- What should I do if I'm under investigation?
- What should I do if a friend, family member or other loved one has been arrested?
- Should I speak to law enforcement in hopes that they won't arrest me?
- What if I'm innocent? Do I really need a criminal defense attorney?
- What is an arrest warrant?
- Do police need a warrant before they can legally arrest someone?
- What do I do if I have a warrant?
- What is a bail bond and how does posting a bail bond work?
- What should I do or say after I've been arrested in order to preserve my constitutional rights?
- After someone is arrested, what happens next?
- What is the arraignment?
- What if the victim wants the charges to go away? Will prosecutors drop the charges?
- Can I actually be convicted solely based on the word of one person?
- What's the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
- If I'm arrested for a felony, will I face felony charges when I go to court?
- Will I have to go to court?
- If I'm charged with DUI, do I really need a lawyer? Can't I just handle this by myself?
- Do I really need a lawyer if I'm only charged with a misdemeanor?
- Do I really need to hire a private attorney? Can't I just use the Public Defender?
- Why not let the public defender represent me?
- If I'm guilty of the crime and don't have any defense to it, shouldn't I just plead guilty without a lawyer?
- What can be done if I believe that the cops violated my rights?
- Police never read me my Miranda Rights? Can I get the case dismissed?
- If I invoke my Miranda Rights and refuse to answer questions, can that be used against me in court?
- What is a plea bargain?
- What is mitigation evidence and how do you use it in court on behalf of your clients?
- Under Florida criminal laws, what penalties am I facing with the charges I have?
- Other than prison, what other adverse consequences am I facing as a result of criminal charges?
- What alternatives to jail or prison could you obtain for me if I get convicted of a criminal offense?
- What's the difference between parole and probation?
- What if I'm not a U.S. citizen? Will a criminal conviction cause adverse immigration consequences?
- If I receive a subpoena, do I have to appear and testify?
- What is the burden of proof in criminal court?
- What's the difference between State and Federal crimes?
- What role does the prosecutor play in a criminal case?
- Will my prior criminal record be used against me by prosecutors?
- When can a law enforcement officer search my property?
- If I hire your firm, can you guarantee me a particular result?
- If I choose to go to trial and not take a plea bargain, how long will the trial take?
- If I have an addiction, can this issue be addressed on my behalf when you're representing me?
- What kinds of cases does your firm handle?
- I'd like to hire a private lawyer, however, attorneys are expensive. How can I afford to hire you?
- Why should I hire Mark Eiglarsh and The Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh?
- Does the first consultation cost anything?
Q: What should I do if I'm under investigation?
A: It is critical to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately after becoming aware that law enforcement is investigating you and/or your business. At the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, our extensive experience can guide you through this challenging process. Additionally, there are many instances when our representation of a client during the "investigation stage" has resulted in no charges being brought and/or no arrest made. For example, recently I was representing a top athlete at a local Miami college. His life came crashing down when police arrested him for allegedly raping another student. I met with him several times and believed in his innocence. His position was that he had consensual sex with the alleged victim. I was able to secure the cooperation of a key witness who poked significant holes in the alleged victim's story. Fortunately, charges were not filed. Additionally, a teenager we represented recently was told that an arrest for felony battery was imminent. The teen learned through school administrators that police had contacted them and told them that they were going to arrest him for punching another student, resulting in serious injury to the victim's face. We were successful in persuading law enforcement not to arrest our teen client. As a result, nothing ever went on his record.
We also have been successful on numerous occasions at affecting what charges are levied against our clients simply by discussions with law enforcement. For example, whether a client is charged with Aggravated Battery, a 2nd degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison or Simple Battery, a misdemeanor with a cap of one year, can make a huge difference. Bond is lowered; where the case is filed is different (Circuit vs. County Court), and obviously, the potential penalty the client is facing is thoroughly different.
Assuming law enforcement is determined to make an arrest, we frequently are able to negotiate a mutually convenient surrender time and date so our client doesn't have to continue to live in fear, worried that law enforcement may show up at any given moment. It's not uncommon for law enforcement to show up at a suspect's work and/or home in the middle of the night. As your attorney, we may be able to assist you in avoiding those devastating scenarios. Also, we'll make sure a reputable bondsman is ready to go to pull you and/or your loved ones from jail as soon as humanly possible.
Q: What should I do if a friend, family member or other loved one has been arrested?
A: If someone you know has been arrested, it's important initially to gather all information possible so that we can assist you most efficiently. Prior to contacting us, try to obtain the following information:
- Name of arrestee (important to note that the name under which he/she was arrested may be different than their real name)
- Date of birth of arrestee
- The arresting law enforcement agency
- The place that the arrestee is being held
- Amount of the bail (assuming it's been set)
Don't worry if you can't get all that information. During our free initial consultation, we will be happy to assist you in securing the information that we need to commence zealous representation. If you're able to pass along any information to the arrestee, please passionately inform them to keep quiet and don't speak with any fellow arrestees and/or law enforcement officers. Let them know that you've contacted our firm and that we will immediately begin to aggressively fight for their rights.
Q: Should I speak to law enforcement in hopes that they won't arrest me?
A: It depends, however, most of the time, the answer is "no." Even though law enforcement may act like they haven't made a decision as to whether they intend to arrest you, they typically have already made up their minds. That means they either believe they have probable cause already and are determined to strip you of your liberty, or they don't believe they have enough evidence. If they already believe they have enough evidence, typically nothing you say will change their minds. In fact, what they may do is use the words that you provide to them to build their case. On the other hand, if they don't believe they have sufficient evidence to arrest you, then there's no need to speak to them.
In some instances, what law enforcement claims you said is merely what they heard or what they wanted to hear. It's no different than the game of telephone that you played when you were a kid. "I shot the clerk? I shot the clerk?” as Ralph Maccio’s character uttered in response to Sheriff Farley’s inquiry whether he shot the store clerk in the 1992 movie "My Cousin Vinnie," can mean something completely different and a whole lot more sinister if heard by an overzealous and/or dishonest cop. There's some truth to the expression, "The fish who kept his mouth shut never got caught."
Obviously, there are exceptions to every case. We evaluate each case based upon the facts and circumstances that we uncover. The critical message is that you shouldn't have to make this critical decision by yourself. Let us use our extensive training and experience to guide you through this decision.
Q: What if I'm innocent? Do I really need a criminal defense attorney?
A: Yes. In over two decades of practice as both a criminal defense attorney and prosecutor, I have yet to meet a law enforcement officer who gets promoted based on how many people he lets go. Because of that, and also because some law enforcement officers simply cannot be trusted, we believe it's imperative to secure our services, even if you're innocent. Allow us the privilege of being able to persuade law enforcement why you are innocent, in spite of their potentially strong belief of the contrary. We'll know what to say and what to present and/or not present in order to enlighten a curious and often times zealous law enforcement officer. Unfortunately, too many police officers do make mistakes. Innocent people are arrested. Some are even intentionally "framed." We've represented innocent clients whose charges included murder, rape, fraud, possession, drug trafficking, DUI etc. and we were successful in getting charges dropped by prosecutors after their unjustified arrest. The biggest problem with being "innocent' is that most in the criminal system don't believe it. In spite of an accused being afforded the "presumption of innocence," often the skepticism felt by the public and law enforcement makes it especially difficult to prove one's innocence. Remember, time is of the essence. It's important to reach out to us immediately. We'll discuss your case with you and provide counsel on how to proceed.
Q: What is an arrest warrant?
A: Arrest warrants gives authority to law enforcement to arrest someone that they believe is guilty of committing a crime. A judge will be the one who reviews a sworn affidavit submitted to them by law enforcement. The judge is supposed to scrutinize the affidavit to determine if the officer met their required burden of showing that probable cause exists that the person indicated in the warrant has committed a crime.
Q: Do police need a warrant before they can legally arrest someone?
A: No. The general rule is that if an officer has probable cause to believe that someone has committed a crime, that officer may make an arrest without an arrest warrant. There are a number of exceptions to that general rule, including certain misdemeanor cases that must have been committed in the presence of the officer before an arrest can legally be made.
Feel free to contact our office for a free evaluation of your case. We'll be happy to provide you with analysis concerning your case. We'll also advise you on whether we believe the arrest was lawful and if not, how we intend to challenge the case.
Q: What do I do if I have a warrant?
A: Our firm has assisted numerous clients who retain us to clear up a warrant. In a number of instances, we have been successful in persuading judges to set aside warrants without even having the client present in court. Contacting our firm immediately upon learning of the warrant is imperative. If stopped by any law enforcement agent either because you get stopped in your vehicle or while coming into the U.S., you most likely will be stripped of your liberty and forced to spend a significant amount of time in jail before being released. If you have a warrant, contact us and we'll provide you with a free consultation. We'll be happy to discuss a strategy to best secure the outcome that you're seeking.
Q: What is a bail bond and how does posting a bail bond work?
A: A bail bond is one of many methods used to secure a defendant's release from custody. A judge sets the bail amount. The defendant can pay the amount and gain his/her release. Most defendants don't have the financial ability to post their own bond so they use a bail bondsman, also known as a surety. The bail bondsman will execute some paperwork and essentially promises to forfeit the bond amount if the defendant flees and fails to return to court for any future hearings. Typically, a bail bondsman in state court will require a defendant to pay 10% of the total bond amount. That money is the cost of doing business and isn't returned to the defendant once the case concludes. In federal court, the bondsmen typically require 15% of the total bond amount, which is also non refundable. If the defendant flees, the bondsman is on the hook for the entire amount of the bond.
Before agreeing to assume responsibility for a defendant's release, a bondsman, invariably will require collateral from the defendant. Collateral could be cars, homes, boats, jewelry etc. In the few instances where a defendant flees and doesn't show up to court, the bondsmen will sell the collateral in order to cover their debt to the court for the total bond amount. Only after the case concludes will the bondsman be off the hook for the bond amount.
Like with many businesses, there are honest and professional bondsmen and, unfortunately, there are many less than scrupulous bondsmen. The Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh works with just a couple of the best and most honest guys in the business. Let us assist you by connecting you to compassionate and professional bondsmen who won't take advantage of you during the most challenging and vulnerable of times.
Q: What should I do or say after I've been arrested in order to preserve my constitutional rights?
A: It's critical that our clients and potential clients know that you never are required to answer any questions asked of you by law enforcement. We typically recommend that you exercise your cherished right to remain silent so that what you say cannot be used against you. We recommend that you immediately request to speak with an attorney. While they frequently ignore this request, at least you'll be on record requesting one, which will help if law enforcement later alleges that you made statements to them. Keep in mind that law enforcement officers are trained in ways to get people talking. Appellate courts have upheld many of these seemingly problematic tactics as constitutional. At our law office, we can appreciate how difficult it must be to resist responding to law enforcement and to feel isolated from friends and family. Keep in mind that too shall pass. We strongly advise invoking your right to an attorney and keeping quiet until you have had a chance to discuss matters with us.
Q: After someone is arrested, what happens next?
A: After arrest and release from jail, we recommend immediately contacting our office, if that hasn't already been done. Law enforcement will often continue to generate reports concerning the offense, even after the arrest. In many instances, they will even continue to gather evidence. The reports and the evidence gathered will typically get presented to a "screening prosecutor" a short time later, typically within two weeks, assuming the arrest was for a felony in state court. Many jurisdictions don't screen misdemeanor arrests, providing our law office extraordinary opportunities to get charges dropped once the case makes it to court. We are often able to persuade the "screening prosecutor" either not to file charges or to reduce charges. Whether prosecutors choose to file charges or not will often be revealed at or just before the arraignment.
Q: What is the arraignment?
A: The arraignment is typically the first court appearance required in a criminal case. Prosecutors announce in open court what charges they are filing against a defendant. In response, we invariably enter a "not guilty" plea and demand all the evidence to which we are entitled. "Not guilty" doesn't necessarily mean that our client is innocent. Because prosecutors must prove every charged levied against every one of our valued clients, we enter a "not guilty" plea on our client's behalf to ensure that we have an opportunity to thoroughly review all the available evidence in the case before making an informed decision concerning whether to go to trial or accept a plea bargain.
Contact our office and allow us to explain to you how in most instances, we are able to represent our clients at the arraignment without having our clients physically attend. Because so many of our clients would rather be elsewhere than in court, due to work, fear, convenience etc., we are able to arraign our clients without having them present. In no way is the case adversely affected by the client not attending. In many instances, prosecutors will ask that the arraignment be reset several times in order to give them additional time to decide what charges, if any they are going to file. If our clients had to attend court each and every time this was done, they would feel quite a burden. We make the process as painless and easy as possible.
Q: What if the victim wants the charges to go away? Will prosecutors drop the charges?
A: While victims have an opinion about the outcome of their potential penalty, they do not control what prosecutors do on a case. You'll notice that in state court for example, the title of the case is "State of Florida vs. John Doe," and not "Joe Victim vs. John Doe." That means that the prosecutors are the only ones who decide whether charges should be brought after an arrest is made. Often, in spite of passionate pleas from victims, prosecutors refuse to drop charges. We especially see that scenario in domestic violence cases. Many prosecutors take the position that the victim doesn't really know what's best for him/her. Often they erroneously believe that unless vigorously prosecuted, the defendant will become the next OJ Simpson, escalating the domestic abuse until it results in horrific crime. Our firm knows how to handle cases where the alleged victim wants the charges dropped. Contact us immediately for a free consultation so that we can explain the best way to proceed.
Q: Can I actually be convicted solely based on the word of one person?
A: Yes. In fact, someone can intentionally make up a story claiming that you committed a crime, walk into a police station and/or call the cops and have you arrested. Unfortunately, we see it all the time. It frequently happens in domestic violence cases where our clients are, for example, charged with crimes like battery, assault, aggravated assault and/or aggravated battery for criminal acts they didn't commit.
Because of the "CSI Effect," (people's misconceptions about the Criminal Justice System based upon TV shows like CSI Miami), people erroneously believe that if a person is charged with a crime, there must be credible, significant, hard, physical and scientific evidence to conclusively prove what's being alleged. Not the case. If law enforcement believes the complainant, they can charge the defendant, even with zero physical evidence. Worse, jurors have convicted defendants solely based upon the word of one individual. The law mandates a conviction if prosecutors prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Nowhere in the law does it state that a specific number of witnesses are required before a conviction is deemed lawful.
Some crimes like assault, battery, robbery, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine (and/or any other controlled substance), petit theft etc., typically occur in front of one witness. Therefore, prosecutions with only one witness are not precluded under the law.
Cases for the defense are easier to defend with just one person's word as the sole piece of evidence. An aggressive, experienced attorney can use their extensive skills to create reasonable doubt through vigorous cross-examination. Highlighting for the judge and/or jury the inconsistencies, bias, and motive of the sole witness is critical in order to expose the single witness and win the case. At the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, we have over two decades of litigation experience and many of our cases involve a "one on one," meaning only one witness accusing our client. Call us for a free consultation and we'll provide you with analysis on how we intend to win your one witness case.
Q: What's the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
A: A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is punishable by a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail. Misdemeanors offenses like driving with a suspended license, DUI, reckless driving, marijuana possession, disorderly intoxication, disorderly conduct, leaving the scene of an accident, prostitution, petit theft, simple battery, simple assault, possession of drug paraphernalia, etc. are less severe than felony offenses.
A felony is a criminal offense that is punishable by a penalty of more than a year in jail. Felonies are extremely serious criminal offenses and can have an extraordinary impact to both one's personal and professional life. Some felonies crimes include: DUI with serious bodily injury or death, possession of a controlled substance (i.e. Cocaine, Ecstasy, Meth, Heroin, Oxycodone), grand theft, child abuse, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, sexual battery, fraud, trafficking in drugs, murder etc. Our firm has extensive experience and expertise in representing clients charged with all criminal offenses both in state and federal court.
Q: If I'm arrested for a felony, will I face felony charges when I go to court?
A: Not necessarily. Merely because you were arrested for a felony doesn't mean that prosecutors will file felony charges. In all jurisdictions throughout the United States, law enforcement officers need probable cause to arrest someone. Some have jokingly defined probable cause as, "Law enforcement thinks you probably did it." Prosecutors have a much higher burden to prove charges in a court of law. The evidence must tip the scales of justice to, "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt." That means that prosecutors can find that while the evidence was sufficient to arrest the defendant, it's not sufficient to prove the case in court. In those cases, prosecutors typically drop the charges.
Our firm has tremendous expertise and experience in representing the clients after they've been arrested, but before charges are formally filed. We call this phase of the criminal case, the "screening process." We have extraordinary success in persuading prosecutors not to file charges and proceed with the criminal prosecution. We are either to persuade prosecutors that our clients are innocent or, alternatively, that there simply isn't enough evidence to prove the case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. Prosecutors have an obligation not to proceed with charges unless and until they have a good faith basis to do so and, they believe they can prove the charges and meet the highest burden under the law.
In some instances, prosecutors who believe our clients are guilty may file reduced charges (often times misdemeanors), if they believe that insufficient evidence exists to prove the felony charges. In most instances, this is considered to be a huge victory, removing charges from Circuit Court where maximum penalties could potentially be decades in prison to County Court, where the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is one year of jail.
Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: It depends. At every arraignment (typically the first major court hearing) in Florida state courts, we have been successful in representing clients without them having to attend court. We are able to do this regardless of whether the charges are felonies or misdemeanors. In the extraordinary rare instance when having the client in court for the arraignment is necessary, we will let you know. 99% of the time, our clients do not attend arraignments in state court. In federal cases, however, judges require defendants to be present at arraignments. Federal arraignments are quick, literally lasting no more than two minutes. For all other hearings in state and/or federal court, we may be able to get permission from the judge to waive your presence in court. Obviously, we would only seek to waive your presence solely if there's no downside in you not being there. For many misdemeanor offenses we may be able to even take a plea without a client having to enter the courtroom. It all depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Q: If I'm charged with DUI, do I really need a lawyer? Can't I just handle this by myself?
A: Every defendant accused of DUI and/or any other criminal offense has the constitutional right to represent themselves in court if they choose to do so. Defendants who represent themselves are called "pro se" defendants. We highly advise against making that choice. Being charged with any criminal offense, especially a DUI, can have a huge impact on both your personal and professional life. While we can never guarantee an outcome, we still don't think it's a wise decision to enter a courtroom without retaining competent counsel. First, most of those accused of DUI do not possess the ability or desire to represent themselves at the "Formal Review Hearing." That is the hearing conducted shortly after arrest wherein a defendant fights to challenge the administrative suspension of their driving privileges. Unless well versed in DUI law, an accused wouldn't know, for example, that they must submit specific paperwork to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of their arrest in order to preserve their right to challenge their drivers license suspension. Additionally, without the training and experience that we possess, defendants can easily miss court hearings. If they make court hearings, they often spend hours waiting for their case to be called. We are often able to get our client's cases called out of turn. In many instances, our DUI clients don't have to attend court hearings. Many of our DUI victories have occurred without our clients ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.
Most defendants aren't trained in how to identify issues in a DUI case that could serve as the basis for motions to suppress (throw out) evidence. They also aren't experienced in how to utilize the rules to gain tactical advantages over the prosecution. I have prosecuting and defending DUI cases (and all other criminal matters) for over two decades. I am better equipped to handle the defense of a DUI case than an untrained defendant, going through the criminal justice system, facing a serious charge with serious consequences. Allow us the privilege of zealously defending your DUI. Don't make the mistake of trying to handle this matter alone. The consequences are too great.
Q: Do I really need a lawyer if I'm only charged with a misdemeanor?
A: Need to hire an attorney? No. Would it be very prudent to do so? Absolutely. Misdemeanor charges can subject you to up to a year in jail along with other significant penalties. Additionally, convictions for misdemeanors can have a huge negative impact on you professional life. Many former defendants have had challenges securing jobs even with "minor" misdemeanor offenses on their record. If you're not a citizen, a misdemeanor offense could adversely affect your immigration status. Additionally, even "minor" misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct, petit theft, possession of marijuana, disorderly intoxication, trespass, and failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer can stay on your record forever unless it's handled properly. By making the wrong choices, you may cause that "simple misdemeanor" offense to follow you the rest of your life. Furthermore, if convicted for any domestic violence crime, you may lose your privilege to carry a gun for any reason. Additionally, a misdemeanor drug offense conviction can result in an automatic two-year license suspension by the Department of Motor Vehicles and also, prevent you from ever obtaining federal grants to assist with attending college.
The best way to understand why it's important to hire an attorney is to come in and meet with us face to face. We offer free consultations and are happy to review your case with you. We will analyze your case and provide you with potential outcomes that we can secure for you.
Q: Do I really need to hire a private attorney? Can't I just use the Public Defender?
A: Yes, in limited circumstances, however, we don't recommend it. First, not everyone is automatically given a free lawyer with The Public Defender's Office. Before getting a public defender, you would first have to swear under oath and list in detail your financial assets (or lack thereof). In doing so, you must demonstrate an inability to afford a private attorney. If you lie, you could be prosecuted for perjury. Additionally, even if you demonstrate that you qualify for the public defender's office, you still may not get one of their lawyers appointed to represent you if your case is a misdemeanor and prosecutors aren't seeking to put you in jail.
Another problem with using the Public Defender's Office is that they aren't appointed until after charges have been filed at arraignment. That could take a minimum of 21 days. Significant valuable time to fight for your rights with the "screening prosecutor," the one making the filing decision in your case, have some great attorneys working for them.
Q: Why not let the public defender represent me?
A: You must first demonstrate the inability to pay for a private attorney in order for the court to appoint a public defender to represent you. Further, a public defender will only be appointed after you are officially charged with a crime. This, at the earliest, is 21 days after your arrest. Much valuable time to discuss your side of the case and avoid the formal filing of charges will be lost by that time.