Proven Criminal and DUI Defense
I don’t care what you’re accused of doing. You are a human being and you deserve to have someone in your corner who will fight for you. I will not judge you; I’ll defend you. - Tim Flaherty

If you’ve been charged with a crime, call (850) 243-6097 to get a FREE consultation.

Blog Posts

What happens if I get caught driving after a DUI suspension in Okaloosa County?

If you were convicted of a DUI in Okaloosa County, or anywhere in Florida, your driving privileges were most likely suspended for at least 6 months, up to a lifetime revocation.

If you are caught driving while serving a DUI suspension, you will be charged with Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (DWLSR), in violation of Florida Statute 322.34.

Here is an overview of the penalties according to the statute:

  • First Offense:  second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.
  • Second Offense:  first degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1000.00 fine.
  • Third Offense:  third degree felony with a potential 5-year prison sentence and a $5000.00 fine. The judges in Okaloosa County routinely hand down 1-year jail sentences for this charge.

Are DUI suspensions treated any differently in Okaloosa County?

Yes they are.  In most other DWLSR cases, you would not face a jail sentence for a first or second offense. However, if you are caught driving on a DUI suspension in Okaloosa County, you will likely face a minimum of 10 days in jail for a first offense, and far longer for a second or subsequent offense.

Call an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Lawyer

I have been practicing criminal defense in Okaloosa County since 2001. I have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to secure the best possible results for my clients. My #1 priority if you were caught driving on a DUI suspension will be to keep you out of jail.

Call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 and I’d be glad to discuss your case with you and explain exactly how I would defend you. The consultation is free, so call us today.

 


How to Communicate with an Okaloosa County Inmate

There is nothing more frustrating than having a loved one incarcerated and not being able to communicate with them.  If you are local you can visit your loved one based on a stringent schedule established by the jail.  You will be given specific days and times to visit with no liberty to modify.  If the jail is on lockdown for any reason and it happens to be your visitation day, you don’t get to see the inmate.  Children under the age of 18 will not be permitted to visit without an accompanying parent.  Communication will become one of the most difficult tasks you have from now until your loved one’s release.  Although Okaloosa County has taken some steps towards accommodating a more convenient visiting schedule, there are a few things you need to know in order to communicate.

Who Cannot Visit an Inmate at the Okaloosa County Jail?

There are a few situations where certain people are not allowed contact with an Okaloosa County inmate.  These situations are as follows:

  • If you are currently on felony probation;
  • If you are a co-defendant or co-conspirator of the crime for which the inmate is detained;
  • If you are the victim of the crime for which the inmate is detained;
  • If you have an active warrant for your arrest;
  • If you have been convicted of a felony regardless of probation or parole status.

How do I talk to My Loved One at the Okaloosa County Jail?

The calling system used by many facilities, including Okaloosa, is Securus.  Securus is an inmate calling plan that you can establish over the phone or internet.  Securus acts as the telephone agent charging your credit card or account based on the length of the call.  With Securus, you don’t have to deposit money on a phone card for the inmate or endure painfully expensive collect call bills.  Securus is available 24/7 through their call center at 1-800-844-6591 or on the web at https://securustech.net/.

The most affordable plan with Securus to date is the AdvanceConnect plan.  This is a prepaid plan that allows contact to land line phones and cell phones.  The prepaid account deducts for each call and can be replenished over the phone or online.  Once the AdvanceConnect plan has been established, you can begin receiving calls immediately.

Benefits of AdvanceConnect:

  • Minimum funding amount of $25
  • Calls are received as long as funds are in the account
  • Accounts can have multiple phone numbers attached

We are not affiliated in any way with Securus, and we do not receive any compensation for providing this information. We are simply offering it to help.

How can I see my loved one at the Okaloosa County Jail?

Would you rather connect with your loved one through a video chat?  Are you unable to see them on a scheduled day?  Securus has an answer for that.  Securus offers in home visitation through a video feed.  This is a great way to connect if you are not a local resident.  The Okaloosa County Jail is a video approved facility and can help you connect via video.  Use the same steps above and create a Securus account.  Once the account has been approved you will schedule a video conference with the jail for visitation.  Inmates are given a minimum of 2 hours of communication time per week.

Are Calls Private From the Okaloosa County Jail?

No.  No call or video will be private if you are communicating with someone held at the Okaloosa County Jail.  The ONLY private conversation your loved one will ever have at the jail is with their attorney.  Inmates should know this rule but if for some reason your loved one begins talking about their case or saying things that are private, terminate the call.  Jail calls can and will be used in court against an inmate.  ALL calls are recorded and heavily monitored.  We understand that your loved one has a desire to have their story heard and we agree, but that must be left for the attorney’s ears only.

If you have a loved one incarcerated at the Okaloosa County Jail and you need help establishing contact, call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097.  We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for you.


Arrested on Spring Break in Destin, Okaloosa, or Walton County

Welcome to the Emerald Coast, notably the world’s whitest beaches and the premier spot for Spring Break 2016. While you enjoy some downtime from academic stress, our area offers a wide array of fun in the sun.  You will likely leave with many memories and a sunburn, however, make sure you don’t leave for home with an arrest!

Click here to read a letter from Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department on Spring Break 2016: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/assets/pdf/DA297219.PDF

Click here to read a letter from Walton County Sheriff’s Department on Spring Break 2016: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/assets/pdf/DA294218.PDF

If you or a friend has been arrested in Destin, Okaloosa, or Walton County, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today. For over 16 years we have been protecting the rights of spring breakers. Our consult is free but the peace of mind is priceless, call our office 24/7 at (850) 243-6097.

Contact a Destin Spring Break Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Law Enforcement is out in full swing to arrest vacationers for any violation of law they come across. Minor in Possession of Alcohol is the most common arrest we see for spring breakers. Unlike many other beaches you may have visited, the Okaloosa and Walton County Sheriff’s Departments will not issue a warning. You WILL be arrested if you are caught with alcohol and are under the age of 21.

Common arrests we see during spring break include:

Minor in Possession of Alcohol-misdemeanor offense

  • Up to 60 days in county jail or 6 months probation

Disorderly Intoxication-misdemeanor offense

  • Up to 60 days in county jail or 6 months probation

Open House Parties

  • Up to 60 days in county jail or 6 months probation

Possession of marijuana-misdemeanor offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail or 12 months probation
  • Driver’s license suspension

Possession of Tobacco by Minor-misdemeanor offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail or 12 months probation

Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor-felony offense

  • Up to 5 years in prison

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia-misdemeanor offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail or 12 months probation

Possession of a Controlled Substance-felony offense

  • Offenses range from 5-30 years in prison

I was arrested for Minor in Possession in Destin, do I have to come back for Court?

If you have a private attorney, we can protect your rights and ensure you do not have to return for court. If you were arrested in Okaloosa or Walton County for minor in possession and do not have a private attorney, you will be required to return for court. If you chose not to return for court a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

What if I have class and can’t come back for Court in Walton County?

Missing a court date because you are scheduled to attend class is not a valid excuse. If you fail to appear, your bond will be revoked and there will be a warrant issued for your arrest. Instead, give us a call at (850) 243-6097 and let us take care of this for you.

What happens if I get arrested on Spring Break in Okaloosa or Walton County?

If you are arrested, there is nothing you can say or do to avoid being taken to jail. You will be transported to either the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview or Walton County Jail in DeFuniak Springs. You will be entitled to a phone call after a lengthy booking process. More often than not you will be given a bond and a notice to appear for your court date. In serious offenses, such as felony charges, you may have to see a judge the morning after your arrest before a bond will be set.

I was given a Notice to Appear in Okaloosa County, can I just pay the fine?

You can pay the fine to avoid having to come back for court but you will be signing away your future potential. By paying the fine on the notice to appear you are admitting guilt. You will be giving up your constitutional right to fight your case and have an outcome that won’t impact your future.

I committed the crime, why should I fight it?

In most cases guilt is relative. What is important is preserving your right to fight your case whether or not you feel that you committed the crime. Failure to fight your case could result in an automatic guilty conviction which will impact your future.

A guilty conviction, even a misdemeanor can NEVER be erased!

How Can a Destin Spring Break Defense Attorney Protect My Record?

If you were arrested for any offense while on Spring Break in Okaloosa or Walton County, your record is in jeopardy. At Flaherty Defense Firm we will work toward an outcome that will allow your record to be wiped clean or expunged. In Florida, this can ONLY happen with certain results. If your case is dismissed you will qualify for a record expungement. An expungement is the “magic eraser” for your record. It will remove the arrest, charges, and all documents regarding the arrest from the public record. You can only apply to have your record expunged one time in your life. If your case is “withheld”, you will NOT qualify for a record expungement.

Being arrested is the most terrifying thing you will go through. Selecting a criminal defense attorney that will fight to defend you should not be.

You are in a strange place with laws that you are not familiar with. Now is not the time to leave your future in the hands of the unexperienced. If you need sound legal advice and a team that is willing to fight to protect everything you have worked for, Call Flaherty Defense Firm today. If you were arrested during Spring Break in Okaloosa or Walton County, contact our office 24/7 at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.


What is First Appearance in Okaloosa County?

Under Florida law, when someone is arrested or picked up on a warrant, they must be seen by a Judge within 24 hours. This hearing is called First Appearance.

What happens at First Appearance in Okaloosa County?

Basically, at First Appearance, the Judge will decide whether to release someone on bond or hold them in jail until they appear before the Judge assigned to their case.

How does the Judge make the bond decision at First Appearance?

The Judge will consult with someone from the Pretrial Services office. Pretrial Services is the agency that compiles a person’s background, prior criminal history, etc. They submit a written report to the Judge with all of this information, along with a recommended bond (or a recommendation of no bond).

The Judge gives a lot of weight to Pretrial Services’ recommendation, but he or she is not required to follow it. It is still up to the Judge to make the final decision.

Does everyone get a bond at First Appearance?

No. In a lot of cases, the arrest warrant will contain language that directs the first appearance Judge to “hold” the client for the Judge who will preside over the case.

If the charge is Violation of Probation, in most cases, the First Appearance Judge will order the person to be held without bond.

If the charge is a felony and the Judge covering First Appearance is a misdemeanor Judge, sometimes they will order no bond and let the felony Judge make the decision at a later date.

What can an attorney do for me at First Appearance?

First, unlike a lot of attorneys, I personally attend First Appearance for my clients. I will prepare my own detailed background on my client and be ready to present a compelling argument for releasing my client from jail.

One quick example:

Recently, I had a client charged with felony Violation of Community Control. The warrant requested “no bond.” The Judge handling First Appearance was a misdemeanor Judge. In other words, our chances of getting our client out of jail at First Appearance were not looking good.

I was able to get this client a reasonable bond at First Appearance after presenting mitigating evidence and background information about my client.

I will also contact a bail bondsman before the First Appearance and have them on standby so that once a bond is set, they can meet you at the jail and get you out as soon as possible.

I don’t want any of my clients to spend one second more in jail than they have to, so I will work to get you released from jail as quickly as possible.

If you or a loved one has a warrant in Okaloosa County, and you don’t want to face the Judge alone at First Appearance, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097. I am available 24 hours a day, so if an arrest happens late at night, call me and I’ll be there when you need me.


How Do I Post a Bond in Okaloosa County?

In one of our previous posts, Getting a Bond in Okaloosa County, we discussed how bond decisions are made and explained what happens at First Appearance and at Bond Hearings. This post will explain the different types of bonds and how they are paid once the bond is set.

What are the different ways a bond can be paid in Okaloosa County?

(1) Released on your own recognizance (ROR)

With this type of bond, the person is allowed to “sign themselves out” and their signature acts as a promise to appear in court. If the Judge set an ROR bond, you are not required to post any money in order to be released. However, if you do not appear for court, you could be held in jail without bond.

(2) Signature Bond

A family member or loved one is allowed to sign the person out of jail with the promise that you will appear for your court dates. In some cases, the family member must agree to a specific monetary amount that they will pay if you don’t show up for court.

(3) Cash Bond

The family member or loved one posts the entire amount of the bond in cash. This amount is held until the case is over. As long as you appear for your court dates, the cash bond is refunded. If any court costs or fines are imposed in your case, the Judge will apply the cash bond to those costs. If there is any of the cash bond amount remaining, the balance will be refunded to the depositor of the cash bond.

(4) Professional Bond

This is often used when the amount of the bond set is high. With a professional bond, a bail bondsman is hired to bond the person out of jail. In exchange for this service, the bondsman will require a percentage of the bond to be paid to him or her. The most common amount is 10%. This amount is not refundable.

Example:  If the person has a bond set at $10,000, the family member would give $1000.00 (10%) to the bail bondsman to get the person out of jail. The $1000.00 would not be refunded. As long as the person shows up for court, there wouldn’t be any more money due to the bondsman.

Call an Okaloosa County Criminal Lawyer for Help

If your loved one has a bond set and you have questions about how to get them out of jail, I would be glad to help you. Call Flaherty Defense Firm anytime, day or night, at (850) 243-6097.


Okaloosa County Sex Offense Dismissed

I’ve been practicing as a criminal defense lawyer in Okaloosa County since 2001. You would think that after that long, I’d have seen it all. Let’s just say that this case presented some unique challenges.

JH hired me after being arrested for sexually exposing himself on the side of the road. At the time we were hired, it was uncertain whether the case would be filed as a felony Lewd or Lascivious Conduct, or as a misdemeanor Indecent Exposure. If it went felony, he was looking at up to 5 years in prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender. As a misdemeanor, he was facing up to a year in jail and a conviction on his record.

I knew that my first priority had to be making sure that the case was filed and resolved as a misdemeanor.

Being arrested for any offense is embarrassing enough. When the arrest is for exposing yourself in broad daylight in public, it’s mortifying. Needless to say, JH was extremely embarrassed and scared. He had recently had a nasty breakup and as a result believed the “anonymous caller” who turned him in was his ex-girlfriend. He claimed that he was parked on the side of the road in Destin using his cell phone. When confronted by law enforcement, he adamantly denied exposing himself to the caller.  However, he did admit to being in the area that the caller reported from.  And, there was certain “physical evidence” that was identified at the scene.

JH was looking to us to save his career and his reputation. He was a military veteran and was employed with a military contracting firm in Okaloosa County.  A conviction of this magnitude would have resulted in a total career loss.

I was able to work with the prosecutor in this case to get JH the help he needed and keep the case in misdemeanor court where it belonged. I also secured a pretrial diversion agreement for him that led to all charges being dismissed once he completed all of his requirements.

If you have been charged with a Sex Crime in Okaloosa County, I won’t judge you. Call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 and let me put my experience to work for you.


DUI Reduced in Fort Walton Beach for Military Member

LW was a military member who was charged with DUI in Fort Walton Beach. Due to his high profile status, he was told by his unit that if he was convicted of DUI, his career in the military would likely be over.

On the surface, it looked like LW had a weak case. He had agreed to take the breath test and the result was over 3 times the legal limit. He had also not done well on the field sobriety tests.

I subpoenaed the video evidence from the officer’s dashboard camera and found a few things to work with. I also reviewed all of the maintenance records for the Intoxilyzer 8000 that was used in the case. In short, I carefully reviewed and examined every piece of evidence in the case.

Even though the high breath alcohol reading worried me, I set the case for jury trial in Fort Walton Beach. Right before the trial, the Prosecutor approached me and asked if my client would consider a plea to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving.

LW gladly accepted the plea offer after being assured by his military command that it wouldn’t affect his military career since the plea was to a non-alcohol related charge.

If you entrust Flaherty Defense Firm with your defense, I will put 110% of my effort into saving your career. I will put my knowledge, expertise, and reputation to work for you.

If you have been charged with DUI in Fort Walton Beach and you’re in the military, give me a call today at (850) 243-6097 and see what I can do for you. The consultation is free.


Battery Charge in Destin Dismissed

M.H. was a young man who got arrested on vacation in Destin with a group of friends. On the night he was arrested, he and his group went to a local bar and when they returned to their condo, a fight broke out and the police were called. Our client was the only one arrested. He was charged with Battery and was facing up to a year in county jail.

Because of the extensive injuries suffered by the alleged victim, the prosecutor was demanding a minimum of 6 months in jail and was threatening to send the case to felony court and our client to prison if we didn’t take the deal.

I don’t take threats lightly when my client’s freedom is on the line, but I also don’t take kindly to being bullied. Instead of rolling over, I dug in. I focused our research on Speedy Trial grounds because I knew the alleged victim would not be available to come to court for several months.

I set our client’s case for trial and filed the paperwork to maintain and ensure his right to a speedy trial.  In the end, the Judge agreed with my position and dismissed the case on the grounds that my client’s speedy trial rights would be violated had the case been allowed to continue.

Having rights is one thing, but they are no good to you unless you have someone on your side that knows how to execute them; how to make the State adhere to them.

I know what moves to make and when to make them. I know how to adapt my approach to each unique case and apply the right strategies to secure the best possible result for my clients.

If you were arrested for Battery in Destin, I can help. Call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 460-7470 for a free consultation. I can meet in person, or if you’re out of town, we can talk on the phone. Either way, I welcome your call.


Battery on Law Enforcement Charge in Destin Reduced

DC was charged with Battery on Law Enforcement after an altercation outside a bar in Destin. She had never been in any trouble with the law before, so needless to say, she was terrified. She also had a lot to lose. She was the manager of a retail store at the Sandestin Outlet Mall, and she knew that a felony conviction would destroy her career.

I was able to get the security tapes from the incident. I also tracked down all of the witnesses that were present, including several that the state wasn’t even aware of. All of them gave conflicting accounts about what happened, but there was one thing they were consistent on. It was not clear at all that the alleged victim in the case was a law enforcement officer.

In Battery on Law Enforcement prosecutions, the state must be able to prove that the defendant knew that the alleged victim was law enforcement. Usually, this is easily proven if the person is wearing a uniform, displays a badge, clearly identifies themselves as a police officer, or is driving a marked police vehicle. None of those factors applied here.

I outlined all of this to the prosecutor at a court hearing and I set the case for trial. The prosecutor offered my client a reduced charge to a misdemeanor. No conviction on her record, no jail time. Just a fine and some community service.  While I was confident we could win at trial, my client knew she was facing 5 years in prison if the jury convicted her, so she decided to take the sure thing and accept the misdemeanor plea.

If you have been charged with Battery on Law Enforcement in Destin, Flaherty Defense Firm can help. Call me anytime, day or night, at (850) 460-7470.


Getting a Bond in Okaloosa County

If you have a family member, loved one, or friend who is currently in jail in Okaloosa County, we understand that your first two priorities are getting them released from jail as soon as possible and securing the best criminal defense attorney you can find.

In most circumstances, a person is legally entitled to a reasonable bond. The main exception to this is violations of probation or community control, where someone can be held with no bond.

How bond decisions are made in Okaloosa County

Is there a bond on the arrest warrant?

When someone has a warrant for their arrest, sometimes there will already be a bond on the warrant. If so, they can turn themselves in, post bond, and leave.

What if there was no bond on the warrant?

The person will need to spend at least one night in jail and see a judge for a hearing called “First Appearance.” This is where most bond decisions are made. The Judge will have a report from Pretrial Services that will recommend the appropriate bond, but it is still up to the Judge whether to issue a bond.

What if no bond was set at First Appearance?

The next step is to file a Motion To Set Bond. This will be scheduled for a hearing before the Judge who is assigned to the case. If you need a Motion to Set Bond filed for a loved one, it can take a couple of weeks to get on the Judge’s calendar, so call me as soon as possible.

The following is a partial list of statutory criteria that the Judge will consider:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense charged
  • The weight of the evidence against the defendant
  • The defendant’s ties to the community and their financial resources
  • Whether the Defendant has ever failed to appear for court
  • Whether the Defendant poses a danger to the community
  • The source of funds and whether they are linked to criminal activities
  • Whether the Defendant is already on probation, community control, or parole

What if a bond WAS set at First Appearance but it is too high?

If your loved one had First Appearance in Okaloosa County and the bond was set too high, the next step is to file a Motion to Reduce Bond. Just like with a Motion to Set Bond, call me as soon as possible to get this process started because it can take a couple of weeks to get on the Judge’s docket for the Motion to Reduce Bond.

Need help getting a loved one out of the Okaloosa County Jail?

If someone you care about is in the Okaloosa County jail, Flaherty Defense Firm can help. Give me a call 24/7 at (850) 243-6097. I will look into their current bond status and talk with you about whether to file a Motion to Set Bond or a Motion to Reduce Bond. Either way, I’ll be glad to give you some answers.

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10.0Tim Michael Flaherty

Call (850) 243-6097 for your free consultation.