Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

Being “tough on crime” has long been a successful political strategy. As a result, being charged with a crime and facing charges can be a scary position to face. Penalties keep getting more severe, aggressive prosecutors with seemingly unlimited budgets adamantly pursue your conviction, and juries are predisposed to wanting to see someone, anyone, pay for the crimes committed. Being the defendant in a criminal trial can feel like being one person up against a leviathan. “Innocent until proven guilty” begins to feel like a meaningless platitude in a situation with such a tremendous power disparity. If you’re facing criminal charges, you need something to help bring the balance a little more in your favor. That’s something a skilled, creative criminal defense lawyer can do.

What a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Does

A criminal defense lawyer is there to make sure that you are afforded every available right in your defense. They are also there to put forth a defense that reveals the weaknesses and inconclusiveness of the prosecution’s case. The lawyer acts as a representative of their client before the court and throughout the legal process. Additionally, a good criminal defense lawyer is open and honest with their client, ensuring that they are regularly aware of where things stand and what reasonable expectations there are for a trial.

Your criminal defense lawyer has a number of responsibilities, chief among them being the preparation of a defense for your case. This can involve a number of things, probably starting with talking with you and conducting an investigation of the case. Other important measures they may take in investigating your case include:

  • Examining the police report
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Subpoenaing critical documents and information
  • Gathering facts
  • Examining anything else that might be vital to a defense

While investigating the case, your lawyer can begin to craft a defense. Depending upon the case, that can take many different forms. Primarily, though, your lawyer will need to attempt to identify and foresee what the prosecution may attempt to claim. They must also be prepared to find any possible faults or weaknesses in their case. Your lawyer does not need to prove your innocence. Rather, they must cast doubt on the case put forth by the prosecution. As long as they can establish a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, then that jury is instructed not to convict you.

A criminal defense lawyer can help represent you from before charges are even brought, all the way through sentencing and even appeals. Even if you are being investigated and haven’t yet been charged, a lawyer can help protect you from unfair questioning and police tactics. At Jeff Marshall Law, we are dedicated to protecting our clients and putting forth the firmest defense we can.

Consequences of Criminal Convictions

The sentencing for a criminal conviction can depend on a variety of factors. These include whether it is a first offense, the severity of the harm that was done, and the likelihood of repeat offending in the judges’ estimation. There are times when the sentence may include a couple of different kinds of punishment, such as a fine and jail time. Importantly, a criminal conviction also means a criminal record, which will appear on background checks. That can have a range of effects that continue beyond the legal system. Some of the consequences, both legal and extralegal, of a criminal conviction include:

  • Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Programs – If the criminal activity was related in some way to drugs or alcohol, it’s possible that a judge may mandate some kind of rehabilitation or treatment program as part of the sentencing.
  • Probation – If sentenced to probation, the convicted is required to follow a number of different restrictions and to regularly check in with their probation officer.
  • Fines – Fines are often included in sentencing guidelines as a normal part of sentencing.
  • Jail or Prison Time – For more serious crimes, jail or prison time may be sentenced. Often, there are guidelines that describe a range of prison terms for the crime. Depending upon the crime, the sentence could be days, years, decades, or even life.
  • Loss of the Right to a Firearm – In some cases, especially violent crimes, felonies, and crimes involving a firearm, a conviction can mean losing your right to have a firearm.
  • Loss of Driving Privileges – If you are convicted of a crime like a DUI, or another crime involving a vehicle, it’s possible that your license may be revoked.
  • Higher Insurance Rates – If you are convicted of something like a DUI or reckless driving, this can cause your insurance rates to get significantly higher.
  • Difficulty Finding Employment – Having a criminal record will show up on background checks, possibly leading to difficulty finding a job.
  • Difficulty Getting Accepted Into College – In some cases, a college may reject the application of someone with a criminal record.
  • Disqualified From Student Loans – Many student loan programs will not lend to someone with a criminal record.
  • Disqualified From a Professional License – Some licenses cannot be given to someone with a criminal record, and others make it very difficult to do so.
  • Loss of Reputation – A conviction for a criminal offense could hurt your reputation among your family, friends, and community

Florida Statute of Limitations

For many crimes, there is a set number of years within which someone must be charged. Even if enough evidence is found to bring charges after the statute of limitations, criminal charges cannot be brought, and whoever committed the crime is, in effect, a free person. However, the statute may be suspended in cases where a suspect leaves the state and is considered a fugitive or goes into hiding. The idea behind the statute of limitations is that the evidence and eyewitness accounts may be less reliable as more time passes since the crime happened. There are, though, a few crimes in Florida for which there is no statute of limitations. They are:

  • Capital felonies (those punishable by the death penalty)
  • Felony crimes that resulted in the death of another
  • Felonies that might be punished by life in prison
  • Being found to have lied under oath during a capital felony case
  • Human trafficking charges
  • Any sexual battery committed after July 1, 2020, where the victim is under 18 years of age

What to Do If You’re Arrested in Tampa, FL?

Getting arrested can be a shocking and even frightening occurrence. Unfortunately, you would like to think that a criminal case would stand on its own merits. Far too often, though, it is the moments surrounding an arrest that can have a tremendous impact on a criminal case. How you react in those moments can help or hinder your case because the police are often looking for anything that can be used to help the prosecution’s case. The slightest slip-up will be something they will try to use to their advantage. With that in mind, there are 3 important steps to remember if you’re arrested in Tampa, FL:

  1. Keep Calm – Getting arrested is likely to lead to charged emotions, even indignation if you know that you’re being falsely accused. Rationally, someone being furious, protesting, and possibly even lashing out at being arrested might be seen as a sign of their innocence. After all, if you haven’t committed a crime, then the police are, in a way, kidnapping you. That reasonable understanding, though, is not how the legal system looks at such a reaction. Far too often, someone reacting angrily to an arrest is used as some kind of evidence of their guilt. Of course, if someone resists too aggressively, there’s also the possibility of charges of resisting arrest being added to the other charges. Therefore, it’s important to keep calm. If you’re innocent, the legal system expects you to allow yourself to be arrested and trust the process to prove your innocence. While that may or may not be the case, it’s a part of that same legal system that is in charge of arresting you, and they have set it up so that things will be much worse for you if you resist. Therefore, you should keep calm, cooperate with the arrest, and allow the booking to proceed..
  2. Keep Quiet – You have a right to remain silent. Use it. While we understand that police have a vital responsibility to protect citizens and keep them safe, it’s also important to recognize what else they are trained to do. Police are taught how to coax a confession out of people, not to necessarily discover the truth. This means that even innocent people can sometimes end up confessing to something that they never did. It’s better to keep quiet and wait for your lawyer. It’s also important to recognize that police officers are allowed to lie to you. If you lie to them, it’s committing a crime, but they are legally allowed to lie to you in the process of their investigation. They may even lie to you with the purpose of trying to get you to talk. That’s why it’s critical to keep quiet and avoid saying something that may be used against you later.
  3. Call Jeff Marshall Law. Contacting a lawyer is essential if you’ve been arrested. It’s our job to see that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. A lawyer can help you avoid self-incrimination. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can begin our investigation as well. Being able to begin that process while the evidence is still fresh can be very helpful to your case.

Burden of Proof

It’s important to recognize the process of determining guilt in criminal trials. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. They must be able to demonstrate guilt to the jury, such that the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. The prosecution will often attempt to first show that the defendant had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.

Therefore, the prosecution will try to demonstrate that you had the capability, or means, to commit the crime. They will attempt to establish that you had a reason for committing the crime. Although motive isn’t necessarily an element of a crime, if the prosecution can establish a motive, a jury is more likely to convict. In terms of opportunity, the prosecution will try to demonstrate the circumstances were such that the defendant could have committed a crime. However, even if all three of those things are established, there must still be evidence presented that shows that the defendant committed the crime.

While these factors are used as tools of the prosecution, they are also potential points for creating reasonable doubt. A criminal defense lawyer can target one or all of these elements to try and sow some level of doubt in the jury’s minds. They may try to show why the defendant couldn’t have been capable of committing the crime. Another tactic could be to explain why the defendant had no reason to commit the crime. Last, they can attempt to convince the jury that there really was no opportunity or that the evidence for the crime is insufficient.

Possible Defenses Against Criminal Charges

There are a few strategies for criminal defense that are more commonly used, though some or all may not necessarily be applicable in every case. Occasionally, a criminal defense lawyer may need to consider a less familiar defense or even a novel approach. That’s why creativity can be a valuable trait for a lawyer to have. There are, essentially, two general categories of strategies. Generally, strategies that argue for innocence are more likely to be successful, though they are not always possible. In those cases, a strategy may have to allow for the admission of having committed the illegal act while still having a reason for why the defendant isn’t responsible. Some of the possible strategies for criminal defense include:

  • An Alibi – If a strong argument can be made to show that you weren’t at the scene of the crime when it occurred, then that may be solid grounds to be found not guilty. However, the jury needs to be convinced of the alibi, which typically requires evidence. Witness testimony for your alibi may also be helpful. However, the prosecution may be able to discredit the testimony if it is only from one other person.
  • Attacking the Prosecution’s Case – Another way to argue for one’s innocence is to aggressively attack the prosecution’s case. Remember, it is only necessary to create a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, not to prove one’s innocence. This strategy can be executed in a number of different ways. One way is to attack the legality of the evidence that the prosecution presents. If the evidence was collected in a way that was illegal, then it may not be permitted into the trial. Another way is to attack the validity of the prosecution’s evidence or testimony. Sometimes, evidence may be dependent upon science that isn’t foolproof. Testimony, too, may be shown to be faulty because human memory is imperfect. Lastly, a good attorney may also be able to find flaws in the narrative created by the prosecution. Any holes in the prosecution’s logic or unfounded assertions can, when exposed, create doubt in the jury’s minds.
  • Self-Defense – As a strategy, self-defense can be an effective means of defending against a conviction in some cases where the defendant is charged with a violent crime. If it can be shown that the other party was the instigator of the conflict, then self-defense may be an appropriate strategy. However, the strategy is not likely to be effective if the defense was inappropriately excessive and disproportionate to the instigation.
  • Entrapment – This is the argument that the defendant was induced to commit a crime by law enforcement. Something like a sting of sorts would be argued as enticing someone to act as they wouldn’t have otherwise. This can be a difficult argument to prove, as the judge and jury must be convinced that the person wouldn’t otherwise have committed the crime except for the efforts of law enforcement.

Criminal Case Process in Florida

The criminal process in Florida follows a consistent set of procedures. Each of these steps can be critical to understand, and a lawyer can be a valuable asset to advocate for you at each stage. The stages of a Florida criminal case are:

  • Arrest or Notice to Appear – Depending upon the crime, one may be arrested so that they cannot flee, or they may simply be told to appear before the court for booking.
  • Booking – This first appearance before the court usually covers presenting charges, determining the defendant’s attorney situation, and setting bail.
  • Arraignment – During an arraignment hearing, the defendant will submit their plea of either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A “not guilty” plea will give the defense attorney more time to investigate a client’s case.
  • Formal Charges – Depending upon the evidence gathered, the prosecutor may adjust the initial criminal charges.
  • Discovery – This process requires all the evidence that the prosecutor has gathered to be given to the defendant’s attorney. This gives the defendant’s attorney a fair chance to prepare a response to potential arguments that the prosecutor may make.
  • Preliminary Hearing – During this period, evidence to dismiss the case or see charges reduced is submitted.
  • Plea Bargaining – A plea deal usually involves agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge and penalty. A plea may not always be offered, but it is often preferred by judges.
  • Depositions – This involves questioning various witnesses to see how they will answer in a trial circumstance.
  • Criminal Trial – During a trial, the prosecutor will present their case, followed by a cross-examination by the defense. Then the defense will present their case, followed by a cross-examination by the prosecution. After that, the jury will deliberate and give a verdict.
  • Acquittal or Sentencing – If the defendant is found not guilty, they are acquitted, and if they are found guilty, sentencing will be issued.

Why You Need a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer

There are three ways you can mount a defense in a criminal case:

  1. Represent yourself
  2. Be represented by a court-appointed lawyer
  3. Hire a lawyer to represent you

It’s important to remember that the stakes in a criminal trial are significant. The results of criminal charges can have a profound effect on someone’s life. It’s not the kind of issue where you should be looking for a bargain option. You need the strongest defense that you can put forth. With that in mind, you’ll want to weigh these three options.


To represent yourself would not be a very wise idea. A strong defense requires understanding every legal tool and option that’s available to you. Getting that kind of an understanding of the legal tools available takes years of study. It’s also important to recognize the element of emotional investment that exists when someone represents themselves. Conducting an impactful trial defense requires a clear head and adaptiveness to the direction the trial is taking. It can be difficult to do that with so much personally riding on the outcome. Consider the fact that even many lawyers, if they find themselves charged with criminal activity, don’t represent themselves. It’s simply a better option to have someone else represent you.

Court-Appointed Lawyer (Public Defender)

Typically, the court will only appoint a lawyer if you can’t afford one. However, even if you qualify by the court’s assessment for a court-appointed attorney, you may really want to consider finding some way to pay for your own. It can sometimes make all the difference for your case. A court-appointed attorney is going to lack the same investment that a privately hired attorney can have. A court-appointed attorney may also be juggling more cases than one attorney should at once. Lastly, there’s the old phrase, “You get what you pay for,” and that tends to hold true with attorneys as well. Free may not be the bargain that you think it is.

Private Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa, FL

When you hire your own criminal defense lawyer, you are able to pick the lawyer that you want to defend you. One of the most important elements of your defense is finding someone you can trust. You want an attorney who you know is going to put forth their utmost effort to defend you. When you select an attorney, you can find someone who you truly believe can thoroughly and exhaustively work in your defense. That’s the type of criminal defense that you can expect from Jeff Marshall Law. We are honest with our clients and tenacious in their defense. You can expect us to seek every avenue of defense in representing you.

What to Look for in a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you are deciding on a criminal defense lawyer, there are a few characteristics that you should seek. To begin with, you need to find someone you trust. A criminal trial can be a tremendous pivot point in a person’s life. It’s important that, with so much on the line, you have someone who you believe can represent you with the same passion that you would represent yourself with.

Another characteristic you will want in a criminal defense attorney is attention to detail. When you watch a courtroom drama, it makes it look as if the trials hinge on a single piece of evidence or a single bit of witness testimony being exposed as flawed. The reality, though, is that it’s often a bunch of little things that add up to a strong defense. These compounding weaknesses in the prosecution’s case are often exposed through fine attention to detail. You need a lawyer who is able to quickly recognize the flaws in the prosecution’s case and adapt your defense to attack those flaws.

Finally, you’ll want to find an attorney who’s creative. There are some standard defensive strategies that lawyers can turn to when appropriate. However, there are also times when an attorney needs to be creative because a particular situation doesn’t quite fit the standard defensive strategies. You will want a lawyer who can think unconventionally as they search for the right approach to your defense.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you’re facing criminal charges, then the potential consequences can make life much harder moving forward. Not just the possibility of fines, jail time, or other consequences that may lie ahead. A criminal record can show up on background checks and make things like applying for jobs, trying to enroll in college classes, or getting certain licenses tremendously difficult, if not impossible. You can’t afford to take that risk alone. Nor can you afford to settle for a court-appointed lawyer. You want someone who’s invested in your case and ready to fight aggressively for you.

Jeff Marshall Law can give your case the defense you deserve. We can give you an honest assessment of your case, and if a plea bargain seems like your preferred option, we can negotiate hard for a favorable deal. If you’re ready to take your case to trial, we can defend your rights and put forward a strategic, adaptive defense. Our goal is to find the most favorable outcome we can for you. If you need help defending your case, contact us today.



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