Criminal Defense & DUI Attorney in Miami Beach, FL

“Charges dropped.  That’s our desired outcome!!”

If you’ve landed on this website, chances are you or a loved one is in trouble with the law. This may mean that you are the subject of a police investigation or have been arrested and charged with a crime. Facing criminal charges is a deeply unsettling and traumatic experience, especially if you’re a first-time offender. Being placed in handcuffs, posing for a mugshot, and sitting in a holding cell can bring feelings of fear, anger, shame, and anxiety.

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The good news is, you’ve come to the right place for help. I’m Steve Taylor, a seasoned criminal defense attorney committed to fighting for the rights of the accused in Miami Beach, FL and throughout Miami-Dade County. The legal team I’ve assembled at my firm is well-prepared to defend a variety of crimes ranging from petty theft to domestic violence to money laundering to murder. You can count on us to exhaust all of our resources and efforts to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Our ultimate mission is to obtain a dismissal of the charges against you or at the very least to minimize the consequences you face by negotiating a reduction in charges or a more lenient sentence. We also will never hesitate to litigate aggressively in court if necessary. Florida has a reputation for imposing some of the harshest penalties for criminal violations. A lot could be at stake — your freedom, career, reputation, relationships and overall future. A criminal record can haunt you for the rest of your life.

Don’t attempt to represent yourself in criminal court. Even if a public defender is provided to you, he or she may not have the expertise needed to handle your case. You need a lawyer you can trust with a proven track record of success. I have represented thousands of clients and tried well over 50 cases and know how to look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case which can be used to create reasonable doubt.

Before starting my own practice, I served as the Assistant Public Defender for the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office. Over the years I have developed a great ease in the courtroom and have a sophisticated knowledge of Florida Statutes and criminal procedures. I have built longstanding professional relationships with local local police departments, prosecutors, court staff and judges.

Criminal Defense Legal Services

  • Protect you from saying anything incriminating during a police interrogation
  • Guide you through the complicated bail and release process
  • Advocate for you at your arraignment, hearings, conferences, and trial
  • Perform an internal investigation of your case: review police reports, gather witness statements, hire experts
  • File motions to suppress evidence that was obtained as the result of an illegal search and seizure
  • Pursue alternative sentencing options in lieu of harsh punishment such as probation, participation in court-approved drug, alcohol or other treatment programs and home monitoring, community service, etc.

Right now, the prosecution is busy building a case against you. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin mounting an effective defense.

Take advantage of a free initial consultation today at 1-305-433-0497. We look forward to hearing from you.

In the interim:

  • You have the right to remain silent, and you should. You do not have to answer any of the police officer’s questions without first securing legal representation
  • Don’t plead guilty without discussing your legal options with us first.
  • Don’t consent to a search of your person/residence/vehicle. Demand a search warrant.

Vigorous Defense Against Criminal Charges

My defense firm provides representation for a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony charges at the state and federal level, including:

  • DUI/DWI Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
    • Assault and Battery
    • Murder
    • Kidnapping
    • Domestic Violence
    • Child Abuse
  • Sex Crimes
    • Pornography and solicitation
    • Prostitution
    • Sexual assault
    • Indecent exposure
    • Rape
  • Drug Crimes
    • Drug Possession
    • Possession with intent to sell
    • Distribution
    • Trafficking
    • Sale and delivery
  • White Collar Crimes
    • Money Laundering
    • Fraud (credit card fraud, insurance fraud, Medicaid fraud
    • Embezzlement
  • Theft Crimes
    • Robbery
    • Burglary
    • Forgery
    • Bad checks
    • Shoplifting
  • Computer Crimes
    • Hacking of accounts
    • Using a fake identity on the Internet
    • Cyber-stalking
    • Malware
    • Internet piracy

Classifications of Crimes Under Florida Law

In Florida, criminal offenses are divided into two categories: misdemeanors andfelonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes punishable by up to one year in county jail whereas felonies can land a person in state prison for many years. Prosecutors have the discretion to determine which category of crime they want to charge you with. For example, a simple bar fight is a misdemeanor but can be elevated to a felony if there was a weapon involved.

The criminal court division in Miami-Dade County consists of the County Criminal Division and the Circuit Criminal Division. The county courts have jurisdiction in all minor misdemeanor cases, criminal traffic matters, and municipal and county ordinance violations.  The circuit courts hear major felony cases where the resulting penalty can be death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary for one year or more. They also receive and process all felony affidavits of probable cause, grand jury indictments and arrest warrants.

Main County Criminal Courthouse:

Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building 
1351 N.W. 12th Street
Miami, Florida 33125

 

Misdemeanors by Degree

Misdemeanors and felonies are divided by degrees of severity which in turn determines the harshness of the punishment.

Second-degree misdemeanors tend to be nonviolent offenses punishable by up to 60 days in county jail, six months probation, and a $500 fine.

Examples of second-degree misdemeanors include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Disorderly intoxication
  • Reckless driving
  • Criminal mischief (less than $200 in damage)
  • Simple trespass
  • Simple assault
  • Petty theft (for a first offense)
  • No valid driver’s license
  • Driving on a suspended license with knowledge (for a first offense)
  • Loitering

First degree misdemeanors  are the most serious misdemeanors in Florida and carry a sentence of up to one year in jail, one year probation, and $1,000 fine.

Examples of first-degree misdemeanors

  • DUI
  • Criminal mischief (between $200 and $1,000 in damage)
  • Domestic violence
  • Boating under the influence
  • Marijuana possession (of less than twenty grams)
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Petty theft (for a second offense)
  • Shoplifting (of under $300)
  • Prostitution
  • Solicitation of prostitution
  • Driving on a suspended license with knowledge (for a second offense)

Felonies by Degree

Florida has five degrees of felonies. They are, felony in the third degree, felony in the second degree, felony in the first degree, life felony, and capital felony

Felonies in the third degree are the least severe and are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.

  • Aggravated assault
  • Trespassing
  • Possession of an illegal substance

Felonies in the second degree maximum prison stay of 15 years and a fine up to $15,000.

  • Arson
  • Manslaughter
  • Aggravated battery
  • DUI
  • Felonious driving
  • Domestic crimes
  • Theft
  • White collar crimes
  • Some types of sex crimes
  • Robbery
  • Drug crimes.

First degree felonies,  punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

  • Aggravated battery on an officer
  • Drug trafficking
  • Trafficking in cannabis
  • Trafficking in stolen goods
  • Burglary with assault or battery
  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Robbery with a weapon

Life and capital felonies are the most severe crimes you can be charged with in the state of Florida.

A life felony can put you behind bars for the rest of your life and force you to pay a fine of up to $15,000. These offenses include second degree murder, burglary with a battery,

A capital felony is punishable by the death penalty. First degree murder and sexual battery on a child less than 12 years old are examples of capital felonies.

Alternatives to Jail for First Time Offenders in Miami-Dade County

If you are a first-time non-violent offender, you may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program which offers an alternative to traditional sentencing and prosecution. For example, in lieu of jail time, the court may order you to attend classes, perform community service, pay restitution to victim/s, etc.

Specific programs may include:

Drug Court: If you have been charged with a non-violent felony of the second or third degree for possession or purchase of a controlled substance, solicitation for purchase of a controlled substance, or obtaining a prescription by fraud and are identified as having a substance abouse problem, you may be able to take advantage of drug court. This allows you to receive intensive treatment and rehabilitation for drug addiction instead of being prosecuted.

Misdemeanor Diversion: classes and group counseling sessions, such as anger management, shoplifting prevention, and classes for substance abuse, parenting, and weapons safety.

Overview of Criminal Proceedings in Miami Dade County

If you or a loved one were arrested in Miami Beach or elsewhere in Miami Dade County, you are probably eager to know what happens next. The following is a brief overview of how a criminal case works its way through the Miami Dade County criminal justice system. The Law Office of Steve Taylor will guide you through these legal proceedings and vigorously protect your rights at every stage.

Arrest Affidavit or Notice to Appear: In order to be arrested in Florida, a uniformed law enforcement officer from the the Miami Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, or Miami-Dade Sheriff’s Office must have probable cause to believe you committed a crime either by witnessing the criminal act firsthand or responding to a criminal complaint. Law enforcement can either make a physical arrest or issue a criminal citation or notice to appear in court.

A notice to appear is issued in lieu of a physical arrest for first-degree or second-degree misdemeanors, like marijuana possession or shoplifting. Instead of being booked at the local jail, you will be given a “Promise to Appear” (PTA) or “Notice to Appear” (NTA) written notice to show up at court at a specific date and time in the future. Failure to appear in court will result in a warrant for your arrest.

Booking

A physical arrest entails being handcuffed and transported via police vehicle to the local police station where you will most likely be questioned. At this time, it’s absolutely crucial that you invoke your right to remain silent and politely state that you will not answer any questions without a lawyer present. Even if you are innocent and want to tell your side of the story, it’s best to refrain from saying anything that could potentially incriminate you and hurt your case.

Shortly thereafter, you will be brought to a jail or detention facility to be booked and processed. In most cases, this is the Turner Guildford Knight correctional center, also known as “TGK.” At TGK, you will be fingerprinted, photographed, strip searched, and placed in a holding cell. While in the holding cell, a corrections officer will create a “jail card” that includes all of your pertinent personal information like name, date of birth, address and place of employment. A criminal background check will also be performed to identify any prior offenses.

First Appearance 

Within 24 hours of your arrest, you will be brought to a room at the Miami jail called “The Chapel” where you will appear via TV screen in front of a judge or magistrate. The judge will review the probable cause affidavit or police report and determine whether there was probable cause to arrest you. If the Judge finds probable cause exists, a bond will be set for you.

Bail/Pre-Trial Release

Bail serves as assurance that you will return for future scheduled court appearances. You have a right to bail unless you are charged with a capital crime like first degree murder in which case you would have to remain in police custody. Most crimes have a standard preset bond amount. For example, the standard bond amount in Miami-Dade County for a person arrested for DUI is $1500. Someone arrested for Aggravated Battery must post a $7,500 bond. The judge takes other factors into consideration when determining a bond amount including: the seriousness of the charges, whether you have a criminal history, your ties to the community, any relative danger you may pose to the community, and/or whether you are a flight risk.

You have the option of paying the bond in full or if you can’t afford it, we can help you seek the help of a bail bondsman who will put up the money for you and charge you a small percentage fee. If bail is set at an unreasonable amount, we will attempt to file a motion to have your bail reduced or lowered. If this is your first offense and it’s a simple misdemeanor you may not need to post bail and will be released on your own recognizance based on your promise to return for a future scheduled court date.

Case Filing Decision — Will Charges Be Filed?

At the time of your arrest, the police officer prepares an initial report known as a probable cause affidavit which sets forth their justification for arresting you. This report is sent to the local State Attorney’s office where prosecutors in the filing unit decide whether or not you should be formally charged with a crime.

The best time to contact the Law Office of Steve Taylor is before charges are filed. This gives our lawyers the opportunity to reach out to the State Attorney’s office in an effort to persuade them that charges are not warranted or should at least be reduced. We may be able to uncover new evidence, provide witness statements, or other materials that they can review before making their decision.

If the State decides to ultimately prosecute, they will file formal charges and you will be scheduled for an arraignment.

Arraignment

An arraignment is considered your first formal appearance in court and usually takes place within 30-60 days of your first appearance. The purpose of an arraignment is for a judge to explain to you what you have been accused of and for you to enter a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty. Once a plea of Not Guilty is entered, your criminal case will proceed to trial.

Discovery

After your arraignment, the discovery process will commence. At this juncture, the Office of the State Attorney must provide any and all evidence they plan to use against you. This may include police reports, lab results, crime scene photos, list of witnesses they will call to testify, etc. In response, we will examine the evidence and identify weaknesses in the state’s case. We may decide to take sworn depositions of witnesses, file motions to suppress evidence, and hire experts to challenge evidence presented.

Plea Bargaining

The vast majority of criminal cases never make it to trial and are resolved through plea bargaining. A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement with the prosecutor that usually involves having you plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges or a more lenient sentence. A plea deal can be reached at virtually any point during a criminal prosecution – from the initial court appearance, to the first day of trial. As your Attorney, my first priority will always be to get the charges against you dismissed outright but in some circumstances a plea bargain may be the best option. You are under no obligation to accept a plea deal you are not comfortable with.

 

Trial and Sentencing 

If a plea bargain cannot be reached or you are unsatisfied with the offer, we will proceed to a trial by judge or trial by jury wherein the State will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime you are accused of. You will either be acquitted and found Not Guilty or convicted and sentenced.

  • Opening statements
  • Government’s case is presented
  • Defense cross-examines Government’s case
  • Defense’s case is presented
  • Government cross-examines defense’s case
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury Charge
  • Jury Deliberation
  • Verdict

 

Meet Evictions Lawyer Steve Taylor serving Miami Beach and surrounding Miami-Dade County
Are you a landlord, tenant, buyer or seller seeking legal representation in Miami-Dade County? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

The Law Offices of Steve Taylor provides comprehensive solutions for a wide variety of real estate matters including property disputes and real estate transactions. We assist landlords and tenants with breach of contract issues, including eviction proceedings. For our buyer and seller clients, we offer experienced counsel during all stages of the purchase and sale process from negotiation to clearing the title to closing.

Our in-depth knowledge and familiarity with Florida’s property and real estate laws enables us to pursue the best possible outcome for you. We read the fine print with a meticulous eye in an effort to protect your interests.

Landlord Representation and Eviction

As a landlord, you are obligated to maintain your property and to ensure the premises remains safe for your tenants. In return, you expect your tenants to pay the rent on time and in full, refrain from damaging the property or creating a disturbance for other residents. When a tenant does not adhere to these contractual obligations, you have the right to protect your investment and take legal action to evict them.

Grounds for Eviction

Before filing an eviction lawsuit in court, you must establish a valid reason for why you are taking this action. Common grounds for eviction in Florida include:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Habitual late payment of rent
  • Lease or conduct violations
    • Unauthorized tenants living in unit
    • Unauthorized pets
    • Egregious damage
    • Excessive noise
    • Using property for illegal purposes (selling narcotics)
    • Health violation
  • Refusal to pay legal rent increase

Process to Evict Tenants in Florida

The procedure for evicting tenants in Florida is carefully outlined in Chapter 83 of the Florida Landlord-Tenant Act. As a landlord, it is of the utmost importance that you strictly adhere to the procedures contained within this statute. If you fail to comply, you can be held liable for any financial harm suffered by your tenant, including their attorney’s fees and court costs.

Landlord-Tenant lawyer, Steve Taylor has a firm grasp of the Florida-Landlord Tenant Act and can effectively apply the law to protect your rights.

Step One: Prepare and Serve Eviction Notice

The first step in the Florida eviction process is to provide the tenant with the appropriate written termination notice. Attorney Taylor will draft the notice on your behalf to ensure that the document is prepared using proper legal language, guidelines, and best-practices.

The notice can be delivered in person, via mail, or posted to the door of the unit.

3-Day Notice for Non-Payment of Rent 

If the reason for eviction is for non-payment of rent, you would provide the tenant with a 3-day notice demanding that they either pay the rent within 3 days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) or they have to leave the property.

7-Day Notice for Noncompliance with Lease  (With or Without Cure)

If the tenant violated the terms of the lease, you would serve a 7-day notice. If the violation was minor and did not endanger others, you can serve a 7-day notice with possibility to cure, which means if the tenant can become compliant or rectify the issue within 7 days, they can remain on the property. However, if the violation did endanger others, you would serve a 7-day notice without possibility to cure.

15-Day Notice for Termination of Tenancy

If you have a month to month lease and have decided you want to terminate tenancy at the end of the lease term, you are required to give notice 15 days before the date rent is due.

Step Two:  The Complaint and Summons

If the tenant fails to comply, pay, or vacate within the specified timeframe given in the notice, you can proceed with actions for an eviction.

Prepare and File Complaint

A summons and complaint must be prepared and then filed with the county clerk in the county where the property is located. The complaint is a legal document that states your intention to recover possession of the property, and if applicable, recover actual money damages for unpaid rent. A copy of the notice and lease agreement will be attached to the complaint.

Step 3: Provide a Service of Summons to Tenant

After filing your eviction complaint, you must serve the tenant with the summons and complaint packet by using a private process server or a sheriff. The tenant will have 5 days to file an answer with the court and post money in the Court Registry.

Step 4: Tenant Responds to Summons

If the tenant responds within 5 days, a hearing will be set before a judge. To prepare for the hearing, you’ll need to gather evidence to prove your case. This might include

  • lease agreement
  • bounced checks
  • photographs of damage
  • records of payment of any kind
  • phone and email records of the communication between you and your tenant
  • a copy of the written notice that you provided your tenant
  • dated proof that the tenant received the notice (a signature from the tenant, or receipt from the Post Office).

Step 5: File Motion for Default Judgment (if tenant fails to respond)

If the tenant fails to answer, we can ask the court to enter a default judgment on your behalf.

Step 6: Writ of Possession/Eviction

If a judgment is obtained and they still do not vacate the property, you must obtain a Writ of Possession to be given to the sheriff for service. Once the writ is served or conspicuously posted on the property, the tenant has 24-hours to vacate. If tenant does not, then tenant will be forcibly removed.

Prohibited Actions: What Not to Do as a Landlord During Eviction

As frustrating as it can be dealing with a non-compliant tenant, it’s important to refrain from doing anything irrational. The following actions are considered illegal and can seriously jeopardize your ability to evict: shutting off utilities, changing the locks, removing a tenant’s personal property, or removing the roof, doors, walls, or windows.

A tenant can pursue legal action against you for a wrongful eviction, trespassing or civil theft and sue you for actual and consequential damages. In the end, you could be held liable for 3 months rent or court costs and attorneys fees, whichever is greater.

Tenant Eviction Defense

Did you receive a Notice of Eviction from your landlord? Don’t panic. Instead, take immediate action by contacting the Law Offices of Steve Taylor 1-305-433-0497 to find out if you have any legal grounds to fight your eviction and remain in your home.  As a tenant, you have rights that we will protect and enforce. If you have been threatened with eviction, we will make sure your landlord is complying with the law.

Common Eviction Defenses

Your Landlord Did Not Terminate Your Tenancy Properly/Improper Eviction Procedures

  • You were not sent a written notice of eviction
  • You were sent the wrong eviction notice
  • The complaint does not state the reasons for eviction
  • Your landlord did not properly serve you a summons and complaint
  • Your landlord began the court case before the time period on your notice to quit expired

No Legal Justification to Evict

  • You do not owe the amount of money your landlord claims you owe
  • You paid all the rent money within the required time
  • You did not violate the terms of your lease

Poor Living Conditions

If your landlord didn’t maintain your property or make repairs promised in your lease or failed to keep your home in good repair, you may have legal grounds for withholding a portion or all of your rent, even cancelling your lease agreement. Examples of conditions that are not tenable may include: no hot water, operational plumbing, heating, pest infestations, and other building, health, and safety code violations.

Landlord Retaliation

Your landlord cannot file an eviction out of retaliation for you reporting a housing, building, or safety code violation to a government agency; for being involved in a tenant organization; or for complaining to the landlord about repairs that needed to be made to the unit.

It is also illegal for your landlord to…

  • interrupt utility services,
  • change the locks,
  • remove doors, locks, windows, etc., or
  • remove your personal property

Landlord Discrimination

A landlord cannot evict you on the basis of your race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, marital status, handicap, or status as a veteran.

Representation of Buyers and Sellers in Closing a Real Estate Transaction

The purchase or sale of a home, condo, townhouse or vacation property in South Florida is an exciting event, but the actual process can be arduous and overwhelming. Regardless of whether you are the buyer or seller, it’s crucial to have an experienced real estate attorney to guide you at every turn.

At the Law Office of Steve Taylor, we represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions from Contract to Closing. Our goal is to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible without delays or costly surprises. Real estate closings are complex and involve a ton of paperwork. We will make sure all the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted.

Steps in a Real Estate Closing

Before “sealing the deal” on a real estate property, there are a series of pre-closing actions that must be taken…

Deposit Earnest Money to Escrow Account

When a buyer makes an offer on the property and the seller accepts, escrow is opened and an initial deposit is made to an escrow company (when representing a buyer, we can act as the escrow agent). Escrow is a neutral third party that collects and holds documents and funds in trust for all parties until transaction is complete. 

Apply for Home Loan

The buyer finds a lender who will loan money for the purchase of the property.

Get Property Appraised

The buyer’s lender chooses a licensed Florida real estate appraiser to visit the property and prepare an appraisal of value.

Order Title Search

The Law Office of Steve Taylor will perform an exhaustive title search to check the current status of the title and to determine whether or not it’s marketable and insurable. We will search Florida’s public records for any documents relevant to the property including deeds, mortgages, liens, judgments, easements, divorce settlements, or debts owed against the property. If any “clouds” or defects are found, we will pursue the necessary legal remedies to obtain a clean and transferable title.

Order Home Inspections

The seller must disclose everything that they know about the home’s condition. A buyer can order a series of independent home inspections to identify potential issues with…

  • termites or other pests
  • interior plumbing faucets, drains, and fixtures
  • drywall
  • pool
  • roof
  • conditions that could lead to mold
  • heating and cooling systems
  • insulation and ventilation
  • appliances
  • electrical panels, breakers, and wiring
  • basement, foundation and crawlspace

Order Property Survey

Details all of the exact boundaries of the property, including the placement of fences, driveways, buildings, and all significant landmarks located near the property.

Final Walk-Through of Property

A walk-through is performed the day of or before closing to verify the property is in the same condition it was when the process began.

Two Kinds of Closings in Florida: Face to Face and Mail Away

Residential real estate closings in Miami can be done face to face at an agreed upon location. There, the documents are signed and exchanged between the buyer and seller. The seller receives the sale proceeds and the buyer is given the keys to the property.

Mail Away is used for an out of state buyer in which documents are sent to the buyer and seller, signed and mailed back to agent. The agent then disburses the seller’s proceeds, records the Deed (and mortgage, if any) and then issues a title insurance policy to the buyer (and/or mortgage company).

Preparation of Closing Documents

The Law Office of Steve Taylor prepares all documents needed to close transaction including but not limited to:

  1. Promissory Note: lists terms and conditions of mortgage loan including the amount, monthly payments, interest rate, late fees, where payments are to be sent, and date of the last payment
  2. Warranty Deed: transfers title ownership from seller to buyer to legally show title has been transferred. After the deed is signed, it is recorded in public records of the county where property is located.
  3. Bill of Sale: transfers personal property included in sale such as appliances, drapes, storm panels, garage door opener, etc.
  4. Property taxes Agreement: prorate taxes
  5. Title Insurance Policy
  6. Affidavits: sworn statement that there are no judgments, claims, disputes, liens, encumbrances, demands or other matters pending against that could attach to the Property and there are no violations of governmental laws, regulations or ordinances,  no repairs outstanding and unpaid bills for labor, materials or supplies
  7. Closing Statement or HUD-1: lists the various costs involved in your real estate transaction and tells you who is responsible for paying each.

Closing Costs for Buyers and Sellers in Miami

Closing costs total 2-7% of the home’s purchase price. Buyers incur 3-4% whereas sellers incur 1-3.%

Buyers

  • home inspections
  • title policy and endorsement from lender
  • property survey
  • appraisal fees
  • taxes and recording fees for deeds and mortgages
  • taxes/stamp taxes on loan

Sellers

  • title search charges
  • recording fees, as well as any other fees necessary to cure title
  • documentary stamp taxes on warranty deed
  • estoppel fees associated with HOA/Condominium association 
  • attorney’s fees
  • realtor’s commission