Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Criminal Defense
Many of those charged with a crime in Florida have little experience with the law, and they naturally have many questions. From information about how the local legal system works to the possible consequences of your charge, find answers to many common questions here.
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What’s the difference between a public defender and a private attorney?
The biggest differences are time and resources.
A public defender is employed by the state. They are required to take every case assigned to them. What does that mean? They have a HUGE caseload. They might be assigned to upwards of 200 cases at a time. And the more cases they have, the less time they are going to spend on yours. They might miss a critical element just because they’re so bogged down with other cases. Also—a public defender gets paid the same amount no matter how many cases they get stuck with, or how many cases they win/lose. They don’t have the same incentive to help you. They don’t have a business based on referrals.
You want someone who has a long-term interest in your success, and unfortunately, public defenders don’t.
Public defenders also have fewer resources. Their means of helping you are limited by what the state gives them access to. They don’t have an array of superior resources available such as private investigators, the way a private attorney does.
The best legal defenses take time and research. That’s why you are better off going with a private criminal attorney –one who can devote as much time as is necessary to win your case, and who has the resources to get the job done right.
The police didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. What does that mean for my case?
After an arrest a lot of clients will come in telling me that the police didn’t read them their Miranda Rights, and want to know what whether that will help their case. The thing with Miranda Rights is that they don’t kick in right away.
The cops are required by law to read you your Miranda Rights before conducting a “custodial investigation.” What does that mean? It means that you have to be in a situation where: 1) You’re not free to leave, 2) You’re being asked questions by a government agent (a cop), and 3) The questions you’re being asked would get an incriminating response out of you. So if the cops arrest you without asking you any questions, technically they don’t have to read you your Miranda Rights.
Now, of course there are times when the cops don’t read your Miranda Rights when they’re supposed to, and that’s another reason why you need an attorney. An attorney will tell you when you’re rights have been violated based on the information you provide.
I got a call from a police officer wanting to talk about a situation, what do I do?
If the police are calling wanting to talk to you about a situation, you want to call a criminal lawyer right away. I get this question very often, and no matter how friendly the officer may sound on the phone I cannot stress enough that you DO NOT WANT TO SPEAK WITH THEM. Don’t call them back until you have an attorney.
Whatever they say will be used against you. And they will use tactics to get information out of you.
For example, let’s say the cops call you regarding a domestic violence charge and you say “Yeah, I was there but he/she is making it all up to get custody of the kids.” This does way more damage then you think.
Your first mistake is that you just admitted you were there. The prosecution is required to prove that you were at the scene of the crime in every single case and you just did their job for them.
Your second mistake is that you just limited your defense. Stand Your Ground and self-defense laws in Florida are very defendant-friendly, but based on what you said to the cop they are no longer applicable to your case.
It’s impossible to know you’re making these critical mistakes if you don’t know the ins and outs of the law. That’s why your absolute best bet in this situation is to call and attorney. A good criminal defense attorney will make sure the police don’t trick you into giving up important information that will hurt you. Also – anything your lawyer says to the cops CAN’T be used against you.
We can advocate on your behalf. In some cases I’ve been able to convince the officer to close out a case as unfounded without an arrest.
Can I represent myself?
You can represent yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The legal system can be very complicated to navigate. There are all sorts of documents that need to be filed, and court and criminal procedures in place that you need to comply with. It’s not something you learn overnight, and you don’t want to let lack of knowledge, or failure to comply with a simple procedural rule hurt your case in any way. Good attorneys undergo years of training and experience. Through this experience we have acquired the tools and resources you need to best defend your case. Schedule a complimentary strategy session with my firm and we’ll go through your case with you to help you figure out the best way forward.
How do I choose the right criminal attorney?
There are two key factors to focus on: rating and reviews. Reading about the experiences of former clients will give you a good idea of who the attorney is, how well he treats his clients, and how he handles his cases. I recommend using Avvo.com, which is an excellent attorney directory. Google is also a great source for local reviews.
Once you’ve found a couple of highly rated attorneys in your area, definitely set up an initial consultation to discuss your case. During this consultation the lawyer should be focused on educating you about the process and coming up with a solid plan of attack for your defense.
*THERE SHOULDN’T BE ANYTHING HIDING BEHIND THE CURTAIN. THE BEST LAWYERS WILL LAY OUT THE FULL PLAN OF ATTACK RIGHT AWAY INSTEAD OF GIVING YOU A SLIVER OF INFO AND PRESSURING YOU INTO HIRING THEM ON THE SPOT.
What do I do if a loved one is arrested?
Having a loved one arrested is not easy. It’s an emotional and difficult time. That’s why I’ve broken it down to 5 simple steps you can take to offer your loved one the best help possible.
- Call an attorney so that they can help you every step of the way. The right attorney has a team of paralegals, bondsman, investigators, expert witnesses, therapists, and resources you need to help you and ensure your loved one has the best defense possible.
- Get the person out of jail. This can be done either by paying the full bond amount at the jail, or by calling a bail bondsman and paying 10% for them to bail you out. If you pay the full bond to the jail, that money will either be returned to you when the case is over, or it will be transferred to pay for court costs. The money you pay to a bail bondsman, you don’t get back and that is their fee for bonding the person out of jail.
- Once the person is out of jail, make sure he/she writes down very specific details about what happened. Criminal cases can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months depending on the seriousness of the case. Over time, memories can fade and it’s important to put everything you remember into writing. The police officers are trained to write their reports with very specific details to help them remember months later at a deposition, motion or trial. You should do the same.
- Gather a list of any potential witnesses and evidence – Often times, police officers don’t conduct a full and complete investigation. Instead of trying to find out the truth of what happened, they will try to make a quick arrest to close the case. It’s essential to immediately speak to defense witnesses, take pictures of the scene, request 911 calls and prepare for your defense.
- Hel them get back to their normal life – After being arrested, it’s very important a person resume their normal daily life - work, school, or taking care of family.
What should I do if I’m arrested?
It may sound typical, but really the best thing you can do is call a criminal lawyer.
Being arrested is a difficult and emotionally jarring time. You’re probably not going to be thinking straight, and you need someone who will not only be thinking strategically, but who knows the ins and outs of the legal system to make sure that ALL of your rights are protected.
A good criminal attorney will make sure that happens.
You also want to get yourself out of jail. Call a family member, or pay the bond to get yourself out. Then, once your out of jail, write down in as much detail as possible exactly what happened. Criminal cases can take up to 18 months depending on the seriousness of the case, and memories fade over time.
You also want to write down a list of potential evidence and witnesses. Police officers often don’t conduct a thorough investigation. That’s why you want to give your lawyer as much information as possible to do an independent investigation. He/she will want to speak with defense witnesses, take pictures of the crime scene, request 911 calls, and prepare your defense.
How can a Florida criminal attorney help me?
If you have been charged with a crime in Broward County, you are facing a very serious situation. The consequences of a conviction are severe and can affect your personal, professional, and financial life for years to come.
For many individuals, this is a scary and uncertain time. You may be unsure of what to do now—or if there is even anything you can do. Though the outlook may seem bleak, you do have rights and legal options available to you, and an experienced attorney can help you fight your charge.
Often, individuals have many reasons why they don’t retain a lawyer. Maybe you have faith in your innocence, or pessimism about your case, or you think you simply cannot afford a good attorney. Regardless, a skilled attorney can work as your advocate and guide, helping to ensure your rights are protected and you can move forward to a successful future.
Why Hire an Attorney to Defend You Against a Criminal Charge in Florida?
Florida law has many complex and changing laws that address a wide range of drug offenses. When you face a criminal charge for violating one of these laws, it is important to fully understand your rights and how the legal system works so you can obtain the best possible outcome for your case. An experienced attorney can help you meet that goal by:
- Fully explaining state and federal law.
- Offering a number of possible legal options.
- Preparing paperwork and filing documents.
- Meeting legal deadlines.
- Negotiating with prosecutors.
- Presenting a complete and compelling case at trial, if necessary.
The High Price of Not Retaining an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
While finding the right lawyer can seem like a daunting task, reaching out to an experienced attorney can make all the difference in your life. A criminal charge is a serious matter. With the stakes that high, you need someone who has been there before and has successfully helped others reduce the negative consequences.
Once a plea bargain has been reached or a verdict handed down, it can be difficult—or in some cases impossible—to have to those decisions reversed. An attorney can help you fully understand your rights and fight only for you. Despite what they may say, law enforcement and other officials have no interest in protecting you. Only a dedicated criminal defense attorney will do that.
Securing knowledgeable, effective representation from the start can help you put this difficult time behind you more quickly and ensure your continued security. If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Florida, call Rossen Law Firm today to talk to Adam Rossen and learn more about how our former prosecutor and his team may be able to help.