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Justice…Finally

“Mr. Lafrance, thank you for believing in me and my story.” Those were the words my client said to me as she hugged and sobbed in my arms.

I remember when she first walked into my office and asked me to represent her. My client was being accused of battery (at the time). The allegations were that she hit the bus driver  after getting into an argument with him. I understood her story and told her I would be looking into the matter before I would agree to take the case. My law clerk however was able to find the video and after watching the video of this incident I was absolutely baffled.

It took just 30 seconds of watching the video for it to become clear that she was not only innocent but a victim. The video did not show my client hitting the bus driver but instead it showed her being attacked by another passenger and the Bus Driver jumping in to attack my client.

I distinctively remember talking to the prosecutors prior to the filing of charges and ask them how could they be pursuing a battery when the video showed otherwise. They disagreed with me (its normal for this happen and doesn’t make them bad people) and filed charges in August of 2017.

We conducted some pretrial investigations and once the investigation was complete we were prepared to go to trial. Unfortunately, I fell ill and was hospitalized and couldn’t physically go to trial. That was in January of 2018 and my client was patient and understanding. She said she wanted me to get healthy so that I can be the trial lawyer.

By April 2018, I was ready and that’s when the games began. The State apparently had witnesses issues and the Judge granted a continuance. Again, my client was patient and understanding.

In June 2018, we were set for trial again and once again the State asked for a continuance and was granted one by the Judge. I admit I loss my temper because it was absurd but my client was patient and understanding.

Then July 31, 2018, after filing a demand for speedy trial and the Court giving us this Court date, the State asked for and was granted another continuance. My client, rightfully so, was no longer patient and no longer understanding. She had waited for months for her opportunity for a jury to hear her story and again it was denied.

In August 2018, we were again set for trial. Speedy trial having already run and everyone in my firm was as pissed as me and now prepared for a full on legal battle. I asked my client to accept the possibility that the judge may  grant another continuance. She understood and then she led us in prayer before we walked in for battle.

On that day there was no battle. Just a quick 5 minute hearing which ended with the State announcing a dismissal of the charges. My client was overjoyed and for once she was finally given justice albeit delayed.

“Mr. Lafrance, thank you for believing in me and my story.”

No, thank you for reminding me why I do what I do for a living.

Houson R. Lafrance

What is Assault and Battery?

Recently I sat down with a potential client who believed he was being charged in correctly. He advised me that he was being accused of hitting someone when he never laid a hand on anyone. He was fairly adamant that his case should be dismissed because he did not assault anyone.

After about 10 minutes of us discussing his case I realized that he understood assault differently than how Florida defined it. To my surprise a lot of people confuse the two, depending on where they grew up (this potential client happen to have grown up in the Northeast).

Assault and battery have different meanings under Florida Law. Assault is defined as an intentional threat to commit an act of violence –that makes someone feel like they’re in danger of getting hurt. While Battery is defined as the intentional, but unlawful, touching of someone else.

Assault
To illustrate an assault is threatening to knock someone out but never actually hitting them. An assault can take several forms such as simple assault, aggravated assault or sexual assault.

Battery
In contrast, a battery is actually hitting or touching someone. A battery can be a simple battery, aggravated battery or even sexual battery.

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Miami-Dade County, Broward County or Palm Beach County for assault or battery please give me a call. I have experience handling those kinds of cases and have been able to get a lot of positive results.

Call me at 954-982-2124 or you can email me at hlafrance@cgllawfirm.com.

Houson R. Lafrance

How much are attorneys’ fees?

I often get asked by potential clients or just curious people how much do I charge to represent them for a case. The answer is always depends because there are multiple considerations that I have to take when quoting a price to a potential client. I’ll break it down by practice area:

Criminal Defense

I know that some lawyers charge an hourly rate and others charge a flat fee.  As a general rule I charge a flat fee (nonrefundable retainer) that is determined on a case-by-case basis.  The fee is based on the complexity of the case (a drug trafficking case will cost more than a simple misdemeanor possession of cannabis) and the estimated number of hours it would take to resolve the case. Prior to quoting a specific fee, I will typically meet with you in person and conduct a preliminary investigation into your case.  In some case there may also be a separate fee if the case goes to trial.

Personal Injury/Car Accident

When it comes to personal injury/car accident cases I do not require the client to pay anything upfront because I take those cases on contingency. What that means is that I do not get paid unless the client gets paid. So if a client is hurt in a car accident or slip n fall I get paid 33.3% of what I recover for the client. However, that number goes up to 40% if I have to file suit and take it trial. This works out for the client because they do not have to finance the expense of litigation and I absorb all the risk.

Final Thoughts:

Paying for a lawyer can be expensive and most people do not have the ability to pay thousands of dollars at once to pay for legal representation. In response to that reality I offer reasonable payment plans to clients that allow them to pay for legal services.

If you or a loved one is in need of a good lawyers give me a call or email me today! 954-982-2124 or hlafrance@cgllawfirm.com.

Houson R. Lafrance

Open Container and Alcohol Related Laws in Florida

Florida Statute 316.1936 makes it a civil infraction for a person (driver or passenger) to be possession an open container of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle. The statute defines open container to mean any alcoholic beverage which can immediately be consumed or if the seal is broken.

The statute makes a distinction between the driver a passenger in possession of an open container. If the driver is found to be in possession, then he will be ticketed for a moving violation and will be fined up to $90. If the passenger is found to be in possession, then the passenger can be ticketed for a non-moving violation and will be fined up to $60.

If you were cited for any alcohol related offense including a civil infraction under state law or an ordinance violation, then contact me at 954-982-2124. I represent individuals throughout Miami, Broward and Palm Beach County on a wide variety of alcohol related offenses including open container, driving under the influence, underaged possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, and possession of a fake I.D. card.

Houson R. Lafrance

Been Hurt in a Uber or Lyft Accident?

It’s a Friday night and you’re headed to the local bars for a night of drinking and hanging out with friends. You know you’re going to be drinking so you and your friends decided that you’re going to Uber (or Lyft) to and back from the bars that night. You request your ride and it arrives. You jump in all excited because this night is going to be a much needed stress reliever after a long week.

As you’re on your way to the bar, your driver slams into another car. Your neck hurts, your back hurts, and may have suffered a serious injury. The good news for you is that Uber and Lyft are both insured to take care of you in those instances involving car accidents.

Uber and Lyft are both major companies now worth billions of dollars; as such, they make sure that their drivers are covered for $1 million dollars in both liability and in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  In contrast, many Florida motorists carry only $10,000 in injury liability or don’t have coverage at all.

The level of insurance covering  Uber and Lyft means that those injured in an accident where they are not at fault may be able to obtain more complete compensation for the medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering following an accident.

It’s important to have the representation of a talent and experienced Lyft or Uber accident lawyer who is able to obtain the best results possible. Cox, Golondrino & Lafrance PA wants you to know that you may be due significant compensation if you are in one of the following categories:

  • A motorist or passenger injured in a collision where a ridesharing driver was at fault.
  • A ridesharing driver injured in an incident where another motorist was at fault.
  • An injured passenger in a ridesharing vehicle, regardless of which driver is at fault

Cox, Golondrino & Lafrance PA has experience handling huge policy limits and have successfully negotiated settlements for countless of happy clients.

Have you or a love one been injured in a car accident? Give me a call now!

954-982-2124.

Houson R. Lafrance

St. Thomas University School of Law makes it to the Semifinals at Trial Competition

Prior to becoming a lawyer I use to coach teenagers in basketball and football. I eventually gave up coaching to pursue my legal career. In law school, I was a member of the St. Thomas University School of Law Trial Team and it was one of the best experiences in my life. It was as a member that team I developed a passion for trial advocacy that I still carry with me to this very day. So, when I had the opportunity to go back to St. Thomas University and coach the trial team I accepted without hesitation.

I have been coaching for two years now and recently finished coaching at the Honorable E. Earle Zehmer Memorial Mock Trial Competition in Orlando, Florida. This competition was hosted by the Florida Justice Association and they put on a fine competition.

I coached two teams (along with my co-coach) and they both competed on Saturday. After the first day of competition one of our teams advanced to the semi-finals where they were unfortunately defeated by Stetson Law. Despite not winning the competition I am proud of each of my students for showing up to the competition and representing their school proudly.

Over the last 8 weeks of preparation I got to witness them grow from being law students to full blown lawyers. I look forward to next year when we get another chance to go back to this competition for a chance to finally bring home the title. But for now the focus turns to the competition in Jacksonville, Florida and putting Florida on notice that St. Thomas University School of Law Trial Team is a force to be reckoned with once again.

Houson R. Lafrance

Does the car have to be moving for me to be guilty of DUI?

This may surprise you but the answer is no. You can be convicted of DUI in Florida even if you’re not actually driving the car or the key is not in the engine.

The Court and the prosecutor consider whether or not you have the capability to control, direct or use the vehicle.

In otherwise, just being behind the wheel or in the vehicle that is able to run you can be arrested and possibly convicted of DUI in Florida.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI give me a call. I would be happy to help you if I can. 954-982-2124.

Houson R. Lafrance

What is DUI?

DUI is a shorthand acronym for Driving Under the Influence. In order to be convicted of DUI the State must that a person drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle and was under the influence of alcohol or chemical substance to the extent their normal faculties were impaired or they blew a .08 or more.

Anyone who blows a .08 or more is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol.

If you or a loved one has been accused of driving under the influence give me a call. I’d like to help you if I can. 954-982-2124.

Houson R. Lafrance

How to Survive a Traffic Stop!

One would be hard press to turn on the news or read their social media timeline and not find something or someone talking about police behavior during a traffic stop. All one has to do is just read the comments and you’d be able to see the clear and sharp divide between people. Despite any view you may have I believe we all can agree that no one wants to lose their life during a traffic stop.

So in order to hopefully help some folks I put together this post. Because some people are surprised to learn that they actually have rights and that there is a limit to what a police officer can and can’t do.

It goes without saying that traffic stops are the most common encounter you’ll have with police officers on the road. Knowing what actions police officers can legally take, and your own obligations, will help you stay calm if you’re pulled over.

If they pull you over, a police officer can legally ask to see the following forms of identification:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Your vehicle’s registration

These forms of identification allow the police to check whether there are any charges against you and whether you own your vehicle. You have to show these documents if you have them.

Word of advice, do not start searching for you’re documents until the police officers tells you to do so. In light of today’s climate any sudden movement while reaching into your glove box could make it seem like you’re looking for a weapon.

Another piece of advice follow the officer’s instruction. Stay seated with your hands on the steering wheel, unless you are prompted to exit your vehicle. A police officer has the right to ask you to exit your vehicle at any time during a traffic stop, whether you have been placed under arrest or not.

Police questioning

I normally advise people not to talk with police because the police have a tendency to twist words to fit their probable cause. However, in cases of a traffic stop it’s usually better to give short answers to the officer’s questions.

Answer yes or no  and don’t volunteer any extra information. Talking to little at a traffic stop is not as bad as talking to much at a traffic stop.

Searching your person

A police officer has the right to pat you down or frisk you during a traffic stop if they have reasonable suspicion that you are armed or dangerous.

They can also frisk you and any passengers in your car if they believe you might be involved in criminal activity.

Police officers can seize any illegal items that they uncover while frisking you during a traffic stop.

Searching your vehicle

A police officer can ask to search your vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion that it contains evidence of a crime or illegal activity. If you agree to this request, they can conduct their search.

That being said you can always refuse the search but do so without being rude to the officer. The fact that you refused cannot be used against you at trial. However, a police officer can search your vehicle without consent if they have probable cause.

Seizing items in your car

A police officer doesn’t have to search your car to seize items from it. The office can take any illegal thing he sees in plain view. These items might include open cans or bottles of alcohol, illicit drugs, or drug paraphernalia.

The police officer is allowed to open your car door and reach into your vehicle to retrieve the illegal object. Just know if the office does see something in plain view while he is retrieving he can grab whatever else is illegal in the car.

Your behavior during a traffic stop

Attitude is a matter of life or death in a traffic. Be nice and respectful. You will not get any points for cussing out the police officer or just being rude. Your family will appreciate seeing you walking through the door instead of a jail cell or funeral home.

Houson R. Lafrance

Why I Disagree with Judge Hirsch About Stand Your Ground

Recently Judge Milton Hirsch declared the newest version of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as unconstitutional. The recent change in the law shifted the burden from the defendant to the State to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a Defendant is not justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

In his order declaring the statute unconstitutional Judge Hirsch found that the change to the law was procedural and therefore violated the Florida Constitution.  His separation of powers argument was that it should be the Florida Supreme Court that should create procedure and not the Florida legislature.

I disagree.

A judge should not interfere with with the legislative process. The legislature is the embodiment of the people and if the people say they want the State to have the burden of proof then a Judge should not interfere unless it violates a fundamental right. In my analysis of the change of the law it does not violate a fundamental right instead in protects a scared one, the Fifth Amendment (Cannot be compelled to be a witness against yourself).

Make no mistake I think Judge Hirsch is a great judge who is more right than he is wrong, but in this respect I disagree with him.

Houson R. Lafrance