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Frequently Asked Questions

If you or your loved one has been arrested, you may want to know the basics of Criminal Defense Law. Please contact our law office directly to get questions answered about the specifics of your criminal matter. Every case is different. The best “answer” and most effective legal strategy depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the specific arrest.  Remember there is no initial consultation fee, so get educated.

What happens before charges are filed?

If you believe that criminal charges are about to be filed against you, it is always to your benefit to speak to us. Even if criminal charges never get filed, you will be helped immensely from the advice and guidance that you will receive without cost.

Often times we can review your case and discover evidence that may be used to your advantage before charges are filed. After carefully screening your case, we may be able to present evidence to prosecutors that will dissuade them from filing criminal charges against you.

What happens after someone is arrested?

The law enforcement officers involved write reports about the crime, obtain witness statements, run a background check of the suspects, and do further investigation as needed before submitting their work to a prosecuting agency.  Law enforcement will then bring their written investigation to the United States Attorney’s Office or State Attorney’s Office.  An Assistant United States Attorney or an Assistant State Attorney reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution or proceeding.

Do I need a criminal defense lawyer if I have been falsely accused?

Many cases are resolved with prosecutors just closing their files, because the evidence of a crime is simply insufficient. In that case the court system does not get involved. However, as with many things in life, the world is not perfect and law enforcement officers do make mistakes. People have been falsely accused of crimes.

Innocent people have served years in prison only to be ultimately released upon DNA testing. We have heard clients say “Hey, I am innocent! I figured I would go explain this to law enforcement and this would all go away!” Unfortunately they were wrong. Often times law enforcement officers are inclined to disbelieve what a suspect tells them, and they may not have either the time or the motivation to fully investigate a suspect’s story. What happens? The next thing the suspect knows is that he/she is arrested, placed into custody, and does not know how to clear his/her name. In sum, someone who is completely innocent may be in the greatest need of representation.

The person that called the police does not want to prosecute, does that mean that no charges will be filed?

Not necessarily. There are many reasons why the alleged victim or reporting party may have a change of heart. It may be that the report of a crime (violence, theft, or other violation) may have been false or inaccurate. It may also be that the person is scared to proceed with a prosecution. The police and the prosecutor’s office are aware of all the reasons, and do not just “drop charges”.  They instead attempt to re-interview the reporting party to understand the reason behind the change of heart. Ultimately, the decision to dismiss belongs to the prosecutor not the victim.

What if I feel that the police violated my constitutional rights?

A criminal defense attorney seeks to exclude evidence obtained as a result of law enforcement misconduct. At times, misconduct occurs in searches that take place during ordinary traffic stops or in a suspect’s home. Additionally, if law enforcement is too aggressive in trying to obtain an incriminating statement from a suspect, it may violate the suspect’s rights. Litigation in the criminal courts allows a defense lawyer to protect his client’s rights by submitting motions to the judge seeking to exclude the recovered evidence or received statements from trial. Sometimes a successful motion to suppress evidence cripples the prosecutor’s case, causing the case to either be dismissed or substantially reduced in plea negotiations.

If the defendant is not a U.S. citizen, how will the immigration status be affected by an arrest?

Criminal convictions may cause direct and grave consequences to someone’s immigration status, often leading to deportation proceedings. The Immigration and Customs enforcement agency’s guidelines are often very complex and we frequently confer with immigration law specialists to properly advise clients.

For example, The U.S. Marshalls upon a new arrest are responsible for learning the immigration status of that arrested individual. As a result, as soon as someone is in custody (even if charges are later dismissed), an “immigration hold” may be placed subjecting him or her to potential deportation.

Can I Defend Myself?

If you are contacted by state or federal authorities in relation to a criminal investigation including but not limited to the following agencies: The State police, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), State of Florida County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Marshals Service, Criminal Division of the IRS (CID), the United States Postal Service, or the Bureau of Alcohol, and Firearms, be aware that although they might be considering you as a potential witness, you may be a suspect.

We can help you assess the nature and real purpose of an investigation.  This way you can avoid common traps or pitfalls that can erringly lead to disaster. Consider the case of Martha Stewart, who was acquitted of any direct criminal wrongdoing, but spent time in prison for making false statements to federal investigators.


This website is designated for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship. Victor D. Martinez, P.A
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  • Tampa Office
    110 North 11th Street
    First Floor
    Tampa, Florida 33602
    Phone: 813-289-0600
    Fax: 813-251-0505