Criminal Defense Attorney in Okaloosa County
Laws may differ between states, but one thing remains constant: a criminal record will have severe ramifications for your life. Even seemingly minor crimes such as criminal traffic misdemeanors have the potential for causing harm to individuals or property, so the law treats them as serious issues.
Serious felony charges such as violent crimes are dealt with far more harshly. Therefore, regardless of the severity, you must be prepared to defend yourself immediately and competently when you face criminal charges. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is your first step to a successful defense.
When you are facing criminal charges in Okaloosa County, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer by your side throughout the legal process. Criminal justice laws are complex, require years of study to understand, and may change through legislative actions or public elections. Sometimes a law itself does not change, yet a change in the law’s interpretation (usually resulting from a court decision) may affect the charges against you. Therefore, you need someone with an in-depth knowledge of the legal system to defend you against criminal charges effectively.
A criminal defense lawyer’s work begins well before you enter the courtroom – in fact, sometimes it starts before an arrest. Lawyers provide advice to their clients during questioning, ensuring that the client’s answers are voluntary and not incriminating. In other cases, a skilled defense lawyer will advise you not to say anything at all. So, if you have been arrested, your attorney can make sure that you understand the charges and provide advice about your options as a criminal defendant. And in certain situations, your defense attorney can work to have your record sealed or expunged after the criminal charges have been resolved.
A Criminal Defense Attorney can Help Protect You from Being Arrested
Sometimes police officers will question individuals without actually arresting them. They may do this for several reasons, including gathering witness and victim statements or attempting to clarify specific details regarding the investigation. However, the police will also question suspects hoping that their answers establish probable cause for an arrest. Be aware that your answers can be used to justify an arrest and can later be used against you during a trial – even if you have not been arrested or advised that you are under suspicion at the time of questioning. A criminal defense attorney’s advice during police questioning can be instrumental in preventing your arrest. Do not make any statements to the police or other government officials. Do not answer questions nor try to explain anything until after you have spoken with legal counsel.
Your Miranda rights guarantee that you do not have to answer police questions. If you choose to speak with the police, they must allow you to have a lawyer present during questioning – but you must communicate your request to have your lawyer present. There are some exceptions, of course – you are required to provide your name, license, and registration during routine traffic stops. You can do this simply by handing the stopping officer your driver’s license, registration and insurance. If you are stopped on suspicion of committing a crime, this is not the same as answering questions about your immigration status within 100 miles of the international border. Remember, your immigration status does not negate your right to legal representation but you have the right to request a lawyer, regardless of legal status. However, beyond basic identification, you are under no obligation to answer questions from the police in most situations. Keep in mind that police are not required to read your Miranda rights unless you are in custody (i.e., not free to leave), so a “casual conversation” at your home or in public can be used to elicit information. If you speak with them, then they can say you volunteered the information. Therefore, when being questioned by police, your best option is to remain silent until your defense attorney arrives, especially if you believe that you have done nothing wrong.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Explain the Charges Against You
The complexity of our criminal law system makes understanding the charges against you, the legal procedure to follow and the defenses that may apply to your legal matter confusing at times. Depending on the results of an investigation, you could be charged under federal law, state law, or both. Federal and state laws divide criminal charges into two types: whether violent or nonviolent, the two types are know as misdemeanor and felony crimes. Misdemeanors and felonies are then broken down into levels based on the severity of the crime. Your charges may also be enhanced if weapons were involved, the police suspect that the crime is gang-related, or if you have committed a prior offense. Finally, there is a possibility that you could be charged under both criminal and civil law for the same crime.
A criminal defense attorney in Okaloosa can explain any charges against you, help you understand if you face potential legal action under civil law in addition to criminal charges, and explain what potential sentence(s) you face if you are found guilty of one or more crimes. Using this knowledge, your Okaloosa criminal defense lawyer will work with you to develop a defense strategy geared towards the best possible outcome, whether an acquittal, a plea bargain in exchange for a lighter sentence or even a negotiated dismissal in some cases.
Florida portrays itself as a state that takes criminal activity seriously, regardless of the severity. Florida is one of 27 states where capital punishment is legal, so hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can, in some cases, mean the difference between life and death. Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group is devoted to serving individuals charged under the criminal justice system in Okaloosa County and the surrounding areas.
A Criminal Defense Attorney can Help Expunge or Seal Your Criminal Record
In Florida, individuals may apply to have their criminal record sealed or expunged under specific circumstances. If you were illegally or mistakenly arrested, you may apply for an administrative expunction. Very few people qualify for this type of expunction, which effectively erases your arrest record. Those that do qualify must have their application endorsed by the agency that arrested them, the State Attorney’s office, or a court order declaring that the arrest was wrongfully executed.
Florida has other types of expunctions that do not require an endorsement, each with distinct standards for qualification. Many juvenile records are eligible for automatic expunctions when they are either 21 or 26 years old, depending upon the offense. Individuals can also apply for expunctions after completing a juvenile diversion program or an early juvenile expunction if they are between 18 and 21 and have not committed an offense within the previous five years. Human trafficking victims can also qualify for expunctions or record sealing, as can individuals arrested for an act committed in self-defense.
To qualify for an expunction or record sealing of a lawfully conducted arrest, you cannot have been found guilty of the offense for which you were arrested. Additionally, Florida only allows you to expunge or seal your record once (this restriction does not apply to administrative expunctions).
The application process to have your record expunged or sealed is quite complicated, regardless of the type of expunction you seek. Eligible applicants may be rejected due to errors in their application or may become overwhelmed by the process and decide not to pursue the expungement of their records. However, even if your arrest was wrongful or you were not found guilty of the charges, the public has access to your arrest records – including your mugshot and the charges against you. Some private data-mining companies earn money by posting arrest records, mugshots, and personal information such as your address. By having your record sealed or expunged and then doing digital erasure or burial, you deny these sites – and the general public – access to these private details about your life.
A criminal defense lawyer can work to have your record sealed or expunged. If you have been wrongfully arrested, your attorney can advocate for an administrative expungement. If your arrest was lawful, your attorney can help you determine if you qualify for a different type of expungement and work with you to ensure that all paperwork is correctly filled out and that you understand the court fees associated with the process. By ensuring that all paperwork is filled out properly, your criminal defense attorney provides you a greater chance to clear your name.
Finding the Best Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Case
Whether you are being questioned by the police during an investigation, fighting to maintain your innocence after having been arrested, or attempting to have your records sealed or destroyed after a trial (or the court’s determination that your arrest was unjustified), you need an accomplished criminal defense lawyer at your side, one who will work to prevent your arrest, who is familiar with the intricacies of the Florida criminal justice system, how science can be effectively used to defend you, and how to clear your name if you are wrongfully arrested or were not found guilty by the court.
Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group’s knowledge of the legal system and police investigative methods may be able to prevent your arrest. Unfortunately, no reputable lawyer can guarantee that you will avoid arrest, but your chances to do so are higher with a criminal defense lawyer fighting for you. And if you are arrested, your attorney will already be familiar with your case and begin preparing your defense strategy immediately.
Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group will use every resource available to ensure that you receive the best outcome for your case. Their defense strategy combines traditional defense techniques with the utilization of technology such as SPECT brain imaging to have your case dismissed or to mitigate the penalties you face if found guilty.
If you are eligible to have your record expunged or sealed, Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group will make sure that the appropriate paperwork is filled out and submitted to the court correctly and ensure that your application is not rejected due to mistakes on the paperwork or a misunderstanding of the process.
Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group is a team of dedicated, passionate criminal defense attorneys serving Okaloosa County and the surrounding areas of the Florida panhandle and will fight for you every step of the way. Contact us today at 850-423-0035 to schedule a consultation.