Criminal Defense FAQ

1. What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Misdemeanor charges are less severe than felonies. Common misdemeanors include possession of marijuana, trespassing, driving under a suspended license, etc. Examples of felonies include murder, aggravated battery and possession of an illegal firearm. Misdemeanors are much easier to deal with. Felonies come with prison time and hefty fines.

2. Should I hire a lawyer for small misdemeanor charges?

When dealing with the law in any facet, whether it be in court defending yourself or negotiating a business contract, having a lawyer on your side makes for a better outcome always. Even if your charges are as minor as underaged drinking or simple drug possession, it is always better to hire an attorney than not.

3. Are police officers allowed to search my car when I get pulled over?

Yes and no. The fourteenth amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, so that means agents of the law such as police do not have the authority to search your person, your house or your car whenever they feel like it. They must first obtain probable cause beyond a reasonable doubt that you are involved in some kind of criminal activity. For instance, if you get pulled over in a traffic stop, an officer can not just ask you to step out of the car and conduct a search without your consent, probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge. However if they detect evidence of a crime such as the odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle, or if they see drug paraphernalia in the car then the law permits them to search the vehicle and conduct a criminal investigation.

4. Am I required to give consent to search?

No. The only time you absolutely must oblige to a search of your personal property is when police officers present you with a search warrant.

5. Why do I need an attorney?

You need to hire an attorney because attorneys are specially educated and trained to navigate the justice system. The justice system is incredibly complex and requires a certain level of expertise just to understand, let alone argue a case. Even attorneys know that you should never represent yourself in court. It is always better to have an expert opinion on your side and to let them handle everything for you.

6. How long has The Ansara Law Firm been representing clients?

Our firm has over a decade of experience in defending clients for all kinds of criminal charges, personal injury claims and family law cases.

7. Are my criminal charges on my record forever?

Initially, when your criminal case is disposed, meaning you were either found to be guilty or not guilty, the charges are on your permanent record, however there is a process in Florida by which it can be removed. If you wish to remove a charge, you must hire an attorney to expunge your criminal record. You are allowed to do this once in your life!

8. What is a scoresheet?

Scoresheets are used by prosecutors to calculate the appropriate sentence for an offender based on multiple factors such as criminal history, charge, severity of the charge, the circumstances under which the arrest took place, and how much of a danger the offender poses to the community at large.

9. What is civil asset forfeiture?

Civil asset forfeiture is a practice used by all US law enforcement agencies, ranging from local police departments all the way up to the DEA and FBI. It occurs when an officer of the law determines that your property was likely involved in criminal activity, and then they confiscate it even if you are not charged with a crime. The most frequently taken item from citizens in cash, because large amounts of cash signify to law enforcement that a drug purchase or sale just occurred or is about to occur. In most states, any assets seized by law enforcement go directly to that agency for their personal use. That means if you are a law abiding citizen who gets stopped in a traffic stop and the officer discovers a few thousand dollars in cash, he/she reserves the right to seize it as “evidence” and from there it goes directly to the bank account of that arresting agency.

10. Why should I hire a private attorney instead of the public defender?

Public defenders literally handle hundreds or even thousands of cases at a time. The upside to hiring the public defender is that they are inexpensive, but the downside is that they do not have enough time to truly dedicate to your case. Hiring a private attorney means they give you the attention your case needs to achieve the best possible results.