D. Scott Rieth Criminal Defense Attorney
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Sarasota County Criminal Law Blog

What happens during plea bargaining?

When people think of criminal law, perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of is the plea negotiation process. For instance, when we turn on the television, the popular crime dramas always cover the trial, but they may not show the plea negotiation process. Plea bargaining, however, is an extremely important aspect of criminal law, and it can frame the entire case, so it is important to understand it.

Plea bargaining or negotiation has its roots in contract law. During the plea negotiation process, the prosecutor and the defendant will try to come to a plea agreement. In some cases, the prosecutor is seeking a guilty plea from the defendant in exchange for dismissing or reducing a charge against the defendant, which can ultimately lead to a reduced sentence for the defendant. Alternatively, there may be a discussion about a lower sentence if the accused agrees to accept the charges as presented; this is usually done to avoid the cost and time of a trial. Of course, the defendant must also agree to waive a trial and proceed directly to the sentencing hearing.

When, and for what reason, can the police search me?

When suspected of a violent crime, a common concern is whether the police officer acted appropriately, and this can arise when a police officer engages in a search or seizure of a person's property or the person. The person accused of a violent crime may wonder why the police continued to search their property or person, even after he or she was detained. When dealing with the police, the issue is almost always whether the police were acting within the limits of the law.

The ability of the police to engage in a search and seizure are limited by local laws and the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from engaging in an unreasonable search and seizure. A search is usually reasonable if there is a search warrant supported with probable cause, but a search can even be reasonable without a warrant, especially in the context of a violent crime.

Escalating opioid crisis could lead to new legislation

The opioid epidemic continues to plague our country as drug crimes continue to increase, and lawmakers have started to propose new rules aimed at combating the epidemic. Lawmakers have the daunting task of balancing enforcement of drug laws with rehabilitating people affected by opioid addiction. One of these lawmakers, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, has proposed legislation that would place additional legal responsibility on opioid prescribers.

For example, the new laws would place a three-day limit on opioid medication; however, if stricter conditions are met, the patient may receive a seven-day supply. Additionally, the new laws would force opioid prescribers to work with a local database that monitors prescriptions, and pain management clinics would be required to engage in educational courses that are targeted at safely prescribing potentially addictive substances. In sum, the legislation shifts the focus away from law enforcement and individuals affected with opioid addiction.

What are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?

When a Florida law enforcement official pulls over a driver for suspected drunk driving, that officer may ask the driver to submit to various forms of sobriety testing. The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are a collection of roadside tests that are nationally accepted to judge a driver's coordination and capacity to drive. The results of such tests can be used as the basis of a driver's arrest for drunk driving, as well as evidence of their impairment once the matter goes to trial.

The first of the SFSTs is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. During this test a suspected drunk driver is asked to follow an object with their eyes. The officer administering the test looks for jerky or erratic eye movement, which can be evidence of intoxication.

Facts are important when facing domestic assault charges

Arguments happen every day between loving members of Florida families. Disagreements over a variety of topics can cause individuals to raise their voices, feel their emotions soar and sometimes say things that they may later regret. In most cases, loved ones are able to move beyond their fights and restore the balance of love and commitment that they enjoyed prior to their confrontations. However, for others, tension and strife may lead to allegations and claims of more damaging and sinister behavior between members of the same households.

Domestic assault, also called domestic violence, occurs when a member of a household abuses another member of the household. This form of assault can be verbal or physical, and what makes it so hard to defend from a criminal law perspective is that it often is alleged to have occurred behind closed doors, where no witnesses may attest to the veracity of the alleged victim's claims.

Can police officers arrest you for DUI on private property?

If you are wondering if law enforcement can arrest you for DUI when you are in a shopping center, at a gas pump or in the parking lot of a restaurant, the short answer is yes. 

A law enforcement officer can arrest you for driving under the influence even if you are on private property. Your best course of action is never to drink and drive, but if you have never faced a DUI charge before, you might feel you can do as you wish and still escape the law. Even if you make it home after enjoying a few drinks at a party, you may see those dreaded flashing lights behind you when you pull into your driveway.

Criminal defense options for violent crime charges

Allegations of criminal activity are damaging to the reputation and freedom of Bradenton residents. Claims that an individual engaged in a violent crime can significantly impact that person's rights. Attorney D. Scott Rieth is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has supported his clients as they have confronted domestic violence, homicide and other violent crime charges.

Attorney Rieth's legal practice extends to clients throughout Sarasota County, Manatee County and the surrounding area. He has a background in the prosecution of criminal cases, which can be an important asset to his clients as he has worked to bring criminal charges against individuals who are in positions similar to those of his current criminal defense clients. His skill set and commitment to his clients ensures that those who choose him as their legal representative are receiving exceptional legal support and guidance.

What constitutes drug possession under Florida law?

There are a number of drug crimes people may face if they are found to have illicit substances within their control. For example, in Florida, a person may face manufacturing charges, distribution charges, or sales charges if he or she is found to have put illegal substances into other people's hands. However, one of the most common drug crimes that a person in the state can face is drug possession. This post will briefly explore the elements of a possession charge and some of the defenses that may exist to overcome it.

When pursuing a drug possession charge against an individual, a prosecutor must first show that the allegedly illegal substance in question was in fact illicit. It is often necessary for the prosecution to send samples of the allegedly illegal drugs to laboratories for analysis; reports that indicate a substance's illegality can be used to satisfy this requirement.

Death during an alleged DUI event may result in felony charges

In Florida, people may be considered guilty of driving under the influence if they meet one of several criteria. If their blood alcohol concentration is or is in excess of .08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath they may be considered intoxicated while driving. The use of certain controlled substances also may impose DUI sanctions on a driver found to have them in his or her system.

The penalties for DUI alone are quite serious. In fact, fines for a first time DUI offense can reach as high as $1,000, and a person convicted of a first time DUI may also be imprisoned for up to six months. Convictions for second DUIs can include fines of up to $2,000 and imprisonment of up to 9 months. Other possible penalties can also apply.

Traffic stop becomes serious criminal matter for two Florida men

Most traffic stops in the greater Bradenton area happen because law enforcement officials suspect that drivers are breaking motor vehicle operation laws. Whether the drivers are suspected of speeding, running traffic signs and signals, or violating other laws, and they see flashing lights in their rearview mirrors, they know that they will soon have encounters with law enforcement officials.

Police must abide by certain rules when they conduct traffic stops. Often, after a law enforcement officer communicates with the individual he or she stopped, the officer will allow the person to go with either a warning or citation. The outcome of a stop can change though, if, during that stop, the police officer witnesses evidence of other criminal activity on the persons in the vehicle or within the vehicle itself.


D. Scott Rieth
9040 Town Center Parkway, Suite 204A
Bradenton, FL 34202

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