A criminal offense is an action or behaviour prohibited by law and that, depending on its circumstances, can result in different penalties that may affect your life, freedom and future. Regardless of the severity of the charges or the circumstances that lead you to this point, having an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney on your side will help you protect your rights.
Dealing with criminal charges can be an overwhelming experience if you don’t know how to prepare your defense, what the possible consequences are and how the law works. Having the right criminal attorney will review your case and will prepare the best possible strategies and options to reduce your charges as well as the penalties.
Types of Cases Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Handle
Our Clearwater criminal attorneys represent individuals facing criminal charges for misdemeanor and felony offenses. Additionally, they also have the experience and competence to defend clients in state and federal court for more serious matters.
When a person is charged with a criminal offense, it’s crucial that they enlist the help of a lawyer as soon as possible since they may find a way to get your charges dropped or reduced.
Some of the most common cases that a criminal defense lawyer handles are:
In Florida, drug crimes are treated very harshly and their penalties may include fines, jail time, probation or losing your driver’s license for a year. These punishments depend on different factors such as the type and amount of drug as well the accused’s motive(s) and past criminal record.
Some of the most common drug crimes in Clearwater are:
- Cultivation and manufacturing
- Possession of drug equipment
- Unlawful possession or sale of prescription drugs
As its name suggests, sex crimes are unlawful sexual acts or behaviours. Since in Florida, sex crimes are very serious, the penalties for these charges will vary depending on the offense and its circumstances. But in many cases, the accused may face jail time, fines and be required to register as a sex offender.
Sex offenses in Clearwater include:
- Lewd and lascivious
- Sexual battery/Rape
- Child pornography
- Indecent exposure
In Florida, violent crimes are offenses that entails force, violence or even the threat of harming another person. There different categories of violent crimes that range from assault, battery, arson, aggravated violence, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping and robbery. Just like with any other felony, the potential penalties vary depending on the crime, the defendant’s criminal history and the aggravating factors that surrounded the case.
Domestic violence charges are offenses that result in the death or physical harm of a spouse, former spouses, family members related by blood or marriage. It can also involve people that live or have lived together as family, or have been involved in a romantic relationship.
Some examples of domestic violence charges in Clearwater include:
- Sexual battery
- Child abuse
A DUI offense is when a person is being charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or other substances that impair his or her faculties to drive a vehicle. The penalties for these charges will vary depending on different factors such as the degree of intoxication, whether this behavior caused an accident as well as the accused’s past criminal record. Overall, a person charged with a DUI may face:
- Probation time
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Community service
White-collar crimes are non-violent offenses and are typically committed in commercial environments with the purpose of obtaining a financial gain. Being charged with a white-collar allegation may result in fines, jail time, home detention, restitution, community confinement and supervised release. Some examples of white-collar crimes include:
- Money laundry
- Credit card fraud
- Tax evasion
Sealing and expunging records
Our Clearwater criminal defense lawyers can also represent clients that want to seal and expunge their records. Sealing a record means that a case is kept on file, but cannot be opened without a judge’s order. On the other hand, when a record is expunged, it is deleted from different databases. In order to apply to any of these processes, the person must meet some requirements.
Federal criminal charges are more serious offenses since they entail breaking federal laws. In addition to this, a crime can also be charged as a federal crime if it was committed in multiple states, federal waters or a U.S. military base. Some examples of federal crimes include violent crimes, fraud, drug trafficking, white-collar crimes and theft.
When to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Clearwater, FL?
In order to take immediate action and protect the accused’s rights, the best moment to hire an attorney is immediately after being arrested or charged with a crime.
Although many people think that having an attorney so early in the process may make them look guilty, the truth is that your lawyer will make sure to protect your rights and intervene so you won’t make statements that may hurt your case.
Furthermore, a Clearwater criminal defense attorney will also review your case and if possible, will work with law enforcement to try to reduce your charges. Hiring an attorney in the early stages of your case can improve your chances of a more positive outcome.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, contact a criminal attorney so they can start working on your case as soon as possible.
Does Being Arrested Mean You Are Charged?
In Florida, being arrested does not necessarily mean that a person has been charged with a crime. When arrested, the person is taken into custody because the law enforcement officers believe that you may have committed a crime.
Depending on the evidence held against you, the prosecutor might or might not charge you with a crime. If you are charged, your Clearwater criminal attorney may try to negotiate with the prosecutor to drop or reduce your charges.
When a person is arrested in Florida, the police officers are required to inform them about their right to remain silent or ask for a lawyer. Even if you haven’t been filed with a criminal charge, having a criminal attorney during your arrests may prevent you from saying something that can hurt your case.
What Does Being Charged Mean?
Being charged means that law enforcement has accused a person of committing a crime. Depending on the severity of the offense, the defendant may face felony or misdemeanor charges. Some of the penalties that the accused might face are:
In general, misdemeanors are less serious offenses. As a result, the punishments are not as severe as felonies. However, some misdemeanors may result in harsher penalties.
|Type of Misdemeanor||Probation||Prison time||Fines|
|First-degree||1 year||1 year||$1,000|
|Second-degree||6 months||60 days||$500|
Unlike misdemeanors, felonies are serious crimes that can result in incarceration or execution. Felonies are classified as:
|Type of Felony||Maximum Prison time||Maximum Fine|
|Life felony||Life imprisonment||$15,000|
|Capital felony||Death penalty/Life in prison|
Facing charges does not mean that you’re automatically guilty. In fact, the accused is innocent until proven otherwise in court. Based on your case, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor or prepare a strong defense to reduce your charges.
Ways a Criminal Lawyer Can Help You
The criminal justice system is sterile, challenging to navigate, and unnerving. Our Clearwater defense attorneys can serve as your legal advocates during the entire process, guiding you through the steps and equipping you to make the smartest decisions for your particular circumstances.
Some of the things that a criminal attorney can do for you include:
- Investigating the facts of your case and speaking to witnesses.
- Looking critically at the prosecutor’s evidence and the way the state has handled the case.
- Attending all your hearings, including the first appearance, bond hearing, arraignment, and trial.
- Easing any concerns you may have about your case.
- Negotiating with the prosecutor for a plea bargain when appropriate.
- Keeping you abreast of any new developments in your case.
- Ensuring the authorities respect and uphold your rights.
- Explaining your legal options and the consequences of each choice.
- Getting your feedback and involving you in the decision-making process.
- Preparing you and your case for trial if it has not settled before the hearing.
- Crafting a thorough, well-planned defense.
- Pushing each step of the way for the best possible outcome for you.
- Standing by your side, ensuring the court hears your voice.
Speak to Our Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys
Goldman Wetzel represents clients accused of criminal charges in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro and surrounding areas including Clearwater Beach, Largo, Pinellas Park, Bradenton and Sarasota.
If you are facing criminal charges, schedule a free consultation with our Clearwater criminal defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel. Contact us through our email form or call at (727) 828-3900 for a free, no-obligation consultation.