Protect your rights with Flaherty Defense Firm
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

Arrested in Destin For Minor in Possession (MIP)?

If you are reading this blog you or a loved one has been charged with Minor in Possession, also known as MIP in Destin. Unfortunately, with the beautiful beaches, droves of Spring Breakers, and increased tourism comes an increased police force. The heightened police force equates to hundreds of Spring Break arrests with the most common being Minor in Possession.

The average Minor in Possession charge in Destin generally occurs on the beach. Law Enforcement Officers can be in plain clothes or full uniform and approach any person that they believe to be under the age of 21 and consuming alcohol. It is law enforcement’s typical practice to question almost every person in possession of a red solo cup. Once law enforcement has made contact, there is little to no chance that you can talk your way out of a citation or arrest.

What do I do now that I have been charged with Minor in Possession in Destin?

Simple. Call my office immediately to discuss your options. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side will not only offer you peace of mind but protect your future.

What makes you different than other attorneys?

At Flaherty Defense Firm criminal law is the only law I have ever practiced, which means my firm is dedicated 100% to fighting your case. In addition to a dedicated criminal practice I offer 24/7 communication. Call my office today and let me answer your questions and ease your mind.

Will I have to come back to Florida for Court?

If you do not have an attorney prior to your court appearance you MUST be present, unless you have been excused by the Court. Failure to appear will result in an immediate bench warrant for your arrest and will not be resolved until you return to Florida to face the Court.

My citation says I can pay a fine and not go to Court, what is the danger in that?

That is correct, the citation says you can pay a fine and never come back to Destin for Court. What the citation does not tell you is that by doing so you have given up your right to challenge the charge against you. You have given up your right to make the State prove their case against you. You have also given up the right to have your case decided favorably. By paying the citation you will receive either a misdemeanor conviction or a withhold of adjudication. A conviction will follow you forever. A withhold of adjudication, although a decent result, will mean the record can never be expunged (wiped clean). An adjudication withheld only qualifies for a record seal, which is not the same as a clean slate.

Little known facts about a Minor in Possession conviction:

  • You can be sentenced up to 60 days in county jail;
  • You can be sentenced up to 6 months probation;
  • You will face a mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to 6 months;
  • You will forever have a guilty misdemeanor conviction on your record that can never be erased; and
  • You will be required to disclose your conviction to future employers, schools, and licensing boards.

A conviction will follow you for the rest of your life.

Right now you have more questions than answers. I can help. A simple mistake as a young person should not follow you for the rest of your life. If you are looking for a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and protect your future, call my office today. My team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for you.

Flaherty Defense Firm can give you the help you need to fight your Minor in Possession charge. If you have been arrested or given a citation for Minor in Possession MIP in Destin, call me today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. 


Can I Get Jail Time For A DUI In Fort Walton Beach?

No matter what you’ve been arrested for in Fort Walton Beach, you are probably scared about the possibility of going to jail. Maybe you had to spend a night in jail when you were arrested and you’re terrified about having to go back.

I decided to write this blog about jail sentences in DUI cases because it’s a question I get a lot when I meet with DUI clients.

Obviously, every case is different, but what follows is an overview of First, Second, and Third DUI cases in Fort Walton Beach, and when jail time is a realistic possibility.

First Offense DUIs

Some unethical attorneys will try to scare you into hiring them by telling you that you are facing a jail sentence for a first offense DUI in Fort Walton Beach. The truth is, in 99.9% of first offense DUI cases, you will not be sentenced to jail if you enter a plea without going to trial. There are a lot of good reasons to hire an attorney for a first offense DUI, but avoiding jail time is usually not one of them.

In Florida, the maximum jail sentence you could receive for a first offense DUI is 6 months, but as I said, this is very unlikely.

One question that I get a lot is whether a DUI or drunk driving charge in another state can be used a prior offense. The answer is YES. If you were ever convicted of a drunk driving charge in any state, no matter how long ago it was, the State of Florida will count that as a previous conviction.

Second Offense DUIs

If the arrest date of your current DUI was within 5 years of the conviction date of your prior DUI, you are facing a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days. If your prior conviction was more than 5 years ago, there is no mandatory jail sentence, but the potential maximum sentence is 1 year in jail.

Third Offense DUIs

This is where things start to get very serious. If your 3rd DUI occurred within 10 years of your last one, the prosecutor can file this DUI as a 3rd Degree Felony with a potential 5 year prison sentence. Regardless of whether the case gets filed in misdemeanor or felony court, you face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail.

What Can You Do To Help Me?

As an attorney who only practices DUI and Criminal Defense, my most important duty is to do everything possible to keep my clients out of jail. It’s a responsibility I lose sleep over because my client and their family is looking to me to preserve their freedom.

I can’t promise what the eventual outcome will be in your case, but I will promise you this: If you entrust me with your defense, I will do everything possible to win your case and keep you out of jail.

If you are worried about whether you are going to jail after a DUI arrest in Fort Walton Beach, I welcome your call, so call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. You’ll be able to get your questions answered and have some peace of mind about where you stand.


What Should I Do If I Got Arrested On Spring Break In Destin?

Spring Break is almost upon us which means white beaches, beautiful weather, crystal clear water and, if you’re not careful, possibly an arrest record. If you are spending your Spring Break in Destin or Walton County you need to be aware that law enforcement will be cracking down hard on any underage drinking.

If you or a friend get arrested on Spring Break in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Grayton Beach, or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today to discuss your options at (850) 243-6097.

Some Spring Break arrests come with life long consequences such as jail, probation, suspension of your driver’s license or denial of financial aid. Do not leave your future to chance or the Public Defender. If you are a college student vacationing for Spring Break you need a local attorney fighting for you.

Common Spring Break arrests include:

I was arrested in Walton County, do I have to come back for Court?

If you have been arrested in Walton or Okaloosa County, your presence will be required in court if you do not have a private attorney. The fact that you are a student and may not have means to travel back to Florida will mean little to the Florida Court. Choosing to simply ignore the arrest and not come to court will result in a failure to appear bench warrant being issued for your immediate arrest.

If you hire me to defend you, the first thing I will do is file paperwork that will excuse you from all court appearances and authorize me to attend court on your behalf.

I was issued a Notice to Appear. What does that mean?

A Notice to Appear is a criminal citation that requires a court appearance. If you have been issued one by law enforcement you are required to be present for Court. Failure to appear will result in a bench warrant for your arrest. If you have hired a private attorney however, your appearance can be waived and you may never have to return to Florida for court.

My citation says I can pay a fine and not have to come back to Court, is that bad?

While you have the option of paying a fine if you are issued a criminal citation like a Notice to Appear, this does not mean that your record will be clear. By paying the citation you have admitted guilt. In some cases your record will show that you were convicted (adjudicated guilty) of the offense. In other cases the record will show that adjudication was withheld (not a conviction). In either case a withhold of adjudication or a conviction disqualifies you from having the record expunged (completely removed from your record).

If I am successful in having the case resolved through diversion however, your case will be dismissed and the arrest will be able to be expunged.

What if I am guilty or feel like I committed the crime?

Whether or not you feel responsible for the crime alleged, you have a right to defend yourself and fight your case. Your good student record, community service and plans for your future can help position you in a favorable light that can provide for a good resolution of your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can protect your future.

If you want peace of mind, straight forward answers and a clean slate, you have come to the right place.

If you have been arrested on Spring Break in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Grayton Beach, Okaloosa Island, or anywhere in Walton County, call me today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.


Juvenile Drug Charges in Destin.

Florida’s no tolerance drug policy leaves little room for alternatives when it comes to a conviction for drugs. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to act fast and get help.

What are the penalties for possession of drugs by a juvenile?

Provided your child is arrested for a misdemeanor, the penalties are up to one year incarceration and fines. Those penalties are the maximum that the State of Florida can give your child for a conviction of misdemeanor drug or paraphernalia possession. For felony possession the penalties are significantly worse. A third degree possession felony, the lowest degree of felony, has a maximum incarceration of up to five years. The sentences for drug offenses are harsh and not rehabilitative.

What can a parent do to protect their child?

If you are reading this, your child has already been arrested or charged with some form of drug possession. You are probably angry at your child for their actions and the trust established between you and your child has been broken. You may be filled with more questions than answers at this stage. What you do to handle this situation from this moment will change your child’s future forever. Your actions or failure to act will be with your child for the rest of their life.

Your child has the right to a future and you deserve answers.

I am a parent myself, so I understand what a tough time this must be for your family. In this situation, knowledge is definitely power. I offer answers in a non threatening environment. No sales pitch. No scare tactics. Just common sense advice from one parent to another.

Someone told me that juvenile cases are not that serious. A juvenile crime is sealed, right?

That statement is true in part and false in part. If your child is arrested for a juvenile drug crime and the charge remains in juvenile court, the record will eventually be sealed from the public eye. However, the record will not be sealed from law enforcement in the event your child gets in trouble in the future.

What can a juvenile attorney do to protect my son or daughter?

In the juvenile process there are several phases. Each phase builds on the next until we reach final disposition. Each phase is vital to achieve the desired outcome.

Phase 1: In phase 1 your son or daughter has just been charged with drug possession. I will meet with both you and your child and discuss the alleged crime, potential outcomes, and your child’s plans for the future. This stage is important because I need to understand the family background and dynamics as well as the details surrounding the charge.

Phase 2: Immediately following a charge or arrest, the Department of Juvenile Justice is notified. The job of a juvenile justice probation officer is to screen your child for propensity to re-offend and offer guidance to the prosecutor and the judge about your child. This phase is the most critical one in this process. I will attend this meeting with you and your son or daughter and offer support. I will work with you to establish rapport with the probation officer and position the case for a favorable outcome.

Phase 3: This phase generally involves communication between the State Attorney, the probation officer and I. During this phase I build mitigation and supporting background information. The goal at the conclusion of these meetings is to have a clear understanding of the facts and evidence against your child, a solid back story about your child and potential resolutions outlined to resolve your son or daughter’s case.

Phase 4: The court phase. During this phase, there will be a court appearance that you and your child must attend. This court date can be critical to show the judge your eagerness to make sure your child is held accountable but also not treated unfairly.

Phase 5: The final phase is the disposition phase. By this point I will have met with you and your son or daughter several times, discussed the case in detail with probation, and set a plan to resolve the case with the State Attorney. The judge will review the proposed resolution and the case will be resolved through an agreement, program, pretrial diversion, or a trial.

I understand the stress you must be feeling as a parent right now. You’re trying to: (1) enforce parental rules; (2) protect your child; (3) find the best possible help for your child and (4) make sure the outcome does not destroy your child’s life. I have represented many juveniles facing drug charges. I will help guide you and your child through the system and get back on track

If your son or daughter has been charged with drug possession in Destin, call me today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. 


Defending DUI Charges For Military Members

If you are in the military and you have been charged with DUI in Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa County, you don’t need me to tell you that your career is on the line. With that in mind, it is critical that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who will challenge every aspect of your case in an effort to win your DUI case.

Anticipating the Immediate Consequences of a DUI Charge

Usually, the military will wait to see what happens in civilian court before taking action on the military side. In some cases, they will impose certain sanctions, including the following:

  • A letter of reprimand
  • Non-deployment status
  • Enrollment in alcohol or drug treatment or counseling
  • Reduction in rank or pay
  • Inability to reenlist

With your career and everything you have worked so hard for on the line, I would like for you to call me and let me help. You’ve spend your career defending all of us. Now let me return the favor and fight to save your career.

Call a Fort Walton Beach DUI Attorney for Military Personnel

I am committed to protecting my military clients from the devastating consequences that come from a DUI conviction. Call me today at (850) 243-6097.


Juvenile Sex Crimes in Destin.

Being charged with a sexual crime is an incredibly traumatic experience. Seeing your child face such a devastating accusation is unimaginable. If your child has been charged with a sexual crime in Destin, it is important to act fast.

Don’t let your child’s life be decided by a public defender or a low cost attorney.

Sexual offenses in juvenile court require knowledge, finesse and fight. Trusting your child’s life to an overworked public defender or a budget criminal attorney that does not understand juvenile law can mean a lifetime of consequences.

Does it really matter which attorney I hire for my child?

Not all attorneys are the same. Specifically, not all criminal attorneys handle juvenile cases. The juvenile justice system is completely separate from the adult system. The prosecutor, probation officers, judges and law enforcement staff operate in a manner that is unlike any other court experience. A juvenile sex case should be defended by an attorney with expertise in defending sexual offenses as well as expertise in representing juveniles in the juvenile justice system.

My child is technically guilty of the offense; shouldn’t they just take their punishment?

Ensuring that your child is responsible for the offense and receives punishment is important. As parents we want our children to be accountable for their actions and face the music. However, it is imperative that you as a parent understand what that means for your child accused of a sexual crime. There is no scenario where your child can face their punishment without lifelong implications when the charge is sexually related. The cost is too great and can impact not only your child’s future but yours as well.

If your child is charged with any of the following you can expect them to be placed on the National Sexual Offender Registry for a term of 25 years:

  • Sexual Battery
  • Lewd or Lascivious Battery
  • Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
  • Any sexual conviction involving force or coercion

What is the Sexual Offender Registry?

The National Sexual Offender and Predator Registry is a national database that requires communication with law enforcement of persons convicted of certain sexual offenses. Some of the sanctions imposed by being placed on the sexual offender registry are:

  • do not live within a designated distance of a school, park, bus stop or daycare facility.
  • do not leave the county of residency without public notification
  • transfer to another state requires court ordered permission
  • immediate community notification
  • denial of Federal Housing assistance
  • no contact with minors
  • possibly no contact with siblings

What makes Flaherty Defense Firm different from other criminal defense attorneys?

First, we are all parents and we understand the traumatic experience you as a parent are facing. Second, we have handled many juvenile cases ranging from low level misdemeanors to capital felony offenses. Third, we have a track record that speaks for itself specifically with juveniles charged with a sexual offense. Fourth, we have been practicing in Destin for over 13 years. Our reputation with the local judges, juvenile probation officers, detention staff and juvenile prosecutors allows our firm to provide insight to you about your child’s case.

What can I do for my child now?

The best defense is a strong offense. Contact our office today to discuss your options. Our team will begin working immediately to identify defenses, contact the prosecutor, develop mitigation and prepare a plan of attack to limit the exposure your child is facing. The benefit of having a defense team in the beginning could greatly impact your child’s future.

The consult is free. The decision is yours. Let our team protect you and your child’s future.

When your child’s future is at stake, Flaherty Defense Firm can give you the help you need. If your son has been charged with a juvenile sexual crime in Destin, call us today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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10.0Tim Michael Flaherty

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