What Are Florida’s Laws About Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are available in Florida in all auto accident cases. The most common reason they are awarded is when the at-fault driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What If I Was Partially At-Fault?

Car accident cases are not always black and white. Sometimes it’s clear 100% liability and sometimes its a percentage of liability. Someone is 50% at fault and the other person is 50% at fault. Sometimes it’s a 60/40 split. When there’s a comparative negligence case, for example, if you’re awarded a $100,000 settlement and the jury finds you 20% at fault, your settlement is reduced by the percentage you are found at fault. So, in this case, you would only get $80,000.

Can Previously Sealed Records Ever Be Unsealed in Florida?

Yes, they can. There are certain circumstances where they can. The records always exist. They are not destroyed, if they are sealed. And, there are certain circumstances where a prosecutor or some agencies can ask the court for permission to unseal a criminal record. So the fact that the records exist, but they are sealed is very good for someone charged for that crime, however, records can still be viewed.

Can the Police Break down My Door to Enter My Home?

Yes, they can, but really only in a few instances. The first one is if they have a search warrant to enter and search your home. Law enforcement officers must first knock, announce that they are there, they are law enforcement and they have a warrant. They have to wait a reasonable amount of time for the person to answer the door, but if there is no answer, there is no response, law enforcement officers are allowed to breakdown that door to enter the home and execute the search warrant.

The other instance would be if law enforcement officers are chasing someone who has just committed a crime, a fleeing felon, and the person is running right into a home. There might be certain circumstances where law enforcement officers can run into the home after that person.

Do the Police Need a Warrant to Arrest Me in Florida?

No. In some cases, they do, but in a large amount of cases they absolutely do not. It really depends upon the type of crime that was committed. If a felony is committed, and the officer has probable cause to believe that the person they are investigating has committed the crime, they can execute that arrest. Misdemeanors: if an officer is going to arrest someone for a misdemeanor like a theft charge or something like that, they can (in certain limited circumstances) arrest even if it didn’t occur in their presence. There are certain crimes like batteries and domestic batteries, that the officers don’t need to see. But there are a lot of other misdemeanors that if the officer didn’t see it, he can’t arrest the person. He has to do a report and provide information to the State’s Attorney’s Office to make a decision whether or not to file charges.

If I Get Pulled over for a Traffic Offense, Can the Police Search My Car?

If the police pull you over for a traffic offense, they typically cannot search your vehicle. Unless there is for some reason probably cause to search your vehicle. So, if an officer pulls you over for speeding, and he comes up to the vehicle and he issues you a citation, there is really no probably cause there for him to search the vehicle. In some cases, a law enforcement officer may ask for consent to search the vehicle and you have every right to tell that law enforcement officer no. However, if there’s a situation where a law enforcement officer encounter rises to the level of probably cause, then he might be able to search your vehicle. An example of this would be if an officer pulls someone over for speeding, and when the driver puts the window down, the officer detects the smell of marijuana. Cases have said that that would allow to an officer to then search the vehicle.

What Are Miranda Rights?

Those are the warnings that a law enforcement officer is required to advise a person of before he or she is interrogated and if he or she is in custody. We kind of talked about this a little before. For example, an officer has someone arrested, and then that officer begins to ask that person questions about that particular crime, that person must first be advised that he or she has the right to remain silent, he or she has the right to have an attorney present during any questioning, he or she has the right to have an attorney appointed if he can not afford a lawyer and he or she can exercise these rights at any time.

What if My Child Is Arrested in Florida?

Well, when we’re talking about children who are being arrested or are being accused of crimes, there are certain rights afforded to them because of their age. The first thing, that you need to know, is that law enforcement officers must make an attempt to contact the child’s parent or legal guardian if he or she is not present, before the child is subject to questioning. As we talked about before, there are certain Miranda Warnings that the person who is accused of a crime or in custody is given before he’s interrogated. A child may appreciate how significant it is to wave those rights. A child may not know exactly what he’s doing. And, that’s why law enforcement officers have to make an attempt to contact the family. They don’t have to cease questions or stop the investigation if they cannot get in touch with the parent or legal guardian, but they must make an attempt. That is important and that is what you should know.

What Is a Common Law Crime?

A common law crime means crime that has not been reduced to into writing, into certain statutes. It is a crime that has existed for a long, long time and has just been recognized. In the state of Florida, everything that is considered a crime has been written down in a specific law, a specific statute. What that means is that there are no common law crimes in Florida.

What Is a Federal Crime?

A federal crime simply means a crime that the United States is prosecuting versus the particular jurisdiction you might live, like a county or a state. A federal crime involves federal charges, federal prosecutor, federal judge, and has a whole different rule of evidence and a whole different rule of procedure. There is the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Florida Evidence Code, as well as, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.

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