The consequences of a criminal conviction can be life-altering. It is essential to realize the importance of retaining an experienced St. Augustine Criminal Lawyer as early in the case as possible. Defenses are available at each stage of the proceeding, and strategies can be employed by knowledgeable counsel that can limit the defendant’s potential exposure.
Many criminal cases begin with a police contact that involves the arrest of the suspect. Initially, a defense attorney will examine the basis for the police contact. Law enforcement is not permitted to arbitrarily detain a person; there must be a lawful reason. Additionally, once an individual is placed in custody, they must be advised of certain constitutional rights. An improper police contact may make certain evidence excludable.
After an Arrest
Most often, an arrestee is taken to a local precinct to be booked and fingerprinted. In some circumstances, the police will attempt to continue the investigation by having the suspect participate in a line-up, provide a writing sample or speak phrases associated with the crime. Under all of these circumstances, the defendant has an absolute right to have an attorney present.
Bail or bond is typically established under a local schedule based upon the crime or crimes charged. A defendant is entitled to a bond hearing within 24 hours of arrest, at which time the defendant’s attorney can request a bond reduction that is reasonable under the circumstances. Some factors that may influence a judge to consider a lower bail include:
- Ties to the community;
- Lack of a criminal record;
- Employment record; and
- History of appearing at scheduled criminal hearings.
This is when the defendant learns specifically what charges they are facing. Depending on the results of the prosecution’s investigation, the charges may be different than those filed at the time of arrest.
A criminal defendant is entitled to have access to all the information the prosecution has and will use to prove a conviction. An experienced St. Augustine Criminal Lawyer understands that prosecutors often provide less than complete information and discovery hearings before the judge may be necessary to compel production of all relevant information.
Throughout the process, an experienced St. Augustine criminal lawyer will be negotiating with the prosecutor. Not only is a discussion of a settlement required by Florida law, it is almost always in the best interest of the defendant to have options that will limit their potential exposure if the case ultimately proceeds to trial. This is especially true for those defendants who have prior convictions, are on probation or on parole.
The purpose of pre-trial motions is to set the parameters of the topics for trial. The majority of pre-trial motions made by the defense will focus on:
- Evidence that should be excluded;
- Statements of the defendant that should be excluded;
- Compelling or excluding testimony by other witnesses;
- Compelling the prosecution to release discoverable information; and
- Grounds for dismissing the case.
If a criminal case cannot be resolved and appears to be heading for trial, there will be at least one and perhaps several preliminary hearings scheduled. The ultimate reason is to determine if the prosecution has enough evidence against the defendant to bring the case to a trial. Although the issues at the preliminary hearing and the trial are similar, the standard of proof is different. At trial, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For the preliminary hearing, probable cause is the standard.
Contact a St. Augustine Criminal Lawyer for Legal Advice
The prosecution has the weight of the system on its side. A criminal defendant needs a zealous advocate who will conduct an independent investigation and challenge the prosecutor’s case at every step. Level the playing field. Call experienced St. Augustine criminal lawyers at Canan Law at (904) 849-2266.