If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Pinellas County,
our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you defend your rights. Being charged with a criminal offense can be a nerve-wrecking and stressful time, as your reputation, livelihood, and freedom are on the line. Having dependable and experienced representation on your side can give you peace of mind.
Defending Criminal Offense in Pinellas County, Florida
There are many areas of specialization when speaking about criminal defense. Our main practice areas are:
- DUI/DWI Defense
- Drug Crime Defense
- Sexual Assault Defense
- Probation Violation
- Conspiracy Defense
- ID Theft Defense
Why Is It Important To Have A Good Lawyer For My Criminal Defense Case?
It’s normal to feel shaken up after a run-in with law enforcement. Following an arrest or investigation, you may feel nervous about the possibility of losing your case and going to jail for a long time. It’s easier to relax when you know you have a dependable and experienced attorney on your case. At Pinellas Criminal Law, our team of experienced attorneys specialize in specific areas of criminal law to ensure all your rights are protected and give you the best defense possible. You can rest assured that we will investigate all the facts of your case and use evidence to your advantage. We work hard to apply our experience and knowledge to win your case.
When Should I Call A Lawyer?
Given the quick nature of criminal court cases (you will probably be required to make a first appearance within 24 hours of your arrest) it is important to contact a lawyer and seek legal representation as soon as you think you need one. Your lawyer will be able to ensure your rights are being protected as soon as possible. You do not have to answer any questions or do any interviews without legal counsel present.
What Is A First Appearance?
24 hours after an arrest, the defendant will be taken to court before a judge who will then inform the defendant of the charge and provide a copy of the complaint. It’s important for the defendant to have legal advice before appearing in court. Should the defendant not have legal representation, they can ask the court to adjourn the appearance until legal advice is received.
If a defendant has been granted bail, the date, time, and location of the first appearance will appear on the bail papers. Should the defendant fail to appear, a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
The Booking Process
Following an arrest, law enforcement will begin a process known as booking. This process consists of collecting identification and data such as age, date of birth, address, reason for arrest, fingerprints, mug shot, full body search, background record check, and removal of personal belongings. In some cases, DNA samples will be collected and submitted to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
Law enforcement may also ask questions relating to medical and psychological information in order to evaluate the individual’s current health status. During this step, medical tests for STDs or medical ailments like tuberculosis may be done, including blood tests or X-rays in order to protect the health of other inmates or jailhouse officials.
Officials may also inquire about gang affiliations in order to determine and reduce the risk of jailhouse violence. If found to be a risk for violence, an individual may be placed in a separate section of a jailhouse or placed in protective custody.
How Can I Find Information About An Arrestee in Pinellas County?
As of November 28th, 2005, all information about individuals who have been arrested can be found at the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office Arrest Inquiry Page. Information about arrests prior to that date may be found at the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website . For criminal history inquiries throughout the state of Florida, contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Public Records at (850) 410 – 8109.
What Are the Punishments For Misdemeanors/Felonies?
Depending on the type or crime committed, charges may be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Although they vary in punishment severity, a conviction in either of these classifications can result in high fines, jail time, and difficulties seeking employment or government student loans. Misdemeanors and Felonies are governed by Florida State Statute Sections 775.082, 775.083, and 775.081.
Misdemeanors can fall into two categories, first and second degree. A second degree misdemeanor is less severe, and a conviction can result in 60 days in jail, 6 months in jail, and a maximum fine of $500. A first degree misdemeanor can result in up to one year in county jail, one year probation, and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Some examples of misdemeanors include:
- Domestic Violence Battery
- Possession of Marijuana
- Petty Theft
- Resisting an Officer
Felonies are more serious convictions than misdemeanors and can fall into five categories; third-degree, second-degree, first-degree, life, and capital. A third-degree felony is the least severe, with punishment resulting in up to five years in state prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. The most severe, capital felony, is punishable with the death penalty.
Some examples of felonies include:
- Aggravated Battery
- Possession of a Controlled Substance (excluding marijuana)
- Sex Crimes
- Drug Trafficking
- Child Abuse
How Can I Post Bail/Bond?
In Florida, unless an individual is convicted of a capital offense or life imprisonment, every person is entitled to be released prior to their trial. Bond hearings, that determine how much will need to be paid to be released, are scheduled as soon as possible after an arrest. Judges in a bond hearings will take financial status into account when determining the amount, but if they set the bail at an amount the defendant can’t afford, their defense attorney can file a motion to reduce the amount. Although defendants are released after posting bail, there are typically a few conditions the defendant must agree to before being released, such as appearing at all future court hearings.
Contact Pinellas Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
If you’ve recently been involved in an arrest or have any questions about the criminal process, contact our team of experienced attorneys today. We serve Pinellas County, Florida and specialize in criminal defense cases helping you defend your rights.