Criminal Law

Aggressive Defense 

Criminal cases are crimes against society as a whole, rather than a dispute between two individuals or organizations. These crimes have a higher level of severity because they create a danger to society as a whole. A strong defense team has the ability to assess your case and identify opportunities to lessen charges, or have your case dismissed. It is essential to hire experienced lawyers who will fight for you. 

Examples of Criminal Cases

  • Domestic Violence
  • Drug Crimes
  • DUI
  • Possession of Stolen Property
  • Violent Crimes
  • Theft
  • Stalking
  • Sex Crimes

What Happens Next?

Following an arrest, the number one question we receive is "What happens next?" This time can be overwhelming and confusing for someone who has never faced a criminal charge in the state of Florida. Our best piece of advice, hire a De Pury Law attorney to represent you throughout this process. Each stage of the process can have life-long consequences and it is essential to have legal representation that understands the process and will fight for you and your rights.


Booking

Following the arrest, the accused is taken to booking in the county jail where they will take a booking photo, an inventory of their belongings, and process the accused at the jail.


First Appearance

The accused will attend their first court hearing within 24 to 48 hours. During this court appearance the charges will be presented to the accused, the judge will ensure that an attorney has been retained, and an amount is set for bail. At this time, the judge can set additional conditions for the accused to follow. 


During this first appearance, the accused is not required to speak, and is encouraged not to as anything they say can be used against them at a later court date. 


Arraignment Hearing

The next hearing the accused will face is the Arraignment Hearing. At this court appearance the accused will submit a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest). At this time, the prosecuting attorney will file an "Information," which provides a list of the exact charge or charges that they will be perusing against the defendant. These charges ca be more or less severe than what was originally provided in the arrest report. 


Notice of Discovery and Demand for Jury Trial

Your lawyer may file a "Notice of Discovery," which requires the prosecutor to provide the lawyer of the accused with a copy of all evidence they have collected, additionally, the defense attorney will provide the prosecutor with any evidence they have obtained. 


Preliminary Hearing

During this hearing evidence is presented to the Court and the prosecutor must establish that there is sufficient evidence for probable cause, or else the case can be thrown out or dismissed. The defense attorney will also provide evidence to prove that there is not a sufficient amount of evidence for probable cause, or that the evidence was obtained illegally. If the defense attorney is successful, the charges may be dismissed or reduced.


Pretrial Hearing

Following the Preliminary Hearing a pretrial date will be set. At this appearance, the defense attorney and prosecution will discuss the case. At this time, a plea bargain may be negotiated, accepted, or rejected. If the plea is agreed upon the case will be finalized. If not, the judge will schedule another pretrial. There can be many pretrial hearings before the judge sets a final trial date. 


Trial

There are two types of trials, a jury trial and a trial by judge. In the later, the defense and the prosecution will present their cases directly to the judge who will make a final determination of guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented. For a guilty verdict, the judge must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.


For a jury trial, the defense and prosecution will enter into a process call jury selection. During this selection process each lawyer will ask questions of the potential jurors to determine the best candidates for their case. The case will be argued before both a judge and a jury, with the jury making the final decision of guilt or innocence. Similar to the trial by judge, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the accused's guilt. 


Most jury trials proceed as follows:

  1. Opening statements
  2. The prosecutor’s case is presented to the court
  3. The defense cross-examines of the prosecutor’s case
  4. The defense’s case is presented to the court
  5. The prosecutor cross-examines defense’s case
  6. Closing arguments
  7. Verdict

With the final verdict handed down, there are two possible outcomes: guilty, or not guilty. If the defendant is found not guilty, he or she will be able to leave the court immediately. However, upon a guilty verdict, the defendant will be returned to the jail where they will await a sentencing hearing. This hearing can take two weeks to ninety days from the guilty verdict. In Florida, the consequences of a guilty verdict may include fines, imprisonment, community service, mandatory education classes, and probation.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

Felony

Florida statutes 775.08(1) defines a felony is a crime in which the maximum penalty is death or incarceration in the state penitentiary for at least one year. Felonies have varying degrees. Florida statutes 775.081 divides crimes into degrees and 775.082 delineates the maximum penalties for each crime, including misdemeanors. Thus, Florida law recognizes crimes for which the maximum penalty is:

  • a) Capital felony whose punishment is death, 
  • b) Life felonies, meaning that the maximum term of incarceration in life in prison or no less than 30 years in prison, 
  • c) First-degree felony, the maximum penalty for which is life incarceration with the potential for parole but could include minimum sentences depending on the offender’s prior history and degree of violence involved in the underlying crime,
  • d) Second-degree felony, the maximum penalty for which is 15 years, and
  • e) A third-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

Misdemeanor

Florida statutes 775.08(2) defines a misdemeanor as any crime that carries incarceration of one year or less in county jail. However, a first-degree misdemeanor carries at most one year in imprisonment in the country jail. A second-degree misdemeanor in Florida carries a maximum penalty of 60 days.