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Legal Definitions

Contact Private Counsel, LLC in Orlando, Florida, for understanding of how the following legal definitions may apply in your DUI defense.

Felony : A crime for which the punishment is for a prison term of one year or longer (usually state prison or it could be in county jail - depending on the sentencing guildelines).

Misdemeanor : Misdemeanors are crimes for which the maximum punishment is possibly incarceration for one year or less. In Florida, DUI is usually a misdemeanor; except a fourth DUI is upgradeable to a felony.

Fee Retainer or Engagement Fee or Flat Fee : A contract between a lawyer and his or her client for legal services or representation. They can be written or oral. The payment of money to the attorney as a "retainer" signifies an agreement for the attorney to act on the person's behalf and represent that person in his/her legal matter. At Private Counsel, LLC, most fee agreements are FLAT FEE; meaning you pay one fee which covers all attorney's fees. Costs (such as postage, travel, copies, expert witnesses, external drug testing, trial subpoena service, etc.) are always paid by the client; unless agreed to otherwise. Your attorney will discuss this with you at your consultation.

Nolo Contendere : Commonly called No Contest means that you are not necessarily admitting that you are guilty or arguing that you are not guilty of the crime, rather you are saying that you do not want to contest (or argue) the evidence against you any further. In addition, you will accept whatever sentence the judge gives you; regardless of what that will be.

Citation : A legal document often called a traffic ticket.

The following are really criminal charges that are written on a citation:

  • DUI,
  • RACING ON THE HIGHWAYS,
  • DRIVING ON A SUSPENDED LICENSE,
  • WILLFUL AND WATON RECKLESS DRIVING,
  • LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT,
  • NO VALID DRIVER'S LICENSE,
  • ATTACHING AN UNASSIGNED TAG,

On the other hand, the following offenses are also written on a citation, but can be paid without going to court:

  • SPEEDING,
  • RUNNING A STOP SIGN,
  • FAILURE TO MAINTAIN A SINGLE LANE,
  • EQUIPMENT VIOLATIONS,
  • SEAT BELT, ETC.,

A non-criminal citation may never result in jail, only fines and points on your license. All criminal charges require court appearances and involve the possibility of jail.

Information This is the accusatory instrument that the prosecutor uses to bring the formal charges against you. It is basically a piece of paper with your name on it as the defendant, with the State of Florida as the plaintiff, that accuses you of a crime that occurred on a certain date in that jurisdiction. The prosecutor drafts these documents after he or she reviews the evidence collected by the police. In civil law, these are called complaints.

Probation This is usually part of a sentence in a crime. Probation is a way to oversee you and to ensure you do all the things you are supposed to do in a timely fashion (i.e. pay court fines, do community service, complete driving schools, etc.) While on probation, the person must report (either in person or by phone) with a probation officer to assure that the judge's orders are complied with. While on probation, one cannot get any new arrests, possess any firearms or bombs, and may be subject to random drug testing if the underlying charge was drug related. If a person fails to do what is expected while on probation, a warrant is issued and the offender is brought before the judge. If so, the judge may adjudicate the people guilty of the underlying charge, revoke the probation and just sentence the offender to a period of jail as punishment.

Capias This is when you miss court and the Judge issues a warrant for your arrest to find out why you missed court. If you were out on bond, your bond is lost and you waive your right to a speedy trial (90 days on Misdemeanor). If this happens to you, a Private Counsel, LLC attorney may be able to get the bond reinstated and get you back on track.

Expungement This is when we seal your criminal record so that no one can see it absent a court order or other statutorily permitted reason. Private Counsel, LLC can assist you in this regard and give you advice as to whether it is an option in your case and what could be the net affect. By having a criminal conviction expunged, the conviction is deemed to have not occurred. However, in certain cases, even an expunged record is still open for law enforcement purposes. Also, applicants who wish to campaign for public office or apply for a federal job are usually required to make their conviction public even if it were expunged. Furthermore, even if a conviction is expunged, it still may be used against the defendant in terms of new sentencing (if the defendant is again convicted of a crime). Most people do not know that not all convictions are eligible for expungement. Check with a Private Counsel, LLC attorney for details.