St. Augustine – Come on Vacation, Leave on Probation
St. Augustine, Florida, one of the most beautiful and historic cities in all of America. With its beautiful sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and moderate climate, St. Augustine has become a favorite vacation destination for thousands of people every year. They flock to see Fort Matanzas, Nombre de Dios, and the Fountain of Youth. They come to stay in grand hotels like the Casa Monica and eat in wonderful restaurants like the new Salt Life Food Shack on St. Augustine Beach. Many even decide to come to St. Augustine to start their lives together and get married in one of the many historical churches and ride to the reception in a horse drawn carriage. Whatever the reason for coming, many unfortunately have run-ins with the law while here.
As a criminal defense lawyer practicing in St. Augustine, Florida, I regularly get calls from people who were in town on vacation or for a wedding or a business trip and have found themselves under arrest. A young man from Michigan was in town on a business trip with a group of other management trainees from his company. They had gone out to dinner in Ponte Vedra before returning to their hotel on Vilano Beach. Drinks had been had and the noise level from the after party occurring at the pool had brought out the hotel manager. He was asked to return to his room, which he did. However, when he got there, he realized that his cell phone was missing. The manager saw him return to the pool deck and called the St. Johns County Sheriff. While still looking for his phone, he was arrested for disorderly intoxication by deputies who were not interested in his reason for being back at the pool. His career and spotless criminal record in jeopardy, he was calling for help. It was a Sunday morning and his flight home left on Monday morning. He needed to know before he left that someone would be fighting for him and working hard to defend him against this potentially devastating charge. I met with him at my office that Sunday, and listened as he described his story and what was at stake. I gave him detailed steps to take once home and told him I would take care of the rest. I was ultimately able to negotiate the terms under which the State Attorney would dismiss the case, and this young man’s career was saved. This case is an example of how knowledge of the local criminal justice system and a dedication to client service pays off.
Another client who comes to mind is a woman from Louisiana who had come to St. Augustine for her anniversary. After a beautiful day of sightseeing, she and her husband had taken a walk down St. George Street and around downtown. They found themselves in a local tavern talking with another couple who was also here on vacation. As the night wore on, the other woman became more and more flirtatious with her husband. When she confronted the woman, it became clear that the other couple was interested in more than just chatting at the bar. All she could ever tell me was that the other woman’s comments about what she wanted to do with her husband so shocked her that she swung her beer bottle and hit her in the head. Needless to say, she spent the night in the St. Johns County Jail having been arrested for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Her husband called me that night. He had been given my name and cell number by a local former client of mine who was at the bar and had seen what happened. My wife sings in our church choir, is the president of the PTA at our kid’s school, and has never even had a speeding ticket he said. She is being charged with a felony, she can’t go to prison he said almost choking on the words as he said them. Please, please, help her he begged. This is absolutely the type of case that makes being a criminal defense attorney worth all of the hard work. When I saw this woman the morning after she had been bonded out of jail, she was wrought with remorse and sadness and wanted to know if the other woman was ok. I told her I would find out and also convey her concern. Defending a client against a serious felony, especially when the injury could have been so much worse is always difficult. However, when the positive qualities of that client can be expressed to the prosecutor and victim, and other mitigating factors found during the investigation good things happen. This client left St. Augustine on probation; but it was misdemeanor, not felony.
At the Albaugh Law Firm we pride ourselves on our dedication to our clients no matter where they are from and how serious the crime is they are facing. Our knowledge of the local St. Augustine criminal court system sets us apart from the other attorneys. We welcome the opportunity to help you whenever the need arises.