Orlando Tourist Offenses Lawyer
The Magic Kingdom and other tourist attractions draw millions of visitors to Orlando every year. These institutions also aggressively market themselves and often offer travel and other packages, thus increasing the amount of tourists even more. When your vehicle has an out-of-state license plate, you are basically driving with a target on your back. Peace officers often look for any possible excuse to detain these motorists. What’s more, like college students, these individuals often feel alone and afraid in these situations.
The experienced Orlando tourist offense lawyers at Joshi Law Firm, PA are fully familiar with all the local procedural rules. We take the time to advise our out-of-state clients about these matters, to make them feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process. In many cases, we arrange to waive your court appearances, so the process is not as disruptive for you and your family. With these matters addressed, we are free to aggressively challenge the state’s evidence.
Common Tourist Offenses
Alcohol-related offenses, such as DUI, are by far the most common tourist offenses in Orlando. Possession offenses, mostly marijuana possession, often come up as well. Many tourists come from states where this substance has been legal for several years. So, they simply don’t think about the marijuana in their possession until it’s too late.
Typically, the Field Sobriety Tests are the lynchpin of a DUI case. That’s particularly true in refusal cases, since prosecutors must rely on the FST results to establish intoxication. Even in these cases, however, the FSTs are often critical. If the defendant did fairly well on these tests yet officers made an arrest anyway, many jurors believe the police were trying to railroad the defendant.
Unapproved tests, like the finger-to-nose test, usually don’t count for evidence purposes. Only the three approved FSTs truly matter in this context. These tests are:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The DUI eye test is perhaps the most deeply-flawed FST. It’s only truly accurate under controlled conditions. Roadside HGN test conditions are far from controlled. Furthermore, alcohol isn’t the only cause of nystagmus, or lazy eye. In fact, many people have a lazy eye and don’t know it. Because of these weaknesses, many judges only allow prosecutors to use HGN results for limited purposes.
- Walk and Turn: Test conditions also affect the WAT, or the heel-to-toe walk. It’s much harder to walk an imaginary line than an actual line. Furthermore, it’s almost impossible to walk a straight line while wearing anything other than athletic shoes.
- One Leg Stand: Like the WAT, the OLS is a divided attention test. Scientifically, intoxicated people cannot process and follow directions. This test is flawed as well. Anyone with any mobility impairment cannot possibly stand on one leg for more than two or three seconds. Yet many officers claim that defendants “failed” this test on technicalities, like holding the elevated leg at the wrong angle.
Several municipalities in the Orlando area have decriminalized marijuana. Significantly, officers in these jurisdictions usually cannot use the age-old “I smelled marijuana” excuse to detain motorists or search their property.
The Criminal Law Process in Orange County
Exact procedures vary in different courts. In general, however, here’s what to expect when your criminal case goes to court.
Both misdemeanors and felonies usually involve at least two or three procedural settings. This delay, while frustrating, gives an Orlando tourist offense lawyer additional time to build an effective defense.
At a pretrial hearing, the judge rules on evidence admissibility issues. These issues are very common, especially in possession cases. If officers did not have a search warrant, and they usually do not, contraband is only admissible in court in limited situations.
Most criminal cases settle out of court. These plea bargains usually involve a lesser sentence and/or reduced charges.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Orange County Lawyer
If you came to Florida for vacation and got more than you bargained for, you are not alone. For a free consultation with an experienced tourist offense lawyer in Orlando, contact the Joshi Law Firm, PA. Virtual and after-hours visits are available.