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

Arrested for Minor in Possession in Destin?

If you were arrested for MIP while on spring break in Destin, it is understandable that your first call will likely be to your parents. Once you’ve done that, if you want to make sure this arrest doesn’t end up on your permanent criminal record, call Flaherty Defense Firm.

 Chances are if you are in Destin for Spring Break, you will encounter the all too familiar scene of undercover law enforcement hauling away Spring Breakers for alcohol offenses.  Possessing alcohol under the age of 21 is a criminal offense in the State of Florida. It is NOT the equivalent of a traffic ticket.

If you were arrested for minor in possession in Destin, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today.  We have been defending Destin spring breakers for over 15 years.  We know how to protect your spring break and your future.  Our defense team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (850) 460-7470 to help you.

I was charged with Minor in Possession in Destin-What do I do now?

First, do not pay the citation.  Do not rely on advice from law enforcement about your future.  Contact Flaherty Defense Firm immediately to protect your rights.  Having experience on your side could mean the difference between a clean slate and a permanent record.

After the cop arrested me, he said I can pay a fine and this goes away. Is that true?

First of all, why in the world would you consider taking legal advice from the person who just arrested you? Obviously, they are not looking out for your best interest. Same goes for the State Attorney’s Office.  Do not call them and ask for advice. Their job is to prosecute you, not help you.

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 cannot be expunged (wiped clean).

Do I have to come back to Florida for court after a MIP in Destin?

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.

As long as you have retained an attorney before your court date, you will not have to return to Florida for court.

What happens if I am convicted of Minor in Possession?

  • You can be sentenced to up to 60 days in county jail;
  • You can be sentenced to up to 6 months’ probation;
  • You will face a mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to 6 months;
  • You will have a criminal 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.

Protecting your future after a MIP arrest in Destin.

Flaherty Defense Firm is dedicated to defending people just like you. Criminal defense is the only law we have ever practiced. Focusing on one area of law gives our clients peace of mind knowing that they have a defense team devoted to their future.  For over 15 years we have been defending spring breakers and visitors to Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Do not leave your future to uncertainty.  You need an advocate and you need answers.  Flaherty Defense Firm is here to help you with both.  A simple mistake as a young person should not follow you for the rest of your life.

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, Santa Rosa Beach, Grayton Beach, Okaloosa Island, or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, call us today at (850) 460-7470 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Can I be charged with Felony DUI in Destin if I have priors?

The short answer to the question above is yes. However, an effective Destin DUI lawyer should know how to block the State in some cases from using your prior DUI conviction to enhance your current charge to a felony.

Being charged with DUI in Destin is scary enough. But if the State is claiming that you have 2 prior convictions, either in Florida or another state, you are facing the possibility of being charged with Felony DUI, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. And because DUIs in Florida require an adjudication of guilt if you’re convicted, you will be a convicted felon.

It is very important that your DUI attorney knows how to challenge this issue and protect you from the worst case scenario. You may be shocked to learn that a lot of local DUI lawyers in Destin do not know about this issue and they do not raise it to protect their clients.

How do I know this? Because I see it in court time and time again. Unfortunately, the client usually doesn’t even know that prior convictions can be challenged so they are forced to take whatever the judge gives them. In my opinion, this is legal malpractice.

When I see this, the question that goes through my mind is: why even hire an attorney if they aren’t going to explore every option and stay current on the law in order to help their clients?

How can DUI priors be challenged?

Before the State can introduce prior convictions to charge someone with a felony DUI in Destin or anywhere in Florida, they must prove that the defendant had an attorney for those prior cases, or that the defendant waived his or her right to counsel in those older cases. Davis v. State, 710 So.2d 116 (2nd DCA 1998), Kirby v. State, 765 So.2d 723 (1st DCA 1999), Riggins v. State, 789 So.2d 509 (1st DCA 2001).

If the defendant did not have counsel, the prior conviction cannot be used if the defendant had the right to an attorney. In order to raise this issue, you must state under oath that:

  • The prior offense carried a possible jail sentence of at least 6 months
  • You were indigent and qualified for the public defender
  • The court did not appoint an attorney for you
  • You did not waive your right to counsel

If all the above factors apply, the State is required to prove that you either had counsel during the older cases, or that you waived your right to counsel on the record. Angel v. State, 769 So.2d 494 (4th DCA 2000).

If the State is not able to prove those factors, I can file a motion in court along with an affidavit seeking to have your DUI case filed as a misdemeanour instead of a felony. This makes a big difference in what level of penalty and long-term consequences you will face.

If you have been charged with DUI in Destin and you are worried about your prior record, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 today.

Destin DUI Reduced To Reckless Driving

DUI cases in Destin are complex. There is a long checklist of potential legal issues that I look at in every DUI case in order to effectively defend my clients. Sometimes, I focus on the traffic stop. Other times, it might be the Field Sobriety Tests. In this case, I focused on the urine testing that my client was subjected to.

D.O. was charged with DUI in Destin, Florida. The police pulled him over because they claimed he was weaving all over the road. They didn’t smell alcohol, but they still made him do Field Sobriety Tests. He felt like he did well on the tests, but he was arrested anyway and charged with DUI.

After he was arrested, the police told him to provide a sample of his urine to be tested for the presence of alcohol or controlled substances. Because he wanted to cooperate, D.O. consented to the urine test. The results came back indicating the presence of several controlled substances.

There are numerous problems with the way the Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyzes and interprets urine samples. Based on some of those problems, I filed a Motion to Suppress seeking to have the results kept out of evidence.

The Motion to Suppress was set for a hearing. After reviewing my Motion, the prosecutor offered a plea to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving.

These decisions are tough because on one hand, I felt like we had a very good chance of winning the Motion to Suppress. On the other hand, there was other evidence in the case that was not favorable, including his driving pattern. I knew that even if I was successful in the Motion, it was not a sure thing I would win the case at trial.

I met with my client and explained the pros and cons of each option. I told him that it was his decision either way. In the end, he decided to take the sure thing and accepted the plea to the reduced charge.

If I didn’t have the reputation that I have with the local prosecutors and Judges, my client would not have been given the option of a reduced charge. That reputation secured a result that made my client very happy.

If you have been charged with DUI in Destin, I understand that you need help. Call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097.

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.

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10.0Tim Michael Flaherty

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