Pensacola Criminal Defense Attorneys
Sometimes people make bad decisions, and sometimes people find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless of the reason you were arrested, however, you have rights under the Constitution when you are accused of a crime, including the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney advise you and represent you. Furthermore, it is the prosecutor’s job to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, and if the state cannot meet its burden, you are entitled to go free.
When people don’t know their rights or are afraid to exercise them, they wind up much worse off than if they had retained qualified criminal defense attorneys to represent them. The criminal defense attorneys at Whibbs Stone Barnett help people in Pensacola, Panama City, Fort Walton Beach and surrounding areas who have been charged with any type of crime. We have extensive experience defending the rights of people arrested and accused of criminal offenses.
Our lawyers investigate all aspects of the arrest to determine whether there are any grounds to secure a dismissal of charges or suppress evidence, and to fully develop all available defenses in your case. If it is advisable in your instance to accept a plea agreement rather than go to trial, we will advise you of your options and provide you with the best representation we can, whichever decision you make.
We represent people throughout the greater Pensacola area, from Fort Walton/Destin to Mobile, Alabama, who have been charged with all types of misdemeanor and felony offenses, including:
- Traffic Infractions
- DUI Charges
- Drug Charges
- Larceny, Theft and Property Offenses
- Fraud, Embezzlement and White Collar Crime
- Sex Offenses
- Juvenile Offenses
Misdemeanor Penalties in Florida
Misdemeanors are the less serious type of criminal charge, but a conviction can still result in lasting consequences. Crimes that may fall into this category include:
- Reckless Driving
- Driving with a Suspended License
- Hit and Run/Fleeing the Scene
- Petty Theft
- Simple Assault
- Disorderly Conduct
- Public Intoxication
- Possession of Marijuana
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
In Florida, misdemeanors are divided into two categories:
- First Degree Misdemeanor: These are the most serious misdemeanor offenses, punishable with fines of up to $1000 and up to one year in county jail.
- Second Degree Misdemeanor: These are less serious misdemeanor offenses, punishable with fines of up to $500 and up to 60 days in county jail.
Although misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, a conviction can land you in jail for at least a few days or longer, which would still be a major disruption for most people. Certain misdemeanors such as DUIs and other driving related offenses can also cost you your driving privileges, making it much more difficult to get to work and other places you need to be.
Further down the road, you might run into other problems because of a misdemeanor conviction. These may include lost job opportunities, suspension of a professional license, and loss of college scholarships.
Felony Penalties in Florida
Felonies are far more serious than misdemeanors, with punishments that can go all the way up to life in prison or the death penalty. Some examples of crimes that may result in a felony charge include:
- Aggravated DUI
- Grand Theft
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Sexual Assault and Battery
Florida divides felonies into five general categories:
- Third Degree Felony: This is the least serious of all felony charges, punishable with fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in state prison.
- Second Degree Felony: A conviction for felony in the second degree is punishable with fines of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in state prison.
- First Degree Felony: A first-degree felony conviction carries fines of up to $10,000 and up to 30 years in state prison.
- Life Felony: A life felony is a crime that is serious enough to be punishable with a life imprisonment sentence along with fines of up to $15,000.
- Capital Felony: This is the most serious type of felony, reserved for the most heinous crimes such as first-degree murder. Capital felonies are punishable by the death penalty in some cases, and in other cases, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Florida Three Strikes Law
Multiple felony offenders incur harsher penalties for a conviction under Florida’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. If you have two or more prior felony convictions, you could be sentenced to a lengthier prison term and given a larger fine under this law.
Sealing or Expunging your Criminal Record
For certain criminal offenses, individuals are allowed to have their records sealed or expunged under Florida law. Sealing means that your criminal record would be kept from public view and not accessible to future employers or someone who performs a public background search. However, the existence of your record would need to be disclosed under certain circumstances, such as when applying for various government jobs, seeking a license to practice law, and purchasing a firearm.
Expungement means destroying your criminal record so that it cannot be accessed by any future employer or anyone else that performs a public background search. There is one exception, however. A copy of your record is still kept on file with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and it can only be disclosed to members of law enforcement.
In order to qualify for sealing or expungement, you must not have any prior criminal convictions. In addition, you must have never pleaded guilty or no contest to an offense that is ineligible to be sealed or expunged. Finally, you must have never obtained a previous sealing or expungement in Florida, and you cannot currently be under probation, house arrest, or any other type of court supervision.
Talk to an Attorney BEFORE You Talk to the Police
As you probably already know, any statements you make to the police can be used against you. Police officers are trained experts in interrogation techniques, and if the police suspect you of a crime, they can easily get you to make statements which are incriminating or contradictory. Once they have that ammunition, it is easy for them to scare you and pressure you into pleading guilty to some charge.
Even if you think you have nothing to hide and would like to cooperate, talking to an attorney first or having an attorney present during any questioning will help ensure that your rights are protected. Our lawyers can help you at any stage of the process, from pre-arrest questioning through trials and appeals. We work to get you the best result possible, whether it be a dismissal, acquittal, or a plea to a lesser charge that results in probation rather than jail time.
Whatever your situation, strong, effective legal representation will most likely help you. If you have been arrested in Pensacola, Fort Walton, Mobile or surrounding areas, contact Whibbs Stone Barnett for immediate assistance. Message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 to speak with a member of our legal team.