The current monetary bail bond system used in most states, including Florida, has recently come under scrutinization and a bail reform movement has been gaining popularity. Under the monetary system, a defendant will be given a bond amount they are required to pay before they can be released from jail. The purpose of a bond is to assure the defendant appears at their court hearing by returning; the full amount of the bond is returned to them once they appear for all their court dates and the case is complete. Bond also protects the community from potentially dangerous individuals by keeping them incarcerated while their case is resolved.

Numerous concerns have been raised about the monetary system. If a defendant cannot afford to pay their bond they will remain in jail while their case is pending trial or is otherwise resolved simply because they do not have the financial resources to bond out. This can result in the rich being free which the poor remain in jail simply based on economics and not justice or public safety. This also results in defendants who have not yet been convicted of any crime and may very well be innocent spending time in jail, even if they are not a threat to the public and there is no reason to believe they would fail to appear in court. The more time an individual spends in jail the greater the risk they will face negative repercussions in their personal lives, including a loss of employment, housing, and strains on their interpersonal relationships. Having to remain in jail simply because they cannot pay their bond also increases the likelihood a defendant will take a plea deal that may not be in their best interest just to get out of jail sooner instead of remaining incarcerated while they take their case to trial, even if they are innocent. Incarcerating individuals who cannot make bond is also an increased cost to taxpayers. Continue reading

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Unfortunately, events can happen in life that lead to a person having a criminal record. In the State of Florida, criminal records are public record, making the information accessible to anyone who is interested in seeking out the information. Criminal records can also interfere with your ability to find employment, rent housing, and your personal relationships. Having your criminal record sealed or expunged can result in this information no longer being public record, being discoverable in a background check, and may even allow you to legally deny the record ever existed.

What is the difference between having a record sealed or expunged, and are you eligible for either option?

To have a criminal record, you would have first been arrested for a criminal offense. Civil traffic infractions like speeding tickets are not criminal and not eligible to be sealed or expunged. After the arrest, there are a few possible ways the case was resolved: the State may have not filed charges or dropped the case, filed charges but later dropped them (referred to as nolle prosequi), dismissed the case, or a disposition of guilty or not guilty was found. If you were found guilty but adjudication was withheld, this means that the court refrained from actually convicting you of the charge. If you were adjudicated guilty then that is an actual conviction for the crime.

Before you are eligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged, you must qualify. To qualify, you must have:

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I believe I may be under investigation for a crime and law enforcement has attempted to contact me. I don’t want to speak with them if I don’t have to, but I’m unsure of how to answer any questions they may ask.  

The short answer is no, you do not need to voluntarily provide law enforcement with information or answer their questions. Under the United States Constitution, you have the right to not provide any self-incriminating information to law enforcement. You also have the right to consult with an attorney prior to any police interrogations or have an attorney present while officers question you.  

Most people are familiar with the Miranda warnings and can even recite them from memory. This legal doctrine comes from Miranda v. Arizona, heard by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1966. From this case, officers are required to inform suspects of their right to remain silent, that any statements they make may be used against them, that they have the right to an attorney, and that if they cannot afford an attorney one will be provided to them. Under Miranda, unless the suspect is informed of these rights, and also clearly and intelligently waives those rights, any statements they make may not be admitted into court against them.  Continue reading

I was recently pulled over by law enforcement, and during the traffic stop marijuana was found in my vehicle. I wasn’t planning on selling the marijuana and only had it for personal use, so why was I charged with trafficking and not possession?

Under Florida Statute, it is possible to be charged with trafficking without ever selling any marijuana if someone is in possession of a large amount. Florida Statute 893.135 defines trafficking as any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, in excess of 25 pounds of cannabis, or 300 or more cannabis plants. Trafficking marijuana is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines, with minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines based on the amount of marijuana involved. 

If the amount of marijuana involved in over 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds, or between 300 and 2,000 marijuana plants there is a minimum mandatory sentence of three years and a $25,000 fine. For amounts between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 to 10,000 plants, the minimum mandatory sentence is seven years and a $50,000 fine. If the amount involved is over 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants the mandatory minimum sentence is fifteen years and a $200,000 fine. 

I am currently on probation and have been struggling to meet all of the requirements. I am concerned my probation officer is going to violate me. What can I do, and what will happen to me if I receive a violation?

Most individuals on probation struggle to comply with all the requirements the court imposes on them, which results in violations being a common occurrence. Violating probation can result in a revocation of probation and the court imposing a sentence up to the maximum possible sentence for the original charge. Violations can occur for many reasons. Some of the more common situations resulting in a violation are being arrested on new criminal charges, failing to complete court-ordered programs, missing appointments with a probation officer, positive drug screens, or failing to pay imposed costs or restitution.

Once a probation officer has decided to violate someone, they will complete an Affidavit of Violation and submit it to the court. The court will then review the affidavit and issue a warrant for arrest if it is determined reasonable grounds for a violation exist. Often defendants are not eligible for bond on a violation once they are arrested. The defendant will be arraigned, and an evidentiary hearing will be set to determine if a violation occurred and probation will be revoked.

There has been a recent increase in arrests and prosecutions for health care fraud in Florida as a result of increased law enforcement efforts in investigating these crimes. Healthcare fraud largely involves medical providers committing fraudulent billing practices to increase their profits, including submitting charges for reimbursement to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid for services that weren’t provided. Additional investigations include accepting illegal kickbacks for patient referrals and billing insurance companies under incorrect billing codes to increase the payments received.

On July 31, 2017, seventy-seven people were arrested in Florida for their involvement in various health care fraud schemes that totaled over $141 million dollars in fraudulent billing. These arrests were part of a larger investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Taskforce that resulted in 412 individuals facing charges for over $1.3 billion in false billings. These investigations involved a multi-agency effort, involving local law enforcement, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Continue reading

Law enforcement agencies across the country are now implementing body cameras to be worn by officers while on duty to record their entire interactions with the public. This has left many people with questions on what to expect if an arresting officer was wearing and recording from a body camera.body camera

The video obtained from those cameras is having an impact in courtrooms as the additional evidence available to both the prosecution and defendants. If the video is available from a police body camera in your case, it could potentially strengthen or weaken your defense. The video footage could document any improper actions taken by law enforcement during any searches, questioning, or traffic stops.  If the video records evidence that an officer failed to establish probable cause, or used coercion to obtain consent, then any evidence uncovered during the search or stop would be suppressed. On the other hand, if the video shows the officer properly conducted the search or stop the defendant would likely not be able to have the evidence suppressed.    Continue reading

I was pulled over by the police, and they found medication in the car. I got the pills from a friend who has a prescription, but the prescription is not in my name. I’m taking the medication to treat a health condition I have. Can I face criminal liability for this?

prescription drugs

Yes. As most people are aware, under Florida Statute 893.13 it is illegal to have a controlled substance in your possession unless that controlled substance is prescribed to you by a licensed practitioner providing you with medical treatment.  Common controlled substances include but are not limited to amphetamines such as Adderall, benzodiazepines such a Xanax, and narcotics, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine. Possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine.  Continue reading

I want to get a prescription for this medication that I am taking illegally…

illegal prescription drugs

I have been using a narcotic medication that I’ve gotten from friends, but I do not have a prescription myself. I realize that being in possession of this medication without a prescription is illegal and I could face criminal charges, so I want to try to get a prescription from my doctor. If I tell my doctor the right things that they need to hear, whether or not it’s true, to get a prescription, will I be safe from criminal charges?

Most people realize that being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is illegal. What people often do not realize is that there are also laws in Florida that make it illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance by making false statements or misrepresentations, committing fraud or forgery, or through deception. This makes it illegal to lie to a doctor to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance. It is also illegal in Florida to withhold information from a practitioner who is prescribing you a controlled substance that you have already received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous thirty (30) days. This is intended to prevent “doctor shopping,” or the practice of obtaining multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors within the same timeframe. Continue reading

Yes. There are several ways under current Florida law for a physician to face criminal liability for illegally prescribing Pill Mills with OxyContinor trafficking controlled substances. Physicians can be held criminally liable for prescribing controlled substances without conducting proper medical examinations, writing a prescription for a controlled substance if the sole purpose is to provide a monetary benefit to the physician, possessing a building or structure (the clinic  or office) for the purposes of trafficking a controlled substance, writing a prescription for a fictitious person,  and assisting someone in obtaining a prescription for a controlled substance through deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations, or through employing a trick or scheme. All of these charges are felonies, and a physician will often be charged with several of the above-mentioned criminal offenses if they’re engaged in illegally prescribing controlled substances. Continue reading

Client Reviews

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I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

Earl from Mesquite
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Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
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Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
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Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink