Tampa Arrest Lawyer
Being arrested can be a jarring, scary experience that most people in life will never go through or expect to go through. Most people do not know what they should do when they are arrested, and many people will take actions that will only hurt them in the long run. That is why it is vital that you retain the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can after being arrested. A criminal conviction can completely derail your life. Even a conviction for a minor crime can have long-lasting consequences on your employment, your reputation, your professional licensing, your immigration status, and even your credit. Whether you have been arrested on misdemeanor charges or felony charges, it is crucial to have the strongest legal representation.
Having the right lawyer in your corner can be the difference between sitting in jail and getting out on bail, between a felony conviction and reduced charges, between ending up in prison or serving some alternate form of punishment, or even between a conviction and having the charges dropped entirely. Reach out to our dedicated Tampa criminal lawyers if you or a loved one have been arrested in the Tampa area.
The Arrest Process
In Florida, the arrest process will typically start with a judge issuing an arrest warrant or bench warrant authorizing the police to detain you. The police may also arrest you if they believe they have personally witnessed you committing a crime, such as if they pull you over for drunk driving. If you learn that you have been accused of a crime and may have a warrant for your arrest, it is already time to call a good criminal defense attorney.
Once you have been arrested, you will be taken in to be booked. The government will gather your information to put in the system, including your personally identifying information, your fingerprints, and details about your arrest and alleged crime. After they collect this information, your bail may be posted.
Bail is set after most non-capital crime arrests. A Florida judge will set your bail generally based on the severity and violence of the alleged crime. Bail is meant to reflect both the level of danger you present to society as well as your likelihood of returning to court (or fleeing). Factors that affect bail include, among others, the evidence of your guilt, your family ties to the community, the nature and circumstances of the accused offense, your employment history and financial situation, and any ties to people outside of the country.
For example, for a less serious crime, your bail may be set at $20,000. If you have $20,000 cash, you can pay it to the court. The money will be returned to you at your trial. If you don’t show up for trial, you lose the $20,000. Most people can’t afford to pay bail in cash, and will instead go to a bail bond agent. The bail bondsman will generally take something like 10 percent of your bail amount (here, $2,000) to keep, and will front the other $18,000. The bondsman will then owe the court $20,000 if you fail to show up; the bondsman will likely try to track you down in that case.
Know Your Rights
You are guaranteed certain rights and protections under the United States and Florida state constitutions. If you are under arrest, it is essential to keep these protections in mind in order to avoid waiving any rights or otherwise harming your defense:
The right to due process, meaning you cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without legal process and authorization.
The right to remain silent, including the right to stop answering police questions at any time
The right to an attorney, either to retain your own or to have an attorney appointed for you by the court
The right to privately consult with your attorney
The right to be free from unlawful search and seizure
The right to know your constitutional rights, a.k.a. your “Miranda Rights”
The right to know your charges, and to see any relevant warrant within a reasonable time after arrest
The right to be released on reasonable bail or bond, depending on the crime
The police can begin questioning you when they arrest you or after you have been detained. You can, and should, invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney as soon as possible. If you choose to speak without an attorney present, you are waiving your rights, and anything you say can be used against you.
What Not to Do If You Are Arrested
There are many pitfalls to avoid after you have been arrested in Florida. Police and prosecutors are looking for anything they can use against you, anything that will harm your defense. If you have been arrested, here are some things NOT to do:
Do not make any statements to the police. Be courteous and follow any reasonable orders, including giving basic information such as your name and address. Do not try to argue your case on the street; you will almost certainly do more harm than good. Anything you say to the police can and will be used against you. Wait until you have an attorney present to speak about the case.
Do not talk to your friends, family, or anyone else about the facts of the case. Speak only with your attorney, or to the authorities with your attorney present and after consulting with your attorney.
Do not give details about the case over the jail phone, whether to your friends or an attorney; wait until you can speak to your attorney in person.
Do not consent to any searches, either of your property or your home. Ask to see a warrant before allowing any searches. Consult a lawyer before you let the police conduct any search, take any DNA samples, or perform other tests such as field sobriety tests.
Do not fight or argue with the police. You will not help your case, and you may even give the police cause to claim you were resisting arrest.
Contact Our Seasoned Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
An arrest can be the start of a very trying time in your life. It is vital that you have the right legal defense on your side to help you understand the process, protect your rights, and build your strongest defense. The Tampa criminal defense lawyers at The Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group are here to fight on your behalf. Please contact us today for your free case consultation. You can call us directly, or fill out our online form. We can travel to meet with you if necessary.