If you have been arrested in Pinellas County, please follow this advice. I have handled countless cases in Pinellas County and have seen it all. Pinellas is a conservative county compared to the rest of the state. That means that law enforcement is tougher and so are the judges and prosecutors. You need to be prepared to do some work. You will need to start fixing whatever contributed to you to be arrested. With my help, we will get through it together.
I have put together a list of advice that should help you right after the arrest in Pinellas County.
Lay Low and Do Not Tell People About the Arrest
My number one tip for people after an arrest is to lay low. Please do not call people and tell them about the arrest. I promise you that once you tell someone, it spreads like wildfire and they will never forget about it. There is a good chance that most people will never know about your arrest unless you tell them.
Please stay off social media. There’s a lot of temptation to post about the arrest. If there were other people involved in the incident, you may want to check in on them. Trust me, it doesn’t help. Only bad things will happen.
Never contact the victim. Most likely there is a no contact order in place. But, if not, tensions are always high. Once you hire a criminal defense lawyer, he or she can contact the victim for you. Please let us do our job.
Get The Paperwork From the Arrest Together
The paperwork that you were given at the Pinellas County Jail is important. You will have received an arrest affidavit and likely tickets. It takes a few days for the Pinellas County Clerk to enter this paperwork into the system. You will need that paperwork not only for your lawyer, but to start other tasks. It allows us to get a head start on your case, so please don’t lose it.
Check in with ROR
If you were Released on Own Recognizance (ROR), you will have to check in with the ROR the next day. The good thing about ROR is that it is free. The bad news is that it is a total pain. You have to check in every week and are subject to random urine screens. Don’t worry if you aren’t clean on that first day. The biggest problem that I see is that you are not allowed to leave Pinellas County. If you need to leave the county for work or a trip, please let me know and I can get the judge to amend the Order.
Get Clean and Sober
This is a big one after an arrest in Pinellas County. I see many people so depressed that they are tempted to drink or get high. One of the biggest things that you can do to help yourself is to get sober. Getting a negative drug screen means a lot. If you are smoking marijuana, you make it very hard to get a negative screen. The judge and the prosecutor expect you to change. I know it is hard, but you will be rewarded if you can do it.
Getting evidence is important. Save screenshots of texts. Get receipts to show what you drank. Take pictures of injuries or of the scene. Whatever evidence can be lost, get it and preserve it. What I don’t advise is to go out and contact witnesses before talking to a lawyer. I don’t need witness statements or letters of recommendation immediately after the incident. Use common sense.
Get Your Car Out of Impound
Getting your car out of impound will be a hassle, but you might as well get it done immediately. If you were arrested for a DUI, most police agencies charge you a fine of $500. You will have to pay the fine before they will give you the release to take to the impound lot. Then, once you get there, you will have to pay the company that towed your car to the lot for the impound. It is a complete racket, but something that you will have to pay.
Use Your One Time Visit to Retrieve Belongings
If you were arrested for a charge like a domestic battery, you likely were ordered to stay away from your home. But, you were given a one time opportunity to go back there to retrieve your personal items. You will need to call the police department that has jurisdiction where you live and ask an officer to assist. Be prepared that you are only going to have about 15 minutes. Don’t expect that you are going to be able to bring movers and do any heavy lifting. Just grab your clothes and toiletries and be respectful. And, don’t do anything stupid while you are in the house. I once had a client take a bottle of vodka from the home and that made his wife furious.
Sign Up For Classes
I can provide recommendations for this task. But, after an arrest in Pinellas County, you are likely going to have to do classes. That could mean DUI school, anger management, drug and alcohol counseling, or even AA. I have a list of all of the providers in the county and can provide that to you. I know who allows classes over Zoom and who allows you to double up to get done quicker. If you have a Dr. or counselor who you are already working with, then please get an appointment set up to discuss what you need.
Research Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pinellas
I advise that you research a few lawyers. Please go to their website and read their reviews. If they have a section about past results or success stories, read them to see if any match what you are going through.
You should only look to hire lawyers who have an office in Pinellas County. As I said earlier, Pinellas County is much harder than other counties. I see lawyers from Tampa or Miami come into Pinellas County all the time and walk their clients into a buzzsaw. Don’t make that mistake. Just because a lawyer achieved a good result in a different county before, does not mean that it is going to happen in Pinellas.
I advise that you then start calling a defense lawyer. Start getting your finances together because it costs money to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Pinellas County. But, getting a plan for your defense immediately will really help you in the long run. You don’t have that much time, so let’s get started on your case.