Criminal Defense FAQs
What are my rights if I have been accused of a crime?
What should I do if I have been arrested?
What should I do if I get a call that a loved one has been arrested?
Why should I hire a criminal defense attorney?
What types of punishments do I face if convicted of a crime?
Frequently asked questions about Florida criminal defense law
If you are accused of a crime, you have certain rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, including:
- The right to avoid self-incrimination
- The right to competent legal representation
- The right to reasonable bail
- The right to a fair and public trial
- The right to be informed of the charges against you
- The right to be confronted with the witnesses against you and to gather witnesses of your own
- The right to a speedy trial
- The right to face your accusers
Under U.S. law, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the criminal act. You do not have to do anything or say anything to prove you are innocent.
If you have been arrested, you should answer all questions about your identity, such as your name, address and birth date. Keep in mind that while you have the right to refrain from answering self-incriminating questions, lying is never a good idea. Giving officers a hard time during the arrest process is also not beneficial and makes things tougher on you.
If a loved one has been arrested, it is important to get as much information as possible about the arrest. Write the information down and then call an experienced attorney like the criminal defense attorneys at Payas, Payas & Payas, LLP. The following information may be helpful:
- Name, birth date and Social Security number of the arrested person
- Crime with which he or she has been charged
- Name of the law enforcement agency that made the arrest
- Location where the arrested person is being held
- Whether bail has been set and, if so, the amount
Competent legal representation is so important that the U.S. Constitution guarantees every criminal defendant the right to an attorney. An experienced criminal attorney knows the laws and court customs relevant to your case and can apply this knowledge to protect your rights and freedom. Regardless of your legal situation, a criminal lawyer can help you more than you can help yourself by going it alone. Most judges will not even consider a plea bargain from a defendant without legal representation.
Sentencing can vary depending on the location of the case, the crime, the judge, the jury and other specifics of the case. Punishment for a particular crime may be governed by the federal sentencing guidelines, and the judge does not have a big impact on determining the punishment. In other cases, the sentence is up to the judge’s discretion. In those cases, the judge considers several factors when determining a punishment. The most common punishments for a criminal conviction include:
- Jail, prison or other detention facility sentence
- Punitive fines
- Restitution or compensation to the victim
- Community service