Leonard S. VillafrancoI, Leonard S. Villafranco, would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my family, colleagues, friends and supporters for all of your generosity, kindness and shows of affection during this campaign. While we were not successful in our bid for St. Lucie County Judge this time around, I can honestly say that this experience has been one of, if not the most rewarding experiences of my life.

This journey has been an amazing learning experience for me, and has contributed to my individual growth as a person, as an attorney and as a future judge. Throughout this campaign, I developed many new friendships. Friendships that I believe may very well last a lifetime. While I am going to thank certain folks by name, if I fail to mention any of you specifically, please know that I appreciate absolutely all of you!!.

While a Judicial Candidate is prohibited from endorsing any candidate for public office, while on the campaign trail, I did have he opportunity to get to know and develop what I sincerely hope will be longstanding friendships with many of them. First and foremost, we had the opportunity to personally get to know and develop a special friendship with the Honorable Phillip J. Yacucci, Jr., and his lovely wife, Maria Luna Yacucci, and I congratulate him on his reelection. We often found ourselves campaigning side by side and the mutual respect was endearing to me, while the friendship that developed between Maria and Tonya was very special. We look forward to continuing that relationship. We also had the opportunity to get to know his opponent, attorney Stephen Smith, Esq., and while their race was in fact quite heated, Stephen and Jen treated us with nothing but kindness and respect.

We also worked the campaign trail with many of the other fine candidates, including Port St. Lucie Mayor Joann Faiella who has become a very good friend. Now that I am no longer a Judicial Candidate, I can honestly say that Mayor Faiella, despite some bad press, has proven to be a mayor that truly cares for the people of Port St. Lucie and is a true friend to any small business in this area. Other mayoral candidates, including James Rich and Joe Edge have also proven to be very viable candidates, good friends and successful local business and networking associates, and I know that they will be successful in all of their future endeavors.

Tonya and I also appreciated all of the kindness and help of many of the other candidates on the campaign trail, including our neighbor, Donna Mills, who I congratulate on her success! While her opponent, Jeremy Thiesen, was unsuccessful in his campaign, he has also become a good friend, and along with James A. Taylor, successful candidate for Port St. Lucie City Council, both have promised not to make fun of my karaoke singing. I would also like to thank Andriana Chris Riera and her husband, who, while also unsuccessful in her bid for public office, worked so hard and was a great help with signs. Let’s have dinner soon!!!

All of the other candidates and their individual supporters that we met on the campaign trail, thank you for all of your kindness!! It was a wonderful experience getting to know you all and I sincerely wish you the best in all that you do in the future!!!

I also want to thank Elizabeth Marks, whose hard work with my events introduced me to many many new supporters and contributors.

The local business community of St. Lucie County has also been a tremendous support system. All of the members of the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce, where my law firm has been a member for the better part of the past 10 years, have been so helpful with my journey. Additionally, the great folks at the Opportunity Network have stood by my side, both as a business man and as a candidate. Mike Mulleady and his wife, Cindy, came through in a pinch with many of our marketing needs, while Eric and Lori Finkel have been so helpful. Local restaurants, including Tutte Fresco West, Rinelli’s Yellow Tail and Hurricane Grill generously supported my campaign by holding events and providing wonderful food.

Scott and Nancy Camire, you have been my best friends for the past 10 years. You are my family and I love you both for your emotional support as well as for your financial support! I know that I can always count on you in all that I do, and I want to assure you both that you can take comfort in knowing that I will always be by your side as well.

My Son, Michael Villafranco and Gabrielle Pinyati, along with my Daughter Brittany and my Step Daughter Elizabeth Nilsen, and my Cousin, Susan Majors, and my sister, Melissa Villafranco were out there holding signs, taking part in my events, gathering petitions and supporting my bid for public office, along with my law office legal assistant, Stephanie Burgess. I love you all.

My Mother, Helen Villafranco has been the most caring mother any grown man can ever ask for. You have been by my side through this entire endeavor. It’s nice to know that even at age 54, a boy can always turn to his mom. And Robert Crook, my mom’s partner, has proven to be the best of friend and supporter. Welcome to the family!!!

I want to also take this opportunity to thank my father, Leonard Villafranco, Sr. You were the finest man that I have ever known. Not a day went by when I didn’t think about you or talk to you. You were missed every day, and I felt how proud you were of me every step of the way.

Saving the best for last, my true love, Tonya Nilsen. You have supported me every single minute of every single day. You put up all of the ups and downs of this incredible journey. Dealt with bad moods and frustrations, and shared each and every moment of joy and happiness. I could not have done it with out you!!!

I also want to thank the people of St. Lucie County. It has been my honor to serve you as an attorney and as a volunteer, and I look forward to continuing serving you. I appreciate all of your support and your many votes. It was a very tight race, and as they say in the movies…”I’ll be back!”

Lastly, I wish to take the opportunity to congratulate Al Moore for his success. Al has been a true gentleman and a respectful opponent. Not once did either of us take any cheap shots nor did we negatively campaign against each other. While I really did not know Al prior to this campaign, I respect his experience and have no doubt that he will make a fine Judge. If I can help in any way, please ask.

If you were not mentioned by name, please know that I appreciate each and every person that supported and contributed to my campaign in any way. My life is better because of each and every one of you.

Sincerely,

Leonard S. Villafranco

Saint Lucie Nation Republican Party
Saint Lucie Nation Republican Party

Leonard S. Villafranco, Marco Rubio and Tonya Nilsen at the Annual Lincoln Day Dinner

On Wednesday May 1st, 2013, Port St. Lucie Attorney Leonard S. Villafranco and his fiance, Tonya Nilsen, joined local business owners, politicians and civic leaders in welcoming U.S. Senator Marco Rubio to the St. Lucie Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Polish American Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  Mr. Rubio, a prominent and rising star in the Republican Party, spoke about what it means to be a conservative Republican in the 21st Century, telling us that as Republicans, we have to apply our principals in a way that speaks to the way real people live their lives.

He stated in his speech, that “we celebrate those who have succeeded and want them to continue to succeed.  We are the party of people who today are workers, but one day want to be owners.  We are the party of employees that one day aspire to be employers.”

When asked whether he aspired to run for president in 2016, he said that he has his plate full right now and doesn’t have time to think about the future quite like that.  He did have a lot to say about immigration reform, that most people are not concerned about addressing the needs of the people who are here now illegally. That most American realize that we can not round up and deport 11 million people.  We have deal with them in a way that is responsible and fair.  Marco Rubio says that the Immigration Bill will not pass as it is currently written, so he is working hard with other members of the U.S. Senate to amend it.  He says the current Bill does not go far enough to make sure the that the government does it’s job of securing the border.

Port Saint Lucie Criminal Attorney

Domestic Violence/Battery

Port Lucie Criminal Defense Attorney - Stuart Criminal Lawyer

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco P.A.
(772) 871-6441 or (772) 288-7338

Treasure Coast Florida families often find themselves facing domestic violence and battery charges, especially when going through a divorce or a custody battle.  When one member of the family is charged with domestic violence, they find themselves in a difficult and emotional situation.  These charges have consequences that extend beyond criminal records.  You should fully expect the state Attorney’s office to arrest and prosecute you for domestic violence, once the police are called to the scene.  And when that occurs, you need to act quickly to defend yourself against these charges.

Here at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, P.A, the attorney is experienced at defending people charged with domestic violence and battery.  Our firm, located in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, will guide you through every stage of your case.  With the legal experience needed to defend his clients, Leonard Villafranco is familiar with the court system in Saint Lucie and Martin Counties.  Contact us immediately to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

Florida Domestic Violence Crimes

Domestic violence often erupts between family members after a simple misunderstanding. However if the police arrive, the chances are very high that someone will go to jail.  If domestic abuse charges result simply from a family dispute, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney like Leonard Villafranco immediately.  He recognizes that the most successful resolution of family disputes occur outside of the courtroom.  We will contact both prosecutors and the attorney for the spouse/victim directly in an effort to resolve the situation without going to trial.

While domestic violence is commonly associated with a fight between a husband and a wife, it can be any physical contact between husbands, wives, children, domestic partners, or people living in a close relationship. Domestic Violence occurs when a family member injures or commits any violent offense against another family member.  Some examples are:

  •  Assault or Battery
  • False Imprisonment of Kidnapping
  • Sexual Battery (Rape)
  • Stalking
  • Any offense resulting in physical injury or death

Florida created a domestic violence court to handle these cases.  If convicted, an individual can face the following penalties:

  • Jail time and probation
  • Restraining order – petitioned by the victim
  • No contract order – issued by a judge
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Permanent stain on your criminal record

Defenses to Domestic Violence

Defending domestic violence cases are difficult, because deeper issues usually caused the altercation in the first place. These defenses can include:

  • Alcohol, Drug, or Substance Abuse
  • Child Custody Disputes
  • Injunctions Proceedings
  • Mental Health Issues
  • Pending Divorce, or
  • Spiteful Family Members

With these things in mind, the best way we approach a domestic violence case in Stuart or Port St. Lucie, Florida, is to develop a plan that will result in the dismissal of the case whenever possible, and also bring harmony between you and the accuser.  Remember that in Martin and St. Lucie County, just because the accuser agrees to “drop the charges,” under Florida law, only the State Attorney has the power to dismiss the charge.

Criminal Assault and Battery

Florida law defines assault as an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to another person, coupled with an apparent ability to do so.  It must also include actually doing some act, which creates a well-founded fear in the other person that such violence is imminent.  A battery is the actual unlawful and willful touching, striking, or causing bodily harm to a victim against his or her will.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

In addition to the statutory penalties applicable to any criminal offense, domestic violence charges also carry the following enhanced penalties.

  • Minimum mandatory jail time of five (5) days in jail
  • Mandatory 26-29 week Batterers Intervention Program
  • Ineligible to ever have the charges sealed or expunged from your criminal record
  • Forfeit your right to have a gun while on probation, even for a misdemeanor
  • Your concealed weapons permit will be revoked

Domestic violence charges can have far reaching repercussions both to you individually and to your entire family.  Criminally speaking, the state Attorney’s office may charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the severity of the altercation.   The charges may also affect the outcome of your divorce action, how the court may distribute you assets and debts, and issues concerning custody and visitation with your children.  To speak to an experienced lawyer in Stuart or Port St. Lucie, contact the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, P.A. to schedule a free initial consultation.  We defend people throughout the Treasure Coast of Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Port Saint Lucie, Fort Pierce, Okeechobee, Vero Beach, and Sebastian.

 

Port Saint Lucie Attorney Leonard S. Villafranco Successfully gets Drug Charges dropped against one his clients

Port St Lucie - Stuart Criminal Lawyer

Leonard S. Villafranco P.A.

Client is charged with attempted manufacturing of methamphetamine, use or possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis, a third degree felony punishable up to five (5) years prison time. State’s offer is an adjudication of guilt for all charges and a sentence of 3 years Drug Offender Probation. Port St. Lucie criminal attorney Leonard S. Villafranco, after discovery and depositions, successfully gets all charges dropped!

Port St Lucie Office (772) 871-6441

Stuart Office (772) 288-7338

 

If you involved in a rear-end traffic crash in South Florida, you may ask, “is the rear vehicle behind you automatically at fault?”  The answer is “Probably, but not always!”

Rear End Accident

In South Florida, there is a rebuttable presumption that the negligence of the rear driver in a rear-end traffic crash was the sole cause of the accident.  Still, this presumption may be rebutted when evidence, which fairly and reasonably shows that the rear-end collision was not result of the rear driver’s negligence.  Courts have recognized three specific situations which may rebut this presumption:

 

  • Affirmative testimony regarding a mechanical failure;
  • Affirmative testimony of a sudden and unexpected stop or unexpected lane change by the car in front; and
  • When a vehicle has been illegally and, therefore, unexpectedly stopped.

 

These situations create a rebuttable presumption that shifts the burden to the rear driver in a rear-end collision to come forward with evidence that “fairly and reasonably tends to show” that the presumption of negligence of the rear driver is inappropriate.  If the rear-driver presents evidence at trial that fairly and reasonably rebuts the presumption of negligence, the issue of negligence must then be presented to the jury for determination without the aid of the presumption.

Because of these complex situations, it is important that you retain a Stuart or Port St. Lucie accident attorney immediately after being involved in a rear-end crash.  The days after a rear-end traffic accident are crucial to investigate whether the at-fault driver will be raising one of the three above situations that may rebut their presumed negligence.

Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney Leonard S. Villafranco has been representing those injured in Florida car crashes, motorcycle accidents, and other personal injury matters for years.  His Stuart and Port St. Lucie locations are centrally located for your convenience.  Call now to schedule a free case evaluation with Martin and St. Lucie County Personal Injury Attorney Leonard S. Villafranco.

Port Saint Lucie Office
(772) 871-6441
 
Stuart Office
(772) 288-7338

 

We have moved our Port Saint Lucie Office to:

10850 S. Federal Highway
Port St Lucie, FL 34952
(772) 871-6441
(772) 380-9503 Fax
 

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco

Divorce can be very difficult.  You and your family can greatly benefit from the knowledge and experience of a Port Saint Lucie – Stuart Family Lawyer.  The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco has joined forces with the Law Office of Hayley B. Colina, P.A. to offer our clients a wide range of new services including Bankruptcies (Ch. 7), Foreclosure defense, Real Estate Closings, Short sales,  Loan Modification, Condominium & Homeowner Association, Estate Planning & Wills and Trust.  As you can see at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco we can handle any and all of your legal needs.  Whether you are in Port Saint Lucie or Stuart and are facing a Foreclosure or have decided to file for a divorce or modification of an existing Parenting Plan or Child Support, Leonard S. Villafranco Esq. and Hayley B. Colina Esq. are here to help you with your legal needs. From DUI Defense to Personal injury the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco has the experience and knowledge to help you.  Please give us a call at our Port Saint Lucie location at (772) 871-6441 or at our convenient Stuart Office at (772) 288-7338.  The Law office of Leonard S. Villafranco is here to help you in your time of need. We understand that this time could be one of the most difficult and traumatic times in your life and your family’s lives.  That is why, the Law office of Leonard S. Villafranco offers you the support, attention and consideration that you deserve.

 

Port St. Lucie Office
(772) 871-6441
 
Stuart Office
(772) 288-7338

 

 

New Florida PIP Law: A Victory for the Car Insurance Companies

Port St. Lucie injury attorney discusses Florida’s new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law HB 119, passed by a slim margin in the Florida Senate on March 10, 2012.  The new PIP law is considered a victory for insurance companies as there are now several provisions placing limits on the amount of PIP benefits, litigation and monies paid out for claims that are the result of auto accidents.

Port St Lucie Personal Injury Attorney

Leonard S. Villafranco P.A.
(772) 871-6441 or (772) 288-7338

Auto insurance companies believe that personal injury protection lawsuits are the cause of insurance rates on the climb.  Florida is a no-fault state and requires all drivers to carry the basic PIP insurance with limits of $10,000.00 in coverage.  However the present law lacks restrictions on types of medical treatments covered or on attorney fee limits.  This system is, according to the insurance companies, full of loopholes and flaws and was in need of reform.  Their position was that old system allowed for “frivolous medical treatment” and “opportunities for needless litigation”.

What does the new PIP law provide for care accident victims?

This new bill provides strict and rather unfair definitions of what constitutes medical treatments and covered injuries.  Under the new PIP law, accident victims must seek medical treatment within an extreme timeline of 14 days (two week) from the date of the accident.  Further, your medical treatment is only permitted from specified licensed medical physicians.  Acceptable treatment providers include emergency services determined by a physician, osteopath, dentist, physician’s assistant or registered nurse practitioner.  Chiropractor visits are now limited to $2,500 and can only be used after a referral from a suitable health care provider.

The new law excludes massage therapists and acupuncturists, which were previously covered under the old PIP law.  The severe nature of the new Florida PIP law greatly cuts the funds available for those injured in auto accidents and is troublesome to many consumer protection advocates.  The law also greatly limits the types of treatments covered under PIP.  Those who seek a more holistic, less intrusive type of treatment are left out all together by the new law, a disturbing reality to many.  Florida Auto accident victims will be forced to rely on their health insurance rather than the $10,000 of medical benefits they were previously entitled to receive.

The new bill contains provisions for the reduction of consumer rates, which seems like a victory for the consumers.  However the bill brings about a plan for insurers to reduce rates only 10% by October 1, 2013 and 25% by January 1, 2014 or they are to provide a “detailed explanation” as to why the rates were not reduced.  The proposed rate reduction does not seem to equal out in policy premiums, a questionable fact which has left many consumer advocates puzzled.  As the PIP coverage accounts for a relatively small percentage of a total insurance premium, the 25% reduction is rather insignificant.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you must contact your medical provider within 14 days.  Then call Stuart or Port St. Lucie auto accident attorney Leonard S. Villafranco at (772) 288-7338 or (772) 871-6441.

For two decades, the divorce rate among baby boomers has grown by more than 50 percent.  A recent research study from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, called “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” predicted that the number of divorces for couples older than age 50 could easily surpass 800,000 per year by 2030.  In comparison, more than 600,000 people, age 50 and older got divorced in 2009 — or one in four; while in 1990, only one in 10 couples aged 50 and older got divorced.

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, P.A.
(772) 871-6441 or (772) 288-7338

That study also found those over 50 in a second or third marriage (as opposed to a first) has a 150 percent greater likelihood of divorcing.  Over the past several years, we have seen an increase in older clients coming to the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco and filing for divorce.  It is quite fascinating to see research that explains this rather new circumstance.

So what is it that is causing older couples to divorce?  After researching the “gray divorce revolution,” the study explains that some reasons for this unexpected increase in baby boomers divorcing are the economy, relationship history and the current views of marriage and divorce in today’s society.

The amount of women in the workforce has also increased exponentially within the past few decades.  Women now have a source of income and the option to support themselves rather than stay in a less-than-satisfying marriage.  The AARP recently released a study that found approximately 67 percent of older-adult divorces are actually initiated by women.

“In my professional experience, I have found that if a person has been divorced before, they are more likely to divorce again,” says Mr. Villafranco, a Stuart, FL divorce attorney.  The study found that more than half of the divorces of those aged 50 and above were already in remarriages.  Your relationship history can have a significant effect on your potential to divorce.  America’s divorce rate is one of the highest in the world.  This tells us that divorce is not taboo anymore and has become more of a norm in American culture.   The study found that society’s view of marriage and divorce has influenced the increase in divorces among older couples.

With the growing acceptance of divorce and the shift in society’s expectations of marriage, divorce has become the accepted solution to providing individual happiness among baby boomers who are not satisfied with their marriage.  Sociologists, as well as divorce attorneys in Port St. Lucie and Stuart, FL, believe that this growing trend in older couples divorcing will continue to develop.  Will the idea of “growing old together” completely disappear with this new movement?

If you have questions about divorce or the Martin and St. Lucie County family courts system, contact the family law offices of Leonard S. Villafranco P.A. at (772) 288-7338 or (772) 871-6441 for your private consultation.

High Dollar Divorces

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco works very closely with skilled and experienced forensic accountants, computer and digital forensic experts, vocational evaluators, psychologists and other high end professionals to accurately identify the facts and to help you achieve the legal results that you desire.

Leonard S. Villafranco
(772) 288-7338

One of the most difficult areas of the Treasure Coast Florida divorce process is the division and valuation of marital assets. This is very common when couples own or buy a business during their marriage or have business assets and or business debts that are shared including business bank accounts, personal bank accounts, retirement bank accounts, investments and other complex assets.

The South Florida Courts begin with the presumption of equal equitable distribution of marital assets.  This includes any and all property accumulated during the marriage including a house, condo or other dwellings, automobiles, investments, business interests, real estate, bank accounts and any other property obtained during the course of your marriage.  One issue with high net worth divorces is that not all Florida family attorneys are experienced in handling a high net worth divorce.  Many Stuart and Port St. Lucie family law attorneys are not experienced in examining tax returns, partnership and shareholder agreements, and financial documents.

Carefully identifying, valuing and separating all the assets and liabilities in a high net worth divorce is a multifaceted task that requires a meticulous investigation, and specialized legal and business knowledge and extensive legal experience.  Leonard S. Villafranco has the critical experience necessary in order to properly differentiate marital and non-marital assets.

If you’re net worth is at stake, contact Leonard S. Villafranco for a private consultation.

Stuart Office
(772) 288-7338
 
Port St. Lucie Office
(772) 871-6441

 

Some of our clients at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco have a common question concerning child support; whether or not a parent has to pay support if the children are receiving social security payments as a result of a parent’s disability.

Social Security Disability

Social security payments do not eliminate the obligation to pay child support.  However, a disabled parent does receive credit for social security that is paid for the benefit of the children.  In some cases, especially where the disabled parent has no other income, these payments may actually exceed the support obligation.

Under the Florida child support guidelines, social security benefits are considered income for purposes of calculating the parents’ child support obligation.  Specifically, under section 61.30(2)(a)(8), the social security benefits are treated as income to the disabled parent.  However the disabled parent also receives credit for paying support equal to the amount of the social security received on behalf of the children.

In Williams v. Williams, 560 So. 2d 308 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990), the trial court failed to credit a disabled father for social security payments received by the mother on behalf of their three children.  The court ordered that, in addition to the disability funds the mother received directly, the father also had to pay child support out of his own disability payments.  As a result, after satisfying his child support obligations, the father had no money from which to live.  The First District found that the court erred when calculating the child support guideline amount by failing properly to account for the social security payments received by the children.  In most cases, the social security payments will exceed the disabled parent’s obligation to pay support.  This is especially true where the disabled parent has no other material income.

The fact of the matter is that, to make any determination, you should still have Stuart, Florida, family law attorney Leonard S. Villafranco or other qualified person apply the Florida child support guidelines, properly taking into account any social security benefits paid to the children.

Divorce Enforcement Attorneys in Florida

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco

After a divorce is finalized, you may find that you need additional legal counsel to seek the enforcement of an original order.  You may not be receiving child support or the full amount of spousal support you are entitled to receive.  At the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, we will take a strategic and aggressive approach to recover the full amount you are owed and work to ensure the enforcement of an original order.

We are experienced in protecting our clients’ right to enforce an original divorce order.  Call now to learn how to achieve results in your case.

You can reach us at (772) 288-7338 or (772) 871-6441 to speak with an experienced attorney or contact us by email.

 

Enforcement of Support and Custody Orders

When a court order entitles you to custody or financial support, you have the right to have that order enforced.  If you are seeking the enforcement of a child support, alimony or custody order, the Stuart Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco can help assert your legal rights.  We may seize assets, foreclose on property, or take other approaches to pursue civil or even criminal penalties. Attorney Leonard S. Villafranco has the experience, strategies and skills to fight for your rights.

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco is experienced in enforcement proceedings, including:

  • Enforcement of child support: We can take legal action on your behalf to collect all support payments in arrears or currently due;
  • Enforcement of spousal support/alimony: We can help seek the enforcement of an alimony order if you are unable to collect spousal support payments;
  • Enforcement of custody or parenting plans:  We can help you seek a custody arrangement or enforcement of a parenting plan if one parent does not show up or extends arrangement.

Defending Enforcement Proceedings

Uncertain economic times may make certain payments and financial obligations impractical, or even impossible.  If you are unable to pay child support or spousal support because of a job loss, business loss or illness, it is important that you know your rights and your obligations.  You may also be facing wage garnishment or loss of your driver’s license.  However, with the proper legal representation, you may be able to seek a modification or negotiate a payment plan to prevent civil penalties or even jail time due to an inability to pay.  For more information about your legal options to defend your rights in an enforcement proceeding, please contact our office.

Contact the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco to speak directly with an experienced Stuart and Port Saint Lucie, Florida lawyer regarding the details of your case.

Credit cards accepted • Reasonable legal fees • Easily accessible • Call (772) 871-6441 or (772) 871-6441 for a consultation or case evaluation.

Please also feel free to schedule a visit to our office conveniently located 900 SE Ocean Blvd, Suite 126C, Stuart, FL 34994 or 10850 S. Federal Highway, Port St Lucie, FL 34952

Breathalyzer Test

If the Breathalyzer machine that you blew into was broken, would you even know?

The answer is: probably not.  Yet South Florida Courts allow prosecutors to argue to a jury that your breath test results are scientific evidence.   If your results are over a .08, they can argue that you are guilty of a DUI based only on the breath test results, even if you passed the field sobriety test. Fortunately, there are realistic defenses to the breath test results that Stuart DUI Attorney Leonard S. Villafranco could utilize to win your case at trial.  Or possibly leverage a reckless driving reduction on your behalf. The majority of these defenses result from the prosecutor’s difficult job of proving substantial compliance with the Florida Administrative Regulations regarding the Breath Machine.

There are some important questions your Port Saint Lucie DUI Attorney must consider in every case where a breath test is in evidence.  If the State of Florida cannot prove substantial compliance with these rules, your DUI Lawyer may be able to exclude the breath tests results from the court.  This can be the difference between winning and losing your DUI case.

Was a monthly inspection performed?

Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.006(1) requires that the breath test machine be inspected monthly.  If the police agency missed the required inspection, or if the machine failed inspection, then your results may possibly be suppressed. It is important for your South Florida DUI attorney to check both the month before and the month after your breath test sample to see if the machine passed the inspection both months.

Was the Annual Inspection Performed?

The State of Florida must also be able to show substantial compliance with the annual agency inspection to be sure that the test passed muster.  These records should be checked in every matter to make sure the breath test machine you were subjected to have passed the required tests.

Does the Breath Test Operator Have a Valid Operator’s Permit?

It does not take much to obtain a breath test operator’s permit.  As long the operator is 18 years old and passes the required minimal test, he or she can get a certificate.  However the rules require the operator to renew his breath test permit every four years.  Has the DUI police officer that took your breath test allowed his or her permit to expire?  Did he or she have a proper permit to begin with? In every case with a breath test result, the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco can do a public records request to see if both the breath test operator and the agency inspector have the proper certification.

Did the Gases Used in the Breath Machine Expire?

The machine requires certain gas canisters to work.  They have expiration dates.  Your Treasure Coast DUI Attorney can order the records to make sure the proper components are not expired.

Did the Operator follow the 20 Minute Observation rule?

When did you provide the breath test sample?  Was it after the officer had observed you for 20 minutes to make sure you did not burp or belch or regurgitate?  If he did not ensure this happened, then he did not substantially comply with the rules, and the results may be inadmissible in the court. Did he let you go to the bathroom during the 20 minute period preceding the test?  Did he do paperwork?  While most Martin and St. Lucie County police officers follow the rules for the observation period, some officers may make mistakes, may walk away and leave the suspect alone for several minutes before giving the breath test. This may lead to your breath test being thrown out of court.

Flow Sensor Issues with the Machines?

The flow sensor on the Florida breath test machines is intended to measure both flow and breath volume during testing.  Accurately measuring the flow and breath volume ensures the collection of a proper sample of breath for analysis.  Without routine inspections of the instrument’s flow sensors, the performance of the flow sensor cannot be validated.  In recent years, problems with the flow sensors in breath test machines have been arising around the state of Florida.  In certain cases, we can retain experts to complete a thorough audit of the particular machine you tested on to see if the flow sensor is operating properly.  A poor flow sensor may be grounds to throw out the breath test result.

Give us a call at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco at our Stuart office at (772) 288-7332 or our Port St. Lucie office at (772) 871-6441.

Stuart DUI attorney may be able to suppress the breathalyzer results.

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco

There are certain rules and regulations that Martin and Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Department, local Police and Florida State Highway Patrol Officers are required to follow in order to perform Blood-Alcohol Content tests (BAC). Before a breath test is given, a driver must be watched for a 20 minute observation period to be sure the subject did not vomit, belch, touch lips, tongue, or ingest any liquid or objects. If any one of these things happen, it is possible that an inaccurate BAC reading will occur. Very often the police do not fully perform the 20-minute observation period and conduct the breath test anyway. Failure to properly conduct an observation period can also render the breath test results inadmissible in a criminal trial or driver’s license suspension hearing.

During the 20 minute observation period, the police officer is required to sit in front of the DUI subject and watch their activities. During this period the officer is to note if the subject makes any admissions, has watery eyes, stumbles, falls down, goes to sleep, smells of liquor and anything else that may tend to incriminate them.  In some instances we have seen an arresting officer state under oath that the certified breath technician administered the observation period, while the certified breath technician will testify that the arresting officer performed the observation period.  This contradiction in testimony may result in a reinstatement of driving privileges.  In other instances, the officers did not perform a full 20 minute observation period. This may also result in the reinstatement of a client’s driver’s license and may possibly result in the breath sample being excluded from a criminal prosecution.

No matter if the facts of your DUI arrest are so bad that you think you should just plead guilty or if in fact you are not guilty, you need an experienced Port St. Lucie DUI Attorney to handle your legal defense. A DUI conviction can and will severely impact your life. Don’t take the chance; call DUI Lawyer Leonard S. Villafranco today and schedule a free consultation. Stuart Office (772) 288-7338. Port Saint Lucie Office (772) 871-6441.

Here at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, many clients are surprised to find they are not legally recognized as the father of their own children in the eyes of the Martin and St. Lucie county courts.  Yes, even if they are on their child’s birth certificate!  In Stuart and Port Saint Lucie Florida; unless you are married to the mother of your children, the Court’s may not recognize you as father of your own children.

Imagine this

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco

In today’s society it is becoming more common place for a mother and father to live together as a family with their children without getting married.  Many times, the mother and father will live together and raise their children together.  The father may or may not have his name on the child’s birth certificate.  As long as the mother and father are getting along as a happy couple, everything is fine.

However when you break up and your significant other moves out, who is the father of your children?  While paternity has never been legally established, “Dad” may have been there since the day the children were born.  You both payed the bills, helped to bathe, clothe, feed and cared for the children.

After all of these years, you have had a happy relationship and you made a home.  It all seemed great!  Now it’s not.  Mom may leave, and she wants to take the children with her.  Dad wants to maintain his place with his children.  There is hurt and hard feelings.  Maybe mom does not want dad to have a relationship with his children at all.  Maybe dad wants someone else to care for the children.  And who is responsible for support, care, medical insurance and the like?

If a father is not recognized as the legal father of the children, he may not have any rights.  Yet he may still have responsibility to pay support!  In the above scenario, there may be nothing to stop the mother from keeping the children from the father, or allowing him to see them only when she wants to.  If paternity has not been legally established, then dad may have not have any rights, yet may still have the financial responsibility.  You must consult with Leonard S. Villafranco, an experienced Stuart, Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce family law attorney.

 How do you establish Paternity?

Florida Statutes 742, et. al, lays out the procedure that Paternity can be legally established.  In Stuart and Port St. Lucie, Florida there are four ways to establish paternity

DNA

  • Acknowledgement of Paternity — the other party will agree, then both parties can sign an acknowledgment of paternity, and then file it with the clerk of court.  This can be done at the hospital at the time of the birth of the child, or at a later date.
  • Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing — a legally binding order that will come into effect after the father takes a DNA test establishing paternity.  This is controlled by Fla. Stat. 742.12.
  • Court Order — Paternity is established by order of a judge in a St. Lucie, Martin or Palm Beach County Court.
  • Legitimation — if the child is born out of wedlock, and the mother and father later marry, and the child’s name is changed on the birth certificate, the child is “legitimized” in the eyes of the St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach County Courts.

So my children’s mother won’t let me see them, what do I do now?

If things have gone this far, it is time to call the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco at (772) 288-7338 in our Stuart, FL office or (772) 871-6441 in our Port St. Lucie, FL office to help establish rights and responsibilities, including time-sharing  with your children.  Time-sharing and establishing a parenting plan is now the proper legal terms for what use to be called child custody in Florida.  The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco can file the appropriate pleadings, serve them to all parties involved, and begin to work out a parenting plan and time-sharing agreement that will ensure that each parent remains a vital role model in the lives of the children.

DUI

Law Talk
By: Leonard S. Villafranco

Treasure Coast DUI Attorney

Driving under the influence of alcohol or DUI has various terms of explanations in each state. While most rules and regulations are similar, there are a few differences.  In Martin and St. Lucie County, Florida, DUI is considered a very severe offense; therefore we have very strict DUI laws and regulations. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Stuart, Jensen Beach, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce or Okeechobee the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco can help.

Every person operating a motor vehicle gives implied consent to take a chemical breath test when suspected of drunk driving by a police officer. These could be tests to determine your level of alcohol in your blood (Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level or UBAL) and urine. Roadside tests are performed on the side of busy highways and are designed for you to fail. There are also some specific tests that are performed if the police suspect you have been involved in an accident or vehicular homicide. While you have the right to refuse to participate in the road examination, if you do refuse, you will be arrested and you will lose your license.  Remember you are on camera.

DUI is considered a very serious offense because of the increase risk of damage property, injury or death.  For that reason, DUI is one of the most costly criminal offenses in Martin and St. Lucie County, Florida.  An immediate penalty of $250 is imposed for a first time conviction upon being charged with DUI in Martin and St. Lucie County, Florida.  Fines may go up to $500 based on your UBAL during examination.  Fines can therefore be very costly, depending on the severity of your offense.  Fines can be as large as $500 to $1000 or more if your blood alcohol level is 0.20% or above.  Martin and St. Lucie County DUI laws are increasingly strict and penalties can be much higher and more severe if this is your second or third offense.  However, just because you’ve been arrested does automatically mean you will be convicted.  Stuart DUI attorney Leonard S. Villafranco is available to defend all of your right and challenge the evidence against you.

In Martin and St. Lucie County, Florida we take our DUI laws very seriously and therefore if convicted of “Driving under the Influence of Alcoholic Beverages, Chemical Substances or Controlled Substances” law, you face strict sanctions and penalties enforced by law. According to the law, a DUI arrest could be made if the driver has 0.08% of alcohol present in the urine, blood, or breathalyzer. You have a very limited window of opportunity to defend yourself.  Port St. Lucie DUI attorney Leonard S. Villafranco can help you protect your rights.

If you are convicted of a DUI that resulted in damage to life and property, convictions could result in a fine, loss of license, community service, permanent criminal record, vehicle immobilization, higher insurance rates (SR-22), and even imprisonment. Convictions in Martin and St. Lucie County, Florida for DUI violations can lead to imprisonment from six months for your first convictions and up to thirty years for repeat offenders or more serious cases.   Fort Pierce DUI attorney Leonard S. Villafranco will inform of your rights, options, and alternatives; especially in severe cases.

Below is an example of the Martin and St. Lucie County DUI sanctions according to the offense.  This is not meant to be a complete resource and is for informational purposes only. Please Call the Stuart and Port St. Lucie DUI attorney Leonard S. Villafranco at (772) 288-7338 or (772) 871-6441 for a DUI consultation and a better understanding the law and your rights.

Fine Schedule 316.193(2)(a)-(b), F.S.

  • First Conviction: Not less than $250, or more than $500. With Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $500, or more than $1,000.
  • Second Conviction: Not less than $500, or more than $1,000. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000.
  • Third Conviction More than 10 years: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,500. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $2,000.
  • Third Conviction within 10 years: Not more than $5,000. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle. Not less than $2,000.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not less than $1,000. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle. Not less than $2,000.

Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Fort Pierce and Okeechobee, Florida DUI laws require certain legal procedures that must be followed in all cases. It is better to hire the services of an experience Martin and St. Lucie County DUI attorney in such cases.  The Stuart, Florida DUI attorney Leonard S. Villafranco is capable of providing guidance regarding your rights if arrested for a DUI offense.  Mr. Villafranco will review the facts of the case, handle court procedures, and resolve your standing on the case. Mr. Villafranco can also carry out negotiations on your behalf for claim settlements.  Mr. Villafranco may also be able to help with alcohol rehabilitation programs and request the court for clemency by proving that you are changing for the better.

Sanctions could include a DUI School in Port St. Lucie, Stuart or Fort Pierce, FL. This is a 12-hour class for first-time DUI offenders.  There is also a component of the DUI School called a psycho-social evaluation. This is done to determine whether or not the state of Florida feels you have a problem with alcohol or an alcohol addiction.

Martin and St. Lucie (Rock Road) County jail is a very real penalty that could result from a DUI conviction.  You could be incarcerated for up to six months.  While you may not necessarily receive that type of sentence for a first-time DUI, it is possible under Martin and St. Lucie County Florida Law in certain circumstances.

You may be required to complete a victim impact or victim awareness panel. This is a four-hour class in which local Martin, Okeechobee and St Lucie County people speak whom has either been a victim of a DUI or have a family member that has been a victim of a drunk driver.

Depending whether you have performed the breathalyzer test and what the results were, you may be facing a fine between $500-$1000, a driver’s license suspension of 6 months to a year, an impound or immobilization for 10 days, court costs in most jurisdictions. You will be made to pay a cost of prosecution, which is you paying the state for prosecuting you on the DUI charge and depending on the breathalyzer test you may have to install a court ordered interlock ignition device. This device requires you blow into it to start your car and then randomly blow into it at other points to ensure you are not driving under the influence. Call the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco  at (772) 288-7338 or (772) 871-6441 to discuss all your legal options

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