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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.