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Richard Ansara Attorney at Law

Wellington

It’s a village that prides itself on exclusivity, luxury, and equestrian excellence. But if you’re arrested in Wellington, Florida, don’t expect your experience with the criminal justice system to be a cushy one. 

As longtime Wellington Florida criminal defense attorneys, our team at The Ansara Law Firm is committed to fighting for the rights of the accused at all phases of the criminal process. Attorney Richard Ansara is a trial lawyer with success in handling everything from misdemeanor traffic offenses to first-degree homicides. 

Although the village of Wellington has a lower crime rate on average than many of its big sister cities in Palm Beach County, it still reports hundreds of uniform index crimes. Most common among them: 

  • Larceny (theft)
  • Burglary
  • Assault 
  • Rape and other sexual offenses
  • Domestic violence

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that nearly 70% of Wellington assault arrests (misdemeanor and felony) and 48% of sexual assaults were incidents of domestic violence. Precise penalties in these cases are tough to predict because they depend on a lot of different factors, such as the severity of injuries, prior convictions, whether there was a restraining order, etc. That said, even misdemeanor domestic violence convictions can have profound consequences, including jail time, fines, protective orders, restrictions on child custody, job loss, firearm forfeiture, deportation, etc. 

But no matter what the charge is or how much it seems the deck is stacked against you, there are always defense strategies a skilled criminal lawyer can employ to minimize the blow to your case. In fact, there are sometimes steps we can take before prosecutors even file the charges that could reduce both the number and severity of offenses for which you’re answering. But that kind of response requires you as the defendant to be proactive and quickly hire a private criminal defense lawyer – one with the right experience, resources, dedication, and time to devote to the case. 

The Imbalanced Power of Prosecutors

Although it’s true that Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit prosecutors (or “state attorneys,” as they’re called in Florida) bear the burden of proof in criminal cases, they also have a number of key advantages. 

To start, there’s a reason they’re referred to as “the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system.” It’s them – not police or even judges – who are the true decision-makers. Law enforcement might do the policing and gather probable cause evidence, but it is the prosecutors who decide which charges to file or even whether to file at all. It’s prosecutors who recommend bail or no bail. (This is especially important because pretrial detention leads to numerous downstream consequences, including higher conviction rates and longer sentences.) 

It’s prosecutors who set the terms for plea bargains, which is how 9 in 10 criminal cases are resolved. Such “deals” are often stacked against the defendant, particularly if they’re pressured to make it while still incarcerated in a facility that threatens their health and safety. This power is not only broad, it’s often not reviewable. Prosecutors actually often have a great deal more discretion than judges, who are more strictly bound to statutory rules on sentencing. 

Beyond that, they also tend to have far better funding from the state than public defenders or private attorneys hired by the court, many of whom are paid relatively low hourly rates. One study published in the Yale Law Journal found that improved compensation and workloads of public defenders led to a 24% decrease in sentence length, with defendants 62% less likely to receive a life sentence. Wrongful convictions are also far less likely when defense lawyers have the time and resources needed to properly prepare for and defend a case. This kind of arrangement can lead public defenders’ offices - even those staffed with very passionate, skilled lawyers – to focus on efficiency in processing cases rather than zealously representing every client. 

We should also note that despite your 6th Amendment Constitutional rights, you are not guaranteed the services of a court-appointed criminal defense lawyer unless you are:

  • Indigent (can’t afford one on your own).
  • Are facing a felony.
  • Are facing a misdemeanor that carries the possibility of jail time. 

The Florida criminal justice system is not a kind place for defendants. A knowledgeable, dedicated Wellington criminal defense attorney is what stands between you and those stacked chips. 

Negotiating With Prosecutors Before Charges Are Filed

By hiring a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest, you even the playing field even more. Your defense attorney can approach the prosecutor who is considering your case (and whether to proceed with filing charges), and present the following:

  • Details that point to a lack of key evidence. Prosecutors have a high proof burden to meet. Yes, they have an upper hand, but if we can show them weaknesses in the case, they may decide the case isn’t worth pursuing. 
  • Spotlighting credibility issues with key prosecution witnesses. This is especially important in a lot of domestic violence cases, where the primary evidence is the testimony of the other person.
  • Any indicators of police missteps or misconduct. This would involve things like lack of probable cause, compelling false confessions, disparities in police statements vs. body camera footage, etc.
  • Evidence of a strong affirmative defense. Examples would be self-defense, mistake of fact, or lack of intent.
  • Mitigating circumstances. At this stage, common mitigating circumstances might be pointing to a lack of harm, culpability of the victim, relative necessity, or unusual circumstances. 

Even if the prosecutor doesn’t decline to file the charges, they may agree to filing reduced charges in exchange for a plea on lesser charges with terms favorable to the defendant. 

Our Wellington criminal defense lawyers take the trust our clients place in us seriously. We are committed to providing the best quality criminal defense for each and every one of our clients. 

Contact the Palm Beach County criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (954) 761-4011.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
“Just wanted to say what a professional law firm "The Ansara Law Firm" was in handling my case and can't thank Richard enough for keeping me calm and letting me know the status of my case. You really do care about your clients and made me feel at ease during my legal issues!” Andy Austin
★★★★★
"Richard was thorough, patient and went above and beyond to make a hard time for my family a little more bearable. I pray we never need a criminal defense attorney again, but if we do, there is NO doubt who we're going to!" Amy
★★★★★
"I had a dui case and Mr. Ansara made it go as smooth as possible. He was able to time everything so I could get a new company up and running without the dui effecting my ability to drive." Sean
★★★★★
"I have been a client of Richard Ansara for several years now, I am pleased with his outcomes on all my cases, patience, professionalism and courteousness when I come into his office. I would definitely recommend Ansara's Law Firm to friends and family for any of their future legal needs." Emily Gutierrez