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01/10/2014
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No Points No School Tickets

There is no such thing as a traffic ticket for a moving violation being issued as “no points, no school”. Unfortunately, cops on the road seem to be telling people that they can get no points by paying a citation. That is not true.  (They give other misadvice too, see my blog on Bradford County Traffic Tickets). Paying a citation without talking to a lawyer first is the worst thing that you can do. This is because it is a plea of guilty, an admission to the offense, points will be assessed to your license, your insurance may increase and your guilty plea could be used against you later even if your guilty plea cannot be entered into evidence in another court proceeding. Entering a guilty plea by paying an infraction can be disastrous if you are accused of driving on a suspended license. 

When a citation is issued, you have three choices (1) pay it (2) school it and pay it (3) have a hearing in court. If it is paid without a hearing, then you get points. You can choose to go to school for four (4) hours to avoid points, but you still have to pay the citation, pay for the school and spend four (4) hours of your time. You can only choose school to avoid points five (5) times in your life and once every twelve (12) months. If you choose a hearing, then there is a chance the citation can be dismissed or depending on the officer and the county judge possibly reduced. Ultimately the sentence is up to the judge if the ticket is not dismissed. The judge can order school but that does not count as an election.

The ONLY way to get no points and no school on your citation is to elect a hearing and go to court. The Court has to order no points and no school; therefore you cannot get no points and no school without going to court. Sometimes people will ask “do I need a lawyer because it is just a ticket”. The answer is that you can represent yourself just like I could rebuild my own transmission or operate on my own shoulder. If you prefer not to be your own lawyer then please click, call or fill out the form to hire a lawyer and elect a hearing today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Criminal but Civil Penalty – Solicitation of Prostitution

In August 2014 I wrote about a Florida Court finding that in criminal cases of solicitation of prostitution the mandatory civil penalty ($5,000) is unconstitutional. Since then the matter has continued to be fought in courts. People who picked up charges of soliciting could still have imposed this penalty but depending on their representation, the sentencing court could have deferred imposing the penalty, left open the possibility of removing the fine or refused to impose the penalty all together. 

Recently, one Florida Appellate Court ruled that the imposition of this penalty is constitutional and that the trial courts that have found the penalty unconstitutional are incorrect. The Fourth District encompassing counties to the south of the Gainesville/Ocala area issued its opinion December 2, 2015. For now, that is the law of the land in Florida.

However, there is still another case pending on the same exact issue in the Second District Court of Appeal. If the Second District ends up agreeing with the Fourth, then you can count this issue as dead and look forward to fighting the charge more intensely. Theoretically, the Second District could issue an opinion that conflicts with the Fourth.

A conflicting opinion would create a situation where the imposition of the civil penalty is not an excessive criminal fine in some parts of Florida while the penalty is considered excessive and unconstitutional in other counties.  Therefore, if a conflicting opinion is issued, the Supreme Court would likely consider the issue.

For those whose cases are in the 8th Circuit (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union), the 5th Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter), the 4th Circuit (Clay, Duval and Nassau) or the 3rd Circuit (Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor) a conflicting opinion means that our courts get to choose which side they agree with. Until there is a conflicting opinion, the penalty has been found constitutional and all trial level courts have to follow that opinion.

This leaves those people accused of crimes in North Florida crossing fingers and hoping the Appellate Courts create a conflict. Do more than cross your fingers, if you are reading this, then click, call or fill out the form to consult with a lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Fourth District case of State v. Jones