Robert Trachman

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Frequently asked questions

Family Law FAQs

Criminal Law Defense FAQs

 

Family Law FAQs

Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?

Although having an attorney is not required, it may be in your best interest to have an attorney represent you in your matter. An attorney is a trained professional who is experienced in the legal process and who has an ethical duty to zealously represent you. Having an attorney is similar to having a doctor as opposed to having to rely on your own limited medical experience to treat your ailments.

Aren't lawyers just going to make the whole thing more complicated and expensive?

At The Law Offices of Robert H. Trachman, P.A., when it comes to family cases, we like to end with a win-win situation. In other words, we want our clients to leave the process feeling satisfied, and most importantly, we want to make sure that the best interests of the children remain at the forefront. It is important to remember that family cases often involve life-long relationships that may need to be maintained. We are committed to helping clients explore options such as mediation, marital settlement agreements, or anything else that may ease the stress of any family proceeding. We are prepared to protect your interests, and will guide you through the process.

Can I get a name change during my divorce?

Yes. A name change is very simple and can be done at the same time as the divorce proceedings.

What is the difference between a dissolution of marriage and a divorce?

In Florida, the legal term for a “divorce” is a dissolution of marriage.

My spouse cheated on me. Can I use that against my spouse?

Florida is a no fault state, which means you cannot use the fact that your spouse cheated on you as grounds for a divorce. Many times the issue of cheating arises if marital property was used by the cheating spouse. In this instance, the cheated spouse can sometimes get a more favorable ruling with regards to equitable distribution to reflect the wasted property.

What issues will be considered during a divorce proceeding?


Many lawyers use the acronym P.E.A.C.E. when explaining the issues in a divorce proceeding.
P: Parental Issues.
E: Equitable Distribution.
A: Alimony.
C: Child Support.
E: Everything else.

This acronym provides a brief overview of the divorce process. Make sure that you have a detailed discussion with your attorney about your situation.

I feel that my partner is threatening me. What can I do?


If you feel that you or your family is being immediately threatened by your partner, call 911 before anyone else. However, if you are currently safe, but feel that your partner may harm you in the future, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. There are various types of restraining orders available under Florida law and an attorney will help you throughout the process. You can proceed without an attorney, but having an attorney with the knowledge of the legal elements for each restraining order could mean the difference between a restraining order being granted or denied. When the security of your family is at stake, having an attorney on your side is a good decision.

What is a financial affidavit?

The financial affidavit discloses the assets, liabilities, martial property, etc., of each party, for the review of the other. This permits both parties to reach a more equitable disposition in a family case. The Court also reviews the parties financial affidavits in child support issues.

What are the attorney fees associated with a family law case?


Attorney fees vary greatly according to the complexity of the case or issue at hand. Usually attorneys have a fixed hourly rate per attorney and so does the support staff. The more hours the attorneys or support staff needs to work on a case, the more the costs will increase. That is why a party may seek the services of a mediator to help settle as many issues as possible. At the Law Offices of Robert H. Trachman, we help clients explore these cost-saving options.

My former partner is much richer that I am. He/She can afford an attorney, but I cannot. Am I at a disadvantage?


Not necessarily. One of the unique features in family law is fairness. This allows a less financially secure party have their attorney fees paid by the other. In other words, the party that has a need in financial assistance in obtaining legal services may have the other party contribute to these fees if they have the ability to do so. This helps prevent a richer party from out-litigating the other in order to gain an unfair advantage. Furthermore, judges are on the lookout of parties attempting to out-litigate the other party. If a judge senses a party trying to get an unfair advantage, the judge may sanction the violating party.

Can I get alimony? If so, how much am I entitled to receive?

The first issue when considering alimony is the need and ability to pay. The need refers to the need for alimony and the ability to pay refers to the paying spouse’s financial resources to pay alimony. There are then numerous factors listed in the Florida Statutes which guide courts and attorneys with alimony. Some of the factors include the length of marriage, the standard of living, the age of the parties, and the type of alimony the court should grant. Currently, in Florida, there are five types of alimony. These are temporary, permanent, rehabilitative, bridge the gap, and durational. In terms of the amount, there are no guidelines, like for child support, so each case is unique and will have a different type and amount of alimony.
 

Criminal Law Defense FAQs

I just got arrested. What happens now?

Being arrested is the first step in the criminal process. After being arrested, depending on whether you can post a standard bond, you will be presented to a judge, normally the next day, to determine if the police had probable cause to arrest you and maybe increase or lower your bond amount. This hearing is often called first appearance or magistrate court. After this, the police will usually forward their reports to the State Attorney's Office for a filing decision. Once the State Attorney's Office decides to file a charging document, usually called a criminal information, your next court date will be an arraignment. At the arraignment, the presiding judge will present you with the charges and ask how you want to plea. If you plea "Not Guilty," your case will be set for statuses at regular intervals in order to monitor your case until it gets resolved.

What are the chances of being acquitted at trial?

A jury trial can be the most difficult thing to predict. The cases of O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony highlight how, in some circumstances with strong evidence of guilt, a jury can return a verdict of not guilty. However, the inverse is also true where the prosecution's evidence is weak, but the jury returns a guilty verdict. As a result, to quantify the chances of being acquitted is impossible, but turns out to be about probabilities. You should have a very serious discussion about your probability of being acquitted at trial with your attorney. In any event, a trial should probably be considered as your last resort.

Will I have to go to trial?

This answer depends on you, but most cases resolve by plea. Some cases may get dismissed prior to a trial or the State Attorney's Office may drop the charges. Hiring a good attorney usually will maximize your chances of getting your case dropped or dismissed before trial or getting a better plea offer from the State Attorney's Office.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

This depends on many issues. For example, a simple case may be able to get resolved rather quickly while a more complex case will take longer. Some simple misdemeanors can sometimes resolve themselves within a few weeks or months, but some felonies can take years. This happens because for felonies, your attorney needs time to prepare a case, explore new defenses, take depositions, negotiate with the prosecutor, file motions, etc.

What is a misdemeanor and a felony?

A misdemeanor is any criminal offense punishable by less than a year. A felony is any crime punishable by more than a year. However, it is important to understand that the actual sentence received has no bearing on whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor. For example, if somebody gets convicted of a felony and only gets six months of probation, the person still got convicted of a felony because the maximum punishable sentence is over a year.

What are Miranda rights?

Miranda rights get their name from a United States Supreme Court case decision with a defendant named Ernesto Miranda. In essence, when law enforcement wants to interrogate a suspect in custody, the suspect must be told his rights under the United States Constitution. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right that your silence will not be used against you in trial, the right to an attorney before police questioning, and if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to represent you. Only when the suspect knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waives these rights can law enforcement interrogate the suspect.

Do I have to go to prison if convicted of a felony?

Not necessarily. The Florida Legislature, in an effort to standardize the sentences throughout the state, created sentencing guidelines. In these guidelines, every felony, either pending or as part of one's criminal history, are awarded a certain amount of points depending on various factors. If all these points add up to over 44 points, a defendant scores a minimum legal sentence which includes prison. If you are found guilty, the judge in your case can only deviate from the guidelines if the prosecutor agrees to a downward departure or your attorney files a motion for a downward departure. These downward departures are sometimes very difficult to attain, so you must make sure you and your attorney weigh your options carefully.

I'm on vacation in Fort Lauderdale and I just got arrested. Can I leave while my case is pending?

Whether you can leave depends on many factors. The most important factor is whether you can post your bond. If you are not from Florida, your bond is likely to be higher in order to assure your presence. Furthermore, you might need to appear, in person, at regular intervals for your court hearings. However, your judge may waive your presence, but this is not guaranteed and many factors will influence your judge's decision. For example it is easier to leave when charged with a misdemeanor than while charged with a capital felony.

What is pre-trial drug court?

Pre-trial drug court is a treatment based court program designed to treat offenders with a substance abuse problem or drug addiction. Pre-trial drug court is typically designed for non-violent first time offenders who are amenable and willing to do treatment. This program can last from one year to a year and a half. During this time, an offender is monitored by the court through various treatment providers. After a successful completion of the program, most charges can get dismissed.

What is post-adjudicatory drug court?

Post-adjudicatory drug court is a treatment based court program designed to treat offenders who commit crimes due to a substance abuse problem. The court program's goal is to allow prison-bound offenders with a criminal history become productive members of society by offering them treatment for their substance abuse problem in lieu of incarceration. Post-adjudicatory drug court is usually offered as an alternative to prison where no treatment would be forthcoming. Offenders must successfully complete one year of substance abuse treatment.

What is a motion to suppress?

Anytime a police officer or any governmental officer conducts a search or obtains a confession, an individual's rights under the Constitution must be protected. If an officer violates an individual's rights, courts may, through the exclusionary rule, suppress the ill acquired evidence or confession. A motion to suppress is, in effect, an argument that the governmental forces violated a defendant's rights and the obtained evidence must be suppressed. A court hearing is held for the government to present its evidence and attempt to show that the defendant's rights were not violated. If the judge agrees with the motion and finds that the evidence was illegally obtained, the evidence is suppressed and the prosecution is forbidden from using it against the defendant.

Is there a three strikes law in Florida?

Florida has its own version of the three strikes law. It is more complicated than "three strikes and you're out," but the basic principle is present. In Florida, this law is known as the habitual offender law. One of the law's main effects is to double the maximum permissible prison sentence. In other words, if a defendant qualifies as a "habitual offender," a crime with a 15 years maximum prison sentence could double to a 30 years maximum prison sentence.

What is a speedy trial?

Under Florida law, a person charged with a crime is entitled to a trial within a specified period of time. The law states that the prosecution must be ready in 90 days for a misdemeanor and 175 days for a felony. The time starts when a defendant is put in jeopardy. So the moment somebody learns of the charges against him or her, the clock starts ticking. However, this initial or natural right to a speedy trial may be waived by the defense. This does not mean that the right to a speedy trial disappears. At any time thereafter, a demand for speedy trial can be made. This demand gives the prosecution 60 days to be ready for trial or the case gets dismissed forever.

What is discovery?

In criminal trials, just like civil trials, the American judicial system is against surprises during trials. The goal behind this bias is to level the playing field and prevent one side from gaining an unfair advantage and allow the jury to make a correct verdict. In order for this goal to work, each side must give the other side a copy of their documents. Usually in criminal cases, this means that the prosecution must allow the defense to go through all of the police reports. This allows the defense to be prepared for trial with the same documents as the prosecution.

Do I need a lawyer?

Technically you do not need a lawyer if you are facing a criminal case. This is no different from the fact that you do not need a doctor if you feel a lump. You could always try and treat yourself or hope it goes away. However, the more prudent solution would be to see a doctor, and the same rationale applies if you are facing a criminal charge. Similarly to a doctor, an attorney is a trained professional who is experienced and has an ethical duty to zealously represent you at all stages of your case. And just like in the field of medicine, experience matters. With over 40 years of experience, Mr. Trachman will make sure your legal rights are fully protected.

 

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