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 Is The Penalty For Child Abuse In Okaloosa County?

There are two levels of Child Abuse charges: Child Abuse and Aggravated Child Abuse. Both are felonies and both are punishable by years in prison.

For all child abuse cases in Okaloosa County, you will be prosecuted by a specialized prosecution team from the Children’s Advocacy Center in Niceville. These prosecutors, police officers, and child protection team members all work together with one common goal: sending anyone who hurts a child to prison for a very long time.

While it is hard to argue with such a noble goal, that of protecting kids, the problem comes up when otherwise innocent people get prosecuted for something they didn’t know was illegal. Most commonly, corporal punishment, or spanking. There is a lot of grey area about where the line is between lawful corporal punishment and actual abuse. All too often, the prosecutors in Okaloosa County come down on the side of calling corporal punishment abuse.

Once that happens, you are in danger of losing your kids pursuant to a Dependency proceeding along with facing a lengthy prison sentence in criminal court.

What is considered Child Abuse under Florida law?

Child Abuse cases in Okaloosa County and throughout Florida are prosecuted under Florida Statute 827.03(1)(b) which defines Child Abuse as:

“Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child, or an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child, or active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.”

How is Aggravated Child Abuse Different?

Florida Statute 827.03(1)(a) states that Aggravated Child Abuse occurs when a person:

“Commits aggravated battery on a child, willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or unlawfully cages a child, or knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disability to a child.”

What penalty am I facing for Child Abuse or Aggravated Child Abuse in Okaloosa County?

Child Abuse is a third degree felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. It is a level 6 offense under the Sentencing Guidelines so it scores 36 points. Even though that is less than the 44 point cutoff for mandatory prison time, the Okaloosa County prosecutors routinely seek jail or prison time in child abuse cases.

Aggravated Child Abuse is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, it is a level 9 offense that scores at least 92 points depending on the severity of the child’s injuries. A level 9 offense requires a mandatory prison sentence of at least 48 months if you are convicted as charged.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Child Abuse in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097. I will be glad to meet with you and talk about your situation confidentially.

Speedy Trial In Fort Walton Beach Criminal Cases

I decided to write this blog about Speedy Trial in Fort Walton Beach cases because as a criminal defense attorney, I get asked about it a lot. I’ll discuss the Speedy Trial rule and how it works. When we meet to talk about your case, I’ll explain whether I think Speedy Trial is a good idea in your case or not.

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191 is the applicable law on this topic. I’ll discuss Rule 3.191 and also offer some information about how the rule is applied in Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa County courts. The rule divides Speedy Trial into two types: Speedy Trial Without Demand and Speedy Trial Upon Demand.

(1) Speedy Trial Without Demand

Rule 3.191(a) states: “Every person charged with a crime shall be brought to trial within 90 days of arrest for a misdemeanor, or within 175 days of arrest for a felony. The time periods established shall commence when the person is taken into custody.”

What Does Custody Mean?

As defined by Rule 3.191(d), “a person is taken into custody when the person is arrested or when the person is served with a notice to appear in lieu of physical arrest.”

What If We Need A Continuance To Get Prepared?

This is very common. The prosecutors in Fort Walton Beach are notoriously slow in sending discovery on their cases, so a lot of times, when the court date comes around, we are still waiting for discovery. Especially in situations where the case might go to trial, I need sufficient time to review discovery, file motions, take depositions, and prepare. If I decide that a continuance is needed, I will waive Speedy Trial, which stops the clock unless we file what is called a Demand For Speedy Trial which is discussed next.

(2) Speedy Trial Upon Demand

Rule 3.191(b) states in part: “Every person charged with a crime by indictment or information shall have the right to demand a trial within 60 days by filing with the court a Demand For Speedy Trial and serving a copy on the prosecuting authority.”

What Happens After Filing a Demand For Speedy Trial?

The Judges in Fort Walton Beach do not like it when defense attorneys file this Demand. It puts pressure on them and on the prosecutor which is what makes it a useful option in some cases.

Rule 3.191(b)(1-4) lists the four things that happen once a Demand is filed:

  • No later than 5 days from the filing of a demand for speedy trial the court shall hold a calendar call for the express purpose of announcing in open court receipt of the demand and of setting the case for trial.
  • At the calendar call the court shall set the case for trial to commence at a date no less than 5 days nor more than 45 days from the date of the calendar call.
  • The failure of the court to hold a calendar call on a demand shall not interrupt the running of any time periods.
  • If the defendant is not brought to trial within 50 days of the filing of the demand, the defendant has the right to the appropriate remedy set forth in 3.191(p).

What Is The Remedy If The Case Isn’t Brought To Trial On Time?

This is why the Judges really don’t like this rule. Rule 3.191(p) states that once the time period has passed, and after the defendant files a Notice of Expiration of Speedy Trial Time, the court must hold a hearing within 5 days, and at that hearing, must order that the trial take place within 10 days, unless some very narrow exceptions apply. If the case is not brought to trial within that 10 day period, the defendant will be discharged forever from the crime.

In other words, the case gets dismissed and can’t ever be refiled.

Do You File A Demand For Speedy Trial A Lot?

No. While the Rule does potentially pressure the State, which we can sometimes exploit to our advantage, it also has implications for the defense. Rule 3.191(g) states in part that the defendant is bound by the demand. It further states that no demand should be filed unless the defendant has a bona fide desire to obtain a trial faster than normal. Also, the Rule states that by filing the demand, the defendant is telling the court that he/she has diligently investigated the case, and is prepared to try the case within 5 days.

This is why I don’t use this tactic as a bluff. Judges know when either side is playing games and if they think I am doing so, they will call my bluff and possibly force us to trial within 5 days. This is rarely to the client’s benefit.

Speedy Trial is something I always monitor in all of my cases. I try to avoid whenever possible waiving our client’s right to a Speedy Trial unless it is absolutely necessary.

I have used Speedy Trial in the past in a few cases to get charges dismissed, so it can be an effective tool when it applies. With every case I defend in Fort Walton Beach, I am always looking for every possible edge I can find to help my clients.

If you have been arrested in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 and get the help you need.

Getting Destin criminal cases dismissed

Pretrial Diversion in Destin

Your attorney and the prosecutor will most likely have negotiations about your case. Part of the discussion should include the possibility of resolving the case with pretrial diversion, or deferred prosecution. In most instances, diversion is only offered if this is your first offense, however I have also been able to secure it for clients with priors as well.

What is Deferred Prosecution or Pretrial Diversion?

You will not be required to plead guilty if your case is sent to diversion. Instead, you would enter into an agreement with the prosecutor that will outline conditions for you to complete. If you complete them, the state will agree to dismiss your case.

If you complete the diversion terms, it would be like going to trial and winning…without the risk of losing. This is often a favorable option for many defendants who do not want to risk a wrongful conviction at trial and a potential jail sentence. An experienced Destin criminal defense attorney with expertise in felony and misdemeanor cases will help make you aware of all your options.

What are the different forms of Pretrial Diversion in Destin?

There are several different forms of pretrial diversion for felony and misdemeanor charges. For a misdemeanor in Destin, the form of diversion is normally called Pretrial Diversion. If the charge is a felony, it will be called Pretrial Intervention. Either way, the result is the same. If you complete it, the case gets dismissed.

Will I go to jail if I don’t finish my diversion?

No. You will not automatically go to jail. Instead, the clerk of court will put your case back on the court docket. It is NOT the same as a violation of probation. Essentially, if you don’t complete the diversion, I will either negotiate an extension for you or set your case for trial. In my experience, over 99% of my clients who were sent to diversion successfully completed it and moved on with their lives.

How will pretrial diversion affect my military career?

If you are in the military and have been arrested, you probably already know that they can take action against you regardless of the outcome in civilian court. However, if your case is ultimately dismissed, you stand a much higher chance of being able to remain in the military.

How can an attorney help me get into pretrial diversion?

It is not automatic that someone gets offered pretrial diversion. In fact, quite the opposite. It is my job to convince the prosecutor that you are someone who deserves the second chance to put this behind you. I will also work to negotiate the best terms possible for the agreement and will ensure that the prosecutor issues the dismissal as soon as your terms are complete.

I talk a lot on this site about working to get the best possible result for our clients. Pretrial Diversion is one of the tools I use to protect my clients and keep their records clean.

If you have questions about whether your case qualifies for diversion, please don’t hesitate to call me at (850) 243-6097. I’ll be glad to talk with you and give you some answers about where you stand.

Call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097 if you have been arrested in Destin.

Resisting an Officer In Destin

Any time you fight with a police officer or resist them while they are carrying out their duty as an officer, you are facing criminal charges and possible jail or prison time. There are two types of Resisting an Officer charges in Destin and throughout Florida: (1) Resisting an Officer Without Violence and (2) Resisting an Officer With Violence.

What is the definition of Resisting an Officer?

According to Florida Statute 843.01, you can be found guilty of Resisting an Officer if you knowingly and willfully resist, obstruct, or oppose an officer who is in the lawful execution of their duty. If you are accused of doing so and also committing violence against the officer, you will be charged with Resisting an Officer With Violence.

What is the penalty for Resisting an Officer?

Resisting with Violence is a third degree felony. This means that the maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. Under the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, this charge is a 28 point offense. While this point value is below the 44 point threshold for mandatory prison time, it is common for prosecutors to seek jail time for any crime against law enforcement. If you have been charged with Resisting with Violence, you need a Destin criminal lawyer.

Resisting without Violence is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1000.00 fine.

What defenses are there for Resisting an Officer?

As the statute states, the State must prove that you acted knowingly AND willfully. This means they must be able to show that you knew the person was an officer and that your actions were willful. This comes up a lot in situations where the suspect was intoxicated or under the influence to the point where they either didn’t realize the person was an officer, or their actions weren’t intentional or willful.

The State also must prove that the officer was engaged in the lawful execution of his or her legal duty. If the officer was acting outside of their capacity as a police officer, arguably this charge wouldn’t apply.

What should I do if I am charged with Resisting an Officer?

Resisting an Officer charges in Destin are serious and demand a serious and well-planned response. Rather than trust your freedom to a court-appointed public defender, ask yourself whether you would feel more confident walking into a court with an experienced Destin criminal defense attorney that YOU have chosen. If the answer to that question is yes, then give me a call.

Call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 if you have been charged with Resisting an Officer in Destin.

Do The Police In Okaloosa County Wear Body Cameras?

We have all seen the crime based TV shows where there are multiple cameras and law enforcement is able to “catch the bad guy” with the use of technology. This level of high tech crime fighting has now landed itself on the streets of Okaloosa County.

Okaloosa County Sherriff’s deputies are now equipped with a body camera that records everything that the officer sees or hears. The camera is mounted on their chest and records all audio and visual data from the officer’s perspective. This can be a great tool to help keep the officer safe. However, it is also a recorded digital record of your interaction with law enforcement.

What does this mean for residents of Okaloosa County?

It means every interaction you may have with law enforcement comes with a digital record. Everything you say and do is now being recorded without your knowledge.

Can I fight to have the digital evidence removed or ask the officer to turn it off?

No. Law enforcement is allowed to use any digital means necessary to track their contact with civilians. The basis for these cameras is for officer safety and as such will continue to be used as spy cameras.

If I can’t stop it, what are my options?

Even though you can’t stop them from videotaping your interaction, knowledge is power. Knowing this gives you the ability to present yourself in a positive light for possible future use in court. It can also work against the officer if their treatment of you is anything less than professional. Either way, I will subpoena and analyze any and all video evidence that may be available in your case.

If you have been arrested in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty Defense Firm and get the help you need. We are available 24/7 at (850) 243-6097.

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10.0Tim Michael Flaherty

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