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Creating Strong Criminal Defense Strategies

By | Criminal Defense

A criminal defense strategy is when a criminal defense lawyer figures out what the prosecutor wants to do in any given case during a criminal prosecution. For instance, if a prosecutor says that the defendant was at the crime scene, the defense attorney will come up with questions to prove this wrong. Different things can shape the defense strategy that an attorney comes up with. It can change depending on how the defendant answers any questions that have been put forth by the prosecutor as well.

What is Considered to Be a Good Defense Strategy?

Normally, the best defense strategies involve the truth. Giving a true story can work out in the defendant’s favor and get him a plea bargain, a lighter punishment, or even a not guilty verdict.

The thing about truth is that it can be presented in different ways. Both the prosecutor as well as the defense attorney can use the same facts and series of events to present two completely different stories in court. Though both scenarios may be true, they will be completely different from each other. However, it is the defendant and his/her criminal defense attorney’s responsibility to present the truth in the best possible way to help the defendant.

Characteristics of a Strong Defense Story

Any strong defense story should have the following characteristics:

  • It should first and foremost be true. For instance, if the crime is a robbery, and the defendant’s car was used, then the defendant needs to prove that his/her car was stolen before the crime.
  • The story should be able to garner sympathy from the judge and the jury. For instance, if the defendant can prove that he/she tried to get out of the plan of the crime before it was committed, and also tried to report it to the police, then there is a high chance that the judge and jury may not be as strict.
  • The story should be able to prove what the defendant is saying to be the thing that actually happened. For instance, if the defendant says he/she was not at the crime scene, then there should be enough proof in the story to show the defendant to be somewhere else.

Different Categories of Defendant Stories

Most criminal cases will see all defendants giving their sides of the story in court. Two defendants will rarely come up with the same version of the events that took place. In most cases, any defendant’s story will fall into one of the three categories:

  • A Confession Story: A confession story is when the defendant will admit to having committed the crime to the attorney. Whatever the crime, the defendant will agree to have committed it
  • A Complete Denial Story: In this story, the defendant will completely deny any allegations that are presented against him/her in court. For such a story to hold in court, the defendant should ideally have a strong alibi to prove that he/she was not present at the scene when the crime was committed.
  • An Admit and Explain Story: This story is a middle ground for the defendant. If falls between a confession and denial. The defendant may indirectly admit to having committed the crime but will also try to explain that it was not the intention. For instance, if there has been a home robbery, the defendant may admit to going to the property and getting something but may say that he used a key and did not break into the house, and the owner knew that he was taking something from the home.

Building a Strong Defense Strategy

Once the criminal defense attorney has heard the defendant’s side of the story, the next step would be to come up with a defense strategy that would give the best result for the defendant. This is not an easy job. This process often involves various aspects like weighing the witnesses’ credibility, understanding the relationship between the community and the law enforcement, and taking into consideration the defendant’s history. The defense attorney will take all of this into consideration and create a “theory of the case” that will combine both the defendant’s story as well as other proofs that may be present at the time.

Let us take the example of a robbery. Let us assume that a person is caught committing a robbery with his friends and there is an eye witness for the crime who thinks he can identify the defendant. However, the witness is not too sure of the identification. In such a scenario, the defendant will tell the police and the defense attorney his side of the story, which could be that though he was present at the time of the crime, he did not rob anything. He can also tell the attorney that the police did not inform him of his Miranda rights at the time of the arrest. With all of this information, the attorney can come up with a defense that indicates that the police don’t have a very strong case and the eyewitness account to make a case against the defendant is also not strong. Moreover, the attorney can also claim that the defendant was bullied by the police into giving a confession without being informed of his rights. Though this story of the defendant will be classified as a confession story and will be true, it will still show the defendant as not being as guilty of the crime.

In such a case, the defense attorney can file a pretrial motion. This motion will request the court to omit the confession given to the police from the record because it involved unconstitutional questioning. Not only this, but the defense can also question the eye witness to prove that the identification is wrong and does not establish that the defendant was involved in the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. With such a case, there is a high chance that the verdict could be not-guilty, or the prosecutor could offer a plea bargain for a lesser charge.

Preparing the Defendant for the Case

To prove all of the above is not very easy. Though the defense attorney knows the law and the courtroom well, it will not be simple for the defendant. Chances are the defendant will have to train to speak in a certain way and present his story in court. In most cases, the attorneys will use different ways to prepare the defendant like:

  • Mock interviews to ensure the defendant sticks to one version of the story
  • Take defendants to important crime scenes to jog their memories
  • Make the defendant note down all that happened on the day of the crime from their perspective.

The defense attorney needs to inform their clients about all the information that the prosecution has so that their clients can come up with appropriate evidence to prove their innocence. At the same time, it is also extremely crucial that the defendant gives the attorney all the correct information so that they can build a strong case to protect them. If the defendant is honest with the attorney and gives them all the true information, then it will become easy for the attorney to either free the defendant of the charge or get a lighter punishment.

Individuals have different defense strategies that they can use in a court of law. Depending on the nature of the crime and the facts available, these strategies can help defendants either completely prove their innocence, or get a smaller punishment. Speaking to a defense attorney will help individuals understand what their legal options and defenses are, and how they should present the facts in court to ensure that they don’t get convicted of the crime.

Understanding Affirmative Defenses

By | Criminal Defense

Not all court cases are the same. Could you imagine a scenario in which the prosecution did its job of successfully proving their case, yet the defense still wins? This is what happens with an affirmative defense. Yes, the defendant did the crime, and the criminal defense law firm they hired is not saying otherwise. The difference here is that there was a good reason for the crime to have been committed, or there’s an alternative explanation that the jury accepts and understandable in that given situation. We see it happen all the time.

One good example of an affirmative defense is self-defense. Yes, the defendant killed that person, but they were only defending themselves. A jury would by that any day of the week. A plea of insanity is another. Other issues include a statute of limitations for a crime committed a long time ago. These types of defenses can be quite controversial, but they do have a basis in helping to protect a person’s basic rights and can be a legitimate defense. 

The Intricacies of a Proper Defense

We all know that it is against the law to kill someone. The problem for the prosecution is that the law isn’t always black and white. There are a lot of different scenarios and pieces that have to come together exactly right to convince a jury that a murder was committed. There must always be a lack of reasonable doubt. This is how some people who commit murder win their defense. There’s also intent, the defendant’s mental state, whether they were acting in self-defense, and a host of other issues to prove.

Killing another person isn’t always murder, either. Let us say you own a restaurant that serves a customer tainted food and they die. Was that murder? No. It was a complete accident and the prosecution would not be able to prove intent to kill. No reasonable prosecutor would try to get a murder charge out of this because it would nearly be impossible. Instead, they would look at other potential laws that were broken that led to the tainted food being served.

Using the Affirmative Defense to Your Advantage

Sometimes, there is just no beating the evidence the prosecution has. A person died; the defendant clearly did the killing. There’s fingerprint evidence, eyewitnesses, etc. So, what can the defense do to help their client? Well, there might be additional evidence that they present to the court that helps their affirmative defense and is accepted by the jury. Proving the affirmative defense strategy can negate all the proof the prosecution has. 

Using this same example, the prosecution has to prove intent. Yes, the defendant intended to kill the victim, but that’s not the whole story. The victim attacked the defendant first and they have proof of that fact. He/she was only defending themselves. Self-defense is a reasonable and acceptable defense that can justify the murder. Many states make this acceptable.

For example, Florida has a law in place called “stand-your-ground” which allows for deadly force to be used in self-defense. We saw this play out in the Trayvon Martin case a few years back. 

What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

By | Criminal Defense

Criminal law can a complicated subject to understand. That’s why if you’ve been accused of a crime, you should immediately call your local Orlando criminal defense law firm to help you through the process. The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is fairly striking. To better understand the difference, you have to know the different categories of crimes the United States uses. 

Most jurisdictions within the U.S. split up the types of crimes into three different categories. The difference between one category and another might be a fine line and be decided by the tiniest detail. The seriousness of the crime committed will put you either in the infraction, misdemeanor, or felony category. 

Infractions and Misdemeanors

Infractions aren’t really serious, so they won’t be covered too much here. There’s often no jail time and the fines (if one is issued) are small. We would put things like traffic tickets, littering, and other types of small issues in this category. You usually won’t be issued a misdemeanor or a felony from a traffic ticket or other infraction offenses unless other crimes were committed that raise the level of the seriousness of the crime. 

Misdemeanors are the next step up on the crime seriousness scale. In general, federal law classifies misdemeanors that carry a jail sentence of less than a year. In some cases, you may not even get a jail sentence of a misdemeanor, but don’t take that to think you’re not in trouble if accused of such. There are varying degrees of misdemeanors.

A Class A misdemeanor is the worst that carries a sentence of up to a year in jail. Class B is between a month and 6 months in jail. Class C stipulates a jail sentence between 5 days and one month. Due to the minor nature of a misdemeanor crime, these sentences are often carried out in county jail and not a federal prison with hardened criminals. That’s often reserved for felonies. 

What is a Felony Offense?

Felonies are the most serious offenses that can be committed. Even so, what is considered a felony isn’t the same across the country. The federal government classifies a felony as being a crime with a jail sentence longer than a year, but individual states do things a little differently. What one state considers a felony, another might not. Most states do consider a felony sentence one that lasts longer than a year in a state or federal prison system. 

  • Class A felonies are the worst and often requires a lifetime in prison or even the death penalty if applicable. 
  • Class B is more than 25 years in prison. 
  • Class C is between ten and twenty-five years. 
  • Class D is between five and ten years. 
  • Class E is between one and five years. 

To learn more about the classifications of crimes and the prison times that go with them, be sure to check out this video: What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony 

How to Select a Good Criminal Defense Attorney to Defend You

By | Criminal Defense

If you find yourself in a position where you might be facing criminal charges, it can surely be a scary and trying time. This is especially true if it’s your very first time making your way through the criminal justice system. The average person has very little knowledge of the process or the laws that govern how they should be treated. They have the right, but often lack the ability to defend themselves. Someone in this situation would need to find help to guide them through it. 

This type of guidance is often in the form of an experienced defense attorney. They would have the expertise and understanding of the law. This decision, and choosing the right lawyer to defend yourself, might just be one of the biggest decisions you make. They will be your biggest ally, helping you to craft your defense. Without that help, you could find yourself in a world of trouble.

So, how do we find the right attorney to represent us and our interests in a court of law? Let’s take a look at several factors you should consider. 

1) Are They Experienced?

Not all lawyers are the same. Many are molded to be experts in certain aspects of the law. Not every attorney you meet is a defense lawyer, much less having the right amount of experience to represent you. You should also consider the type of crime you are being charged with. Are they an expert with years of experience trying cases? Have they worked with people before charged with similar crimes? Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure the person who represents you is right for the occasion and knows what they’re doing.

2) How Often Do They Go to Trial? 

The frequency in which your lawyer goes to court dealing with the same type of charges against you matters. They must be familiar with the law in that area so they can help put together a powerful defense. Even if the prosecution believes they have an open and shut case against you, their understanding of the law can make the difference. You might not want to hire someone fresh out of law school, but then you’d have to consider costs as well. 

3) Who Are They Working With?

There are different types of attorneys. You might find a small-town guy who has his own name on the door and does all the work. He would be the main lawyer you work with and would get more face time. On the other hand, if you go for someone at a larger firm, they most likely have a full staff of paralegals, researchers, other lawyers, and more. Both have their advantages. Working with a solo lawyer isn’t necessarily a disadvantage over going with the larger firm. You’d just have to choose what better fits what you need.

4) Find References Where Available

You should definitely put more time and research into finding the right attorney for you than you put into ordering something on Amazon. Before you buy, do you look at all the reviews to see how good the product is? The same is true before hiring a lawyer. Surely, if you’re looking for someone experienced, they have plenty of previous clients willing to recommend them or have even given a positive review of their service online.

5) Are They Confident?

When chatting with various lawyers, you should keep a sharp eye on how confident they appear. An experienced lawyer has been around the block a time or two. This isn’t their first rodeo testing the legal system. They might even already be able to tell you what the outcome might be and whether you should attempt to negotiate a plea bargain. You don’t want someone so confident they make false promises, either. To understand how confident and honest they are, ask them what they think about your case. A good lawyer to consider will be real and not try to sell you a bill of goods.

6) Look at Costs 

You might want to hire the big-time lawyer with the high-rise office and huge staff to assist them, but you’ll also be paying a premium for their services. You might find hiring a more modest attorney, even one right out of law school, is more cost-effective for you. That’s why getting a full rundown of their fees and costs. Many charge by the hour and others will ask for a one-time fee. With criminal cases, a flat fee is the most common, but it depends on the lawyer and their experience.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, you’re fully entitled to a defense. Choosing the right lawyer to represent you can take a bit of work, but it’s fully worth it in the end, especially if they can help you win. Don’t fall for the tricks many might use to retain you, like promising you’ll be found “not guilty”.  

What Should I Expect Where Legal Fees Are Concerned

By | Criminal Defense

Life is complicated and frustrating enough when you’re charged with a crime without having to worry about all the costs. When you add in the unknown of what legal fees you’ll be responsible for covering, it can be extremely stressful.

It doesn’t have to be, however. If you understand the difference between different types of lawyers and their fees, it’ll help lift a good amount of weight off your shoulders. No need to worry if you don’t have the time to figure it all out on your own! We’ve done the work for you.

First, you need to understand that getting the most expensive lawyer you can find won’t necessarily mean they’re the best lawyer. Likewise, the least expensive lawyer isn’t necessarily the worst. Rather than just focusing on price to choose one, you need to look at their qualities.

It’s important to hire a lawyer who already has experience and who has the time and commitment to handle your case themselves. Look at their work history. They should be aggressive, dedicated to your case, and knowledgeable in their line of work.

It is completely reasonable to want to know how much it will cost to have a lawyer represent you before officially choosing them to take your case. Often, lawyers will offer the option of having you come in for a free consultation to discuss both your case and the cost you would be responsible for should you hire them to take your case.

At the end of the consultation, you’ll not only know if you can afford the lawyer, but you’ll have a better idea of their character and qualities. If you don’t feel comfortable with the lawyer, either because of what they’ll cost you or because of how they act, you won’t be obliged in any way to choose them to represent you.

A consultation is for you to find out if you want to hire them, it’s not an agreement to hire them. In fact, it can be quite helpful to talk to several lawyers. This is especially true if this is your first time hiring one! If you don’t know what to expect from one, you’ll be better prepared to make a decision after you’ve found several options.

If at the end of the consultation you realize you cannot afford to hire the lawyer, it’s always an option to keep looking until you can find a different one who charges less. If you still can’t find one you can afford, it’s possible the court could assign you a lawyer to represent you for free.

Often, the free lawyers are excellent ones who have had a great deal of experience. Unfortunately, they are also usually quite busy and may not have the time you would desire to devote to your case.

If you can afford it, it’s best to hire your own lawyer who will be committed to you and have the time necessary to dedicate to your case. You want a lawyer who is not only skilled but who will also work hard to put your needs first. Take your time and choose the one you feel you can trust!

The Florida Sex Offender Registry Explained

The Florida Sex Offender Registry Explained

By | Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

Are you (or a loved one) facing charges that, if convicted, could land you on the Florida Sex Offender Registry? If so, you already know what a daunting and intimidating prospect this can be – a mandatory lifetime enrolment on this list could truly turn your life upside down and severely limit your goals, dreams and future happiness. Read ahead for everything that you need to know about the Florida Sex Offender Registry – and how you may be able to remove your name.

What is the Florida Sex Offender Registry?

Designed to alert neighbours, locals and colleagues when someone convicted of a sex crime in Florida (defined as a sexual offender or a sexual predator) moves into the neighbourhood, the Sex Offender Registry can be a truly useful safety tool for concerned individuals. That said, if you believe that you are on this list unfairly, it can derail your life permanently and alter your future chances of success.

Utilised in many countries and regions around the world, these registries collect the personal details of those individuals who have been charged and convicted of sexual crimes against children and adults. A Florida law (effective since 7/1/96) requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to maintain a current and regularly updated list of Registered Sexual Predators (as defined by statute Chapter 97-299).

If you have been convicted of one of these crimes, you will be required to regularly register yourself on this list and ensure that all of your personal details (including a photo, home address, date of birth, full name and more) are correct. Long after you have served your time and probation for this crime you will need to remain on this list – for the rest of your life.

Florida Sex Offender Registry FAQs

  • What kinds of crimes can land me on the Florida Sex Offender Registry?
    The list includes sexual assault, rape, molestation, incest and other sexually motivated crimes against adults and children. Under recent changes to Florida sex crime laws, this can now also include the posting of ‘revenge porn’ photos or information online.
  • What is the difference between a sexual offender and a sexual predator?
    While both are required to register with the Florida Sex Offender Registry, but the police must actively inform the public when an individual designated as a sexual predator moves into the area. From the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:
    There is a subcategory of sexual offenders who are considered sexual predators. They have been convicted of (1) committing a forcible sexual battery upon an adult; (2) kidnapping a child under the age of 13; (3) engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of 12; or (4) selling or buying a person under the age of 18 for sex. Florida Statute 775.21(4)(a).
  • How long will I be required to remain on the Registry?
    Currently, the law stipulates that you will be required to remain on the registry for the rest of your life; that said, in some rare cases you can indeed petition the court for the removal of your name (see below).
  • How far will I have to stay away from schools?
    Under Florida law, sex offenders are not allowed to come within 1,000 feetof a school, daycare or park.
  • What will happen if I fail to register as a sex offender?
    Under federal law, if you fail to register as a sex offender when you move or travel, you can face up to ten years in a maximum security federal prison.
  • Will this affect my job prospects?
    The short answer is: yes. If your career requires you to work with (or near) children, you are unlikely to be able to find steady work in your field. Even if you are employed in a completely different industry, you will be required to disclose this information to your employer. You will also not be permitted to work near places where children gather (even if your office or worksite has nothing to do with them).
  • Who can access the Florida Sex Offenders Registry?
    The Registry is open and available to anyone living in Florida – they can inquire at their local police station or search that database online.

How can you remove your name from the Florida Sex Offender Registry?

Finding yourself condemned to the Florida Sex Offender Registry can have serious repercussions on your personal and professional life. Your mandatory enrolment on this list can dictate where you must reside, the kinds of jobs that you are permitted to do and the kinds of company that you are allowed to keep. It can even bar you from attending family events, social gatherings and the milestone achievements (such as graduations, birthday parties and weddings) of your loved ones. It is understandable that many individuals who are on this registry are keen to be removed from it as soon as possible.

That said, when it comes to getting yourself removed from the Florida Sex Offender Registry, there is no quick and easy fix. While you may have undergone complete rehabilitation (or been charged and convicted with a minor crime that you believe should not have landed you on the list), it can be tough to convince those in charge that you deserve to be removed. If is has been more than 25 years since your conviction (and you have not been indicted for any felonies since), you can petition the court for the removal of your name.

The most important first step that anyone should take when seeking to be removed from the registry is to consult with a skilled sex crimes lawyer with expertise in this area. Whitney S. Boan has extensive experience defending individuals in sex crime related cases, and she can be a valuable resource when it comes to being removed from the Florida Sex Offender Registry.

 Plea Bargains 101 – What do you need to know?

By | Criminal Defense

Plea bargains make a regular appearance in Hollywood films and as plot devices in crime shows on television, but do you know actually know what a plea bargain entails? Read ahead to learn everything you need to know about plea bargains and what they can mean for you.

What is a plea bargain?

If you are charged with a crime, in many instances the prosecutor will offer you a plea bargain. This is defined as an agreement between a prosecutor and defendant in a criminal case in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty. In return, the prosecutor will make a concession that benefits the defendant; in many cases they will dismiss some of the charges, ensure that they are less serious than the original charges, or recommend a more lenient punishment from the judge. 

3 Kinds of Plea Bargains

Charge bargaining – Of all of the plea bargains, this is the most common in Florida. In exchange for a guilty plea, this will drop some of your charges or reduce your charge in different ways. A good example of charge bargaining would be with a murder charge; if you agree to plead guilty, the prosecutor will reduce the charge to manslaughter rather than Murder Two.

Sentence bargaining – If you accept a sentence bargain, you will plead guilty to the original charge in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Fact bargaining – This is the least common type of plea bargain, and not all of the Florida courts allow it. With a fact bargain you will admit to specific aspects of the crime in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing not to enter other facts and the judge agreeing to the bargain. This can lead to a lesser sentence.

Benefits of a plea bargain 

While you will still have a criminal record if you accept a plea bargain, there can be many benefits of this kind of arrangement. You will avoid the embarrassment and potential press coverage of a trial, and you can often negotiate a shorter sentence and get back to your real life as soon as possible. Even though you will still have a record, it will be for a lesser charge that may have less negative repercussions in your life.

Should you accept a plea bargain?

Only a skilled defense attorney can help you to make this decision. While accepting a plea bargain can help you to avoid harsh consequences or serve less time in prison, it necessitates admitting your guilt. This will mean that you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life, you may face deportation and you may face difficulties landing a job, a rental property and credit or a mortgage from your bank. The pros and cons need to be weighed carefully, and you need to think clearly about what both options could mean for your future. Your criminal law attorney can also help you to understand the ins and outs of how your sentence will be determined in Florida.

 

Police Misconduct and Illegal Searches – What YOU need to know

By | Criminal Defense

One of the most common questions that the team here at Whitney S. Boan, P.A. gets asked is “how many police officers commit misconduct and act in a fraudulent way, and can their actions affect my case?” The answer is hard to quantify, but one thing is for certain – the rare few officers who do choose to act in a dishonest way are a threat to the justice system in this country, and they can affect your rights. Read ahead to learn more about police misconduct, illegal searches and how they can affect you and your case.

Most law enforcement officials in the United States are honest, hard working and fair, doing their job to the letter of the law – but it is naïve to deny that there is the rare individual in this profession who does indeed commit misconduct when it comes to the crimes that they are investigating. These outliers are dangerous; not only do they undermine the credibility of other honest police officials, they can completely ruin the lives of the individuals that they wrongfully accuse and frame.

Sadly, some police officers destroy or hide evidence, some detectives do not testify honestly, and other law enforcement officials improperly influence witnesses and even manufacture testimony on the stand according to what they want the outcome to be. This is a shameful miscarriage of justice, but does occur more than most would like to admit.

Can Police Misconduct be a Basis for an Innocent Verdict?
 

As defense attorneys, the team at Whitney S. Boan, P.A. has an important job to do. We must raise reasonable doubt in the minds of each member of the jury, and once we have achieved this task we can exonerate our client. When we are handling a case in which the law enforcement officials tasked with the case have acting in a dishonest or criminally negligent way, we are able to raise this information with the jury. This can help to build sufficient reasonable doubt in their minds, resulting in a hung jury or, in the best case, an acquittal.

Police Misconduct as the reasons for an appeal

Even if you have been found guilty of a criminal offense, the chance to raise the possibility of police misconduct has not passed. Criminal convictions are subject to appellate review, and during this process we are able to bring this miscarriage of justice to light. We can highlight the possibility that:

  • The police gave false testimony during trial
  • The police improperly handled evidence during the investigation of your case
  • The police coerced witnesses during or before your trial
  • The police suppressed evidence that could have proved your innocence or cast doubt on your guilt

If any of these are a possibility, the team at Whitney S. Boan, P.A. are able to uncover the truth and help you to overturn your conviction. Don’t delay – call or contact us today.

Illegal Searches and the Suppression of Evidence – What do you need to know?

By | Criminal Defense

If you have watched much television in your life, you have probably seen a procedural legal drama or gritty crime film in which law enforcement agents must impatiently wait for a search warrant before being able to search a suspect’s home or office. Sometimes the plot even revolves around evidence collected from an illegal search performed without a warrant being thrown out of a court case (referred to as suppression of evidence).

From these pop culture representations it certainly seems like the police need a warrant 100% of the time in order to search your residence, but this is not the case.

When is a search warrant issued?

A search warrant will only be issued in the event that law enforcement agents can demonstrate that they have probable cause (defined as “reasonable grounds to believe that a particular person has committed a crime”). Search warrant request records are usually sealed (so as to not compromise future investigation efforts), so it is impossible to estimate how often these requests are denied. Anecdotally, most are approved; investigators usually only request them when they know that they have grounds for issuance of a search warrant to satisfy a judge’s concerns.

When is a warrant NOT needed?

There are four conditions under which police officers do not need a warrant in order to search your residence. Any evidence collected under these circumstances is admissible in court.

  1. The search was consented to – A consent search refers to when an individual allows an officer to search their home or car. This must not be the landlord or owner, but the person who legally inhabits the space.
  2. The items were in plain view – The plain view doctrine covers instances in which the law enforcement officer unintentionally sees a weapon or other evidence from a legal vantage point.
  3. Incidental searches – An officer can search an individual and their vicinity immediately after an arrest in order to ensure that the space is safe and free from weapons.
  4. An emergency may be occurring – If officers believe that a crime is in progress or an individual is in immediate danger, they can enter a home or vehicle without a warrant.

What should you do if you do not consent to a search?

If police officers arrive at your residence and inform you they are about to conduct a search, he first thing you should do is ask to see the search warrant. If they do not have one, or refuse to provide the document – remember: they may be planning to conduct a warrantless search based on one of the four above criteria. Because of this, you should always stay out of the way of law enforcement agents – never try to get in their way or prevent them from conducting a search.

You should, however, make it clear (verbally) that you do not consent to the search; remember, if they do not meet the above criteria and they do not have a warrant, any evidence collected will not be admissible.

Most importantly, you need to immediately contact a reliable and skilled criminal defense lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system – your representation can be the difference between a conviction and having your case thrown out.

What does it mean to have your criminal record expunged?

By | Criminal Defense

If you have a criminal record, you may have heard about the possibility of having it ‘expunged’ – but what exactly does this mean? This can be a life changing procedure, and this post will help you learn all about it and find out whether or not you qualify to have your own criminal record expunged.

What is expungement?

Simply put, an expungement allows your previous criminal record to be sealed. In order to obtain an expungement, a first time offender needs to undergo a sort of lawsuit that seeks to seal their earlier records about their criminal conviction. If successful, this then makes their record unavailable to state or Federal officials (unless you commit a similar crime in the future).

Every state has different rules and laws about expungement, and will only allow certain types of crimes to be expunged from your record. Consult with a reputable and reliable criminal defense lawyer in order to ascertain if this is an option for you or your loved ones.

What are the benefits of having your record expunged?

The benefits of having your record expunged can hardly be overstated. If your petition is successful, your criminal record will be completely forgotten. This will allow you to move on with your life unencumbered by your past mistakes. You will be able to sigh with relief when dealing with law enforcement, applying for employment and meeting with potential landlords.

Is expungement the same as a pardon? 

No. Think of a pardon as being forgiven and expungement as being forgotten. Once expunged, your criminal record can only be used against you in the rare circumstances detailed below.

Could your record ever be unsealed?

While having your record expunged will certainly go a long way when it comes to protecting your reputation and helping your future, having your record expunged is not a completely clean slate. Your past criminal record could be used against you in the future in these cases:

  • You are convicted of another crime – Your otherwise expunged record could be brought up and used against you in the event that you commit another similar crime.
  • You seek certain types of employment or licenses – While every state is different, some will insist on taking your expunged crimes into account if you apply for certain kinds of jobs and/ or licenses. The state of Florida allows expunged crimes to be disclosed to the Florida Bar, the Department of Children and Families, the Board of Education and other law enforcement agencies.
  • You face deportation or immigration violations – Even if you have had your entire record expunged, this information can be brought up again if you face deportation or encounter any other immigration violations.

If you are hoping to have your own criminal record expunged or would like more information, remember – it is always of vital importance that you hire the right criminal defense attorney to help you with your case.