Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Offer Payment Plans?
Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
Criminal defense lawyers prefer flat fees upfront, then payment plans. The reason for this is very simple. Criminal defense lawyers are not in a business of extending credit, so they would much rather have a credit card company assuming a risk instead of having to ask “Did so and so pay every time that person wants to meet with their lawyer or a court date is coming up”. Another option that some criminal defense lawyers offer is a payment arrangement up to $5,000 by use of the different services offered. The credit requirements are very relaxed; it is easy to apply for fees up to $5,000. Anyone can get help funding for his or her criminal defense, or make payments.
The best course of action for someone where funds are limited is to simply discuss with their lawyer what kind of payment arrangements might be available. For example, if someone is a military member, then a lawyer is far more likely to work out a plan. Military clients are forced to pay by their chain of command. It is part of military life when it comes to indebtedness.
Will I Have To Take Drug Tests If I Am Charged With Petty Theft During A Diversion?
The answer is you might have to take a drug test if a crime has been committed. The reason is simply that I do not know the facts, and circumstances of a specific case. You also have the reality that there are sixty-seven counties in Florida that are broken out among twenty different judicial circuits. This means there are twenty different elected prosecutors across the state, with twenty different office policy manuals. They have different beliefs about what types of conditions should be attached in any type of pretrial diversion. This is also another reason why I prefer negotiated dismissals, and to avoid diversion entirely. With negotiated dismissals, especially in the form of a deferred prosecution agreement, which is a contract, you have greater negotiating advantage instead of a one size fits all diversion.
With diversion and deferred prosecution agreements, or other negotiated dismissals, one of the things an attorney tries to do is to negotiate the terms to be as favorable as possible regarding their clients. Additional requirements such as drug testing are to be avoided even if the person does not use drugs, and has never used drugs. Why would that be? That would be because you want as few things as possible to go wrong during a deferred prosecution, whether it is pretrial diversion, or a negotiated dismissal. Fewer terms and conditions would have the less burdensome, and expense for the client, the greater likelihood that you will have a favorable outcome resulting in dismissal. Once there is the dismissal, this paves the way for a record expungement.
What Are The Potential Penalties For Absconding On Probation?
There is no specific sentence for absconding on probation. What types of charge a person was on probation for affects it. However, with all of that being said, it is very important to remember that probation violations are extremely serious, and usually result in a no bond warrant. When someone is charged with absconding from probation and failure to report, the odds of getting a bond are reduced, and much more difficult. Lately, we have noticed many cases where people have extremely old warrants for probation violations, sometimes as long as twelve years. I do not know why there has been an upsurge in these types of cases, but we are certainly starting to see them this year.
The thing to do when concerned about what the sentence might be for absconding from probation, is you need to hire a lawyer to help you through the process. Your lawyer is going to want to look at rule 3.992A score sheet if it is a felony case, and is going to want to look at prior criminal history in particular, as well as the other allegations of violations. These types of things have a great impact on the sentence. In a felony violation of probation, if someone scores 0 to 22 points after the violation points are factored in, they can get up to a year in jail per count. But they cannot be sentenced to prison unless the state proves an aggravating circumstance.
If the person scores between 22 and 44 points, then the judge can impose a state prison sentence without having to give a reason at all. Finally, if a person scores above 44 points, then the sentence must be a state prison sentence, unless there is an agreement to reinstate the probation for some reason, which is extremely difficult when someone scores that many points. The defense lawyer can demonstrate one of the 14 legal reasons under rule 3.992B that allow a downward departure, and a non-incarcerated sentence. Either way, when someone is charged with absconding, the first thing to do is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer, advise this particular attorney of the different facts, and circumstances of the case, and allow this attorney to arrange a voluntary turn in.
From there, the attorney needs to try to arrange a bond, or try to use the bond hearing to get a quicker settlement of court dates, or prepare the case for an evidentiary hearing if it is going to be a contested violation of probation. Evidentiary hearings that are contested are rare. I have done a large number of them, but that is simply because criminal law is all I do. There are not that many.
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