith you have in your doctor. Talk to the lawyer. Does he inspire confidence? Does he have experience? Is he polite or condescending?
Go meet with him and form you own opinion. Is this the person I want standing beside me in Court? Can I trust him with my future?
The bottom line is that some lawyers claim they are the best. Talk is cheap. No good ethical lawyer will ever claim he is the best. The real issue is “Who is the best for me”
Research the lawyer. Check his or her ratings. Some lawyer pay for advertising with national companies and services and ratings are not always accurate.
Bottom line…..Make a well thought out informed decision on who to hire.