Criminal Defense, DUI Lawyer, Family Law & Divorce Lawyer in Crestview & Fort Walton Beach
When you are facing a serious legal issue, it can cause immense stress and uncertainty in your life. Whether you’ve been charged with a crime or are dealing with a family conflict, you need a qualified attorney by your side to make sure your rights are being protected.
Based in Crestview, FL, The Law Offices of T. Martin Knopes provides quality legal services to clients throughout Okaloosa County in the areas of criminal defense and family law.
I’m Marty Knopes and have been practicing criminal and family law for 25 years. As an attorney, my first priority is to advocate for my clients’ best interests and vigorously work to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. No two cases are alike, and that’s why I take the time to learn about your specific goals so I can develop an effective strategy tailored to your needs.
Vigorous Criminal Defense For The Accused
Criminal charges, even minor ones, can have a devastating impact on your life. Florida has some of the harshest punishments for convictions in the country. In fact, the State’s Attorney’s office is now seeking jail time for those who have no prior criminal records. Beyond the threat of incarceration, you may be subject to substantial fines, probation, license suspension, and more.
Having previously worked as an Assistant State Attorney, I have a complete understanding on what it takes to assess both the strengths and the weaknesses of your case through the lens of both a defense lawyer and a prosecutor. Pleading cases out is absolutely not my first choice — to be clear, I will always consider all other possibilities before even entertaining the thought of any plea agreements.
The Law Office of T. Martin Knopes provides solid criminal defense for individuals charged with a wide range of felony and misdemeanor crimes including but not limited to DUI, domestic violence, shoplifting, robbery, murder, assault and any violations of probation or community control. With your freedom and reputation on the line, don’t take a chance with your future. Call today (850) 683-0700 for a consultation.
Okaloosa County Courthouse Information
Crestview is the county seat or government center in Okaloosa County. The Crestview County Courthouse is being torn down at this time. The courthouse is going to be rebuilt in the old location. In the interim, if you have been arrested in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, or anywhere in Okaloosa County, your case will be handled in the First Judicial Circuit at the Fort Walton Beach Annex Courthouse.
Proceedings may also be held at the Brackin Building in Crestview and the Fort Walton Beach Water & Sewer Building. Family matters are handled at the Okaloosa County Clerk of Courts at the Fort Walton Beach Courthouse.
Fort Walton Beach Courthouse
1940 Lewis Turner Blvd.
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
Attorney Marty Knopes has in-depth knowledge and familiarity with the local procedures and rules of the Okaloosa criminal and family court systems, which he can leverage for your benefit. He is well respected within Okaloosa County, FL and the Crestview community.
Differences Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in Crestview
In Florida, there are two classifications of crimes: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are typically less serious than felonies and punishable by up to one year in county jail, whereas felonies require harsher punishment and face longer prison sentences.
First Degree Misdemeanor: up to one year in jail, 12 months probation, $1,000 fine
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Boating Under the Influence
- Simple Battery
- Domestic Violence Battery
- Retail Theft/Shoplifting
- Possession of Marijuana
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Resisting arrest without violence
Second Degree Misdemeanor: sixty days in county jail; up to 60 days in jail; 6 months probation; $500 fine
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP)
- Driving while License has been suspended or revoked
- Hit and Run
- Aggravated assault, battery
- Drug possession (excluding marijuana)
- Felony stalking, cyberstalking
- Felony DUI accidents
- White collar offenses, fraud, embezzlement
- Theft, robbery, property crimes
- Florida guns and weapons offenses
- Sex crimes
The severity of penalties for felonies depend on its classified degree
- First Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 30 years prison sentence
- Second Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 15 years prison sentence
- Third Degree: Punishable by up to 5 years prison sentence
Get Acquainted with the Criminal Court Procedures in Okaloosa County
Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense, DUI Lawyer, Family & Divorce Attorney:
Arrest: The criminal process in Florida begins when an arrest is made, or you are given a Notice to Appear ticket, which informs you of the date and time you must appear in court. You have a right not to speak to the police until you have an attorney present.
Law enforcement can arrest you if they have probable cause to believe you committed a crime. This can happen by witnessing the crime being committed firsthand or after an investigation has been completed. If you are arrested, you will be taken to the Okaloosa County Jail to be “booked.” The booking process includes being fingerprinted, having your picture taken, and your clothes and personal items may be taken into custody.
The police officer who arrested you will generate a report called a probable cause affidavit which will list the charges against you. He/she will then send the affidavit to the local prosecutor’s office to be reviewed. After review, the prosecutor will decide to file the charges as was presented by the officer, add new charges, or drop the charges altogether.
First Appearance: Within 24 to 48 hours of your arrest, you will go before a judge who will read the charges against you. The judge will also set the terms of your pre-trial release, which can result in one of the following actions:
- you are released on your own recognizance with the agreement that you will return for future court appearances
- bond is posted (the amount is determined based on whether you are a flight risk, have a previous criminal record, seen as a threat to community)
- if you cannot afford bail, you can pay a bondsman a fee (approximately 10%) to post the bond
- denied bail and remain in policy custody
*Serious offenses like first-degree murder and domestic violence are non-bondable offenses.
Arraignment: 30-60 days after your arrest, you will attend an arraignment hearing where a judge will formally read the criminal complaint to inform you of the charges against you. The judge will also ask you if you have an attorney and whether you would like one appointed to you. At this point, give us a call! (850) 683-0700 If you’re already our client, Attorney Knopes will file a Notice of Appearance and enter a “Not Guilty” plea on your behalf.
Discovery: Criminal Defense Attorney Knopes will request discovery materials or all the evidence the prosecution plans on using against you. This may include police reports, lab results, photographs, breath tests, witness testimonies, etc. At this time, Attorney Knopes will examine the evidence to see if there are any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Depending on what he finds, he may decide to request sworn depositions of witnesses or file motions that challenge the evidence.
Plea Bargain: If the State Attorney’s case is weak and it’s in your best interests, Attorney Knopes may be able to strike a deal or plea bargain that would allow you to plead guilty to a lesser charge and thereby get a lesser sentence. You are under no obligation to accept a plea deal you are not comfortable with.
First Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Programs: If you are charged with a misdemeanor or third degree felony and have little or no prior record, you may be eligible to participate in a supervised diversion program. Diversion programs are offered through the State’s Attorney’s office and are designed to help first time offenders “divert” or avoid a conviction. If the program is successfully completed, the charges are dropped and the record is sealed.
Docket/Plea Day:The docket or plea day is meant to inform the court whether or not you will a.) be going to trial or b.) have accepted a plea deal or c.) will enter into a diversion program.
Trial:If your case goes to trial it will be heard by six or more jurors chosen from the community. A judge will declare guilt or innocence based on the evidence and testimony provided.
DUI Criminal Defense
In Florida, Driving under the influence (DUI) is sometimes referred to as driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level (DUBAL). You can be convicted of a DUI if the state can prove that you were driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
If you were arrested for a DUI in Okaloosa County, you may be feeling embarrassed and concerned about how much trouble you’re really in. A DUI charge in Florida is very serious and a conviction can have dire financial, criminal and driving consequences. The legal process for a DUI involves a criminal case heard in court and an administrative case handled by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
To avoid a license suspension call us within 10 days of your arrest. We can request a formal hearing with the DHSMV to contest the suspension.
If this is your first DUI conviction, your license will be suspended for no less than six months, however you can qualify to receive a Hardship or Business Purposes only license which allows you to drive to and from work, medical appointments, school, etc. To qualify for this license, you need to complete a counter attack school which is a 12 hour driving course and includes a drug and alcohol evaluation.
- Fine between $500 and $1,000 – With a BAL of 0.15 or more OR with a minor in the vehicle: $1,000-$2,000 fine
- 50 hours mandatory community service OR extra fine of $10 for every required hour of community service
- Probation and incarceration period of up to 1 year
- Up to 6 months of imprisonment – With a BAL of 0.15 or more OR with a minor in the vehicle: Up to 9 months
- 10 days of vehicle impoundment/immobilization
- Driver license revocation between 180 days and 1 year
- DUI school
- Florida license suspension for 6 months
- Fine between $1,000 and $2,000 – With a BAL of 0.15 or more OR with a minor in the vehicle: $2,000-$4,000 fine
- Up to 9 months of imprisonment – With a BAL of 0.15 or more OR with a minor in the vehicle: Up to 12 months
- 30 days of vehicle impoundment/immobilization – If this is the second conviction within 5 years
- Driver license revocation between 180 days and 1 year – If this is the second conviction within 5 years: Revocation for at least 5 years
- DUI school
- License suspension for 1 year
- Fine between $2,000 and $5,000 – With a BAL of 0.15 or more OR with a minor in the vehicle: Minimum $4,000 fine
- Up to 12 months of imprisonment – If this is the third conviction within 10 years: Minimum of 30 days of imprisonment
- 90 days of vehicle impoundment/immobilization – If this is the third conviction within 10 years
- Driver license revocation for at least 10 years – If this is the third conviction within 10 years
- DUI school
- License suspension for 1 year
DUI Criminal Defense Strategies
Even if it feels like the evidence is stacked against you, or that you blew — that doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty. There are numerous proven criminal defense strategies that can be used to get your charges dismissed or reduced.
- Challenge the legality of the traffic Stop: if the police officer did not have probable cause to pull you over, the evidence collected thereafter would be inadmissible and the case would be thrown out.
- Challenge the validity of the Field Sobriety Tests: the police officer may not have followed the correct procedures; certain medical conditions may have contributed to your behavior during the tests
- Question the accuracy of the Breathalyzer Results: the police officer may not have correctly calibrated the breathalyzer device which could lead to an erroneous reading. There are also many scientific reasons that may have contributed to you a false positive including residual alcohol in your mouth or a medical condition such as gastric reflux.
Compassionate Advocacy For Families : Deciding to end a marriage is never easy, especially if there are children involved. The Law Office of T. Martin Knopes handles family cases with great sensitivity and compassion. Whether you are considering filing for divorce, requesting child support, or determining child visitation schedules, we will support you through the process.
As a family law attorney, I help families get through the most difficult times in their lives. My goal is to encourage an amicable resolution to contentious issues but will not hesitate to fight fiercely for your interests in court if necessary.
Types of Divorce
Uncontested Divorce: An uncontested divorce allows you to quickly, amicably, and inexpensively end your marriage. If your divorce is uncontested it means you and your spouse agree on all the issues required to end your marriage — including property division, alimony, child custody, alimony and child support. Family law attorney Marty Knopes can help you create a marital settlement agreement to submit to court to get approved.
Simplified Divorce: A simplified divorce is a type of uncontested divorce available to couples who meet certain conditions, such as:
- no children in the marriage
- have divided your property and agreed to pay debts jointly
- one spouse must have been a resident for six months prior to filing for divorce
- agree that no alimony will be given
Contested Divorce: On the other hand, if you and your spouse disagree on how to resolve the issues in your divorce, you will go through the court process which will culminate with a judge ordering a final judgment of divorce. The process includes fling a a petition, exchanging financial disclosures, attending mediation, and if, necessary going to trial.
Filing for Divorce: In order to obtain a divorce decree in Florida, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for six months prior to filing the petition for divorce. If you meet the resident requirement, you would file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of Circuit Court’s at the Courthouse Annex Extension in Ft. Walton Beach.
Custody and Parenting Plans in a Florida Divorce
Florida family courts strongly advocate for the well-being of the children to be put first in a divorce and encourages parents to reach an amicable resolution regarding custody and time-sharing. To help facilitate productive discussions, you and your spouse may attend mediation with a neutral mediator. During mediation, you are required to develop a Parenting Plan, which essentially serves as a custody agreement. A parenting plan provides a comprehensive roadmap for how and your spouse will co-parent after the divorce.
A parenting plan typically includes but is not limited to
- parenting time schedule including holidays, birthdays,
- determination of who will have the responsibility in making decisions pertaining to healthcare, schooling, extracurricular activities, etc.
- child support information, which parent will claim child as a dependent for taxes, etc.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree to the terms of the parenting plan, the judge will determine the terms based on what is in the best interests of the children.
Division of Assets and Debts
If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement on dividing your property out of court, a judge will step in to decide for you. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that your marital property, assets and debts are equally divided. Although the presumption is that everything is divided 50/50, certain factors are taken into account which can adjust the distribution such as: the financial situation of each spouse, employment status, or who has child custody, etc.
Marital property includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. It doesn’t matter if property or debt is titled jointly or just in one spouse’s name. For example, if your spouse opened up a credit card during your marriage and you’re name isn’t on it, you are still jointly responsible for charges on card.
- real estate
- retirement accounts, 401K, pension
- credit card debt
- medical bills
At the Law Offices of T. Martin Knopes, we help clients negotiate property settlement agreements that are fair, reasonable and protect your financial stability. When negotiation is not effective, we will aggressively represent you in family court.
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