Criminal Defense FAQ
In a domestic violence case, can I be charged if it is just her word against mine?
Yes, if a law enforcement officer gets called out to respond to a domestic dispute, they can arrest you based on probable cause if they believe that you committed a battery or a domestic violence battery. Yes, someone accusing you of that is sufficient for an arrest. However, it may not be sufficient to prove the case. Any time you’re accused of battery or domestic violence, the state has to prove that you touched somebody against their will, and that it was without permission and that it was without some type of defense, for example, self-defense. It’s always smart to consult with an attorney to see what possible defenses you have and what to do.
How can I find out if I have a warrant?
Some warrants are public, meaning that we can go online and do searches for them through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or other local agencies that might offer that information online. Many warrants, though, are not public, so it might be that you won’t be able to find out if there is a warrant for your arrest without going through an attorney to make an inquiry of the sheriff’s office. If a lawyer represents you, they might be able to put in a request with your information to determine whether there’s a warrant for your arrest and then, if there is, to make arrangements for you to to turn yourself in, to do what’s called a walk through, which will assist you in getting through the process much faster. If a bond or bail has been set, you can post that bond or bail, go in through the process on an expedited basis, and get out but, again, not all warrants are public, so you may not be able to always determine if, in fact, there’s a warrant for your arrest.
How do I get out of jail after an arrest in Florida?
Many arrests in Florida are bondable offenses meaning that when you’re arrested, that charge comes with a certain dollar figure of bond that must be posted. You can post a cash bond if it’s a lower dollar figure or you can go through a bondsman who will charge a premium for you to be released. Typically that can be done without going before a judge. However, there are certain types of offenses that require a first appearance before a court before you can be released. For example, domestic violence, fleeing and alluding a law enforcement officer or other variety of charges might require that first appearance. In either case, unless you’re charged with a life felony or a felony violation of probation, you should be able to post a bond.
Can I fight back if I am arrested after an illegal search?
Absolutely. If a search was done contrary to your rights and the Constitution, your attorney can file a motion to suppress. All that means is bring it to the judge’s attention that you believe that law enforcement acted in a way that’s contrary to your rights, that as a result of law enforcement’s misconduct, evidence was obtained that would otherwise not have been obtained, and that that evidence should be thrown out in court and not used against you. If a search was done in a way that’s impermissible or unlawful, your lawyer has an opportunity to challenge that evidence in court through a motion to suppress.
I was given a ticket and released with a date to appear in court, what do I do?
If you’ve been given a ticket that requires a court appearance, then obviously you need to go to court. That being said, you may be able to hire an attorney and have the attorney go to court for you. It’s important to take a look and see what your options are. The citation is really what they call a written arrest in a criminal defense case, meaning you’re signing that ticket, saying instead of getting arrested, I promise to show up. It’s obviously better than the alternative, which is getting arrested and having to post a bond. Certainly, show up to court, but better yet, hire a lawyer and let them handle it for you.
What are the steps in a criminal proceeding in Florida?
Criminal cases in Florida have a very specific flow or process. For example, someone gets arrested, they go to jail, they post bond. If they don’t post bond before initial appearance, they’ll go before an initial appearance judge to verify that there was a basis for the arrest and make sure that a bond is set if it’s a bondable offense. After the initial appearance, if the state attorney’s office chooses to file formal charges or if the prosecuting entity chooses to file formal charges, you’ll go before the court on what’s called an arraignment. After an arraignment, which is a formal notice to you of what the charges are, your case will be scheduled for either a pre-trial conference or some type of docket sounding when you, your lawyer, the prosecutor and the judge will discuss the status of the case. These things take weeks and sometimes they even take months in more serious offenses. Consult with your attorney about what you can expect from him or her as it relates to the timetable of your case, what each of these proceedings might require of you, and how you can best assist your attorney in making sure that you’re well-prepared for those various appearances.
What is the difference between detention and arrest in Florida?
In Florida, a detention isn’t as formal as an arrest, meaning you can be detained if an officer believes they have reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed. The level of suspicion necessary for a detention is lower than the level necessary to make an arrest. That’s one of the primary distinctions. Another distinction is if you’re being detained, and you’re being detained in a way that you’re not free to leave, and you’re being questioned, at that point it’s actually similar to arrest, in that in both scenarios you’re entitled to be Mirandized if they’re going to question you and they want those statements that you make in response to those questions to be admissible in court. They’re similar but distinct enough that it may have a role, or play a role, in whether or not you should be Mirandized, and whether or not you have right to counsel at that point. Those are the primary distinctions between detention and arrest.
What is the difference between sexual assault and rape in Florida?
Rape and Sexual Assault are really interchangeable terms. Anytime somebody is accused of committing a sex offense where violence is used for the purposes of committing or attempting to commit a rape, we’re dealing with sexual assaults. Those terms are somewhat interchangeable, one being a little more formal, the other being a little more conversational, but the conduct alleged is really the same. It’s a very serious high-ranking felony offense. It’s one that typically scores a number of years, even as a first-time offender, in prison. It also requires lifetime registration as a sex offender, which comes with a whole slew of additional consequences and considerations. If you or a loved one is being accused of any type of sexual conduct or sexual violence it is imperative that you not speak to anybody about the case other than a lawyer, and other than in a confidential setting because those charges are very serious, and need to be treated with the utmost consideration.
What should I do if I get a call that a loved one has been arrested?
If a loved one’s been arrested, I’d make two phone calls. First, call an attorney. Find out what information they might be able to secure for you to assist in determining are they bondable, can they be released from jail, and what are the conditions. The lawyer may be able to point you in the right direction as to posting a cash bond or even going through a bondsman. If the attorney’s not able to answer some of the bond questions, the second call would be to contact the bondsman directly. Bondsman will be able to assist you in posting a bond in higher cases. If the bond is only two or three hundred dollars, you can certainly always post it in cash. The cash bond will stay with the case until the case is closed and at the end of that case will either be applied to the court costs or returned to the depositor. If you need to get help on securing your loved one’s release, call a lawyer and/or call a bondsman.