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17-Year-Old Shot after Robbing Store with Fake Gun

It’s a tragic story in Jacksonville, Florida. A 17-year-old boy was killed after police said he used a fake gun to hold up a Westside convenience store. Around 2:50 a.m., two officers conducting a stakeout at the Kangaroo convenience store on Old Middleburg Road saw a teen enter a side door. The teen, Craig Ruise, pointed a gun at two clerks in the store, said Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office Chief Tom Hackney. They watched as the store clerk gave Ruise the cash as the fake gun was pointed at his head.

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Importance of Hiring the Right Criminal Attorney Early

The two most important things when seeking criminal defense representation, are seeking the attorney with whom you are most compatible with, and finding that attorney early.

A criminal defense attorney and the client are a team. They two must work together and combat the prosecutor and police who are seeking a conviction and criminal penalties.  It is imperative that attorney and client are compatible as a team, and avoid internal strife, to successfully combat the prosecution.

Another important factor is finding a criminal lawyer early, if a lawyer is fighting for you early on in the process they may be able to get the case dismissed, sent to diversion program, or have the charges diminished from felony to misdemeanor.

Whenever an individual is arrested by the police, they are arrested on suspicion of committing a crime. The police do not have the ability to formally charge an individual with a violation of the law, only a prosecutor or grand jury is vested with that power. After an arrest, a prosecutor must review the case and determine what, if any crimes they can prove. If the prosecutor can prove a law violation they must file a charging document, referred to as an Information, under Florida law.

It is at this point a criminal attorney can fight against the prosecutor and seek an outright dismissal or reduction in the charges. Waiting until an initial court date to hire a defense lawyer does not give you this advantage.  That is why you must act fast to combat any criminal prosecution.

At the Law Office of Casey Bryant we fight for our client’s at all stages of a criminal proceeding. We begin fighting for you as soon as we are retained. We will seek a dismissal, reduction or deferred prosecution on your behalf, so you never have to step foot in a criminal courtroom. Call us today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and legal rights. We have attorneys standing by to answer your calls. (904) 334-7103


Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you need a lawyer who practices criminal law. In Jacksonville, Florida there are hundreds of lawyers, but only a handful which practice only criminal defense. At the Law Office of Casey Bryant, P.A. we only practice criminal defense. So, we know exactly how to handle your case.

The law is always evolving, on a daily basis. An attorney must be informed and knowledgeable of the changes in the law and have the ability to apply those changes to a client’s case. If an attorney practices many different types of law, they are not capable of staying informed of the changes in the law.

A criminal case, whether a misdemeanor or felony, requires familiarity with the prosecutors and judges who handle these cases. If a lawyer does not routinely appear before these courts, they cannot build relationships and use those relationships to the benefit of the client’s case.

A criminal attorney must also be familiar with sentencing alternatives and trial procedure. A criminal case is always headed towards a trial. If a lawyer cannot or will not take a case to trial, the prosecutor will hold all the bargaining power. An experienced criminal defense attorney will build a reputation as a trial lawyer and earn the respect of prosecutors, who will know they better be ready to put up a fight. Additionally, an experienced criminal lawyer will also have creative ideas for sentencing options and alternatives. A plea does not always require prison or probation, be creative and make the case work for you.

If you need representation on any criminal matter, you need to hire a lawyer who practices exclusively in criminal defense. You liberty and rights require it. Call Criminal Defense Attorney Casey Bryant to discuss your case and options. All we do is criminal defense. Call (904) 334-7103 to schedule a free consultation.

Enhanced Penalties for DUI

When you are faced with a DUI, it’s difficult enough to imagine what the penalties may be. However, what happens when you’re faced with enhanced penalties for DUI? Florida has issued more stern penalties when certain circumstances arise during a DUI charge.

The standard limit to operate a motor vehicle is .08%. If a driver is found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than that, then he or she may be facing a DUI. Now, if a driver is found to be operating a vehicle with a concentration level of .15% , he or she may be facing enhanced penalties. Also, if you are a driver who is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a minor present in the vehicle, you may also be facing enhanced penalties.

According to Florida State Law, enhanced penalties may apply for a first DUI offense with an enhancement:

  • Fine of $1,000 to $2,000 (regular fine is $500 to $1,000)
  • Imprisonment for up to 9 months (regular term is up to 6 months)
  • Note: driver’s license revocation periods remain the same

If this is a driver second, third, or fourth DUI offense, then the penalties may increase. If you or someone you love is facing DUI enhanced penalties, it’s important to contact an experienced DUI lawyer like Casey Bryant, P.A. Instead of facing jail time, driver’s license revocation, and heavy fines, the right DUI attorney can save you and your freedom. With decades of experience, we’ve handled a variety of DUI cases with dedication, focus, and above all confidence.

Contact us today to get started when you’re faced with a DUI with enhanced penalties. The time to act is now.


Is DUI a Crime?

This is an important question, especially for those who have been convicted of a DUI and are seeking employment. That one question, which is inevitably on every job application, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” can be confusing for those who do not consider a DUI as a crime.

In some states, a DUI is considered to be just a traffic offense while other states deem it as a misdemeanor or felony. In Florida, a DUI is considered to be a crime. Any conviction where a judge or jury has declared a person guilty of a criminal offense is considered to a be a “crime,” including driving under the influence.

A misdemeanor or felony DUI conviction in the state of Florida can result in serious penalties. You could be facing fines between $500 to $10,000; 6 months to 4 years in jail; counseling; license revocation or suspension and other penalties.

When certain circumstances occur during the incident, like property damage, bodily injury, and death, then there is a substantial increase in penalties.

All convictions appear on your criminal record, unless you are able to have the offense expunged. This means that if you are convicted of DUI, then you have to declare it in job applications as a crime.

Need a Second Chance?

Under the right circumstances, you may be eligible to have your record expunged, but you must act fast. Our DUI attorneys can help put you on the right path towards restoring your good name and having a successful, bright future.

Contact our experienced and trusted Jacksonville, Florida, attorney to learn more about DUI convictions and crimes.


Consequences of a DUI

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has become a serious matter in the state of Florida. The consequences and penalties of such action can be long lasting and effect you both emotionally and physically for a long time.

After a considerable amount of deaths and injuries related to DUIs, many states have taken a stand and fought back by implementing stricter penalties on offenders. Judges are sending a distinct message that DUIs will no longer be tolerated in the state of Florida in the manner of executing larger fines and harder penalties.

According to, there were 2,558 DUI-related fatalities in the state of Florida. In 2008, there was a recorded 2,978 fatalities, and in 2007, there were 3,214 fatalities. As you can see, the number of DUI-related deaths continues to decrease as Florida courts get stricter.

The Dangers of DUI

When you have a blood alcohol content of just .10 (the legal limit is .08), you’re at seven times higher of a risk for being involved in a crash that could kill you or someone you know. Once you step in that vehicle and back out, you become a driving time bomb ready to explode at any minute damaging property and causing bodily injury.

General Penalties for First-Time Offenders

If you are facing your first Florida DUI and you had a blood alcohol level less than .20%, here are the consequences you face:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • 50 hours of community service
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • 10 days of vehicle impoundment
  • DUI education requirement
  • Ignition interlock on vehicle

If your blood alcohol level was .20% or higher, you face the above penalties, with these increased amounts:

  • Up to $1000 in fines
  • Up to 9 months in jail

To learn more about the consequences of a DUI conviction, contact our trusted team of attorneys. We’ll be happy to discuss your case with you and recommend the right steps to ensure you keep your freedom and your name intact.


What is a Minimum Mandatory?

Under Florida law, many crimes have certain minimum mandatory penalties. A minimum mandatory penalty or sentence is a sentence that must be imposed following a plea of guilty or no contest, or being found guilty by a judge or jury. When sentenced to a minimum mandatory prison sentence, an offender is not eligible for any form of parole, gain-time or early release. The entire minimum penalty must be served before any form of release.

Currently, Florida law requires offenders to serve 85 percent of any sentence imposed. Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s, offenders were only required to spend 65 percent of any sentence imposed prior to become eligible for early release.  This law is subject to change with prison overcrowding, but any forecast on when such will be done is pure speculation.

The two main areas in which minimum mandatory penalties exists are when the crime involves the use of a firearm, Florida’s 10-20-Life law and crimes involving drug trafficking. Under the 10-20-Life law, if a gun or firearm is displayed or brandished during the omission of a crime, a 10 year minimum penalty must be imposed, discharge the firearm 20, and if someone is killed, then life.

With prescription drug abuse and sales increasing, trafficking charges involving hydrocodone or oxycodone are prevalent. As little as 6 pills of hydrocodone, or Lorcet, may invoke a 3-year minimum mandatory sentence for drug trafficking. As the weight of the pills increase, so does the minimum sentence. The minimum sentence can reach 15 or even 25 years in prison.

So how does a criminal defense attorney get around a minimum mandatory sentence? Mitigation and negotiation. A skilled criminal lawyer can negotiate through the proper channels and present mitigation in an effort to entice the prosecutor to go beneath the minimum sentence.

If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a crime which involves a minimum mandatory sentence, call Criminal Defense Attorney Casey Bryant to discuss your legal options during a free consultation.


Police Encounters Across Florida and Beyond

The law categorizes police encounters under three separate and distinct categories. The three categories are founded on the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The 4th Amendment provides “the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.” When the police attempt to detain and restrict the freedom of movement of an individual, they may have seized the individual for purposes of the 4th Amendment.

Any evidence found during an unlawful seizure of an individual may be suppressed from a prosecution in a criminal case if it was found unlawfully. To suppress a piece of evidence a citizen must have “standing.” Standing is the right to claim one’s personal rights were violated. A criminal defense attorney must file legal motions to suppress evidence to a judge and support the motion with legal precedent of law.

The first level of citizen-police interaction is a consensual encounter. During a consensual encounter, a citizen is free to leave at any time. The citizen may speak with the officer or refuse to. Because the citizen is free to leave at anytime, the 4th Amendment is not invoked.

An investigatory stop is the second level of police-citizen encounter. Under a “Terry” or investigatory stop, an officer may temporarily detain a citizen if they have reasonable suspicion, the citizen has, is, or is about to commit a criminal act. Mere suspicion is not enough; the officer must possess a “well-founded articulable suspicion.” During a “Terry” stop, an officer may frisk a citizen for weapons or officer safety. A full cavity, in-depth search is not legally permissible.

The third and most restrictive level of police-citizen interaction is an arrest. To make an arrest, an officer must have probable cause to believe a crime is or has been committed.

An arrest is the easiest level of police-citizen encounter to identify, and the thoughts of the citizen may differ from that of the police. If you have had evidence seized during a police encounter, it may be eligible for suppression if the seizure was illegal.

Call Criminal Defense Attorney Casey Bryant to discuss your case and rights during a free consultation.


What is Statutory Rape?

The legal definition for statutory rape is illegal sexual activity between two people when it would otherwise be legal if not their age. It is usually non-forced intercourse with a person that is younger than the age of consent. Each state has their own ages for these laws and the punishments for the offenders vary from state to state as well.

The actual term “statutory rape” is not used in many states. It is simply called rape or unlawful sexual penetration or a variety of other titles. These laws apply to anyother type of sexual acts or contact, not just intercourse. Dating someone without having any type of sexual contact is not considered illegal. As stated earlier, most states have an “age of consent” which is the age that a person is considered legal and can consent to sexual activity on their own.

Some states take into consideration the age difference between the two people, making the punishment worse the greater the age difference is. The statutory rape law is different when it concerns people of authority over aminor such as coaches, teachers, tutors and assistant coaches. Usually the age of consent when concerning these situations is 18 and the punishment is way more severe than normal.

Statutory rape charges can filed by anyone involved such as the victim, the parents of the victim and professionals that must report situations like this (such as doctors, counselors, nurses etc). The situation can reported by the state as well and California is a perfect example of this. California has filed statutory rape charges against the fathers of pregnant women who were or are minors at the time of conception against the protest of the women and the parents of the involved as well. Florida’s law for statutory rape says that a person who is 24 years old or older and engages in sexual activity with a person 17 years old or younger is committing a felony of the second degree anyone involved can press charges being the victim or the victim’s parents.

Don’t Drive on a Suspended License

In Florida, driving with a suspended driver’s license is a crime. The crime is enahnceable, which means every time a person is convicted of the offense the maximum penalty for the crime is increased. The first and second convictions for driving with a suspended license are misdemeanors; the third offense is a felony.

The third conviction can also trigger a habitual traffic offender suspension. Under a HTO suspension, a driver is placed on a 5-year suspension, another conviction or traffic infraction restarts the 5 year window.

To be eligible for a hardship license under a HTO suspension, the driver must demonstrate a whole year of no driving, pay all outstanding costs and attend the Advanced Driver Improvement Course.  A DUI conviction can also count as a strike towards the third conviction necessary for a HTO Suspension.

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Jacksonville, Florida 32204



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