Arrested? Detained? Ask for a lawyer, then, SHUT UP!

The best thing you can do if you’re arrested or being questioned by the police is to: 1) Ask for a lawyer; and 2) Keep Quiet.  Of course you can provide your ID, but that should be about it.  It never ceases to amaze me how often people think they can, “explain” or somehow talk themselves out of trouble.  It never works.  All it does is provide statements that the police will be able to use later, and almost always against you.

Don’t think you can talk yourself out of trouble.  Take a look at this short video about how to deal with being arrested or detained.

Avoid IRS Fraud Scams

Tax season is just starting, and the fraud is in full force.  Don’t fall prey to those who try to take advantage of you.  The most recent examples involve a phone call telling you that the caller is with the IRS and they are going to issue an arrest warrant, or have you arrested unless you pay your taxes immediately.  They then tell you that they can take the payment over the phone with your bank account number.  It is an obvious fraud, but we have received several calls from our clients asking for advice and very scared of the phone call.

Follow these simple rules:

1. NEVER give your bank information, credit card number, or social security number to someone who calls you.  EVER!  No exceptions.  If the IRS or any other collection agency is trying to collect they will notify you, IN WRITING, of the debt.

2. DON’T EVER ENGAGE THE CALLER.  The best thing is just to hang up and don’t discuss anything with a caller asking for private information.

3. Don’t let anyone on the phone trick you because they have your address, or know your first name, or know things about you.  They can get all of the information very easily.

4. If you have a smartphone get yourself the TrueCaller app at www.truecaller.com.  It is an excellent toll to help with fraud calls.

5. Put all of your phones on the Do Not Call Registry located at /www.donotcall.gov/ .  This will help avoid your number being placed on automatic call lists.  If your number is easily available, it is easier for criminals to get it.

Finally, just use common sense.  If the IRS was going to arrest you, they are not going to call you before they come.  There is never any reason to give any private information over the phone to anyone who calls you asking for it.  If you have any doubt call regarding fraud, theft, or other crimes our experience in criminal defense is valuable.  Call our Tampa, Florida office for a free consultation at 813-259-1017 and we will be glad to speak with you.

You can read more from the IRS by clicking this link.

When a “Trial Lawyer” is not a Trial Lawyer

Completing law school and passing the Bar Exam provides the title, “Attorney At Law.” Many people who have a license call themselves auto accident, “trial lawyers” but are they really?

Every lawyer can say, “I am a trial lawyer” just like every person with a paintbrush can claim to be Michelangelo because, after all, they can use the brush to paint the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Claiming to be a trial lawyer without ever going to trial is an outright lie.

The TV and radio are full of advertisements of lawyers who say they are, “trial lawyers” but have NEVER had a trial at all. They have never presented a case to a jury and never received a verdict.

Trial work is hard and complex. It requires dedication and skills that are actually uncommon among lawyers who claim to be personal injury, auto accident, or negligence attorneys. If you are considering a lawyer, ask them, “Have you PERSONALLY had an auto accident trial before a jury?” And if the answer is yes, ask how many and when was the last one. The answer may surprise you.

At the Law Office of Dario Diaz we actually go to trial and get verdicts for our clients. We stand up, in the court, and in front of a jury to present our client’s case. The insurance companies know which lawyers go to trial and which lawyers just settle everything; and they don’t treat real, “trial lawyers” the same as those who advertise as trial lawyers.

For an example of some of our trial verdicts see: http://dariodiazlaw.com/past-results/

Don’t Sit on Your Legal Rights or they May be Lost!

We are often faced with deadlines, and it is not always easy to meet them with everything we deal with in our lives. However, missing legal deadlines may have serious consequences.

If a contract is broken because of a missed payment or some other breach of the contract, it may be possible to reach a workout. This may include catching up on the missed payments, modifying the loan, or re-working the agreement.

However, if you have a legal claim against another party, there are limitations of how long you have to bring the claim. If you do not file the claim in time, you may lose your right to do so. The intention of such rules and laws is to resolve legal disputes within a reasonable time.

If you are sued by another party, the consequences can be even worse. If you fail to answer or respond to the lawsuit, the other party can get a default judgment against you and you won’t even be able to defend yourself.

Florida case law is filled with cases of missing deadlines. For example, in Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Paul Fernandes, 13 Fla.L.Weekly Supp. 560a (Fla. 15th Jud.Cir., Palm Beach County, 2006) the Court found that a case was barred because it was filed too late.

Don’t lose your right or your defenses because you miss a deadline. If you have questions regarding your legal rights and possible claims or defense of claims against you, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a FREE consultation. Phone: (813) 259-1017. We are here to help.

Civil Forfeitures on the Rise in Tampa, Florida

Policing for Profit: Civil Asset Forfeiture Affecting Thousands in Tampa Bay

Did you know that you do not have to be charged with a crime for the police to take your personal property, such as your car or cash, during an arrest? Civil forfeiture, a legal process by which law enforcement seizes assets from individuals suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity, is becoming rampant in the Tampa Bay area. During an arrest, law enforcement can take your personal property if they suspect it was used as a means to commit a crime or was obtained with the proceeds of a crime. Even if you are never charged with a crime, police can keep your property, and oftentimes it is never returned to the owner. What do the police do with all the property they take? They sell it and use the money to fund agency budgets. In 2014, it was reported that the Tampa Police Department alone seized 1,500 vehicles and made over $1 million in total property seizures.

Know Your Rights:
If your property is seized during an arrest, you have certain rights you should be aware of:

• You have a right to be notified of the seizure in writing either at the time of the seizure, or within 5 working days after the seizure of your property. The notice must state that you are entitled to request an Adversarial Preliminary Hearing (APH).
• You have 15 days from the date of receiving the notice of seizure to request an APH in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the seizing agency.
• The APH must be held within 10 days after the request is received by the agency.

Contact our office if your property has been seized by law enforcement. Remember that the clock starts running the day you are notified in writing of the seizure. We are experienced in handling civil forfeiture in the Tampa Bay area and will fight for your rights.

To see an excellent (and humorous) explanation of civil forfeiture take a look at this video:

Welcome Karin Brown

Karin BrownWe are pleased to introduce the newest associate to our firm, Karin Brown.  Karin graduated with a Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law in 2010, where she served as a member of the Stetson University Student Leadership Committee. She was awarded the William F. Blews Pro Bono Service Award and the Stetson Law Leadership Certificate.  During law school, she worked as a law clerk for our law firm.  Karin graduated Cum Laude from the University of Florida in 2007, earning her B.A. in Criminology and a minor in Anthropology.  During her undergraduate studies, she served as an intern for the Florida Governor’s Office in Tallahassee, Florida.

Karin is admitted to practice in Florida.  She is fluent in Spanish and is a member of the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar.  Karin will be working on personal injury, auto accidents, criminal defense, family law, and other civil litigation matters.

Tampa Phasing In Red Light Cameras

The City of Tampa has installed and will begin enforcing traffic infractions with red light cameras. Through November 1, 2011 the infraction will be a warning only. Starting November 1, 2011 running a red light will result in a traffic fine of $158.00. Here is a list of the intersections with red light cameras in Tampa.

Here is a map I assembled showing the intersections:

View Tampa Red Light Camera in a larger map

Westbound E Busch Boulevard @ N Nebraska Avenue
Eastbound E Fowler Avenue @ N Nebraska Avenue
Westbound E Hillsborough Avenue @ N Nebraska Avenue
Northbound N Armenia Avenue @ W Hillsborough Avenue
Northbound N Lois Avenue @ W Hillsborough Avenue
Northbound N Nebraska Avenue @ E Hillsborough Avenue
Northbound N Nebraska Avenue @ E Fowler Avenue
Eastbound W Gandy Boulevard @ S Westshore Boulevard
Eastbound Adamo Drive @ S 50th Street / S Tamiami Trail
Eastbound E Hillsborough Avenue @ N 22nd Street
Westbound E Hillsborough Avenue @ N 22nd Street
Eastbound E Waters Avenue / CR 584 @ US 41 / N Florida Avenue
Southbound N Himes Avenue @ W Hillsborough Avenue
Southbound S 50th Street / S Tamiami Trail @ Adamo Drive
Southbound S Dale Mabry Highway @ W Gandy Boulevard
Southbound S Manhattan Avenue @ W Gandy Boulevard
Northbound S Westshore Boulevard @ W Gandy Boulevard
Southbound US 41 / N Florida Avenue @ E Waters Avenue / CR 584
Eastbound W Gandy Boulevard @ S Dale Mabry Highway
Westbound W Gandy Boulevard @ S Westshore Boulevard
Westbound W Waters Avenue / CR 584 @ N Armenia Avenue
Eastbound W Waters Avenue / CR 584 @ N Armenia Avenue
Eastbound W Kennedy Boulevard @ N Ashley Drive