Have you or your loved one been charged with a felony or criminal offense in Florida, and you are looking to get the charges dropped? If so, read on!
A criminal conviction can potentially ruin your life forever, thus the need to do everything possible to prevent your case from taking that course. Once you get a criminal record, it can be extremely challenging to secure some jobs, obtain a bank loan, rent a home, receive approval for an occupational license, or own a firearm.
Thankfully, a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney can assess your case and determine how to get felony charges dropped. So, what strategies can your lawyer implement to help you bypass felony conviction or have the charges dropped to a misdemeanor?
5 Strategic Ways to have Your Felony Charges Dismissed in Florida
Show a Lack of Probable Cause
It is common knowledge; for police or law enforcement to make an arrest or pursue criminal charges, there must be probable cause to prove that a crime has been committed. If they cannot support that with concrete evidence, the chances are that the arrest was unlawful. So depending on your case, a competent attorney can table indisputable evidence that there was no probable cause for your arrest, prompting the court to drop your felony charges.
But that is not all; law enforcement needs to prove probable cause at two stages during the criminal process:
- The search and seizure stage
- The preliminary hearing or grand jury stage
And in both cases, the prosecutor must table reasonable and articulable facts causing law enforcement to have an honest suspicion of the defendant committing a criminal offense. If probable cause is not vivid in the preliminary stage, the judge will be prompted to dismiss the case. Likewise, the grand jury will have no reason to indict the defendant if no evidence is shown in the grand jury stage. Finally, if there is no legal reason supporting the defendant’s search, seizure, or arrest, it indicates the violation of your constitutional rights.
Show a Violation of Your Constitutional Rights
The U.S. Constitution protects you from coercive or abusive law enforcement and police tactics, and you can have your felony charges dropped if you can prove a violation of your rights. If there were a violation, any piece of evidence gathered by law enforcement would be inadmissible during trial. And without concrete evidence to argue their case, prosecutors may stand no chance in the court and may decide to drop the charges as a result.
Below are some constitutional rights that may help with your case if violated by the police:
- The right to be free from unreasonable seizures or searches
- The right to be informed of the nature and cause of the felony accusation against you
- The right to cross-examine the witnesses to testify against you
- The right to be heard
- The right to a criminal defense attorney during interrogations
- The right to be free from self-incrimination
Negotiate a Plea Agreement
Did you know that you can have your felony charge reduced to a less severe misdemeanor through a plea bargain? That is right! But before the court can consider dropping your case, the crime committed must be eligible for a misdemeanor charge.
For instance, Federal crimes as grave as terrorism, rape, or armed robbery do not qualify as a misdemeanor; hence they cannot be reduced. However, on the flip side, simple crimes like shoplifting or petty theft can be reduced to a misdemeanor, depending on the stolen property’s value.
So if your felony can be downgraded to a misdemeanor, a qualified attorney can help you seek a plea agreement, where you agree to plead guilty to a less severe charge. Essentially, it involves striking a deal with the prosecution that you will accept liability for some of your charges on the condition that they get lessened to misdemeanors. The prosecution can accept the agreement if they are unsure whether they can win the case, plus it saves them time, so why not?
Please note, however, that accepting a plea agreement does not erase your criminal history. Instead, it makes it less hassling for you to clear your record.
Cooperate with the Prosecution on a Bigger Case
The strategy may seem like a trap or some Hollywood movie plot from the outlook. But the truth is, the prosecution can have your felony charges dropped if you agree to provide them with the information they need relating to a bigger case. For instance, if you get charged with illegal firearm possession, the prosecution can drop the charges if you agree to link them with the source.
However, there is one slight catch; the prosecution will not drop the charges unless the defendant has concrete evidence to help them build a case on a more significant issue. This makes cooperation with the prosecution an uncommon defense strategy, and the bargains leading to such arrangements can be overly sensitive. Yet, a seasonal criminal defense attorney can still manage to convince the prosecution to drop the felony charges and guarantee the defendant’s protection after providing the required assistance.
Negotiate Suspension of the Case for a Pretrial Diversion Program
Florida offenders (including some felony offenders) with little to no criminal record may be eligible to enter a pretrial diversion program. If you are wondering, this is some sort of pretrial sentencing, where a criminal offender joins a rehabilitation program to help correct the behavior leading to their arrest, avoid conviction, and maintain a clean criminal record.
As such, pretrial diversion is mostly a preserve for offenses like drug abuse/possession, domestic violence, driving under the influence (DUI), shoplifting, etc. Also, thanks to their strict eligibility requirements, offenders with a criminal record may not qualify to join the program.
But if your offense makes you eligible, you want to engage with your attorney before agreeing to join the program. Last but not least, remember that your charges have not been dropped yet, so failing to complete the program can send your case back to the court and deteriorate your criminal record further.
Meltzer & Bell, P.A. Criminal Defense Team Can Help!
Getting arrested for a criminal offense is one of the most traumatizing experiences. A criminal conviction is even worse because society looks at you differently, and you get denied lots of essential privileges like receiving approval for an occupational license. But you do not have to feel like you have hit rock-bottom because you still have a partner who understands your tribulations and can help you overcome them – an aggressive criminal defense lawyer from Meltzer & Bell, P.A.
We are a team of competent and experienced attorneys committed to helping our Florida clients get acquitted from their felony charges by exploring all legal avenues applicable. So do not lose hope just yet. Get in touch with us for a FREE case evaluation and a personalized understanding of how to get felony charges dropped in Florida!