The Attorneys at Goldman Wetzel are here to serve clients in Sarasota County, Florida and surrounding areas.
Facing criminal charges can be a stressful and overwhelming ordeal. There is a lot at stake, including your reputation, livelihood, and freedom, and you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect during the process and the penalties you are up against. Although being arrested or charged with a crime does not mean an automatic conviction, having the help of a criminal defense attorney near you in Sarasota can result in a more favorable outcome.
In Sarasota, the penalties for a criminal offense can be very harsh and will depend upon the charges as well as the circumstances of a particular case. In your best interests, it’s important to contact a criminal lawyer that can analyze the best defense for your case and, if possible, reduce your penalties.
Types of Criminal Cases in Florida
In general, a criminal offense is any action or behavior prohibited by law and that transgresses the moral standard of a society. A person accused of a criminal offense may face different types of penalties.
Some of the most common offenses that our Sarasota defense attorneys handle are:
- Domestic violence charges
- Drug crimes
- Federal crimes
- Sealing and expungement records
- Sex Crimes
- Theft crimes
- Violent crimes
- White-collar crimes
Sarasota takes law enforcement very seriously. According to data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in 2019, 1.58% of all the Florida arrests took place in this county. Based on the same report, 16.5% of the arrests were related to violent and assault crimes.
What is Considered a Misdemeanor and What is a Felony in Florida?
In Florida, criminal offenses are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes and, depending on the offense, they are punishable by up to 1 year of prison and a fine less than $1000.
On the other hand, felonies are more complex and severe crimes. Depending on the crime and its aggravating circumstances, a person charged with a felony may face imprisonment, fines and probation. The maximum fines and maximum prison sentence for felonies in Florida are:
- Capital felony: death penalty
- Life felony: Life sentence imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
- First-degree felony: up to 30 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
- Second-degree felony: up to 15 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
- Third-degree felony: up to 5 years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
Even though misdemeanors are less severe, some more serious versions could be charged as felonies. For that reason, it’s important to call a criminal defense attorney in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area as soon as possible.
What Crimes Are Felonies in Florida?
As established before, felonies are more serious crimes in Florida and the circumstances of the crime will determine the degree of felony as well as the possible penalties. Some examples of felonies in Florida include:
- Sex crimes
- Child abuse
- Drug possession (depending on the drug and the amount)
- Aggravated assault and battery
- Grand theft
- Drug trafficking
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Facing any criminal allegation can be frightening, stressful and frustrating, especially, if you don’t know how the law and the criminal system justice work. Our criminal defense lawyers in Sarasota have the experience to help you with your case.
Here are 5 ways our defense attorneys can help you:
Assess your charges
One of the first things that your lawyer will review is your case and the evidence that the state may have against you. In this point of the process, the attorney will make sure that your rights haven’t been violated. Depending on your case and its circumstances, Goldman Wetzel attorneys may be able to expose flaws or gaps in the case early on and get the prosecutor to reduce charges or drop it altogether.
Investigate your case
In order to understand your case and prepare a good strategy, your lawyer will investigate your case to craft the strongest defense possible. In addition to using the information gathered by law enforcement, the research may include hiring expert witnesses and collecting supporting evidence to try to reduce the charges filed against you.
Build your defense
Another common way that a defense attorney can help is to build the best defense for your case. The strategy will vary depending on your charges, the circumstances of the case, your past criminal record as well as the information found during the discovery process.
In any case, your lawyer will keep you abreast of the status of your case and of upcoming hearings, and explain the decisions and strategies for your situation.
Negotiate your charges
In some cases, criminal attorneys can help their clients to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce your charges as well as the possible penalties associated with them. We have extensive experience doing this in Sarasota County with local prosecutors.
We will work to obtain the best possible outcome for your case, and help you avoid jail time and other difficult penalties. It’s important to know that the outcomes vary depending on the specific characteristics of each case.
Represent you in court
If your case cannot be settled before trial, your criminal lawyer will prepare for trial and represent you in court. In order to build a strong defense, they will help you prepare for testimony. Additionally, the defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel will present evidence and circumstances that may convince the judge to reduce your penalties.
What Happens If I’m Arrested in Sarasota County?
The most important piece of advice we can offer right after an arrest is this: avoid volunteering information to the investigator. You may say too much and wind up damaging your case. Second, exercise your right to legal representation and call our office straightaway: 941-405-5193. We will spring into action, keep you from worsening the situation, and begin working on a strategy for your case.
After an arrest in Sarasota, there are several steps you will take:
- Booking: After the arrest, officers will inform you of your rights and book you at the local jail.
- First appearance: Within 24 hours, you will appear in court for your first appearance with the judge. If you called us at the onset, we may be at the first appearance with you if your bond is too high and you want to lower it or if you were denied bond (e.g., in a domestic violence case).
- Arraignment: The next court date is the arraignment, where you enter your plea. We might be able to handle this without your presence. We will let you know if you need to attend. At the arraignment, we will first argue for the state to drop the charges or to file a lesser charge, so please retain us as soon as possible so we may intervene.
- Pretrial process: “Pretrial” simply refers to things that occur between the arraignment and trial. Various actions may take place during this time, depending on your case, such as negotiations with the state, discovery, applying for a diversion program, moving applicable cases to mental health court, and filing motions. We will schedule regular meetings with you to keep you informed of what has transpired.
- Trial preparation and trial: If the case has not been settled or dismissed by this time, then we prepare to argue your case at trial. This stage includes pretrial hearings, depositions, potential negotiations, actual trial, and deliberation, and concludes with sentencing.
When to Get a Criminal Lawyer in Sarasota County?
Ideally, all people should have the help of a criminal defense attorney if they’re facing criminal charges such as assault and battery, drug crimes, homicide, theft, fraud, sexual crimes or any other violent crime.
In order to improve the possible outcomes of your case, you want to get a lawyer immediately after you were arrested and the police told you about your right to counsel. If you’re being questioned without the presence of your lawyer, you may incriminate yourself. In addition to this, your attorney can review the evidence against you and find the right strategies to try to reduce or dismiss your charges.
What penalties am I facing and how do I reduce them?
Your potential penalties depend on various factors, including the nature of your charges, your criminal record, the evidence against you, and even the tendencies of the particular judge that hears your case.
After reviewing your case, your criminal lawyer will inform you of the penalties that you may be facing as well as what we believe to be the best strategies to try to reduce your charges.
Will my criminal case go to court?
Whether your case goes to court depends on what happens during the earlier phases of your case. If the State Attorney’s Office receives a formal complaint and gathers enough evidence, they may file charges and you may go to court.
Oftentimes, a Sarasota criminal lawyer from Goldman Wetzel can get the charges dropped or settle the case long before trial. The sooner an attorney intervenes with your case, the better chances you have of an early settlement and more favorable outcome.
Contact a Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you or a loved one facing criminal charges? Protect your future today by scheduling a free consultation with a Sarasota criminal defense attorney. Get help today by calling Goldman Wetzel at 941-405-5193.
Goldman Wetzel is a law firm that represents clients accused of crime offenses in Sarasota, Bayshore Gardens, Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and surrounding areas.