A criminal arrest is a sudden deprivation of your freedom. Even if you have not been arrested, being subjected to a criminal investigation or having accusations brought against you can be a confusing and scary process. Law enforcement, prosecutors and judges may have already begun making decisions that will affect the rest of your life. You need an attorney who can advise you of your rights and protect your interests. We are experienced criminal defense attorneys and can help you through one of the most difficult times of your life. Our initial evaluation is always free and we will work with you on payment terms.
Contact Centrone & Shrader, PLLC at (813) 360-1529 to speak with an attorney for a free consultation about your case. We will fight to protect your rights.
If you or someone you know is contacted by law enforcement, you should speak to a lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights and defenses in the complicated legal system. Law enforcement may be building a case against you. Centrone & Shrader, PLLC has experienced criminal defense attorneys who can help make sure that you are treated fairly and get the best possible result. Call us at (813) 360-1529.
If you have already been convicted of a crime, either by trial or through entering a guilty plea, you may still have the opportunity to challenge your conviction. Often those convicted of a crime can appeal the legality of their sentence or even challenge their prior attorney’s work. Having a new attorney review you file promptly after conviction could lead to new chances to exercise your rights. Centrone & Shrader, PLLC can provide you with the post-conviction representation you need.
Victim of a Crime?
If you are a victim of a crime, you may also benefit from hiring an attorney. An attorney can walk you through the process and let you know what to expect. A lawyer can also help make sure that the prosecutors are treating the crime perpetrated against you as seriously as possible, can help protect your privacy, can inform prosecutors if your interests change, and, if you wish, can help ensure that the media hears your side of the story. Centrone & Shrader, PLLC can represent your interests as a victim of crime. Call us at (813) 360-1529.
Federal vs. State Prosecution
Legal rules change depending on whether the crime is charged in state or federal court. Most criminal matters are dealt with in state courts unless:
- The crime occurred on federal property
- A federal employee committed the crime or was the victim
- The criminal activity affects interstate commerce, such as drug trafficking
Centrone & Shrader, PLLC has experience in both federal and state courts and will represent your interests in either, or both, jurisdictions.
What to Expect
Although the rules often vary, most criminal proceedings include the following steps:
- Stop or Investigation – The police must have at least a reasonable belief that you violated the law in order to stop or investigate you.
- Search – To get a search warrant, the police must show a judge that they have probable cause, meaning there are enough facts to support the assumption that there is sufficient evidence present where they are going to search. Under certain circumstances, the police do not need a warrant. For instance, if there is an urgent need to search the premises for personal or public safety.
- Interrogation – You can only be questioned as long as your constitutional rights are protected. The police must have probable cause to arrest you, unless the crime was committed in the officer’s presence. Everyone has the constitutional right to an attorney and to remain silent until speaking with that attorney.
- Charge/Release/Bail – The police have a very short time after arrest to either charge you or release you. If the police charge you, an information or indictment will be filed, and you will hear the charges against you at an arraignment. At the arraignment, you can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. The judge may also set conditions for your release pending trial. Sometimes a preliminary hearing may also be held to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
- Discovery and Investigation – In criminal matters charged in a state court, your attorney will request, and receive, information pertaining to your arrest within a few weeks. Federal courts more severely limit access to that information. An attorney may be able to obtain information from the prosecutor, and conduct additional investigations, including witness interviews, depositions, and retention of experts to help build your defense.
- Negotiations – An attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to attempt to obtain a lower sentence through plea bargain. This sentence may be something that you are comfortable agreeing to, and might be your last chance to have a say regarding your punishment terms.
- Trial – You are constitutionally guaranteed the right to a trial by jury and the right to confront your accusers. If found guilty, the court will determine the length and type of punishment you receive.
The most serious crimes are felonies and those individuals charged with felonies face a risk of severe punishment. Felonies are crimes that are punishable by more than one year in prison. That is why people who have been charged with felonies need attorneys who know how to fight to make sure their rights are protected. The following crimes may be considered felonies in the State of Florida:
- Domestic Violence
- Grand Theft
- Drug Possession & Trafficking
- Assault & Battery
- Drug Possession or Trafficking
- Sex Crimes
- Computer Crimes
- Identity Theft
Fraud and other White Collar CrimesThere are several degrees of felonies in Florida and the degree determines the maximum sentence that the accused may face.
- Capital Felony – Those charged with a capital felony (such as first degree murder) face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Life Felony – A defendant charged with a life felony faces life in prison or no less than 25 years in prison.
- First Degree Felony – A person charged with a first degree felony may be imprisoned for not more than 30 years or life imprisonment, if provided for by law.
- Second Degree Felony – A second degree felony can lead to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 15 years.
- Third Degree Felony – Even the lowest class of felony, a third degree felony, can lead to a prison term of not more than 5 years.
Misdemeanors are crimes that are generally punishable by less than one year in jail. Many misdemeanors involve monetary fines, restitution, and/or community service. While misdemeanors may be punished less severely than felonies, they can still have a large negative impact on your life. Misdemeanors will still show up in your criminal history when employers or schools perform a criminal background check. Further, being convicted of a misdemeanor may result in a loss of a professional license or the ability to keep government employment.
The following crimes are generally considered misdemeanors in the State of Florida:
- Assault & Battery
- Drunk Driving / DUI / DWI
- Public drunkenness
- Resisting arrest or resisting a police officer
- Disorderly conduct
- Breach of the peace
- Failure to appear in court
There are 2 degrees of misdemeanors in Florida and, like felonies, the degree determines the maximum sentence that a defendant may face.
- First degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in county jail
- Second degree misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail