If you’ve been arrested in Pinellas County, the steps you take next will have a significant impact on your future. You need to be aware of your rights, of the administrative tasks that could help and the importance of using a criminal defense attorney.
We welcome you to contact our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation now. Please, for your own sake, don’t delay.
1. Use Your Miranda Rights
First, invoke your Miranda rights to remain silent. These are the rights that all U.S. citizens have when arrested by law enforcement.
Miranda rights allow you to remain silent to prevent self-incrimination while in custody or under interrogation.
Police are required to read your Miranda rights if you’re being taken into custody, or you’re being interrogated by law enforcement. If they didn’t, let your defense attorney know.
- You are allowed to remain silent.
- You can stop answering questions at any moment.
- The simplest way to use these rights is to say “no comment”, or;
- “I will wait to speak with my attorney”.
2. Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
After an arrest in Pinellas County (and all of Florida), you have the right to request legal representation and to remain silent until you meet with them.
This is a very helpful and important step. By speaking to an attorney first, they can help you understand the best course of action. For example, they may advise you to reveal some information or remain entirely silent. Or, they may be able to quickly resolve the situation with the local court (this is common in misunderstandings).
It is critical you contact a criminal defense attorney to protect your future. The sooner, the better.
3. Stay Calm
We advise you to stay calm and be cooperative with law enforcement. This can be difficult, we understand. However becoming aggressive or resisting could lead to further charges and complications.
Remember you can remain silent, but you should still follow instructions such as ‘come this way’ or ‘put your hands behind your back’. Don’t worry, once you have spoken to an attorney you will be able to understand if your rights have been violated.
4. Do Not Self-Incriminate
As previously mentioned, you should use your Miranda rights to avoid self-incrimination.
But we also advise taking this approach to all areas of your life:
- Do not make social media posts about your arrest or incident.
- Do not make a phone call in front of law enforcement where you admit fault.
- Do not assume you were in the wrong (for example in a car accident), as the reality of the situation may be different from your memory – wait for an investigation to reveal the truth.
- Don’t discuss the case with friends or extended family.
- You can discuss the case with your attorney – they keep all information confidential via the attorney-client privilege law
Do Not Lie
Although we say do not self-incriminate, you should not lie. Lying can result in further charges. Remaining silent is not an admission of guilt, so it is the best option if you believe speaking would get you in trouble.
5. Retain Any Evidence
We also advise that you retain any evidence that could be used in your defense, such as:
- Videos or photos of the incident, such as dashcam footage or photos of the crime scene.
- Keep any items or clothing that could be used in your defense.
- Try to get witness statements or witness contact details.
6. Try to Remember Exactly What Happened
You should recall exactly what happened from start to finish of the incident (including the arrest itself).
- Where were you?
- Who was with you?
- What time did it happen?
- What triggered the event?
- Who saw the event happen?
- Why were you there?
Remember the specifics of your arrest are also crucial, as it could potentially get the case dropped if the arrest was unlawful.
- What did the law enforcement say to you or instruct you to do?
- Did they read your Miranda rights?
- What reason did they give for your arrest?
- Did they provide clear instructions (such as with a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test)?
7. Understand Your Charges
You must gain a clear understanding of your charges so that you know the potential consequences, penalties and options available.
Your Pinellas County criminal defense lawyer can help you with this. For example, in Pinellas County first-time DUI offenders can get their charges reduced to a reckless driving misdemeanor and get fast-tracked through the DUI D.R.O.P program (which is far less severe than a DUI conviction).
It will also allow you to know what administrative tasks and options you have available, such as saving your license.
8. Do You Need to Save Your License?
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Pinellas County you may be able to save your license with quick action.
Your license will have been suspended immediately, so you’ll need to take action with your attorney’s help.
- You have just 10 days to challenge the suspension to retain your license.
- Your attorney will request a civil hearing to challenge the suspension.
- They can then help you get a 42-day hardship license so you can still drive for essential purposes.
9. Get Bail or Bond
You may be able to avoid immediate jail time by paying a bail amount. This fee ensures the defendant will return to court at a later date and is usually returned after the court hearing.
This fee is pre-set and can be paid by your friends or family too.
If you don’t have the cash, you can avoid jail time by getting bond after your arrest. They are similar to bail but do not require upfront cash payments.
Bonds are obtained from bail bond agencies, usually for around 10% of the bail fee amount. However, you should be wary of scam bond agencies and contact a Pinellas County criminal defense lawyer for an expert opinion.
Own Recognizance Release
An alternate and often advised strategy is an OR (Own Recognizance) release. This allows you to be released from jail without paying bail money, via a written agreement that promises you will appear in court. However, you will face conditions such as travel restrictions.
Again, your criminal defense lawyer can help you see if this is an optimal strategy.
Read our guide on How to Get Bail or Bond After an Arrest in Florida
10. Prepare for Your Case
Finally, we want you to remember the importance of preparing for your case.
It is not an exaggeration that your future depends on this. Employment, insurance, education and relationships could all be affected by a conviction with strong penalties.
Our Pinellas County criminal defense lawyers have experience working in every area of arrests in Florida and use our resources to build a strong defense. Ideally, we can help you avoid court in advance by taking swift action. We have experience with:
- Assault and Battery
- BUI – Boating Under the Influence
- Burglary and Trespass
- Child Neglect
- Disorderly Conduct and Disorderly Intoxication
- Domestic Battery
- Drug Possession
- Drug Sales & Manufacturing
- Drug Trafficking
- DUI – Driving Under the Influence
- Gun & Weapon Charges
- Juvenile Crimes
- Obstructing Justice or Resisting Arrest
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- Violations of Probation
- White Collar Crimes
If you have any further questions, please contact us for a free consultation or refer to our blogs and explainer section here.
- Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
- Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office
- Pinellas County Judicial Services
- Pinellas County Juvenile Justice
- Pinellas County Clerk of Courts
- Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections
- Pinellas County Government
- Pinellas County Property Appraiser
Criminal Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you’ve been arrested in Pinellas County, please contact our criminal defense lawyers for a swift and aggressive response.
Our experienced team regularly helps people charged with both unlawful arrests or in need of a strong defense, to gain a future free from the consequences of prison and a criminal record.
Our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300