Frequently Asked Questions

Being accused of committing a crime is undoubtedly a frightening and eye-opening experience, regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime you have been charged with. Many accused individuals do not receive the information they need to fully understand what they are facing. We hope the following information will provide you with a general understanding of the criminal process and how Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Marc A. Joseph, P.A. can help you.

How are you released from jail?

Upon arrival at the jail or shortly thereafter, you will be given an opportunity to contact your attorney. The attorney, in turn, may arrange for the posting of a bond and may appear with you in court and ask the court to lower the bail if it is believed to be excessive under the circumstances. You may be released upon personal recognizance (your promise to appear in court when directed), or you may be released on bail, which involves the posting of either cash money or a surety bond as security for your court appearance. Bail bonds from licensed sureties are usually available at a cost of 10 percent of the amount of the bail. If you are taken into custody and booked into the jail and remain there, you must be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours of your arrest. At that appearance, you may request that the magistrate lower your bail in consideration of your ties in the community, financial resources, employment record or any other factors, including your past criminal record and your past history of failure to appear in court when scheduled.

Can an officer use force when making an arrest?

The officer may employ all reasonable and necessary force to overcome resistance in making a lawful arrest. Resisting arrest with violence is a felony under Florida law. Resisting arrest without violence or offering to do violence is a misdemeanor. You could be convicted of either of these crimes, even if you were found not guilty of the crime for which you were arrested. You cannot use violence to resist an illegal arrest. Obstructing an officer with violence is also a felony under Florida law. Obstructing or interfering with an officer on duty without violence is a misdemeanor. If you believe that your rights are being violated, make it a point to remember exactly what the police officer did and then advise your attorney concerning this at the earliest possible time.

Can a law enforcement officer detain you without arresting you?

Generally yes. If a police officer has reasonable suspicion that you were involved in criminal activity, the officer may require you to provide your identity and explain your presence at a location without arresting you. According to Florida statutes, you may not be removed from the immediate vicinity without making an arrest.

Should you make statements to law enforcement after being arrested?

No. If you do so then you are doing it at your own risk. Oral and written statements can be used as evidence against you. If you are coerced, threatened or influenced to sign a document or give a confession, contact your attorney immediately. If you do not have an attorney, you can ask to speak to one immediately.

What rights do you have after being arrested?

You have the right to know the crime or crimes you have been charged with. You have the right to know the identity of the arresting officer. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer the officer’s questions. Any statement you provide to the law enforcement officer can be used against you later in court. You also have the right to contact an attorney your family, friends or a bondsperson.

I’ve been arrested, and bailed out, and they told me I have to go to court in 20 days. Should I wait until then before getting legal help?

Definitely not. The period between an arrest and that next court date represents a vitally important time period. The police arrest citizens because they think there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, and that the person arrested committed the crime. This is not the same thing as a decision to prosecute. That decision is made by an attorney in the State Attorney’s office, known as a filing attorney. He or she decides whether to file charges and what charges to file. Without our help, they will make this critical decision based solely on the information from the police. As you can imagine, the police will always seek to justify their arrest, and seek prosecution. They will not present your side – which almost always results in formal charges – often the most serious charges – being filed. We begin fighting for you before any charging decision is made. We frequently can obtain the best possible outcome during this brief window in time, before the prosecutor makes up his mind to prosecute you. Don’t wait, and allow a stranger to make what could be the most important decision about your future – without your voice ever being heard – and your defenses presented.

The police want me to come in and give a statement. Isn’t it always best to cooperate?

What’s best, in any situation, is you having the ability to make an informed decision, about how to proceed. That is why it is vital to consult an attorney before ever agreeing to a police interview. We never advise our clients to talk to the police without meeting with us first, so we can investigate their situation, including finding out what the police are up to. The police are generally not trying to help you. They may believe you are guilty of some crime, and want you to “confess” and make their job easier.

I’ve just found out I am being investigated, do I need a lawyer now?

Absolutely. An investigation is one of the most critical stages in any potential criminal case. Every criminal case begins with an investigation. This is the time the police make the initial, critical decisions that can influence whether charges are ever filed. For that reason, this stage of your case can represent a great opportunity to favorably influence the outcome, and can result in cases being closed, without prosecution, or lay groundwork for a positive resolution at a later stage.

If I have not been charged with any crime, is it still a good idea to consult an attorney?

It is wise to consult an attorney if you have been contacted by local law enforcement or by a federal agency for questioning in regards to a criminal offense. It is important to find out whether you are a suspect in the investigation; if you are, it is essential to have an attorney at your side. While you may want to do whatever you can to cooperate with law enforcement, doing so without legal counsel may result in law enforcement overstepping their bounds and violating your rights, or you unintentionally incriminating yourself.

How much will the criminal defense law firm charge me for their legal services?

It is critical that you receive and sign a written contract (retainer agreement) before entering into a professional relationship with a criminal defense law firm. The retainer agreement should clearly spell out the terms of the contractual relationship. Do not hire a criminal defense attorney who does not give you a copy of a signed retainer agreement. This document needs to be signed by both you and your attorney.

Many attorneys will charge extremely high fees while others may charge very low fees. If a law firm is quoting a very low fee, you will want to investigate the experience of that law firm. On the other hand just because a law firm is the “most expensive” does not mean that they are the most qualified to defend your case. For more law firm tips, contact Tampa criminal defense attorney Marc. A Joseph.

Does the criminal defense law firm want to know about your version of events, your background and the witnesses you have to support your position?

This is a critical part of any evaluation of who you should retain to assist you in your case. If the law firm you are considering hiring does not require you to complete a statement of case, social history and provide them with your witnesses, then you should not hire that law firm. A criminal defense law firm must know your case facts extremely well and also must know your background in detail so they can properly present your case to the court and the prosecution. If the law firm doesn’t require that you be actively involved in your own defense by providing this information then do not hire that law firm.

Does the law firm utilize the ability to communicate with you via email?

In this day and age the most effective way to reach a attorney is via email. An efficient criminal defense law firm will provide you with the email address of the attorneys who will be working on your case. You should be able to contact the law firm after hours and on weekends when an emergency arises.

How easy was it for you to speak to an attorney at the law firm when you first called to discuss your case?

Did you have to leave messages or were you able to receive answers to your questions when you first contacted the law firm? A very good indication of the “communication” between you and your attorney will be how easy or difficult it was to speak to the attorney or their legal assistant when you first contacted their offices.

How many years of experience does the criminal defense law firm have in helping people accused of the type of crime you are accused of?

It is very important that the criminal defense law firm be familiar with the type of criminal charges that you are facing. Asking the law firm how many cases of your type they have handled is totally appropriate, and advisable.

How can a defense lawyer help me?

A defense lawyer can help initially by answering any questions you may have and by reviewing your particular situation. It is impossible to say whether you need legal representation and what you are up against without reviewing your case and charges, and an experienced lawyer can do this. If you decide to work with a lawyer, he or she can then begin protecting your rights immediately. This will include advising you regarding your case and essentially acting as your voice and representation through all criminal proceedings. This includes conducting independent investigations and working with expert witnesses in the field to build a strong defense strategy on your behalf.

Criminal Penalties in Florida

Florida classifies crimes as either a Misdemeanor Offense or a Felony Offense. The potential criminal penalties increase based on the severity of the crime or the frequency that a person is convicted of a specific crime which is why it is important to hire a Tampa criminal defense attorney for criminal penalties.

When you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, probably the most important decision you will make is which criminal defense law firm to hire to help you. This information can help you make an informed decision so that you have the best criminal defense law firm fighting for your freedom.

Can my criminal charge be dismissed?

This is a common question that most clients have. There are ways to have a criminal charge dismissed, but there first must be grounds to do so. For example, if Marc A. Joseph, P.A. can prove that your constitutional rights were violated in the course of your arrest (such as an officer’s failure to read you your Miranda rights, and you subsequently made incriminating statements), or if there was an unlawful seizure of evidence, then a such incriminating statements and physical evidence may not be used against you. If this happens, there may be no other evidence to link you to the crime you were charged with, and the charge may subsequently be dismissed.

Should I speak with anyone else about my criminal matter?

You can certainly speak with whomever you want regarding the criminal charges against you, but you must remember that anything you say outside the realm of conversations between you and your attorney may be used against you. You also may be waiving some of your rights and not be aware of it. So, while you can speak with anyone you want about your case, you should consider communicating with your attorney first so that you understand the consequences of sharing information about your case with others.

What crimes does Marc A. Joseph, P.A. handle?

Marc A. Joseph, P.A. defends his clients against nearly every type of criminal charge ranging from petit theft to driving under the influence (DUI), to attempted murder.  Because Marc A. Joseph, P.A. has such extensive knowledge regarding most areas of criminal law, he can likely handle any criminal matter you are facing.  However, if for some reason he cannot handle your criminal matter, Marc A. Joseph, P.A. will explain why and help you find someone who can provide you with the legal representation that you need and deserve. Please visit our Services Page for a detail list of services we handle.

What if I have prior criminal convictions on my record?

Having a prior criminal conviction on your record can certainly be a hassle, but if you are facing new criminal charges, your prior conviction could impact how serious the consequences will be of a subsequent criminal conviction. The impact a prior conviction has will depend upon how long ago you were convicted, the nature of the crime and how serious the crime was. Depending on what the pending criminal charge is against you, your prior conviction may or may not have an impact on your future. It is sometimes more difficult to negotiate with prosecutors regarding a repeat offender, however, Marc A. Joseph, P.A. will do his best to help you resolve your pending criminal charge in the most reasonable way possible.

Is hiring an attorney worth the expense?

It is imperative that if you choose to hire an attorney, you hire one based on that attorney’s skill, reputation for success, and experience. While there is a cost associated with hiring an attorney to represent your rights and interests, the cost is well worth it if strong legal representation can keep you out of jail. Marc A. Joseph, P.A. provides superior legal representation at a reasonable cost.

How long does it take to resolve a criminal charge?

The criminal process can move very quickly, or it can move at a snail’s pace. There are numerous factors that play a role in how long any particular criminal proceeding will take. For example, if you have been charged with drug possession and there is a good chance you can have the matter resolved outside the courtroom, then the entire process may take no more than six months or one year. However, if you have been charged with attempted murder, for example, your trial may not go forward for more than one year or even longer. You are at the mercy of the court’s schedule as well as the prosecutor’s trial schedule. Marc A. Joseph, P.A. can give you an estimate of how long the criminal process will take for you based on the nature and severity of your criminal charge.

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