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Tourists beware

Posted on April 05, 2011 12:00 AM EST

South Florida has always been a hotspot for both tourists and vacationers. Often times visitors get more from the vacation they envisioned. For example, drinking and partying on South Beach in Miami, Florida recently led several people to be manhandled and arrested by the police. Over the years, the records are replete with tourists being arrested for charges including drunk and disorderly intoxication, assault, battery, resisting an officer with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. While the charges and levels of criminal offense vary, non-locals arrested in Miami-Dade County and in particular, Miami-Beach, should seek an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer to fight the charges. While it may seem an easier path to accept a plea bargain as a matter of convenience, this result can often have unforeseen circumstances such as loss of employment or immigration problems down the road.

In the most recent case, a female tourist was ejected out of a show for disorderly conduct. Security staff pointed out the lady to Miami Beach police officers who eventually had enough and threw her to the sand. Another man came to her aid and became involved in a scuffle with the security staff as well. The officers shot pepper spray in the female's face. According to police reports, the man struck an officer in the head with a weapon causing the officer to go to the hospital for stitches. The woman was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence. The man who intervened in an attempt to assist the women was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence.

If you are from out of town and are arrested in Miami-Dade County, there are several things you must remember. First and foremost, have friends or family post your bond. You can wait until your bond hearing, but the judge will not give you pre-trial release because you are from out of town and inevitably you will have to post the bond. Have your friends or family contact a bondsman. There are hundreds of bondsman roaming South Florida. Normally, a bondsman will require you to pay 10% of bond to secure a person's release. For example, you will be required to pay the bondsman $1,000 on a $10,000 bond. However, a bondsman may require additional collateral because the person is not a resident of the county. After securing your release, look for a qualified criminal attorney to represent you. You can hire a lawyer in person or by telephone depending on when you are scheduled to depart the area. Before hiring a lawyer, do some research and request a consultation so that you are comfortable with the person representing you. Your case will be scheduled for an arraignment. You will not be required to attend this hearing as long as you are represented by counsel.

Most out-of-towners are first-time offenders and can generally avail themselves of the pre-trial diversion program (PTI). In exchange for completing certain conditions, the state will nolle pros or dismiss your charges. The program is available for misdemeanor and less serious felony charges. Charges such as aggravated assault and aggravated battery will probably not allow for the program, at least in the preliminary stages of the case. PTI is voluntary and does not have to be accepted by a defendant. In many instances, based on the facts and circumstances, a case should be vigorously defended as a matter of principal as many defense man exist to beat the charges and the case. Qualified defense counsel will review the discovery including police reports and in most instances have the right to depose witnesses. Once a case is evaluated, it is easier to make a decision in how to proceed with the case.

Miami Beach Police Defend Actions in Videos Showing Confrontation, Orlando Sentinal.com, March 30, 2011.
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