A person in Florida who has been charged with a crime of violence will want to be represented by an experienced attorney, due to the fact these types of offenses are the most likely to carry a jail or state prison sentence upon a conviction. For over 20 years since 1991, criminal defense attorney Jeffrey A. Haynes has personally handled the most serious crimes you can commit in the state of Florida, including first and second degree murder, armed robbery, armed burglary, carjacking, aggravated battery, and aggravated stalking, to name just a few. If you would like to immediately speak with him about your case, call The Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Haynes at 941 954-5333. Mr. Haynes answers his calls personally after business hours, which means you will normally reach him at almost any time, even on weekends and on holidays.
The following questions are some of those commonly asked in a typical violent crime charge, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, which includes Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
Question: Do I need an attorney to represent me on my felony charge?
Answer: Absolutely. If you have been charged with a felony offense, you are potentially facing a state prison sentence which could range anywhere from 5 years to life imprisonment. Florida is a state which utilizes a scoresheet system and uniform sentencing guidelines to determine the proper sentence. Depending upon the number of points assigned to your felony scoresheet, you could be facing a mandatory state prison sentence. Other felony cases will carry a minimum mandatory state prison sentence of at least 3 years, even if you have no previous criminal history. Unless there is a successfully negotiated plea on your case, or you are found not guilty after trial, the judge cannot ignore these mandatory penalties under Florida law.
Question: I am charged with a felony. What is a scoresheet, and how will it be used on my case?
Answer: In Florida, the felony scoresheet is computed by assigning a predetermined number of points based upon the offense alleged, and adding points to the scoresheet after considering a number of factors. Those additional points which are considered include a person’s previous criminal history, victim injury points, and other factors, such as whether or not the accused person was on some type of probation or parole at the time of the offense. If your points are 44 or higher, a state prison sentence is mandatory.
Question: I am only charged with a misdemeanor. Do I still need an attorney to represent me?
Answer: It would be highly advisable to at least speak with an attorney regarding your case, as quickly as possible. Whether you will need to hire an attorney depends upon the facts of each case. Some of the allegations on misdemeanor charges are so weak that hiring an attorney may not be required. However, in other cases, it may be absolutely necessary and vital to obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney, who is familiar with the judge and prosecutor assigned to your case. If you have ever been convicted of a crime in any state, the likelihood of jail time increases, especially where that prior conviction was violent. Any misdemeanor case in the state of Florida carries at least a potential 60 day jail sentence, while in other cases the potential jail sentence increases to one year in the county jail.
Question: I have been falsely accused of the charge, and I am not guilty. What are my options?
Answer: In Florida, you always have the absolute right to a trial in this matter, which in the vast majority of these cases will be a jury trial, normally comprised of six people. A jury verdict must be unanimous, which means to be found guilty all six jurors would have to agree upon your guilt. In the case of a jury trial, you always have the right to be represented by an attorney. Although you would have the right to be “pro se”, which means to represent yourself, this is usually an unwise decision, since the judge will require you to know and follow the Florida Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure. Your lack of legal training will not excuse you from these requirements.