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The Morris Law Firm Posts

Panama City Beach Prepares for Spring Break

February 4, 2016 • ryan

Well, it’s official; Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and Captain Anderson’s Restaurant opened tonight. What does this mean for Spring Break on Panama City Beach?  Winter is coming to an end and Spring Break is upon us.

Spring Break certainly brings a lot of fun to our 27 miles of sugar white sands located right here in the Florida Panhandle. Some fun things to do while on Spring Break on Panama City Beach should include:

  • Parasailing
  • Pontoon Boat Rental for a Dolphin Tour
  • Jet Ski Rental
  • Shopping at Pier Park
  • Putt-Putt Golf
  • Shipwreck Island Water Park
  • Shell Island
  • Spring Break Concert Series
  • St. Andrew’s State Park

Sadly, Spring Break on Panama City Beach can also bring legal troubles.  Some of the most common Spring Break arrests on Panama City Beach include:

  • Possession of Alcohol by a Minor; Underage Drinking
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Public Intoxication
  • Traffic Tickets

Talk to a Panama City Beach Attorney Who’s Helped Students Just Like You

If you or your child gets pulled over, involved in a wreck or into a situation where the police are involved, our best initial advice is to stay calm, provide the basic information required, but make sure you contact a Panama City Beach attorney immediately to guide you through the legal process from arraignment to expungement, and every step along the way.  With over 15 years  of practicing law, we’ve helped a lot of Spring Break students avoid the serious consequences of a criminal record and get on with their lives.

If you are from out of town and are arrested and charged with these or other common Spring Break offenses, you may be able to “waive” your appearance at court in Panama City by having a Panama City Beach attorney appear on your behalf.  This means that you would not have to incur the expense and headache of traveling back and forth to Panama City Beach for many court appearances.  Contact an attorney at the Morris Law Firm right away, (850) 257-5680, to determine if you or your loved one may be eligible for this.

An attorney at the Morris Law Firm is available when you need us, 24 hours a day, so call (850) 257-5680 now.  

Panama-City-Beach-Attorney Spring-Break-LawyerDana Morris Panama City Criminal Defense Attorney

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The Morris Law Firm Expands by Two Feet

January 30, 2016 • ryan


The Morris Law Firm had a very successful and busy year in 2017.   As we begin 2018, we are very pleased to announce the location of our law office at 400 W 11th Street, Suite A.

At the Morris Law Firm, we always strive to meet and exceed the goals of our clients while providing the best criminal defense representation possible. We have established great relationships with the clients that we have worked with thus far and their families.  As our firm continues to grow, we feel that our attorney, Dana Morris, and his legal assistant, Megan, will continue be an integral part of furthering our outstanding client relations.  Megan or Dana can be reached at (850) 257-5680 to assist you whether you’re an existing client or in need of some advice such as which criminal defense attorney to hire in Panama City.

If you get a chance, stop in to see our office, enjoy some coffee and to say ‘hello’ to Megan and Dana. We are located downtown between Jenks Middle School and Jenks Avenue at 400 W 11th Street, Suite A, Panama City, FL.


Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI, General
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Important Questions to Ask When Hiring a Panama City Criminal Defense Attorney

November 19, 2015 • Dana Morris

Facing criminal drug charges? Arrested for a DUI? Violated your probation? Need a criminal defense attorney in Panama City or the surrounding area?

We understand that hiring a criminal defense attorney is an important decision and can be a challenging process. We have listed some general questions to guide you in the process.

Some Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Panama City:

• Are you truly located in Panama City or the surrounding area?
• How long have you been practicing criminal law?
• How much of your practice is devoted to criminal law?
• Do you have experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney?
• Have you defended criminal cases like mine before?
• How many cases have you won and how many have settled with this type of matter?
• Are you able to anticipate the various strengths of the state’s argument? the weaknesses?
• How often will you be communicating with me about my case?
• Will the attorney I hire actually be the one handling my case?

• Will you accept payments in increments?
• What forms of payment do you accept? (check, credit card, etc.)

The questions above are only general suggestions. The answers you get to these questions should give you a good idea if the criminal defense attorney you’re talking to in Panama City is the one you should hire to best solve your legal problem.

At The Morris Law Firm, we will guide you through the legal process, doing everything we can to make sure one bad decision, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, has as little effect as possible on your life and your future. Call our Panama City law office today at (850) 257-5680 for a free consultation.

In addition to Bay County, we represent clients in Washington County, Gulf County, Calhoun County and Jackson County.

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Can You Get a DUI While on Prescription Medication?

July 21, 2015 • ryan

When most people hear the term “DUI,” they instinctively think of alcohol and drunk driving charges. In actuality, an individual can be charged with a DUI for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any type of drug, including prescription medication. Any time an individual is found to be operating a vehicle, or could reasonably do so while his or her faculties are inhibited by any type of substance, he or she is subject to a DUI charge.

Sleeping pills such as Lunesta and Ambien are often linked with a severe impairment of a user’s ability to drive. Other drugs that can affect your ability to safely operate a vehicle include Ritalin, Xanax, Adderall, and Valium. If you take prescription drugs, talk to your doctor about any possible side effects that may occur before you begin taking them. Do not drive until you know how your medication affects you. If you are charged with a drug DUI, you need an experienced DUI attorney like Dana Morris to determine a legal strategy for your case.

How Can Law Enforcement Determine a Drug DUI?

Because breath tests cannot determine the presence of drugs other than alcohol in an individual’s body, an individual suspected of a drug DUI must undergo another type of test to determine whether he or she was under the influence when arrested. These individuals are usually asked to complete a field sobriety test, which allows officers to analyze an individual’s faculties by asking him or her to complete simple tasks, such as walking in a straight line and turning or standing on one leg. If an individual is suspected to be under the influence of drugs, he or she may be required to complete a urine or blood test.

Drug DUIs can be difficult to prove. To charge an individual with this type of DUI, the prosecutor must be able to prove without any doubt that the individual was, in fact, under the influence of a drug when he or she was arrested. In Florida, there is no threshold for a legal amount of prescription or other drugs to have in one’s body when driving, unlike alcohol, which is .08%.

Penalties for a Drug DUI

Individuals found guilty of drug DUIs face fines of up to $1,000 and six months in jail for a first offense and fines of up to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail for a second offense. A third-time drug DUI is a third degree felony, which has stricter penalties than those for first and second-time offenses.

DUI Attorney in Panama City

If you are facing a DUI charge, whether it is for driving under the influence of alcohol or any other type of drug, contact a Panama City drug crime defense lawyer at the Morris Law Firm at (850) 257-5680 to discuss your legal options and work out the best solution for your case. Dana Morris is a skilled Panama City DUI lawyer with 15 years of experience as a practicing attorney. Let him handle your DUI case and give your case the solid defense it deserves. Call today for a free consultation.

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Can You be Charged with a DUI when Trying to Sleep it Off in your Car?

July 14, 2015 • ryan

Can You be Charged with a DUI when Trying to Sleep it Off in your Car?

Yes. This type of DUI is known as an actual physical control DUI, which means that although you were not actually driving your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another drug, you were inside the vehicle with its keys and could reasonably have driven it.

A prosecutor must prove the following to convict an individual of any type of DUI:

  • He or she was driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle;
  • His or her blood alcohol content was .08% or higher or his or her faculties were impaired; and
  • He or she was under the influence of alcohol or another substance when operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle.

What is Actual Physical Control of a Vehicle?

Actual physical control refers to the possibility that an individual could operate his or her vehicle. Generally, an individual may be charged with an actual physical control DUI if any of the following conditions are met when he or she is arrested:

  • The vehicle is operable. That means that it is a complete vehicle that can be driven. A vehicle that is missing its tires, its engine, or any other key part is not considered to be an operable vehicle;
  • The driver is in the driver’s seat; and/or
  • The driver has possession of the vehicle’s key or otherwise can operate the vehicle. This includes if the key is in the ignition when the individual was arrested, if he or she has it on his or her person, or if the key is close enough that the individual could reasonably pick it up and use it to start the car.

Whether an individual had actual physical control of his or her vehicle can be difficult to prove. In some cases, a charge is tossed out because the court does not have sufficient evidence to prove that the individual could, in fact, have driven his or her car while intoxicated. Talk to your attorney about this and any other possible defenses for your case.

Myths About Actual Physical Control

You might have heard that you cannot be charged with a DUI in Panama City if you are sitting in the back seat of your parked car or if you leave the keys on the ground outside your vehicle. These are simply myths. You can, in fact, be charged with a DUI in either of these circumstances. Similarly, you might have heard that walking away from your car can keep you from being charged with a DUI. Again, this is false. If law enforcement can determine that you were under the influence when you drove your car to its location when you were arrested, you may be charged with a DUI.

Panama City DUI Attorney

For legal advice and representation for your Panama City DUI case, contact Dana Morris at the Morris Law firm on the web or at 850-257-5680. Dana Morris has 15 years of experience practicing law and 12 years handling criminal cases. Do not wait to begin working with the Morris Law Firm to develop a strong defense for your DUI case.

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Things a 6th grader knows about Criminal Defense

June 23, 2015 • Dana Morris

This post was not written by a criminal defense attorney at The Morris Law Firm, but by a thirteen year old guest blogger in Panama City, Florida. Enjoy.

When most people think of Panama City, Florida, they think of the pearly white beaches, the great eateries, and the upside-down house. There is, however, a less known secret about criminal defense, hidden within law books nationwide, and honestly, I wouldn’t have thought to look there at all.

More than 50 years ago, in 1961, a man was reported breaking and entering into the Bay Harbor Pool Room in Panama City, smashing a record player and cigarette machine, and stealing money from a cash register. Eventually, the suspect, identified as Clarence Earl Gideon, was arrested, prosecuted, and served his sentence. Case closed, right? Wrong.

Just like many other defendants, Gideon is brought into custody, but unlike many other defendants, he can’t find the money to get an attorney. He asks the judge assigned to his case for legal counsel (a criminal defense lawyer to defend him) due to his inability to afford a lawyer. The court responded by denying his request since Florida law did not require the court to assign him an attorney in cases where the defendant had only been charged with a non-capital felony offense. When his case was finished, Gideon was sentenced to prison.

While serving his sentenced time, Gideon began to think a lot about his rights, feeling that he was unfairly put in jail, that his rights were violated. He began to read up on the Constitution and higher courts, because I’m sure they have a lot of law books in jail. He decides that he has been treated unfairly, so he writes a paper while in jail requesting that his case be retried in a higher court because he wasn’t given some basic constitutional rights, such as in the fourteenth amendment, where it states, “…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunization of citizens of the United States…” and in the fifth amendment, where it says, “…Nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” or in the sixth amendment, where it says, “If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the trial judge must appoint one on his behalf.”

With 3 constitutional amendments on his side, he sent his case to higher courts until he reached the Supreme Court. Eventually, his case reached the Supreme Court, and was argued for by Hugo Black. Black said, “…Reflection and reason require us to recognise that in our system of justice, any person brought into court who is too poor to afford an attorney cannot be insured a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him.” He also wrote that the “noble ideal” of “fair trials in which every defendant stands equal before the law . . . cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”

As a result of this decision, the Supreme Court retried the case on August 5th, 1963. This time Gideon was assigned a Panama City attorney, Mr. W. Fred Turner. Gideon was found not guilty, and as a result, two-thousand felons not previously provided with a lawyer were released. But it’s not over yet!

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gideon, it overturned a 1942 ruling made by the Supreme Court, the trial of Betts v. Brady. This case said that indigent, or poor, defendants would not be provided a lawyer if they could not afford one, but did not overrule the Powell v. Alabama case of 1932. This case said that capitol offenders were to be provided with a lawyer. Basically, Gideon v. Wainwright said that everyone, not just capitol offenders, were allowed the right to a lawyer (public defender).

As a result of the trial, Anthony Lewis wrote a book called ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ in 1965, which won an Edgar Award for best factual crime book later that same year. Hallmark picked up on the wave of Gideon media, and made a TV movie based on the book, based on the case (also called ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’), in 1980.

Also, if you went to law school or watch a lot of cop shows, you know what the right to remain silent is. That is one of the five clauses listed in the Miranda Warning, along with a clause that says that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.

The five rights listed in the Miranda Warning, called the Miranda Rights, are as follows:

1. All criminal suspects have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything they say or do may be used against them in court.
3. You have the right to consult a criminal defense attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or later.
4. If you cannot afford a criminal defense attorney and you wish to have one, an attorney (a public defender) will be appointed for you before any questioning begins.
5. If you decide to answer any questions now, without a criminal defense attorney present, you have the right to stop answering at any time until you consult with an attorney.

The Miranda Warning and Rights were put in place because of the 1964 Miranda v. Arizona case, but did you know that case was an extension of this case? It had pretty much the same premise: Ernesto Miranda was taken into custody, but, for whatever reason, didn’t know he had the right to remain silent. He signed off on papers saying that what he was going to say was voluntary, but all he knew was that you had to sign those papers (you don’t). Later, his lawyer found out about this, and appealed to higher courts until he got to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miranda, but told him that his case was to be revised and remanded, meaning that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miranda, but he had to retry his case in the county court. (He lost).

So, I hope you understand how this one man, Clarence Earl Gideon, influenced so very many lives, and how he was responsible for a book, a movie, two landmark Supreme Court cases, the overruling of Betts v. Brady, the release of over two-thousand Florida felons treated unconstitutionally, for every United States Citizen charged with a crime to be represented by an attorney, but best of all, an incredible piece of local Panama City history known all around the country.


Categories: General
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Breathalyzers: To Blow or Not to Blow?

June 17, 2015 • ryan

If you have been arrested for DUI in Panama City, you have most likely been subjected to a Breathalyzer and possibly other sobriety tests as well, such as walking along a straight line. These tests are designed to determine whether your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above .08%, which is the legal limit for drivers in the United States.

A DUI is a criminal offense. If you are found to have a BAC of .08% or higher while operating a motor vehicle, you can face penalties including fines of at least $500, jail time, community service, probation, vehicle impoundment, and the suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year. If your BAC was .15% or higher or you have received a DUI charge in the past, these penalties can be greater.

Breathalyzers are not only used in DUI arrests. If you were arrested while out drinking on the beach, you may be subject to a Breathalyzer test. Individuals in this situation may face charges of public intoxication, lewdness, loitering or disturbing the peace, or underage drinking and possession of alcoholic beverages.

What is a Breathalyzer?

A Breathalyzer is an electronic device that determines an individual’s BAC by taking a sample of his or her breath.  Breathalyzer results are admissible in Florida courts. However, they must be administered to the state’s set of laws for their use to be considered to be valid, admissible evidence. These laws required the following:

  • When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the individual who administered the test must be able to reasonably ensure that the defendant did not take anything by mouth or regurgitate anything within the 20 minutes leading up to the test. This individual may be a police officer, breath test operator, agency inspector, or other designated test administrator. If the defendant can prove that the administrator was not close enough to him or her during the 20 minutes leading up to the test to determine that he or she had not ingested or regurgitated anything, the test results may be found inadmissible.
  • The driver must be given two Breathalyzer tests within 15 minutes of each other. If the test results have a difference of more than .02%, the driver must be given a third test. If this again is not within .02% of one of the other readings, the test results may be found inadmissible. This does not mean they necessarily will be tossed out – only that this is an option. If your received three Breathalyzer tests, talk about this possibility with your attorney.

Basically, the Breathalyzer test must comply with Florida’s laws regarding such tests and be properly calibrated for your results to be admissible in court.

Should I Blow?

This question puts the law at odds with the interests of the driver.  Refusing to take a Breathalyzer test is a violation of Florida law and can result in a one-year driver’s license suspension for your first offense and an 18-month suspension for any subsequent refusals. Florida, like other states, has what is known as an “implied consent” law. This means that when you receive your driver’s license, you agree to take any chemical BAC tests you are asked to take by law enforcement. Refusing to take a Breathalyzer will not stop the State from prosecuting you. Prosecutors take “refusal” cases before juries everyday in this state. However, taking the test, when you know you are likely over the limit, is tantamount to incriminating yourself for the crime. It’s one more weapon the State can use against a driver to prove the DUI. By refusing to submit to a breath test, the State must rely on other evidence to prove their case.

In the end, the best practice is to not drink and drive. If you choose to drink and drive, you are putting yourself at risk. Your only option is to choose which pot you want to jump into, a suspended license or hard evidence of your guilt.

DUI Attorney in Panama City

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Panama City, you need to begin working with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to determine the best way to defend your case in court. The Morris Law Firm is here to help you through this difficult situation. Contact our firm at 850-257-5680 to schedule your legal consultation with us and discuss your legal options.


Categories: General
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I’m only 30 years old. Why do I need a Will?

June 13, 2015 • Dana Morris

As a Panama City attorney, I am often asked by my clients, “I’m young, I don’t have much, do I need a will?”

My answer is, “Absolutely!”

  • For parents, making a will is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your minor children are cared for by the people you would choose if anything should happen to you. If there is no will in place, a judge will decide who cares for your children and the judge’s choice may not be the same as yours.
  • In your will you can designate someone (personal guardian) to care for your children if you pass before they become legal adults. You can also name a trustee (property guardian) to manage your money for your children until they reach adulthood. You can appoint one person to act as both personal and property guardian, or choose two people to carry out the separate roles.
  • If you want to disinherit one of your children or would like to give more to one child than another, you must specifically establish your intentions in a will.
  • You can change or revoke your will at any time. In addition to helping you write a will, a Panama City attorney at The Morris Law Firm can help you with a codicil, which is an amendment to an existing last will and testament.
  • Any person who is of sound mind and either 18 years of age or older or an emancipated minor may make a will.
  • In Florida, the Florida Probate Code states that a will must be signed by two witnesses to be valid. We have notaries available on-site to help with this.

To get started, give a Panama City Attorney a call at (850) 257-5680.

A will is probably much more affordable than you thought and definitely worth the peace of mind!

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I Violated my Probation Terms; What Should I Do Now?

May 28, 2015 • ryan

If you have been convicted of a crime, you may have been sentenced to probation. During a probation sentence, you are permitted to continue with your normal lifestyle, but under heavy restrictions and supervision from the court and your assigned probation officer. This is an alternative to spending time in jail, where you would have much fewer freedoms and be without the ability to be with your family and continue your career.

The restrictions placed upon you during your probation are known as your probation terms. Violating these terms is a criminal offense and could subject you to further penalties. If you are currently on probation or facing charges that could result in being sentenced to probation, it is important that you understand the Florida criminal process and how you could face additional charges for violating your probation (VOP).

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer the moment you are accused of a crime to begin working on your case’s  best defense. He or she will be able to provide you with quality legal advice through every step of your case’s progression and guide you through all of your legal options.

I Violated One or More of the Terms of My Probation but Did Not Commit a New Crime

As an individual on probation, it is your responsibility to follow all of the terms of your probation. This includes keeping a record of all your scheduled meetings with your probation officer and the court.

When you violate the terms of your probation without having committed a new crime, the violation may be considered to be a technical violation. This refers to any violations that are not criminal in nature but were conditions placed upon you at the disposition of your case. Some examples of technical probation violations include the following:

  • Failure to complete court-ordered classes.
  • Missing or appearing late to a court or probation officer meeting.
  • Failure to pay court costs or fines.
  • Changing your address without notifying the court.

If you are found guilty of this type of VOP (probation violation), you may face the penalties you faced for your original crime. The court may not impose new penalties or penalties in excess of those in place for your initial offense.

I Violated My Probation by Committing a New Crime

Committing a new crime while on probation is known as a substantive violation of the probation. This type of violation includes all new criminal offenses. If you are found guilty of substantive violation of your probation, you may face new criminal charges for the second crime. Depending on your previous punishment and criminal history, the court may extend your probation, sentence you to fines or jail time, or impose other penalties that are permitted by law.

Probation Violation VOP Attorney in Panama City

No matter the circumstances of your probation violation, you need legal advice from an attorney who understands the laws surrounding probation violation and the consequences you may face if you are found guilty. Contact a probation violation attorney in Panama City to discuss your legal options and work out the best solution for you and your case. The attorneys at The Morris Law Firm are available to speak with you any time of day, any day of the week at 850-257-5680, so call now if you need an attorney now.

Categories: General
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When Do You Need A Panama City Criminal Defense Attorney?

March 24, 2015 • Dana Morris

Many of the best vacations are had right here on Panama City Beach, Florida!  In fact, our beaches are often called “the World’s most beautiful beaches,” and this area is known as one of the top beach vacation destinations in the country.  Tourists and locals, alike, enjoy eating at Captain Anderson’s, having great adventures at sea, cruising the strip, enjoying the clubs on Thomas Drive, shopping at Pier Park, sunbathing or having lots of fun by the pool.

But what if the spring break partying gets out of hand?  What if alcohol, drugs or weapons are involved? Sometimes what starts as a great vacation can quickly turn into a nightmare and some spring breakers find themselves unfortunately charged with misdemeanor or felony charges.  Spring break charges that we see often include:

Was your son or daughter arrested on a spring break trip to the beach?  If so, you need a Panama City attorney to stay on top of things here locally in Panama City long after the vacation is over and everyone has returned home.  Once hired, we will file all the necessary paperwork to keep you and/or your son or daughter from having to return to Bay County for court dates.  Instead, we will be able to appear in front of the judge on your behalf.  This will save both additional expense and trouble.

We can walk you through the entire legal process, starting with first appearance, leading to and including expungement if applicable.

  • Within 24 hours of the arrest a first appearance takes place. In Bay County, the county that Panama City Beach is located in, the defendant will appear in front of a judge or a magistrate by live video feed. The prosecutor, an assistant state attorney, will be present.  We recommend you hire a private attorney to represent you at first appearance to start fighting immediately for the best possible outcome in your case.  Contact Attorney Dana Morris at (850) 257-5680 if you would like for him to represent you at your 1st appearance.

In Florida first appearances are held to:

  • notify the defendant of the charges brought against him/her by law enforcement
  • determine if there is probable cause for these charges
  • set bond and the conditions of release, if there are any.

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Who’s Helped Others Just Like You

How do you choose a criminal defense firm to hire in Panama City?  A good criminal lawyer will fight to protect your rights every step of the way.   Attorney Dana Morris, a criminal defense attorney with The Morris Law Firm, will represent you or your loved one with your case starting at first appearance and proceeding throughout the entire process.  Rest assured that he will be fighting for the best possible outcome.  He has over 17 years of legal experience and has handled thousands of criminal cases including indecent exposure, resisting arrest, fleeing or eluding a police officer, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, and much more.   Contact an experienced attorney.  Contact Dana Morris at (850) 257-5680 for a free consultation in our office or over the phone.

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