Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal LawClick on a question to read the answer to the frequently asked question.
FAQ CRIMINAL LAW:
What if the police want to question me?
You should always ask for an attorney BEFORE you talk to the police about an alleged crime in which you are a witness or target of an investigation.
Do I have to let the police search my car?
NO, you do not have to give consent to let the police search your car. If you do consent, and the police find some illegal contraband (for example, illegal drugs; a prescription medicine that is also a controlled substance (for example, Xanax or Oxycotin) that is not yours; illegal weapons; or even alcohol if you are under 21 years of age); then the police can arrest you for the possession of that illegal contraband. However, if the police have a search warrant, or if you are already under arrest, the police can search your vehicle without your permission.
Can I be forced to give a DNA, blood or other test?
Yes, you may required to give samples, even against your will.
When should I call a lawyer?
If you are incarcerated, ask the person you call to contact an attorney to protect your rights.
What are my Miranda rights?
If you watch TV, then you have probably heard a Miranda warning at least once or twice. The Miranda Warning goes like this . . . "You have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire. If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time."
Should I ask for an attorney after I am given a Miranda warning?
Whether you are at the jail, in the back seat of a law enforcement vehicle or at the scene of a crime, a law enforcement officer (the police) must give you a Miranda warning if they want to question you and use your answers against you in a criminal prosecution and trial. You should always ask for an attorney BEFORE you talk to the police about an alleged crime in which you are a witness or target of an investigation.
What is an arraignment?
Arraignment is the court date at which a defendant pleads “Guilty”, “Not Guilty”, or “No Contest”. The smartest and safest thing to do is to plead “Not Guilty” and to ask the Judge for time to hire an attorney as soon as possible, if you have not already done so.
How do I get out of jail if arrested?
Bail is set by a judge in an amount the Judge deems sufficient to insure that the person charged with a crime will show up at the next court date.
How do I put up bail in order to be released?
Bail must be reasonable and can be paid in cash (commonly called a “cash bond”) or by putting up property to stand for the bail or by having a bail bond company put up a bond by paying a non-refundable bond premium equal to 10% of the amount set by the court (commonly called a “surety bond”). If a person charged with a crime has strong ties to the community it is possible for the Judge to be release the defendant on their own recognizance without posting a bond. This is unusual, but it does happen on occasion.
What happens after I get out of jail?
The Office of the State Attorney makes the decision on what charges to file against you. The Office of the State Attorney usually begins the prosecution by filing the charges in a document called the “Information.” The “Information” is a document that spells out what specific crimes that are being charged against the accused.
What is pre-trial intervention (PTI)?
In certain cases (usually first offenders) the state attorney will consider allowing the accused to go into a type of intervention program that is like being on probation for a period of time, usually from one year to eighteen months to see if the accused can prove that he or she can function as a law abiding citizen. If the program is completed, the state attorney drops the charges and the and then the accused may be eligible to have the criminal history expunged or sealed. The Office of the State Attorney has sole discretion on which people are allowed into the program, and which people are not.
Where do I go for more information?
Call the attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill for a free consultation and case evaluation.
How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill can help you navigate the system and many times we can contact the state attorney before crimes are filed to assist in reducing or eliminating the charges
Can I be arrested if someone else in my car has drugs?
It happens all the time. A police officer pulls over a car for a traffic violation. The officer might see some contraband (drugs, etc.) in plain sight. Or the officer might request permission to search the car, and the driver is so scared that he gives permission, and then the police officer finds some contraband (drugs, etc.) in the glove compartment, under the seat, etc.
Can you seal or expunge my criminal record?
Florida law does allow for the sealing and/or expungement of your criminal record under certain circumstances. The criminal lawyers at Byrd & Barnhill are willing to evaluate your particular situation. The consultation is FREE.
Does completing PTI or MIP seal my criminal record?
No. Even if you participated and successfully completed an MIP or PTI program, or some other pre-trial diversion program, your criminal history is still freely available for anyone with a computer or even a smart phone to look at. The sealing/expunging process is completely separate from the MIP or PTI program.
We are conveniently located just two blocks from the Plant City Courthouse
Byrd & Barnhill, P.L., 206 North Collins Street, Plant City, Florida 33563
Telephone (813) 759-1224 Fax (813) 759-1101