Finnell, McGuinness, Nezami And Andux P.A. Criminal, personal injury, family, estate and probate.
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Jacksonville Office 904-717-7747
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Over 100 years of
combined legal experience

Questions And Answers About The Criminal Justice Process In Jacksonville And Your Options

As dedicated criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, we know how important it is for you to understand what you are up against when charged with a crime. Here are some of the most asked questions we get and their answers. If you do not see the question you have on this page, call 904-717-7747. We offer a free consultation so that you can understand how we can help.

Is stalking a crime?

Yes. It is a crime in every state. If you are charged with stalking, you have been charged with a crime. Stalking is not just “lurking in the bushes” but can involve any type of repeated interaction that is perceived as harassing or threatening. You may receive an order of protection or restraining order. Aggravated stalking can be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. There are defenses to these charges, especially for spouses or ex-spouses. If you have been charged with stalking, speak with a criminal defense attorney about what your options for defense are.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Misdemeanors can mean no jail time to up to a year in jail. Felonies in Florida usually involve time, typically over a year, in state prison. There are different levels of both misdemeanors and felonies: first, second and third degree. Traffic violations are most often misdemeanors. Assault charges and drug charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies.

What if the police searched my car or house but didn’t have a warrant?

The police cannot search your house or car based on their mistaken idea of the law. For example, if the police stop you for not having a rearview mirror and find drugs in your car, that evidence will likely be thrown out because it is not against the law to not have a rearview mirror in your car (Damian Leslie V. Florida). The police should not search your home without your consent and without a warrant while you are on the premises. Each case is different, so it is wise to consult a criminal defense attorney about your rights under the Fourth Amendment as these rights pertain to your specific situation.

My kid is under 18 and was arrested and charged. Does his age make a difference?

In many cases, yes. Being a juvenile means the processes and end result are different than they are for an adult. Juveniles typically get less severe sentencing. Depending on the details of the arrest and the charge, negotiation or alternative rehabilitative sentencing (such as community service) may be an option. We have a broad base of experience with juvenile offenses and defense.

What type of charge is domestic battery in Florida?

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. It is not eligible to seal or expunge, regardless of withholding adjudication of guilt. It can also be enhanced to a felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Any criminal record – misdemeanor or felony – can affect your ability to get a job, hold a professional license, carry a firearm and find housing. It can also affect your time with your children if you are a parent.

Answers To Domestic Dispute Questions

Many charges stem from arguments between people who live together or who are or have been intimate partners. These situations are specific and have different dynamics. Here are some questions and answers we have encountered.

If the victim doesn’t press charges, is an attorney still needed?

Even if the victim doesn’t press charges, the prosecutor still can. The prosecutor may ask that the defendant complete certain classes or conditions prior to making a decision on charging or dropping charges. The prosecutor may alter the charges based on what the victim says happened, for example, whether both parties were aggressive or at fault. However, there are no rules or formulas. Your lawyer not only works to protect you but also help the victim communicate their wishes with the prosecutor and get the best possible outcome for you.

I did not do anything wrong, and the victim is lying. What are my options?

Often, charges like this are used as retaliation for divorce, a relationship ending or infidelity. Considering that these events are truly “he said, she said” situations, there is usually very little evidence to support the charge. The evidence is usually testimony from the arresting officer, who was not an eyewitness, and from the alleged victim.

If you choose to have a jury trial, the prosecutor must prove you committed the battery beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. This is a very high burden. If you are thinking of going to trial, you should consider hiring an attorney with significant trial experience. Picking a jury in a case involving domestic violence is not easy. Many jurors have personal experiences with domestic violence that they could bring into their deliberations to find you guilty. An attorney with jury trial experience knows what to ask in order to reveal who these jurors are and what they really think.

I was served with a temporary injunction; what do I do?

As a criminal defense and family law firm, we are oftentimes asked how a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence can be issued based solely upon the statements made by the petitioner (alleged victim) without the respondent (alleged abuser) having an opportunity to state their side of the story. It seems unfair that  only one side of the story gets told. Currently, a  person can go to the courthouse, fill out a petition stating their side of the story (often untrue or one-sided) and a temporary injunction (often referred to as a restraining order or protective order) gets entered. Once this happens the respondent needs to vacate the residence, pay child support and have no contact with the petitioner or the children.

In the event a “temporary injunction” is issued against you, time is crucial. Pursuant to Florida law, the court is required to schedule a hearing within 15 days in which both parties must appear before the court. The court will hear “testimony” from both the petitioner and the respondent, and any witnesses as may be necessary, as to the allegations made in the petition.

Based upon the evidence and testimony presented, the court will then make a determination whether to dismiss the temporary injunction or enter a “final judgment” on the injunction.

This hearing is your one chance to be heard before a final judgment of injunction for protection against domestic violence is entered. An experienced criminal defense attorney will work with you and ask that the temporary injunction be dismissed.

Get More Answers In A Free Consultation in Jacksonville or Green Cove Springs

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Jacksonville or Green Cove Springs, Clay County, we can help. We offer a free consultation where we can talk about what happened and let you know what we can do for you. Call 904-717-7747 or send an inquiry email to us. Our team has over 100 years of combined criminal defense experience.