Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney

It could be a costly mistake to take a criminal charge lightly. Criminal convictions can come with severe consequences that can impact your future employment, housing, and freedoms. If you have been charged with a crime, speaking with a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer can have an immensely positive influence on the outcome of your case.

Best Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Charges We Can Defend Against

Our seasoned criminal defense attorneys can defend you against a range of charges, including:

  • Domestic Violence. Acts of violence or abuse against a family or household member.
  • Sex Offenses. Offenses such as sexual assault, rape, indecent exposure, and possession or distribution of child pornography.
  • Drug Charges. Charges related to possession, distribution, manufacturing, or trafficking of illegal drugs or controlled substances.
  • Criminal Traffic Violations. This includes serious motor vehicle violations, including DUI, vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, or driving after license revocation.
  • Probation Violations. Accusation of violating the terms and conditions of a probation sentence.
  • Expungements and Sealing. This is the legal process of sealing criminal records of those with prior convictions to help overcome employment, housing, and education barriers.
  • Weapons Violations/Gun Crimes. Offenses such as possessing firearms without a valid permit and possessing unlawful weapons such as semi-automatics, certain knives, brass knuckles, explosives, or ammunition can carry severe penalties.
  • White Collar Crime. These are non-violent financial crimes like fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and identity theft.
  • Other Violent Crimes. Other violent crimes include homicide or murder, theft, and human trafficking.

Your Legal Rights Upon Arrest

Upon arrest in Sarasota Florida, you have the right to remain silent, to speak with an attorney, to know the charges against you, and to refuse a search.  You also have the right to due process.

If you are arrested, you should exercise your right to remain silent. This does not mean you should resist arrest or become violent, as this could result in additional charges. You should immediately ask for an attorney and refrain from making any statements or signing any documents without discussing your case with them. Requesting legal counsel as soon as possible is the way to protect your rights and interests throughout the criminal justice process.

What a Criminal Defense Lawyer Does

A criminal defense attorney has critical legal experience, which is essential when fighting criminal allegations against a defendant. We offer comprehensive support to individuals experiencing either misdemeanor or felony charges. We work to safeguard your rights and interests throughout the legal proceedings with the goal of achieving the most positive outcome for your case.

Defenses in a Criminal Case

While each individual’s case will come with unique circumstances that will affect the defense strategy used, some of the most common ones are:

  • Alibi. Establishing an alibi by presenting evidence or witness testimony showing the defendant was elsewhere at the time the crime occurred.
  • Mistaken Identity. Arguing that the defendant was misidentified as the perpetrator of the crime. This can be from witness misidentification or law enforcement errors.
  • Lack of Evidence. Challenging the prosecution’s evidence and arguing that there is insufficient proof to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Violation of Rights. Asserting that law enforcement officers violated the defendant’s constitutional rights during the investigation, arrest, or interrogation process.
  • Self-Defense. Claiming that the defendant’s actions were done in self-defense or defense of others, which could be justified under Florida’s self-defense laws.
  • Duress or Coercion. Arguing that the defendant committed the crime under duress or coercion. This means they were forced to act against their will by threats or intimidation.
  • Lack of Intent. Arguing that the defendant did not have the intent to commit the crime and that it was accidental or unintentional.
  • Witness Credibility. Challenging the credibility of witnesses through cross-examination or presenting evidence of their bias, motives, or inconsistencies in their testimonies.

Florida Criminal Court Process

If you’ve been charged with a crime, not knowing what the process will be like can be stressful. Every situation will be different, but this is a general outline of the processes in a Florida criminal case:

  • Arrest. Criminal cases begin with the arrest or summons of the person suspected of committing a crime. An arrest occurs when law enforcement officers detain an individual because they have probable cause that indicates they committed a crime, and a summons is when a person is given notice that they are being criminally prosecuted without going through an arrest.
  • First Appearance. The person facing the charge(s) is brought to court and before a judge for a first appearance. During this appearance, the judge advises the individual of the charges they are facing, informs them of their rights, and determines conditions for pretrial release, such as bond or bail.
  • Arraignment. The arraignment is a formal reading of the charges against the defendant in open court. The defendant is asked to enter their plea. This will be not guilty, no contest, or guilty. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will proceed with the potential of reaching a deal with the prosecution, changing the plea to guilty later, or continuing with a trial.
  • Pretrial Proceedings. The prosecution and defense exchange relevant information, conduct investigations, file motions, and negotiate potential plea agreements. The goal of this step is to resolve the case before the trial through negotiations. During this time, the judge may set status hearings or pre-trial hearings to make sure the case is moving at an appropriate pace. A defense attorney will do additional investigations during this time, such as interviewing witnesses, examining evidence, talking to experts, testing evidence, or reconstructing events. They may also speak with the prosecutor about any plea agreement possibilities.
  • Trial. If the case is not resolved through negotiations, it will go to trial. The trial will involve presenting evidence, examining witnesses, and making arguments to the judge or jury. The prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury returns a not guilty verdict, the case is over, and the defendant is excused.
  • Sentencing. If the defendant is found to be guilty by the judge or jury, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest, the case will go to sentencing. The judge will impose a punishment that they deem appropriate within established guidelines.
  • Appeal. After sentencing, there may be legal grounds for appeal. The defense lawyer may file to challenge errors or issues that occurred during the trial. An appeal will go to a higher court known as an appellate court, and they will review the decision. An appeal is not a whole new trial, and the court will only review evidence that was presented at the original trial.

Consequences of a Criminal Charge

If you are convicted of a criminal charge, you may face legal penalties such as fines, probation, or imprisonment. Afterward, there will also be the long-term impact of a criminal record on your future. This can lead to difficulties in finding employment, housing, obtaining professional licenses, the loss of civil rights, government benefits, or educational opportunities. If the person convicted is a non-U.S. citizen, they may face deportation or other immigration consequences.

Given the potential severity of the criminal penalties, it is understandable that you may be worried about these potential consequences and the impact on your future. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side can help reduce or even eliminate the effects on your life.

FAQs for Sarasota, FL Criminal Defense Law

Can My Lawyer Represent Me in Court Without My Presence in Florida?

Your attorney may be able to appear in court on your behalf, depending on whether you have been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. In felony cases, you are required to show up even if you have a lawyer. Some misdemeanor cases will allow your lawyer to appear in person for you, but overall, you need to follow your lawyer’s guidance and the court’s instructions about your in-person requirements.

Can I Represent Myself in Florida Courts?

Yes, you have the right to represent yourself in court. Since the outcome of a criminal defense case can have serious and life-changing consequences, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is recommended. They will have the legal knowledge and skill in the criminal justice system to protect your rights and future.

What Rights Do I Have if I am Arrested?

Upon arrest, you have the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation. It is recommended that you do not answer any questions, provide any statements to law enforcement, or make any decisions until you’ve consulted with your lawyer.

How Long Will My Criminal Case Take to Resolve?

The length of time your criminal case will take to resolve depends on its complexity, the severity of the charges (misdemeanors resolve faster than felonies), court schedules, and any negotiations. Your criminal defense attorney can give you an estimate of the time they expect your case to take, but it is important to understand it will only be an estimate.

Can I Expunge or Seal My Criminal Record in Florida?

In Florida, some individuals are eligible to have their criminal records expunged or sealed under certain circumstances. These circumstances include the type of offense, the outcome of the case, and the individual’s total criminal history. Discussing your case with an attorney will help you determine if you are eligible and, if so, navigate the expungement or sealing process.

Protecting Yourself or a Loved One

In a criminal defense case, the stakes are high. The Sarasota criminal defense lawyers at Ruhl & Lux, P.A., understand these matters and can work with you to effectively strategize a plan to protect your rights and reputation. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.


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