Five Things To Do If You’ve Been Arrested In Clearwater, Florida

When someone you care about has been arrested in Tampa Bay, Florida, it’s important to focus quickly on what you need to do and act fast to help that person.

Here are the five things you must consider after an arrest in Florida in order of importance:

Not Just Another Jail

Not Just Another Jail

  1. Find out if the defendant is still incarcerated and if so why. The fastest way to learn whether someone is still being held at the Pinellas County Jail is to check at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office web page. Simply place the name of the person into the web page and you’ll find out the charged offense, the amount of bond and the date of the arrest.
  2. Make arrangements for the advisory hearing if the defendant is still in jail. After an arrest in Florida for any felony or misdemeanor a defendant will be given what is known as an advisory hearing within twenty-four hours to determine what the amount of the bond, if any, is. At this first hearing the judge will make an initial determination as to whether the defendant is a flight risk or a risk to the community if released. If more judges spent quality time in jail themselves they would have much more insight about giving fair bonds. At the advisory hearing your Clearwater criminal defense lawyer will ask the judge to lower the initial bond set by police officers at booking after the arrest and give the judge relevant information in mitigation about the facts of the alleged crime.
  3. Hire a defense lawyer who knows criminal law and understands the criminal justice system as it works in Pinellas, County, Florida. One rule of thumb is to find someone with prior experience as either a prosecutor or public defender and to find a lawyer such as Robert Hambrick who handles criminal law in Tampa Bay exclusively. The sooner you hire the lawyer the faster he or she will be able to provide an effective defense to find the best possible outcome.
  4. Help your lawyer find evidence, witnesses and anything else that may undermine the arrest. In many cases a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of the arrest may reveal hidden motives of witnesses or establish that law enforcement officers failed to find all of the relevant evidence. Unhappily, most evidence is not safe nor permanent. Often evidence such as video, audio or pictures may need to be found and safeguarded if it is later to be useful.
  5. If the defendant can not be bonded out of jail for some reason such as a prior record, then it’s important for loved ones to make sure to keep up the defendant’s spirits with visits to the jail. The very poor conditions at the Pinellas Jail is well known. It’s necessary to make sure the defendant has any prescriptions for medical needs as well as some money in his canteen to buy extra food, clothes and even soap. The Pinellas County jail fails to protect and provide for state and federal prisoners.

The goal is to spend as little time as possible in jail while awaiting a resolution of the case. A criminal case in Pinellas County can easily go on for more than six months before it is resolved. It’s very important for a defendant to be out of jail so that he can still maintain employment and also help his lawyer find the facts and evidence that will best help his case.

HOW TO TURN YOURSELF IN ON AN ACTIVE ARREST WARRANT WITHOUT SPENDING TIME IN JAIL IN FLORIDA

Too many Florida vacations end with an arrest warrant in Tampa Bay, Florida.
An Arresting Florida Vacation

Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys are often asked about how to take care of an arrest warrant in Tampa Bay, Florida. If you know there is an outstanding arrest warrant in your name, then you need to take care of it as soon as possible or you could be arrested at anytime under the warrant. 

First, what is an arrest warrant? An arrest warrant is a legal document signed by a judge establishing probable cause that a crime has been committed with details of the person who committed the crime granting law enforcement officers the right to  make an arrest of that person. 
An arrest warrant allows officers who have no knowledge of a case to arrest the suspect. This means that someone stopped for a mere traffic infraction could be arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Just as Florida honors other state’s arrest warrants so other states will honor Florida’s arrest warrants even if the Defendant has not actually committed a criminal act. If an arrest is made in another state then that State will place a hold on the Defendant in jail while Florida makes a decision on whether to extradite the Defendant to Florida to face criminal prosecution. 

Arrest warrants often are issued without direct notice to a Defendant so that learning of an outstanding warrant can come as a surprise to someone years after the alleged misconduct. In Florida tourists often find themselves the target of arrest warrants years after their Florida vacations end. The time lag makes mounting an effective defense of an older criminal case that much more difficult.

Once an arrest warrant has been issued in Florida, it will be listed on the FDLE web page wanted person search, in Tampa it will be listed with the Hillsborough SheriffWhat should you do if you or a member of your family finds that there’s an active arrest warrant in Florida? 
It may be possible to turn yourself in on the warrant. To do this you’ll need to have knowledge of the amount of the bond or the likelihood of being released on your own recognizance. If you turn yourself in at the Jail you’ll either need the full amount of the bond or a bail bondsman. 
If you turn yourself into the Court, you’ll need to make sure the prosecutor and the Judge have your file at the hearing or you’ll wait in jail until the file is found usually at least a week or two.
The fact that you have taken action to take care of the warrant is helpful. Other factors which a Judge may look at in determining an appropriate bond for someone who has turned himself in on a warrant would be the severity of the alleged offense, whether the alleged offense was violent and flight risk, though by turning yourself in to face criminal prosecution you are an unlikely flight risk.
If you find that police in Tampa Bay, Florida have an arrest warrant against you or someone you care for, you’ll need an effective criminal defense lawyer in Clearwater to find the best possible outcome.