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Leslie Miller Sammis

Leslie Sammis’s Answers

16 total

  • Remove habitual traffic offender suspended license reinstatement Florida

    I want to get an HTO removed

    Leslie’s Answer

    This answer is not legal advice but just general information. Talk to an attorney for legal advice.

    Most people who are a habitual traffic offender received the HTO revocation because of three tickets for driving while license suspended either with knowledge (which is criminal) or without knowledge (which a civil infraction). In order to remove the 5 year revocation you can go back to the judge who has jurisdiction over the conviction and ask the judge to let you undo the damage by vacating or setting aside the conviction.

    You are arguing that your plea was coerced or entered without a full understanding of the direct consequences of the conviction. Technically, the HTO consequence is an indirect consequence so the request often alleges some other direct consequence that you did not know about when you entered the plea and the HTO revocation proves the prejudice.

    If successful, you must then ask the court to withhold adjudication in a civil case for DWLS without knowledge (which does not count as a strike against you for HTO purposes). Or in a criminal case you can fight the ticket with the goal of getting the prosecutor to reduce the offense to "no valid driver's license" which is a second degree misdemeanor that does not count toward one of the three strikes against you for HTO purposes.

    Our office typically charges $950 to file a motion to vacate a civil ticket, and $1,500 to file a motion to vacate a criminal ticket for a misdemeanor DWLS with knowledge. You can visit our website at or for more information.

    No attorney can promise you any result - ever. These habitual traffic offender revocations motions are routinely granted in Hillsborough County for the third offense that caused the HTO revocation (but this totally depends on the judge, the facts of the case, and the driving record). In fact, even the public defenders in Hillsborough County have started filing them in select cases to help a client undo a HTO revocation when that client is later charged with another DWLS case while being HTO.

    Similar results are common in Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and Manatee County, where we routinely practice. Certain Seminole County judges refuse to grant the motion on a DWLS without knowledge case if the motion is filed outside of the 30 days after the conviction (although the judges may have changed that position in the last 3-4 months). Every county is different. Find an attorney in your county or a surrounding county who is familiar with the practices in the particular courtroom in which your motion to vacate will be heard.

    HTO revocations do not make much sense. In my opinion the law needs to be changed. Especially if the person was not represented by an attorney or was never warned that they were entering a plea to a third offense that would cause the 5 year revocation. Many good people have their lives destroyed by a HTO revocation. Once they are dug in too deep they can not find (or afford) a way out. Everyone who gets that letter should talk with several attorneys to find out what options might be available.

    The first step is getting a copy of your lifetime Florida driving record. You must act quickly because certain remedies are only available during certain time periods. Also, stop driving until you have the HTO revocation lifted or you obtain a hardship DL.

    Visit the link that I added below for more information about habitual traffic offender revocations in Florida, particular for the Tampa Bay area.

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  • Dui in florida

    can i be charged with a dui in florida if my BAL of .074 when the legal limit is .08

    Leslie’s Answer

    You can certainly be charge and prosecuted for DUI under the theory that your normal faculties are impaired. You can not be charged with the other version of DUI called "per se" which requires that you have a breath alcohol level of .08 (which in your case is refuted by the breath test).

    This is the same theory the prosecutor can use if you refused to take the breath test at all. They can still show that your "normal faculties are impaired."

    Although you can be charged and brought to trial, it would be more unlikely in this case that the prosecutor would win at trial. The reason that I say this is because of the following jury instruction:

    1. If you find from the evidence that while driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, the defendant had a blood or breath-alcohol level of .05 or less, you shall presume that the defendant was not under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired; but this presumption may be overcome by other evidence demonstrating that the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired.

    2. If you find from the evidence that while driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, the defendant had a blood or breath-alcohol level in excess of .05 but less than .08, that fact does not give rise to any presumption that the defendant was or was not under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired. In such cases, you may consider that evidence along with other evidence in determining whether the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired.

    So in your case there is no presumption of impairment. You should contact an experienced attorney to discuss this matter with them. There may be a motion to dismiss or motion to suppress that can be filed in your case. Obviously, your goal is to avoid a DUI conviction and to convince the prosecutor to completely drop the charges because you blew below the legal limit.

    Think of it this way - many people assume that a DUI case would never be prosecuted if the breath test reading was below a .08. They are surprised to learn about what the jury instructions actually say. The good news is that a prosecutor would probably have concerns about convince a jury to find someone guilty of DUI when that person blew under the legal limit. You want to force the prosecutor to drop the charges or provide you with the best possible result under the circumstances.

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  • Is it possible to get a first DUI offense reduced to a misdemeanor under Florida DUI laws?

    How can I get my DUI with serious bodily injury reduced to a misdemeanor? It is my first offense. Will I go to prison? What DUI penalties will I face?

    Leslie’s Answer

    I agree with the answers provided above. The best way to get the case reduced to a misdemeanor may be to aggressively fight every part of the case by filing a motion to suppress or other motions that can be heard before trial to exclude part of the prosecutor's evidence.

    In many of these cases the prosecutor is seeking a long prison sentence because it is warranted by the Florida sentencing score sheet. Even if you do not have any prior arrests, this level 7 felony will add 56 point to the score sheet. The prosecutor may also add another 40 points if the victim's injury is deemed to be "severe" (which is typical in a DUI with serious bodily injury in Florida). Those points alone require a prison sentence of more than four (4) years unless a "downward departure" is obtained.

    Visit my website link below for more general information on a Felony DUI for Serious Bodily Injury in Florida.

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  • DUI in Hillsborough County, FL -- VOP DUI, what will happen?

    My boyfriend was just picked up at our house in Polk County for VOP for not finishing his community service on time. He is waiting to be transported to Hillsborough, He only had 3 hours left to complete but could not complete them in the time they...

    Leslie’s Answer

    If you can not afford an attorney, you should go to the first appearance hearing in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL. The hearings are held in video court the next morning after he is booked in Hillsborough County. Get there at 8 a.m. and ask to talk to the public defender in the courtroom. Wright down the reason why he should get an ROR (release without bond) or a low bond (particular his financial circumstances) and hand that to the public defender. That way the public defender will at least have the information in the file.

    He may already have a bond amount on the warrant if the case is just for a technical violation so look up his case number on the Hillsborough County Clerk's Office website. If no bond is granted at first appearance, ask his public defender to file an emergency motion for bond and that may get him back in front of the judge that put him on probation faster. The judge at the bond hearing may be willing to release him so that he can complete any outstanding community service hours before his violation of probation hearing on the DUI case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL.

    Coming into compliance with all the terms and conditions, even after the VOP accusation is made, is often the best way to avoid any additional jail time.

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  • Dui/dwi

    About 20 years ago I lost my drivers license due to multiple DUIs. Since I was a flooring installer, it also meant the loss of my income. Since then I have not had another DUI. But about 3 years ago I was charged with driving without a license and...

    Leslie’s Answer

    You have at least two defenses that you should discuss with an attorney before entering a plea in this type of case.

    First, a motion to suppress all evidence (including your identity or the fact that you were driving) because of the Roadblock or Checkpoint Stop. DUI Roadblock cases are the most scrutinized under the Fourth Amendment. These cases are very difficult for the prosecutor because at a hearing on a motion to suppress the prosecutor has the burden of showing the following:
    1. That the stop was "reasonable."
    2. That the stop complied with predetermined policies set in place ahead of time in the written DUI checkpoint guidelines written for that particular stop.
    3. That the DUI checkpoint guidelines were not flawed or inadequate.
    3. That an officer at the scene didn't deviate from those predetermine guidelines.
    4. That an officer at the scene wasn't allowed too much discretion in determining which vehicles to stop.

    In my experience, prosecutors hate motions to suppress in roadblock cases because they have to call so many witnesses, including the supervisor and field officers. The motion attacks not just the way your case was handled, but the way the entire Florida DUI roadblock was conducted.

    I also believe that you should talk with an attorney about pursuing a necessity defense. The defense must typically present evidence at trial on the necessity defense to get the jury instruction and the elements of necessity are generally as follows:
    1. The defendant reasonably believed under the circumstances that an immediate emergency or danger existed which threatened significant hard to the defendant or another person;
    2. The defendant did not intentionally cause the emergency or danger; and
    3. The defendant had no way to avoid the emergency or danger except by committing the crime charged; and
    4. The harm that the defendant sought to avoid by committing the criminal act must outweigh the harm caused by committing the criminal act.

    Either one of these defenses may give your attorney a lot of leverage to fight the charges or to resolve the case for a much better result short of trial. Visit the links below for more general information on DUI Defenses including the necessity defense and fighting the DUI roadblock case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, and in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, Pinellas County, FL.

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  • Florida DUI law, impact of DUI for immigrant, deportation, adjustment of status

    i got a DUI do i still able to apply for a citizenship do i really need a lawyer? what records do i need to attach with my application?

    Leslie’s Answer

    I agree with Thuong-Tri Nguyen that it will depend on the facts of the case, particularly how long ago the conviction occurred. You may be asking this question because you were arrested for DUI but have not yet resolved the case. Anytime you are charged with a criminal offense, even a misdemeanor such as DUI or domestic violence, a conviction can have a serious impact on your immigration status and application for citizenship and many other immigration issues. Often in these cases it is important to work with both a criminal defense attorney and an immigration attorney.

    Obviously, for a non-citizen it is especially important to seek out the services of an experienced DUI attorney as early in the case as possible. As far as timing issues, the immigration attorney may advise you to delay the application for citizenship until after the DUI case is resolved completely (which includes any probation). If you recently entered a plea, it may also be possible to attempt to vacate the plea if you were not advised when you entered the plea that a conviction could affect your immigration status. Such claims must usually be raised within two years of the conviction date.

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  • Had 1 dui 20 yr ago i got a 2ed dui 8 months ago and last week got a refusel dui i did not blow what do you think will happen

    had 1 dui 20 years ago i got a 2ed dui 8 months ago and last week got a refusel dui i did not blow what do you think will happen with a FL DUI over 10 years old? Should I consult an attorney?

    Leslie’s Answer

    The DUI from 20 years ago could theoretically count if it shows up on your Florida driving record. If the DUI from 20 years ago is on your Florida driving record then the prosecutor may argue that this DUI should count at your Third Lifetime DUI.

    The consequences for a third DUI in Florida that occurs within 10 years of any prior DUI is that you could be charged with a third degree felony offense.

    If convicted of a third lifetime DUI (with one of the prior DUIs convictions occurring within the last ten years is as follows: 30 days in jail, up to a $5,000 fine, 90 day vehicle impoundment, and at least a five year revocation (driver may be eligible for a heardship reinstatement after 12 months), the ignition interlock device for at least 2 years, and DUI school.

    Many of these third lifetime DUI cases are not charged as a felony because the defense attorney can contest one of the prior DUIs used to enhance the charge to a felony unless the prosecutor can prove that person either had an attorney or entered a valid waiver of the attorney. In a case that is 20 years old that showing is usually impossible because the clerks office does not keep such records (such as the plea form or a transcript of the hearing) and the procedures used 20 years ago for the waiver of counsel are usually deemed insufficient under the current laws.

    Visit the links below for more information from a Tampa DUI Attorney in Hillsborough County, Florida on a Third DUI charge in Florida.

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  • Whats the procedure for FL traffic court appearance for driving w/o license and DUI?

    i was involved in a crash for failure to yield, cited for that, and then was served papers that i am being charged with DUI and driving without a license

    Leslie’s Answer

    In most cases your criminal defense attorney will file a motion to consolidate the civil traffic infraction for failure to yield with the criminal citations for DUI and driving without a license with knowledge. If the motion to consolidate is granted, all three citations will be heard at the same time in front of the same judge. Some jurisdictions automatically consolidate the civil citations with the criminal case.

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  • What is possible jail time for 2 counts of felony employee theft under FL criminal code

    a family member admitted to stealing more than 10000 dollars from her previous employer. She will be booked and charged with 2 felonies. she has no prior convictions/charges. She is 60 years old. Can she do jail time?

    Leslie’s Answer

    Employee Theft Charges Under Florida Law

    A surprising number of employee theft cases involve an older, trusted, female employee who has been with the company for more than five years. Your family member's case is not uncommon. Employee theft cases in Florida can be charged under a variety of theft statutes including Grand Theft, Embezzlement, Organized Scheme to Defraud or Fraud.

    In many of these cases, particular when larger amounts of money are stolen, the prosecution will push for some jail or prison time. The employers wishes are given much weight.

    An attorney is often in the best position to explain how the offense occurred, provide mitigating evidence, and negotiate a settlement for outstanding restitution. The most important thing to remember after the accusation is made is not to make any statements to law enforcement, co-workers, or the employer. Often the employees admissions are the strongest evidence in the case.

    Although more than $10,000 was taken, given your family members age, and assuming she has no prior record, she should be a good candidate for probation and a withhold of adjudication. If she receives probation, after the probation is terminated, she may be able to seal her criminal record (unless she enters a plea to "scheme to defraud" which is an ineligible or disqualifying offense).

    Additionally, I agree with the other comment that if an attorney negotiates a "civil" settlement of the outstanding restitution issues early enough in the case, the employer could decide to forgo a criminal prosecution altogether.

    Visit my website link below for more information on Employee Theft Charges in Florida.

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  • Palmer, Reifler & Associates threatening letters. Legal????

    Our son, (age 19) was caught trying to shoptlift a $6.00 hacksaw at Home Depot. He was arrested and charged. He was arrested at a later date for another burglary. He spent 30 days in county Jail. He is a prescription drug addict presently incarce...

    Leslie’s Answer

    In Florida retail establishments such as Home Depot rarely, if ever, carry through with this threat in a shoplifting case. Out of the hundreds of thousands of cases they have, I doubt it they are going to start by suing your son. The cost of bringing a law suit when the alleged damages are $200 or less, means that it would be a waste of time for them to bring the lawsuit.

    In fact, in a record article by the Wall Street Journal found that when a letter is sent out by Palmer, Reifler & Associates, P.A., the law firm gets to keep between 13% to 30% of the money it collects. The article reports that a partner at the law firm has said in a deposition that it sends out about 1.2 million such letters a year but follow up by suing fewer than 10 times a year.

    Instead of actually suing anyone they just send the letter hoping someone worried about the criminal case will pay. And amazingly, many people do pay.

    The statute, Florida Statute Section 772.11 allow for triple damages or a minimum of $200 when damages occur related to a theft offense. However, in the typical shoplifting case when the merchandise is recovered at the scene no actual damages occur.

    Although no criminal defense attorney can know for sure whether an individual arrested for a misdemeanor offense of shoplifting will in fact be sued to collect damages under Florida Statutes Section 772.11, it is clear that these suits are rarely, if ever, brought in shoplifting cases. In fact, if the item was returned to the retail establishment without damage, then no actual damages occurred.

    Even more problematic, the huge fees collected by retail establishments can often create an incentive for a loss prevention to be overly aggressive in the way they investigate an alleged shoplifting. If the retail establishment keeps 70-87% of the money collected, that money may go a long was toward pay the salary of the loss prevention employees. The fact that a letter was sent in the case can be used at trial to show that the loss prevention officer had a motive or bias to make this arrest. That motive or bias is being able to collect more money for his employer or earn a larger bonus for himself.

    In fact, some loss prevention officers are awarded a bonus based on the amount of money collected from the civil demand letter. I have heard many clients recently tell me that the loss prevention officer tell them "you better make sure that you pay the $200." In fact, some retail establishments send the letters directly, instead of hiring a law firm to send the letter. This motive or bias could contribute or be on factor leading to the arrested of an innocent person.

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