Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers: FAQs
Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers: FAQs
Getting arrested or charged with a crime in Miami can be a scary and overwhelming experience. As a suspect, you likely have a ton of questions about your rights, the legal process, and potential consequences. That’s why it’s so important to speak with an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. They can answer all your questions and start building the strongest possible defense for your case.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about criminal defense in Miami:
What should I do if I’m arrested in Miami?
First, invoke your right to remain silent! Anything you say to the police can be used against you, so don’t answer any questions without your lawyer present. Politely inform officers you wish to remain silent. Next, ask for your one phone call and contact a defense lawyer immediately. Don’t say anything or sign anything without their guidance.
What are my rights after being arrested?
You have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to make a phone call. You also have the right to be told what crime your being charged with. Don’t waive any of these important rights when speaking to police.
Should I answer questions from the police?
Absolutely not! The 5th Amendment gives you the right to remain silent, so use it. Anything you say to the police can potentially incriminate you later on. Be polite but firm and ask for your lawyer before answering questions.
What does a criminal defense lawyer do?
A criminal defense lawyer advocates for clients who have been accused or charged with crimes. They investigate the case, negotiate with prosecutors, file motions to suppress evidence, defend you in court, and craft trial strategies to fight the charges. Their goal is getting charges reduced or dismissed.
How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Miami?
Costs vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, the complexity of your case, whether it goes to trial, etc. Simple misdemeanor cases can start around $2,000 – $5,000. Felonies and federal cases cost $15,000+ on average. Be wary of lawyers charging extremely low fees.
What’s the difference between a misdemeanor and felony in Florida?
Misdemeanors are less serious crimes punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Felonies are more serious crimes punishable by over 1 year in prison. Grand theft, assault, DUI, possession, and other charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies depending on circumstances.
What are common criminal charges in Miami?
Drug possession, DUI, domestic violence, theft, prostitution, battery, weapons charges, fraud, and traffic offenses are some of the most common crimes in Miami. The area also sees white collar crimes like embezzlement, money laundering, tax evasion, etc.
What are the stages of a criminal case in Florida?
The main stages are: arrest, arraignment, pretrial hearings, plea bargaining, trial, and sentencing. A case could take weeks or years depending on motions, plea negotiations, and more. An experienced lawyer guides you through every stage.
What does it mean to make bail in Florida?
Making bail allows a defendant to be released from jail before their trial. The court sets a bail amount, which can be paid to secure your release. Defendants can pay the full bail amount themselves or use a bail bondsman.
What factors determine bail in Miami?
Judges consider flight risk, criminal history, charges, employment, community ties and other factors. More serious crimes typically have higher bail. Many first-time offenders with close ties to Miami will have lower bail.
Can I get bail reduced in Miami?
Yes, an attorney can file a motion to get your bail amount lowered by arguing it was improperly set. If the judge agrees, they may reduce the bail to an amount you can more easily afford.
What is a plea bargain in a criminal case?
Plea bargains involve negotiating with prosecutors to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a lighter sentence. Over 90% of criminal cases end with plea bargains because they offer defendants predictable outcomes.
What are the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal?
Pleas guarantee a conviction but with lesser penalties vs. risking trial. The downside is pleading guilty to a crime you may not have committed. An attorney helps weigh options.
Can a plea deal be revoked?
In rare cases, a judge may reject the terms of a plea agreement and send the case to trial. Defendants who don’t fulfill the terms, like failing drug tests or missing court dates, may also have pleas revoked.
What kinds of penalties do criminal convictions carry?
Possible penalties include fines, restitution, probation, community service, rehab programs, license suspension, and incarceration. Convictions stay on your criminal record and can limit jobs, loans, housing, and other opportunities.
Can a criminal record be expunged in Florida?
Yes, Florida allows record expungement and sealing in some cases. An experienced lawyer can determine if you’re eligible and handle the petition process. Expungement clears the offense from public records.
What is a withhold of adjudication in Florida?
With a withhold of adjudication, the court delays formally convicting you, so no conviction appears on your record. It’s granted for first-time offenses. You must complete probation terms to earn the withhold.
How can I get evidence thrown out in my Miami criminal case?
An attorney can file a suppression motion arguing evidence was illegally obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. If successful, the judge excludes that evidence from trial.
Should I consider taking my case to trial in Miami?
Going to trial is a personal decision that your lawyer will advise you on. Trials allow you to fight the charges before a judge or jury, but you risk harsher penalties if convicted. An attorney helps weigh options.
What happens at a criminal trial in Miami?
The prosecutor presents evidence and witnesses proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your defense lawyer cross-examines their witnesses and presents evidence refuting their claims to raise doubt in jurors’ minds.
How long do criminal trials last in Florida?
Misdemeanor trials may only last a day or two. Felony trials often range from 3 days to a week. Complex federal cases with multiple defendants can sometimes last months before reaching a verdict.
What options do I have if I’m found guilty at trial?
After conviction, your lawyer can file appeals arguing mistakes of law were made during trial. They may also request a new trial based on new evidence. Sentencing delays are also Here is a 3000 word article on Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers: FAQs in HTML format:
Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers: FAQs
Getting arrested or charged with a crime in Miami can be a scary and overwhelming experience. As a suspect, you have important legal rights that can impact your case. Working with an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer is essential to protect your rights and build the strongest defense. But you probably have a lot of questions about the criminal justice process and what a defense lawyer can do for you. We’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions below.
What does a criminal defense lawyer do?
A criminal defense lawyer represents people who have been accused of committing a crime. Their job is to protect your legal rights at every stage of the case. An attorney can:
- Advise you on the law and potential penalties you face
- Negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or a favorable plea deal
- File motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence
- Investigate the case and interview witnesses to build your defense
- Represent you in court hearings and at trial
Having an experienced lawyer on your side can make all the difference in getting charges reduced or dismissed, avoiding jail time, and protecting your criminal record.
What types of crimes do defense lawyers handle?
Criminal defense attorneys represent clients accused of both misdemeanors and felonies, including:
- Drug crimes – possession, trafficking, distribution, etc.
- Violent crimes – assault, battery, homicide, etc.
- Sex crimes – rape, statutory rape, solicitation, etc.
- White collar crimes – fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, etc.
- DUI and traffic offenses
- Domestic violence
- Weapons charges – possession of firearm, concealed carry, etc.
- Probation violations
No matter what type of criminal charge you face in Miami, an experienced defense lawyer can analyze the evidence against you and build the strongest case possible.
When should I hire a criminal defense attorney?
It’s important to have a lawyer on your side as early in the process as possible. Police and prosecutors move quickly after an arrest, so you need someone protecting your rights right away. Don’t wait to consult with an attorney.
After an arrest, you only have a limited time – usually just a few days – to take important actions like requesting a probable cause hearing or filing motions to preserve evidence. An experienced lawyer knows all the options available to start challenging the prosecution’s case against you.
Having a lawyer immediately after an arrest can also impact the outcome of your case down the road. For example, anything you say during a police interrogation can be used against you later. A lawyer can advise you on whether to answer questions.
What happens at an initial consultation?
The first meeting with a defense attorney is an initial consultation. This is a chance for the lawyer to learn the details of your case, advise you on the law and possible penalties, and start building a defense strategy. Initial consultations are also an opportunity for you to assess different attorneys and find one you feel comfortable with.
Potential topics to cover during an initial consultation include:
- The circumstances leading up to your arrest
- The specific charges against you
- Your interactions with police during investigation and interrogation
- Your criminal history and record
- Potential defenses and strategies based on the facts of your case
- Likely outcomes and penalties if convicted
- Attorney fees and a representation agreement
Initial consultations are usually free. Be prepared to give your attorney the facts needed to start building your defense.
How much does a defense attorney cost?
The cost to hire a criminal defense lawyer can vary greatly depending on factors like:
- Attorney’s experience and reputation
- Complexity of your case
- Whether your case goes to trial
- Length of the proceedings
Less serious misdemeanor cases may cost between $1,500-$5,000 total. More complex felonies can cost $15,000 or more if they go to trial. Rates are usually based on an hourly fee or a flat fee for the entire case.
Defense lawyers know that most clients can’t afford high retainers upfront. Many offer payment plans or allow you to pay at the conclusion of the case. Be sure to discuss costs during your initial consultation.
How can a lawyer defend someone who is guilty?
One of the most important rights in our justice system is the presumption of innocence – every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Even if someone committed a crime, it’s a defense attorney’s duty to hold prosecutors accountable to prove guilt with reliable evidence and follow proper procedures.
A lawyer also ensures the accused receives fair treatment and protects their constitutional rights. For example, the lawyer will:
- Advise the defendant on legal options like pleading not guilty or negotiating a plea deal
- Argue to exclude illegally obtained evidence from trial
- Cross-examine prosecution witnesses to expose inconsistencies
- Present evidence and call witnesses supporting the defendant’s innocence
While every defendant has a right to the strongest defense possible, ethical rules prohibit lawyers from knowingly presenting false or perjured testimony in court. Attorneys have a duty as officers of the court to uphold justice while vigorously defending their clients.
What is the role of the judge in a criminal case?
Judges serve as neutral arbiters in criminal cases. Their main duties include:
- Deciding which laws and procedures apply
- Ruling on motions and objections
- Instructing the jury on the law
- Determining if evidence is admissible
- Imposing a sentence if there is a guilty verdict
Judges oversee trials to ensure fairness and that the rights of both sides are protected. While judges sentence convicted defendants, they do not determine guilt or innocence – that is the jury’s role.
What happens at a plea hearing?
If a defendant accepts a plea deal, a formal plea hearing is held in court. The judge advises the defendant of their rights, asks if they understand the plea agreement, and determines if the plea is voluntary. Defendants must admit guilt and waive their trial rights on the record. If the judge accepts the plea, no trial is held and the negotiated sentence is imposed.
Can a judge reject a plea agreement?
Yes, judges have discretion to reject a plea bargain if they feel the agreed sentence is inappropriate or the plea wasn’t knowingly and voluntarily made. The defendant would then proceed to trial or attempt to negotiate a new plea deal.