Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce FAQ

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First, you must have been a resident of Florida for more than six months immediately prior to filing for a divorce in Florida. Second, since Florida is a no-fault state the only question is whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. So, basically if one party wants out of the relationship the other party cannot prevent it.
No, but as with all important legal decisions, it is always better to have a trained and experienced divorce professional at your side during the stressful time of a marital separation and dissolution.
In a divorce the Court has to resolve multiple legal issues, such as division of property and debts, parenting plan and time sharing for minor children, and entitlement to alimony. If the parties can reach a complete agreement as to how each of these issues is handled, then the case is considered to be "uncontested" and the parties agreement is reduced to writing in a marital settlement agreement.
If you cannot agree on how to resolve all of the issues, then the case is 'contested' and must be resolved by the judge. This means that one of the parties will have to take the step to file a petition for dissolution and have the other party served with a summons to court where the issues will be resolved by the judge. This does not mean that the case cannot be amicably settled during the contested divorce proceedings as the attorneys for the parties will continue to negotiate for an amicable settlement and the Court will require the parties to attend mediation in order to attempt a settlement.
Every contested case is different. If the case is uncontested the case can usually be finalized within 60 days after the marital settlement agreement is signed by both parties, if not sooner.
Court costs in Hillsborough County are about $425 for the filing fee. If the other spouse has to be served with process the fee for having a process server or deputy sheriff serve the papers is usually another $50. So, the costs are about $500 for filing for a divorce.
Lawyers are professionals who charge for the time they spend helping their clients. Obviously, an uncontested case takes less time than a contested case. Thus, lawyers are usually able to quote a 'flat fee' for an uncontested case because the amount of time to complete an uncontested case can be predicted by the attorney. Contested cases are a different story altogether because there is no real way to predict how much time an attorney will have to spend on the case. Therefore, most attorneys required a retainer fee up front to become engaged in a contested divorce and bill by the hour against the retainer fee. When and if the retainer fee is exhausted a replenishing retainer fee is required to continue the litigation.
The Court can require that a spouse with substantially more income than the other spouse pay for the attorney for the needy spouse. This is done to make sure that both parties have equal access to competent legal advise during the divorce case.
In a contested divorce case the Court will allow either party to set a temporary hearing wherein the Court will make a temporary order regarding payment of bills during the litigation, a temporary parenting plan and time sharing, temporary alimony, temporary exclusive use of the marital residence, and any other orders that are necessary to preserve the status quo during the case. The temporary order are just that - temporary. At the conclusion of the case the judge will enter a final judgment which may or may not resemble the temporary order.
If there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances from those that existed at the time the last final order was entered, the Court can modify an existing court order or judgment.
Yes, typically. Child support and alimony are based upon the need of the receiving party and the financial ability of the paying party. So, a substantial increase or decrease in income will generally be enough for a modification of support.
If there has been a substantial change in the circumstances and it is in the best interest of the children, the Court will adjust the time sharing schedule.

Criminal Law FAQ

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You should always ask for an attorney BEFORE you talk to the police about an alleged crime in which you are a witness or target of an investigation.
NO, you do not have to give consent to let the police search your car. If you do consent, and the police find some illegal contraband (for example, illegal drugs; a prescription medicine that is also a controlled substance (for example, Xanax or Oxycotin) that is not yours; illegal weapons; or even alcohol if you are under 21 years of age); then the police can arrest you for the possession of that illegal contraband. However, if the police have a search warrant, or if you are already under arrest, the police can search your vehicle without your permission.
Yes, you may required to give samples, even against your will.
If you are arrested ask to speak to an attorney before communicating with law enforcement. If you are incarcerated, ask the person you call to bail you out of jail to contact an attorney to protect your rights.
If you watch TV, then you have probably heard a Miranda warning at least once or twice. The Miranda Warning goes like this . . . "You have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire. If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time."
Whether you are at the jail, in the back seat of a law enforcement vehicle or at the scene of a crime, a law enforcement officer (the police) must give you a Miranda warning if they want to question you and use your answers against you in a criminal prosecution and trial. You should always ask for an attorney BEFORE you talk to the police about an alleged crime in which you are a witness or target of an investigation.
Arraignment is the court date at which a defendant pleads “Guilty”, “Not Guilty”, or “No Contest”. The smartest and safest thing to do is to plead “Not Guilty” and to ask the Judge for time to hire an attorney as soon as possible, if you have not already done so.
Bail is set by a judge in an amount the Judge deems sufficient to insure that the person charged with a crime will show up at the next court date.
Bail must be reasonable and can be paid in cash (commonly called a “cash bond”) or by putting up property to stand for the bail or by having a bail bond company put up a bond by paying a non-refundable bond premium equal to 10% of the amount set by the court (commonly called a “surety bond”). If a person charged with a crime has strong ties to the community it is possible for the Judge to be release the defendant on their own recognizance without posting a bond. This is unusual, but it does happen on occasion.
The Office of the State Attorney makes the decision on what charges to file against you. The Office of the State Attorney usually begins the prosecution by filing the charges in a document called the “Information.” The “Information” is a document that spells out what specific crimes that are being charged against the accused.
In certain cases (usually first offenders) the state attorney will consider allowing the accused to go into a type of intervention program that is like being on probation for a period of time, usually from one year to eighteen months to see if the accused can prove that he or she can function as a law abiding citizen. If the program is completed, the state attorney drops the charges and the and then the accused may be eligible to have the criminal history expunged or sealed. The Office of the State Attorney has sole discretion on which people are allowed into the program, and which people are not.
Call the attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill for a consultation and case evaluation.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill can help you navigate the system and many times we can contact the state attorney before crimes are filed to assist in reducing or eliminating the charges.
It happens all the time. A police officer pulls over a car for a traffic violation. The officer might see some contraband (drugs, etc.) in plain sight. Or the officer might request permission to search the car, and the driver is so scared that he gives permission, and then the police officer finds some contraband (drugs, etc.) in the glove compartment, under the seat, etc.
Florida law does allow for the sealing and/or expungement of your criminal record under certain circumstances. The criminal lawyers at Byrd & Barnhill are willing to evaluate your particular situation. Call 813-759-1224 for a consultation.
No. Even if you participated and successfully completed an MIP or PTI program, or some other pre-trial diversion program, your criminal history is still freely available for anyone with a computer or even a smart phone to look at. The sealing/expunging process is completely separate from the MIP or PTI program.

Auto Accident FAQ

Click on the questions for the answer.
Go to the doctor or hospital. Do not be hesitant to have the police call an ambulance if you have been hurt. If you do not go to the hospital, get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. The onset of many injuries is delayed with symptoms occurring only days or weeks later.
The first priority is always getting the best medical care. Once that is assured, call an attorney to protect your rights.
You should not discuss the specifics of how the accident happened or the extent of your injuries until you have first contacted an attorney to represent your interests. If you are called by the other driver’s insurance adjuster remember that insurance adjusters are well versed in auto accident law and you very likely need an attorney at law on your side who is equally well versed in Florida no fault insurance law to give you advice on how to handle the insurance adjusters.
NOTHING. Take advantage of the free case evaluation from the attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill who represent auto accident victims on a contingent fee basis - which means that there are NO up front fees or costs. You pay nothing to the attorneys unless they obtain a recovery for you. So, there are no fees or cost unless you win.
No. The worst mistake you can make is failing to promptly call an attorney to take your side in this complex area of the law that can make a huge difference in your life going forward.
The attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill will review the facts of your accident and present you with your options. If you have a valid claim we will present it to the at fault driver’s insurance company. If a settlement cannot be reached we will discuss the option of filing a lawsuit against the at fault parties. If a lawsuit is filed, your case may be referred to an attorney with recent jury trial experience at no additional costs to you.
You are entitled to full and fair compensation in money damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and damage to your automobile. You are also entitled to compensation for future loss of earning capacity, future medical expenses and future pain and suffering.
PIP is your part of your insurance policy required by law in Florida and provides $10,000 of medical and disability coverage regardless of who caused the accident. So, your medical bills and other covered damages (such as lost wages and mileage to see the doctor) up to $10,000 will be paid by your own insurance PIP also pays mileage and 60% of your lost wages every two weeks upon submission. a policy with a PIP deductible. Your policy most likely covers a certain amount of medical bills regardless of fault. There are some complex rules that will allow you to maximize the use of these overages. So, call us at Byrd & Barnhill for a free evaluation of your case.
Florida law requires that the other party provide information regarding their liability insurance coverage. If the at fault has coverage for bodily injury and property damages, their insurance company will provide a defense to your claim and it takes a skilled personal injury attorney to make sure that the proper steps are taken to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled
In addition to PIP and MedPay your insurance company must offer you coverage for damages caused by drivers who do not have any liability insurance or who are underinsured. Thus, if you are injured by a driver without insurance or insurance that is too little to pay your damages, you own company will pick up the remainder of your damages up to the maximum amount of coverage you have purchased. issues.
Call the attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill for a free case evaluation.
We will refer your case to a jury trial lawyer who will file suit in your case for no additional fee. We will be paid a portion of the litigation attorney's contingent fee as a referral fee. However, the fee that you pay will not be more than the normal contingency fees paid pursuant to the rules regulating Florida lawyers.

Plant City Lawyers

Johnnie Byrd and David Barnhill

Johnnie and David have experience in family law, criminal defense, probate and guardianship, auto accident law and business and construction litigation. Read more about Johnnie Byrd and David Barnhill.

Personal Attention

You will work directly with the attorney handling your case and your calls and emails will be returned promptly so that you are always informed about the status of your case.

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Reasonable Fees

Our commitment is to charge you a fair and reasonable legal fee; however, we cannot quote an exact legal fee until we have evaluated your case. After a consultation by phone or in person, you will know where you stand legally and what it will cost to hire us.


Johnnie Byrd and David Barnhill have 50 years combined experience representing clients in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties. We help clients resolve matters involving auto accidents, family law, probate, guardianship, DUI, criminal and business law.


As your lawyer, we will be dedicated to helping you find a solution to your legal problems - and above all, to having the peace of mind that your legal issue is being handled by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at law.

Free Parking
Conveniently located just two blocks from the Plant City Courthouse
206 North Collins Street
Plant City, Florida 33563
Telephone (813) 759-1224
Fax (813) 759-1101