Florida Criminal Lawyers
Competent and Experienced Representation at Shorstein & Lee
At the Law Office of Shorstein & Lee, Alyssa Shorstein and Sung Lee have over 30 years of combined experience representing residents of Northeast Florida in a wide range of criminal and civil matters. At our office, every case is handled by Mrs. Shorstein or Mr. Lee, as opposed to many other firms that hand cases to an associate. You are paying for our experience and our relationships, and that is what you will get. Whether you need a St. Augustine criminal lawyer or assistance with a family, bankruptcy, or trusts and estates matter, we have the skills, knowledge, and local connections to provide the quality representation that you deserve.
We understand that every case is different. When you first contact us, we will take the time to ask you the important questions so that we come up with the right approach to handling your case. We know that you are calling us because you or a loved one is in need of assistance, and there are many questions that you need answered. Both of us have many years of courtroom experience, and we are confident that we will be able to competently determine how to handle your case.
In Florida, crimes can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are crimes that carry a possible sentence of over one year in state prison. A misdemeanor is a crime for which the potential jail sentence is less than a year. Even though misdemeanors carry milder consequences, they should be taken seriously because any type of criminal record can affect you far into the future. The criminal attorneys at our St. Augustine firm have substantial experience helping defendants fight both felony and misdemeanor charges.
You can be charged with a DUI if you are caught operating a vehicle while impaired or intoxicated. You also can be charged if your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or greater. The number of prior offenses (if any) can affect the penalties for a conviction. Harsher penalties also may be imposed if a DUI results in injuries or death to someone else. Fortunately, a careful investigation of an alleged DUI often reveals flaws in the prosecution’s case or factors that may support a defense, such as errors in testing or an inadequate basis for the stop.
Drug crimes are harshly punished in Florida. They may involve possessing, selling, manufacturing, or trafficking controlled substances. The nature of the charge will be determined by which kind of drug was involved and how much was involved. If you possess more than a certain amount, you may face charges for possession with intent to sell, even if your intention was actually personal consumption. Moreover, you can be charged with drug trafficking if you knowingly sell, buy, make, deliver, or bring into Florida, or if you are in active or constructive possession of more than a certain amount of a drug. Trafficking crimes usually carry mandatory minimum sentences, so it is especially important to consult a St. Augustine criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Violent crimes include murder, kidnapping, burglary, child abuse, aggravated battery, robbery, and aggravated assault. Sometimes the violence is the point of the crime. However, in other situations, the violence is a means to an end, such as when a burglar shoots someone who caught him burglarizing a private residence. Each type of charge contains specific elements. To establish assault, for example, a prosecutor will need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an intentional threat or use of force against a victim.
Juvenile crimes are crimes in which the accused is under age 18. Juvenile charges generally are handled in circuit court. There is an exception for traffic misdemeanors, which are handled by a county judge. In certain situations, minors may be charged as adults in felony cases. The penalties in the juvenile justice system are different from those in the adult system. There are various diversionary programs that permit juveniles to keep criminal charges off their records, which is why it is crucial to retain a St. Augustine criminal lawyer who has experience working in the juvenile justice system.
Theft can be charged when somebody knowingly gets or uses or tries to get or use another party’s property, intending to temporarily or permanently deprive them of the right to the property or a benefit from the property. Theft can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of what was taken. For example, if the property taken is worth $750-$20,000, you can be charged with grand theft in the third degree, which can result in a sentence of up to five years in prison. On the other hand, if the value of the property stolen is less than $750, you can be charged with petit theft, which is usually a misdemeanor.
Family law matters can be especially sensitive. They can come up between unmarried parents, during a divorce, or after a divorce if modifications need to be made to child custody, child support, or spousal support due to a change in circumstances. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that either spouse can obtain a divorce by showing that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Divorces can be contested or uncontested.
In order to get a divorce, you will need to show that a marriage exists, that one party has been a Florida resident for at least six months immediately before the petition was filed, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Within 45 days of filing the petition, you are required to turn over a signed financial affidavit on which you disclose certain financial information. During the process you will be ordered to go to mediation, during which a neutral third party will attempt to help you reach a settlement agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the remaining issues will need to be resolved at trial by a court.
If spouses with children get a divorce or if unmarried parents do not live together, decisions need to be made in connection with child custody, which includes parental responsibility and time-sharing. Child custody is determined according to the best interests of the child. Under Florida Statute 61.13, there are certain enumerated factors, but any other factor relevant to determining a parenting plan shall be considered. For example, one factor involves the demonstrated disposition and capacity of each parent to consider, decide, and act upon the child’s needs rather than their own desires or needs. A court has a great deal of discretion when determining a child’s best interests.
If a couple has a child, both parents are legally obligated to support the child until the child reaches the age of majority. How much child support needs to be paid is decided by a formula. The formula looks at the parties’ combined income and their income relative to each other. Neither of the parties is able to waive the support of a minor child. Meanwhile, there are five kinds of alimony, including temporary, rehabilitative, durational, permanent, and bridge-the-gap alimony. Alimony can be a single lump sum payment, but more often it consists of periodic payments.
Estate planning allows someone to address what happens if they become incapacitated or when they pass away. It may involve the creation of a will, a trust, durable powers of attorney, health care surrogates, preneed guardians, and other preplanning documents. You must comply with certain formal requirements to ensure that your will and/or trust is valid and to avoid costly lawsuits after your death. A trust can allow your loved ones to avoid a probate upon your death, which would allow them to transfer your property in a less costly and time-consuming way.
When someone passes away without a will, they die intestate. This means that their property will be distributed according to Florida intestacy laws. In a well-drafted will, however, a decedent likely will have appointed a personal representative for their estate and described who should receive their assets after their death. Probate is a court-supervised process in which the assets of the person who died are identified and gathered, their debts are paid, and the assets are distributed to beneficiaries. The Florida Probate Code is found at Chapters 731-735. Probate may involve a formal administration, summary administration, or ancillary administration.
Bankruptcy is a legal procedure that is most commonly initiated by a person or business that cannot pay their debts. The most common types of bankruptcy filed by individuals are Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy. You can file this type of bankruptcy only if you pass a means test, which means your income qualifies for this chapter, or if your debt is considered “Non-Consumer Debt”. Chapter 13 is also known as reorganization bankruptcy, and it requires a debtor to create a payment plan to repay creditors part or all of what they owe. Your payment plan takes into account your income, expenses, debts and assets. Our firm can help you pursue alternatives to bankruptcy that may solve your problems without having to file. However, if bankruptcy is the best option, we can talk to you about which type of bankruptcy would be best for you and the reasons why.
Retain an Experienced Attorney in Northeast Florida
The attorneys at Shorstein & Lee provide sophisticated representation to clients throughout St. Johns, Flagler, and Putnam Counties. Call us at (904) 829-3035 or contact us via our online form if you need a criminal lawyer in the St. Augustine area or guidance with a divorce, an estate planning instrument, the probate process, or debt relief.
Criminal Defense Law
- 1 Free Consultation (Criminal and Bankruptcy Cases)
- 2 Over 30 Years of Combined Legal Experience
- 3 Local Attorneys with Community Ties