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Criminal Defense

What are the Penalties for Underage Drinking on Panama City Beach during Spring Break?

March 21, 2023 • ryan

With all the fun things to see and do on Panama City Beach we really hope you will have a great time here! However, if an underage person (a minor, juvenile, or other person under 21) is caught in possession of alcohol or alcoholic beverages, the penalty for the accused is generally a second degree misdemeanor charge. 

In addition, some Panama City Spring Breakers and locals (regardless of age) are also being charged with consumption of alcohol on the sandy beach. According to the Panama City Beach ordinance, during the month of March “it shall be unlawful for any person to possess or consume any alcoholic beverage on the sandy Gulf beach of the Gulf of Mexico, within the City limits. For purposes of this section, ‘sandy Gulf beach‘ shall mean all loose or uncompacted sandy areas, including sand dunes and vegetated areas, lying between the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the seaward boundary of the seaward most public vehicular right of way.” The penalty for this violation can be found here.

So the question we often receive at our Panama City law office is; “My child has been charged with a minor in possession and alcohol on the beach charge. He/she is a good student and good kid who just made a mistake. Can you help?” The answer is yes! Our experienced Panama City attorneys have been helping visitors (and locals) with underage drinking charges and drinking alcohol on the sandy beach charges for many years.

We have successfully defended many clients on these underage drinking and sandy beach charges and are here for you, your spring breaker, or a loved one. Please give our spring break defense lawyers in Panama City a call at (850) 257-5680 for a free consultation to discuss your best possible outcome to these alcohol related charges.

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What are the penalties for possession of marijuana oils or edibles in Florida?

February 21, 2023 • ryan

Florida lawmakers implemented Florida Statute § 381.986 in response to the passage of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment on the November, 2016 ballot. 

What are the laws in Florida for edibles containing marijuana for medical use? There are many restrictions outlined in the Florida Statute referenced above which relate specifically to edibles for medical marijuana use. Those restrictions include the specification that edibles may not be attractive to children or “bear any reasonable resemblance to products available for consumption as commercially available candy.” Under this law, edibles, such as pot gummies, that look like candy or are attractive to children are illegal even for medical marijuana use.

Is it a felony in Florida to possess marijuana edibles or oils without a prescription? Yes, a person caught without a prescription in possession of marijuana in the form of an edible or a vape is at risk of being charged with a felony offense pursuant to Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(a) and §893.03(1)(b)(190).

Due to the greater availability of marijuana vapes, oils and edibles, we have seen a number of felony charges for the possession of marijuana oils and edibles by clients who did not have a medical marijuana card at the time of the possession of the marijuana vapes, oils and edibles.

The penalties for a felony offense in the state of Florida are significant.  A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years incarceration and/or probation.  If you find yourself charged in Bay County or the surrounding areas with felony possession of marijuana oils and/or edibles, it is extremely important that you contact a good Panama City criminal defense attorney to assist you in your case. 

If you have been arrested and need legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney with a possession of marijuana oil or marijuana edible charge in Panama City or Panama City Beach, contact The Morris Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Planning a trip to Panama City Beach during Spring Break? 9 laws you need to now.

February 10, 2023 • ryan

I’m Dana Morris, a criminal defense attorney in Panama City, Florida, and it’s that time again for me to warn you about some of our unique spring break laws passed by the local PCB City Council and Bay County Commission.

We hope that you and your family will plan your spring break vacation here in Panama City and enjoy all that these beautiful beaches have to offer.

Many of the best things to do on Panama City Beach include pontoon boat rentals, parasailing, fishing, off-shore fishing, shopping at Pier Park, eating at seafood restaurants, golf, night clubs, Shell Island dolphin tours, go-karts, putt-putt golf and so much more.  However, there are some unusual spring break laws that you need to know about.   

Here are some of the Spring Break rules in place on Panama City Beach during Spring Break:

1. During the month of March, no possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the sandy beach of Panama City Beach. You must leave the alcohol in the room during March.

2. No alcohol possession or consumption in commercial parking lots.

3. During the month of March, all alcohol sales on Panama City Beach end at 2 a.m.

4. No open house parties.

5. Parking in a closed business parking lot is not allowed.

6. Overnight scooter rental is not allowed.

7. It is illegal to climb, jump from or throw things from balconies of hotel or condominiums on Panama City Beach.

8. Parking is prohibited on unmarked or unpaved portions of the road after dark.

9. Metal shovels are not permitted on Panama City Beach, and any holes dug in the sand should not be deeper than 2 feet.

I am a criminal defense attorney at the Morris Law Firm in Panama City, Florida, and have helped with countless spring break arrests of wonderful people who were in violation of these 9 spring break laws.  I want you to be informed and avoid the hassle of having to hire a Panama City attorney to help you navigate through the legal process.  If you do find yourself in need of an experienced attorney in Panama City, I am experienced in defending spring break law violations and will work hard to get your charges dropped or minimized.  Call me, Dana Morris, for a free consultation, (850) 257-5680.

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Florida Penalties for a DUI

July 8, 2018 • ryan

The Florida DUI penalties are very strict and can vary on a number of given factors including whether this is your first DUI offense, how long it has been since your last DUI offense, who you had in the car with you at the time of the DUI arrest, etc.  Provided below is a list of penalties for a DUI in Florida.

First Offense DUI

A misdemeanor with penalties that include:

  • Up to 6 months imprisonment
  • 1 year probation (combined with imprisonment)
  • $500 to $1,000 fine
  • 6 months to 1 year license suspension
  • Community service (at least 50 hours)
  • Substance abuse course (DUI school)
  • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days

First Offense DUI, Enhanced Penalties

A DUI with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .15 or if there was a minor, a person under the age of 18, in the vehicle, will result in enhanced penalties.  The penalties will include the above penalties modified with these changes:

  • Up to 9 months imprisonment
  • $1000 to $2000 fine
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for up to 6 months

Second Offense DUI in More than 5 Years

A misdemeanor with penalties that include:

  • Up to 9 months imprisonment
  • Up to 1 year probation
  • $500 to $1000 fine
  • 6 months to 1 year license suspension
  • Substance abuse course (DUI school)
  • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for 1 year

Second Offense DUI in More than 5 Years, Enhanced Penalties

A second DUI with a BAC over .15 or accompanied by a minor in the vehicle include the above penalties with these changes:

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • $2000 to $4000 fine
  • 6 months to 1 year license suspension
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for 2 years

Second Offense DUI in Less than 5 Years

A misdemeanor with penalties that include:

  • Mandatory 10 days to 9 month imprisonment
  • Up to 1 year probation
  • $500 to $1000 fine
  • 5 years license suspension
  • Substance abuse course (DUI school)
  • Vehicle impoundment for 30 days (not concurrent with incarceration)
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for 1 year

Second Offense DUI in Less than 5 Years, Enhanced Penalties

A second DUI with a BAC over .15% or accompanied by a minor in the vehicle include the above penalties with these changes:

  • Mandatory 10 days to 1year imprisonment
  • $1000 to $2000 fine
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for 2 years

Third Offense DUI in More than 10 Years

A misdemeanor with penalties that include:

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • Up to 1 year probation
  • $2000 to $5000 fine
  • 6 months to 1 year license suspension
  • Substance abuse course (DUI school)
  • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for 2 years

Third Offense DUI in Less than 10 Years

A third degree felony with penalties that include:

  • 30 days to 5 years imprisonment
  • Up to 5 years probation
  • $2000 to $5000 fine
  • 10 years license suspension
  • Substance abuse course (DUI school)
  • Vehicle impoundment for 90 days
  • Interlock Ignition Device on all vehicles for 2 years

Third Offense DUI within 10 Years, Enhanced Penalties

A third DUI with a BAC over .15% or accompanied by a minor in the vehicle include the above penalties with these changes:

  • Minimum $4000 fine

Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer to defend your DUI charges at The Morris Law Firm – We Put Our Clients First

If you or a loved one needs the assistance of a DUI attorney, do not hesitate to contact The Morris Law Firm. We’re available 24/7, so call us now if you need help from an experienced lawyer in Panama City or the surrounding areas, (850) 257-5680. We have a Spanish translator available if you are looking for a Spanish speaking criminal defense attorney (abogado de defensa criminal) on your defense team.  We’ll provide the compassionate support, sound legal advice, and aggressive advocacy you need to get through this difficult time.  Furthermore, we’ll be happy to schedule a free consultation with you and our attorney to discuss your case and your rights at your convenience.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI, General
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Navigating through the Panama City Pretrial Diversion and Intervention (PTI) Process

May 31, 2018 • Dana Morris

Dana Morris is a criminal defense attorney in Panama City, Florida.  Many of the criminal cases that he has represented have resulted in Pretrial Diversion.

What are the benefits of a Pretrial Diversion Program?

  • Individuals who successfully complete a Pretrial Diversion Program will avoid a potential criminal conviction by having their criminal charges dismissed.  If they’re a candidate for expungement, they could also have the case removed from their criminal history.
  • They will also avoid the stress, hassle and expense of a criminal trial.

We recommend that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Panama City, Florida, to review your charges and see if you qualify for the Pretrial Diversion or Pretrial Intervention programs.  Dana Morris, at The Morris Law Firm, offers free legal consultations and would be happy to meet with your to discuss your charges and your options.  Give him a call at (850) 257-5680.

Pretrial Diversion

To participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program in Bay County, the defendant must not have a prior criminal record. Alternatively, the Defendant may be recommended by an Assistant State Attorney to the program during pre-trial proceedings.

Once you are accepted into pretrial diversion, you will need to complete an online test, serve or pay for eight community service hours, and pay the assessed fees (see below).  Once you complete all terms of the program, the charges are dropped.

Click here for a list of misdemeanor crimes  that are eligible to be diverted by the Bay County State Attorney’s office.

If you and your criminal defense attorney determine that you are eligible for the Pretrial Diversion Program and you enter into the agreement, you will have 90 days to complete an online test and complete it with a score of 70% or better.  Keep in mind, the test is “open book” and you may use the internet or other sources for information.

Take the Pretrial Diversion test here.

During the 90 days after entering into the Pretrial Diversion Program, you will also need to pay the assessed fees

  • Pay $280.00 – Online or with Money Order/Cashier’s Check
  • Pay $200.00 and perform 8 hours of Community Service at a non-profit organization
  • Perform 28 hours of Community Service at a non-profit organization

Pay Pretrial Diversion fees online here.

Pretrial Intervention

For first time offenders with more serious charges, Florida law offers pretrial intervention, which typically involves more conditions than would be associated with a Pretrial Diversion Program and takes a longer period of time to complete.

Give one of our attorneys at The Morris Law Firm a call if you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Bay County, Florida or the surrounding counties.  They offer free legal consultations with an attorney. Criminal defense attorneys at The Morris Law Firm can be reached at (850) 257-5680.

Categories: Criminal Defense, General
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Spring Break ordinances in place on Panama City Beach during Spring Break

March 7, 2018 • ryan

9 of the best things to know before you party on Panama City Beach during Spring Break in March

I’m a criminal defense attorney in Panama City, Florida, and it’s that time again for me to try to do my best to warn you about our unique spring break laws passed by the local PCB City Council or Bay County Commission.

On Panama City Beach, Florida, each year we have our own version of March Madness; it’s called Spring Break!  The weather is typically sunny and beautiful and college students and families flock to our beautiful beaches for rest, relaxation and a great time.   We hope that you will plan your spring break vacation here and enjoy all that these beautiful beaches have to offer.

Here you will find many of the best things to do on Panama City Beach like pontoon boat rentals, parasailing, night clubs, Shell Island dolphin tours, go-karts, putt-putt golf and so much more.  However, you will also find some unusual spring break laws that you need to know about.

Here are the Spring Break ordinances in place on Panama City Beach during Spring Break:

1. During the month of March, no possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the sandy beach of Panama City Beach, so leave the alcohol in the room.

2. No alcohol possession or consumption in commercial parking lots.

3. During the month of March, all alcohol sales on Panama City Beach end at 2 a.m.

4. No open house parties.

5. Parking in a closed business parking lot is not allowed.

6. Overnight scooter rental is not allowed.

7. It is illegal to climb, jump from or throw things from balconies of hotel or condominiums on Panama City Beach.

8. Parking is prohibited on unmarked or unpaved portions of the road after dark.

9. Metal shovels are not permitted on Panama City Beach, and any holes dug in the sand should not be deeper than 2 feet.

I am a criminal defense attorney at the Morris Law Firm in Panama City, Florida, and have helped with countless spring break arrests of wonderful people who were in violation of one or more of these 9 spring break laws.  I want you to be informed and avoid the hassle of having to hire a Panama City attorney to help you navigate through the legal process.  If you do find yourself in need of an experienced attorney in Panama City, I am experienced in defending spring break law violations and will work hard to try to get your charges dropped or minimized.  Call me, Dana Morris, for a free consultation, (850) 257-5680.

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Who is the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Panama City?

January 18, 2018 • ryan

In your search for hiring the right attorney, your first question might be, “Are you the best criminal defense lawyer in Panama City?”

When people ask me who to hire as the best criminal defense lawyer in Panama City, my answer here is the same as I tell clients on the phone when they call for a free consultation.  While impossible to know for certain the outcome of your case, the most important thing that I can promise you is that I will work very hard on your case.  I work hard on every case that I take.  I give each and every case my full attention, as if I were defending my own son or daughter’s charges.

In your search to hire the best criminal defense attorney I suggest that you do your homework.  Hiring the right criminal defense attorney is a very important decision that has far reaching ramifications.  I highly recommend that you hire a lawyer that is familiar with the court system, and someone who does criminal defense work every day.  I also suggest that you meet with the criminal defense attorney that you are considering hiring before any money changes hands.  If the attorney you are considering does not have time for you before you pay him or her, he/she will most certainly not have time for you afterwards.

Here at the Morris Law Firm we encourage everyone to come in for a free consultation.

At this meeting, we want you to ask questions about your case, your specific facts and any concerns you may have.  Many times at this meeting we are able to determine that what you need is not an attorney, but just some good, free, sound legal advice.  If this is the case, I am certainly happy to save you some time, money and stress.

I will leave you with a few good questions to ask a lawyer:

How many cases like this have you handled before?  What were the outcomes?

How long have you been practicing law?  Have you ever prosecuted cases?

When was the last time you were in the courthouse?  How many cases have you defended at trial?

Give me a call  at (850) 257-5680.  I’ll be happy to answer your questions.  You may also check out my profile to learn more about my legal practice and my experience.

~Dana

Categories: Criminal Defense, General
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Hiring a Bail Bondsman in Florida

August 2, 2017 • ryan

Bail Bond in Panama City, Florida

Are you looking for the best way to bail your friend or family member out of jail and find yourself confused?  You are not alone. It is at this time that it is most important to hire the best criminal defense attorney in the Panama City area to guide you through the process and secure a good bail bondsman that you can work with for a bail bond.

One of the first things that is going to happen after the arrest is for a judge to determine if a person can be released from jail and under what terms.  The judge will usually take into account the nature of the alleged offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the person who has been arrested.  After the judge determines the amount of the bail, you will need to decide if you are going to pay the full amount upfront (cash bond) or hire a bail bondsman and pay a surety bond.

If you decide to go with a surety bond, this can best be thought of as an insurance policy.   The bondsman will issue a bond for you, which is really just a promise to the court system that you (or the defendant) will appear for hearings. Once the bondsman issues the bond in the required amount you will be released from jail.  This means that the person will be released for less money up front and will remain free while their case makes its way through the legal system.  So what does the bail bondsman charge for this “insurance policy?”  In Florida, the bondsman may charge 10% of the total amount set for bail.  For example, if the bail is set at $5,000, you will pay a bail bondsman  $500 for the surety bond.  The $500 never comes back to you, that is the fee that a bondsman keeps.

Cash Bond vs. Surety Bond

When you decide to pay the entire amount upfront, you are posting a cash bond.  The full amount of the bond is paid in order for you to be released.  If you successfully comply with the terms of the bond, the full amount of the bond, minus court fees, will be returned to you.

If you are unable, or unwilling, to pay the entire amount upfront, you may decide to go with a surety bond.  A surety bond can best be thought of as purchasing an insurance policy.   The bondsman will issue a bond for you, which is really just a promise to the court system that you will successfully comply with the terms of the bond. Once the bondsman issues the bond in the required amount you will be released from jail.  This means that you will be released for less money up front and will remain free while your case makes its way through the legal system.  So what does the bail bondsman charge for this “insurance policy?”  In Florida, the bondsman may charge 10% of the total amount set for bail.  For example, if the bail is set at $5,000, you will pay a bail bondsman $500 for the surety bond.  The $500 never comes back to you, that is the fee that a bondsman keeps.

What happens if I don’t comply with the terms of the bond?

If you disappear and do not comply with the terms of the bond, several things will happen. The court will issue an arrest warrant for your appearance (also called a capias), and the bond will be considered in default. If the bond was set at $5,000 and you paid the entire $5,000 in a cash bond, the court will keep the entire amount and refund you nothing. If you hired a bail bondsman and were released on a surety bond, the bond company will have to pay the court the $5,000. The bonding company may now choose to sue you for their losses or you will lose the collateral that you secured the bond with. Finally, the bondsman may look for you to return you to jail.

Free Legal Advice from a Panama City Defense Attorney with over 17 Years Experience 

If you are in need of advice from a local criminal defense attorney in Northwest Florida with over 17 years experience, please give us a call now at (850) 257-5680.  We will be happy to arrange a free consultation in our office or over the phone to discuss your case and offer our assistance.
Categories: Criminal Defense, General
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FAQ with Panama City Defense Attorney Dana Morris

May 28, 2017 • ryan

Dana Morris, one of the most trusted and highly rated criminal defense lawyers in Panama City, Florida, answers some commonly asked legal questions:

 

1. As a criminal defense attorney, what is one common legal mistake that people make that you wish you could teach everyone?

     You do not have to give consent to a search of your vehicle by law enforcement.  Our 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.  In the absence of strong evidence (probable cause), police need your permission to perform a search of you or your property.   You may believe that if you tell an officer that he/she can search your car, the officer really won’t take you up on the offer.   Perhaps it’s just a bluff by the officer to see if you will act as though you have something to hide.   Please be advised, they are not bluffing.  Most of the time when this question is asked, officers do not have probable cause to conduct a search.  If they had it, they would be busy searching your car, not spending their time asking you for your consent.

2. Practicing law in Bay County, what is your favorite resource to point people to for legal questions?

     There is absolutely no substitute for legal advice provided by a lawyer practicing in the area of law in question.  However, more and more these days, the clerk of courts websites in their respective counties here in Florida have created a substantial online presence that is helpful for frequently asked questions related to legal terms and procedure.  The Bay County Clerk of Courts website can be found here.
 

3. What is one legal myth that you’ve heard of and would like to dispel?

     Myth?  That law enforcement must read you your Miranda rights in order for the arrest to be valid.  It’s not true!  The two circumstances that must come together for a citizen’s Miranda rights to be triggered are for someone to be placed into custody and for that person to be asked questions about the suspected criminal activity. An officer can ask you questions to establish an individual’s identity without Miranda being triggered.  If you are placed in custody and an officer asks you nothing, Miranda is not triggered.  Likewise, if an officer asks a lot of questions about the criminal activity suspected but does not place you in custody, Miranda is not triggered.  So, what constitutes custody?  Custody is generally defined as occurring when a reasonable person would believe that they were not free to leave the officer’s presence.  Being asked to sit in a patrol car uncuffed, being cuffed, or answering questions from an officer whose tone and body language is aggressive in nature, can constitute “custody” for purposes of triggering Miranda.    

Everyone has rights!  We at the Morris Law Firm in Panama City, Florida, can help you defend yours.  We offer free consultations to discuss the details of your case.  We will guide you through the legal process every step of the way.  We are available 24 hours a day, so call now if you need us, (850) 257-5680.
Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI
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Want a Guarantee that I’ll Win Your Case?

April 27, 2016 • Dana Morris

Would you hire me if I said, “I’ll win your criminal case, guaranteed”?

I have potential new clients call my criminal defense firm all the time. Sometimes they ask me, in no uncertain terms, if I can guarantee that I will win their criminal case and get their criminal charges dropped. An actual call can go something like this, “Mr. Morris, I’ve read the great reviews that other clients have posted about you.  I want to hire you if you can guarantee that you will win my case, too.”

Why can’t a criminal defense lawyer give a client a guarantee that he(she) will win his (her) criminal case?

Ok, there are several reasons. First of all, it’s illegal. Did you know that rules from the Florida Bar on ethics strictly prohibit a lawyer from making a guarantee as to any outcome in any criminal case? There are no guarantees as to any outcome for any criminal case. Lawyers who give a guarantee as to a result could get sanctioned, suspended or worse, disbarred. However, some unscrupulous lawyers give people guarantees as to an end result all the time.

Besides being illegal, it’s just plain wrong. Having handled thousands of criminal cases in Florida, I counsel my clients about possible ways to beat their cases and probable outcomes. This comes from years of experience, as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, not from a crystal ball that allows me to see into the future.

Everyone wants a guarantee. But when we are working with an officer, a prosecutor, a judge and a jury, there simply are no guarantees on the outcome.

Here is a list of guarantees that I can make:

  • I guarantee to stay in touch with you as your case progresses. In fact, I strive to return all of my phone calls within one hour. When my day is packed with back-to-back court appearances, it may take longer than an hour, but I guarantee that I’ll call you back as soon as possible.
  • As your criminal defense attorney, I guarantee to work extremely hard and to stay focused on my top priority; to win your case and get you the best possible outcome for your charges.
  • As a father, I guarantee you that I will keep your child’s best interest foremost in my defense efforts.  I try to treat each client as if they were my own child and work as hard for them as I would for my own son and daughter.
  • I can also guarantee that if you don’t trust the lawyer that you hire, you’re not going to be happy. Trust your instincts; it’s important that you get along from the beginning.
  • I guarantee that any lawyer that gives you a guarantee as to an outcome in your criminal case is one that you should want to run, not walk, away from. Most likely, this same attorney will tell you anything you want to hear just to get your money. I’d rather not get your business than be dishonest with you.

If you’re looking for a lawyer that you can trust to work hard for you, guaranteed, I’m available 24/7, so call now, (850) 257-5680.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer in Panama City Beach, FL  Best Law Firm in Panama City, FL

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