Florida Criminal Defense FAQs
Understanding the criminal justice process can be an overwhelming experience, especially while dealing with the ramifications of being a criminal defendant. In order to start assisting you with the process, our founding partner Cameron King has addressed some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from clients. If you have other questions, or if you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Tampa or anywhere else in the Tampa Bay area, please reach out to the criminal defense law firm of King Law Group for advice and assistance.
Do I Need a Defense Lawyer?
Many people who are arrested for a crime ask whether they need a lawyer or if they can handle the defense themselves. Legally, defendants have the right to either have an attorney represent them or to represent themselves in court. In practice, self-representation rarely works out in the defendant’s favor. Criminal law is complex and involves a lot of moving parts. It requires an understanding of the law, the courts, and the government’s habits and motives. Additionally, a criminal defense lawyer at King Law Group is able to distinguish which types of evidence are important, how to obtain and produce that evidence, how to include and question witnesses, and how to navigate a complicated set of court procedures and legal rules. While you can defend yourself, you are much more likely to face the maximum penalty and miss out on the chance to have your charges reduced or dropped entirely.
Can They Really Use Everything I Say Against Me?
One of your most important constitutional rights is the right to remain silent after an arrest. Even before you are arrested, anything you say to a law enforcement officer can be used in a case against you. If you need to answer any questions to the police, keep your answers short and simple, and don’t say anything to incriminate yourself. If officers detain or arrest you, call the King Law Group to help with your case.
Is There a “Three Strikes” Law in Florida?
Florida has what is known as a “habitual offender” law. The law imposes enhanced sentences on individuals who have been previously convicted of two or more felonies or other qualifying offenses. The law also applies if the defendant is facing charges for a second violent crime within five years. Depending on the underlying charges, the defendant could face up to 10 years, 30 years, or even life in prison, even for a relatively minor third offense. The law excludes convictions for possession of a controlled substance.
Can I Get My Arrest or Conviction Removed From My Record?
In Florida, certain criminal arrests and convictions can be “sealed” or “expunged.” Sealing hides the criminal process from public view, while expungement fully eliminates the event from your record. Adult criminal convictions cannot be sealed or expunged. Many convictions incurred as a juvenile can be expunged after a certain time, provided the person satisfies certain conditions.
Do I Have to Let the Police Search My Car or Home?
In order to search your personal property, the police need probable cause. Law enforcement can take evidence of a crime to a judge and if that judge agrees that there is probable cause, a warrant may be issued. If police do have a valid search warrant, then you do, in fact, have to let the police search your car, home, office, or wherever else the warrant has specifically designated. Keep close watch of what they search, however, as many warrants are limited in scope and, if they go beyond the scope of that warrant, evidence they find may be subject to a motion to suppress.
If the police do not have a warrant and they request your permission to search your person, home, office, or car, you do not have to give them permission. However, they might have grounds to search your property even without a warrant or your consent. If the police have probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, are committing a crime, or will commit a crime (such as if they pull you over on suspicion of DUI), then they can search your property regardless of your consent. You have even more of an expectation of privacy in your home, so unless the police have a warrant, can see illegal activity or contraband in plain view, or if they have an emergency reason to enter, they need your permission to search your home.
What Should I Do If I’m Arrested?
If you’re arrested for any crime, you have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to an attorney. We’d strongly suggest you exercise both. The police might try to question you or make you sign a formal statement, but you are under no legal obligation to do so. You can, and should, request the presence of an attorney. You can contact a family member to find you a lawyer if you do not know one offhand. If the police deny you access to a lawyer, they are violating your rights. The King Law Group is here to help you with any arrest in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Tampa or any other city in the Tampa Bay area.
I Have a Green Card. If I’m Convicted of a Crime, Will I Get Deported?
One of the most unfortunate and often overlooked consequences of criminal convictions concerns immigration. While citizens never have to worry about deportation, regardless of their conduct, all non-citizens face the possibility of having their status revoked and deportation enforced under certain circumstances. Even lawful permanent residents (green card holders) can be deported for conviction of certain crimes.
Crimes that can lead to deportation include aggravated felonies, crimes of “moral turpitude” (such as murder, manslaughter and child abuse), drug offenses, certain firearms offenses, domestic violence and stalking, and others. In some cases, even a misdemeanor conviction can lead to deportation. Talk to your criminal defense attorney before accepting a plea to ensure you are fully apprised of all possible immigration consequences.
Call a Seasoned Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you’ve been arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Tampa or anywhere in the Tampa Bay area, call a criminal defense lawyer at King Law Group today for a free consultation.