Know Your Rights
An Experienced Criminal Defense Team
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, you may be uncertain how to proceed. The attorneys at East Lake Law Firm are prepared to help guide you through this time.
What is a Criminal Offense?
A criminal offense is a violation of a law. Criminal offenses fall into three different categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. These crimes are distinguished by their seriousness and scope of associated punishment.
Felonies are the most serious classification of crimes and are generally punishable by significant jail time. While the crimes that are classified as felonies can vary by state, common examples are murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, tax evasion, and treason.
Florida has adopted sentencing guidelines that require the judge to determine sentencing length based on a variety of factors, such as prior criminal history and the nature of the crime. These guidelines can often be hard to interpret and a good first step is to contact a lawyer familiar with Florida criminal defense strategies. Depending on the severity of the felony, some crimes are punishable by death in the state of Florida.Misdemeanor
Misdemeanors are crimes that the state has deemed less severe than felonies and therefore are associated with a less severe punishment. In Florida, these crimes carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Examples of misdemeanor offenses include simple battery, driving under the influence, vandalism, trespassing, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
These offenses are crimes that are generally not accompanied by jail time and are instead resolved through paying a fine. Infractions are violations of local laws or ordinances that are meant to protect against misbehavior and dangerous conditions, such as speed limits, traffic laws, and anti-noise ordinances. In some instances, infractions can become more serious. For example, going ten miles over the speed limit may constitute a minor infraction, but going 40 miles over the speed limit will be more serious, especially if it results in injury.
You are Facing Criminal Charges – Now What?
You have found yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being charged with a criminal offense, and you are wondering what to do next. First, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Ensuring your rights are protected from the outset will be critical.
If you have been arrested, you can expect to be:
- Booked at the police department, including completion of routine procedural requirements such as fingerprinting;
- Advised of the charges against you;
- Arraigned at a court session where you will have an opportunity to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest; and
- Depending on your plea, you will either have a trial scheduled (for not guilty pleas) or a sentencing hearing scheduled (for guilty and no contest pleas).
Those arrested of crimes are guaranteed some essential rights, including the well-known rights to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney. However, there are other rights they may not, know to request. These include the rights to know the crimes for which they have been charged, to communicate with friends and family, and to know the identity of the police officers with whom they are interacting. An attorney will be critical to advocating for these rights on the defendant's behalf.
Working with an attorney you trust will be critical to the successful resolution of the criminal charges. They can work with you to craft an effective strategy to counter the charges. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at East Lake Law Firm are well-positioned to support you during this difficult time. Contact us now for a consultation.