CRIMINAL DEFENSE - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FLorida Criminal Defense Law - FAQs
- What are my rights if arrested?
- The police came to my house and want to do a search. Should I let them in?
- The police stop me and ask me questions. Should I answer them?
- Can the police search my car if I am stopped for a civil infraction (speeding, following too closely, etc.)
- Is there any possibility of cleaning up my criminal record?
- Can I represent myself? What can a lawyer do for me?
- How does bail work?
- Will my case be tried before a judge or a jury?
- Is driving over the speed limit a crime?
- What do I do if I am falsely accused of a crime
If you are arrested, you have several constitutional and statutory rights afforded to you. First and foremost, you have the right to remain silent. You actually have this right before you are arrested if you are detained by law enforcement and they are asking you questions about a crime. You also have the right to have an attorney at all critical stages of the prosecution. Unless you are charged with a crime that is punishable by life or a violation of probation, you have the right to have a reasonable bond set. If you are charged with a felony, you have the right to depose the witnesses against you. You have the right to know and see all of the evidence the State of Florida intends to use against you, i.e. police reports, witness statements, video tapes, scientific evidence, reports of experts, etc. Finally, you have the right to a jury trial. Unless you are charged with a capital offense, the jury will consist of six people. Please call us if you have any questions concerning your rights.
If the police come to your home and want to conduct a search, you do not have to let them into your home unless they have a search warrant. If they have a warrant, they are allowed to enter and search your home. However, before entering, they are required to knock and announce their presence. If they break into your home without first knocking and announcing, you may have a basis to suppress the results of the search. Additionally, law enforcement has to convince a judge that they have "probable cause" to believe they will find specific evidence in your house before they can obtain a search warrant. Sometimes, even after a warrant has been obtained and search has taken place, it may be determined that law enforcement did not, in fact have sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant and that the original judge should not have signed the warrant. In these types of cases, it is possible to have the evidence gathered from the search suppressed.Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
If you are stopped by law enforcement for a legitimate reason, i.e. speeding, you should answer all of the routine questions. (name, address, etc.). However, you are not required to consent to a search of our car. You do not have to answer any questions that do not deal with the ticket you are receiving. If you are stopped on the street for no apparent reason (called a "consensual encounter" by the courts), you do not have to answer ANY questions, including "what is your name?" if you do not want to. You are free to keep walking and not respond to the officer or simply answer with a polite, "No thank you". Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
NO, unless they have probable cause to believe they will find evidence relating to a crime in the vehicle. Generally, when a law enforcement officer asks you if they can search you, your car, or your home, it means that they do not have a legal right to do so. If they don't have a legal basis to search, they can still search if you give them permission. Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
Many times, people are eligible to have their record sealed or expunged. There are a variety of factors that will determine if you are eligible For this service. The most basic requirement is that the case was either dropped or you received a "withhold of adjudication" when you went to court. If you are a convicted felon, you may be eligible for a restoration of civil rights. Please call us at (407) 500-0000 if you have any questions regarding your eligibility for these services.Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
Yes, a person is allowed to represent him or herself in court; this is called Pro Se representation. However, we strongly recommend that a person (even a lawyer) not represent him or herself for several reasons.
First, there are specific procedures set forth in the applicable rules (for example, The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure) that must be followed. Failure, to follow the procedural rules can have a severe adverse impact on a litigant's case. Also, there are complex rules regarding evidence that a person without a legal background will not be aware of as well as many other points of law that will be missed by a person who is not well versed in a particular area of law. Additionally, in all criminal cases, the State has a lawyer representing them in prosecuting any one charged with a crime in court. Finally, a person with an emotional and personal interest in a case may not make the best choices regarding how to proceed on a case; this applies to attorneys who want to represent themselves as well.
If you are found guilty of a felony in the State of Florida you will become a convicted felon and, as a consequence, you will lose your civil rights. If you are not a U.S. citizen you can even be subject to deportation. A criminal defense attorney knows what the State must prove to get a conviction for every type of Criminal offense. He or she also understands the possible defenses to those crimes, which puts criminal lawyers in a better position when defending a case. Remember that you should always consult an attorney before pleading guilty or no contest to any criminal charge.Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
A Bail is the legal instrument that allows a person being charged with a criminal offense to be temporarily released from jail pending the outcome of his/her case. The bail usually establishes a sum of money that must be forfeited by the bondsman if the accused fails to appear in court for trial. A Bail may be posted in two ways. A bondsman can be hired and for 10% of the amount of the Bond will post security, or the defendant my post the full amount which will then be returned at the close of the case.Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
The U.S. Constitution gives a person accused of a crime the right to be tried by a jury in almost all cases. In Florida, as well as in most States, the jury must arrive at a unanimous decision to either convict or acquit. The potential jurors must be selected randomly within the community, and the actual jury must be selected by a process which allows the judge and lawyers to screen out biased jurors. Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
Traffic violations can be felonies, misdemeanors, or infractions. Felonies and misdemeanors are crimes, but infractions are usually not thought to be part of the criminal justice system. Driving over the speed limit is usually classified as an infraction in many States, including Florida, and is not considered a crime. Speeding is usually punished by a fine. These fines increase in proportion to the amount over the speed limit for which the ticket is written. Back to Criminal Defense FAQs
Being innocent does not guarantee you that the charges will eventually be dropped or that a jury will find you not guilty. There are many people in jail found guilty of crimes that they did not commit. If you are accused of a crime you did not commit, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call us at (407) 500-0000 or fill out our contact form for legal help. Our emergency assistance is available 7 days a week. Back to Criminal Defense FAQs