Please Note: Izquierdo Law Firm remains open and available to serve you and meet your criminal defense, DUI defense and Federal Crimes attorney needs during the COVID-19 crisis. We can meet with clients, existing or new, in person, over the phone or with your preferred video-chat application. Please call our office at 305-707-7345 to discuss your options.

Get Answers to Common Questions Now

Our clients have many of the same fears and concerns. To get started, we’ve compiled answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about Federal, Florida DUI and criminal law, covering a wide range of topics to help each client understand the potential implications and options of many legal situations.

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  • How should I prepare for my virtual hearing?

    Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawWhen the coronavirus pandemic hit Southern Florida, courts closed and hearings and trials were postponed. To get things moving again, courts turned to remote hearings held on the meeting platform Zoom. This has proven to be an efficient way to take care of certain kinds of court proceedings, so it is likely that remote hearings could continue for the foreseeable future. However, just because you are tuning in to your hearing from home on a computer or cell phone, that doesn’t mean you should not take the process seriously.

    Zoom Court Has the Same Power as In-Person Court

    If your hearing has been scheduled to take place on Zoom, you need to realize that this is the actual hearing—not a warm-up or practice. The information presented by attorneys and decisions made by the judge are just as they would be in an in-person courtroom. As a defendant, you need to take this virtual appearance as seriously as you would an actual court appearance.

    How to Prepare for a Zoom Hearing

    As your defense attorney, I will make sure you have the technology and internet access you need to join the hearing at the right time. However, since you will be in your own space, the rest of the appearance will be up to you. Here are some tips for a successful Zoom court session:

    Dress appropriately.

    Wear a clean, collared shirt or a nice sweater. Do not wear a shirt with images or writing on it. Also, WEAR PANTS! Even if you don’t think you will be seen below the waist, you never know what could happen. Judges have reported seeing defendants in pajamas, bathrobes, shirtless, and in the bathroom! Don’t let that be you.

    Arrange for privacy.

    Having children or pets running in and out of the room is not conducive to being taken seriously by a judge. Have a neighbor take the kids and leave the pets outside or in another room. Sit at a desk or kitchen table. Do not sit in bed or lounge on a sofa.

    Eliminate other noise.

    Mute your phone, turn off the television, and close other windows on your computer. Put a do not disturb sign on your door to prevent visitors or family members from interrupting the hearing.

    Be aware of Zoom etiquette.

    During the meeting, make sure the lighting and camera are adjusted so that your whole face can be clearly seen. Mute your microphone when you are not speaking, but remember to unmute yourself and look into the camera (not at the screen) when you are speaking.

    Be respectful.

    You should not be doing anything other than participating in the hearing. Your eyes should be on your computer or phone screen the entire time. Speak clearly and say “Yes, ma’am” or “Yes sir” when addressing the judge.

    If you have never participated in a Zoom meeting and are worried about it going well, I can schedule a practice session with you ahead of the hearing date.

    Do You Trust Your Florida Criminal Defense Attorney?

    If you are facing criminal charges in the Miami area, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who cares about the outcome of your case. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Criminal Charges in Florida, a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors, and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings, and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • I was charged with unemployment insurance fraud. What should I do?

    Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawAfter reaching an all-time high of 14.7 percent in April, the unemployment rate across the U.S. dropped to 8.4 percent in August. This means that 13.6 million Americans were still out of work in August as a result of the coronavirus shutdowns last March. In Florida, the unemployment rate was at 11.3 percent in July, higher than the national average, and an increase from June. In an effort to help people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the federal government expanded states’ ability to provide unemployment benefits through the CARES Act in March. Almost as soon as these programs rolled out, applicants were being investigated for fraud. If you are one of them, you need to hire a federal defense attorney.

    What Is Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

    Collecting unemployment benefits when you are not entitled to them—or helping someone else get benefits they haven’t earned—is considered a form of fraud and is illegal. Given the expanded coverage provided by the CARES Act, millions of Americans who had never collected unemployment before suddenly found themselves applying. Not all of these people should have applied, and many were approved who shouldn’t have been, but in order to be charged with a crime, you must have:

    • Knowingly provided false or incomplete information when applying for benefits
    • Returned to work while still collecting benefits
    • Failed to report additional income

    Whether you set out to defraud the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) or you are a victim of an overzealous investigator, when you are charged, you need an attorney who will fight for you.

    Possible Defenses to Fraud Charges

    Fraud charges should never be taken lightly. When you work with my defense team, we will build the strongest possible case to achieve the best outcome. Appropriate defenses might include:

    • You did not have a specific intent to defraud the state.
    • The prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence that you committed fraud.
    • Someone filed on your behalf without your knowledge.
    • Law enforcement broke the law in obtaining evidence against you.

    Have You Been Charged With Florida Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

    If you are suspected of unemployment insurance fraud, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book, The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Criminal Charges in Florida. Don’t leave your freedom or your reputation to chance. Hire a lawyer who will fight for you!

     

  • What is securities fraud?

    You probably didn’t even know you were being investigated for a crime, and now you have been arrested and charged with securities fraud. What does that mean, and what should you do about it? Federal defense attorney Danny Izquierdo explains here.

    Securities Fraud Is an Umbrella Term for Many Crimes

    Securities Fraud Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawFacing charges for federal financial crimes, like money laundering and securities fraud, can be scary and confusing. There is a misconception that these crimes always involve millions of dollars and high-powered criminals. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how much or how little money is involved. If you knowingly cheat someone out of money, you could be facing federal charges.

    A “security” in this context is any investment vehicle—such as stocks, bonds, options, banknotes, or derivatives. If you knowingly use a phony investment opportunity to cheat someone out of money, you could be charged with securities fraud. Some examples of this crime include:

    Insider trading.

    If you obtain or share non-public information about a company in order to make money on the stock exchange, you could be charged with insider trading.

    Ponzi scheme.

    Duping people into investing in a non-existent company and paying earlier investors with money from newer investors is what’s known as a Ponzi scheme.

    Advance fee scams.

    Requiring investors to pay an up-front fee or tax and then never delivering on the investment is a form of securities fraud.

    High-yield investment fraud.

    Promising high rates of return with little up-front investment, particularly when you are not actually investing the money, is a common form of fraud.

    There is always risk in investing, and sometimes a legitimate investment vehicle loses investors’ money. That is not fraud—that’s bad luck. However, when someone knowingly defrauds a person who believes they are investing in a legitimate opportunity—that is fraud.

    Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

     

  • I was charged with email phishing. What does that mean?

    Phishing Information on a Hook federal crimes defense lawyer Izquierdo LawYou might be trying to build your business by sending emails to lots of people, but if you ask for the wrong kind of information, you could be accused of a form of internet fraud and identity theft known as phishing. Because the fraud uses the internet and has the potential for inter-state crime, it is often pursued as a federal charge. Federal fraud charges should always be taken seriously. If you have been charged with internet phishing, contact our experienced Miami federal defense attorney to represent you.

    What Is Illegal About Email Marketing?

    It is perfectly legal to email people to try to solicit business. Think of all the emails you get from businesses every day with special deals, sales, and free offers. People might find it annoying, but there is nothing illegal about it. What pushes internet marketing across the line to become illegal phishing, however, is the content of the email and what it is asking the recipient to do. The following are illegal:

    • Forging an email to make it appear as if it is coming from another sender, such as a government entity or a bank
    • Asking the recipient to divulge sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and bank account information
    • Directing the recipient to a phony website to collect sensitive information

    If you were charged with phishing, you will need to hire a defense attorney who understands the seriousness of the charge.

    Defending Phishing Charges

    The key to any fraud charge is intent. The prosecutor has to prove that you intended to defraud when you sent the emails. They will also have to prove that you actually sent the emails. Defense approaches we will consider include:

    Proving the emails were not sent by you.

    There is always an electronic trail that computer forensics experts can follow to figure out the origin of an email. If the prosecutor’s expert is wrong and the phishing emails were not sent by you, our experts will prove it.

    Proving you had no intent to defraud.

    You might have asked email recipients for information, not knowing it was illegal to do so. If a recipient misunderstood the email and later regretted a purchase, they might go to the police to accuse you of fraud, but those charges should not stand.

    Showing the evidence against you was obtained illegally.

    Law enforcement officers have to follow certain protocols when investigating a suspicion of fraud, even when it involves computers. If your rights were violated during the investigation, the evidence cannot be used against you.

    Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

     

  • What is federal mortgage fraud?

    Mortgage Fraud Paper With a Gavel Federal Crimes Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawAny form of intentional misrepresentation or deception for gain is considered fraud, and it is illegal. Where mortgages are concerned, fraud can be committed by individuals in obtaining a single mortgage, or by an organization in the form of predatory lending, foreclosure rescue scams, and mortgage reduction scams. While the FBI tends to focus on the fraud committed against borrowers by institutions and their employees, you could be charged with mortgage fraud as an individual as well. We take a look at how consumers get caught up in mortgage fraud to help you avoid unknowingly committing a serious crime.

    Lying on an Application Is Fraud

    You probably already know that it’s not right to lie on a mortgage application, but maybe you just need to tweak some numbers to make sure you qualify. You know you’ll be able to make payments, so what’s the harm? You might even be encouraged by your real estate agent or loan officer to fudge some numbers. After all, everyone benefits when the sale goes through. However, when you knowingly lie on an application, you are committing fraud, even if no one else is harmed by the crime. You could also face federal charges for forgery.

    The more common form of individual mortgage fraud—one that is more frequently pursued by the FBI—is fraud through identity theft. If you attempt to obtain financing using someone else’s financial information, you are committing mortgage fraud. This is a serious offense.

    Defending Mortgage Fraud Charges

    Federal prosecutors have to prove that you intentionally set out to defraud the mortgage lender in order to make fraud charges stick. If you did not commit fraud intentionally—perhaps you made a mistake or were given misinformation—we will build a case to prove that. If others were involved in coercing you to commit fraud, that could be your defense.

    Under federal law, mortgage fraud can result in up to 30 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines. It is important that you take these charges seriously and that you hire the best federal defense attorney you can afford. 

    Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

     

  • What is aggravated identity theft?

    Identity Theft Defense Lawyer Miami Izquierdo Law FirmIf you are suspected of committing a crime using a stolen identity, you could be charged with aggravated identity theft in addition to the initial charge. If the felony you are accused of is a federal offense, you will face the charges in federal court and will need a defense attorney who is admitted to that court to defend you. Attorney Danny Izquierdo accepts federal criminal cases in the Miami area and will provide a free case evaluation if you are charged with aggravated identity theft.

    The Feds Are Cracking Down on Identity Theft

    There is no doubt that identity theft is a serious crime costing consumers billions of dollars every year. While the act of stealing a person’s identity is a crime in itself, if you use that identity to commit a federal felony, you will face additional penalties under the charge of aggravated identity theft. Examples of the kinds of crime the FBI typically pursues under this charge include:

    Immigration violations.

    A person who uses a stolen identity to enter the United States illegally or who sells stolen identities to people wishing to enter the country illegally can be charged with aggravated identity theft in addition to the immigration crime.

    Theft of government benefits.

    Using the identity of another person—including a deceased person—to collect Social Security, Veterans, or other government benefits is a federal crime that could also incur an aggravated identity theft charge on top of it.

    Terrorist acts.

    Acts of domestic terrorism—often bombings and shootings that target specific groups of people in defiance of the government—are often committed using the anonymity of a stolen identity.

    Federal prosecutors can choose to add a charge of aggravated identity theft to any crime committed using another person’s identity. Defendants will face charges for the crime they committed as well as the identity theft charge. Conviction of aggravated identity theft carries a sentence of two years—or five years for a terrorist act—to be served after the sentence for the felony is served.

    Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

     

  • Why was a hate crime added to my criminal charge, and what does that mean?

    Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawIf you were charged with a crime such as rape, assault, vandalism, or harassment and the alleged victim is a member of a protected class, you could face additional penalties for “evidencing prejudice while committing an offense.” In other words, you could be charged with a hate crime. However, the state will have to meet a particular burden of proof, and that’s where a skilled defense attorney can help.

    What Is a Hate Crime?

    A violent crime can be reclassified as a more serious offense if it is suspected that the victim was targeted because of one of the following characteristics:

    • Race
    • Color
    • Ancestry
    • Ethnicity
    • Religion
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender identity
    • National origin
    • Homeless status
    • Advanced age

    However, it takes more than just the personal characteristics of the victim to justify charges of a hate crime. The prosecutor also has to prove that the defendant was motivated to commit the crime by hatred or bias towards to victim. The use of a discriminatory slur is not sufficient to prove that a hate crime has occurred. Evidence must be presented that the perpetrator holds prejudiced views and targeted the victim because of a personal characteristic.

    How a Defense Attorney Will Fight Hate Crime Charges

    Hate crime charges are usually added to a base offense, such as robbery or assault. One possible defense is to prove that you didn’t commit the base crime, and therefore, are not guilty of a hate crime. If you are found guilty of the base crime, your attorney can fight the hate crime enhancement by presenting evidence of the following:

    • You have no history of prejudice against people with the same personal characteristics as the victim.
    • You do not associate with groups that target these individuals.
    • You did not use discriminatory slurs, gestures, or symbols during the commission of the crime.
    • You were unaware of the victim’s personal characteristics.
    • You were not aware that language or markings you used are considered offensive to certain groups.
    • Other evidence that you were not motivated by hate or prejudice.

    A hate crime enhancement can add years to a prison sentence and raise fines substantially, so it is important that you hire the best defense attorney you can to fight these charges.

    Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

     

  • Can video from a doorbell camera be used against me in court?

    Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Izquierdo LawCameras are everywhere these days, and it’s hard to do anything without being caught on video. But can a dark, grainy video be used as evidence that you committed a crime? The prosecutor can try, but your defense attorney should do all he can to discredit the evidence in court.

    More Surveillance Video Is Available Than Ever Before

    There is no doubt that cell phones and surveillance cameras have had a big impact on crime in recent years. When a crime is caught on camera, it becomes much harder for a defendant to deny the accusations against him. Sometimes, this is a good thing for society. For example, both bystanders with cell phones and police officers’ own body cams have caught incidents of police brutality on camera, proving cases that would have otherwise been impossible to prove. However, images caught on camera are not always great quality, and this creates problems for innocent people who are falsely identified.

    Challenging the Evidence in Court

    Surveillance cameras have been around for a long time, especially in stores and businesses. More recently, people have been installing doorbell cameras to keep an eye on what happens on their front porches. These cameras have captured everything from animal antics to heartwarming acts of kindness, but they have also led to misidentifications and false arrests. If you have been identified as a suspect based on a doorbell camera or security camera, your defense attorney should:

    Question the quality.

    Security video footage is often dark, blurry, and grainy. It is very difficult to get a positive facial identification from them because the resolution is just not high enough. If you were identified based on clothing or the model of a car, your attorney should make a point that this evidence is circumstantial at best.

    Look at the evidence chain.

    It is surprisingly easy to hack into security systems and to alter or edit video footage. If the prosecutor cannot establish a clear chain of possession for the video that is being used, your attorney should question its reliability as evidence. Since digital video can be tampered with remotely until it is taken offline, the chain of possession should always be questioned by the defense.

    Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer?

    If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami you should contact me as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book "The Ultimate Guide To Fighting Criminal Charges In Florida", a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • Can I be charged with drunk boating in Florida?

    Man Drinking Alcohol While Driving a BoatWhat’s a day on the water without a beer or two? Many Miami boaters feel this way, but this thinking can get them into trouble. Just like on dry land, operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal and the consequences can be serious if you are caught. Just because you were ticketed on the water doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the charge seriously. Understand the charges you are facing and contact an experienced boating under the influence (BUI) attorney if you are arrested.

    What Is Boating Under the Influence?

    Florida’s waterways are patrolled by both local law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard. They have the authority to stop your boat and board it if they suspect that you are driving while intoxicated. The statute prohibiting drunk boating is similar to the one prohibiting drunk driving. Under Florida Statute 327.35, if you are operating a vessel and:

    • are under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substance to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired
    • have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
    • have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath

    It’s important to note that, under the statute, you can be charged with a BUI if the police decide that your “normal faculties are impaired,” even if you don’t have a BAC of .08 or higher.

    Why Do You Need a Lawyer?

    The penalties for a drunk boating conviction are similar to those for a drunk driving conviction. You face fines and jail time if you are found guilty. If you cause a crash and someone is injured or killed, you face felony charges. An arrest for boating under the influence should be treated just like a DUI. Call attorney Danny Izquierdo to discuss your defense options as soon as possible after you are ticketed. It might be possible to get the charges reduced or dropped, or to argue for a lighter sentence given your unique circumstances. Don’t leave your fate to chance. Call the Izquierdo Law Firm today.

     

  • What is forgery?

    Federal Crimes Lawyer MiamiForgery is the crime of making, altering, using, or possessing false writing in order to commit fraud. There are many types of forgery, from signing someone else’s name on an official document to falsifying a passport or driver’s license. If the forgery involves money or federal documents or is intended to defraud the federal government, then the crime will be charged by federal law enforcement officers.

    Proving the Crime of Forgery

    In order for the government to make its case for forgery, it will have to prove the following:

    The document was legally significant.

    Signing someone else’s name to a letter of complaint you send to an individual or business would not constitute forgery because the letter is not a legal document. However, government-issued documents such as passports, military discharge papers, immigration documents, and the like, would be considered legally significant.

    The writing is “false.”

    Creating a document to look like a standard legal document is an example of false writing, but so is materially altering a legitimate document. For example, deleting, adding, or changing portions of a document that results in a change to the legal rights or obligations represented in the document would be considered forgery.

    The document was altered with the intent to defraud.

    To be charged with fraud, the defendant must have intended to defraud the federal government with the document. A person who has unknowingly signed or received a forged document should not be charged because they did not intend to commit fraud with it.

    A federal criminal defense attorney will examine these elements in order to build the best case for a defendant. The federal crime of forgery carries significant penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and steep fines, so it is important to launch an aggressive defense.

    Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.