Can I really be arrested if I violate the social distancing on the water or land?

Yes! It is a second degree misdemeanor if you violate one of the social distancing orders. As recently as this past Saturday, law enforcement officers responded to Ft. McRee where several people had gathered. The officers required the boaters to separate their boats by 50 feet. A second degree misdemeanor is the lowest crime level assigned to an offense in the state of Florida. One can be facing 60 days in the County Jail or up to 6 months probation.

Is it legal to send naked pictures of myself to someone else?

If you send naked pictures of yourself and are 18 years of age or older, then no. It is legal to do so. However, if you are under that age, a naked picture even if it’s of your self, is considered child pornography. Each picture is a separate count and is punishable as a 3rd degree felony. For parents, monitor your children’s social media. Our firm has represented a young man whose girlfriend sent him a picture of herself in her underwear. He sent back a picture of his private parts. The mother of the girlfriend found the picture and pressed charges. It is charged as a sex offender. If he were convicted, that would label him a sex offender. Parents please have this discussion with your children.

Can my child under the age of 18 be charged as an adult?

Even if a child is under the age of 18, the State Attorney’s office can choose to direct file with the adult court.  The state has the power to allow the child to be prosecuted in the juvenile system or transfer them to adult court.  The difference may not seem drastic, but it is. Generally, more severe charges are the ones that are direct filed. The state looks at the child’s background and can send them to adult court. That child now has a criminal record that absent certain circumstances, stays with them forever. If the case remains in Juvenile, those  criminal proceedings are not subject to public disclosure (with some exceptions).

The true downside to direct filing, is that the State has no check or balance. It is their decision, and theirs alone. A judge cannot return the child to the juvenile system.  The one saving grace is that a Judge can sentence a child in the adult system to juvenile sanctions.  The state attorney’s office in Escambia County leads the rest of the state by prosecuting 1 out of every 20 juveniles as an adult. The rest of the counties in Florida are 1 in 50.

Hire an experienced attorney to represent your child.  It is one of the best decisions you can make to invest in their future.

I swear, she said she was 18!

In Pensacola, Spring Break brings tourists for miles. College students and high school students are a large part of them.  They meet new people and sometimes engage in sexual relations. In Florida, the age of consent is 18 years of age. For minors ages 16-17, Florida statutes provide an age-gap provision that allow a 16 or 17 year-old to legally consent to sexual conduct with a person 16-23 years of age. If a person is over the age of 23 and has sexual relations with someone ages 16-17, it is a Second Degree Felony which can require the defendant to file as a sexual offender. In Florida, a Second Degree Felony is punishable by up to 15 years in jail. The statute is gender neutral. Women as well as men can be charged.

The most important part about this post: The defender cannot shield him/her from the charge even if they did not know the age of the victim or the victim portrayed themselves to be older. Florida Statute 794.021. Don’t rely on their ID either. Our firm has defended gentlemen who saw an id, later known to be fake, stating the age to be 18.  Be careful, but if you need find yourself in this predicament, call our firm at 850-469-8118 for a free consult.

What happens if I violate my probation?

If you violate your probation you can be facing jail or prison time.  The outcome depends on what you were on probation for, the nature of the violation and other factors considered by the Judge.  Often times people on probation violate because they are arrested on a new charge.  If this is the only violation, I typically recommend resolving the new case before the violation of probation is heard.  The outcome of the new charge determines what happens on the violation of probation.  If the prosecutor dismisses the new charge, 9 times out of 10, the prosecutor will not proceed on the violation.  In that case, the probation is often restored.  If convicted of the new law violation, you face some period of incarceration.  If you violated due to a “technical” reason, such as having not paid costs/fines or completing court ordered classes, the Judge may give you an opportunity to complete these by a control date.
The Constitution of the United States guarantees you a hearing.  The burden is on the state to prove the violation.  However, the burden of proof on a violation is less than in a regular criminal case.  This makes it easier for the state to prove.
A good attorney will explore the multiple factors and moving parts/options for resolution of a violation of probation.  No attorney can tell you what the outcome of your case will be until the Judge decides. Every case is different, from the prosecutor to the Judge. It is important to have an experienced Attorney evaluate your case and provide you with all of the information necessary to make an informed decision to best resolve your case.  Please feel free to contact me, Chris Ferry, if you have any questions related to a violation of probation you or a family member/friend might have and need assistance with.

What happens after I have been arrested?

What happens after I have been arrested?
Often times people are unsure of the procedure or how the court process works after they have been arrested.  Assuming that you are given some type of bond and post it after your arrest, the jail will provide you with your first court date, which is your arraignment.  If you plan on hiring private counsel, it is wise to consult with them prior to your arraignment so that they can file a notice of appearance on your behalf and waive your arraignment, which means you would not have to attend that court date.  If you have not retained counsel prior to your arraignment, you MUST attend or the court will issue a failure to appear and will likely revoke your bond. If you go to your arraignment, having not hired private counsel, the court will inquire as to whether your wish to use the services of the Public Defender.  If you qualify financially, the court will appoint a Public Defender on your case. Procedurally, the arraignment date is when the State formally charges you with what law(s) they believe you have broken based upon your initial arrest.  At the arraignment the court will also announce your next court date which in county court (for misdemeanor charges) is called your plea day and it is typically a month or so out from your arraignment date.  In circuit court (for felony charges) the next court date is called docket day and it is typically a couple of months out from your arraignment.  In between your arraignment and your docket day, your attorney conducts discovery, takes depositions, negotiates plea offers and files any legal motions that might be available on your behalf.  Assuming the case is not resolved via dismissal prior to plea/docket day, it is your decision at that point based upon discussion with your attorney/advice from your attorney, whether or not you would like to accept a negotiated plea offer or take your case to trial.  If you have any further questions about the court process or other matters involving a crime you have been accused of, please contact me at Ferry & Ferry and I will gladly provide information based upon my 18 years of experience practicing criminal defense.
Chris Ferry, Attorney at Law

What is 10-20-life in Florida?

In 1999, led by then Gov. Jeb Bush, the 10-20-Life statute was passed. It established bright line minimum mandatory sentences for defendants who used a firearm while committing a crime. Between July 1, 1999 and July 1, 2016, if you had a firearm on your person during a felony, you received 10 years; if you fired it, you received 20 years. If someone died during the commission of a felony and a firearm was used, the defendant automatically received a life sentence. Minimum mandatory sentences remove any discretion that a Judge usually has when a defendant is sentenced. In 2016, Gov. Rick Scott removed from the minimum mandatory sentence from the crime of aggravated assault. The previous statute included defendants who fired warning shots, or those that were not intended to cause any harm but to scare away a possible attacker.

  • As it stands today, if you carry a firearm on your person in the commission of the listed felonies, you automatically receive at least 10 years in jail:
a.     Murder;
b. Sexual battery;
c. Robbery;
d. Burglary;
e. Arson;
f. Aggravated battery;
g. Kidnapping;
h. Escape;
i. Aircraft piracy;
j. Aggravated child abuse;
k. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
l. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
m. Carjacking;
n. Home-invasion robbery;
o. Aggravated stalking;
p. Trafficking in cannabis, trafficking in cocaine, capital importation of cocaine, trafficking in illegal drugs, capital importation of illegal drugs, trafficking in phencyclidine, capital importation of phencyclidine, trafficking in methaqualone, capital importation of methaqualone, trafficking in amphetamine, capital importation of amphetamine, trafficking in flunitrazepam, trafficking in gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), trafficking in 1,4-Butanediol, trafficking in Phenethylamines, or other violation of s. 893.135(1); or
q. Possession of a firearm by a felon (Only 3 years if a first possession, 10 years if more)
(If burglary of a conveyance, 3 years minimum if a firearm is possessed.)
  • If you caused great bodily harm or killed someone while committing one of the crimes above, you will serve no less than 25 years.
  • The number of years is increased if a semi-automatic firearm is used. If a defendant possesses a semi-automatic firearm, it is an automatic minimum of 15 years. If one is fired, 20 years. If one kills a person, 25 years minimum.

Can I expunge my arrest?

Most crimes with few exceptions can be expunged (removed) if the case was subsequently dismissed. The majority of any sexual related offense is not subject to expungement,  nor a drug trafficking offense.

Many first time defendants are given a diversionary program option. If you complete the program, the state attorney will then dismiss the case. It could also be if the Judge dismisses the case based on for instance a suppression issue. Keep in mind that you only get this option ONE time. If your case is not dismissed but the Court withheld adjudication (did not convict you), you may be eligible to have the case sealed. A sealing will prevent the average person from being able to discover it. Keep in mind though that military, law enforcement and academia can still see it even if it is sealed. With an expungement, the records are actually destroyed. The link below is the statute itself with links to the offenses that prohibit expungement or sealing.

Our office does handle expungements and sealing. Sometimes the process is 2-3 months, sometimes as much as 6 dependent upon how backlogged the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is at the time of the application. Call us today at (850) 469-8118 to see if you qualify.



Can a grandparent be arrested for interfering with custody of their grandchild?

Absolutely! In Florida, Section 787.03 provides that whoever, without lawful authority, knowingly or recklessly takes or keeps a minor child from their lawful guardian, even if in foster care, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. This can also apply to parents.

Grandparents who may have  rocky relationship with their own child or the other parent of the grandchild, should have something in writing which allows you to have possession of the child, even if it is a handwritten note signed by the parent. Take that extra step to protect yourself.


Can I leave my child alone in the car?

I think there is an unwritten rule that every parent has heard if not repeated, “Never wake a sleeping baby.” I’d suggest breaking the rule if your child is in a car. According to Florida Statute 316.6135, you cannot ever, for any period of time, leave your child unattended if the child is less than 6 years of age in a car with the engine on.  It is a traffic citation.  You then would have to look at the word “unattended.” For instance, if you could still see your child from a store window, is that unattended? Now if you leave a child under the age of 6 in the car when the engine is off or on, for more than 15 minutes you can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. A second degree misdemeanor is punishable by 60 days in the county jail and up to 60 months on probation. If great bodily injury happens as a result of the child being left alone, it is then a 3rd degree felony. (Up to 5 years in prison.)

What is interesting, is in Florida (hot as heck in the summer), that means it is not a crime to leave your child in a hot car for up to 15 minutes. That doesn’t make any sense. Easier to embrace the crankiness of your child, and wake him/her up.