Lakeland Criminal Lawyers
Whether a defendant has been formally charged with a misdemeanor or felony, or they have merely been informed that they are the subject of a criminal investigation, prompt action is necessary. Although the thought of taking on federal or state prosecutors in criminal court can be disquieting, defendants can maximize the probability of a positive outcome by obtaining legal counsel from one of our experienced Lakeland criminal defense lawyers. Although some people accused of criminal offenses wait until the first hearing before deciding to seek out a private attorney, this approach carries serious risks.
By the time the first hearing arrives, a defendant could already have been forced to participate in an overly suggestive lineup or an illegal interrogation. When defendants insist on having an attorney present and refuse to speak to the police without one, detectives and police officers cannot take advantage of the intimidation inherent in a police station interrogation or the defendant’s unfamiliarity with the criminal justice process. The U.S. Constitution, as well as federal and state laws, provide defendants with robust rights, which a skilled Lakeland defense attorney will invoke in order to protect your best interests as their valued client.
Criminal Attorneys in Polk County
Criminal charges can threaten a person’s job, family stability, liberty, reputation, and financial well-being, but our Navarre criminal defense attorneys with over 150 years of combined experience provide aggressive opposition to the full range of criminal offenses, such as:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
- DUI Manslaughter
- Sexual Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Child Pornography
- Theft Offenses
- Serious Traffic Offenses
- Drug Offenses
- Violent Crimes
- White Collar Crimes
- Concealed Weapons
- Public Corruption
- Federal Crimes
- Possession of Stolen Property
- Juvenile Crimes
- Probation Violation
- Disorderly Conduct
- Obstruction of Justice
Sex Crime Lawyers in Lakeland
While the threat of incarceration might be the first concern of many people facing criminal investigation and charges, sex crimes pose unique long-term consequences beyond just the risk of jail time. The sentence for many sex crime convictions includes mandatory registration as a sex offender or sexual predator. While either designation will have a damaging impact, sexual predators are subject to stricter restrictions because they have committed violent sexual offenses.
The registry is public information, so potential employers, landlords, co-workers, dating partners, neighbors, family, and friends all can learn about a defendant’s sex crime conviction with a simple online search. The registry provides visitors both the address of their residence and their specific offenses.
If you make the decision not to register as legally required, then you will be charged with an additional crime, a third-degree felony, and this time held without bond while you wait for sentencing. The penalty for failing to register as a sex offender or a sexual predator is up to an additional five years in prison and a fine of as much as $5,000.
Although even allegations of a sex crime poses a threat to a defendant’s reputation and future, our sex crime lawyers in Lakeland might utilize a range of defenses depending on the specific facts, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Mistaken Identity: Witnesses that identified the accused, including the complaining witness, might have been in error.
- Consent: Although consent does not constitute a defense to an offense like statutory rape, consent can be a defense to a charge of rape.
- Exclusion of a Confession: Sometimes incriminating statements or confessions can be suppressed because they are produced involuntarily or violate the accused’s Miranda rights.
- Fabrication of Allegations: The complaining witness might falsely accuse a party of a sex offense based on revenge, post-coital regret, or other improper motives.
Professional Lakeland DUI Lawyers
Many people arrested for a DUI have never had a previous encounter with the criminal justice system. When police officers pull a defendant’s vehicle over, they rely on the inherent intimidation of the situation, which particularly impacts drivers who have never had a brush with the law. When an officer with a firearm and the power of arrest tries to engage a defendant in a conversation during the stop, the temptation to respond can be compelling.
Lakeland DUI Laws
However, an offender’s best option (unless they know positively that they are not intoxicated) is to decline to talk to the police officer. However, they must provide their license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer’s questions are intended to expose indicators of intoxication, like the odor of alcohol, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and red or watery eyes. Obtaining harmful admissions constitutes the other rationale for these questions. Since the purpose of the officer’s inquiries is to obtain evidence to justify prolonging the stop to conduct a DUI investigation, drivers really have no good reason to cooperate.
At some point, the officer will probably request that the accused perform standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) and/or a portable roadside breath test. Some kinds of SFSTs used in Florida include:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
After a person has had too much to drink, their capacity for tracking moving objects is greatly diminished. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is being conducted when the arresting officer shines a little penlight at you and asks you to track its movements using only your eyes (no turning of the head). If you have over-imbibed, your eyes will make an involuntary jerking motion when attempting to look to the side, a phenomenon not present in a sober person under these same conditions. During the HGN test the office will check for:
- The fluidity of your eye movement;
- A jerking movement in your eyes when they are as far to the periphery as possible; and
- A jerking movement in your eyes at any other point during the test.
The officer administering this test will require you to take nine consecutive steps, each with the heel of your front foot meeting the toes of your back foot. Once you have completed the nine steps, you will be asked to pivot and repeat the action while going in the opposite direction. The officer will be watching to see how well you listen and understand the simple directions, if you are easily sidetracked, and if you can maintain your balance.
One-Leg Stand Test
During this field sobriety test, you will be asked to stand on one foot, with the other approximately six inches off of the ground. Then you will be required to count by ones beginning with 1000 (1000…1001…1002, etc.) until the officer tells you that you may stop and lower your foot. The typical observation time for this exercise is roughly 30 seconds, in which the officer is looking for hopping, swaying side to side, using your arms for balance, an inability to count, or the consistent dropping of your elevated foot.
Drivers also have nothing to gain by agreeing to participate in this screening because these DUI evaluation tools are designed to furnish “probable cause” for a DUI arrest and evidence to be used by the prosecutor.
Motorists can be subject to a longer driver’s license suspension for refusing to perform a formal chemical test of breath, blood, or urine after a lawful arrest under Florida’s Implied Consent Law [Florida Statutes, Section 316.1932]. However, the law does not impose an obligation to submit to SFSTs or a portable breath test before an arrest. Our Lakeland DUI lawyers carefully examine the evidence and conduct our own investigation to identify the most effective defense strategies, which might include:
- Revealing improper collection and storage of blood or urine samples;
- Examining factors that might distort breathalyzer accuracies like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux, diabetes, regurgitation, vomiting, and low-carb diets;
- Exposing the officer’s lack of training or improper procedures in conducting breath testing; and/or
- A rise in blood alcohol level between the time of the traffic stop and administration of the breath test.
Reliable Domestic Violence Lawyers in Lakeland
The intense media and public scrutiny of domestic violence have prompted police and prosecutors to be extremely vigilant in prosecuting cases involving this type of allegation. This aggressiveness often places an accused under a cloud of suspicion based on nothing more than uncorroborated allegations.
Although many people are hesitant to question the truthfulness of individuals indicating that they are victims of family violence, false allegations can become a devastating weapon when used by unscrupulous parties. Under Florida Statutes Section 741.28, domestic violence constitutes criminal offenses between designated “family or household members” that results in injury or loss of life. “Family and household members” refer to individuals related by marriage or blood, individuals who reside or have resided together as a family, parents of a child, and spouses or former spouses.
Kinds of Domestic Violence Accusations
Crimes that qualify as domestic violence in the state of Florida include, but are not limited to:
Assault/Aggravated assault: Threatening violence with a deadly weapon
Battery/Aggravated battery Actual violence with a deadly weapon
Sexual assault/Sexual battery: Sexual penetration without consent and use of a deadly weapon
Stalking/Aggravated stalking: Maliciously and consistently following or harassing another person while making credible threats of violence
Kidnapping: Forcibly abducting or imprisoning another person against their will
Allegations of Domestic Violence in Lakeland FL
Allegations of this type of offense often are used to obtain a domestic violence injunction (Florida’s version of a “restraining order”). This form of a protective order can impair a defendant’s parent-child relationship and ability to reside in a residence co-owned with the alleged victim. The restraining order can also harm their career because some employers will terminate an employee based on an arrest for domestic violence.
A domestic violence injunction also can impair a career because it can curtail the ability to get a security clearance and limit the defendant’s right to own a firearm or to carry a concealed weapon.
Possible Defenses Against a Domestic Violence Charge in Florida
You should never agree to any plea deal without first consulting with a Lakeland criminal defense attorney to go over your case and inform you of all your legal options. This is especially true with a basic charge of domestic battery because, although it is a first-degree misdemeanor, it is also one of the most easily disputable crimes that you can be charged with in Florida. Some well-tried defenses for domestic battery include:
- Factual inconsistencies about the actual event;
- Lack of any physical injuries;
- Accusations are not corroborated by any other evidence;
- A victim with an axe to grind;
- Defense of someone else;
- Defense of property;
- Stand Your Ground law; and
- Uncontested argument or mutual combat.
One of the fundamental benefits of retaining the legal services of a criminal defense attorney is the ability to establish contact with the prosecution. The discussion of any legal issues, mitigating or aggravating circumstances, and factual defenses may have a major effect on the prosecution’s decision to drop your case or reduce the charges. Having an experienced defense attorney on your side informs the other side that you are determined to defend your legal interests and are making intentional legal moves instead of just reacting to the charges, as many other defendants often do. Hiring an attorney also establishes a relationship that may be needed should any legal issue arise somewhere down the road.
Our domestic violence lawyers in Lakeland recognize the potential for abuse of domestic violence accusations. We carefully investigate the witness accounts, medical records, law enforcement reports, purported prior incidents, and motivations for the so-called victim to fabricate allegations. Our attorneys also explore other defense strategies like self-defense because sometimes the purported victim is the aggressor.
A Reliable Team of Defense Lawyers in Lakeland, Florida
If you have been arrested or are the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, our team of Lakeland criminal defense attorneys is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer questions and defend clients from state or felony charges. We offer experienced and dedicated legal representation for any criminal offense being tried in either state or federal court. Our legal team will prepare an active defense that hinders the prosecutor’s attempts at finding you guilty of the crime with which you have been charged. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.