Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you’re accused of a crime in Tampa, it can devastate you now and hurt your future later. Having a criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference. Seek one out when you’ve been charged with a crime.
It’s unfortunate, but you might have been accused of a serious crime in the Tampa area. You might not have even expected it, but now you’re struggling to deal with the consequences. You might have already been arrested and booked. Now you’ll need to find a way to get those charges dropped or lowered through a powerful criminal defense. What can you really do about your criminal charges?
In most cases, a defense lawyer from Hersem Law can make a difference in your case. You’ll need experience and an aggressive defense on your side for a successful case. But you’ll also need understanding and compassionate help. Fortunately, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer from our firm can provide that.
When you’ve been arrested and you have questions, you don’t need to feel alone. Instead, you need to reach out for help with your charges and fight back against those accusations.
Penalties for Criminal Charges in Tampa, Florida
When you find that there’s a warrant for your arrest, or when you’ve been arrested, it can feel easier to simply plead guilty and accept the consequences. You might feel that they have a case against you and that there’s no hope. Fortunately, that’s not true, but if you don’t fight back and build a criminal defense, you just won’t know.
Penalties for criminal charges start with some hefty fines. For a felony, you can expect fines of up to $10,000 for a first- or second-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are capped at $5,000. When you’re already down on your luck, that’s a devastating amount of money that could leave you in debt for years.
Worse, you won’t have many options to pay off those fines. A third-degree felony can put you in jail for up to five years. And if this isn’t your first conviction, the amount of time will likely be higher.
Misdemeanors Are Still Serious in Tampa
Misdemeanors may not leave you in as difficult a position, but if you’re being charged with one, you should still fight back and build a defense. You could still receive jail time, and while your fines may not leave you in as much debt, they may still harm you.
A jail sentence for a misdemeanor shouldn’t be more than a year, and your fines shouldn’t exceed $1,000. Those penalties can disrupt your life, though, making it difficult to provide for yourself and your family. You may also be sentenced to community service or other programs. For example, a drug conviction may require you to attend therapy in Tampa or educational programs about the dangers of drug use.
Types of Criminal Charges in Florida
There are many types of criminal charges in Florida you may be facing. We cover a wide range of them. Here are some of the most common types of criminal charges that we’ve seen in our law office.
Driving Under the Influence (DUIs)
The penalties for a DUI conviction can be serious. You may be subject to incarceration, license suspension, fines, court fees, probation, counseling, classes, vehicle impoundment, and more if you’re charged with a DUI.
There has to be proof of you being under the influence while driving. It is important to speak with our experienced attorneys regarding the charges being imposed on you.
Prosecutors in Tampa take drug crimes seriously. There are schedules that determine the charges depending on the illegal drugs, from schedule 1 to 5. Schedule 1 houses the more serious, harmful drugs while Schedule 5 has the least harmful.
The charges and penalties you’re faced with will depend on the type and amount of drugs you were accused of possessing during your arrest. If you have a prior criminal record, this can also work against you. The penalties can also be worse if you’re found to possess the drugs in certain areas, like school zones.
To be convicted, the prosecution has to prove that you possessed the drugs beyond a reasonable doubt. There also had to be no violations of your constitutional rights during the time of your arrest. Our attorneys can help you protect your rights in these types of charges.
There are many types of sex crimes in Florida you may be facing. These include sexual battery involving any nonconsensual forced sexual activity, lewd acts involving a minor under 16 years of age, and unlawful sex with minors.
Different defenses might apply depending on the specific situation. Each part of the crime has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If there was any doubt that it may have been consensual, it may work in your favor.
Theft is any action that intentionally deprives another person of their property without their knowledge or consent. The degree of theft is determined by the value of the property. Grand theft happens when an individual takes property that does not belong to them worth more than $300.
There has to be substantial evidence that shows intent. It’s possible to show a lack of knowledge of intent. For example, if you didn’t know it belonged to someone else, or have the intent to deprive the person of the right of the property, this may be your best option for a strong defense. Our Tampa criminal defense attorneys can help come up with a plan.
Florida may favor gun rights, but it also has laws to regulate the ownership and carrying of guns. A common misdemeanor charge is for the improper exhibition of a dangerous firearm. It has to be shown that you exhibited the weapon in a dangerous, threatening, or rude way in front of another person beyond a reasonable doubt.
You may face up to a year in jail or 12 months of probation and a $1,000 fine. You may also be able to get it dropped to a lesser aggravated assault charge with our lawyers behind you.
Heavy penalties are often imposed when associated with gun charges. With our attorneys, a conviction is not always going to happen, and we can work to reduce any sentences, if any.
You Can Expect Further Consequences for Criminal Charges
You’ll have to deal with the fines and jail time, of course, but what about the indirect consequences? Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, a criminal conviction can affect you years after the fact. If you don’t fight back now, you could see future consequences that the judge didn’t set forth.
For example, employers and landlords will do background checks for the rest of your life. That can hurt you. A felony or misdemeanor criminal charge could end your chances of getting a job in your field. Some Tampa employers may simply ask about the charges and make a decision from there. But in many cases, you might lose your chance to work in a field you may have studied in or have experience in.
Your housing may even be affected. Landlords will also do background checks, making sure that you’re a reliable, safe resident. Unfortunately, a criminal record may affect their decision, and some complexes may outright refuse to rent to felons. As such, you’ll need to do what you can to avoid these serious consequences.
Don’t Fight Back without a Defense Lawyer
The penalties are serious, sure, but you might feel that your criminal defense case is already settled, or that your case is easy and you don’t need help from a defense lawyer. Either option can lead to a lot of regrets about your situation. Unfortunately, acting without a lawyer on your side can leave you dealing with consequences a lawyer could have helped you avoid.
Chances are good you don’t have the experience in the courtroom a lawyer has. Every criminal case is different, and an experienced lawyer will have seen enough to know how best to defend you. If you don’t have that sort of help on your side, you could suffer severe, long-term penalties.
Even trying to save money and using a public defender in Tampa can harm you. Public defenders may be trained properly, but that doesn’t mean that they have the right amount of time to devote to you. You’re not their only client, and you might not be their priority. That could leave you with a less-polished and -prepared defense. In turn, that could leave you with a guilty verdict.
Whether you’ve been accused of theft, marijuana use, or something else, getting your criminal charges dropped successfully is difficult. You’ll need the full attention and experience a criminal defense lawyer can bring. Even if you’re concerned about the costs, the expenses of a guilty verdict can be even higher. You’ll need someone who can protect you from these issues. Speak to a lawyer about your criminal defense today.
Questions to Ask Your Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you find yourself needing a Tampa criminal defense attorney, you want to ensure you’re choosing the right one. You don’t want to choose one that lacks the necessary experience you may need for your particular case.
Here are a few questions to ask the Tampa defense attorney you speak with. You can get a better understanding of what they do, how they do it, and how they may be able to help you.
How long have you been practicing law?
Before you decide on hiring a criminal defense attorney, make sure they have years of experience relevant to criminal defense cases. You want to also make sure they’re licensed to practice in the state of Florida by checking the State Bar Association website.
Seeking a lawyer with experience practicing law in Florida ensures they know the laws, rules, and regulations of the state. Certain laws and procedures vary based on location. This will help give you peace of mind.
How long have you focused on criminal law?
You may not want to find a general lawyer, even with years of experience. Finding a lawyer that practices mainly criminal law can help to ensure you have strong, knowledgeable counsel. How long they’ve maintained this focus can help you determine this.
They may also focus on specific cases, like drug offenses or felonies. Each of these requires a special understanding of this type of law. These attorneys may have an easier time navigating the complex nature of your charges.
You want to not only find out about the cases like yours they’ve handled but also the outcomes of the cases. You want to know when they handled them and what was done for them. Having this knowledge can help you feel more confident about using their services.
What strategy will you use in court?
You want to ask the attorney what strategy they’re going to use when trying your case. They shouldn’t use a cookie-cutter approach to covering your case. You want them to know all of the details and evidence of your case and run through the options available.
Your lawyer should choose the best strategy for your case and should advise you on how best to avoid the serious penalties you may be facing. This includes making decisions on whether to pursue a dismissal of your charges or to seek a reduction of the penalties you face. This depends on the evidence you’re able to gather in your defense.
What’s your track record?
There are only a small number of criminal court cases that go to trial each year. Many of them plead guilty instead of going to court, while another smaller percentage get dismissed. You want to know how many of the trials that they went to that they won.
Ask the attorney how many cases like yours they’ve handled and won in the past. You want to compare how many wins and losses they’ve had and which were won recently. Get the peace of mind you need with an attorney that has a strong track record.
What are some of the possible outcomes of my case?
While our lawyers cannot give you any guarantees about the outcome of your case, it is important to ask the defense attorney what they might expect with it. You should be prepared for every possible scenario that might happen.
How often will we be communicating?
You want to know how often you and the attorney will be discussing your case and going over the strategy. The lawyer you speak with initially and ask the questions to should also be the one handling your case throughout.
You want to ensure that you’re working with the same person, regularly. They should keep you updated, ask questions, find answers, and actually work on your case for you. Pushing your case off to someone else shouldn’t be something you have to worry about.
How much will this all cost me?
Every lawyer’s fees are different and each office may have a different fee structure. You want to know what they charge and what comes included with the fee. While getting counsel for a criminal case may not be cheap, it can save you thousands in fines if you enter the courtroom without a defense and are convicted.
You will likely pay a higher fee for a more experienced lawyer, but it can be worth it. You don’t want to choose the cheapest option you come across, as it might mean the difference between being in or out of jail. You want a capable lawyer that is able to handle your case.
Types of Criminal Defenses
Every criminal defense case is different, and you’ll need a lawyer who understands that. Once you have the right defense lawyer, you can start fighting back, but how should you approach your case? This will mostly depend on the details of the situation and your part in the crime.
For example, you might have been mistaken for someone else, and you were arrested. Your lawyer will focus on proving you weren’t the one at the scene. Or perhaps you might have been there, but you didn’t want to be. When you’re under duress, in that you’re forced to do something illegal, your lawyer will focus on showing that you shouldn’t be held responsible for something you were forced to do.
Every case is different, and that can make things complex. You might know the details of the case and why you shouldn’t be held responsible for what happened. But you may need help preparing the evidence and choosing your case’s direction. Fortunately, that’s what your defense lawyer is here for. When you’re struggling to defend your Tampa criminal defense case, seek help getting your charges lessened or dropped.
If you are seeking to have a charge removed from your criminal record, contact a Tampa expungement lawyer.
Tampa Criminal Defense FAQ
If you find yourself looking at a criminal defense charge, you want to have the answers to your questions. You can reach out to a professional regarding the charges, your options, and your rights. Looking for answers while you wait for your chance to speak with a criminal defense attorney? In this section, you’re able to find frequently asked questions and their answers.
What should I do after I have been arrested?
After being arrested, you want to reach out to our office to speak with one of our lawyers. It is important to exercise your right to silence. You don’t have to answer any questions or provide any statements until speaking with a lawyer. If you’re facing an arrest warrant, you can also reach out for help. We can arrange a discreet arrest on your terms, making the arrest and bail process simpler, faster, and less stressful.
If I think there is a warrant for my arrest, what should I do about it?
If you are unsure if you have a warrant out for your arrest, you can find out through the state’s website. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a website set up that lists every outstanding warrant throughout the state. This website may not have all the updated information on it though. This is why it is important to seek legal counsel if you feel there may be a chance of charges against you. They can advise you on what to do next and how to approach your case.
Will I have to go to court for the charges?
It depends entirely on the charges and the specific situation. However, we try to make the process as easy and simple for our clients as possible. Some clients may not have to step inside a courtroom. We can speak about the specific circumstances regarding your own case to find out if you may need to go to court. Every case is different and requires different steps to be taken care of.
Will my case be brought to trial?
Most of the cases that are handled may be resolved before they go to trial. Having an aggressive criminal defense attorney in Tampa that works hard for you helps to increase the chances of having the charges dismissed, dropped, or reduced. If charges are unable to be dropped, an agreement may be reached on behalf of your case with the state. The specifics of your case will determine whether or not you’re brought to trial. It’s important to ask these questions when speaking with our law office.
What’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
The maximum sentence for misdemeanors is one year in jail plus any fines and probation. This makes misdemeanors much less serious than felonies. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t face serious penalties. Your criminal record, for example, can haunt you for years following a criminal conviction. Felonies happen due to much more serious crimes. They come with harsher penalties. The maximum sentence for this charge is up to thirty years in prison. If it is a life or capital felony, these are punishable by life in prison. They may also come with fines.
Why should I hire an attorney?
An attorney can help to make your criminal defense case easier overall. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a criminal charge, you will want to make this process as easy as possible. An attorney works with you and the courts to help you achieve this. When you speak with our law office, we can help handle everything from start to finish, so you won’t have to worry about what to do next. We can advise you on your rights and the next steps to take.
What if I live in another state but am charged with a crime in Florida?
People who are visiting or traveling through end up arrested and charged with a criminal offense, which can be complicated to overcome. We can help those who do not live in Florida but have been charged here. If you’ve been charged, we can seek evidence to get the charges reduced or dropped, saving you travel costs and time whenever possible. We will try to resolve your case as quickly as possible for you.
Will I go to jail or prison?
Depending on the charges that you’re faced with, jail time may be inevitable. For many people, a criminal defense lawyer may be mainly focused on reducing the time spent in jail or prison. It’s important to speak with our law office to help minimize the time you spend, if any, in jail. We can work to fight the charges against you to help mitigate any large fines, penalties, or jail sentences you may otherwise have to face.
What happens if my case ends up being dismissed?
This is great news. If your case has been dismissed, you may be eligible to get all records of the arrest expunged. It will be like nothing ever happened because of the charges. This happens when there wasn’t enough evidence to charge you for the crime. If you believe you may be eligible for expungement, reach out to an attorney for help. They can confirm whether you’re eligible and what steps you need to take.
Can I remove a part of my criminal record?
In short, yes, in some cases. Depending on the specific circumstances, you may be eligible to have your criminal record expunged or even sealed. There are some specific requirements that you have to meet in order to be eligible for this. Having your record expunged or sealed will ensure that your record will not be seen or accessed by anyone who searches for it. You can work with our law office to get help having this happen.
Can I keep evidence out of court?
There are some instances when evidence can be suppressed or kept out of court. If law enforcement collected evidence in violation of your constitutional rights, like searching your items or home without a warrant or reasonable cause, this may be an option for your case. If you were arrested without being read your Miranda rights, you may also have evidence removed from the court. There are a handful of reasons that this can happen. Speaking with our law office can help you determine if any instances happened to you.
Should I plead guilty to the charges?
In some instances, if you plead guilty to the crime you’ve been accused of, you may be able to receive a reduced sentence. This all depends on the circumstances. In some instances, you may not want to plead guilty. This is why it’s important to speak with our law office about what steps you should take. You want to look over the circumstances and specifics to find out the best choice to make.
Am I able to defend myself against criminal accusations?
You are able to raise a couple of possible defenses when you’re accused of a crime. The type of defense you use depends on the nature of the crime and any circumstances surrounding the charges and your specific case. The prosecutor has the burden of proving you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have to prove your innocence conclusively to avoid being convicted of a criminal charge. Having a seasoned lawyer behind you can help you have a strong defense to show this.
How does a jail release work?
Shortly after arriving at the jail, you will be given the opportunity to contact your attorney. Once you do this, the attorney may arrange for bail to be posted. They may also appear in court on your behalf and ask that bail be lowered if it is believed to be excessive under specific circumstances. You may be released if you promise to appear back in court within the specified timeframe if you’ve made bail. You will need either cash or a surety bond as security. Bail bonds are usually 10 percent more of the amount you need for bail. If you’re taken into custody and booked into jail and do not post bail, you must be brought in front of a magistrate within 24 hours. You may be able to get your bail lowered during this meeting depending on your background and other circumstances. You may also be released if the charges have been dropped against you. If this happens, you’re free to go and do not have to come back for court or have to pay bail.
What rights do you have once you’ve been arrested?
You have the right to know the crime or crimes you’ve been charged with. You should also know the identity of the officer that arrests you. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer any questions that the officers or anyone else ask you. Any statements that you make to the officer can be used against you later on. You have the right to contact an attorney, anyone in your family, friends, or a bonds person to get a bond to make bail and leave jail.
If the police want me to come in and provide a statement, should I do this?
You should be able to make an informed decision in any situation on how to proceed. It’s best to speak with an attorney before you agree to do any interviews with the police. We never advise our clients to talk with the police without meeting with our attorneys ahead of time. We want to investigate the specifics of the interview that they want to do and know more about what they’re up to. The police are usually not there to help you. They may also believe you’re guilty of a crime and not tell you so. They may want to make you confess to the crime to make their lives easier. Do not provide a statement or do an interview prior to speaking with an attorney. We can help protect your rights and your interest.
I just found out that I am being investigated. Do I need a lawyer?
The investigation is a critical stage in any criminal case. You want to make sure you’re protected if you’re charged with a crime. Every criminal case begins with an investigation. This is the time when the police determine if the charges should go forward given the evidence and information they find. For this reason, it is important to speak with our attorneys that can represent you and favorably influence the outcome of your case.
Should I consult with an attorney if I’m not yet charged with a crime?
It is generally wise to consult with an attorney if you’ve been contacted by any law enforcement officials. When it’s in regard to a criminal offense, it’s even more important. You want to know if you’re a suspect in the investigation that they are doing. If you find out you are a suspect, it is important to have our attorneys on your side. You may want to do what you can to cooperate with law enforcement but doing this without having legal counsel can result in law enforcement overstepping and violating rights. You don’t want to incriminate yourself, either. An attorney can be helpful in this situation.
How long does it take to resolve a criminal case?
The criminal process may move very quickly, or it can move as slowly as possible. There are some factors that play a role in how long certain criminal proceedings take place. For example, if you’ve been charged with drug possession, you may have this matter resolved outside of the courtroom. If this is the case, the process may take around six months to a year. However, on the other hand, if you’ve been charged with attempted murder, the trial could last for one year or sometimes longer. You have to adhere to the court’s schedule and the prosecutor’s trial schedule. Speaking with our office can help give you a better idea of a timeline to expect depending on the charges you’re faced with and the specifics of your own case.
Learn How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Fight for You in Tampa
A criminal case doesn’t come with only a loss of freedom. It can take your future from you, limiting your options and leaving you to deal with severe consequences. You need to protect your future and ensure your Tampa criminal charges will be dropped or reduced.
Fortunately, that’s where a lawyer at Hersem Law can come in. We understand how confusing and scary a criminal trial can be, especially when it’s your word against an officer’s. That, however, is why you need help from a defense lawyer.
When you’re struggling with your case, reach out for a strategy session with a defense lawyer from Hersem Law. We’ll review your case and talk about your options for a successful defense. If you’re dealing with a criminal case, don’t go it alone.
Instead, seek out the help of our Tampa criminal defense lawyer, starting with your consultation. Take advantage of our offer by calling 813-251-7291 or by completing the online form below.