Frequently Asked Criminal Defense Questions

Facing criminal charges can be intimidating, frightening, and confusing. Often a criminal case can involve legal issues most people are not familiar with. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, seeking legal advice is always encouraged, as each case or situation can be different and involve life-altering consequences. At Long & Jean, P.A., our attorneys are determined to educate our clients about what to expect when facing criminal charges. Our criminal defense frequently asked questions guide is for general information purposes only as we believe each case is unique.

General Questions

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What should I expect from a criminal defense lawyer?

When you seek legal advice, you should expect your lawyer to have extensive knowledge of the law and experience in defending clients with the type of charges you’re currently facing. Make sure to find a lawyer that’s a skilled negotiator. Expect your lawyer to follow a strict attorney-client relationship that guarantees your information remains confidential. Also, your criminal defense lawyer should be able to explain potential scenarios, evaluate your options, and provide you with a realistic risk assessment. Lastly, your attorney must be creative and resourceful, as he or she should be able to come up with a solution to your case.

What happens when someone gets arrested?

After someone gets arrested, they are usually brought into a police station where they are booked. At this point, police will gather personal, historical, and biographical information to determine if the suspect has any criminal record. Immediately, you should contact your family and your attorney.

Should I speak to a police officer after being arrested?

Under the US constitution, as well as under Federal and State laws, you are not required to speak to the authorities if arrested. You may provide necessary information about your identity, but you are not required to share any more information. Ideally, you’d want to talk to your attorney as soon as possible and speak to the authorities only when your attorney is present.

If I’m pleading guilty, do I still need a lawyer?

Ideally, you’d want legal advice from an experienced lawyer before deciding on any criminal charges, even if you intend to plead guilty. Working with a criminal defense lawyer means you may have better benefits in the end, such as the possibility to be released on bail.

What’s an arraignment?

An arraignment refers to the initial proceeding before a court for a criminal charge. This is when the court announces the charges being filed against the defendant. The arraignment occurs after the police have filed a criminal complaint, which occurs after an individual is arrested.

What is bail?

Bail is the money deposited with the court that secures your release from jail. Bail is set to assure the accused will be present for future court appearances. Bail amounts will vary per your criminal history, your age, prior records of not appearing to the court, and other situations.

Can I be released without bail?

On some occasions, you may be released by requesting an O.R. release or a release on your recognizance. Under an O.R. release, you promise that you will appear for any future court proceedings. A judge will determine the conditions for your release and be the one to grant an O.R. release.

How can I bail someone out?

Depending on the jurisdiction and the criminal charges, you may be able to bail someone out immediately after an arrest. You can either pay the bail to the court or enlist the services of a bail bond company. To bail someone out, you will need proper I.D. and be over 18 years old.

Should I represent myself in a criminal case?

Criminal charges are complex. In this instance, your freedom and your rights are at stake. While technically you can choose to represent yourself in a criminal case, it is not recommended. If you decide to represent yourself, you may face life-altering consequences that can be permanent.

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Does Florida have a “three strikes” law?

Yes. Known as Florida’s habitual offender law, it imposes enhanced sentencing on those with previous convictions of two or more felonies. The law also sets extended prison terms for those facing sentencing for a second violent crime within five years.

What should I do after criminal charges are filed in court?

If criminal charges are filed against you in court, usually you first have to appear for an arraignment. Often, a plea of not guilty is entered, and the court determines the conditions of release and sets bail. At this point, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to help you understand the charges against you and to explain further steps to fight for your rights and freedom.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

A felony is considered a severe crime that can be punishable by one or more years in prison, in addition to hefty fines. On the other hand, a misdemeanor is a less serious crime that is sometimes punishable with sentences of less than a year in prison. Both penalties will depend on the type of criminal charges you are facing.

How are State criminal charges and Federal criminal charges different?

A State criminal charge involves a violation of the law of a state that can be prosecuted in the state court system while Federal criminal charges involve a violation of Federal law, which is pursued by the US attorney’s office in the Federal court system.

Can criminal charges be sealed in Florida?

Yes. Under Florida Law, a wide variety of criminal charges can be sealed. However, these depend on a complex series of limitations. Also, certain criminal charges cannot be sealed, including:

  • Sexual misconduct of the developmentally and mentally disabled
  • Enticing or luring a child
  • Sexual battery
  • Procuring person under 18 for prostitution
  • Aggravated assault
  • Child abuse
  • Manslaughter
  • Homicide

These are some of the criminal charges in Florida that cannot be sealed under any circumstances. This list also includes attempts to commit such crimes.

What kind of criminal cases does your firm handle?

At Long & Jean, P.A., our attorneys have vast experience handling delicate criminal charges at botha State and Federal level. Throughout the years, our attorneys have helped those facing criminal charges fight for their rights and freedom. Some of the criminal cases our law firm handles include:

  • Assault and battery
  • Drug possession
  • DUI/DWI
  • Felony crimes
  • Misdemeanor crimes
  • Restraining orders
  • Theft & white collar crimes
  • Violation of probation or community control

What happens if my case goes to trial?

In some instances your case might go to trial. However, at Long & Jean, P.A., our job is to convince the prosecution your case is not worth prosecuting or persuading the prosecution that your charges were not filed on legal grounds, which may even get your case dismissed. If your case goes to trial, a jury is chosen with the requirement they must be fair and impartial. Once your trial starts, our attorneys will present valuable evidence to help convince the jury you are not guilty.

What should I do if I am falsely accused of a crime?

Even if you believe you’re falsely accused of a crime that doesn’t mean the charges will be immediately dropped or that the jury will find you not guilty. If you believe you’re falsely accused of a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Ideally, your attorney needs to prove that the charges are being filed under no legal grounds so that the charges can get dropped or dismissed.

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What is the difference between a dismissal and an expungement?

Dismissal occurs when a prosecutor chooses to drop your case. If after reviewing your case, the assistant district attorney decides the evidence presented against you isn’t strong enough, or if they believe your case is not worth prosecuting, dismissal can be granted. On the other hand, an expungement occurs when your case is erased. Everything related to the criminal charges and your case is destroyed or deleted. Expungements are extremely challenging to obtain; however, with help from an experienced defense attorney, it can occur.

Can I get my records sealed?

It depends. Some people can get their record sealed. If you have no prior convictions and you received a withhold of adjudication you may be eligible to seal your record. There are some “disqualifying offenses” that cannot be sealed, even if you receive a withhold of adjudication. Part of your criminal lawyer’s defense strategy should be to get your records sealed.

Why is it important to get my records sealed?

Having criminal charges brought against you is a serious matter that can have repercussions in every aspect of your life. A simple background check will showcase your criminal charges if they are not sealed, which means you can have difficulty finding housing, employment, loans, and more.

Have More Questions?

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced attorney today. Criminal charges often mean life-altering consequences that will affect everyone in your family. At Long & Jean, P.A., we are determined to help you and your family fight through the criminal charges to preserve your rights and freedom. Start the process with a complimentary, confidential consultation by calling us today at (954) 597-6770 or filling our online form.